Cold Men

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The Cold Men (Play Pupa) were a party formed as a faction of the Swamp Kids in spring 4172, becoming a separate party in the early 4190s.



The Play-speaking Cold Men were not the first party to use this name; the Raspara's private name also meant Cold Men. The name of the party was not mere trivia, as the Play speakers choosing the name suffered from the problems of ambiguous party membership, as they were forced to allow Raspara to join their party, meaning that some people could be members of two political parties at the same time, even though the parties' interests were against each other. Thus Raspara were voting in the Cold Men's internal party elections and disrupting their leadership. The Cold Men could not do the same to the Raspara because while the Raspara were also forced to accept Cold Men in their party, their internal party leadership was not democratic.

The Raspara were few in number, however.

First Mallard War

Invasion of Ŋapata Fatu

The Cold Men invaded the Play region of Ŋapata Fatu in 4182. The Cold Men had been sure that they would succeed because they were fighting for a compact area of land. The Pioneers did not support this new war. The Cold Men considered Memnumu to be part of the original Tinks' homeland, and therefore their war was not an attempt at expansion but at recovering lost original territory.

The Play population had grown since their last contact, so the Players roused an army of more than 90,000 soldiers to defend their territory against the invasion. However, at this time, the Players were still struggling with internal conflicts, and worried that some rebellious states within the Play empire could defect to the Cold Men.

In 4182 the Cold Men declared victory.

NOTE: Assuming that Ŋapata Fatu is near Ŋapata Ŋūa, this war included battles along the coast, and thus was not a simple north-south front.

Outside contacts

This section is intended to be greatly expanded. See Lava Handlers for details.

Over the next four years, the Players surrendered to the Cold Men, then saw the Cold Men also surrender to outside powers, encouraging the Players to sign a peace treaty with the Cold Men. Then, the new Cold-Play alliance won their war, and the Players started planning out their next war against the Cold Men.

Appeal to Laba

After signing the treaty, the Players were wholly controlled by Xema, a naval power which had arrived from the icecapped regions of the far north. Despite the inconvenient location of their homeland, Xema wrested control of the entire Play coastline and maintained a self-sufficient occupation, such that they had no need to connect with Xema.

The Players knew of an even more distant naval power called Laba. This was actually a geographical region within Dreamland, but because Dreamland was a confederation, its constituent states were free to direct their own military affairs, and the area calling itself Laba had cycled back and forth through time between aligning with Dreamland and pursuing an independent military policy. Dreamland had recently lost several major wars on land, but the navy had remained strong. The Players hoped that they could pull Laba into the war so that the Dreamer-Play coalition could fend off the Xeman navy and restore control of Memnumu to the Players.

Laba agreed to send ships to Memnumu, and stated that because it was a humanitarian war, they expected nothing in return from the Players. Rather than sail eastward from Dreamland around the continent, they sailed westward from the oceanic islands. This meant that the Laban sailors spoke a language no Players knew; even those who had learned the Baywatch and Dolphin Rider languages were useless here. Nonetheless, the sailors understood their mission and promised to do their best to keep in contact with intermediates who could speak Play or Leaper, which some Play diplomats had learned.

Reconciliation of 4186

In late 4186, every Play army in Memnumu except that of Thaoa signed a treaty abolishing all interstate conflicts and ending all wars within Memnumu. Thaoa instead declared allegiance to the Cold Men. Thaoa had no land connection to the Cold territory, but the Cold Men had previously sent slave traders into Thaoa, so the Players knew that a unified Cold-Thaoa nation could easily be created through war. If this were to happen, the Play territory would be divided completely in half, with most of the population to the west of Thaoa, and those Players living east of Thaoa unable to communicate with the rest.

The treaty of 4186 did not start a war against Thaoa, but the Players encircled Thaoa by land and by sea so that Thaoa could not easily join the Cold Men to bring a new war to Memnumu.

The Players then planned a conventional war against Nama, even as they admitted Nama was innocent of all crimes against the Players, solely because the Players felt they needed upland territory from which to later invade the Cold Men and further isolate Thaoa.

By this time, the Players had fully lost contact with Tata, and the entire Play population in Tata was enslaved. Many Swamp Kids in Tata were slaveowners now, although the Players in Memnumu did not know this.

Players move north

This will be explained better soon. Note that this is why the Cold Men cannot have had control of Pūpepas in 4190.

Due to yet another outside war, the Players and Cold Men joined hands once more and fought a war that helped both sides repulse their invaders; Xema had invaded the Players, while the Raspara had invaded the Cold Men. After the war was over, the Cold Men invited the Players to move into Cold territory and establish the Play party as a new party competing democratically.

The Players agreed, and immediately sent tens of thousands of Players into Cold territory. A Play woman named Meŋumaa Paus ("the Happy Queen") set up a propaganda service in the new territory, trying to convince the Cold Men to defect to the Players. The Players realized that they could quickly become a majority in the areas they were settling and push out the Cold Men.

After the first general election, the Players won control of several high mountain towns in the areas that had once been part of Nama. Then, with their new homes secure, the Players drafted plans for a new war against the Cold Men to be fought in Nama.

Treaty of 4188

In 4188, the Players signed a treaty with the Cold Men, and in fact, with many other powers as well, committing their forces to lead a new land war against Dreamland. Dreamland by this time was so divided that their own navy joined the war against Dreamland, although they did so only because of their stated obligation to the Players, having rescued them from Xema just two years earlier. The Dreamer navy did not expect to actually see combat. For that matter, neither the Players nor the Cold Men expected to see combat either, but had signed the treaty because they had been so weakened by their previous war that neither wanted to risk provoking an invasion of their own territory if Dreamland were to fall quickly to the coalition. The Players therefore continued to assume that they would soon be at war with the Cold Men, and would be fighting in Cold territory, such that few Player civilians would be at risk, but many Cold Men would be captured and perhaps enslaved.

War in Dreamland

With most of the nations in the invading coalition deciding not to participate, the coalition mobilized only 15,000 soldiers. Most of them did even not make it to Dreamland, and Dreamland thus won their war against the world. This was in part due to the small size of the coalition army, but more importantly because those few soldiers who did fight in a combat role had misgivings with each other and refused to cooperate. Only the Matrix and the Swamp Kids had sent a sizable number of men into Dreamland, and those Swamp Kids were mostly of the Pioneer faction. Then, at the height of the war, the Matrix army betrayed the Pioneers and signed a treaty with the Dreamers.

Second Mallard War

The Matrix betrayal in the First Mallard War had put the Matrix in charge of both Dreamland and Tata, with the capital in Tata. Here, they held nearly 100,000 slaves, mostly from the Players but also largely from the Pioneer Swamp Kids who had thought that the Matrixes would be their allies in the war against Dreamland. The Matrix army had been much smaller than the others, and the Matrixes claimed that they had won the war because they were much smarter than both their enemies and their allies.

Most Swamp Kids, of both the Cold Men and Pioneer factions, admitted that they had lost their war against the Matrix and had few adult male soldiers left with which to fight a second war. The Cold Men had mostly dodged the war, knowing that conquering Dreamland would do little to help the Cold Men, but nonetheless they had been required by their treaty with the Pioneers to help out in the war.

The Swamp Kids knew that if they were to regain their lost territory and free the slaves, they would need to pull in help from outside allies. One such ally was STW.

STW invasion

In 4190, STW sent a troop of small boys towards Tata, enveloped by a traditional Swampy army identifying itself with the Cold Men, the faction that had best weathered the recent defeat against the Matrix.

As in the last war, the Cold Men were required to participate because they were still a faction of the Swamp Kids, not an independent party, and therefore shared a military with the more militant Pioneer faction. By this time, even the Cold Men were eager for revenge against Tata's Matrixes, but were nonetheless reluctant to send their men to war, knowing that their border with the Players to the south was already weak.

The Matrixes were fully in control of Tata now, but from STW's standpoint, nothing had changed: one enemy had conquered another enemy, but an enemy they remained. STW told the boys that they were humanitarian relief workers, and that their job was to help cure the diseases that STW had earlier spread into Tata. STW claimed that the adult Cold soldiers were merely there to protect the children and would not be allowed to act independently of STW.

Prisoners of war

The Matrix soldiers quickly captured both the Cold Men and the STW boys, and put them to work in slave camps. When STW learned of this, they demanded monetary compensation for the abductions, and sent a second troop of small boys to rescue the first. When the Players, in turn, learned of STW's reaction, they declared war against STW, and revived their war against the Cold Men. Thus began the Angel's Birth War, which the Players also referred to as the Second Mallard War. The Players had been wanting this new war all along, but could not motivate their leaders to start a new war because most Players had seen the Cold Men as fellow victims of larger outside powers, and as an ideal ally. But now, the Players had an excuse for their new war.

Reactions to abductions

The Play women declared that STW's leadership had become delusional; by insisting on monetary compensation, STW proved both that they saw the so-called humanitarian war as a financial investment, not a moral obligation, and that they were so detached from reality that they did not understand the meaning of war. Furthermore, the Players argued that the Cold Men had sent their soldiers only after realizing the boys in STW needed help, not beforehand, and that this proved that STW did not understand how to protect child soldiers during war. Lastly, they argued that the Cold Men's secondary role proved that they were not in charge of their army, but rather taking orders from STW.

The Cold Men responded that they were fully in control of their own affairs, and were fighting the war against Tata using the best soldiers they had left: children surrounded by adult protectors. The Cold Men stated that the child soldiers were not attempting to engage in combat, but rather to help cure the diseases that the Players, acting through STW, had earlier spread through Tata. Lastly the Cold Men stated that since both Dreamland and Tata had prosperous economies, it was within reason for the Cold-STW coalition army to demand financial compensation for each military loss, something they would not do when facing a traditional enemy such as the Players.

Play offensive

By this time, the Players had fortified the frontier they shared with the Cold Men, and knew that the Cold Men could not simply invade Play territory the way they had invaded Tata. Since their invasion of Tata had failed, the Players predicted that any future invasion of Play territory would fare even worse.

The Players also launched a civil war inside Cold territory, using the land that the Cold Men had invited them to move into four years earlier. The Cold Men had seen this coming, and had originally stationed more of their own soldiers in this region, but these soldiers had been mostly sent to Tata where they were kidnapped by the Matrix.

Raspara revolt

By this time, STW still had tens of thousands of children on its membership rolls, but few adults, and those adults who had remained had proven unreliable. Adult male soldiers quickly began deserting STW as they realized they were at war with powerful enemies, but most did not take time to educate the younger members, so STW's young children remained at war with the world around them. Furthermore, most Raspara in Anzan had remained in their party rather than joining the Cold Men, and therefore they were not obligated to help STW in this war; indeed, the Raspara soon declared war on STW, and disorganized Raspara troops massacred STW's defenseless child soldiers. STW had no reaction to this because their charter did not allow them to demand monetary compensation from a group within their host nation.

Thaoa secedes

Nonetheless, still in 4190, the Player state of Thaoa seceded and joined the war on the side of the Cold Men. The Players realized that there was no credible threat of invasion from the Cold Men to their north, so they immediately invaded Thaoa with the full force of their army, and blockaded the south coast to trap the Thaoans on shore. The Cold Men announced that Thaoa was strong enough to defend itself, and that the Cold Men did not need to send reinforcements. Thus, the Players quickly took control of Thaoa.

Changing attitudes

As STW realized it was about to lose its war, they signed a treaty with the Raspara, stating that they would surrender to the Raspara armies only, and would even sign themselves over to Raspara slavery after the war. Importantly, however, STW's treaty did not announce that STW was ending their war against the Players and Matrixes, nor that they were expecting the Raspara to help them in their war. They also continued to expect monetary compensation from the Matrixes in Tata, and now demanded an even higher total for the additional child soldiers that the Matrix had captured since STW's first demand.

The Players' reaction to this treaty was to again claim it proved that STW's leaders were insane, and that STW had somehow managed to take control of the Cold Men. The wording of the treaty showed that STW acknowledged they were badly losing their war, and that they would soon need to surrender, but yet they still continued to fight. The treaty also implied that STW expected the Raspara army to betray its allies at the end of the war, such that the Cold-STW coalition army would be able to surrender everything to the Raspara and nothing to the Players and the Matrix. Here, the Players urged caution, warning that even the seemingly deluded STWers might know something their enemies did not, as the Raspara had betrayed their allies in war before, and the Players had no way to connect with the Raspara leaders in the midst of the war.

New Cold treaties

As the Cold-STW alliance continued to lose battles, they announced they were dropping their demand for monetary compensation.

Immediately, the Raspara switched sides and endorsed STW's war against the Players and Matrixes. The emerging Raspara-Cold-STW coalition promised that, when the war was won, the winning side would enslave the losing side, and that the winning armies would divide their slaves proportionate to each army's share of participation in the war. Because the Players in Memnumu had joined the war, and vastly outnumbered the Matrixes, the signatory parties expected that nearly all of the slaves would be Players, and that they would be allotted mostly to the Cold Men, as the Cold Men were the ones fighting in Memnumu and Anzan, whereas the Raspara were focusing only on Tata and STW had so far contributed little to the war on either front.

Seeing the war suddenly turn around, Thaoa's soldiers pulled on their remaining strength to launch a civil war in Memnumu, taking the Players back out of Anzan.

STW's leaders assumed that they had effected these changes all on their own, and announced that they would conquer the Players once they were finished conquering the Matrixes in Tata.

Cold Men invade Memnumu

The Cold-STW coalition invaded Memnumu (Creamland) in 4190. They invaded through the region of Šafabapaa, named in honor of four pregnant angels. The Players were surprised, as they had judged the Cold army incompetent, but the Players had nonetheless prepared for the invasion and continued to fight with their full force.

The Impossible Treaty

The Cold Men declared that they had won. The Players signed a treaty surrendering their entire population to be slaves for the Cold Men. They also stated that this treaty applied to the Players in Tata who had only just recently been freed from their Matrix-owned slave camps.

The Play leaders' logic was much as the Cold Men's had been: although the winning side of this war was a coalition of the Cold Men, the Raspara, STW, and other small armies, the Players chose to surrender to the Cold Men only, figuring that the Cold Men would be the gentlest of all possible occupiers. The Players then stated that if the other members of the coalition wanted to share the spoils, they would need to send their own troops through the Cold territory and fight a new war, with the intent that in this new hypothetical war, the Cold Men would be siding with the Players in order to keep exclusive control of their new territory.

But by this time there was no way to enforce any treaty, and the Players ceded land to the Cold Men that the Play army was only pretending to have controlled, knowing it made no difference and might help tie up enemies in a fight against each other.

Subversion clause

Just before signing the treaty, however, the Players and Cold Men agreed to an amendment such that STW would also have a role in occupying Play territory. They stated that STW's traditional structure, in which members were organized into numbered bases, would fit well with the Play nation's geographical division into states and counties within those states. Each county, they promised, would come under the control of an individual STW base, and the chief of that STW base would be the ruler of their particular county. Both sides agreed to this amendment because both sides agreed STW had contributed little to the war, and that STW's leadership continued to vastly overestimate the power of the STW mercenary army, which by now consisted mostly of child soldiers since adult males had found it easier to desert the army when the war was turning against them.

The amendment to the treaty deliberately left unresolved the question of how both the Cold Men and STW would be able to maintain absolute power in Play territory, because the Players knew that neither side was likely to concede to the other, and that the Cold Men would be far better able to project their power. Thus the Players hoped that STW would waste itself trying to enforce the contradictory treaty, while the Cold Men hoped that they would be able to force STW into submission even if they had to afford STW's leaders formal control over the Play territory. Thus the treaty came to be called the Impossible Treaty by both the Players and the Cold Men.

Role of the Raspara

The Raspara also signed the Impossible Treaty, stating that because they had fought only in Tata, they would enslave the Players and Matrixes in Tata (even though the Players had not fought back), but would forfeit the rights to any slaves of the Play or Matrix parties who lived in Memnumu or Anzan.

Details of enforcement

One clause in the treaty that the Cold Men insisted the Players follow with absolute obedience was the demand that the Players take all of their troops out of the territory they had won in the recent invasion, including those areas of Cold territory into which they had earlier been invited by mutual agreement. The Cold Men allowed Players to escape this clause by formally converting to the Cold party, but knew that very few Players — not even men — would be willing to surrender their feminist lifestyle, and figured that the Cold victory in the recent war was decisive enough that the Players in Memnumu would not revive the war in order to amplify Play resistance in Cold territory. The Cold-Play border was thus reset to what it had been before the start of the Second Mallard War.

Continued fighting in the south

Because the Players still had sympathy for the Cold Men and STW's younger members, they continued to obey the letter of the law in their recent treaty, which stated that the Players had surrendered their entire population to be slaves for the Cold-STW coalition, and that the Play army would make no attempt to defend any intrusion into their territory. The Play army remained solely to defend Play territory against attacks by other outside powers. However, the Cold Men allowed the Player military leaders to retain their rights to command their army, meaning that the Cold Men could not force the Players to fight for Cold interests that would not help the Players. The Cold Men hoped to coax the Players into a formal alliance by conceding this privilege, and that in the future, a Cold-Play alliance would form a unified state with secure, defined borders, and focus on defense rather than starting new wars in distant lands.

The Players' surrender treaty took them out of the war and allowed the Players to consider separate peace treaties with the other invading powers such as Xema and the Raspara. The Players had been suspecting the Raspara would abandon the coalition anyway, and that Xema would care little for whether they were formally at war with the Players or not.

Raspara revolt

Indeed, the Raspara quickly backed out of the Impossible Treaty as well as a private treaty they had earlier signed with the Cold Men and STW. STW's leaders were insisting that both treaties afforded STW the right to control both Memnumu and Tata, and some STW leaders had even revived their demand for financial compensation. Raspara soldiers responded to this by raiding STW's schools, capturing children to be used as slaves, claiming sarcastically that they were fulfilling the obligations of their treaty because sheltering and reeducating the STW children would take such work that it would feel as if the Raspara were working as slaves for STW after all.

Cold advocacy for STW

By this point, even the Cold Men had admitted that STW's leadership was not qualified to lead a war, though they softened their words by arguing that STW's leaders were not insane; it was merely that STW was a corporation and not an army. The Cold Men argued that STW's only goal in this war had been to make money, and that their leaders, though expert financial advisors, simply did not understand the concept of war as it applied to the soldiers and civilians caught in the fighting. Indeed, STW had continued to operate its traditional trade route stretching over 3,000 miles from the southeast corner of Play territory to Tata in the extreme northwest, even though this route crossed through territories that were at war with each other.

The Cold Men realized that, by continuing to shelter STW, they would suffer the consequences of STW's misleadership, and that since the Raspara had revived their war against STW, they might also revive the war against the Cold Men. The Cold Men reaffirmed their obligation to protect STW, but realized that it would be unwise to let STW's leaders lead the Cold army into battle as they had months earlier at the outset of the war.

Battle of Napaatusā

By late 4190, STW's few remaining adult soldiers had mostly fled, and the rest had become disobedient, leaving STW with an army consisting entirely of children, some of whom were very young. They were forced to travel within the Cold Men's army, as the Cold Men were their sole remaining protector, and even the Cold Men no longer considered themselves an ally.

STW realized they could no longer project their military influence in the region, but sent child soldiers out to fight adults in a desperate hope that they could still win by some unpredictable and nontraditional means.

In the town of Napaatusā,[1] STW fought its last battle. Their child soldiers were trapped between two hostile armies: the Raspara advancing from the north, and Xema advancing from the south. Neither army had known that STW still had soldiers on the ground in the region; they had been expecting to fight a three-sided war between each other and the Cold Men. Instead, the two advancing armies signed a temporary truce and split the children between them. After this battle, STW disappeared from Play territory.

Xema admitted its plan to enslave its captured children, but also promised to spare their lives, and argued that the children would be vastly better off under Xema's control than they had been under STW's. The Raspara, on the other hand, made no promises of any kind, so Xema claimed the moral high ground, saying that the Raspara party had long ago abandoned its traditional honor code, and that the Raspara soldiers were going to abuse the captured children until they succumbed to their injuries.

Xema thus asked its enemies for mercy, saying that if the other armies stopped fighting Xema, Xema would continue fighting the Raspara and would rescue as many children as they could find. Knowing that the captured children likely had mere months left in their lives, if that, the Xemans pleaded for urgent action by the outside powers, most of which were still officially at war with Xema. Xema also criticized the Players, as the Players at this time had an army called Tee Vauva, consisting of children aged between five and ten years old, and though their duties were noncombative they were working unprotected and thus were vulnerable to ambush.

Formal party split

When the Swamp Kids' Pioneer faction ordered their military to invade Baeba Swamp, the Cold Men faction was forced to follow along even though they opposed the war. Some Cold Men escaped the mobilization by joining yet another decoy party, the Counters (Fivīs Mas), a party whose leaders pledged to vote in lockstep with the Cold Men on all issues so that they could pull in Cold Men who chose to stay in their homeland rather than move to Baeba. The Counters promised that they would never have a party platform.

Counter War

Many Cold Men nonetheless chose to join the war in Baeba after all, figuring that to remain in Anzan would be foolish, as there were other wars already raging in Anzan, and opposition to war in Baeba would not give them ground to plead with the other armies for mercy in Anzan.

By contrast the Counters believed that the other wars in Anzan were opportunistic, as the rival Pioneer faction of the Swamp Kids was vastly overspread relative to its size, and thus their army was weak everywhere. The Cold Men explained that the Pioneers' recent move to Baeba proved that they had finally realized what the Cold Men had been arguing for twenty years: that it was much easier to defend a small territory than a large one.

Persistence of democracy

Nonetheless, the bulk of the Cold Men's adult male population remained in the coalition army and thus moved to Baeba to fight for the Pioneers. Within months, the only adult men living in the Cold Men's former territory were Counters and a few elderly and physically disabled Cold Men who had been exempt from the draft. These few men soon realized that by remaining in the Cold party, they could wield disproportionate power, as they expected that the Pioneers (who had quickly renamed themselves to the Slime party) would soon re-establish contacts with their original homeland in Anzan, and would prefer to interface with the Cold Men who had helped them rather than with the Counters who had ignored them. The Pioneers had suspended democracy in the territories they were fighting for in Baeba, but maintained democracy in Anzan.

The Counters soon realized that they could not keep their initial promise to vote in lockstep with the Cold Men, because the Cold Men were able to support the war in Baeba without fighting the war in Baeba, and could pass new laws that made it very difficult for an able-bodied male to function in society, effectively reinstating the draft.

Attacks on the handicapped

However, as an independent party, the Counters were no longer bound by any rival party's charter, and the party's leaders voted to revoke their promise and develop their own party platform. They declared that the elderly and frail men in the rump Cold party were acting in bad faith and did not deserve the sympathy that would normally accord to people in such a state. The Counters seceded from Anzan and then declared that since the Counters were geographically dispersed, the new nation of Counterland was coterminous with Anzan.

The resulting Counter War led the Counters to attack the defenseless Cold Men, even though they knew the wives and children of the Cold Men would be against the new war. Rather than fight a conventional war, however, they pushed the handicapped people into worksites where able-bodied Counters also worked, telling them that if they could not keep up with the Counters, they were not welcome in the Cold nation. They warned that anyone who refused to work would be killed.


Soon the Cold Men surrendered to the Counters. The defeated Cold Men signed over the rights to their party name and the Counters then expelled the defeated people from the party.

Having regained control of the name Cold Men, the Counters declared that the Cold Men would be a one-faction party, meaning that the Counters and the Cold Men were the same entity, and that the Counters' internal party leadership elections would be the means by which their population would vote in their democracy. That is, the party became the government. This had happened before.

The Counters forced the handicapped victims to join the illegal Tadpole party (Ŋavaiva). They stated that the victims' previously existing internal party structure now belonged to the Tadpoles, and only applied to internal Tadpole party affairs. That is, they could appoint their own leaders, but not the Counters' leaders, and since the Counter party infrastructure was the government, the Tadpoles could not meaningfully vote in the new Counter government.

Furthermore, because the Tadpoles were illegal, the Counter police force warned that they had the right to arrest and imprison individual Tadpoles at any time, without requiring evidence of a further crime. The Counters soon passed a law stating that it was a much graver crime for Tadpoles to promote their beliefs to non-Tadpoles, and that the punishment for this would be immediate execution, arguing that it was important to ensure that Tadpole ideology did not spread.

Leadership crisis

But the Cold Men had chosen to maintain the law that only adult males could vote, and their adult population was primarily female. Thus the female population was disenfranchised, and some Cold Men worried that they might defect to the Play party, which was run entirely by women.

Worries about democratic overload

Furthermore, since young children had not been sent to the war, and had had no reason to switch parties, the new generation of boys was approaching the age of thirteen, meaning that they would be legally adults and could vote in the Cold party's internal elections. This had also happened before but not in a nation in which the party internal elections were synonymous with the nation's democratic elections. The adults worried that the new generation of boys might also defect to the Players, or to the Tadpoles, or start their own party altogether.

Because there were far more boys than men in their nation, the Cold Men worried that they would be voted out of power once the boys turned thirteen even if the boys also disagreed with each other. They read worriedly about the history of the Play nation, which had been torn apart by revolts led by teenagers who understood little about the world around them and had massacred both adults and each other.

Arguments about graduation

Historically, the Player government had mostly remained stable even when the adults were greatly outnumbered by children, but this was because the Players restricted voting rights to women, who died in much smaller numbers during wars. There were only about 5,500 enrolled Cold Men because they had been small to begin with and then had expelled the Tadpoles. But there were 43,600[2] children in the eighth grade in school, and even though only the boys among them would gain voting rights, the Cold Men realized that their adult male voting population would soon be outnumbered four to one by just a single year's graduating class.

Most of these children were runaways whose families had moved to Baeba. For the most part, their parents did not object to this, since they knew that if the children had joined the migration the boys would be forced to fight in the war and the girls might make easy victims for the enemy soldiers. However, the parents were more insistent about keeping control of children who were much younger, as they did not trust that small children could survive on their own in Anzan and also did not want to see children forced to take care of other children. Therefore, the most common ages in the new Cold nation were 10, 11, 12, and 13.

Some Cold Men became alarmed when they realized that they were soon to be outnumbered, and that many of the boys due to graduate school soon were the children of handicapped soldiers whom the Cold Men had attacked. The Cold Men realized that if the children became a majority, they could vote their parents back into the Cold party and then vote the reigning Cold Men into the Tadpole party. Then the nation would be ruled by the children and their handicapped parents, although the Cold Men expected that these children would probably assign voting rights to their mothers and sisters as well.

Foundation of the Cherries

As the Cold Men worried about reprisals for their attacks on the handicapped, they decided to abandon the Counter faction of their party, which had led the attacks, and join a new faction called the Cherries (Pamaši, also known as GYS). The Cherries passed a law stating that one faction could not be punished for the crimes of another, and therefore the Cherries were immune from all legal reprisals. They published propaganda criticizing the Counters for attacking the handicapped Tadpoles, and then transferred a large number of Tadpoles into the Counter faction so that the Cherries could pressure the Tadpoles to pursue legal action against each other.

Cherry inquest

Because their nation had no court system, legal punishments were typically decided on the spot by police officers or, when a group was being targeted, run through Parliament. Therefore the Cherries began hearings in order to determine how best to punish the Tadpoles. They stated that they would not stop until their nation's great crime had been avenged, and that the two groups of Tadpoles would both be punished even though one group had victimized the other.

Plan to abolish democracy

Proposals for voting reform

Just as the Pioneers (by now known as the Slimes) had abolished democracy in their territory in Baeba Swamp, the Cold Men now considered abolishing democracy in their home territory. This would mean abolishing the internal party elections, as they were synonymous with the national elections. They thus planned to rule as a hereditary class, each official individually appointing their replacements only when they were too old to rule. The people who supported this idea were typically those already high in the power structure in the Cold party.

Others wanted to reform democracy instead by extending voting rights to women, who greatly outnumbered men. They planned to expel any women who showed sympathy for the Tadpoles or who otherwise voted against the Cold Men's interests.

Some Cold Men proposed withholding diplomas from students who did not pass an ideology test, and then planned to make this test extremely difficult, such that even loyal Cold Men would be denied graduation and thus voting rights, simply because the Cold Men did not want to have children pushing them around when the children gained the majority.

Defeat of the Raspara

When the Cold Men split from the Pioneers, they had immediately taken a much harsher attitude towards the Raspara minority. Typically, the Raspara had been the upper class, and despite being greatly outnumbered they had managed to win many battles against the Cold-Pioneer coalition. Early on, the Cold Men had been strongly anti-Raspara even as they conceded that some of their own members were converting to the Raspara.

Discrimination against the Raspara

When the Cold Men formally broke free of their treaty with the Pioneers around 4191, they put their anti-Raspara program into action. The Raspara were excluded from jobs requiring education and a new tax was enacted that applied only to the Raspara. The Cold Men had no military with which to enforce these new laws, but the Raspara had become a tiny minority by this time.

The Cold Men wanted to humiliate the Raspara by stealing their personal belongings, and then opening stores where they would offer to sell it back. This was in imitation of the STW corporation's earlier practice of looting stores owned by Dreamers and then promoting their own stores as containing this stolen merchandise. The difference was that the Cold Men were primarily interested in selling the stolen goods back to the original owners, not to other Cold Men, as they felt that Cold Men had little use for such things and that the Raspara might be willing to swallow their pride in order to get their belongings back.

Discrimination against other groups

Then, the Cold Men passed a law allowing the Cold police force to enroll ethnic minorities into the Play party, and to deport such people to the Play district of Ninanama if the police deemed them a threat to the Cold nation. The Cold Men stated that these threatened expulsions were simply following the terms of their recent treaty, which demanded that all Play soldiers move to the Play homeland.

Importantly, the new law treated groups as tribes, and therefore if a violent incident occurred, the Cold Men could declare any arbitrary group that included the criminal to be a separate tribe, and therefore claim the right to deport not just Players, but people who would have until that time considered themselves loyal Cold Men. The language of the law strongly suggested that the Cold Men were targeting ethnic minorities with visibly different body types, but some Cold liberals worried that this was only a cover to reassure the Cold party base, and that in fact the Cold Men were primarily interested in targeting dissenters from within their own tribe.

