Soap Bubbles

From FrathWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

The Soap Bubbles were a party founded in the year 3842 in the Thunder Empire as the Thunder Empire was being conquered by Dreamland. The Thunderers here had decided to collaborate with the Dreamers, as although they preferred independence, they felt that the Dreamers at least were rescuing the Thunderers from their previous oppressor, the Crystals. The Bubbles were the ones who refused to collaborate. Although both the Bubbles and the submissionist Thunderers agreed that they preferred independence, the Bubbles differed in that if their destiny was to be oppressed, they preferred Crystal oppressors to Dreamer oppressors.


Contents

Early history

See history for finer details.

Naming of the party

The Soap Bubbles were not related to the Soap Bubble Societies of the 2400s despite originating in nearly the same geographic area. Since that earlier name was still in use amongst the descendants of those nations, as two of the three nations had in fact survived, they occasionally referred to themselves, at least in that part of the world, as the Snow (Khulls: ; Pabappa: Šap). Snow had actually been the original proposed name for their party, but it had been changed to Soap before the official founding date in 3842, as they wanted a name that would be less inviting to the Dreamers and Dreamerized Thunderers who seemed to feel that the whole of nature was their bathroom.

Background

After about eighty years of being oppressed by Crystals, the Thunder Empire was invaded by the neighboring nation of Dreamland. The native Thunderers outnumbered the Dreamers by a wide enough margin that, even though they had almost no weapons, they were able to hold off the Dreamer invasion for two years. After two years, it became clear, however, that the Thunderers were going to lose their war, and that their Empire was merely going to change hands from one oppressor to another. In 3844, the Thunderers signed a surrender treaty turning over the whole of the Empire to the Dreamers and promising to help the Dreamers eliminate the last few rural strongholds of the Crystal armies.

The Soap Bubbles were a fork of the Thunderers who refused to surrender. Many of them were immediately killed, since they were just a tiny fraction of the Thunder population, and were thus outnumbered far more severely than the wider Thunder army had been. The Dreamers classified them as Crystal sympathizers, because they still refused to recognize that the Thunderers had any rights of their own and that there were more than two sides in this war. They considered eliminating the Bubbles a lesser priority than eliminating the Crystals, however, because like the Thunderers, the Bubbles were mostly unarmed and even those who had managed to steal weapons were untrained in how to use them properly and were thus poor fighters.

Because the Dreamers were focused on tracking down Crystals, many Bubbles escaped into the territory of the Crystals. Thus, the Soap Bubbles were saying that given the choice of two oppressors, they preferred the Crystals, whereas the Thunderers preferred the Dreamers. The fleeing Soapies said that they would even agree to be slaves for the Crystals if it would somehow help the Crystals eventually throw the Dreamer government back out of power. However, they knew that the Crystals had sworn off slavery 2500 years ago and showed no sign of returning to it ever again.

The Crystals at first considered the Soap Bubbles and the Thunderers to be the same, as the only difference between the two was that one had surrendered to the Dreamers and the other had not, and therefore considered the Soap Bubbles their enemies. (The Bubbles had actually formed in 3842, before the war was over.) They did not try to stop the flow of Soap Bubbles into their nation, however, just as they had never tried to stop the Thunderers from moving in during the previous era.[1] They merely stated that the Bubbles would be the lowest class in their society and would have to work unpleasant and low-paid jobs.

However, the Crystals soon realized that the Bubbles were now true allies, and the Crystals increased the civil rights of the Bubbles living in Crystal-held territory. This caused most of the other Thunderers that had been living in Lobexon to also convert to the Bubble party, seeing that to refuse to convert would be tantamount to endorsing the Dreamers' war against the Crystals. Meanwhile, the Soap Bubbles were being quickly washed away in the areas of the Thunder Empire that had been their original homelands. Thus, they soon became effectively a refugee minority living amongst the Crystals, despite having come to them from the Thunderers.

Thunder government returns to power

When the Thunderers overthrew the Dreamers in 3884 and established a racist government that oppressed Crystals moderately and Dreamers severely, they invited the Soap Bubbles living in Crystal territory to move back in, encouraged the few Bubbles who had hid out in Altotta to unmask themselves, and allowed mainline Thunderers to change their allegiance to the Bubbles. However, although the Thunderers legalized the Soap Bubble party in Altotta, and promised safety for those openly identifying as Bubbles, they warned the Bubbles that only mainline Thunderers could hold political office in the new nation since it was a one-party government.