The Cold Men's new discrimination laws strongly resembled those of the Players' Purse faction, which had hit the peak of its power some decades earlier. Racial discrimination was no longer common in Play territory, but it had never been outlawed either, and therefore the Players did not attack the Cold Men's racial discrimination laws.

Rise of the Cooks

The adult Cold Men conceded defeat when they realized that they would soon be facing a war against their own children, and hoped that the children would simply fight each other to a draw as the first group of graduates realized that they would soon face a similar war against their classmates from one year below them.

New government structure

Census-based voting

The incoming Cold boys solved this problem by abolishing voting rights. They declared that they and their younger classmates were part of the same group and had no goals other than to stop civil wars within their nation so that it would be a safe place for all to live. They did not specifically say that they were abolishing democracy, but that they were reducing the powers afforded to individual citizens in their democracy.

The Cold boys created the new Cook party (Ūās), saying that they were going to mix different things together and create a new whole that was greater than the sum of its parts. This was an independent party, not bound to the Cold Men, but they promised that they supported the Cold nation and would not seek independence. They signed a power-sharing agreement with the adults, whom they now forced to re-adopt the name Counters. (Note that the name "Counter" here refers to the act of counting money, and not to furniture; thus, even though the Cooks depicted themselves as working together in a kitchen, there was no Play-language pun to be made.)

The Cooks said that henceforth, all voting would be done through the census, and that the census would ask for the party identification of all citizens, including men, women, and children, in order to determine how to apportion votes in Parliament. This was a common and well-worn system, used for example by the Crystals, but it had not been used in the Cold nation or any of the states that had preceded it in recent history.

The people would not be allowed to vote for individual representatives; rather, the party leaders would appoint representatives for each district in the Cold nation.

Although the Cooks were led by boys, they said that this was merely because their parents had never seen the value of educating their daughters. They promised that they believed in equal rights for girls and that girls would join the leadership as soon as they could demonstrate that they would make good leaders.

Power-sharing arrangement

The Cooks declared themselves to be legally adults because they had graduated school and because their age (most were 13 years old) had been the legal age of adulthood all along; they however said that they would share power, both with the adults they had displaced and with the younger children who had not yet graduated school.

The Cooks agreed with the adults that the greatest threat to the new Cook power structure was not the adults but the even younger children who had yet to graduate school. The Cooks decided to over-count the votes of the adult Counters, saying that they could be useful allies and the Cook-Counter alliance could help stave off any insurgencies that had yet to arise. They did this by awarding the Counters a section of Parliament all to themselves, from which they could never be removed, no matter how small their minority became, even as more and more children graduated school and (assuming they became Cooks) outnumbered the adults by an ever greater margin.

The magnification of the Counters' votes was done based on party identification and not age. The Cooks stated that the Counter party was free to determine their own membership requirements, and could, if they chose to do so, set a minimum age for party membership so that the young Cooks could not simply swarm into the Counter party and outvote the adults from within. Likewise, the Cooks warned that they were considering a ban on conversions from the Counter party, but would not set an age requirement for membership, either as a minimum or a maximum.

On top of the Parliament, the Cooks placed an executive bureau consisting only of Cooks, which had the ability to overrule Parliament in any way, though in some cases, their vote could only override Parliament if it was unanimous. Thus, the Cooks did not fear being outvoted by the adults in Parliament, but they did not have so much power as to make the Parliament feel redundant.

The Cooks planned to lean on the Counters and convince them to form a stable alliance such that the two least democratic organs of government — the executive bureau and the Counter-only Parliament wing — would be allies, and therefore any attempt to vote out the Cook-Counter establishment would fail.

Purposeful design

Because of the undemocratic Cook-only executive bureau, the Cooks had no great need to expand their party base. But they still competed democratically in Parliament, and had done this on purpose so that their party leaders would not grow too powerful. They felt that the best form of government was a mixed system in which parties competed for power while different forms of government also competed for power within the system. Here, they had democracy competing with a top-down system comparable to Moonshine, where the party itself appointed the officials in government. This came as no surprise to the Counters, as the Counters (and their wives) had been the Cooks' teachers, and had taught this very same idea in their schools.

Other reforms

Abolition of discrimination

The Cooks immediately revoked the Counters' discrimination laws, saying that all tribes were welcome in Cook society, and that the entire empire was open to settlement by any tribe. They invited the aboriginal tribes to move to the cities and interact with the Play-speaking majority, even knowing that some aboriginals would be reluctant to live among the people whose ancestors had mistreated them in the past.

The Cooks also stated that they wanted to attract settlers from foreign nations, which they knew their parents in the Counter party would strongly oppose, as one of the founding principles of the Cold party from which the Counters had come was that minorities whose populations lived entirely within the Cold nation were welcome and were an important part of Cold society, but groups who lived partly or entirely outside the Cold nation would always be loyal to the other nation, and thus were enemies by definition. Thus they had never allowed foreigners to join the Cold nation. The Cooks wanted to change this, but nonetheless acknowledged that few people would be interested in moving to a nation with such an uncertain future.

This new law also meant that the Cooks could move into areas such as Repilia where aboriginal tribes were the clear majority; the Cooks understood that some aboriginals would oppose this and see it as a continuation of the invasion of Nama, because much of Anzan's land had been taken from Nama. Because the Counters openly supported invading what little remained of Nama, the Cooks believed that their policies would be more favorable to aboriginals broadly stated.

Status of banned parties

The Cooks retained the right to discriminate against and even to strip citizenship from members of opposing political parties, saying that one's tribal identity is not a choice, but party membership is. Therefore the Tadpole party remained illegal, although the Cooks stated that there were no known Tadpoles in their nation because they had awarded Cook party membership to any Tadpoles who chose to accept it, and they could see no reason why any would refuse.

The Cooks also banned the Raspara party, revoked their citizenship, and stated that because they were no longer citizens, they could not join the Cooks or any other political party in Anzan. Therefore the Cooks claimed the authority to deny not only admission to their own party, but also to others.

Outreach attempts

The Cooks, confident of their hold on power, spent little effort on attempts to get members of opposing parties to join the Cooks. However, because such a large portion of the population — all women, all children, and many men — had been disenfranchised under the previous government, the Cooks hoped that even these small efforts would result in a growth in party membership, and that the new members joining the Cooks would be just the sort of people they needed to help maintain their hold on power as they grew. Thus they cast the Cook party as the party of wide appeal, in contrast to the Counters and the various small parties who had persisted from the previous era, all of which the Cooks described as representing only narrow special interests.

Appeal to pacifists

The Cooks upheld their forebearers' ban on the Tadpole party, consisting of adult men who had violated Cold laws, and who were largely handicapped or people who had feigned disability to escape the Cold nation's two recent foreign wars. Thus, many Tadpoles were pacifists, and many had been forced into labor camps by the Counters, including those who were unable to perform the required labor. The Cooks depicted themselves as being more pacifistic than their parents, and felt therefore that the draft-dodging Tadpoles would make ideal Cooks, as there were no other parties that seemed a good fit for them. Even though the Counters had also avoided the two recent wars, the Cooks felt that very few Tadpoles would willingly join a party run by people who had abused them by assigning them impossible tasks in the labor camps.

Pacifism was a difficult subject in Cold culture, as the common belief was that not just men, but humans in general, needed to be constantly aggressive in order to fight off their predators, and that any people who dropped their weapons would quickly become meat for those who had not. Thus, the Cooks did not specifically identify themselves as pacifists, but stated that military planners sometimes targeted the wrong people, and that they were correcting this flaw in their parents' ideology.

Appeal to women

Vastly more numerous than the Tadpoles were the unenrolled adult females in the Cold nation, largely the wives of Counters and Tadpoles, but also including some, especially younger women, who were unmarried or who had lost husbands in the recent wars. Polygamy was legal but financially difficult as the husband was responsible for the welfare of his wives and children, and Cold women often gave birth to many children.

Expecting these women to span the entire range of ideologies, the Cooks avoided political arguments and promoted the boys and girls in the Cook party leadership as being the only group in the Cold nation who truly respected women's rights, and in particular the right of women to express their opinions. The Cooks opposed the Play party because the Players discriminated against males, and the Cooks stated that women were strong enough on their own not to need the government and police to enforce Play-style laws confining men to a position at the bottom of society.

Appeal to aboriginals

When the Counters had earlier passed racial discrimination laws, they applied those laws only to minorities whose population lived partly outside Cold territory; that is, to transnational parties such as the Raspara, Matrixes, and, controversially, the Players. The Counters claimed that the aboriginals of Nama and Repilia were entirely within Cold territory because the Counters (then known as Cold Men) claimed jurisdiction over all of that territory. They stated that the aboriginals were irrevocably wedded to the Cold nation and that, therefore, they should be on the winning side of the Counters' discrimination laws.

This coalition strategy was very similar to the Players' earlier efforts to build a coalition from the disparate groups in their nation, who were divided by race as well as by ideology, while excluding groups who lacked strong ties to the Play nation. The Players at the time were so overcome by unrelated conflicts that their strategy mostly worked; but now, in the Cold nation, the aboriginals were unmoved by the Counters' promise of solidarity. Traditionally, the aboriginal tribes had voted through a census, meaning that the entire tribe always voted the same way in all elections; now, they began to break from their tribes to join political parties, both new and established ones.

The Cooks claimed that, by abolishing racism, they had solved the only reasonable objections that the aboriginal tribes could have to the incoming Cook dynasty. But they also sharply criticized the aboriginals who chose to remain in their traditional tribal voting system, saying that any party which forces all the members of a tribe to vote in exactly the same way is no party at all. The Cooks warned the aboriginals that they might soon make such parties illegal, just as they had already banned the Raspara party which even the Counters had chosen to tolerate.

Appeal to other ethnic minorities

The Cooks inherited their parents' cultural stereotypes. They thus grew up believing that people with blond hair were delicate, cowardly, and the first to submit to a hostile power during war. (Play žayuŋau; a more concise English translation would be "requiring a luxurious lifestyle".) By contrast, black hair was associated with žaipa: courage, hardiness, and loyalty towards nation and family.[3]

These stereotypes had been present to varying degrees in the cultures of the area for more than 3,000 years, and at times had been accepted by the targets of the stereotype as positive traits. However, the Players and their ancestors had at times fought wars against Dreamland, and had within recent history been under forced occupation by Dreamland. Therefore the stereotypes had turned negative again and had remained so even as control of Pūpepas quickly passed from one power to another. The Cold Men had claimed that Dreamland had only been able to win its war because at the time, the Empire had been disarmed by a previous occupying power, the Crystals, and that the Dreamers were in fact very poor soldiers by nature. Because soldiers with blond hair often worried they would be sacrificed by other soldiers due to their perception of being worth less, men with blond hair had often tried to avoid military service and, if forced, sought noncombatative duties. This only enhanced the stereotype that blonde people were afraid of violence and yet would happily submit to violence if they were faced with a hostile power stronger than their own.

The Dreamers were also well-known for their dislike of nature, and particularly of forests, as the Dreamers had a very large nation for their population size but yet lived mostly in large, compact cities where there were few animals or plants nearby. The Cooks and their ancestors both attributed this practice to the Dreamers' supposed physically delicate build, such that they simply could not live in an outdoor environment without constantly injuring themselves and acquiring various illnesses which would not affect hardier peoples.

There was no significant Dreamer population in the Cold nation; indeed, the Cold Men had little interest in fighting a war against Dreamland even as they agreed they would most likely win if other nations kept away.

Rather, blond hair was a trait that was scattered throughout the population, and in no discernible geographic pattern. The Counters had discriminated against these people, and, towards the end of their short time in power, had also passed a law that enabled them to deport groups deemed to be minorities into the Play nation, even if knowing the Players would also mistreat them. The Counters (then called Cold Men) had even allowed the Players to invade Thaoa, at the time a strong ally of the Counters, and the Counters refused to help Thaoa because they claimed Thaoa should have been strong enough to repulse the Players on their own. Despite its southerly location, Thaoa's people were among the blondest in the world and had supported the Counters while resenting their belief in the stereotypes.

The Cooks abolished racial discrimination, saying that a strong nation would not make enemies of its own supporters. This included the prohibition of discrimination against groups with no legal definition, such as people with blonde hair. Nonetheless, the stereotypes remained, and the Cooks believed that these people would be more physically vulnerable in nature than the dark-haired majority, and unable to hold the rugged žaipa lifestyle the Cooks were planning to lead their nation into. Some Cooks believed that it would be enough to pass laws intended to enforce the žaipa way of life, while others believed that people with blonde hair, even those who supported the Cooks, would demand a luxurious lifestyle and drag down the Cooks' reform projects by their mere existence.

The Cooks were largely unaware of the Soap Bubbles, who shared the Cooks' cultural stereotypes against the Dreamers but who themselves mostly had blond hair and thus did not apply those stereotypes based on physical appearance.

At the southern fringes of Cold territory, there were two groups of people with dark skin: one was the Eggs, a member of the Play party coalition, and the other was a group of long-time residents of the tropics who had recently joined the Moonshines. The Cold Men had never included either of these groups as minorities because they were both already members of separate parties, and therefore the Counters' discrimination laws could not punish these people in any way that they had not already brought upon themselves by joining a minority party.

Appeal to young children

Pridefully, the Cooks agreed with their enemies that the greatest threat to the nation's stability was not any of the above groups, but rather the newly enfranchised young children who had yet to choose their preferred party or even form an ideology. The Cooks believed that their party would have greater appeal to young people than would the Counters because the Cooks themselves were very young, but they also knew that the young children could create a party of their own, and perhaps several, that could threaten to bring down the government; even with the executive bureau and the Counter's reserved seats in Parliament, the stability of the government rested largely on cooperation between those two unelected groups.

Eastern Capital Treaty

With the help of the STW corporation, the newly empowered Cooks soon established contact with the emerging Little Country more than a thousand miles to the west, which was now run by the Clovers, a group of STW graduates and students who were about the same age as the founding members of the Cooks. The Clovers' government was an absolute monarchy, in which the young king, the Golden Sun, shared power with his classmates since he knew that he could not run the country singlehandedly. Since the Clovers had absolute power, they saw no need to broaden their appeal, and because the king did not trust adults, there were no positions of power for adults in the Clover government.

The STW corporation had financed the war which placed the Clovers in power. Now, having heard that the Cold nation had also come under the control of very young rulers, STW felt that the Clovers and the Cooks would make ideal diplomatic partners, and arranged a meeting in the Cooks' capital city of Napaatusā, which the Clovers were now referring to as the eastern capital (pāanaā paata) of the Little Country. This was a tribute to the rising Cook party; the Clovers were not seeking to wrest control of Napaatusā, but merely to acknowledge that the Cook government was on par with their own.

Journey to Napaatusā

The king sent two of his classmates, a boy and a girl, eastward to Napaatusā to meet with the Cooks. The Counters were also invited to send a team of diplomats to the meeting, but the king told the Clover diplomats to speak with the Cooks first and to make their decisions based on the assumption that the Cooks and the Clovers would be the two parties in control of their respective nations.

The route from the Clovers' nation of Pavaitaapu to Napaatusā crossed two mountain ranges, but yet the two cities lay on the same road, because the STW corporation had financed the construction of such a road to enable them to trade along this route. Indeed, STW was responsible for all contact between the two groups, and was also financing the Clover kids' mission. This trade route normally took months even so, but with such a light load, STW's caravans delivered the two kids to Napaatusā within a few weeks. They traveled entirely by land, avoiding the eastern downhill river routes, so that a Sunspot bodyguard named Slider (Play Nīmtua Ŋapuši) would be able to steer their caravan for the entire journey.

The young girl Lifeline (Play Ŋamatapai Mamnuaatata, also known as Mamnuaa for short) took the leading role in the mission to meet the Cooks in Napaatusā. The king had chosen to send both a boy and a girl because he had heard that the Cooks, though brought up to embrace a male power structure, were now inviting girls into their party and therefore might be impressed to learn that the Clovers, despite being brought up in the same male-led society, had also made the same reform.

The boy's birth name was Naašayu, from the phrase naas žayu "loyal to the capital". At the time of his birth, the unquestioned capital of the Empire had been Napaatusā, but now the Clovers were referring to Mutanapana as their own capital. To avoid a fruitless debate over the meaning of his name, the boy introduced himself as Anthem (Play Pīseuyavavu).

Although the Counters were invited to the meeting, the children told the Counter diplomats to wait outside so that the two groups of kids could first meet with each other. Yet, the bodyguard named Slider, who worked for STW, then followed the Clovers into the meeting room without explanation, and the kids did not object to this. He remained standing as the children took their seats.

Sun's advice

As Slider positioned himself behind the two Clover diplomats, the Clovers warned the young Cooks against enrolling adults into their party, saying that all adults had outside motives that by definition conflicted with the Cooks' plans for government, and that this included adults whose ideology aligned with the Cooks'. They then explained that because STW was not seeking a direct role in governing either the Clovers' nation or the Cooks', Slider would not object to this plan.

The diplomats said that they had experienced strong resistance from their own adult population, even though these people were members of the same political party. They explained that the very word "Clover" was not a party name, but a term of abuse, a Play-language pun implying that the young Clover leaders were so uneducated and unfit for government that they did not know the name of their own country. Thus, the Clovers were sure their troubles were simply due to their age, and that the public was protesting against being left out of power, not against the Clover agenda.

The Cooks countered that because they did not have slaves, they could not run the nation on their own, and needed to enroll adults into the government in order to have a competent police force, and for other basic functions such as education which they preferred to run through their government (STW was a private school system, and the Cooks supported STW, but did not want to rely on it). However the Cooks promised the Clovers that these adults would not be required to join the Cook party to receive their positions, and therefore that the Cook power structure would not be compromised.

Counters enter the room

After a long wait, the young Cook diplomats opened the door to allow the Counters into the room. They were assigned empty seats across the table, meaning that the Cooks and Clovers were on one side of the table and the adult Counters were on the other, even though the Counters were part of the Cooks' government and the Clovers were not. Slider, the STW bodyguard, was now standing in the corner of the room behind the young Cook and Clover diplomats.

The Lilypad Association

Thus the Cooks and Clovers signed the Eastern Capital Treaty (Puptapupa Pāanaā Paatas), establishing a social connection called the Lilypad Association (Play ŋitikae šaa, Late Andanese Putaanahahuka) between their two parties.


The English name here represents the transnational Leaper name intended to be used in diplomacy, and is not a good semantic match of either the Play or Andanese names.

The Late Andanese name was a new coinage based on the preexisting word for corporation (/putaananuluku/) and did not contain a word for lilypad. The new word de-emphasized money and emphasized social cooperation. The Lilypad Association had another Andanese name, Vitalaatugagahaamatikala; this was the proper name Putaanahahuka spelled through a cipher. This cipher was of a type that fused morphemes together, and therefore the name could not be divided into its constituent morphemes.

Meanwhile, the Play name did not contain a word for corporation; rather, šaa "lilypad" had come to be used, shorn of its classifier suffix, to describe a social connection of any type.

Therefore, the members of the Lilypad Association did not refer to themselves as lilypads, either in Andanese or in Play, but the Leaper-speaking STWers assigned them that name to be used in diplomacy. The English acronym TLA here echoes the commoners' saying that "TLA is TLC", meaning that the Lilypad Association was simply the Little Country acting through a shell organization and not representative of the nation of Anzan.

Some people began to speak of the Lilypad party, a three-way union of the Clovers, the Cooks, and their adult STW supporters; this was because the Clovers were not a political party, and STW allowed overlapping membership; only the Cooks, among the three, were a traditional political party. But STW did not formally declare the creation of a new political party. Translation of the name as "Frog" was also suggested, since the Play words for frog and for lilypad were the same (distinguished by animacy), the reasoning being that just as tadpoles develop into frogs, the Tadpole party of Anzan would give way to the newer generation of Frogs. But this was avoided as this name could be seen as having religious significance due to the existence of a place called Frog Pond in the shared religion of all the people involved. The Play name of the Lilypads did not have this problem because as above there was only one word.

Corporate finance

The Lilypad Association was independent of the national government. The treaty united the Cooks and Clovers and stated that decisions made by one party would affect the other. This was legal because the Cook party hierarchy was separate from the government of Anzan, even though the Clover party hierarchy had been merged with the government of the Little Country.

STW considered the Lilypad Association to be also independent of STW, but stated that protecting the company was part of STW's business operations, and therefore that they would fund the Lilypads to ensure that the connection remained open. This was along STW's existing trade route, which had been open for more than a hundred years.

Counter reaction

Nonetheless, the Counters protested that the new treaty was illegal, claiming it had created a statelike organization that was effectively a government within a government, and could only harm the wider state of Anzan. The Little Country was a kingdom within Anzan, and the Counters claimed that although the Clovers had absolute power within their kingdom, they were still part of Anzan and could not sign a legally binding treaty with a single political party that represented only part of Anzan's population.

STW's representative, Slider, had done much of the writing of the treaty despite not participating in the debate. The Counters complained that he had worded the beginning of the treaty to imply that the Counters had surrendered all of their power to the Cooks, and then made little mention of the Counters until recording their signatures at the end. The Counters figured that when Slider arrived back in Clover territory, he could easily twist the meaning of the words even further. Yet, in every case, the wording was such that a literal reading of the treaty would suggest that the Counters were still in power, and so when the Counters explained their reluctance to the young diplomats across the table, they sounded like they were trying to steal power away from them. This, in turn, made the Clovers' claims that all adults were power-hungry seem ever more true.

Just as they were being herded out of the room, one Counter diplomat loudly accused STW of maliciously shunning the Counters in order to create a sham state run entirely by young children, who would think they were getting power but would in fact be wholly dependent on STW, just as the adults in the Little Country's Slime party, which enrolled the vast majority of Pavaitaapu's adult population, had become. The Counters noted that the treaty nowhere assigned any power to STW, or even a role in managing the Cook-Clover government, but that because STW controlled the only road leading between the Cook and Clover capitals, they controlled not only all trade but all communication between the two reigning groups.

Contact with the Players

The Players were pleased to see that both the Cold and the Clover nations were now run by children, and hoped that the Play party's traditionally child-focused politics would appeal to these children during the few years they had before they matured into adults. The Players had maintained contacts with the Slimes through trade, despite the great distance and the need to send these contacts through what was now Cold territory.

Appointment schedule

The Play party had recently invaded Nama, which the Cold Men traditionally considered an ally. The Cooks reaffirmed this, and stated that they would be continuing the ongoing Cold occupation of northern Nama to protect the Naman villagers from the Players. But the Players were not formally at war with the Cooks (or even the Counters), so the Play diplomats planned to have frequent diplomatic meetings with their enemies.

The Cooks had originally planned to identify themselves in these meetings as Cold Men rather than Cooks, meaning that they would consider themselves inseparable from the Counters, and to allow the better-educated adult Counter diplomats to do most of the talking. The Cooks figured that the Cooks' and Counters' positions on the war were identical, and so even if they disagreed on internal policies, they could trust each other on foreign policy.

But the Cooks had quickly grown suspicious of the Counters as they realized that their mothers, whom they had expected to split allegiances or even lean towards the Cooks, were siding resolutely with their husbands and making the generation gap between the Cooks and the Counters even stronger than before.

Thus the new Cook diplomats now insisted on sending their own diplomats to meet with the Players, despite warnings from the Counters that the Players would manipulate them in order to turn the Cooks and Counters against each other while the Players pushed further into Nama.

First Cook reforms

The Cooks abolished the Counters' racial discrimination programs, but also banned the Raspara party. The Cooks stated that it would always be illegal in their nation to discriminate against any citizen for something they had not chosen, such as their ethnic background, but that party membership was a choice, and therefore the Raspara could not simply claim to be another ethnic minority and escape the Cooks' laws. They further declared that the Raspara were not citizens, and thus could not simply join the Cook party or any other party in the Cold nation, even if that party declared itself open to outside membership. Thus, the Cooks promised that the Raspara would not be able to join the Counters.

Change in enrollment

Police and land army

The Cooks realized that they would need to raise an army and a police force consisting of adults. Though the Cooks conceded that they were legally adults by their culture's traditions, very few Cooks had married, and their leaders did not know of any who had yet given birth to children of their own. The Cooks were unwilling to put themselves in a dangerous situation when there were older adults who could do the same. The Cooks thus again stated that their nation was a multiparty democracy, and that it was the Cold nation, not the Cook nation, and that therefore the Cooks would remain in power while also using the other parties to help strengthen their rule.

The Cooks promised that they would police themselves very strictly, and that their nation would not have a problem with teenage crime. They promised that they would also police their younger members and any orphans who were not under control of their parents or other adults. Thus, there would be a Cook police force, but they would only police the behavior of other Cooks. The Cooks said that this would ensure that the only violent crime in the Cold nation would be committed by adults, and the Cooks believed that this would shame the adults into policing their own behavior just as strictly and therefore eliminate the need for a unified police force in the Cold nation.

Enrollment of adults

Breaking the promise they had made to the Clovers, the Cooks soon enrolled adults into their party, including many who were past the prime of their life. They figured that elderly people, of whom there were few, might differ from younger adults and be more willing to cooperate with leaders who were very young. The Cooks preferred to enroll women, since their nation had many more women than men, and because women had been locked out of power by the previous government's masculine power structure, but for this very same reason, the women who joined the Cooks were inexperienced in government and many had less education than even the youngest Cook boys.

Unlike the Clovers, most Cooks came from parented families; many had lost their fathers to war, but the adult female population in their nation had been largely spared because, despite losing their war, they had not been invaded by the winning side. The adult males who had remained were largely also part of intact families. Therefore, the Cooks' new plan put young Cook children in charge of their own parents.

Election of 4191

Because the Cooks and Counters were essentially two generations of the same population, they lived in the same places, and it was impossible for one party to gain a geographical stronghold without the other. The Cooks had planned for a nationwide census count of party enrollment, that being the means by which they would allot seats in Parliament.

The Counters urged the Cooks to call off the census, saying that the Counters were not interested in competing in any district not bordering STW's trade road and would concede 100% Cook representation in all of those districts. They merely wanted to divide the trade road with the Cooks so that both parties would share power there, with Cooks having some districts and Counters having the rest. The Counters stated that the population was irrelevant for this and that the division should be based on an agreement between the leaders of the Cook and Counter parties. The Cooks refused, stating that it was important that the Cooks be allowed to outvote the Counters because the Cooks were the clear majority in their nation.

Therefore the Counters announced the establishment of road voting (mupā ŋaupumi), a policy borrowed from the Players. Since the Counters could not win a majority in any district in Anzan where they lived, they wanted to pool their votes into a few districts along STW's trade road and gain control of that. They also said that they would be using the votes from the Slime party to the west, since the children in the Little Country were preventing the Slimes from voting there.

Election results

The Counters stuffed tens of thousands of illegal votes into the tallies, and also destroyed the ballots of many Cooks. They figured they could outsmart the children by cheating in the election and then explaining that the Cooks were simply wrong about having majority support.

Interactions in Parliament

Although their parents had cheated them out of many seats, the Cooks still won a majority in Parliament, and sent a slate of representatives including many adult Cooks into Parliament. The parliamentarians were sorted first by party, and then by geography, but not by age. Therefore the adults and the children in the Cook party were seated together.

Problems with Cook party recruits

The young Cook leaders soon found the adults uncooperative, with both men and women acting as though they were in charge of the Cook party despite their low formal position, and the Cooks wondered whether the Clovers had been right all along. Even though the children could have easily outvoted the adults whenever a debate came up, they were reluctant to do so, knowing that most of the adults were the parents of children and could make life difficult for the Cooks at home.

Therefore the children began to vote against their interests in order to avoid fights with adults. But sometimes even this was not enough, because different factions of adults also fought each other, and the children realized that they would lose no matter which side they picked.

Cooks lose patience

Though sympathetic to their mothers, and supportive of education for both women and for men, the Cooks now asked by what rationale these uneducated women should be placed in charge of their recently graduated children, who had done all of the work in creating the new government and even established diplomatic relations with the Clover kingdom to the west. Likewise, to the ex-Tadpoles, who were mostly men, the Cooks explained that they had done a great favor by erasing their crimes, and that the Cooks had had no obligation to do this. The Cooks had expected the ex-Tadpoles to recognize this and to repay the favor by dutifully obeying the Cooks, but the Tadpoles largely acted as though they were the ones who had been cheated, and that the Cooks' rehabilitation of their fathers was just the first step in a long path towards righting what had been wrong.

The young Cooks considered a plan to physically separate themselves from the adult parliamentarians so that the adult Cooks could not so easily yell in their faces or interrupt conversations between the younger Cooks.

Problems with Counters

The adult Cooks soon discovered the vote fraud, but could not identify which of the Counters had been legitimately elected and which were sitting in unearned seats. The younger Cooks found this frustrating as well, but figured that being cheated was simply the price they would need to pay for cooperation. The young Cooks therefore did not seek to expel the spurious Counter parliamentarians, and came into divide with their own adults on that particular issue.

Second Lilypad conference

The young Cook leaders therefore arranged another meeting with the Clovers, and specifically requested to meet with the same two kids that they had met months earlier. Though this meeting was in Cook territory, the Cooks sent only five children to meet with the two Clovers.

The Cooks invited no adults to the meeting. Nonetheless, to their dismay, STW's adult bodyguard Slider followed the Clovers into the room and then stood behind the Clover kids, as before, without explanation. Previously, the man had stood behind the Clover kids and faced the adults across the table; now, even with no adults present, he was standing in the same position. The Cooks stared at him silently for a short while and then moved on with their prepared opening speech detailing the ways their adult population had made life difficult for them.

In turn, the Clovers admitted that they had earlier only been repeating the words of their king and had not committed to the advice themselves, but that now they understood that the king had been right and that both the Clovers and the Cooks would be facing adults who were obstinate at best and hostile at worst.

Slider speaks

As the kids vented their anger, the bodyguard Slider spoke for the first time. Because they were all speaking at once, he had no choice but to interrupt, and the kids worried that he was going to join the argument and perhaps make threats against the Clovers. Instead he merely said he was going to leave the room, and he asked for the kids to alert him when the meeting was over.

Although surprised at the man's polite manners, the Cooks still felt his behavior was strange, and did not trust him. They worried that the man was only leaving because he had already heard enough, and had decided to kill the Clovers on the journey back to the west regardless of what else went on at the meeting. Nonetheless, they noticed that the Clovers did not seem afraid.

The Cooks had in fact been holding themselves back while Slider was in the room, carefully choosing their words to imply that they still trusted men like Slider even if they no longer trusted adults as a whole. Now that he was gone, the Cooks became even more harsh, stating that what they really wanted was a nation of their own, similar to the Clovers', where adults had no power at all and, if necessary, would be enslaved and confined on plantations with physical barriers to prevent escape.

Royal advice

The Clovers advised the Cooks to drop all pretense of democracy and simply rule by force, saying that despite being young they vastly outnumbered the adult males in their nation, and thus had a key advantage that the Clovers did not; the Clovers acknowledged that there were many other problems that could not all have simple solutions, but again underlined that both the Cooks and the Clovers were facing opposition that was not due to ideology, and therefore that it was foolish for the Cooks to expect to make alliances with older people along ideological lines.

State of the economy

Anzan at this time had a traditional capitalist economy, with wealth concentrated in the west, nearest Baeba Swamp. Most families preferred to remain in the colder, poorer eastern highlands, however, as there was more water and food supplies were more reliable there. The west was richer, but this wealth was entirely derived from foreign trade and people living there knew that their jobs and their savings could both disappear any day with little warning. This followed a longstanding cultural trait called žaya uniting the Cold Men with their enemies the Players and many surrounding cultures. They did not reject wealth, but believed it unnecessary, and valued people who were hardy both physically and mentally, able to prosper and be happy in environments where more delicate people would run from or even be unable to survive.

The Cooks relied on adults for economic advice, but balanced their advisors between the Cooks, Counters, and nonpartisan STW employees so that they could not be wholly controlled by one entity. The Cooks no longer trusted the adult members in their own party and so did not want to award them absolute power over the economy.


The Cooks continued to use their nation's inherited tampaaba coins as their currency.

Domestic production

Role of women in business

Anzan was relatively poor, producing little wealth on its own, and most adults were preoccupied with meeting the basic needs of food and shelter rather than producing goods they could export to other nations. Though they still had a sizable adult female population, these women had grown up in a society in which women did not typically learn skilled trades apart from medicine and those relating to childcare.

Women were taught the basic skills of childcare, and so they had generally good knowledge of medicine, and were able to meet these needs domestically rather than relying on imported plants and other goods. Unlike the Players, the Cooks and Counters bathed frequently, used soap, and had not suffered from any plagues during their time in power.

Nonetheless, even the male-dominated Tink party had allowed women to own businesses, and because men were preoccupied with the military, it increasingly came to pass that girls' education in school was focused on business skills such as money handling, logistics, and so on. The Sea Turtle Corporation had not survived through the turnover of political parties and the many wars, but education continued, and therefore the adult women still living in Anzan were those who had learned in school how best to run businesses.

Carpentry and furniture

Anzan had many trees, but few carpenters, and so the Cooks were able to sell wood to the STW corporation, which had long specialized in building furniture, but then had to buy the furniture back from STW for a higher price. The Cooks saw no need to remedy this problem, as they figured they would soon be at war with the Players, and considered winning the war far more important than having beds and chairs in people's homes.

Participation in international trade

The STW corporation had built a trade road more than a hundred years earlier passing through what was now the Cooks' territory. Now, STW employed the Cooks and other Cold Men in helping them transport domestically produced goods to and along this road, which also stretched south into Play territory and westward into Clover territory and then into Baeba Swamp. There were also outlets in Tata and a few other small nations.

Because the Cold nation was geographically in between the Play and Clover territories, STW needed the Cold Men to cooperate in order to carry out their trade operations, since the nations at each end sought the goods of the other.

Calls for war against the Players

Spread of the Rash

In 4192, a young Cook boy named Mint (Pašaaum) urged the Cooks to declare war on the Play nation. He rejected the Players' name Memnumu, which began with the Play word for milk and sounded to Play speakers like a land of plenty, and referred to Play territory instead as Tamaūputa. This was not an insult, as the Cooks were averse to insulting even their enemies; rather, it began with the word for leash.

Mint believed that the Counters would put themselves on the front lines in such a war, but avoided mentioning this, knowing that his party's leaders had no respect for adults and might say that the Counters would more likely lead the march into Play territory, defect to the Players, and then laugh as the Players led the defenseless Cook children onto labor camps.

Mint belonged to the new Rash movement (Šaŋašīs) which stressed the need for the Cooks to align with their parents' position on the war even if they disagreed with them on every single domestic issue. They warned the other Cooks of the folly of embracing the Players who had proudly announced to the Cooks that they were being invaded. Despite trusting the Counters, the Rashes promised that they would fight the war independently, commanding their own armies, instead of relying on adult soldiers or even adult commanders.

The Rash leaders refused to declare themselves a separate party because they knew that by so doing they would lose access to the Cook-exclusive executive bureau that oversaw the Parliament, and potentially also lose seats in Parliament. However the Rashes admitted that the other Cooks could choose to expel them if they so desired.

Mint was often seen standing with a boy his age named Lamb (Šaisamba; also known as Tasuiyuvaa).[4]

Conference in Nama

The Players also called for a meeting with the various parties. Departing from a long tradition, this was in an area of Nama that was still under Cold party control.


As they traveled, two of the Cook boys were abducted and never made it to the meeting. The other Cooks did not know what had happened until they arrived at the meeting site and saw that they were missing two diplomats. The Players hosting the meeting claimed that because the kidnapping had taken place in Cold territory, Players could not have been responsible, and that it was likely that villagers from a Naman aboriginal tribe had carried out the deed. The Players offered to take control of the entirety of Nama in order to search for the perpetrators, saying that the Cooks and Counters clearly had lost control of that territory already as evidenced by the fact that they had been abducted just while traveling through.


Moving on, the Play diplomats promptly announced the imminent arrival of Play soldiers in the area of northern Nama where the meeting was taking place. The Players stated that they were invading on behalf of the aboriginal tribes, and would improve their living standards, just as they claimed to have done for the tribes in southern Nama. The Players said that the Cooks could no longer pretend that they were simply sharing Nama's territory with the Players; now, the whole of Nama belonged to the Players, and the Cooks and Counters would be considered enemy soldiers.

Counter response

The Counters responded to this by declaring war on the Players, and stating that they would fight the war on their own. Previously, they had held back from this, stating that the Cooks and Counters needed to have a common foreign policy, and that they respected the Cooks' outreach to nontraditional nations such as the Little Country.

The Counters believed that the Players were responsible for the kidnapping, and had specifically demanded that the meeting take place in Cold territory so that they could deflect the blame onto the innocent Naman villagers. The Counters stated that there was no pro-Play insurgency in Nama, and that this proved that the Naman villagers supported the Counters.

Despite having only a few thousand members, the Counters promised to raise an army of at least 10,000 men to fight their war, again saying that the Naman villagers were pro-Counter and would willingly join the Counter army.

They knew the Players' army was much larger than this, but stated that a small army could defeat a large one if they had the civilian population on their side. They said that, if they won, they would hold Nama and would not seek to take the war to the Play homeland, as they acknowledged that the Play civilian population strongly supported the Players' military policies.

The Cooks had recently created an army of their own, mostly consisting of young boys but with some adult men who had promised to take positions on the front lines should they ever come to battle. But the Counters urged the Cooks not to get involved, saying that Play soldiers could do things to them that they could not turn back on the Players. The Counters repeated that all territory won from the Players would be part of a strictly one-party Counter state, but promised that life in this territory would be better for the Cooks than life in the Cooks' own territories.

Declaration of war

Nonetheless, the Cook Parliament, listening to the words of Mint and the other diplomats who had attended the meeting, formally declared war on the Players and promised to send their army, headed by the adult volunteers who were mostly ex-Tadpoles. The Cooks insisted on keeping their army separate because they knew that the Counters would refuse to obey their commands, and because they figured that the ex-Tadpole soldiers would still have hard feelings towards the Counters who had earlier abused them.

This army included the Rash soldiers, who still identified as Cooks, but refused to obey adult commanders or even to allow adult soldiers into their battalions. The mainstream Cooks respected this and assigned Rash soldiers to battalions with no adults. The Cooks did not want the Rashes to have their own battalions, because they felt they needed a unified force to win their war, so they assigned Cooks to these battalions as well, saying that they understood the Rashes' distrust of adults but that they needed to still trust the Cooks who trusted adults.

Appearance of militants

But now some militants within the Counters formed a movement of their own, the Leash (Tamaba nuu). The Leashes stated that they represented the true nationalist wing of the Cold party, that they would never compromise with outside powers, and that children should obey adults; therefore they would not serve the interests of the rebellious young Cook children. Yet they bluntly stated that they did not care what had happened to the two kidnapped Cook boys and would not search Play territory solely to rescue the boys; their priority was to invade the Players and take more land, even if the Players responded by abducting and killing more Cold citizens.

Thus there were now three separate armies marching under the Cold banner. The most traditional army was the Counters, but they were poorly equipped for battle and were motivated largely by the need to protect their children. A more militant army, the Leash, was less concerned about preventing civilian casualties and more concerned with winning back control of Nama from the Players. The third army was the Cooks, young boys who had placed themselves in command of adult soldiers who promised to fight on the front lines, even though many Cook leaders predicted that the adult soldiers would scatter at the first sign of danger and leave the boys to face the Player army on their own.

Player escalation

Needle attack

Many Players still lived peaceably in Cold territory. In the city of Čumfunua, in the Cold Men's northern Needle region (Natamšīa), a group of Play civilians gathered up weapons and then attacked the city, taking it over by pure force and thus turning it into a Play stronghold outside the control of the Cold Men. These Players manufactured their own weapons, largely made from the wood of the pine trees that grew in and around the city of Čumfunua.

Čumfunua was an important waypoint on STW's trade route that stretched across the continent and linked the Play capital city of Pūpepas with Tata and Baeba Swamp thousands of miles down the road. By taking over Čumfunua, the Players realized that they could better control trade and travel along the road.

The Play army had been ruled out of Cold territory by the recent Impossible Treaty, and this was one of the few points of the treaty for which the Cold Men demanded strict compliance. But the Cold party constitution did not allow them to ban the Play party itself, and there was no support within Cold territory for a civil war against the legal Play civilians who had chosen to remain.


By this time, the Cooks and Clovers had formed close bonds and were considering a treaty identifying themselves as a single nation with two autonomous provinces; this would be little more than a diplomatic formality since they would not be bound by any treaties, even to a common military policy, but it would underscore the claim that the Cook-Clover alliance was in control of its territory and not merely a front for the traditional adult powers sharing their land.

But now the Play insurgents had broken the young nation in half. Despite its large claimed territory, communication between the Cook and Clover capitals relied on a single, vulnerable trade route controlled mostly by the STW corporation, which had built and continually maintained the road because it profited from the trade. This road also continued further south, into Play territory, and therefore by taking control the Players could conceivably charge higher prices for their products and pay lower prices for what was given to them.

Cold reaction

The Cold nation had no unified police force because the Cooks had expected that an adult police force would not obey them. Thus, the adult police force was run by the Counter party.

The Players in Memnumu said that because the attack had taken place in Cold territory, it was the responsibility of the Cold military and police forces to prevent such attacks, and therefore the Players in Memnumu would not accept blame. This was the same argument that the Players had used just weeks earlier to blame the kidnapping of the Cook boys on the villagers of Nama; this led the Counters to grow increasingly suspicious of the Players, wondering if this excuse would be repeated every time the Players launched an unprovoked attack against the Counters or the Cooks.

The Counter soldiers knew that they could not easily launch revenge attacks in Play territory because the Play police force was much more strict and did not allow the Cold party, nor any other party with a male leadership structure.

The Cooks knew that the STW corporation would most likely order its traders to fight the Players and reestablish control of the route for STW, since STW relied on that trade route more than the Cooks did. All adults in STW were soldiers, and therefore could be called on at any time by STW to fight a battle, but the Cooks also knew that STW had recently become notorious for forcing child soldiers into battles adults would not fight, and worried that STW's traders, who were now stuck in Cold territory south of the insurgents, would use some sort of clever trick to force the Cooks into battle against the insurgents and that STW would only show up once many Cooks had been killed. The Cooks figured that STW's scheme, if it existed, might rely on antagonizing the entire Play population and not just the insurgents along the trade route.

Cooks attempt to regain control

However the Cooks soon realized that STW was not interested in regaining the city, and that perhaps the Players had decided to allow STW's traffic to continue despite the occupation.

With their own army, the Cooks attempted to regain control of the lost city of Čumfunua. The Cook leaders assigned a girl[5] named Yamaupa the job of retaking the city. Yamaupa then led 623 young Cooks and a smaller number of adult soldiers westward through the wilderness towards the city of Čumfunua.

Battle of Čumfunua

As the army reached the city of Čumfunua, they saw that the Players were now patrolling the perimeter. At this, the adults in Yamaupa's army refused to fight, telling the children to lead the battle themselves since they were the ones with the most to gain from a victory. Repeating well-worn arguments, the adults argued that there was no cultural precedent to force older adults to take the front lines of the battle while sparing younger adults, and that even the youngest Cooks had become legally adults by taking power in the government. These men argued that the Cooks could not be adults in Parliament and children on the battlefield, and that because the Cooks had the leading positions in the government, they should also be the ones to fight on the front lines.

Earlier, some Cook leaders had been warning of the dangers of enrolling adults into the Cook army, saying that their experiences so far had proven that adults were unreliable allies. Most of the Cook population had assured these people that they were expecting too little, and that the adult soldiers, mostly former Tadpoles, would have no reason to betray the Cooks because they were bound by common interests and also had a common enemy. But now, seeing that the worst predictions had indeed come true, the Cooks discharged all adults from their army and then surrendered control of Čumfunua to the Play party. The Players then impounded the 600 young boys and girls as prisoners of war, saying that they would be well cared for, but had irrevocably given up their freedom by surrendering to the Players.

The Players allowed the Cooks to communicate diplomatically even while imprisoned. They secured a statement from the Cook general Yamaupa who had attempted to free Čumfunua declaring her people to be at peace with the Play party to the south, inviting the Players to accelerate their invasion, and stating that she believed the wider Cook population would be better off living in a tyrannical Play colony than under the care of their own adult population.

Meeting in Pūpepas

Yamaupa's surrender did not bind the Cook population as a whole, who remained at war with the Players after the Players' capture of the 600 soldiers. The Cooks sent a team of diplomats to the Play capital of Pūpepas, including some prisoners of war whom the Players had allowed to attend. Still making gestures of trust, the Cooks asked the Players to protect these kids on their journey so that they would not be abducted again, and so that if harm did come to them, the Players would not be able to deflect the blame.

Attempt to ally with Players

In Pūpepas they asked the Players to release the children from the detention camp in Čumfunua, stating that the entire Cook population was willing to submit to Play rule and that they wished to see Anzan lose its entire youth population to show the adults the consequences of their unending betrayals.

The Cooks stated that the Players would be doing them a great favor by releasing their friends, but that it would also benefit the Players. The Cooks stated that the Counters, STW, and other traditional adult armies would most likely retake Čumfunua on their own, and might then punish the Players in ways that the Cooks could not. By releasing the children, the Players would no longer need to worry that traditional adult armies would try to do the same by force.

Players' demand of surrender

The Players stated that if the Cooks were serious about submitting to Play rule, that they needed to realize that they would all live in conditions similar to prisoners of war. The Players stated that they were protectors, not abusers, and that if the Cooks considered what the Players had done in Čumfunua to be abuse, then they did not have clear minds and needed to have their lives entirely controlled by the Play watchkeepers.

Movement towards emancipation

The Cook leaders could not bear to make peace with the Players so long as the Players refused to release the prisoners of war. Realizing the situation was impassable, the Cooks focused their attention on the enemies within their nation.

Declaration of distress

The Cooks authored a formal declaration of distress, saying that life in their nation was no longer merely unpleasant but now also dangerous, and that young Cook children were the most vulnerable group in their nation. They stated that heretofore, they would begin taking actions that for traditional nations would be considered selfish or even illegal, but that they needed to do such things in order to survive. The Cooks were worried about food supplies, and so they stated that all sources of food in their nation now belonged to the Cooks alone, and that they would not prosecute fellow Cooks who stole food from stores and warehouses owned by non-Cooks.

Expulsion of adults

In the wake of the Play insurgency, the Cooks banned all adults from their party. They stated that it was impossible for the Cooks to lead the nation if there were adults within their own party standing in their way and at every chance doing precisely what most utterly ruined their plans.

Although the Cooks were still at war with the Players, they realized now that they had no adult allies at all. So far, every adult power they had tried to ally with had ignored or abused them. The Cook leadership was noticeably younger at this time than they had been earlier, because younger children had fled towards them from Counter families and STW's orphanages, and because the Cooks had awarded leadership positions to the younger members as they did not want to see a power struggle within their party. At the time of their foundation, their entire membership had been between the ages of ten and thirteen, with the oldest ones in control. Now, some Cooks had reached the age of fourteen, but there were many new members younger than ten. Also, they had made good on their promise to appoint girls into power, although the boys at the top of the power structure were still more numerous than the girls, as the founding members had not stood aside for the newcomers.

Abolition of adult status

The Cooks abolished their own adult status with this declaration, stating they were not adults and that their culture was wrong to force children as young as 13 into adult duties when they were still growing and most had not yet found homes of their own. (Most Cooks, having run away from their parents, now lived in abandoned homes or in vacated STW orphanages without adult caretakers.) They revived an earlier definition of adult as a man or woman who had living descendants. Then, to prevent childless adults from joining, they passed a new resolution stating that no applicant born before 4178 could join the Cooks.

The Cooks knew that this was a legal fiction, because they planned to reproduce and raise families of their own once their nation was at peace. But the new declaration was not part of the Cook party charter and so could be revoked at any time. They also stated that to give birth in such a difficult time would be considered child abuse, and that if the nation remained at war for so long that the founding Cooks reached adulthood, the law would remain in effect.

The Cooks promised to continue working with the Counters in Parliament, but also hoped that the Players would focus their attacks on the Counters.

New Tadpoles

The Cooks revived the Tadpole party and expelled the adult Cook population into it. They then declared that the Tadpoles were a criminal organization whose members could be arrested at any time. The Cooks said that the Tadpoles' betrayal was the only reason that 600 Cook children were now imprisoned in Čumfunua; had the Cooks known that the Tadpoles were going to flee, they would have never come to battle in the first place.

This was the third time in a century that there had existed a political party called the Tadpoles within the territory of Anzan. As in the previous two iterations, the Tadpole party was a tool to expedite the conviction and imprisonment of those deemed to be members; rather than worry themselves with tortuous arguments in court, the Cooks simply deemed the Tadpoles a criminal organization, and empowered themselves to assign people to its membership.

The Cooks extended the ban on adult party membership to women because they argued that women, too, should be police officers and that they should patrol the streets for young children, and because the men who were being expelled were married to some of these women, who to the Cooks were behaving as one.

Other complaints

Not all of the adults expelled from the Cook party were battle-shy ex-Tadpoles. The hundred men who had led the Cooks to Čumfunua were in fact just a small part of the whole. But the Cooks claimed that the remaining adults were merely taking advantage of the difficult situation, and that, rather than uniting with the young Cooks against an obvious greater enemy, the adults had demanded the Cooks put the traditional adult power structure back in place, having claimed that the much older citizens knew from their long experience at war better how to handle an insurgency than did the young Cook leaders. The Cooks argued that they had more experience with the situation at hand because the veterans had only fought wars as adults, and therefore not only had no greater experience, but were fighting for a different goal.

Moreover, the Cooks explained that in their short time in power, it had already become plain that the adults who had joined their party were not interested in cooperation, did not respect that they had been invited to a position they had not earned, and were unlikely to change their ways. From the beginning the young leaders had complained that the adults did not take them seriously. Adult Cooks had at times forced their ideas through even when they were clearly outnumbered, claiming they spoke for a much wider population, and that even when they lost an argument they would refuse to back down. Because so many of these people were the Cooks' own parents, they would continue the fights at home, and had forced many young Cook children to choose between changing their vote in Parliament and moving out of their homes.

New police force

The Cooks warned the Tadpoles that they were about to raise a traditional armed police force and would not shy away from arresting adults to impound them in their nation's preexisting prisons. The Cooks promised that they would tolerate the Tadpoles so long as they did not disrupt Cook society, but would arrest them immediately if they perceived a threat either to the Cooks or to any other group.

Debates over court system

The Cooks said that the Tadpoles did not deserve a trial in court. Denying the right to a trial violated the Eastern Capital Treaty that the Cooks had signed just months earlier. To relieve themselves of this obligation, the Cooks would need to turn their criminals over to the Counters, who did not believe in court systems and often executed their criminals in plain sight of the people around them. But the basis of the Cook-Clover alliance, as defined by their most recent meeting, was that children could trust each other and would not betray each other, unlike adults who constantly made and broke promises to both each other and to young children. Therefore the Cooks refused to use this legal loophole and stated that they would simply have to put the Tadpoles on trial until they could meet with the Clovers and discuss rewriting the treaty.

The Cooks promised that the Counters were still legal and would not be arrested; many Counters were still living in the same homes as their children in the Cook party, though Cooks had increasingly fled into abandoned buildings to live independently. The Cooks also promised to respect the rights of those Counters who did not have immediate relatives living nearby, and therefore could not be identified as allies by the Cooks. Knowing that any Tadpole could therefore claim Counter party membership to escape arrest, the Cooks realized that their task would be even more difficult. But the Counters solved this problem by promising that they would allow any Cook police officer to arrest them for any reason, saying that they could each prove in court that they were not Tadpoles. The Counters realized that this would give the Cooks another reason to obey the Eastern Capital Treaty, and therefore spare them from a difficult meeting with the Clovers.

Struggles with Tadpoles

The male Tadpole population consisted entirely of soldiers, including the men who had promised to protect the children in the battle of Čumfunua and then fled the scene at the last moment upon realizing that the Players were very strong. This meant that they were not only armed, but better armed than most adult soldiers, and therefore much stronger than the police officers who were now tasked with their arrest. Not all Tadpole men had access to weapons, because the original army had never been able to fully equip its soldiers, but the Tadpoles had an easier time both acquiring weapons and fashioning new ones than did the Cooks. Therefore the children knew that arresting the Tadpoles would be equivalent to fighting a war, and that their only advantage was that the Tadpoles had lost the sympathy of the other adults in their nation.

When the Tadpoles heard that they were now illegal, most fled into the wilderness. The Cooks' new law demanded that the Tadpoles flee the nation entirely, and not just leave the cities, but the Tadpoles knew that the Cooks could just barely meet their own needs in the cities and did not have time to patrol the wilderness in addition. However, they also knew that the Cooks were hunting and fishing in the wilderness, and that chance encounters would likely occur. The Tadpoles said that they would allow each other to make independent decisions in such a scenario. (Most Tadpoles denied their membership in the party because they had been stripped of Cook party membership against their will. They had yet to create a formal party government to replace the Cooks'.)

Some Tadpoles remained in the cities, openly defying the new law. When young police officers came to arrest them, they would simply laugh and dare the officers to take them to jail. At first, the officers shyly backed away, making vague threats to appear intimidating, but this quickly emboldened the Tadpoles to commit crimes, figuring that the officers would be too afraid to arrest them no matter what they did. The struggle with Tadpole crime soon became a crisis.

New laws against Tadpoles

Although there were adult police officers, these belonged to the Counter party and had earlier refused to arrest the Tadpoles. The Cooks were thus forced to compromise and state that only Tadpoles who committed traditional crimes would be arrested; this effectively made their anti-Tadpole law useless, since the Tadpoles were now in the same legal class as everybody else.

The Cooks desperately wanted to sound aggressive, so they promised to pass new laws discriminating against even those Tadpoles living compliant lives, saying that they had become like the Raspara, another illegal party. This again did not apply to the Counters, even though the Cooks also admitted they were growing weary of the Counters' own drive for power.

Tadpoles declare independence

Within mere weeks of the declaration banning Tadpoles from living in Anzan, the Tadpoles moved from mocking the young police to robbing stores and warehouses every day. Most of those who chose to live in the cities had taken over children's homes, forcing them to crowd into other children's homes.

The Tadpoles claimed to have set up a legal system of their own where the only crime they would punish was assault against children, and that even this did not apply to police officers or to those who attacked a Tadpole first, however unfair the fight should be. The Tadpoles then declared that they were creating their own nation, with the same boundaries as Anzan, and the Tadpoles as the only legal residents. They dared the children to declare war, figuring they would be too afraid to fight a war on their own and that any adult power who chose to help would demand that they hand over control of the government first.

Tadpole Treaty

After considering their options, the humiliated Cooks signed the Tadpole Treaty (Ŋavaiva Puptapupa), granting the Tadpoles the right to commit crimes with no recourse, including assault in the cases the Tadpoles demanded, and to take over as many homes as they wished, even to the point of having more than one house per person if they should so choose. They also agreed to let the Tadpoles police themselves and decide whether or not something they had done to a young Cook child should be considered a crime. The Cooks promised that they would instruct their police officers to run away as fast as possible whenever they saw a Tadpole, and that if the Tadpoles decided to assault the police officer anyway, they had every right to do so.

The Cooks held their heads low as they signed the treaty, daring not to look up at the Tadpoles for fear that they would all be smiling mischievously. The Cooks could not understand how a tiny minority was able to easily push them around, any why all of the other adults in their nation, even their own parents, kept allowing it to happen.

Worries about further betrayals

Because the Counter police had agreed to obey the Cooks, the Counters were legally required to arrest Tadpoles whom the Cooks were too weak to handle. But the Counters had refused to obey this law, so the young Cooks were left to face the adults on their own. The Cooks realized that the Counters had just done to them exactly what the Tadpoles had done: acknowledged that they were violating the law, and proceeded on without apology. And because the Tadpoles' action had triggered the new arrest law, some Cooks now wondered if the Counters deserved to also be arrested.

Counter-STW relations

When the Counters heard about the new Tadpole Treaty, however, they immediately declared war on the Tadpoles and called for a conference with the Cooks. At the conference, the Counters spoke first, but carefully chose their words, using requests instead of demands, as they suspected that the Cooks were attending against their will and had no more trust for their parents.

The Counters announced that they would do what the Cooks could not: kill the Tadpoles who had turned crime into a sport, and if necessary transfer soldiers away from the war against the Players in order to focus on the Tadpoles that they felt were a much greater threat. The Counters even hoped that they could soon attend another conference with the Players so they could announce that they had found an enemy in their own nation that they considered much worse than any nation they had faced in war.

The Counters then quietly requested that the Cooks tell their police force to leave the Tadpoles alone and focus on the much lesser crimes committed by their own members, which up until now had been mostly held in check by the Counters. The Cooks had been denying the existence of a crime problem among their own members, saying that most crimes in their nation were committed by adults, and that when young children stole food and other supplies it was because they were hungry and were only taking what they needed to get through the day. The Counters did not want to upset the Cooks and so hurriedly changed the subject, believing in any case that the Cooks' petty crimes were not the main problem facing their nation.

The Counters wanted the Cook and Counter police forces to mostly switch places, so that the Counters could focus on the much more aggressive Tadpoles while the Cooks would take down criminals their own size. The Counters again stated that they would try to divert soldiers from the war against the Players in order to strengthen the tiny Counter police force, which numbered just a few hundred men; formally, the Counter police was in fact just a wing of their army.

The Counters also promised to contact STW, and stated that perhaps STW simply did not know about the Tadpole crime wave. Privately, the Counters suspected that STW's 4,500 armed men were allowing the Tadpoles to roam free because every crime committed by a Tadpole made STW's men look like heroes by comparison.

Further Cook reforms

Debates over democracy

The Cooks worried that democracy, by its very nature, would lead to each new generation of children siding with their classmates over their parents and then seeking to overthrow the government. The Cooks had overpowered their parents easily because they outnumbered their parents by a wide margin, but they worried that in the future, the population distribution would return to a more traditional balance across age groups, and that the younger generation would see that they could not win so easily, and choose to seek power through violent conflict. The Cooks wanted their long-term members to start families, and then work together with their young children to strengthen their nation, with party membership being passed down through family lines.

To this end, they had already started enrolling children younger than themselves, and even promoting them to leadership, hoping that these younger new members would have no desire to unite as a new generational bloc if they were already members of the ruling class. Thus, the Cook leadership had actually become younger over the past few months. Because the Cooks had no head of state and made important decisions by meeting in large groups, the admission of so many young children to their top tier of power changed relatively little, as the youngest members typically let the older members speak first, and then followed the majority opinion.

Some Cooks believed that the generational conflict was nonetheless unavoidable, drawing on their own experience, saying that children by nature bonded more closely to children their own age than to adults, even their own parents. They believed that the only means to prevent another such conflict was to abolish democracy and rule through force. These people also said that the conflict could happen within a few years, since the rebels could simply be children a few years younger than the currently ruling Cooks, rather than the descendants of the currently ruling Cooks.


The pro-democracy Cooks stated that childhood was a life stage, not a party identity, and that the Cook party would grow with its members and become a traditional adult-oriented party in time. Thus, the Cooks promised their new laws could not be turned back against them if an even younger group were to arise in the future and threaten the Cooks' power structure. The Cook leaders never proposed raising the voting age, because their culture had traditionally defined adulthood to begin either exactly at age 13 or upon the graduation of school, which typically happened at age 13 or earlier. The Cooks moreover had accepted partial completion of school as sufficient for their own leaders, and because they considered themselves competent, did not see any reason to demand that future Cook leaders complete their schooling.

Counters' response to new developments

The Counters by this time had become openly hostile to STW, claiming that STW had dismantled the adult power structure of both the Cold and Clover nations, replacing them with children unfit to rule, presumably because STW knew that young children would be both very loyal to STW for having hoisted them up, and also very easily pushed around. Yet they could not express this belief to the Cooks, since they knew the Cooks would be offended at the suggestion that they were pawns for STW and were incapable of achieving anything on their own.