Hearing this, the vast majority of the Bubbles, including the party leadership, did not reconcile. They stated that the Thunderers had drifted so far apart from their original belief system by this time that the Soap Bubbles actually preferred to live with the Crystals, and said that they would forever be allies of the Crystals. The Bubbles reminded the Thunderers that the Bubbles were the true descendants of the original Thunder party, because while the Thunderers had changed greatly under the Dreamer government, the Bubbles, having not been corrupted by the pain of abuse, had not changed at all.

Though the Soapies' difficult lifestyle attracted few converts, a small number of Soap Bubbles married Crystals, and of these, a small fraction raised their children as Soap Bubbles. This meant that the Soap Bubbles no longer had a homogeneous appearance and could not be identified on sight.

Allegations of racism

When the racist Thunderers realized that their close relatives in the Soap party were marrying dark-skinned Crystals, they declared that any Soapies who had married dark-skinned people were no longer clean and thus no longer Soap. As such, they would not be allowed to return to the Thunder Empire.

Hearing that their party's name had been perverted into a racist metaphor, the Soap Bubbles signed a nonbinding transnational agreement condemning racism and committing to the overthrow, by violence if necessary, of the racist Thunder government of Altotta. They thus signed an alliance with the Zenith, a minority in the Thunder Empire which had in turn allied itself with various other minorities. The Thunderers did not enslave Zeniths, but they saw all minorities as potential enemies and that included the Zenith.

At a conference in Crystal territory, the Thunder party (which was still legal in the Crystal Empire) argued to the Crystals that the Bubbles were trying to hide their racist past. They pointed out that the original name of their party had been the Snow, which was quickly changed to Soap. The Thunderers claimed that the name change came about because the founding Snow party members had realized that although snow and soap were both shiny white things, snow often absorbs dirt and becomes dirty itself, but soap repels dirt and remains clean. Thus, according to the Thunderers' explanation, the Soap Bubbles were proud of their white skin and had moved into the Crystal Empire believing that they were superior to the indigenous Crystal population. The Thunderers did not bring up the Soap Bubbles' strict admission criteria, as they realized that to do so would undercut their claim that the Soapies were racists; although the Soap Bubbles were very difficult for outsiders to join, it was plain that their admissions criteria had nothing to do with race or with skin color.

Taken aback, the Soapy representative admitted that there were several theories about the origin of their party's name and he did not know which, if any, was the correct one, but affirmed that the Soap Bubbles had never been racists and never would be.

Though the new Thunderers were openly racist, they had only held power in their Empire for a few months, and the Crystals were largely unaware of the Thunder worldview. Thus, the Soapies could not credibly throw allegations of racism back on the Thunderers. Instead, the Soapies claimed that the Thunderers had not been racists until 3884, and had only become such because all of the minorities in their Empire had turned against them. As such, they had abandoned the true Thunder ideology, while the Bubbles had preserved it.

The role of STW

See STW.

In 3915, an organization named Save The World was founded in the Thunder city of Lypelpyp. STW was aligned with the Zenith. The people of Lypelpyp thought this was a curious choice because almost all of the Zeniths lived on the other edge of the empire, thousands of miles away, and for a new organization to declare itself pro-Zenith in an area where no Zeniths lived seemed to be opening themselves up to attacks from the Thunderers in Lypelpyp.

But STW soon revealed their plan: they were illegal immigrants from the Crystal Empire, and their power base would be further illegal immigrants from the Crystal Empire and those who signed over their allegiance to them. Immigration into the Thunder Empire was entirely illegal, except for other Thunderers. Suddenly the previously 100% Thunder city of Lypelpyp was almost half Crystals and the city center was overpopulated and simmering with racial tension. The Thunderers could not understand why their government had allowed so many heavily armed Crystals to move into their city, after promising them year after year that their Empire would be forever a Thunder Empire and that any Crystals found within its borders would be immediately enslaved, and keeping that promise for thirty years.