The Counters took pity on the Cook children, admitting that it was difficult for the Counters to relate to their situation. The Counters understood why many Cooks wanted peace with the Players even as the Players were escalating their invasion of Cook territory: the Cooks had trusted the adults in their party would fight the adult soldiers in the Play army, only to see the adults abandon the military without ever seeing combat and then coldly tell the children to fight the adult rebels on their own.

Many Counters wanted to work more closely with the Cooks, but realized that the Cooks had been betrayed too many times and always by adults; therefore they could not expect the Cooks to treat them as equals any longer.

New pacifist party

The new transnational Pacifist party (Žibiyabu) planned to find supporters in both the Cold and Play nations, but had already been banned in Play territory for supporting the right of men to vote. Although their members were truly committed to pacifism, their party name could be better translated as Hospitality because they believed that identifying as pacifists in the midst of a deadly war would lead to accusations from each side that they were merely trying to weaken the defenses of that side in order to turn the tide of the war in favor of the opposite side.

Pacifist demographic outreach

The Pacifists focused their outreach attempts on disenfranchised adults and on children who they felt were being forced to fight an unfair war against adults. They claimed that there were child soldiers on both sides of the war, since the Players' Pine Tree Planters were classified as a wing of the Play army and had suffered abductions by enemy soldiers.

The Pacifists wanted to build a coalition based on an alliance of Play men, Counter women, and children from both sides of the war. The Pacifists assumed that their appeal to peace would be stronger than the Players' desire to expand their nation and that the heavily armed Play soldiers they were inviting to move into Counter territory would definitely not mistreat the unarmed, vulnerable Counter women whose husbands had mostly already been killed in previous battles.

The Pacifists believed that they would have strong appeal to Play men and Counter women because neither of these groups could vote.

Outreach to Cooks

By contrast, any Cooks who joined the Pacifist party would be giving up their right to vote, and therefore the Pacifists phrased their appeals in more elemental terms. They explained that, since their nation had very few adult males, any war in their territory would require the mobilization of large battalions of child soldiers. The Pacifists pointed out that the few adult soldiers they had previously trusted had proven unreliable, while the Cooks themselves were poorly equipped for battle because they could not find armor that they would not quickly grow out of, nor weapons fit for their small hands. The Pacifists thus claimed that the best foreign policy for any nation dominated by children was to pursue peace.

The Pacifists considered allowing dual party membership, so that Cooks who joined the Pacifists could still retain the right to vote in the Cook parliament, but were unsure that the Cooks would respond in kind, knowing that allowing Pacifists to vote as Cooks would contaminate the Cook agenda without giving them any benefits.

Pacifist party structure

The Pacifists wanted their party to be run by adults, stating that they had noticed that any children who achieved formal political power were simply tossed around like toys by their adult opponents. However, they knew that adult Pacifists would be converts from war-making parties, and that children most often would not; therefore they promised to screen adult applicants more stringently than young ones, and considered a policy of unconditional approval for any applicant under the age of thirteen.

The Pacifists also stated that although they wanted adults in control, they did not want to see a tiny adult elite in control of a vast number of children, as the Scorpions were doing. They said that although adults may feel it is simply natural for them to be in control of younger people, the Pacifists found fault in natural adult power instincts, saying that while they respected the right of parents to control their children, such arguments could not be used to justify adult power over children who were not their relatives.

Internal party elections

The Pacifists struggled with the question of whether to allow young children the right to outvote the adult leadership on matters of internal party governance. The Pacifists were hoping to draw in recruits from the Players' Pine Tree Planters (Tee Vauva), who were between the ages of five and ten years old. If granted voting rights, the Pacifists would therefore have the youngest voters in the world, much younger than even the various children's parties, whose youngest voting members were mostly around age nine or ten. Most Pacifist leaders endorsed the idea of granting voting rights to children, even the youngest ones, but said that there would simply be very little in their party agenda that members would be eligible to vote on, meaning that the original founding members of the Pacifist party would make most of their decisions undemocratically. They believed that this system was viable because very few young Pacifists, once they found themselves in Cold territory, would have any incentive to flee the Pacifists and join another party.

Others believed that children of such an age were too young to feel cravings for power, and that the Pacifists should instead follow STW and tempt the children with money, which would be paid to them as a reward for loyalty, good behavior, and light chores comparable to those that they had been doing for free when they were Planters. Meanwhile, adult Pacifists would accept a life of poverty, meaning that the children's wages would in fact be comparable to those of adults, just as in STW, and not so small as to be seen as a mere parody of the adult economy.

Objections and responses

Cultural objections

Pacifism was unpopular among the Cold Men, and also among the Cold Men's enemies. Thirty years earlier, the all-female Egg party of Amade had invited the men of an opposing army, the Firestones, to move in with them and form a hybrid community. The men arrived after a long journey, sexually assaulted the Egg women, and put them into slavery. The Eggs were a branch of the Crystal party, who voted not to intervene on the Eggs' behalf because they felt that the war was hopeless. This story had come down to the Cooks and other young people in a censored version in which the Eggs had been eaten alive and the survivors bred for the same purpose.

The Counters now wondered if the children truly believed that story, and contemplated revealing the truth, knowing that the Cooks were now familiar with the crimes of the adult world even though they did not commit such crimes themselves.

Yet, the Counters still held out the possibility of an agreement with the Players, stating that even the Players were not likely to assault the young Cook children, and that their objection to pacifism was much more broad. The Counters stated that a war in which only one side supports pacifism would quickly lead to a victory for the opposing side.

Claims of insincerity

The Counters stated that the Pacifists were simply Players in disguise, and that their disguise was easy to see through. They wondered if the Pacifists were making their real identity obvious on purpose, figuring that they would be able to pull in supporters from Counter women who were Players at heart but knew that they could not publicly express support for the Players in a nation that was at war with the Players.

The Pacifists stated that they were neutral, and wanted to stop the war rather than help one side win it. They stated that since the Counters oppressed women while the Players oppressed men, it was natural that they would get their support from male Play soldiers and female Counter civilians. And because the Players had banned the Pacifist party, they could not find supporters in Play territory, and therefore had no choice but to draw supporters from the Cold nation. Lastly, because the Players were already at war with the Counters, the Pacifists figured the ideal way to attract more supporters from the Players would be to encourage the Players to accelerate their invasion into the Counter heartlands so that the Pacifists would have more men to recruit for support.

The Counters angrily called their nation's Parliament to session and demanded a ban on the Pacifist party, but the Cook children decided that they would not do that, and then talked at length about a new plan to use STW's trade road to bring Pacifists into the nation without the worry of encountering the Counters' border patrols. The Counters realized that their days of pushing the young Cooks around had come to an end.

Five-party system

Four-party domestic core

Some young children opposed the Cooks' movements towards pacifism. Their kupukapukipa movement, glorifying war for the sake of war, told Cooks that while the Players could still be their friends, the Players would need to bend to the Cooks rather than meeting in the middle.

By this time, an adult-oriented militarist group calling itself the Leash (Tamaba nuu) had declared itself a separate party.

Within months, the Kupukapukipa broke from the Cooks, and declared themselves an independent political party, the Scorpions. The Kupukapukipa had realized they needed to organize quickly to prevent the Leash supporters from taking root and gaining cross-generational appeal. By forming their own party, the Scorpions made it harder for them to gain power in Parliament, and answered that they would not need democracy to achieve their goals. Thus, the Scorpions alienated the Rash boys, who also supported war but continued to identify themselves as a faction of the Cook party and insisted on maintaining their nation's existing parliamentary system.

Thus, there were four major parties competing for power in Cold territory:

  1. The Counters, the people who had broken away from the Pioneers and founded the new Cold nation. They were mostly adults and had traditionally supported a male power structure. Now, they were enrolling women who had no place else to go, but they still insisted that men retain control.
  2. The Cooks, largely the children of the Counters. The Cooks barred adults from party membership, and now had an even balance of boys and girls, and were the most pacifist of the four parties, even seeking to form an alliance with the Players who had occupied the city of Čumfunua.
  3. The Leash, strong nationalists who supported aggressive expansion of the Cold nation into Play territory and opposed minority rights. They were a traditional adult male party, and were warming to the idea of admitting women, but also felt that democracy was futile in such a violent time.
  4. The Scorpions, nationalists with violent rhetoric who considered themselves more hardy than all other parties and promised to reduce everyone's living standards until the other parties gave up. They were mostly young boys but were too few in number to greatly affect the Cooks' ratio of boys to girls.

Thus, although the Cold nation had four major parties, for practical purposes, there were two parties for children and two parties for adults. The Cooks, the largest party, had expected new parties to arise, and had hoped to ally with the adults in the Counter party against their new opponents. However, to their dismay, the Counters showed little interest in this, despite their close ideological match with the Cook party.

Role of the Pacifists

The fifth major party in the Cold nation was the Pacifists, who claimed to be transnational and therefore illoyal to any single nation. They did not expect to win seats in Parliament and many Pacifists believed that the Cold democracy was negligible as the Cook majority had proven unable to enforce their laws or prevent uprisings within their territory. Some Pacifists wanted a nation of their own, but most believed that the best way to stop the war was to remain a transnational party so they could be the only group that appealed to both sides of the war.

Rise of the Scorpions


Because the name Kupukapukipa, shorn of its classifiers as by tradition, could be read in many ways, they did not ask for a standard trade name when meeting with foreign language diplomats; they identified themselves by their flag and by their native-language party name. They sometimes answered to the name Scorpions, as kipa was the Play word for scorpion, and they were fond of imagery depicting scorpions injuring humans' bare feet. They sometimes also used the name Needles, honoring the insurgents who had attacked the Cold Men precisely when they were too weak to respond.

Scorpion philosophy

The Scorpions described their philosophy as a middle position between the Cold and Play philosophies, taking what was right from each side and leaving what was wrong. Therefore, the Scorpions were not compromising between the Cold Men and Players, and would not change their philosophy simply because the Cold Men and Players changed theirs.

The Scorpions stated that because they supported war itself and not merely one particular war in a given time or place, their philosophy was eternal, and they could never be defeated except by similarly absolute pacifists. The Scorpions thus oriented themselves against the rising pacifist movement and prepared for an all-out war against their unarmed opponents.

The Scorpions published a political charter detailing their beliefs:

  1. War is natural, and war is good in and of itself.
  2. Adult leadership is not necessary in a war; boys and men can both find their way to sites of battle.
  3. The weak and stupid deserve to be abused, even if their morals are perfectly clean. Unworthy people seeking to join the Scorpions will be assigned the position they deserve.
  4. Pacifists and anyone showing compassion for the weak also deserve to be abused.
  5. Individual humans have no rights; rights follow from loyal service to a community.
  6. Authority must be earned, and anyone falsely acting as if they are in charge will be demoted to the bottom of the hierarchy.
  7. Filth is natural, and will protect humans from disease while yet allowing soldiers to spread plagues far beyond their campsites.
  8. Identification with elements of the natural world, such as cold weather, drives off potential supporters. The Scorpions shall have no geographical or tribal boundaries.
  9. The Scorpions do not need allies, but should always fight wars strategically rather than relying on national pride to deliver improbable victories.
  10. A strong nation needs a single head of state; it matters not whether the leader is male or female, but they must be very intelligent and not simply guided by a brash personality.

The Scorpions admired STW's longstanding practice of traumatizing young recruits to ensure they were hardy enough to benefit the organization, but argued that to truly serve its purpose, the pain should be inflicted on the enemies, not the supporters, of the Scorpions.

Comparison with the Leash

The Leashes promoted racism and stated that it was simply natural for a nation's ruling party to better the interests of its dominant ethnic group at the expense of the smaller, weaker groups trapped within its borders. This type of racism was more severe than the Counters' support of racial discrimination laws because the Leashes planned to discriminate even against longstanding aboriginal tribes that the Counters had seen as natural allies. The Leash also promoted militarism, stating that only men who risked their lives in war were true Leashes, and that by doing so, they would earn the right to overthrow any non-Leash governments, even if the victims of the coup were soldiers who had fought alongside the Leash in recent wars.

By contrast, the Scorpions opposed racism. They never stated that racism was morally wrong, but rather that it was a sign of weakness, and that any group that attained majority status and still faced opposition from minorities was very weak indeed. The Scorpions promised that they would seize control of their nation while still being a minority, and would dominate their enemies, including the Leashes, by pure physical force.

Comparison with the Matrixes

The Scorpions took power in an upland area of Nama well out of reach of Tata's Matrix army, which had recently captured over 100,000 slaves and now boasted of being the world's cruelest soldiers. The Scorpions announced the Matrixes were mere pretenders, and warned that if the Matrix and Scorpion forces ever clashed, the Scorpions would quickly turn the Matrix soldiers into meat. But the Scorpions also announced they felt no sympathy for the slaves of the Matrixes, and would not send a Scorpion force to rescue them.

Comparison with the Zenith

The Scorpions also rejected comparisons with the Zenith, an ancient alliance of criminals which had long been associated with amoral politics during those times when its members engaged in politics at all. The Zeniths had no central government, and were the only political party that allowed treason (meaning Zeniths could kill other Zeniths and face no penalty), whereas the Scorpions embraced authoritarianism and, unlike societies around them, demanded that power be concentrated in a single head of state.

Scorpion demographics

The Scorpion party membership consisted almost entirely of children, and they could not meaningfully participate in a war at the time of their founding, much less win one. Their dedication to warfare was thus based on emotion, not reason.

Nonetheless, the leaders of the Scorpions were adults who had defected from the small remnant adult population as they grew opposed to both the mainstream Cold philosophy and the rising pacifist movement. These adult leaders focused on protecting their large child population while attracting recruits from the young children who belonged to other movements. The adult Scorpion leaders realized that despite their commitment to warfare, they might need to flee northwards into the wilderness, towards Moonshine, since the Players were aggressively expanding towards the highlands where the Scorpions had formed their party.

Plans for war

The Scorpions' president, Navuŋīyā, planned to launch a conventional war around the year 4206, fourteen years after their founding, expecting that by then all of their founding members would be adults and that a new generation of Scorpion children would by then have arisen to replace the founders, and if necessary, also help them win their war.

Likewise, the Scorpions opposed the philosophically similar Leash party in public, but privately planned to declare their support for the Leash within a few years in order to form a military alliance, and then betray them at the last moment so that the Leashes would be forced into a war in which they would gain nothing. Since the Leash was a traditional adult political party, the Scorpions hoped that they could stir up sympathy for their own members while they were still children and then give nothing back when the Scorpions reached adulthood.

Players' reaction

The Scorpions identified themselves as a transnational movement, and therefore planned to stand for elections in Play territory as well. Nonetheless, the Players banned the Scorpion party immediately, stating that nearly every point in its charter violated the Play constitution, and that any party with even one such violation would be unwelcome in Play territory. Many Play leaders wanted to beat the Scorpions at their own game, saying that since the Scorpions valued intelligent leaders so much, the new, well-educated Players could outsmart them all and win their praise. Other Players believed that the Scorpions would burn off all of their hatred within a generation, as the violent children turned into adults and raised children of their own.

By contrast, the Counters began to argue that both the Scorpion and Leash parties were simply blinded Counters, and would return to their parent party at the next outbreak of war regardless of who the enemy was. The Counters began to consider that strengthening their nation's control over minority parties might be more important for the foreseeable future than strengthening their small remaining conventional army.

Counter secession

The Cooks knew that they were not the only children with a nation to run. To their west was the Clover kingdom. The capitals were distant, but yet strongly connected by STW's trade road. Therefore they had signed a treaty creating the Lilypad Association, which many people considered to be for all effective purposes a binational state run by children and supported by STW's profits from the trade road, which extended beyond the borders of both Lilypad nations.


At this point, the Counters seceded from Anzan to re-create Counterland, the nation they had formed while dodging the draft during the recent Pioneer War. The first iteration of Counterland had had the same borders as the parent nation of Anzan, and therefore their "secession" was a legal fiction, employed to free their party from the military treaty that would have otherwise forced them to fight alongside the Pioneers. This time, the Counters promised their secession would create a traditional nation in a small compact habitat, and that the remaining territory would be released to the Cooks.

The Counters showed a map of the new Counterland, consisting mostly of territory in Nama, and essentially being the areas of Anzan that the Players were intent on conquering. Thus the Counters abandoned their own capital city, Napaatusā, to the children in the Cook party and stated that the Counters would not return to their cities until they had won the war against the Players. The Counters admitted that since they were greatly outnumbered by children, it was logical that the children should have most of the nation's territory to themselves, including the capital. The Counters promised that they considered the situation fair and would not demand the return of Napaatusā once the war was over; nonetheless, they also warned that the Players were liable to invade Napaatusā once they realized that the Counters had abandoned it, and that the Counters no longer had any obligation to protect the Cooks.

Wishing the young Cooks the best of luck in running a nation with no adults, the Counters announced that they no longer felt any obligations to care for the Cooks' basic needs, and that they would not help Cooks who came pleading to the Counters for help unless the Cooks agreed to abolish their party and submit to absolute control by the Counters. By formally seceding, the Counters also deprived the Cooks of their tax revenue and cut them off from all industries that relied on adult laborers, figuring that the Cook economy would collapse immediately as they would be fully tied down just keeping themselves safe and fed, and would have no time left over for traditional labor.

Counter military plans

The Counters warned that they would raise a strong military and that they would not feel obligated to defend the Cooks' nation, which had retained the name Anzan, even though most Cooks were the children of the Counters. The Counters again promised to hold off the invading Play army on their own, but stated that they could not do this while simultaneously helping the young Cooks who were trying to make peace with the Players.

The Counters also revealed plans for a war in which the 3,000 soldiers in the Counter army, along with recruits they expected to bring in from Nama and other nations, would invade the 120,000 Cooks and push them into a single city, with Counters surrounding them on all sides. They promised that they would take all possible measures to avoid killing their children, and that by winning the war they would be protecting the Cooks from the Players, but that such a war may be needed to convince the Cooks to give up their struggle for a nation of their own.

Participation of Tadpoles

By this time, even most Tadpoles sympathized with the Cook children, and so joined the Counters in their war against the Players. Those who did not move were the most disobedient sort, and therefore the Cooks realized that the Tadpoles would continue to trouble them.


The declaration surprised the young Cook leaders. Defining themselves as rebels, they had been planning to embarrass the Counters, but the Counters had made the first move and had forced the Cooks into a situation they had not prepared for.

Since STW was still strong, the Counters gave the Cooks a choice: either obey their parents, or admit that the STW corporation had replaced their family and that they were just pawns for STW by this point.

Plans for migration

The Counters decided to concentrate their women and children in Repilia, a land that had long been part of Anzan, but was far from the Play border and protected by difficult terrain. The core of Repilia lay in a bowl where the continental divide split into two, meaning that mountains surrounded Repilia on all sides and therefore there was no lowland route into Repilian territory at all.

The Counter men promised that their wives and children would be safe in this territory, and that the men would defend the southern rim so that if the Players tried to invade, they would need to push through the Counter army before they met any civilians.

Objections to migration

Safety of Cooks

Many Counter women wanted to remain in the Cook territory with both their own children and the Cooks who had fled their parents' homes, saying that the Cooks needed adult protection, even if they did not realize it. The women understood that the men needed to move eastward to hold off the Play army, and said that the much more numerous women could take over the job of policing the streets to stop crime and protect the Cooks.

The women knew that the Cooks had become increasingly frustrated in their dealings with opposing parties, but that even in their desperation they had tried to exclude the Counters from their criticisms, frequently acknowledging that the Counters were the party of their parents, and that the Counters had traditionally not used threats of physical violence against the Cook children. Yet the Counter party leaders had broken this tradition just weeks earlier by threatening to invade the Cook nation once they were finished defeating the Players.

Long-term stability

Even the men who were leading the migration stated that they hoped to soon return, because they felt that while it was necessary to stave off the Play invasion, the Cook nation could not survive on its own. The Counters pointed out that once they left, the Cook nation would be demographically volatile: there were plenty of young boys and girls, and adult male STW mercenaries to watch over them, but they lacked women. The Counters knew that they could solve this problem by allowing some of their own women to stay behind with the children, but figured that they had by this time run out of chances to convince the Cooks of their sincerity, and that they simply had to abandon the Cooks to their fate for the meantime, hoping that the Counters would be welcomed back later on when the Cooks realized how much worse life was without them.

Legal issues

The Counter men had never assigned women any power in their government, so the women's plan to remain in Cook territory would require them to surrender their Counter party membership and found yet another new party. If they did not do this, they would be legally required to obey the men's orders to move east with their young children to Repilia.

Since the Cooks had banned adults from joining their party, the women could not become Cooks either.

The Pacifist party was very interested in getting Counter women to join, but most Counter women believed that once they joined, the Pacifists would immediately send an armed Play soldier to their home and announce that he was both their new husband and their new captor. The Pacifists promised to allow democratic elections, but that these would only be party-internal elections, since the Pacifists did not claim a nation of their own.

The Counter women also believed that founding a new party would be of little help, as the Cooks had increasingly made it clear that they trusted nobody outside their party, and that their party would never allow adults to join.

Counter women give up

Lastly, the Counter women suspected that if they did not leave, STW's mercenaries would push them out. The Counters still believed that STW was actively working to create a nation consisting entirely of children, and had only been able to take small steps towards that goal, but now that the men running the Counter party had endorsed secession, STW could claim that any Counter women who remained in Cook territory were staying there against the wishes of not only the Cooks, but also the Counter party to which they belonged.

Parting words

The Counter women worried that once they left, STW would immediately take full control of the Cook nation, meaning that they would never actually see independence, and would be ruled by a group of men who had much less interest in their well-being than the Counters had.

The Counter women wanted to educate the Cook diplomats on how to talk assertively to adults instead of always meekly backing down, but they had no way of knowing who the next diplomats would be and in any case the Cooks were unwilling to listen.

Continued siege of Čumfunua

The Players had never given up control of Čumfunua, and the Counters had made no attempt to win it back, figuring by this time that the citizens trapped in the city may well have decided to join the Play party, and that STW was cooperating with the siege and would therefore be of no help to the Counters. The Players had shut off communication except for the occasional message sent from the young prisoners of war, who were still in their labor camps, and therefore the Counters had no way to verify the allegiance of the population within (though they assumed that the young children in the labor camps were almost certainly still anti-Play). The citizens of Čumfunua were not allowed to leave, and therefore the Counters made no attempt to get them to follow the new plan for migration to the east.

Move to the east

Family migration law

The Counters abolished cities, stating that they were now a nomadic people whose Parliament would only meet when they were able to secure a stable territory in Counterland or else regain control of Napaatusā from the Cooks nonviolently. They nonetheless passed a law stating that the migrating families needed to take their children with them, apart from those who pledged allegiance to the Cooks, and that if the parents judged it morally sound, they could also bring young Cook children with them in the belief that they were too young to know what was best for them. Thus, the Counters were forbidden from abandoning young children to fend for themselves in the wilderness. Yet, some families chose to abandon their children even so, claiming that the Cooks were able to take care of them, and that their parental responsibilities had been cleared. These people took advantage of earlier claims from the Cooks that even very young children could make independent decisions, and then claimed that the children they were abandoning had voluntarily chosen to join the Cooks.

Cooks regroup

When the Counters had seceded, they had taken their weapons and armor with them so they could fight the war in Nama. Therefore, the Cooks were poorly equipped for battle. They hoped to acquire weapons and armor from the STW traders, but understood that they had little wealth of their own to trade to STW, and might need to pay their bills through labor.

The Cooks realized that they would have a much easier time defending their territory if they concentrated themselves along STW's trade road, since three outside powers — the Players, the Clovers, and STW — all benefited from trade along that road and would have a strong incentive to keep the road open and safe for travel and for habitation. Also, moving to the road would free the Cooks from the danger of living so close to the Players, in the event that the Players were to defeat the Counters and then push onward into Cook territory despite the Cooks' attempts at making peace with the Players.

But the Cooks realized their plan to physically consolidate their nation would be difficult. Their parents had run away from their homes, in many cases leaving the children without viable means of transport to get to the western trade road. Even those who did arrive would have to solve new problems, such as where to live and how to feed themselves without weapons to hunt animals with, or easy access to the sea.

Consolidation of troops

The Counters soon realized that the Cooks were serious about their plan to rule Anzan without adults, and that the Cooks were about to raise an independent army, economy, and so on, rather than admitting they could not do it on their own and pleading for the Counters to compromise with them. Because the Cook territory was insulated from outside powers, the Counters figured that the Cooks would not need to fight conventional battles against their enemies, but the Counters expected that, one way or another, Anzan would fall into ruin and that the Counters would need to sweep in to rescue the Cooks either from outside invasions (even if indirect), from famine (as they were unsure of the Cooks' ability to gather food supplies), or from a civil war in which they had broken up and attacked each other.

By this time there was already a second political party, the Scorpions, which had broken from the Cooks and which also had very few adult members. Since the Scorpions were children, the Counters knew that they had little moral restraint against attacking other children, and that a Scorpion-Cook civil war could lead to tens of thousands of deaths as the two young armies would not be able to stop the war once it began.

A new party for adults, the Leash, had arisen in recent months, and they had shocked the world by admitting that they did not care if the kidnapped Cook children were being abused in Play territory, and implying that the Leashes themselves would attack children if the opportunity arose, expecting no sympathy from the other three parties competing for power in Anzan. Since the Leashes had not followed the Counters' plan to fight the Players in Nama, they were roaming freely through the Cook territory that was otherwise off-limits for adults, and the Counters worried that the Cooks would be easy prey. However, the Leashes reminded the others that most of them were the parents of young Cook leaders, just like the Counters were, and that the Leashes' plans involved slaughtering their enemies, not their sons and daughters.

Judicial reforms

Nonetheless, the Cooks decided to ban the Leashes from their territory, and then proclaimed that all adults would be arrested on sight regardless of their party allegiance. Being an adult thus became legally equivalent to treason. The Cooks stated that they still respected their parents in the Counter party, but since the Counters had promised never to intrude into Cook territory, the Cooks declared that any who did so were enemy soldiers by definition.

The Cooks again assured their people that the new laws would never apply to the Cooks themselves, and that as before they hoped to mature into adults while retaining their identity as a single group. But they had been defeated and betrayed so many times that they no longer planned for the distant future, and worried that their nation might be defeated within years if not months. Therefore the Cooks declared that the new law banning all adults from Cook territory would remain in effect indefinitely.

This new decree eliminated the need for trials in court; the Cooks had recently been forced to grant trials to accused criminals because the Clovers did so, and because they had earlier signed a treaty with the Clovers stating that certain practices adhered to by one party would also be mandatory for the other. The Cooks had found this very frustrating, as the accused parties were nearly always guilty, and quite obviously so; moreover, the Cooks knew that most nations around them, including the Counters, did not have court systems at all and were much more efficient at arresting and executing their criminals.

Effect on police

Earlier, despite the existence of an independent Cook police force, the Cooks had relied on the adults in the Counter police force to arrest violent criminals. The Counters had refused to arrest adults who were not also identifiable as having committed some crime; therefore the Cooks had never really been able to carry out their laws. Now, without the Counters, the Cooks were on their own. They reaffirmed their promise to arrest all adults, and stated that they were physically equipped to handle the job, although they realized it would be difficult.

Relations with STW

STW still had about 4,500 mercenaries in Cook territory guarding the trade road that connected the Cooks with the Players to the south and the Clovers to the west. The Cooks outnumbered these men by a ratio of more than 20 to 1, but the Cooks did not feel they could take on the STW soldiers even with such a ratio, and so privately admitted to STW that they were not intending to apply their new laws to the STW traders.

The Cooks excused this by saying that the STW employees were transitory, and did not actually live in the Cook nation of Anzan, but many Cook leaders were growing increasingly frustrated, saying that they were yet again being forced to allow adults to break their laws, simply because the adults were too strong for the young Cooks to control.


By ignoring the presence of the 4,500 adult STW traders living in their midst, the Cooks fashioned a new legal code that defined adults as criminals by definition and expanded the police force so that they could devote much of their time to rounding up adults and impounding them in the Cook prison system. Since merely being an adult was now a crime, adults who entered Cook territory could be arrested on sight. Nearly all adults who entered Cook territory were men, often carrying weapons, and the Cooks knew that the task of disarming them, bringing them to court, and impounding them in prison would be dangerous. Many were in fact Counter soldiers who had refused to leave; the Counters had suspended their party membership for this, meaning that most were stateless. Others had joined the Leash, but the Leashes also disapproved of their living in a children's nation and therefore they did not hold their party identification strongly. A small number of men had never lived in Cook territory before, and had simply come to prey on the young Cook children whom they believed would be physically unable to keep the invaders under control.

Trials in court

The Eastern Capital Treaty required the Cooks to allow even the most obvious criminals to stand trial in court. Upon arrest, many men would claim to be the fathers of Cook children in other cities, knowing that the Cooks had no way to disprove this as they had no census of their population and could not verify that a given person did or did not exist. Younger men, knowing that they could not plausibly claim to be fathers of ten-year-old Cooks, would argue that the Cooks should arrest each other since they, too, would someday grow into adults. For this reason, the Cooks soon moved towards charging the criminals with trespassing instead of making it a crime to be an adult.

Prison system

Because the Cooks lived in old cities, they had access to traditional prisons built for adults. The children had often lost the keys to keep the jail cells shut, so they secured the doors with rocks instead of locks. Nonetheless, they did not worry about the large, strong men physically forcing their way out of their prison cells because it was very difficult to push the door open from the inside; this method of keeping doors shut had been used when the city was under adults' control as well.

There were criminals among the young population, too, so they also imprisoned other children, but afforded them much greater privileges, even for those children who had committed serious crimes such as assault and arson. By contrast, adults were rarely allowed outside their cells. Because most criminals were boys, and all boys were required to serve in the military, the Cooks worried that some boys might be committing petty crimes on purpose because they felt that life in prison was safer than life in the outside world.

Despite the great attention the Cook police paid to arresting adults, it soon became clear that many adults preferred prison life to the outside world as well. Word soon spread that the Cooks were very reluctant to kill their prisoners, apart from those who had committed violent crimes in addition to trespassing. Men who had been hiding in the woods entered the cities openly and dared the Cook police to arrest them and inflict the harshest punishment their young hearts could handle. However, the prisons were very filthy because the Cook police could not handle the task of cleaning up after their prisoners without letting them out of their cells; when word spread of this, many adults decided it was safer to live in hiding.

STW's expanded economic role

The Counter men had been just a tiny minority in their nation, because they were greatly outnumbered by both their women and their children. Unlike the Players in earlier decades, Anzan had until now had a sizable adult minority, roughly one third of the total population, almost all of whom were women. As these women moved eastwards with their younger children, the adult labor force disappeared entirely. They had already been living in what they considered a state of emergency, with luxury and recreational activities effectively illegal even for those who could afford them, and so the loss of the adults did not present any immediate danger to the Cooks' economy, although the children realized that there were many skilled jobs they could not do and would simply need to live without.

The Cooks decided to remain as a capitalist nation, allowing those with the most currency to refuse to work, saying only that all Cooks, even the youngest, were bound to defend their nation and that money could not buy anyone out of a war.

Inherited economy

The STW corporation believed that the Cooks' new way of life was viable, because the lack of adults was balanced by a relative lack of small children to care for. Thus, the Cooks only needed to meet their own needs in order to survive. They spent much of their time in the wilderness outside the city looking for food, largely fish but also hunting small land animals with their spears and swords. All of the children knew how to cook; their party name reflected their early education, in which cooking was taught to even the smallest children, meaning that many young children could live and feed themselves independently even if they could not handle other tasks of self-care.

Sugar and alcohol

Prohibitionist culture

Alcohol had been illegal in Anzan for decades, according to the laws written by the founding Tink party. This was one area where they agreed with their enemies, the Players. The Cold Men had continued this law. In the west, the Pioneers, who were now called Slimes, had also maintained the prohibition of alcohol consumption, though not of production, as their new territory was the site of many farms where the conquered native inhabitants grew palm wine (pūmačuaba). The Clovers, Crystals, and Soap Bubbles all upheld the ban on alcohol consumption as well; of these, only the Clovers had actual legal authority, but they sought approval from the three parties they ruled over. Therefore, alcohol consumption was illegal in all forms throughout the Little Country. The wine that was produced in Pavaitaapu was therefore intended to be exported, mostly to Baeba Swamp which was just to the west of Pavaitaapu. (Although the Slimes had convinced the Leapers to describe Pavaitaapu as a district of Baeba, the Clovers had maintained the sole right to make laws, and the Leapers did not intrude; therefore although Pavaitaapu was legally part of two different countries, in practice it was only part of the Little Country.)

The adult employees of STW had always openly defied the law prohibiting alcohol consumption, knowing that their grip on the economy was very strong. The Cold Men and their ancestors had rationalized their tolerance in various ways, some saying that their laws only applied to party members, or that STW's stores were legally not part of the Cold nation, or that since STW did not need to sell wine to itself, no laws were being broken.

Traditionally, Cold culture had disapproved of candy (tiapataba; literally "meal for play") as well, seeing it as a lesser vice than alcohol, but as a vice nonetheless. Most candy production depended on the same palm trees that were used to produce wine, and therefore candy and wine were culturally linked, and dependent on STW's trade route for reliable supplies. And because candy was mostly consumed by children, the Cold Men and their forebearers could have easily passed a law through Parliament banning the sale and consumption of candy while ignoring the ongoing sale and consumption of alcohol. This had never happened, however, and STW continued to dominate the candy trade just as they dominated the alcohol trade. Moreover, because the alcohol and candy supplies were coming from the same place, any increase in candy production made the price of alcohol higher, and opponents of STW therefore wanted to encourage STW to deliver more caravans full of candy to make it more difficult for them to also sell alcohol.

STW's invincibility

STW's employees traditionally had imported far more alcohol than they could consume themselves. They sold it to citizens, breaking the law, but turning a handsome profit because they had a monopoly. They sold palm wine mostly in their restaurants, but also in some cases through direct sales to citizens in the open, not within a restaurant or a store. Their customers were Counters and other adults in Anzan, and these people faced prison time if caught, but due to the many wars the police force had been preoccupied with other tasks.

Nonetheless, wine drinkers in recent decades had been unable to hide their habit from the child population of Anzan. This was for various reasons. Firstly, STW's restaurants employed young children as their servers, and these children were often close friends of the non-STW children who were now in the Cook party. Secondly, the prohibition law prohibited the creation of private establishments where alcohol could be served away from public contact, meaning that the only place that ordinary citizens could drink wine without being seen was inside their homes. STW sold wine in jugs because this was the ideal container for shipping, and this also made it easy to consume at home.

Despite the presence of wine all around them, generations of children in Anzan had grown up largely uninterested in the drink, and particularly in recent years, the Cooks had come to view alcohol as a drink that only made adults even more violent and irrational in behavior than they were when they were sober.

Therefore, with the departure of the adult population, the only consumers of STW's alcohol were the STW employees themselves. This meant that they no longer needed to serve it in restaurants, and wine consumption moved to well-hidden areas such as STW's fortresses and interior rooms of other STW buildings. This in turn meant that young children were no longer commonly in sight of men drinking wine, and that STW no longer had to worry about illegal adults such as the Tadpoles stealing their wine supply. Even so, STW sought to increase their supply.

STW had been trying to convince the Players to restart their grape wine industry so that they could force Baeba's farmers to reduce their price (in Baeba, palm wine was dominant) by threatening to switch to grape wine if they did not comply. STW also wanted to profit from this trade by selling grape wine in Pavaitaapu, hoping that they could get the Players to work so cheaply that the cost of harvesting the grape wine and transporting it for thousands of miles would be cheaper than the cost of harvesting the Baeban palm wine alone. But the Players said that they would not be able to produce a harvest until the following year.

This meant that the STW employees needed to get their alcohol from palm trees, and these same palm trees were also the primary source of sugar to manufacture candy, which young Cook children often appreciated. Moreover, the distillation of palm wine required a great deal more sugar than the manufacture of candy, and therefore with each drink they took, the STW employees raised the price of candy for the children who shopped at their stores. Some STW traders had been discussing a plan to stop the production of candy altogether, saying it was a vice that the young Cooks needed to overcome, even as they realized that they were hypocrites for making such an argument when they were unwilling to stop or even to reduce their consumption of wine.

Opposition movements

Some Cook children opposed both alcohol and candy, saying that both were unnecessary and that the nation's people needed to focus on meeting basic needs, even if it meant that their meals were unpleasant. Those with pacifist sympathies also opposed the production of palm wine because they felt it was unnatural to drain sap from the trees. However, the children realized that they had little chance of convincing STW to change its production quotas.


STW had long been known for operating restaurants that served poorly prepared food at very low prices. They believed that this was the ideal type of restaurant for the Cooks to rely on, and stated that while the Cooks were well-named, it was inefficient for them to meet their food needs individually or even in small groups when STW's large kitchens could serve hundreds of Cook children at once. The STWers nonetheless decided it would be best to open STW restaurants in the cities along the trade road only, and not to encroach on the Cooks' outlying settlements.

STW also revived the Ξ4 promise, meaning that any customer could get a full-sized meal at any STW restaurant for the price of four meal tokens, an artificial currency that could only buy food and was traditionally only accepted at STW. In earlier decades, the nation had had an average per capita income of around Ξ10,000 per year, with a fairly even distribution of wealth because there was no disproportionately wealthy upper class to skew the average. Therefore, STW's meals were affordable for even the poorest families so long as they pooled their wealth and helped out those among them who had no money at all. STW's restaurants had never been a major part of the Cold Men's economy because the Cold Men had always sought self-sufficiency even as they mostly supported STW; but now that the adults were gone, STW saw an opportunity for them to take a much more important role.

As in the past, STW's restaurants employed young children, and therefore, much of the work was the responsibility of the customers. Most of STW's workers were orphans and many were even younger than the Cooks. STW considered transitioning from restaurants to open-door kitchens where the Cooks would literally cook their own food alongside the STW employees, and where STW's only service would be to deliver the food to the kitchens so that they could remain in place and cook their food more efficiently. But they realized that they might not have time to make such a change if a major war was coming.

Other stores

STW also owned many general purpose stores along the trade road. All of these had been open for many years and had been built to serve a nation with a traditional demographic profile. The sales floor was always small because STW expected that their customers would go to the cashiers with a list of items they wanted, and wait for the cashiers to retrieve the desired items from the warehouse in the back. This meant that young shoppers did not have trouble reaching items on the shelf and did not need to struggle against other customers when supplies ran low; they patiently waited in line for their turn to order. It also meant that shoplifting had never been a great problem, as the customers did not have access to the warehouse.

STW had traditionally hired teenagers to run these stores, meaning that their employees were physically strong enough to handle lifting of heavy items. But now their only employees, apart from their security guards, were children, mostly even younger than the Cooks. Therefore, heavy items that had traditionally been stored in the warehouse were moved to the sales floor, with the expectation that the Cooks would lift and carry these items on their own and therefore relieve the young salespeople of the burden they could not physically do. This meant that the potential for shoplifting was much greater than it had been in the past, but STW believed that they could handle the problem, as the only items available to steal were quite heavy.

Shopping carriages

STW's skilled carpenters quickly built thousands of shopping carriages (pamnata vitutā) for the children so that they would not have trouble carrying their purchases with them to their homes, which often were a considerable distance from STW's stores. These were four-wheeled vehicles that could be pushed over smooth surfaces with only a gentle force, and yet could carry a heavy load. However they could not easily be pushed, even by strong men, over soft soil or other surfaces found in nature. They were of irregular design and size because STW did not mass-produce the needed parts, and therefore there were no children who were too small to push the carriages. Some of the carriages also had holes in the front for someone to put their legs through.

Shopping carriages for public use in the streets

The task of building shopping carriages took STW's carpenters away from their traditional mainstay of building furniture, and STW believed this was right thing to do, as the Cooks had previously indicated they would rather sleep on a stone floor than starve in a house with comfortable wooden furniture. STW also knew that the shopping carriages would frequently break down as they were pushed over long distances, and therefore that the task of building carriages would be a long-term occupation. STW figured that they would try to maintain a fleet of about 5,000 carriages to serve the population, hoping that it would encourage the Cooks to shop in groups of about ten to twenty, making their journeys more efficient and requiring them to cooperate with each other to meet their needs.

Distribution of employees

Traditionally, STW had hired young children to run their restaurants, moved them towards the retail stores as they got older, and put them in customer-facing positions when they reached adolescence. This was because STW derived much of their profit from cheating their customers, and realized that adults would not tolerate such behavior from children even if the children were clever enough to outsmart the customers. Now, there were no adolescents left, so STW had no choice but to staff young children in all positions in both its retail stores and its restaurants. Since there were no adults in the Cook nation either, STW hoped that there would be no people with memories of how unfair STW had been to its customers until very recently, and therefore that the young customers and the young clerks would see each other as close friends.

Problems with theft

STW insisted that at least one adult male be present in every store at all times to provide physical security and to prevent shoplifting. These guards knew that the Cooks did not want them there, and so they mostly kept their distance from the shoppers, but STW refused to compromise or to hire Cooks to take over the job of providing security. Most valuable items in STW's stores were physically large and difficult to shoplift, but STW's guards aggressively pursued shoplifters even so.

Against all STW tradition, the guards physically beat the young Cooks they caught shoplifting, saying that it was necessary to punish them on site because by now the STW guards were sure that the Cooks would not prosecute their own kind for a crime so petty as shoplifting. Because STW had only begun this practice after the departure of the nation's adult population, STW leaders worried that the Cooks would assume that STW had been intending to use corporal punishment all along, but had only become brave enough to do so once they realized that there were no other adults around to stop them.

STW had a difficult time explaining their position. Previously, the Counter police force had been mostly responsible for arresting and punishing young Cooks who shoplifted; meanwhile, STW knew that the Cooks had earlier passed a law saying that shoplifting was legal so long as the store being robbed was not owned by a Cook; therefore, the Cooks did not view their shoplifters as criminals, even when they stole candy or other items that were clearly not basic survival items. Therefore, STW assumed that shoplifting would spiral out of control if they did not immediately take harsh measures to stop it. STW had traditionally opposed corporal punishment of children, but their leaders had decided that they had no alternative because they could not prohibit children from shopping at a store that had become their only source of basic survival items.

Nonetheless, STW worried that their new practice would quickly spoil the mutually beneficial relations they had with the Cooks. The Cooks had no choice but to shop at STW, but STW was worried that if the Cooks' sentiment turned against them, they might reach a point where they would neglect basic needs and choose to starve rather than to return to a store where they had been beaten by an STW guard. STW's guards noticed that whenever they released a shoplifter from their punishment, the other children would stop what they were doing and comfort the shoplifter, as though they had just survived an attack by a wild animal, and did not seem to recognize that the person had committed a crime.

Therefore they considered, as an alternative, to build prisons inside their stores, such that the children who shoplifted would be trapped inside the store instead of trapped outside it; therefore, they could serve out a punishment based on forced labor, without the need for violence, and still obtain the goods they needed to get through the day. Such a plan required the need for coordination from STW as a whole, however.

Wealth and income

The Cooks were overall fairly wealthy because the adults had left their possessions in their children's hands, including many things that the young Cooks had no use for and were happy to trade to STW. On the other hand, many of the children had come from further east, and had been forced to leave their own homes behind to move closer to STW. These Cooks had very little wealth and mostly did not expect the other Cooks to provide for them. The Cooks had recently passed a law stating that they would not arrest children who stole food from non-Cooks, saying that survival was more important than common decency, but now there were no such storehouses left to draw from outside those owned by STW; but STW's guards closely watched their sales floors and responded to shoplifting by severely beating the offenders.

Money supply

Likewise, STW did not hire the Cooks as formal employees in either their restaurants or their other operations because they knew that the Cooks were strongly attached to the idea that they could live without adult help, but they also knew that the Cook cities were strongly dependent on STW's trade road, as many had been built in locations that had very few natural resources and had relied on STW even when they were populated by traditional families with adults working in skilled trades.

STW wanted to ensure that even the poorest Cooks did not suffer unmet basic needs for lack of money.

Lack of medical help

Nonetheless, there were only 4,500 adult STW members amidst the 120,000 Cook children, and because STW did not teach medicine or other such disciplines, the Cook nation was entirely without doctors and had few medical supplies available. STW claimed that they could still take care of children who needed medical help by delivering them to either the Play nation or to the Clover kingdom, whichever was closer to the child's home city.

Although the Players were formally at war with the Cooks, and were not known for medical expertise, STW believed that a child in dire need would trust the Players even if it meant that they would never be released back to their home nation. STW also trusted the Players, and believed that the disappearance of adults from the Cook nation would embolden the Players to also trust STW, since they could now position themselves as a humanitarian organization whose existence was tied to the children's survival.

The Clovers were children, but ruled over a population consisting mostly of traditional families, and therefore had doctors and people in other skilled trades. STW believed that Cooks being sent here might actually be allowed to join the Clovers, and that the Clover population would keep growing as a result of this one-way migration, since few Clovers were interested in moving to the much poorer Cook territory. They worried that this might destabilize the Clover kingdom since the founding members had been both very close-knit and also loyal to STW.

Tadpoles reappear

When they realized that their nation no longer had an adult police force to keep them in line, the Tadpoles again came to roam around Cook cities committing various crimes. These Tadpoles were the ones who had refused to join the Counters in the war against the Players, and thus were even more difficult to control than the wider group had been. Although there were only a few hundred Tadpoles left, they declared that they were invincible because the children in the Cook police force would never be able to control them and neither would the Cooks allow a foreign power to invade their territory to reach the Tadpoles. But the Tadpoles knew that STW was still active in their nation, and therefore they kept their distance from STW's trade road.

The Tadpoles declared that they spoke for their nation's adult population, and that because all adults were illegal, all adults were Tadpoles. The Cooks had not made this declaration and continued to distinguish between the Tadpoles and other groups such as the Leashes who were also illegal but were not known for a life of crime. The Tadpoles also claimed that they would attract new recruits from other nations who could not resist the appeal of living in a nation with no adult population.

Division of territory

The Tadpoles soon produced the Second Tadpole Treaty, and said they would not bother getting the Cooks to undersign them. This new treaty stated that the Tadpoles were no longer bound by laws of any kind, and that even assaults of young Cook children were legal. They said that they would confine themselves to areas of Cook territory which STW did not control, and divide their land up into territories assigned to individual Tadpoles. The Tadpoles were allowed to share their territories with others, but within each territory, the man in charge would have full control of what went on, and could refuse to allow other Tadpoles the right of trespass.

Tadpoles did not actually encourage each other to assault children, but said that because it was not a crime, no Tadpole had the right to trespass the territory of another to punish their behavior. The Tadpoles believed that the Cooks would attempt to flee towards the territories controlled by the less violent Tadpoles, and that this was the only check on their behavior that they needed.

The new Tadpoles had become much like the Matrix party in that their only loyalty was to each other, and also invited comparisons to the Zenith. But the Tadpoles said that they were the only organized crime association in known history who had chosen to specifically target young children, and that they might find themselves described as immoral even by the openly criminal members of the historically slave-holding Matrix and Zenith parties. Therefore, while they said that Matrixes and Zeniths were welcome to join them in controlling the Cook homeland, they would need to declare themselves Tadpoles and sign the new Tadpole treaty to be sure they were not holding onto their old party loyalties. Therefore the Tadpoles banned all non-Tadpole adults from their territories.

STW's reaction

The Tadpoles carved the words of their treaty into stone and made sure that the Cook population was well aware of what was about to happen to them.

STW had earlier made it clear to the Cooks that any attempt to create a nation without adults would immediately trigger an invasion by adults with much more criminal minds than those who had been expelled. STW's mercenaries outnumbered the Tadpoles, but were busy patrolling the trade road and could not also send troops to encircle the Cooks' independent territories away from the trade road. Neither could the Cooks leave these territories and live under STW's protection, because they derived their food supply from the wilderness. Therefore, while STW promised that they would execute any known Tadpoles on sight, and capture any adults not known to work for STW, they would not be able to leave the immediate vicinity of their trade road and thus could not provide the Cooks any meaningful protection. STW again denied the Cooks' request to manufacture weapons and armor, stating that they would quickly grow out of the armor and would drop their weapons in any fight.

Internal politics

Privately, STW's mercenaries saw benefits to them in the Tadpoles' repeated escalations of their criminal activity. Though they could not always help, STW's men had shown their dedication to law and order, and unlike other adults had not made any great promises only to quickly break them and watch the kids suffer the consequences.

They also believed that the Tadpoles' crimes would reduce the Cooks' own propensity to commit crimes, for several reasons. First, Cooks who committed crimes often lost the sympathy of other Cooks, and once separate from their peers, Cook criminals made easy victims for Tadpole criminals. The Cooks were quick to imprison other Cooks for petty crimes, and STW's leaders had come to believe that this was intended to protect them from more violent criminals, and not as a punishment. In prison, young Cooks had great freedom of movement and their needs were well cared for.

Secondly, the Tadpoles' crimes against the Cooks were of such an unprecedented magnitude that the Cooks stealing candy from STW's shops could not compare, and STW hoped that these young criminals would quickly be shocked into obedience as they realized that their only true friends were the law-abiding Cooks and not the Tadpole criminals.

Thirdly, STW had been unable to justify their recently adopted practice of physically beating children they caught shoplifting in STW's stores. Many STW leaders had wanted to replace this with nonviolent punishment, but were unable to get wider STW approval for their plan, because STW believed a nonviolent punishment would need to be equally severe in order to deter crime, and that the only penalty severe enough to serve this purpose would be forced labor, which STW did not need and which would take the Cooks away from their own jobs. Therefore the beatings continued. Now, with the Tadpoles, STW was able to claim that they punished only those Cooks who committed crimes, whereas the Tadpoles attacked all Cooks, seeming to delight especially in targeting the most law-abiding Cooks with the most sadistic crimes.

Lastly, STW assumed that in the unlikely event that some Cook criminals were able to earn respect from the Tadpoles, they would be forced to join the Tadpoles, as they would no longer be welcomed even by the worst of the Cook criminals. STW's leaders continued to believe that the Cooks were incapable of violence, and that any young Cook attempting to join the Tadpoles would simply be ridiculed and passed around from one Tadpole to another until they succumbed to their injuries.

The expected reduction in crime would benefit the Cooks directly, but also STW indirectly, as STW would no longer need to patrol their stores for shoplifters, and could finally grant the Cooks' wishes to shop without adult supervision.

Differences of opinion within STW

STW leaders based outside Cook territory, largely in and around Baeba Swamp, were wary of the traders' plan to tolerate the Tadpoles, saying that it would soon occur to the Cooks that STW's well-armed mercenaries were both the only people safe from the Tadpoles and the only people refusing to fight the Tadpoles. Already the Cooks had grown frustrated after realizing that the Tadpoles broke the law by assaulting young children, while STW's shopkeepers enforced the law by assaulting young children. Neither of the two groups of men habitually attacked each other, but instead seemed to have agreed to divide the nation's child population between them.

Some of STW's men abandoned their posts and their great wealth in Baeba Swamp to hunt down Tadpoles, and said that their tangible wealth should be transferred to the Cooks by any means possible. By doing this, they put themselves in great danger, because they did not have STW's protection in the wilderness, and because they knew that they would likely be mistaken for Tadpoles once they were on their own.

However, few STW soldiers were interested in such missions, having convinced themselves that they did not need to become humanitarians to serve their purpose in life. The Tadpoles had already stated earlier that any men entering Cook territory in order to track down the Tadpoles would soon become Tadpoles themselves, once they realized that the Cooks would not welcome them and that the mere task of finding food would lead any intruder to a life of crime.

Hillside hideouts

Assuming that most Tadpoles were invading the Cook nation from the north, STW pointed out that the Cooks could cross the trade road and live to the south of it, in mountainous terrain with an unreliable food supply, and that STW would continue to patrol the road to ensure that Tadpoles were not crossing into these southern highlands. This would put the children within easy reach of the Play army, but STW had been making friendly gestures towards the Players in the past year.

Protest incident

Just as STW's leaders felt that they might have a chance at earning the children's trust, an STW shopkeeper aggressively beat a young shoplifter such that he fell unconscious. The other customers placed the boy in a shopping carriage and wheeled him out of the store. They dared not ask the shopkeeper for help, so they went to a different STW building not far from the store. However, the boy's injuries were of a type that STW's medical professionals could not attend to, and the boy was dead before the other children could even arrive at the other building. They decided not to go inside at all.

STW's rules stated that any STW employee killing a shoplifter would be automatically fired from STW, and that any other STW employee could legally kill that man, but they did not have the means to formally charge the man with a crime. Therefore the Cooks knew that STW would not show up to arrest the man, and that they would have to do so on their own.

The shopkeeper did not realize that the boy had died, so he showed up at the store the next morning and prepared for a normal day of business. Soon, the Cook police force showed up at the store and began a protest, demanding that the guard leave the store and let the Cook children shop unsupervised. The man grabbed one of the officers and pushed through the crowd of children, who then attempted to pull the child away from him. But the man demanded the officer hand over the key to his home so that he could live there himself. When the officer refused, the man strangled the boy and fled into the streets. He eventually cornered a different boy and beat him up as well, and then took the key to his house along with the shopping carriage he had been pushing. Then he killed the boy. Knowing that he had become a Tadpole, the former shopkeeper realized that STW would soon track him down if he did not find a way to hide his presence from the Cooks around him. Realizing that the other Tadpoles would not willingly surrender their territories, the man decided to surrender to the Cook police force and accept a life in prison, as he was certain that the Cooks would not execute him even after he had killed three young Cook boys.

Eight-party conference

The Counters and Players agreed to yet another new meeting in Counterland. The Counters had begun to contemplate surrendering all of Nama to the Players in the hopes that they would expand no further, and thus allow the Counters to rescue their children from the Tadpoles and other intruders.

The organizers also invited the Cooks, the Clovers, the Scorpions, the Pacifists, the Leashes, and STW to the meeting. STW was responsible for transportation of the Scorpions and Clovers, and had earned their place at the debate table by promising to deliver the young representatives safely to the meeting. The Cooks chose to again rely on the Players for transportation, even though the Players were invading their nation.

Player position

The Players went to the meeting knowing that they had the strongest position of all the participants. The Cooks' trade route connected with the Play homeland, not with the Counters' new nation in Nama (although there were accessory roads connecting the main route to Nama). Therefore, the Cooks were economically dependent on the Players and STW, and entirely untethered from their parents. Despite the Counters' earlier threats to ruin the Cooks' economy, only the Players could do that now.

The Play diplomats were female, as in previous meetings. The Cooks seemed to grow more distrustful of adults with each new meeting, but the Players hoped they could reshape this feeling into a distrust of adult men specifically, and therefore come to be seen as ideal leaders for the desperate young Cooks. Yet the Players knew that the Cooks had expelled women from their party as well, and for the same reason that they had expelled the men.

Cooks' plans

The Cooks were eager for the new meeting because, as above, they had been struggling to control their nation's adult population and wanted to ask the Clovers for advice on how they managed to keep their own much larger adult population under control. They planned to stay after the meeting with the Clovers and ask them a series of questions which by now the Cooks knew by heart, and therefore did not need to bring a list.

The Cooks also wanted to meet the Pacifists, and discuss plans for an end to the war that might lie outside traditional politics.

Meeting begins

However, at the meeting, the STW representative arrived alone, leaving the twelve Cook diplomats surrounded by adults. In the earlier meetings, the Cooks had been reassured by the presence of the Clovers even though they seemed to make little difference in the outcome of the meetings. Now, the Cooks were frightened and wondered if the STW diplomat they had been told to trust had in fact kidnapped both the Clovers and the Scorpions, for some reason yet to be revealed. But the Cook diplomats were afraid to confront the STW diplomat peering over their shoulders.

STW's explanation

STW had sent a new diplomat this time, whom the kids were not familiar with. Yet he stood behind the Cooks just as Slider had done, as though they were not important, and instead faced towards the Players who were seated across the table.

He explained that the Clover kids could not attend the meeting because they were now at war with their own adult population. He promised that STW's mercenaries were helping the Clovers in this war, that the Clovers were still interested in maintaining friendly contacts with the Cooks and the Players along STW's trade route, and that STW could guarantee safety for young children traveling in either direction even during the war. But the Clovers were so short on personnel, he continued, that they simply could not afford to send any of their representatives to the new meeting in Counterland. He produced a document that had earlier been signed by the Clover king, the Golden Sun, stating that his people were too busy to participate in foreign affairs, although the document did not specifically mention the new meeting and thus could not be used as proof for STW's claims.

The STW diplomat then went on to explain that the Scorpions were geographically dispersed, that STW had been unable to locate a leader to talk to, and that they felt the Scorpions could not be accurately represented in a debate if STW were to simply pick Scorpion kids at random to speak for the wider population.

Cook diplomats' reaction

The Play word vapap "war" was never used metaphorically; Play had other words which could signify either a literal combat war or a conflict of emotions, but STW's diplomat had been clear what he meant. Though the Clovers were indeed fighting a war of combat, nearly all of the soldiers fighting in this war were adults, including the small but powerful Matrix army, along with STW's mercenaries. A third participant was the Soap Bubbles. The Cooks were unfamiliar with these other powers, and wrongly assumed that the orphaned children in the Clover kingdom were fighting against their adult population directly. Thus, while the adults in the room felt that the STW diplomat was intending to reassure the Cook children that their friends in the Clover kingdom were safe, the Cooks became visibly distressed upon hearing STW's explanation for the Clovers' absence and perceived it as a veiled threat against themselves. The Cooks had grown increasingly wary of STW, and now wondered if their having created a nation with no adult population would only make it much easier for STW to control them.

The Cooks thus believed that either STW's diplomat was telling the truth, and that the Clovers were fighting an unfair war against their adult population, or that STW was lying and had either abducted the kids or failed to protect them. In either case, the Cooks understood that there was no safe place for young children in their nation and that they might not see their homes again. They thanked the Players for delivering them safely to the meeting even as some Cooks still believed that the Players had started the trend of abducting young diplomats in their earlier meeting.

Counter-Play relations

The young Cooks were consumed by the fear that they were about to die, and could not follow the conversation of the adults above them. They nonetheless heard that the Counters were interested in moving soldiers from Nama to Anzan, even knowing that it would almost certainly allow the Players to win more territory in Nama.

Western front

Celebrating their diplomatic victory at the meeting in Counterland, the Players appointed a new general, Mibas, to lead the assault against the Cook children who had made peace with them. The Players realized that STW had lost its standing with the Cooks by failing to deliver the representatives from the other children's parties to the meeting, and that the Cooks had misunderstood the STW diplomat's explanation for their absence, believing that the Clovers in Pavaitaapu were fighting hand-to-hand combat against their adult population, with the adults in that war seemingly giving the children no sympathy. Therefore, the Players assumed that they could invade the Cooks and the Cooks would see the Players as protectors so long as the Play soldiers did not simply slaughter the children upon first sight. Thus the Players' new invasion of Anzan became the western front of the Weather War.

The Players knew that their betrayal would only underscore the Cooks' belief that all adults were suspect and liable to betray them with or without a reason. But the invasion would force the Cooks to negotiate with the Players alone even if the Cooks switched sides in desperation and tried to rejoin their parents. Meanwhile, any Counters attempting to rescue the Cooks would need to fight through the new Play battalions first, and any Counters who transferred from Vavatabūa's front (that is, Counterland) to Mibas' front would only accelerate the Players' takeover of Nama and the remainder of Counterland.

Plans for invasion

The Players estimated that the Cooks had about 120,000 enrolled members, mostly aged between 10 and 14 years old with a smaller number of younger children who had by one means or another come under the care of the Cooks instead of their parents. They continued to ignore the adult population entirely, saying that illegal adults could come and go as they pleased and would at best be unreliable allies for the Cooks, fighting in the war only out of sympathy. The Players had privately contacted the STW corporation, and STW had promised to allow the new war.