The STW members were not interested in violent conquest, although they were heavily armed and very intimidating towards the Thunderers, even though the Thunderers in Lypelpyp were also heavily armed. Instead, STW was interested in dominating the economy of Lypelpyp to the point that it would be nearly irresistible for the Thunderers to sign allegiance to STW and thus destroy the power base of the non-STW Thunderers. The STWers took to the streets, blocking the path of civilians trying to get work done, harassing people at public gatherings, and in general not trying to make friends. They avoided targeting children, because they had a new weapon to use against children: children. STW was a very child-focused organization, and it enrolled children as soon as they were old enough to walk as full members. STW considered the least of its members superior to the ruling class of the non-STW people around them. Children in STW got out of school and chased after non-STW children bragging how much better they were treated at STW school than the other children were treated at the normal Thunder school.

As a technical matter, STW required its members to drop their outside party allegiances, so the Crystals who were immigrating into Lypelpyp to join STW became Zeniths when they did so. But they were dark-skinned Zeniths, and therefore by their mere presence in the Thunder Empire they were violating the Thunderers' laws and according to those laws the Thunder army was supposed to swoop in and enslave them. The people of Lypelpyp could not understand why this had not happened.

Lypelpyp adjusts to STW

The Lypels soon learned that STW's plan to seize power was extremely complicated and well-thought out. They required STW members to become Zeniths, meaning that once inside STW, the distinction between Thunder and Crystal was lost.

STW enraged the racist Thunder government by filling what had been an entirely Thunder city with thousands of illegal dark-skinned immigrants from the Crystal Empire, most of whom did not respect the Thunderers. Although the Thunderers had officially made peace with the Crystals, relations were tense. The Crystals were dismayed to see that they were not welcome, even though they had known all along that the Thunderers had outlawed all Crystal immigration. The people of STW were proud to admit that they simply didn't care whether the Thunder government wanted immigrants or not because they were going to get immigrants anyway. STW had decided to set itself up in Lypelpyp, and Lypelpyp was going to become the world headquarters of STW whether they wanted it or not.

As above, though, while the people of Lypelpyp referred to the dark-skinned STWers as "Crystals", simply because to them the Crystals were effectively a race of dark-skinned people rather than a religion, in order to join STW these Crystals had to become Zeniths. So, too, did the Thunderers who decided to side with STW against the increasingly angry non-STW "plain" people of Lypelpyp. Lypels soon learned that the STWers hated the non-STW Crystals even more than they hated the non-STW Thunderers, since they saw Crystals as their primary power base, and any Crystals who refused to join were doing even an greater disservice than the Thunderers, whom the STWers sympathized with since it was their country that was being invaded.

Still, they were looking to set up STW bases only in Thunder territory, never in Crystal territory, at least for the time being, as they felt the warm climate and mostly flat territory of the Crystal Empire would make it more difficult for STW to establish the monopolies that they needed to seize power. For example, Lypelpyp was in a valley surrounded by mountains, with only one road leading west and one road leading east. STW planned to soon seize control of both of them and starve out the city unless they all surrendered to STW.

Three-party setup

For hundreds of years, the dark-skinned Crystals and the light-skinned Thunderers had hated each other and each had taken turns abusing and oppressing the other, trading places every few generations as to which partner was on top. STW had come to put an end to all of that by seizing control and oppressing both of them. But the Crystals and Thunderers also had a shared hatred of Dreamland, since Dreamland had stolen land from both of them. STW had declared war on Dreamland on the very first day of its existence, and motivated its people to fight by painting murals of STW members chasing off an invading Dreamer army. In reality, in STW's first years, its membership consisted almost entirely of young children, because since they were a corporation, it was difficult for them to get adults to leave the workforce and join STW. Thus they did not actually fight, but built weapons and provided supplies to an army called the Scopes who did almost all of the fighting. STW did have a traditional army, but it was for self-defense, and this army still did not expect to be forced to fight the Dreamers since Lypelpyp was not a feasible target for a Dreamer invasion.

3919 coup

In 3919, the racist Thunder government was overthrown by dissenters from within. The coalition of STW, the Soap, the Zenith, the Crystals, and many other smaller minorities had succeeded in pushing the racists out of power and setting up their own government. However, STW's financial support had been far more decisive than all of the other parties' efforts.

Since the Soapies were the only one of the many minority parties that was descended directly from the Thunderers, they had hoped that they would be given priority in the new government and perhaps even total control. They laid out their plans for an entirely Soapy empire stretching from the deserts of Lypelpyp to the vineyards of Paba. But the rebels burst their bubble by declaring that they still considered themselves Thunderers, and still held to many of the Thunder ideals. The new Thunderers were significantly Soapier than before, but refused to allow a multiparty government either with the Bubbles or with the old racist Thunderers they had overthrown.