The Players reassigned 8,900 soldiers from Vavatabūa's army in Nama to Mibas' new thrust into Anzan, figuring that with their weapons, armor, and greater physical strength they could quickly subdue the Cook army even if the Cooks decided to send their entire population to battle. The Play parliament devolved military decisions to its male generals, one of the very few spheres in which Play men could wield power. Mibas therefore took command of the 8,900 soldiers and wrote the battle plan on his own.

STW's trade route emerged from Play territory, not from the nominal capital city of Napaatusā, which was only connected to the trade route by an accessory road. Therefore the Players had no need to capture Napaatusā. Therefore, and because STW had earlier approved of the invasion, Mibas could lead his army directly into Cook territory without the adults in Counterland even knowing that the war now had two fronts.

Mibas expected the Cooks to surrender immediately, and to submit to Play rule once they realized that STW's soldiers were not helping them, and that they had been yet again betrayed by a traditional adult army that they had expected to protect them. Once the Players had secured a victory, they would collect along Anzan's eastern border with Counterland, and Mibas promised his soldiers that the Cooks would then allow the Players to fortify the border between Anzan and Counterland to keep the Counters from entering.

Siege of Turtle City

Mibas moved quickly, knowing that his plan would be easier if the Play soldiers could corner the Cooks before any outside parties could react. He retreated his soldiers from the ongoing invasion of Counterland, which was focused in the Naman state of Ihhai, and then marched several hundred miles westward through the Play homeland in order to line his army up with the Cooks' known population centers, which were focused on STW's trade route leading towards the Clovers in the Little Country.

The Cooks had retreated westward towards the trade route because they worried that they could not easily survive in the wilderness without STW's help. The Players did not know whether the Counters had then moved westward in order to reclaim this territory for themselves, or whether they were still focused on the war in Nama. If the Counters had not moved, the Players realized that they would be able to add this territory to the Play nation with little struggle, and keep the Cooks physically confined hundreds of miles away from their parents.

Having completed the westward shift, Mibas then thrust his army into Cook territory at the border city of Šamnaa (Late Andanese Ukahugukata), sometimes referred to in diplomacy as Turtle City because of its having once been part of the state of Kava. This was at the southeast corner of the area under Cook control, and located at a very high elevation at the source of a major north-flowing river. Because of the terrain, it was out of reach of foreign powers. There were some transitory STW mercenaries present, but Mibas promised his men that STW would not interfere or try to wrest control of Turtle City from the Players once the Players had secured their control.

The Play soldiers outnumbered the Cooks in Turtle City, whose population they estimated at about 7,000. The Cooks had no viable means of getting more soldiers to move eastward from the further points on the road, and the Players assumed that they did not even know yet that they were being invaded. Mibas thus directed his men to circle around the perimeter of the city, surrounding it on all sides, hoping to secure a quick surrender from the kids and avoid traditional combat, knowing that if even a few Cooks were killed, all manner of unpredictable consequences could follow.

Once the Players surrounded the city, they sent a detachment of soldiers into the core of the city to meet with the Cook leaders. These men were wearing armor and loudly announced their presence as they marched, intending to be sure that the Cooks knew their city was under siege. The Players moved slowly through the city, making clear to the Cooks that the Players sensed no danger, and therefore were in no hurry, nor would they be made to move faster in order to relieve the tension for the frightened Cooks. They also stayed close to the city's main road, in sight of the few STW soldiers also present in the city, thus making it clear to the Cooks that STW approved of the siege and that the Cooks could not push the Players back out.

Players take control

The Players reached the city hall building without violent resistance from the Cooks. The soldiers then crowded into the building, figuring that here might be the only place in the city where the Cook children would have weapons, and that the Players would be forced at least to defend themselves in order to reach a settlement with the Cook leaders. The Players soon realized that the Cooks in the city hall were unarmed as well, however, and figured that STW might have taken control of the Cooks' weapon supply, figuring that doing so would keep the Cooks safe from any rebellions within their ranks while also allowing STW to more easily keep control.

The Players thus forced the young leaders of Turtle City to hand over control to the Play army. The Players told the Cooks that their soldiers would be taking their supplies from the Cooks' stores and warehouses, which were supplied by STW, and that the Players would not compensate the Cooks for what they took away. The Players promised nonetheless that the bulk of the Play army would soon move west to the next Cook city and therefore relieve the Cooks in Turtle City of the burden of sheltering 9000 adults.

They demanded access to the city's prison, and the young leaders complied, whereupon the Play soldiers split into two groups: one group of just a few soldiers followed the kids into the prison, while the others dispersed to patrol the streets and to find a supply of food for the traveling battalion.

The Cooks showed the Players around their city's prison, which had been in operation for hundreds of years prior to the rise of the Cook party. Here, many adult men of the Tadpole and Counter parties were held captive. The Tadpoles had been impounded without trials, as the Cook party considered them criminals by definition, whereas the Counters had been tried and convicted of various crimes. Both groups of men had escaped execution by claiming to be the parents of Cook children in neighboring cities. Roughly one third of the prison inmates were young Cook children who had also been tried and convicted of crimes; these inmates were housed separately from the two groups of adults.

The Players declared that the Tadpoles and Counters were all guilty of treason, and demanded that the Cooks execute all of the adult prisoners immediately, or else the Players would do so themselves. The Cooks timidly admitted that they had disarmed their police force and were now physically incapable of killing these men, although they could withhold food and thus cause them to die of starvation. The Players thus realized that the Cooks might have no armed forces at all, and that the Players could surge westward along the trade route and even reach the Clovers without ever fighting a conventional battle.

Execution of prisoners

The Players then carried out their threat to execute the prisoners, allowing the blood-shy Cook population to hide in another room if they did not wish to see the men die. The child prisoners remained incarcerated because the Players considered the Cooks' prior convictions to be valid. Then, the Players announced that the prison would continue to house both children and adults, as they would impound any Cooks who chose to resist the Play occupation, along with Play soldiers who broke from the ranks.

However, the Players also promised to introduce a proper court system when time allowed, saying that the Cooks should not have been so easily blocked by the prisoners' insistence that they were the parents of the kids.

Cooks return home

The Players, having subdued Turtle City without a fight, split their army again, calving off a small battalion to move northwards from the city in order to extend their occupation into the high prairie region and prevent any outside powers, such as the Counters, from getting within a day's journey of Turtle City.

As the Play detachment moved onto the plains, they met up with the Cook land army for the first time. Rather than having surrendered their weapons to STW, as the Players had imagined, the Cooks had sent their soldiers to patrol the now unclaimed wilderness, much as the Players were now doing. The Players imagined that the Play-Cook border had been left undefended because the Cooks knew that they were no match for the Players, but that the Cook army was still capable of patrolling the wilderness, where only scattered resistance might be found, and where the young soldiers were more likely to come upon wild animals than enemy soldiers.

Worries about violence

STW had not told the Players of the existence of this army. The Players understood that STW's mercenaries rarely left the immediate vicinity of the trade road, and might simply not know that the Cooks had finally managed to create an army without adults. But they also realized that the Cook soldiers they saw were moving southwards, and were likely attempting to reach shelters in Turtle City. They were puzzled, therefore, at how STW could not know of the existence of this army, and wondered perhaps that STW had not in fact shared all of their secrets with the Play invaders.

The Play general Mibas told his soldiers to visibly part into two groups as the Cook boys approached them, allowing them the choice of greeting Mibas or ignoring the soldiers and simply moving through them. If they chose not to engage, the Players would then follow them towards Turtle City, pretending to be too slow to keep up, but in the end closing the gap so that the boys would end up trapped between the two Play battalions. Mibas figured violence was unlikely in this situation, as the Cooks would know that they were both surrounded by adults and outnumbered.

Therefore the Players put their plan into action. This took several hours. In fact the Cooks were considerably faster than the Players.


Surrounded, the humiliated Cooks surrendered, and the Play army declared them prisoners of war, just as the Cooks in Čumfunua were.

New appointment schedule

Having taken control of both Turtle City and Čumfunua, the Players called for yet another meeting with the young Cook diplomats, and also asked if the Cooks were willing to station diplomats in a safe Play-administered territory, leaving and returning on a rotating basis, so that the Players could host meetings with them every day. The Players, though reaffirming their continued alliance with STW, had never stopped criticizing STW, discretely communicating through children so that STW's mercenaries would blame the children instead of the Players if they heard negative opinions.

Use of female diplomats

The Players believed that their female diplomats were superior to the men in the other parties, and that they would better connect with the children who now had four political parties to themselves. (The Clovers had still not declared themselves to be a party, but outside their territory they were increasingly treated as such. The Players considered the Rash boys to have their own party as well, because their insistence on access to Parliament meant nothing to the Play occupiers who had abolished democracy.)

STW's bodyguards had spent much of their time in meeting standing close behind the Clover kids, or sometimes even the Cooks. At first, both the children and the adults in the meetings assumed that STW simply did not respect the young diplomats' opinions and was standing in that manner to show that they did not matter, and that STW was only interested in the opinions of the adults across the table. But the STW bodyguard often stood further behind, or walked around the room as if on patrol. Now the Players believed that this was simply an intimidation tactic, with each movement reminding the kids that they were being watched and that they could not do anything about it. The Players wondered if they had ever in fact heard an honest opinion from any of the children's political parties, or if they were all afraid to speak their minds for fear of what their bodyguards would do to them. The Players believed that women could also be intimidating, but could do so in a calming manner, reminding the Cooks and other young diplomats of how much good the Players could do for them if they would only admit that they had no choice in the manner.

The Players also believed that the other outside powers were using a false standpoint to debate from, winning the children's support by pretending to see them as equals of adults, knowing that it was human nature for children to support adults who respected their opinions and shun adults who belittled them. The Players knew that they had no choice but to do this as well, but hoped that they could get the children to understand the difference between intelligence and experience. Play-speaking cultures defined intelligence as the ability to learn, and therefore it was something children would often have more of than adults, but the Players understood that therefore intelligence alone was not sufficient to run a country.

Preparations for meeting

To prove their sincerity, the Players announced a new diplomatic meeting in Cook territory, to be held in the newly captured Turtle City. The Players would take on the responsibility of gathering large numbers of diplomats from what they considered the four most important powers: the Cooks, the Clovers, the Scorpions, and the Rash. The Players stated that unlike STW, they would have no trouble gathering Scorpions and Clovers to attend the meeting, and that the Play soldiers would risk their lives to enter Clover and Scorpion territory on their own instead of relying on STW's mercenaries for transport. These Play men would be the children's bodyguards during the journey and during the meeting, but unlike STW's practice, they would not be attending the meeting.

The Players promised that they would not spy on the children while they met. After the children met with each other and signed a four-party treaty, one of their representatives would alert the Play men that they were finished, and these men would then fetch the Play women to meet with the children and begin the second phase of the meeting, at which they would sign a second treaty between the four powers, acting as one, and the Players.

Trade road meeting

April 27, 4192

The Players opened their meeting in Turtle City and, as they had promised, delivered a large number of Clovers and Scorpions to meet with the Cooks and Rashes who already lived in the area. The Play bodyguards closed the door and walked far down the hall so that they could not overhear, and left the children to talk amongst themselves, expecting that they would soon write a four-way treaty to present to the Players.

Clovers' viewpoint

The Clover representatives spoke first. They explained that STW had not allowed them to attend the previous meeting, claiming it was a punishment for their misbehavior. The Clovers then stated that although they were legally the rulers of their nation, they had found themselves increasingly controlled by STW's bodyguards, the Sunspots, and were afraid to leave their castle even when the bodyguards allowed it. Remembering that at a previous meeting the Cooks had expressed jealousy towards the Clovers, the Clovers now said that they wished they could escape their castle and become Cooks.

Cooks' response

Realizing that the Clovers were addressing them specifically, the Cooks felt due to respond. Although sympathetic, the Cooks still believed that the Clovers were overall better off, and so proposed a solution whereby the Cooks and Clovers would each be allowed to travel freely throughout the Little Country, and that STW's bodyguards would be forced to obey this because the treaty would be legally binding even for STW.

The Clovers replied that this was not enough, and what they really needed was independence from STW, enforced by an army, because their bodyguards were violating the law already and could just as easily violate a treaty requiring them to give the Clovers freedom of movement. But they understood that in a country comprised of four groups of children, there was no military to be found, and that the Cooks were offering the best solution they could.

Relationships with STW

Comforted by the presence of their peers and the absence of their enemies, the Cook diplomats admitted for the first time that they had been shoplifting from STW's stores and refusing to punish the thieves. Legally, they claimed this was because they had previously legalized this behavior so long as the stores were not owned or run by fellow Cooks, but they also admitted that they saw nothing wrong with shoplifting and would not pass a law against it unless the Clovers forced them to.

Effects of the new treaty

In the wake of the meeting, STW signed a deal with the Players whereby the Players would send crates of grape wine westward along the trade road and into the Clover kingdom, where STW planned to serve it to the young Clover kids to brighten their mood and stop their plans to move eastward into the Cook territories. The wine shipments violated the Clovers' own laws, but STW considered themselves above the law and planned to convince the Clovers that with wine they could live the life they deserved. The Players warned STW however that they had not engaged in wine production for many years and therefore would not be able to deliver a crop for nearly another year. In the meantime, STW decided to rely on palm wine, which they could produce closer to home.

Long-term diplomatic assignments

The Cooks and Rashes supported the Players' new idea of stationing diplomats from each party in the Play territory to sit for meetings full-time rather than grabbing different children every time. The Players chose very young children to be the new diplomats, because they wanted them to stay in their positions for years without becoming too old to be perceived as children, because they figured that young children were less useful in military occupations, and because they felt young children would be easy to push around.

Rash reaction

Plans for escalation

The Rashes were upset when they learned that the Cook children had twice submitted to the Players without actually fighting a battle. They asked in what sense the Cook army could defend their nation if they simply surrendered every time they ran into an adult army.

The Rashes understood the mainstream Cooks' preference for nonviolence, and that they would prefer to be taken as prisoners of war than to be killed, but pointed out that in either case it was a losing strategy, as the Players had now captured at least 1,000 Cook soldiers without the Cooks ever capturing any prisoners from the Play armies. Moreover the Rashes argued that the noncombatant Cooks living under Play rule were treated little better than the prisoners of war, and therefore that the Cooks had now lost not one thousand, but perhaps more than ten thousand, of their people to the two separate Play invasions.

The Rashes declared that they would never be afraid of adult soldiers and would fight conventional battles against the Players. They promised to protect the lives of their soldiers, and agreed that they would sooner submit to prison than be killed, but also stated that they would seek to capture Play soldiers and intern them as prisoners of war in Rash-run camps instead of letting the Players capture the entire Rash population to do the same.

Battle strategies

The Rash boys had recently heard a rumor that the Play people were able to draw energy from the sun. This rumor had originated in Dreamland. Now some Rashes came to believe that the Players were going to invade them in the summer, and that they would be able to bring hot weather with them, such that the boys would not be able to bear the temperatures and would collapse due to the heat. Some Rashes believed this meant that the Players would be setting fire to the forests and grasslands where the kids lived, rather than literally bringing the sun with them over the mountains. In either case, the kids' new homeland was snowbound for more than half of the year, so any attack relying on fire would need to happen in summer.

The boys figured that if the Players drew their strength from the sun, they must therefore be weak during winter, so the boys drew up plans for an attack on Play territory during winter, which was about to arrive. (Note that the winter season spanned from about August to December; this is because the planet's seasons at this time were more strongly tied to the eccentricity of the orbit than to the axial tilt.)

Attack and defense

The boys stressed the need to balance a proactive strategy of attacking their enemies at opportune times with a passive strategy where they would allow their enemies to approach or even invade them in order to bait them into a trap.

Intelligence and hardiness

The Lamb plan stressed the boys' need to outsmart the Players by any means possible, even knowing that the Players were especially proud of their claimed superior wartime intelligence, and that most soldiers in the Cook territories were very young and poorly educated.

The Mint plan relied on superior physical strength, again in the knowledge that the fully grown adult soldiers in the Play army were much stronger than the young boys in the Rash army, had more weapons, and were better protected by armor. They knew also that even if the Rashes won at first, the Players could escalate the fight by sending more and more troops into the Rashes' mountain habitats, whereas the Rashes were unsure that the Cook and Counter armies would be willing to join such a war if the Rashes ran out of soldiers.

The Rashes believed that absolute dependence on either of these plans was doomed to fail, but that balancing the two could work out. They believed, for example, that they could outsmart the Players by inviting an attack, ideally during winter, and that their cold-hardiness would then compensate for their other deficits during battle.

Lamb and Mint were both strong supporters of a defense-focused strategy, but stated that absolute submission was folly.

Claimed Rash territory

As snow began to fall, the Rashes concentrated their armed forces in the Naman state of Galà, part of the highest terrain of Nama, an area rarely seen by humans, where the climate was cold and settled living was difficult. They declared themselves the only true Cold Men.

Recent history of Galà

Galà was home to two major tribal leagues: the Repilians and the Galà. The Repilian settlements were much older, but because they were a nomadic people, they did not belong to any specific territory, and had allowed the Galà immigrants to move into the area so long as they communicated with the outside world through Repilian intermediaries. Thus, the Galà tribespeople had their own nation, but rarely participated in politics with other nations, and had come to be known for isolationism.

Indeed, the region had no commonly used Play-language name; its direct Play cognate, Žavaip, was neither used for the state nor the tribe, but only for the wider mountain region it was in. The state did have a Late Andanese name, however: Alai, which by happenstance were the first three letters of the Late Andanese syllabary, in order. Therefore the name sounded like "0 1 2" or "A B C" to Andanese speakers.

Most Repilians in Galà had abandoned their homes in the late 4170s, as wars to their north and south began to affect the quality of life in their normally inaccessible mountain habitats. This was possible because, while very poor, they still had other places to flee to. The Galà people lived nowhere outside Galà, and could not find a new country to move to apart from those who demanded military service in exchange for citizenship. Many Galà people agreed to this, and joined the Cold Men, the strongest power in their region at the time. These people thus obeyed Cold laws, and therefore they too had to abandon their homes as the Cold Men drafted them to fight in their various wars. Thus, the nation of Galà had been almost entirely depopulated. The Rashes, being descended from Cold Men themselves, were well aware of this, and knew that they could even find intact houses to move into so that they could live a surprisingly comfortable life despite their misfortunes. The territory of Galà was now encircled by the Players, meaning that they would need to slip through the Play army to reach their new homeland, but because the terrain was so rugged, traditional border patrol in this area was extremely difficult, and the kids were confident that they could complete their journey undetected.

Relations with Galà tribespeople

A very small number of Galà families had insisted on retaining their tribal lifestyle, meaning that they had not joined any political parties and were considered illegal residents by the Players who now claimed that land. But the Players had yet to attempt occupation of the mountainsides, whose climate was extremely harsh and traditionally considered uninhabitable for humans, meaning that the Galà tribespeople who were willing to tough it out could live mostly undisturbed. Nonetheless, some Galà families had come to occupy the abandoned homes on the more visible areas of lower terrain, even knowing that they were risking capture by the Play army should the Players ever decide to take what was now legally theirs.

Most Galà families were monolingual, meaning that they could not speak Play or even Late Andanese. None of the Rash kids were fluent in Galà, even those with Galà ancestry, because their parents had enrolled them in the Cold Men's schools which only taught Play. Therefore, even if the Rash kids encountered Galà tribespeople living in abandoned homes right next to their own, they could communicate only in a very simple manner.

Because the Rashes had prohibited all adults from living in their territory, the Galà tribespeople were violating their laws. And the Rashes had many times been frustrated by their inability to get adults such as the Tadpoles, Counters, Leashes, and STWers to obey their laws. But they believed that the Galà tribespeople were different for several reasons. First, the Galà were living in their territory as traditional families, and not a roving army of males with no wives or children. Secondly, they were precisely the people who had refused to involve themselves in politics, and thus had so far refused to help both the Players and the Counters. Thirdly, their stable living situation meant that they were unlikely to abduct the young Rash boys. Therefore the Rashes decided to share their land with the Galà tribespeople, but also to keep their distance instead of asking them for help.

New humanitarian missions

Attempt to reach Pūpepas

The Rashes entered the Play state of Vapupupa Pūu,[6] located directly south of Galà. They were attempting to reach the capital city of Pūpepas, about a hundred miles away. They had the closest entry point available by foot; they had no other way to sneak in.

Their plan was to claim that they were orphans and could not afford transportation to the capital city. Then, when they arrived, they would enter the parliament building and plead for the Players to release the children they had captured in Cook territory.

Because they were pretending to be Play orphans, they did not bring weapons with them, and realized that they were in danger. The Rashes soon reached a town, but found the locals unhelpful. They figured that they did not know enough about Play culture to believably pass themselves off as Players, and decided to try a second group of townspeople and this time to say that they were indeed foreigners who wanted to speak to the Players about pressing national issues. This time the locals agreed to guide the children to someone who would bring them to Pūpepas, but not to pay for the journey. Thus the children needed to come up with a lot of money. Since they could not legally work in Play territory and did not have the same currency at home, they knew that they could not do this without committing a crime.

Contact with the Planters

The Rashes discovered a large troop of very young children, the Pine Tree Planters (Tee Vauva), working in the forest planting trees. They were not being protected by adults; rather, the adult female police were stationed at a great distance, threatening punishments if they tried to return early or to plant the seeds haphazardly throughout the forest. The job of protection had been handed to an outer group of children aged nine and ten years old.

The Rashes approached the Planters and asked why they were working so hard, and the Planters on the outside of the troop said that they needed to renew their nation's forest because they needed the wood for houses and suits of armor. But the Planters warned the Rashes to be alert for an army of kidnappers, the Seeds, who had named themselves after the Planters' main duty in life and had already abducted many Planters and brought them to prisons in the highlands of Nama.

The Rash boys then returned to their mountainside homes in Galà, which was also part of Nama, with the young Planter children, as they pledged to liberate the prisons and also to cooperate on new missions in Play territory to protect the Planters from the kidnappers. The journey up the mountains to Nama was very difficult, particularly for the youngest children in the Planter troop, who were only five years old. But the children's unanimous agreement to follow their rescuers convinced the Rashes that they were doing the right thing. The Rashes worried that they would have a difficult time finding food for all of these young children in Nama, but figured that if the Seed kidnappers were also sheltering and feeding all of the children they kidnapped, the Rashes could feed the children they rescued.

Mission in Pāpaŋa

At this point, the Rash boys, led by the young spies Mint and Lamb, entered the Play state of Pāpaŋa. They were spying on Nama's new Seed army (Čiaa), whose soldiers promised to specifically target the small children in the Players' Pine Tree Planters school system. The Seeds were also spying on both the Players and the Cooks (including the Rash).

Statement of humanitarian objectives

The Rash stated that even though they were at war with the Players, they would rescue young Play children from kidnappers because they considered themselves humanitarians first and Cold Men second. The Rash boys hoped that their missions would appeal to the Players and that the Players might call off their war altogether, but also committed to carry out their humanitarian missions even if they found themselves forced to fight the Play soldiers and the kidnappers simultaneously.


The Rashes understood that the Players were not invincible and that their nation was not as they portrayed it. The Players portrayed their women as protectors of children, and their men as the best soldiers in the world, yet the Seeds' kidnappers had cut through the Play army and were now abducting children from civilian territory that was supposedly under the control of the children's mothers and teachers.

Again admitting that their humanitarian and military goals were at odds, the Rash boys entered Play territory as well, intending to follow the kidnappers down to their hideouts, rescue any children they found, and then detain the kidnappers.

The Rashes knew from previous contacts that Play territory still had a large orphan population, and that these orphans were frequent targets of the Seeds' human trafficking operations, alongside possibly other illegal entities. They wondered if perhaps the Play population had grown so much that there were not enough adults to feed the orphans, and that some orphans were forced to fend for themselves in the wilderness.

In Cook territory, the children patrolled the streets themselves and believed in the safety of numbers; the Rash boys hoped that they could teach the Play children to do likewise.

Players react

Although the Players realized that the ongoing kidnappings of small children in western Play territory were an embarrassment to their claim of military impenetrability, they felt that the situation was acceptable so long as the abductees would fight their way back out of their abductors' campsites as they grew up. Since the Seeds were so abusive, the Players figured that any children who survived their abductions would do their best to fight for the Players given any lapse in control by the Seeds.

But now the Players worried that young Play children would follow the Rashes voluntarily, and might decide to join the Rashes instead of awaiting the day when they were old enough to fight in the Play army or join the all-female police force.

Plot to abduct Stargazer

Use of military ciphers

From previous missions, the Rashes knew that the Seeds were planning to abduct a girl named Stargazer (Aliseaselana) from the lowlands of Pāpaŋa. Stargazer was twelve years old and had an older brother who was already in the Play army. Thus she had already graduated from the Pine Tree Planters. She also had a younger brother who was still in the Planters.

Stargazer had already become well-versed in the Players' military ciphers, particularly the vutuaim cipher, without his help, and the boys figured that the kidnappers wanted her so that she could teach them to break the Players' codes. She had also created a simple cipher of her own, and the name by which she called herself, Aliseaselana, belonged to her cipher rather than to Play, Andanese, or any other traditional language.

The boys were interested in these ciphers themselves, as it was knowledge that no other Cooks knew, and perhaps even out of reach of all non-Players. With the ability to read Players' secret communications, the boys could help turn the tide of the war in their favor. But they again stressed that their primary motivation was to protect the young girl from the army of kidnappers.

Battle of Nipapa

August 19, 4192

In the mountains north of the Play town of Nipapa, the Rashes prepared for their first true combat. They knew that the Seeds' mission to kidnap Stargazer from her home was imminent, and that they were planning to bring her directly to a prison located elsewhere in the Seed-controlled areas. Therefore the Rashes could not simply wait for the men to abduct her and then rescue her after they arrived at their starting point.

The Seeds were largely traitors from the Play army. They had access to sharp, powerful swords and other weapons, but did not have metal armor, as the Players had run short of metal long ago and now only assigned metal armor to soldiers on the front lines and those deemed especially worthy of protection. Instead, the Seeds wore wooden armor along with thick animal hides. There was no military uniform and some Seeds had better protection than others. The boys had never seen them manufacturing armor and therefore did not know if they had a renewable supply.

But the Rashes had no armor at all; they were wearing the same ordinary street clothes they had had when they were Cooks.

Worries about ambush

The Seeds set out from their campsites just after noon. The boys watched from a secluded area just a short distance away. They counted only about a dozen men, and wondered if perhaps there were other groups of Seeds setting out from other waypoints that would join up when they reached the town of Nipapa.

The boys wanted to make sure that they not only outnumbered the men, but outnumbered them by a wide margin, and without knowing how many men there were, they could not be sure of this. After a long debate, they decided that a troop of about a hundred boys and girls would be sufficient to take down the Seeds in close combat, rescue the girl, and run back up the mountain faster than the surviving Seeds could catch them. Exactly 106 children volunteered for this mission, while another group of children volunteered to disperse into the wilderness at various known places along the trail to relieve the first troop if they did not return promptly.

It had already begun to snow,[7] and the boys were poorly dressed for the cold weather, as they had no means of obtaining winter clothes. But the boys, reminding themselves of their membership in the Cold Men, felt that the snow was on their side. Because the men wore heavy armor, the boys knew that they would be able to easily hear the men move downhill, while the lightly dressed boys would be able to move quietly. Nonetheless, they did not want the men know they were being followed, so the boys waited until the men were well out of sight, and then began to trace their path down the mountain.

As above, the boys were worried that a second troop of men might be joining the first troop at some point further down the trail, perhaps even a point that the boys had already passed. Therefore they stepped carefully, placing their own footprints inside the men's footprints. But as the snow began to fall harder, they realized that their own footprints would quickly become undetectable, and decided to quicken their pace in order to follow the men as closely as possible.

Close tracking

The boys were confident that they could beat the men ahead of them in close combat, but realized that their mission was not just to prevent the kidnapping, but to rescue Stargazer and bring her to safety. If they attacked the men before the men reached Stargazer's house, they would not be able to rescue Stargazer without appearing to be kidnappers themselves. And the boys knew from prior contacts that Stargazer had been abducted before. Therefore, the boys realized that they needed to wait for the men to reach the girl's house before they began their rescue.

As the men approached the town, the snow turned into rain. Because they could no longer follow footprints, the boys increased their speed. They had neither seen nor heard any other troops of Seeds coming to help the first, so they figured that they would be fighting only about a dozen men, and also hoped that the noise of the battle would awaken the townspeople so that they would come to the aid of the boys.

Outside the house

Soon, it was so dark that the boys could only follow the men's footsteps. They were thankful that the men were wearing such thick armor, as they made much noise as they walked. As the men reached the edge of the town, some of the boys spread out and formed a circle around the men at some distance, while others continued to follow the men close behind. This was their battle formation. The soldiers closer in were intending to take on the kidnappers in combat, while those further out would prevent escape.

Just as the men approached the house, the boys began throwing rocks at the men, hoping to fool them into thinking that Stargazer was actually outside. But the rocks merely bounced off the soldiers' armor, and the men forced their way into the house, except for one man who blocked the entrance, leaving the boys trapped outside. The boys closest to the man then stood aside, allowing the other boys to continue throwing rocks at him, knowing that he was unlikely to move.

Kidnappers emerge

The boys close in then gave a signal to the rest, who then tightened their circle formation as the men emerged from the house. They had failed to stop the men from entering the house and grabbing Stargazer, and knew now that the only option they had left was close-in combat. They put down their rocks and grabbed their swords. Despite their numerical superiority, the boys had no protective armor, and their swords were much shorter than the men's, meaning that close-in combat was much more dangerous for the boys than for the men. They hoped that the noise of the battle would wake up the townspeople, who would then side with the boys after realizing they were fighting the kidnappers.

Four men emerged from the house carrying Stargazer high above their heads. The boys realized this meant that it was safe for them to slash the men with their swords, knowing that they could not accidentally hurt the girl. The inner half-circle of boys rushed at the men carrying Stargazer, while the outer circle also rushed in to help them.

As the boys swung their swords at the men's hips, they heard the other eight men rushing towards them. They expected to be crushed but continued fighting the men who could not hit back. However the four men then tossed the girl high in the air towards the other men, who caught her and then ran towards the outer circle. The boys then turned around to run after those men, but the first group of men was upon them immediately. The inner team of four men stabbed the boys with their much more powerful swords and then trampled the boys underfoot as they fell to the ground in pain.

The four men then rejoined the others and ran towards the edge of the city as the remaining boys ran away from them, screaming for help, trying to keep ahead while also keeping the men in sight. Seeing the men abandon the scene, a few boys stayed behind to greet the townspeople and seek help for the wounded boys that were still lying on the ground outside Stargazer's house.

The men charged at the boys now, who had reformed into a single group. But the boys were faster than the men, and they remained out of reach. The boys in front yelled for the others to follow, as they ran towards the general direction of the trail, hoping to bait the men into following them there, knowing that if they chose any other route the boys would not be able to rely on the second group of children who had stationed themselves along the trail. If the men chose any other exit route, the boys would need to rely on the townspeople waking up and joining the fight, but so far they could not see anyone emerging from their home.

Boys turn around

Suddenly, the crowd of fleeing boys turned around and ran back towards the kidnappers. They spread out as they ran, reshaping themselves into the half-circle formation, but this time with a much tighter spacing. They then surrounded the men and began slashing at the men's hips and legs, the most accessible weak points in their armor. By this time, Stargazer was being carried by just one man, having gone limp as if beaten unconscious. The boys avoided attacking this man, who was trailing slightly behind the other seven. Instead, a small group of boys sheathed their swords so they could use both arms to pull her away from the man, and another group circled around him so they could hit him from behind while another boy grabbed the man's hip in order to attempt to pull out his sword.

Seeing this, the other men then split apart as well. Two men went towards Stargazer and immediately began stabbing the boys from behind. Within seconds the boys had fallen backwards, unable to stand up because of their deep wounds, and they lost their grip on Stargazer. The boys on the other side, who had yet to inflict any such wounds on the man, continued to do their best as they were in turn stabbed from behind, and fell over bleeding on the ground as well. Meanwhile, the other five men in the crowd were fighting the much larger crowd of boys and trying to stop them from circling around to reach the girl.

Hike up the mountain

The boys knew that they were also much faster than the men, and that they could keep pursuing them as they ran through the wilderness, and that they could do so at a considerable distance where the men would not be able to knock them aside.

Thus the boys escaped with their new ally, Stargazer, who willingly came to reside in the territory of the Cooks (not the Rashes, as they felt they were in too much danger). They also impounded the captured Seed soldiers in prison, even knowing that the Seeds were unlikely to bargain for their release.


Stargazer promised to teach the Play ciphers to the boys and girls in the Rash and Cook militaries. She also had a much simpler cipher of her own, and gave some of the boys new names. Lamb came to call himself Usasas while Mint became Tu.

The Rashes had yet to receive any of the children who had been hurt on the battlefield in Pāpaŋa. They did not know how many of these children had died, how many had been captured as prisoners of war, or whether any might be still trying to struggle their way up the mountain back to the Rash campgrounds.

Seeds move in

Only one day after the deadly battle in Nipapa, the Seeds attacked the Rash kids again. This time, they entered the Rash campgrounds from the south, forcing the children to flee northwards, where the Rashes had formed a front of soldiers who were much better-armed than the invaders. Thus the invasion was a trap. They planned to liberate the campsite and release the men whom the children had captured in the previous battle, and then take all of the children's belongings.

However, the Seeds soon learned that forming a traditional battle front was impossible in such terrain, as the children walked between them on higher ground. When the soldiers realized what was happening, they had to backtrack hundreds of feet in order to try to catch up. By the time they were able to pursue the children again, the children were long gone.

Players' reaction to recent battles

The Play military planners understood that the Rash soldiers were fighting the only way they knew how, and that they might lack the adult instinct to surrender in the wake of vastly disproportionate body counts. Moreover the young soldiers seemed not to understand how their enemies behaved and thought, as they kept insisting that they were humanitarians and should spare the lives of the enemies they captured, even those who had slaughtered them, and that it was better to make peace than to win a war.

The Players also understood that the Rashes' worldview was very different from their own. The Rashes seemed not to think of themselves as small, or vulnerable, or in need of help; they saw themselves as ordinary human beings and saw adults as giants. It was the populations of adults, mostly men, within and around their territory who they considered to be out of place.

Moreover the Rashes had rescued children from the Play territory of Vapupupa Pūu who were much younger than themselves, and were being forced to work with little protection from kidnappers. The Players privately conceded that the Rashes had done the right thing, because the Players had too many young children to keep track of and did not provide them adequate protection. The Rashes had seen Play society as it really was, and considered themselves the protectors of small children whom adults seemingly had little sympathy for. The Players felt this good-hearted motivation explained why the Rashes were determined to keep on fighting battles even when they were being slaughtered in vast numbers. But they still could not understand why the children were so reluctant to harm the men who were slaughtering them.

The Players worried that the Rash movement would spread to the Cooks and Clovers, turning the entire Lilypad population into an enormous army but one where none of the soldiers would have protective armor and few would have weapons. The Play military strategists considered releasing the thousands of young children they had captured and interned in prisons in the hope that it would convince the children to join the Players and give up their hopeless fight. But these prisons were under the control of the Play police force, not the army, and therefore such an action needed the approval of the Play Parliament. Moreover the Players assumed that the children, upon release, would say that they had been tortured in prison, and would actually make the children even more committed to war.

Therefore the Players publically reaffirmed their original goals. They promised that they would soon recapture Stargazer and that the knowledge of the ciphers would never reach the adult soldiers in the traditional Counter army still holding on in the east.

Butterfly strategy

The Rashes then prepared for more missions, using the so-called Butterfly strategy: to stay just out of reach. The boys understood that it was foolish for them to think they could handle traditional combat against the better-armed adult Seed men, and so they planned to draw the Seeds into an endless pursuit where the Rash soldiers, being fast on their feet, would outrun the Seeds, disrupting the Seeds' trafficking operations and possibly allowing their captives to escape. They thus declared the formation of the Cocoon (Yeveiyapu), just north of where the Flower Bees had fifty years earlier lived in their Hive. Stargazer's birth name was Taayapu, and they had chosen the new name partly as a tribute to her.

The Rashes believed that their new war strategy would insulate them from harm by forcing their enemies to constantly chase them and then fight in unfamiliar terrain. But they knew that they could not entirely avoid combat and that the closer their enemies approached them, the more deadly and one-sided the battle would be.

Denial of permission

But the Players announced that the boys' humanitarian missions were still crimes according to Play law. Because the boys were intending to keep the children they rescued, the Players classified them as enemy soldiers. Earlier, the Players had stated that the boys had their sympathy, but not their support. But now the Players withheld even that, and deliberately antagonized the boys at diplomatic meetings, saying that they were no better than the Seeds, and deserved any calamities that might befall them. The Players had not actually gone cold, but they believed that only a show of force would convince the Rashes that they needed to surrender and return to their homelands in the west.

The Rashes again confirmed that they were doing what they meant to do, and that their humanitarian goals (saving children from kidnapping) were more important than the politics of the adult world around them. Therefore the Rashes prepared to fight the Players and Seeds simultaneously as they worked to free the younger children from their abductors.


Hearing that the Rash kids were now planning to take on two adult armies in midwinter while rescuing small children, all without adequate clothes or weapons, the Players called a hurried diplomatic meeting with the Cook-Rash coalition kids still quartered in Pūpepas, and warned that it may be their last. Unlike all other meetings, the children were allowed to listen only, and the Players said they would begin asking questions of them at the end of the meeting.

Rather than speak from a position of sympathy, as they had in the past, the Play diplomats felt that the Rash children could only understand commands and punishments, however unfair, and that the only way to get the Rashes to obey them was to be even more forceful than the other adult powers.

The Players demanded that the children guide one group of Play soldiers to the location where Stargazer was being held, and then guide the remaining Play soldiers to any remaining settlements still run by children, and turn these over to the Players. The Players warned that if the children disobeyed, the Players would launch a total war against the children, caring no more for their blood or tears, and then when they had recaptured the girl they would move westward to take control of the Clover kingdom.

The children wanted to explain that they were humanitarians who believed that rescuing children was more important than winning wars, and that they had been rescuing her from a group of men that was operating in Play territory and was also at war with the Players. But the Players did not allow them to speak.

Realizing that they had never won an argument against an adult diplomat, the young children of the Cook and Rash armies denied the Players' request for the return of the young cryptographer, and declared war against the Players. The Players then imprisoned the Cook and Rash diplomats to stop the word from reaching the children living further out.

Declaration of war

The Players understood that they would have a difficult time explaining to their civilian population why they were threatening to kill 120,000 children just to regain one girl whom they had previously shown little interest in protecting. Moreover, the surprisingly detailed plans for the new campaign suggested that the Players had been planning the invasion for a long time and that Stargazer's so-called abduction was merely a convenient excuse.

But they also knew that many Players at home simply did not believe that there existed nations to their north run entirely by children, preferring to believe instead that the young children their soldiers had met on previous missions were simply being pushed onto the front lines by cowardly adults. Therefore they decided to announce the war openly, also saying that they were not sure of the situation behind enemy lines but suspected that the children they had seen may have fled the fighting, but then broken up and begun attacking each other. The Scorpion party of the far north was well known, and the Players figured that their people might believe that the Scorpions were attacking the other children. But they did not make claims that they could not provide evidence for.

Short-term strategy

Because the Players had thrown the children into prison, the children had no way of alerting their population that they were being invaded. The Players wanted to launch surprise attacks on many Lilypad campsites all at once, hoping to overwhelm them by pure force before they could mount a defense. Their plan was to concentrate Play soldiers into tight groups that would move through the high plains, abducting children as they went, and killing them if they felt the need. Unlike previous battles, these Play troops contained soldiers at the core of the formation who had no armor, and therefore could move much more quickly than the rest; although these men were more at risk of injury in battle, they were told that they would only leave the formation when they had an easy victim in sight. The other soldiers knew that the young children would still be able to outrun them, and therefore their role was to protect the soldiers without armor.

The Players figured that in most cases, the children would simply flee away from them rather than fight. If this happened, they would slowly expand their tight circle formation until they had created an area of wilderness with no Lilypad soldiers inside. Then they would declare this territory to be under Play control.

The Players also felt that the children might in some cases attempt to surround them, particularly if they were far more numerous than the Players. In this case, the Players instructed their soldiers to break through the children's circle formation and then physically carry their soldiers into the Play circle, effectively making them prisoners. They would then ask the others to surrender, and if they did not get a surrender, they would repeat the process until the remaining children were either killed or chased away.

Long-term strategy

The Players hoped that they could conquer all of the Lilypad territories within six months, scarcely longer than it would take to make the same journey along the trade road. They knew that scattered resistance could persist for years, however, and that they would need to create a stable Play-run occupation government to keep the young converts in line.

In the long term, the Players wanted to gain the advantage of speed by taming mountain-hardy animals so they could patrol the territory freely and ride around faster than their enemies could run. The Players' homeland had few such animals; they planned to collect and raise the animals that were already native to the Lilypad highlands.

Potential Play peacemakers

The Play parliament enrolled its entire female population. For practical reasons, individual women had always voted in local councils and then sent representatives to the supreme parliament building in Pūpepas. But each district was allowed to send more than one representative, both for security reasons and because when local votes were close sometimes both sides wanted to see the wider debate.

The Play parliament reserved the right to declare war, and therefore the men in the Play military needed the permission of their nation's entire female population to start their new war against the Cooks. The declaration of war had passed overwhelmingly, because despite the Players' demand that all political power be reserved for women, military matters had always been handled by a small trusted elite group of women who kept close contact with the men who actually led the battles. These men dutifully followed the women's orders and the two groups usually agreed.

But the Play parliament also had the ability to stop a war. This set them apart from other nations such as the Cold Men, where the military's funding was tied to Parliament but its decisions were independent. Therefore the Play leaders who had just declared war against the Cooks feared that they would soon be forced to stop that war as the wider population realized just who they were fighting.

Moreover, despite the Play women's refusal to share their power with men, even in military matters, the Play military strategists knew that Play laws meant little outside Play territory, and that if the Players were to order their men to slaughter a large group of children, the men might decide to disobey their orders, surrender their Play citizenship, and adopt the children, even knowing that they would never be allowed to return home to their original families.

Parliamentary hearings

Even with wide support from the population, the Play parliamentarians demanded to hear details about the new war. They ordered that the captured Cook children stand trial, since they were the ones who had legally started the war, and prepared a long list of questions for the children to answer. This was the typical format for legal trials in the Play nation. Because the Play diplomats had deliberately chosen the youngest children to serve this role, they worried that the children's incompetent answers would reveal that they were being used as pawns and that the new war had no sound basis. Some Players wanted to kill the children before they could stand trial, figuring the negative publicity due to this would be better for the military than the negative publicity coming from the children's war trial.

Battle plans leaked

At this time, there were still thousands of Rashes hiding out in Nama, because the Players still did not have control of this territory despite it being south and east of the Players' latest advances. The terrain was simply too rugged for the Players to efficiently patrol it.

Rashes move north

Therefore the Rashes soon learned of the new war as well, and decided that, as humanitarians, they needed to move back to their homeland and protect the Lilypads.

Happy Queen returns

The Happy Queen defected at this time from the Players to the Cooks. She was living in Cook territory and had been on the move to stay out of trouble; she was one of the few diplomats who still had contacts with the unloved and nearly defunct Raspara party.

She hoped that the Cooks would listen to her battle plans, but the Cooks angrily told her that they would rather be slaughtered in their campsites than to trust another adult. They reminded her that she and her adult supporters had been living illegally in Cook territory for months, and only just now had decided to take notice of the children's desire to have a safe place to live on their own. The Queen sadly agreed that it had been a bad idea for her to come to them and said that she would move eastward to Counterland, the only remaining Cold nation still run by adults.

Contact with STW

STW had been cooperating with the Players for economic reasons, but now wanted to strike a power balance between the Play army and the children who had founded their own much weaker nations in the highlands. STW would become poorer in the short term by doing this, but by denying the Players full cooperation, they hoped to pry the Players into signing an exclusive trade deal that would allow STW to profit handsomely from trade along their road in both directions.

STW also saw the political value in acquiring the young Planter children, whom they felt were too needy to be cared for by the Lilypad children, since the Lilypads had other problems to take care of. But STW, considering their leaders much smarter than their rivals, knew that by this time the Lilypads had no interest in making any more political deals with adults.

Plans to rescue Planters

STW's leaders considered a plan to drive wagons through the wilderness, despite the lack of roads, searching for the Lilypads' campsites. When they found one, they would then have trusted young people emerge from the wagons saying that they had arrived on a mission to take the Planter children to the Clover castle, where they would be able to join thousands of others in a safe place. This plan would allow the children to believe that they had beaten the adult powers around them, done a good deed, and taken away the Players' diplomatic case to continue their war. They also hoped that the Lilypads would reveal the location of Stargazer so she could also be moved to the Clover territory.

However, the STWers knew that they could spare only a few men for this mission, and would therefore need to rely heavily on the children from their recently closed orphanages, who would thus create even more easy victims for the massive Play army.

Players turn against STW

The Players told the soldiers assigned to the Stargazer mission that their enemies were the 120,000 young Lilypad children in the Cook, Rash, Clover, and Scorpion armies. The Scorpions were not yet Lilypads, but the Players assumed that all child soldiers would join hands immediately when they learned of the new war.

The Lilypads had never attacked the Players, even as the Players had forced thousands of young Lilypad children into labor camps. The Players realized that many of their soldiers would be reluctant to carry out their new orders. Therefore, the Play generals chose men who they believed to be both unquestioningly obedient and eager for an unfair battle. This was the payupausam strategy.

Action against STW

When the Players realized that STW was no longer fully cooperating with them, they declared war on STW and promised to burn all of the cities on the trade road, destroying STW's profitability and forcing the children out of their homes into the wilderness.

Possibility of continued trade

Because STW was a corporation, their goals in war were not always the same as those of nations, and because STW's soldiers were mercenaries, they were not obligated to fight even when a war came up. The Players suspected that, as in the recent past, STW was more interested in money than in politics, and might find some means by which to trade with the Players even while at war with the Players; alternatively, STW might simply surrender and allow the Players to occupy the entire trade road peacefully so that their profits would remain high. The Players knew from previous meetings that STW was in fact already fighting a war against the Slime party in the Clover kingdom to the west, and yet that they seemed to be still trading with the Slimes.

Plans for reverse migration

Even assuming STW chose not to surrender, the Play leaders knew that their soldiers could not simply ride along the trade road from city to city, torching each one as they went, and expect no retaliation. STW's soldiers were much stronger, man for man, than the Players, because they were mercenaries rather than being taken from the entire adult male population, because they had access to better weapons and armor, and because they had allies in other nations. Moreover the STWers had better transportation. The Players assumed that they would still win their war, but might suffer disproportionate casualties unless they were able to encircle the children in the wilderness and then threaten to kill them all.

Because it was still winter, the Players knew that burning the cities would be difficult in the highlands. But because the climate was much warmer in the west, the Players planned to send their army through the Lilypad campsites, indifferent to whether the Lilypads resisted them or not, and then cut through to the trade road at some point near the Clover kingdom. Then they would turn back to the east as they put their plan into action. This would mean that the Play army would be spread very thinly and also discontinuously, as the detachments moving eastward along the trade road would not be able to link up with those in the wilderness to the north. But by doing this, they could trap STW's soldiers in a difficult spot, forcing them to either fight the growing fires in their cities, or flee north into the territory of the Lilypad children who most likely would still not trust them.

Sorting of soldiers

The Players reassigned some sailors from the shrinking Play navy to the task of patrolling the wilderness to search for the young mastermind Stargazer, and to put an end to any serious resistance movements among the children. The Players ordered the men to capture the girl alive, and not out of sympathy: the Players believed that the girl was very talented and could be of great use to them in the future. Moreover, they demanded proof that the mission had succeeded; the girl was of such a young age that the Players felt that a dishonest troop of soldiers could capture a different girl and explain that she had grown somewhat even in the past few months.

The Players also knew that the Cook kids would not be simply clustered together all in one place to offer Stargazer the most protection, because they still had other enemies to deal with and because the food supply in the wilderness was limited. Thus the wilderness was occupied by many groups of children, constantly on the move, only one of them protecting the target of the Players' new mission. But the Players expected that any group of children faced with an attacking Play army would deny that they were the ones protecting the girl, and therefore that the Play soldiers had no way to tell the difference.

Trade route mission

The Play soldiers realized that the children could no longer rely on STW's trade road for general transportation because the Players had cut them off both at Turtle City and at Čumfunua further west, and STW had no easy way to push out these soldiers even once they learned that the Players had started a new war. On foot, the children could only move extremely short distances. However, the Players still felt that STW might take pity on them in this instance and help them transport the girl to the Clover territory to keep her out of reach of the Players. Therefore, the Players also sent soldiers to the trade road to search the caravans for young children hiding amidst fruit crates and other shipments.

Searching the wilderness

The Players assigned to the wilderness considered themselves invincible because the territory was so sparsely inhabited by humans, and because the only humans legally present were the children who had proven incapable of injuring, let alone killing, the Play soldiers. They understood their orders included the conquest of all resistors, including by force, and that they had to obey their commanders.

Plans for conquest

The Players divided their army into small groups, each taking responsibility for a specific area of land so that they would not overlap each other. With ex-sailors leading the troops, these soldiers did not need maps to know their exact location. They noted the irony of being sent on a mission to capture a girl named Stargazer when star-gazing was their own primary means of navigation in the wilderness.

The Players assumed that the children were on the move, but could not move quickly in the rugged terrain. The Players, due to their thick body armor, would be even slower. Therefore they could not chase the young soldiers around.

Battles in the highlands

Battle of Šatua Numaŋā

The Lilypads did not know the Players' battle plans; they had never heard back from the children impounded in Pūpepas and therefore only knew that they were most likely at war. They were still sheltering some of the young Pine Tree Planters at their campsite, who were not only defenseless, but barely able to survive. Therefore they had few weapons and could not fight a conventional battle.

Believing that the Players might be weak against cold, the children here planned to throw snowballs at the Play soldiers, hoping that somehow their armor might actually make them weaker. They did still have their swords, but they knew the Players would most likely not let them even get close, and therefore their swords would be even more useless than they had been during the earlier battle in Nipapa. Nonetheless, the children kept their swords close by, knowing that other enemies could be roaming the wilderness, including wild animals.

Battle of Panafa

Battle of Pamāaime

Battle of Tāapa

Battle of Tampafais

Battle of Čupiafanaa

One troop of Players, roaming the Čupiafanaa hillsides, found a campsite that seemed as though it had been recently occupied. This was an area of Cook territory only a short distance from the border. This troop of Players was just a tiny piece of the larger search team.

Discovery of Stargazer

The girl was using an outdoor bathroom and thus temporarily separated from the Cooks. The Players wanted to lift her up cooperatively and run rapidly into the grass so they would be difficult to see.

Then, the Cooks ambushed the Players and promised that unlike previous Cook battalions they had no interest in surrender.

The Play soldiers stayed with the same plan. They wanted to grab Stargazer and push through the Cook soldiers using her as a shield, so that the Cook boys could not resist. They noticed that the boys were still wearing their street clothes, barely enough to protect them from the winter cold, and did not have armor.

However, the Cooks had reassigned their strongest soldiers to this mission, who were taller and stronger than most others, and had acquired weapons fit for adults, in particular long swords with sharp ends. The Play men were wearing thick wooden armor (unlike the Seeds who had mixed leather and wood), but did not have metal armor as they were not the best soldiers among the Players.

Thus the Play men realized that, for the first time, the Cook soldiers could actually put the Players' lives in danger. The Players still had many advantages but no longer felt so invincible as their soldiers had been in earlier battles.

The Cooks fought defensively, not intending to kill the Players, while the Players fought aggressively, intending to kill the Cooks. This was because the Cooks were still using the Rashes' Butterfly strategy whereas the Players had been specifically told to be aggressive. But the Cooks won the battle and Stargazer escaped into the wilderness with the Cooks.

Plans for further cooperation

The Rash and Cook armies wanted to bring her to safety in Clover territory, figuring the Players were unlikely to ever progress so far west, but they had heard warnings from the Clovers that no land in the world was safe any longer. Their shared mission nonetheless brought the three young troops closer together, and they felt that perhaps their goals were in agreement after all, since they all supported the humanitarian missions.

The young soldiers in the Cook and Rash armies were however growing increasingly frustrated at their inability to project their power. None of the three armies of children had so far killed even a single enemy soldier, having only taken enemies prisoner. They had all originally had separate reasons for this, but had come to hope a no-kill strategy would discourage their enemies from using violence against them. Yet the Seeds had killed young Rash soldiers in their few instances of close combat, and had shown no interest in engaging with the Rashes diplomatically. And because the Players and other armies had captured thousands of young Cook and Rash soldiers by forcing them into mass surrenders, the young leaders assumed that some of those children had by now been killed as well or had died of other causes.

Therefore the Rashes decided to suspend their no-kill strategy, and to kill the men they had captured and had been forced to feed and care for as they moved about from place to place. The Cooks agreed to this and believed that the Clovers would agree as well. At the same time, the Rashes predicted their looming defeat, saying that neither they nor the Cooks had the means to fight a traditional war, whether their enemies killed them or captured them, and that the Players could easily escalate their attacks at any time by transferring soldiers from the eastern front where the outnumbered Counter army was still attempting to hold on.

Players invade Counterland

The Players sent tens of thousands of adult male soldiers into Nama now, beginning their largest-ever conventional military invasion. Led by generals like Vavatabūa, the Players thrust rapidly into the remaining Counter territory, saying that they might finish off the adult resistors before they went to work on the children.

Terrain and population

Population estimates

There was no recent formal census of Counterland, but even the Players knew that the ruling adult male Counter party was a tiny minority, because they were a remnant of a remnant of a remnant. That is, they were the men who had dodged the wars in both Tata and Baeba Swamp by pretending to be disabled, and then took on new identities in order to join the arrest of the other draft-dodgers, and then fled eastward instead of moving to the western territories where the Lilypads now lived. All other adult males had either been killed in the war, enslaved in Tata, found new homes in Baeba, or fled into what soon became the Lilypad Association, a nation ruled by three parties who prohibited adults from living there, but had been forced to make ever more frustrating exceptions.

The Players estimated that at least 200,000 young children lived in Counterland, with the adult female population being at least half of but still smaller than the child population, and that there were only about 3,000 adult males, outnumbered by at least 100 to 1 by the women and children they ruled over.


Counterland consisted mostly of the land south of Tarwas and north of Thaoa, but had no defined eastern or western borders. To the east, there were only aboriginal tribes living at low population densities, and to the west was highland territory which had been assigned to the Lilypads but had been mostly abandoned by them as well. This meant that the Play army could squeeze the Counters from the west and the south. Assuming that the highland territory would be easy to conquer, they could also invade Counterland from the north, and assuming the aboriginals put up little resistance, the Players could completely encircle the Counters. But Vavatabūa held off on such a bold plan.

Counters abandon their homes

Western Counter movement

The Counters figured their last hope was to abandon their homes and cross through the wilderness into the Lilypad nation to join the battles on the western front. They said that they would allow their wives and children to come with them, but strongly recommended that any who did so part ways with the men in the northern wilderness so that they could migrate through the desert towards STW's trade road while the Counter men battled the Players in the south.

Plans for diplomacy

The Counters assumed that their family relationships had been effectively lost, with many casualties on both sides and difficult emotional wounds to heal. The Counters, therefore, were not planning to reunite with or rescue their children from battle, but in fact, to make a surprise invasion into the weakly defended western Play states like Pāpaŋa and Vapupupa Pūu, where they felt past political conflicts might have made Play support weak. These areas were home to the Egg party, which had still not fully submitted to the Players. The Counters hoped that they could score an unexpected victory here, or at least spark a civil war, which would greatly weaken the Players' ability to project their power in the north, and therefore spare lives of their wives and children.

Because the Counters were recommending that their wives break from them and settle in the Lilypad territories, they knew that the Lilypad children would realize that yet again their nation was being invaded by adults, who seemingly did not care that the children wanted to live independently. The men told their wives that they would likely not be welcome in Lilypad territory, and they should make every possible attempt to forge an agreement with the kids so that they could hold strong against the Players.

However, realizing that such a long journey would be difficult for a group of women traveling with many young children, most of these women chose to remain in Counterland so they could surrender to the Players and, if presented with an opportunity they felt genuine, also become Players.

Counters arrive in Lilypad territory

The women's plan therefore reduced the Cold nation to just the Lilypads and the Counters who were invading the Lilypads, claiming they had come to help and would soon pass through.

The Counters knew that they would fare best if they convinced the Lilypads that they were coming to fight the Players, and not to rescue the Lilypads. They knew that by now their children no longer trusted adults and would likely misinterpret the rescue attempt as a trap to allow the Counters to kidnap the Lilypads. The Counters nonetheless also stated that the movement of adult soldiers to the western front would finally take the children out of the unfair war and allow them to get on with their lives as politicians. Nonetheless, they also promised they would no longer attempt to dissuade young Lilypad soldiers from joining the invasion, as they knew that the Players vastly outnumbered even the combined Lilypad-Counter army and that they would need all the help they could get.

There were no Play soldiers yet in the highland wilderness between Counterland and the Lilypads. Thus the Counters crossed into the Lilypads' territories unarrested, greeted the young soldiers patrolling the unmarked border, and explained their plans to move southward.

Lilypads reject help

As the Counters expected, the Lilypads rejected the Counters' help, saying that they were finished making alliances with adults or even allowing adults into their territory.

The Counters were undeterred, and stated that they were an independent nation, and thus not required to obey Lilypad laws even if they considered the Lilypads their allies. Counter soldiers, still among the best-armed in the world, brashly pushed the Lilypad kids aside as they moved further into the Lilypad territory. They repeated that they were only using the Lilypad nation because it bordered the weakest area of Play territory, and that while they respected the kids' decision to prohibit adults from living with them, they would not allow the Lilypads to interfere with their war.

New vulnerability

The Players had seen the Counter soldiers moving westward through the highlands because, although they did not control this territory, they were regularly patrolling it, and there were no other armies in the area that could keep the Players out. They also knew that the Lilypads had prohibited all adults from living in their nation, and that it was unlikely they would make an exception for the Counters, even though the Counters were the fathers of many Lilypad children. Therefore, the Players knew that the Counters were not migrating towards the Lilypads in order to rejoin their families. The Play patrollers watching the westward migration thus took it as a sure sign that the Counters were intending to invade Play territory, most likely in the weakest spot, which both sides knew was the west, particularly the territories of the Eggs, where the border was nearly unguarded.

The Players understood that, despite the small size of the Counter army, they might in fact be able to cause significant damage to the Players living there, as the territory was protected by the Play police, not the Play army, and the police were poorly equipped for battle as they mostly dealt with unarmed citizens. But because of the steep terrain, it was much easier for an army to invade Play territory than to get back out. Once the Counters descended the mountains, the vast territory of Counterland would be without an army, and the Lilypad territory would be both without an army and without any feasible means of attracting adult protection.

Likewise, the Players knew that the Lilypads were very weak in many ways, and faced challenges that adult armies did not have to deal with. They had repeatedly shown that they could not defend their borders, and it had become plain that every adult power knew that they could freely trespass through Lilypad territory without consequence. Now, even an army that claimed to be an ally of the Lilypads had done so. The Players figured that the Lilypads would be unable to even slow them down, and that they would soon be arriving in Play territory precisely where the Lilypads themselves had previously explored.

Outside coalition

Around this time, the Lilypads were invaded yet again, this time by disorganized remnants of the Raspara and Zenith armies. These men had been pushed into the wilderness, among and about where the Scorpions now lived, and it had taken until now for them to find out about the existence of the Lilypad nation and how vulnerable their people were.

Raspara involvement

Less than two years earlier, the Raspara soldiers had slaughtered many of STW's child soldiers even younger than the Lilypads now were, having come to them claiming to be allies. The Raspara understood that they had broken their honor code, but found many ways to rationalize their behavior, often at odds with each other, with some saying that STW needed to be hurt in the worst way to realize that their war was wrong, and others saying that the child soldiers were doomed anyway and that the Raspara were merely sparing them a much longer and more painful path to death. The Raspara allowed their soldiers to disobey orders, and therefore the group as a whole considered each individual soldier personally responsible for their actions.

The war eventually turned around, but even when the Raspara signed their treaty of surrender to STW and its coalition, they managed to abduct even more of STW's child soldiers and then flee into the wilderness. These children had not escaped, and therefore the Raspara were in no want of young slaves.

Yet soon after the war, the Rasparas launched yet another war, this time invading the Clover kingdom in the far west of the Little Country, which was run by children but had a large population of adults living in traditional families. When it became clear that the young Clover rulers were not on very good terms with the people they ruled over, the Rasparas promised to protect the Clovers from the wider population, and, with STW's mediation, signed a treaty declaring the Raspara party an ally of the Clovers and the Little Country.

Thus, by invading the Lilypads, the Raspara were breaking their recently signed treaty. Raspara commanders allowed their soldiers to disobey orders and even fight private battles so long as they did not fight other Raspara; moreover the Raspara party leadership had for a long time refused to expel Raspara who worked against the party's greater interest.

Using their transportation network, the Raspara soldiers in Lilypad territory soon revealed their plan to those who had stayed behind. They wanted to stake out territory within the Lilypad nation so that they could later project power over other areas, particularly Baeba Swamp, and believed that they could not win a conventional battle against adult armies because they were too outnumbered. They saw no contradiction in supporting the Lilypads in the west while invading the Lilypad heartlands because they said that the Lilypads were no more than toys for the traditional adult powers around them, and that whatever the Raspara did not take would soon fall to some other power, most likely the Players.

Zenith involvement

The Zeniths were also interested in taking power in Baeba Swamp, but they had an even looser social structure than the Raspara, and the Zeniths moving into Lilypad territory felt little responsibility to help the Zeniths who planned to take control in Baeba. Rather, these men considered themselves ordinary criminals and made no attempt to defend themselves or their motives to other Zeniths, or to set up diplomatic connections with other parties.

Matrix involvement

The Matrix army was an offshoot of the Raspara which had been many times friendly and many times hostile to the Raspara. At this particular time, they had also signed a treaty promising to defend the Clover kids against the people they ruled over, and had committed a large portion of their total armed forces to make good on their promise. Thus the Matrixes and the Raspara were on the same side. The Matrixes were also disorganized, and some Matrix men slipped away from their battalions and entered the Lilypads' territories just like the Raspara and Zeniths were doing.

Unlike the other two groups, the Matrix leadership said that to do such a thing was treason, even if it could in theory bring about a more powerful future for the Matrix. While the Matrixes had lax views on crime and morals, they strictly adhered to conventional military strategies, and the military leadership stated that their promise to defend the Clovers extended to the allies of the Clovers, even very weak ones who would be easy to betray. The Matrixes said that they would even be willing to invade the Lilypad heartlands just to fight the Matrix defectors, but held back for the time being, saying that winning the war in Baeba was more important.

The Unholy Alliance

The Unholy Alliance (UAO) had been founded in 4174 by twelve young men who believed that by embracing pure evil they would always have the first move in any war, and even in nonviolent conflicts. UAO had no supporters from outside parties, not even groups such as the Matrix and Zenith. The UAO leaders had fled to Xema with their followers immediately after their formation, and agreed among themselves that they would need to gain power very slowly, most likely by accumulating slaves, who would be allowed limited pleasures of their own, and would share in the leaders' conquests. Yet these people were never granted party membership, and some were considered good advisors, but the UAO leaders demanded that their followers obey their every command.

When the UAO leaders heard what was happening to the young children in the Lilypad heartlands, they rejected calls from their followers to join the invasion. The leaders stated that they had no sympathy for the children, but that UAO's army was still too small to control territory in such a well-trafficked part of the world, and that they needed to be patient and wait for the right time to strike. UAO stated that by the time they had an army strong enough to control a nation, the children would be adults, and therefore that they expected they would not invade the Lilypad nations in the future either. UAO had been founded eighteen years earlier, and some members were losing patience, but because they lived in Xema, they had little chance of survival away from the group.

Players' northern salient

Having lost the cooperation of STW, the Players divided their western army into two groups. The first group continued the original mission of moving from one Cook campsite to the next, conquering each in turn, and then moving on. These people were out of reach of STW's traders, but knew that STW could change its strategy and intervene on behalf of the children, making their task much more difficult.

Vavatena's strategy

Now, a new group led by the Play general Vavatena formed a west-pointing salient cutting through the middle of the Lilypads' wilderness territory, meaning that no third party could reach them without also cutting through the Lilypads' wilderness territory. Because the Counters had abandoned their remaining posts in the east and had already pushed through this same territory in a north-south direction, they would be well to the south of the divide and most likely would not even know that the Players had launched yet another invasion.

Unlike the first group, Vavatena's soldiers were instructed to remain in place after each battle, forming a front that would divide the Lilypad territory into two areas, one to the north and one to the south of Vavatena's soldiers. Vavatena stated that he would form a line about six hundred miles long through the center of the Lilypad countryside, oriented almost exactly east-to-west, with the climate becoming drier towards the west. At the western end of the line was the desert of Upper Taryte, which the Players believed would be impossible for children to survive in.

Vavatena's invasion relied on the bold assumption that the Lilypad children were simply incapable of winning a battle, no matter how many boys and girls they sent against the Play men, and that the Players therefore could win their war by making decisions that would in a conventional war lead to certain defeat.

Thus Vavatena sent his army of just 6,300 soldiers into the nation occupied by 120,000 Lilypads, knowing that his troops would quickly be surrounded. He was confident that not only would the Players suffer no significant harm from this, but that his small force would be sufficient to block the Lilypads to the north and south of his salient from contacting each other, effectively dividing them into two nations, each much weaker than they had been before the invasion. Because the terrain here was a high, featureless prairie, the children could not easily slip through the Play guards as they had done in the mountains.

Since food was scarce, Vavatena said he would feed his soldiers by sending them on raids into Lilypad campsites, stealing what few provisions they had been able to acquire. If they could not find uneaten food supplies, they would simply eat the children they captured. Therefore Vavatena assured the Play leaders that any battles would be between his army and the many young children, with no outside intervention.

Possibilities for escape

Vavatena offered the children many opportunities to escape his army, but said that none of them would lead them to freedom, and none of them would bring them to their parents.

Escape to the south

Vavatena's advancing column of soldiers was quickly cutting the Lilypad nation in half, but the Players appointed no new soldiers to guard the Play-Lilypad border in the mountains, meaning that the Lilypads could flee uphill into territories like Galà for safety, and might find it easier to invade Play territory than to get around their own nation. The Players understood this, and believed it was strategically sound to allow the children a path to safety in Play territory, where they could be easily captured into Play civilian prisons, eliminating any chance of their ever reconnecting with their parents or other adults, all while making Vavatena's job easier.

Escape to the north

Likewise, the Players saw no need to send another army into the wilderness even further north. They would allow the Lilypads to flee north for thousands of miles if they chose to do so, reaching the seacoast or even the Moonshine border, in either case taking them far beyond any hope of reconnecting with their parents, just as if they had been in prison. The Players said that they were willing to kill 120,000 children, but that their goal was to defeat the Lilypads, not to kill them. Since the Players knew that the Lilypads already preferred to run away from adult soldiers rather than to fight, they proposed that Vavatena's new thrust into Lilypad territory might simply push the entire Lilypad population aside in both directions, with those trapped on the south side fleeing into Play territory while those to the north fled to Moonshine.

Escape to the west

Lastly, assuming that Vavatena's army was able to make it six hundred miles into the Lilypad nation without any breaks in the wall of soldiers, the Lilypads would still be able to flee around the westward tip of the salient and into the desert that lay even further west, on high terrain so dry that the ground was bare even when the temperature was below freezing for months at a time. Here, they might struggle to find water, let alone food, and would either die in nature or turn back and surrender to Vavatena. The desert was about four hundred miles across along its shortest axis, and provided no obvious landmarks for the children to navigate by, meaning that they would need luck just to be able to find that shortest path. Any other direction would make their journey even longer.

Vavatena acknowledged that if the children were somehow able to cross this desert, they would see mountains again, and on the other side of those mountains was the STW trade road; if the Lilypads were able to reach the trade road, they might tell the locals what the Players were now doing to them, and turn the rest of the world against the Players. However he did not believe such a journey would be possible for young soldiers who were sheltering even younger ones.

Escape to the east

The children on the north side of the barrier could also move eastward, but would presumably run into Vavatabūa's army fairly soon, as this was the area from which Vavatabūa had recently driven out the adult Counters. Vavatabūa had remained in this territory in order to finalize its attachment to the greater Play Empire.


Therefore Vavatena expected his strategy would work well, and that the Lilypads on the south side of the salient would be trapped in a box-shaped area about 500 miles east-to-west and 100 miles south-to-north. Vavatena saw the value of veering northward towards the western end, as it could fool the Lilypads into moving further north as well, thinking they were being granted more territory; but because this would bring them away from STW's trade road, it would complicate any potential rescue efforts from the west.

Meanwhile, those on the north side of the line would have much more room to roam, and might even improve their standard of living as they moved closer to the Moonshine border where there were more lakes and rivers to catch fish, but by so doing, they would end up thousands of miles from their parents and thousands of miles from any children in the Lilypad nations who had not made the same journey. The Scorpions were also hiding out somewhere in the far north, and had so far proven to be no threat; therefore Vavatena figured that the Scorpions might be the future of the Lilypads.

First week at war

Vavatena's soldiers moved quickly westward into the wilderness, forming a projection a hundred miles long but scarcely a mile wide within their first six days. Thus they had accomplished one sixth of their objective already. These soldiers were traveling on foot, but the terrain here was much more conducive to long marches than the mountains further south, and they were wearing thin armor and so were better able to move about.

As they advanced, they realized that the high plains were nearly barren of food in winter, and that the children must have had a difficult time surviving. They had set out from Play territory with sufficient food provisions to last them each about a week, but knew that they would need to find large, weak animals or else make good on their promise to capture and eat the Lilypad soldiers they encountered. They also realized that the Lilypads were quick on their feet, and might be difficult to catch; the Players had not yet fought a battle, but had only seen Lilypads fleeing from them faster than they could be run down.

Nonetheless, Vavatena's 6,300 men had captured a few dozen young Lilypads, mostly small children who could not move so quickly as the rest. They demanded to know how the children were able to feed themselves in such a climate, and said that if the children could not lead the Play troop to food, they would themselves be eaten.

Tetem Vamem

The children answered that they were forced to move constantly to find new sources of food, and they ate mostly fish, so their few stable campsites were located near rivers and lakes, of which there were relatively few in this area of Nama. Vavatena was suspicious of this answer, as the children had no obvious means of acquiring boats or fishing spears, but since all of the captured children gave the same answer, he could not come up with another explanation.

Vavatena chose to stick with his original mission plan, and so pushed even further into the children's territory, entering the state of Tetem Vamem, which had been handed from one power to another essentially undisputed, but had never been settled by a stable population. Therefore the Lilypads were just one of many groups to have lived in Tetem Vamem as nomads, finding food and then quickly moving on.

Now, general Vavatena instructed his soldiers to abduct more Lilypad children and to force them to lead the soldiers towards campsites where they could find food. By this time the soldiers were traveling with more than a hundred abducted children and figured that they could use this to convince the other children to cooperate.

Vavatena approached the abducted children in person and told them his army's battle plan, believing that the war was unwinnable for them, and that unconventional strategies such as revealing plans to the enemy might help the Players convince the children that the Players wished they could end the war early.

The Blue Butterflies

Meanwhile, by this time, the Lilypads had noticed the intrusion of Play soldiers, and that they were moving very quickly westward. This was because they had not yet run out of food supplies and had thus not needed to stop to gather food. But the Lilypads on the south side of the salient assumed the rapid motion would continue, and realized that they might soon be trapped in the high plains. They knew the geography of this area about as well as the Players did, and realized that they could escape to freedom if they were able to outrun the Play army, curve around the rapidly advancing western tip of the salient, and then spread into the north to join the rest of the Lilypads. They also knew, however, that it might well take so much time to reach and gather the other Lilypads trapped on the south side that the Players would have completed their cutoff operation by that time and that the Lilypads would not be able to break through the barrier.

The southern Lilypads knew that they would be soon trapped, but chose not to abandon their territory. Instead they sent only a small battalion westward around the advancing Play army, to ensure that the Lilypads on the other side, who were spread much more thinly, had also noticed the new invasion and that they would soon no longer be contact their friends on the other side of the divide.

They announced the Blue Butterfly strategy, developed from their earlier Butterfly strategy, but now with the addition that the Lilypads should flee into the coldest territories they could find, the mountains and the far north, to take the Players out of their element.

Bait plan

Additionally, the southern Lilypads agreed to bait the Players to their south into launching a further attack on the already overwhelmed Lilypad highlands. The Lilypads were not masochists: they believed that they were faced with certain defeat in a conventional battle no matter the numbers, and therefore, they could best serve their nation by drawing ever more Play soldiers into a war that they had in fact already won. Therefore the southern Lilypads created the Bait army (mipapap), soldiers who would use any means they could to convince the wider Play military that they needed to invade the Lilypads one more time, whether it be because they were too strong for the first battalion or because they were so weak that they were now being preyed on by Tadpoles, Seeds, and other groups previously too weak to pose a serious military threat. All non-Bait soldiers then began to call themselves Butterflies (Žessušapa).

Butterfly Treaty

The children also signed the Butterfly Treaty, largely written by Mint and Lamb. The Butterfly Treaty invited the Players to invade the Lilypads anytime and anywhere, and promised that the Lilypads would respond to each invasion by fleeing towards colder climates, be they highlands or plains in the far north. They declared that their southern parcel of territory was now the Blue Cocoon, and that their northern territory was now part of Moonshine.

The Lilypads by now had decided that passive resistance was their only strength. Rather than face the Play men in battle, they would tempt the Players to move further and further from home, claiming that the young Lilypads were more cold-hardy than the Play men, and that the Play men would submit to nature if they could not be made to submit to the Lilypad soldiers.

Strategies change

As Vavatena's men ripped their way through the Lilypads' territory, the soldiers on the trailing parts of the salient lost communication with their commander. Vavatena had planned this, and had given them simple instructions for what to do as they patrolled the border they were creating. But they realized that the Lilypads had run away from them in both directions, and they could no longer get food from the campers. Therefore the soldiers in the eastern parts of the salient began killing their captives, as they had been earlier instructed to. The Players killed several hundred children all in the same day. This was not a coordinated action; the killings happened throughout a span of territory dozens of miles long all at the same time because the soldiers had all originally set out with the same supply of food. The soldiers realized that even this would not be enough, and that they needed more.

Battle of Kāašaim

They therefore also fought a conventional battle just to the north of the salient, at Kāašaim, where they killed 648 Lilypads while their own men only suffered injuries.

The sudden change from abductions to massacres shocked the Lilypad kids, who had mostly thought things could not possibly get worse for them. Those children who had escaped the Players quickly spread the word to the others, but they had no more ideas for how to fight back other than to run even further away. They knew that the slain Lilypads had been eaten and therefore that surrender would simply bring them to the same fate.

Shortly after Kāašaim, the Players on the south side launched another conventional battle, but found their enemies much more sparse, capturing and killing only 51 Lilypads as they spread out over the southern highlands and then reconverged.

Plans for more battles

The Players realized that their soldiers might not have so quickly run out of food if they had been allowed to spread out north-to-south, like a traditional occupying army, instead of focusing so much on the east-to-west axis. They realized that if they declared that the battles had been won, they could bring Play civilians into the territory, and then the soldiers could spread out in any direction as they hunted for food, while the female Play police force would take over the job of guarding the front. They also felt, however, that it would be wise to patrol the southern territory only, and allow or even encourage the Lilypads trapped on the north side of the salient to migrate all the way to Moonshine.

Players' foreign policy

The Play military planners in the Play homeland worried that the recent massacres would cost them all of their remaining foreign allies and squelch the Pacifist movement that the Players themselves sympathized with. They nonetheless affirmed that the war was going according to plan, and that they would not pull their army out of Lilypad territory. They began to research possible legal loopholes for how to continue the war if the Play Parliament ordered a halt to it or stated that territory won during the war could not be admitted to the Play nation, which would rule out the Players' plan to migrate Play civilians into the newly won territory.

Players move further north

War against the Scorpions

Seeing events turn in their favor, the Players decided to take on the Scorpion military force after all, figuring that they could impress upon the small children in the Scorpion army that their fantasies were not real, and that true power belonged to the Play conventional army.

They planned to be as nonviolent as possible, hoping that the Scorpion children would grow into Play adults as they realized that the Players had rescued them from their doom.

Continued meetings with children

The Players had continued to host diplomatic meetings with the various groups of children, continually stressing that the war was hopeless, but that the Players understood why they would not surrender in such an unfair war.

Even as they planned to make peaceful outreach towards the angry Scorpions, the Players continued their harsh words towards the Cook-Rash coalition. Again the Players stated that their soldiers had orders to kill, no matter how small and weak their victims were, and no matter whether the killers were in danger or not. They stated that the children's previous behavior had proven that this was the only approach that would work, and that it was not out of the search for cruelty as an end in itself. The Players said that they would accept the children's surrender at any time, but that to be sure it was real, the children would need to physically lead the Play soldiers to each individual campsite, and observe the handover of power, rather than merely promising that the various camping Cooks and Rashes would all agree to obey the surrender order.

The Players also said that the children had many other enemies, some of whom might be much more cruel than the Players. Thus they said the children could spare themselves a great deal of bloodshed by submitting to the Players before their other enemies could reach them.

The Players also announced that the war in the east was effectively over, the Players' army of more than 90,000 men having quickly crushed the few thousand adult male Counter soldiers along with their wives and children.

The Players thus promised to extend their war to the enemies inside, and said that their all-female police force would soon be as strong as their army. They threatened to kill 1.6 million bystanders just to find one criminal, saying only that they would spare young children who promised to join the Play party as soon as they reached adolescence, and agreed to live in work camps until then.

Challenges to pacifism

As the war spread, both the Pacifist party and the two new militarist parties realized they would be inevitably drawn into the conflict and had already alienated both sides. The Players realized that this could help them in their war, as despite their recent territorial losses, they had succeeded in maintaining the Play party's monopoly on power in their territory, and the new schools had only reached children living in the conflict zones of Nama.

The Players hoped that they could push the Pacifists into Cold territory, weakening the Cold defense, while sparing the lives of those Pacifists so that they would remain friendly and allow the Players to invade them.

Promise to remain unarmed

The Pacifists, meanwhile, stated that they would never have weapons or armor, and that they could therefore be even more vulnerable than the armies of child soldiers such as the Rashes and Cooks. Because they would need to hunt for food, they could not give up weapons entirely, but they promised that their weapons would not be of the type specifically made for killing human soldiers.

The Pacifists promised to attract adults to their movement, who though unarmed as well would be better able to exert their power. They also said that these adults would likely be in charge of the children, as recent events suggested it might simply be human nature for adults to rise to the top of any power structure, and to disobey laws if they could not get there legally.

Egg battles

Battle of Ŋasupuniūa

The Counters invaded the territory of the Eggs, Subumpam, which by this time was ethnically mixed because the Eggs and their slaves had mostly both remained in the area, while the Eggs had lost control of the western territories from which they had earlier come. One territory they invaded was called Ŋasupuniūa or Ŋasupunikuu.

The Players were at this very time also invading the same territory. This was possible because of the extremely rough terrain, and this was also why the Seeds, Rashes, and Cooks had been able to easily break into the area.

The Players also moved a separate battalion of soldiers into the southern coast area, which the other armies could not access. They claimed that their invasion was friendly whereas the Counters had arrived to exploit the locals. Nonetheless, some Eggs had converted to the Swamp Kids a few generations earlier, and many among these had then moved on to join the Cold Men and then the Counters. This is why the Cold Men in this immediate region were racially mixed and no longer thought of themselves as a tribe. Other Eggs had joined the Players, while still others had remained Eggs. There were also the descendants of child slaves who had joined none of the above parties, though most had eventually chosen one of the above three.

Pacifist approach

The Counters had the support of some locals, but sought to push the locals into the front lines of battle and thus had to compete with the local pacifists who provided shelter for people who saw no reason to join the war.

The Stargazer movement took root here, bringing pacifism to the Counters just when they needed to rally their troops to war; however, the Stargazers also pulled soldiers away from the Players. Previously, support for pacifism had been mostly confined to Nama, where the war had been two-sided and conventional, but now pacifists in Subumpam appealed to members of parties who endorsed neither the Counters nor the Players, as well as deserters from the two larger armies who felt that the Play and Counter parties had too much in common to fight a war.

Player victory

The Players thus regained control of the Egg territories in this battle, and did not seek to push out the Eggs, because they believed that the Eggs would voluntarily convert to the Play party. Nonetheless, those who refused were given no power in the government. The Eggs also did not get control of their original territory back, as it was lost to both the Players and the Eggs by this time (still being ruled by the Firestones with the support of Wax).

Contact with Moonshine

Moonshine joined the Counter side in the war, but warned that they remained committed to pacifism, and would do nothing to help the Counters on the battlefield; their only commitment was that the Counters could flee into Moonshine territory if they lost their war. Furthermore, as true pacifists, the Moonshines also allowed the Players to flee into their territory, provided they move to the state of Hōki, open to refugees and war criminals alike.

The Counters were frustrated by this development, as they knew that Moonshine's help would be useless, and yet that allying with Moonshine would alienate potential outside allies in the war who had come to oppose Moonshine for other reasons. Furthermore, as a feminist society with a power structure similar to the Players, any Moonshines who left their tribe would almost certainly become Players, since the Counters offered few positions of power to their women, and this could not easily be changed.

Hamatap rebellion

Proving the Counters correct, the Hamatap tribe of eastern Nama rebelled from Moonshine and joined the Play army. They did not speak the Play language, but most spoke Moonshine. Though they were few in number, the Hamatap soldiers rejected pacifism, and seemed likely to offer more help to the Players than the vastly more numerous Moonshines gave to the Counters.

This new rebellion shifted the northern border of Play territory to the fringe of the ruined Raspara capital of Tŏli, a growth of nearly three hundred miles in just a few years. But they did not have full control of the land; the main travel route between the Hamatap area and the other Play territories was by river.

New head of state

These events may be out of order because they were pasted from a disjoint notes section.

The Cold party had up until now been using the Swamp Kids' form of government, which had been inherited from the Players, and was essentially a masculinized Play system with no single head of state. Since the Cold Men noticed that most governments lacking a single head of state were feminists, they decided to invest power in a president (Play kiaa, Late Andanese gihakunua), just as the Scorpions had done.

First presidential election

The Cold nation remained a multiparty democracy, with the Pacifists, Scorpions, and Leashes all theoretically able to outvote the Cold Men, but the Cold Men promised that they would discard the votes of any party whose members seemed dedicated to sabotaging the Cold Men's war effort. Voting rights among the Cold Men were still restricted to men, but the other parties allowed both men and women; for this reason, the Cold Men counted their own votes twice.

The Cold Men elected a president named Nauvaatuā. (Both presidents' names began with the same /naū/, but this was not unusual in personal names and they did not see it a sign of friendship.)

Meeting with Counters

The Players' advances had excluded their enemies from Nama (though the Players did not conquer all of Nama, the areas they left behind were out of reach of the Cold armies). Thus, the Players controlled their own lowlands, the mountains of Nama, and the lowlands on the far side of Nama. This had been their main goal in the previous wars, but they had only just now achieved it.


The following is an older writeup that repeats information that has now been explained above. These are not later battles and the local battles in this section may not even extend into 4193 despite mentioning a battle in 4194 in Baeba.

Demographic shifts

By this point, population shifts and slightly lower fertility rates among the Players had reversed the longstanding demographic situation: while Play children still outnumbered adults, the balance was not so extreme as it had been during the Players' first few decades, while the Cold Men had recently lost most of their adult male population. Traditionally, the Players had considered their young population to be a strength, as their population had kept growing despite plagues, wars, and defections. Now the Players seemed likely to win the war from the opposite side, as they had an adult male army much larger than their enemies, eager for war, and yet the Players retained their transnational appeal to youth, as young Cooks seemed to grow ever warmer to a formal alliance with the Players even though they knew that the Players could easily invade and occupy the Cook territories without fear of an insurgency.

The Players had just invaded Nama, and the Cold Men had joined the war to protect Nama from the Players. Thus the Weather War began; it was also known as the Third Mallard War by the Players.

The Cold Men had just committed themselves to a new war against the Players, partly as revenge for the Players' invasion of Nama, and partly to more easily take control of Nama for the Cold party. But without a sizable army to fight their war, the Cold Men realized that they would either need to send child soldiers, as the Players had often done, or admit that they could not help Nama in this new war. This in turn relied on the assumption that the Play army preferred to attack Nama rather than the Cold Men.

The Players had always considered the Cold Men the strongest army in the region, while Nama had no standing army at all, having been reduced to ungovernable wilderness hundreds of years earlier. The Players had admitted publicly that the only reason that the Players had ever invaded Nama was because the Play population had outgrown its seaside habitat and needed more land to live on. A recent Play census showed that the total population was similar to what it had been fifty years earlier — slightly over one million — but the Players were now confined to a much smaller area of land, as they had lost territory in wars against the Cold Men, the Eggs, and Xema, and had only recently reconquered the rebels in Thaoa.

The Players had always apologized for attacking Nama, which had never attacked the Players, but now the Players had an opportunity to fight the Cold Men, which they hoped would draw third parties into the war on the side of the Players. Nonetheless, because the Play army admitted that they had begun the war by attacking a defenseless third party, they realized that they might still be fighting alone.

The Players thus escalated their conventional war against the Cold Men, saying that their adult army would defeat the Cook children without the need for great bloodshed, and would then isolate the much more violent Scorpions by physically trapping them between the strongholds set up by the Scorpion adult guardians, such that the guardians would appear to have taken the children prisoner.

Against the Leash army and the villagers of Nama, the only adult armies in the region, the Players expected to face a more even battle, but the Play military strategists doubted that even in the whole of Nama there could be 90,000 adult male soldiers left,[8] and that the Leash army was small as well. Lastly, the Players expected that the Pacifists would submit to the Players once they realized the inevitability of defeat.

Occupation of Thaoa

The Cold Men's declaration of war ended the Players' willingness to incorporate Thaoa back into the Play Empire with full citizenship rights. Thaoa was small, having been originally home to just a tiny fraction of the Play population, but the Players had lost so much land and sea that they realized the need to assert full control over Thaoa.

Events in Baeba

Yet another insult to the Cold Men came in 4194, when the pacifist nation of Moonshine invaded the Little Country, a kingdom based in Baeba Swamp which had been founded by the Pioneer wing of the Swamp Kids. Moonshine was not the strongest army in this war, but when the Cold Men realized that Moonshine had fought a war in Baeba Swamp while refusing to fight a war in Nama, the Cold Men considered declaring that Moonshine did not deserve peace, and that they could be justifiable targets in a war. Moonshine's diplomats had no reaction to this, as they quickly realized their allies in the Little Country war had betrayed them and were now themselves threatening to invade Moonshine even as they admitted that Moonshine had done nothing to deserve such treatment.


By 4195, diplomats were claiming that STW was the source of all the problems with the Cold nation, and that STW had dismantled the adult power structure of four nations — Amade, Anzan (that is, the Cold Men), TLC, and Šanaampu (a province in Player territory) — by forcing adults into war and then forcing unfit children into power where they could be easily pushed around. The Cooks, still considering themselves quite young, were unwilling to hear this, as they could not accept an argument based on the premise that they were unfit for power.


Notes on weather and timing

Canonically, Lamb and Mint ("the Šaŋašīs boys") won their war, but in doing so simultaneously destroyed their own homeland and that of the Raspara. Then, they fled to Nama and said "Did we do the right thing?" But the Players survived by also fleeing into Nama.

Šaŋašīs is the Play word for an allergic reaction to an insect sting.

Even though the Cold Men won their war, in the original writeup their enemy was the Warm Men and not the Players. The original writeup is lost to time and may in fact have never been written down (though the aftermath, involving the boys fleeing to Nama, was described in precise detail). It may be that the boys were not involved in the attack after all and merely had the power to flee whereas most others did not. Nonetheless, they surely had some sort of military power.

Note also that in the original timeline, the Weather War was a very brief event, and took place before the outflow of Pioneers to Baeba. Indeed, the Weather War so destroyed the Cold homeland that the Pioneers had little choice but to flee. This also explains the sudden fall of the Raspara. In this original reckoning, the Cold Men's drive to push out the Players (that is, the Warm Men) was so important that they were willing to destroy most of their own homeland to achieve it. Thus the move to Baeba took place for entirely different reasons than is written here. Also, the means by which the Cold-Pioneer coalition army came to be dominated by the young children is poorly explained, because if the Weather War predated the move to Baeba, the army would have still been comprised of traditional adult soldiers.


  1. This is probably a later name for what at the time was called Šaapausu, meaning that it was the Cold Men's capital city.
  2. This is an exact figure. The higher than expected number is because those who went along with their fathers to Baeba tended to be those children too young to say "no". The younger age groups thus were actually smaller.
  3. This word is incorrectly represented as /žaya/ in earlier writeups.
  4. The name Lamb here is not a translation, but actually a direct borrowing from the sound of the original word. Therefore it needs to be removed eventually.
  5. This is the same person as "Tanya".
  6. This is the state earlier labeled Puripup, and that name is no longer valid.
  7. This is August 19, 4192, and as explained above the winter starts very early because of the planet's orbital eccentricity.
  8. Though this figure is a repetition of the previous war's figure, and should probably be changed, note that the Players could not have expected the Thaoans to switch sides, and so Thaoa's population cannot be added back into the Play soldier pool.