Thus the Bubbles still did not make peace with the Thunderers. Nevertheless, the Thunder Empire was a very large place, and some of the Bubbles did start to move back in to their old stomping grounds now that they were no longer excluded by race or any other means. They found places to live in Altotta in which they could live amongst only their own kind, protected by small but powerful Soap Bubble militias, a tactic they had learned from living for so long surrounded by enemies, something even the Thunderers had never experienced. Meanwhile, the Thunderers freed all of their Crystal slaves, but not the Dreamer slaves, since even the rebels still hated the Dreamers.

Being a minority, the Soap Bubbles had always emphasized the need to prepare themselves for a war despite being traditionally nonviolent, and thus were actually, per capita, both better armed and better educated about military strategy than the Crystals. Thus, they were better soldiers than the Crystals. Nevertheless, the newfound similarity in political ideals between the Soap and the Crystals led many Bubbles to convert to Crystalism over the years, and few the other way around, so the Bubbles remained a small minority amongst the Crystals.


Murals and propaganda

The Soap Bubbles sometimes used nonviolent imagery to appeal to their enemies; whereas all of the other armies would slice people up with swords and stab them with spears, being conquered by the Soap Bubble army would merely make people feel refreshed and a ltitle bit prettier. They painted murals of their people dressed as soldiers, with giant white soap bars in place of swords. They threatened to give any Dreamers captured in battle a hot soapy bath, turning them forever into Wet Dreamers.

However, they knew from history that such claims to innocence bought little sympathy from stronger armies, and that if they ever wanted to be anything more than the bottommost group amongst an already oppressed people they would need to behave like normal people and establish a conventional army with swords and shields.

Desert dwellings

The Bubbles nevertheless became known as the least violent of the many mutually hostile armies during the chaotic period between the last days of the Thunder Empire (4108) and the beginning of the Swampy Empire (4149). Indeed, they had remained completely nonparticipant in any violence, although because they were so small and weak, they at times entered into alliances with the Crystals in which the Crystals promised to protect them.

The Soap Bubbles lived in the deserts south of Baeba. They were known for their non-hereditary membership, meaning that prospective members had to pass a physical fitness test, even if both of their parents were Soap Bubbles.

This was the first time in the Soap Bubbles' history of over 340 years that they had become a major independent player in a war. Previously, they had been famous for their nonviolence, although they were careful to avoid officially endorsing pacifism, knowing that too much pacifism had brought down the major empire of Paba. When they had been forced to fight, it had previously been in a coalition with another, larger army, usually the Crystals. Some Soapies had moved into Crystal territory in the past and had become well-respected there even though they were closely related to the hated Thunderers who had, in turn, later spawned the Raspara and the Matrix.

The similarity in political ideals between the Soap and the Crystals led many Bubbles to convert to Crystalism over the years, and few the other way around, so the Crystals far outnumbered the Bubbles, and by 4186 both the Crystals and the Bubbles were quite weak.

Volcano War

The Zeniths did not see themselves as immoral. They claimed to be the only party that was willing to adopt the seemingly futile plan of placing Andanese land back into Repilian hands, as even the Repilians' traditional allies now were based in areas that had once been Repilian, and were unwilling to give away their own homelands to help mend the historical injustices of the many wars against the Repilians. Although ethnic conflicts had mostly stopped, and Repilians were thus welcomed as ethnic minorities nearly everywhere, the Repilians really wanted a state of their own, as they had had many experiences with supposedly cooperative societies in which they were inevitably abused and sometimes even killed by their supposed allies.

By contrast, the Zeniths had never had a nation of their own, and thus, if they won, the territories they were signing away to Repilian ownership would be those taken from the Zenith's enemies. Thus, the Zeniths had no reason to betray the Repilians. Even though the Zeniths believed in many ideas most Repilians did not support, and the Zenith leadership was transnational and thus mostly non-Repilian, they had the advantage of ethnic loyalty from the Repilians and believed that this power base would never betray them simply because they had nowhere else to go.

When the Raspara realized that the Swampies had surrendered to the Matrixes and Crystals in order to focus on the Zenith, they were relieved. They realized that they could, yet again, plan out a new war against the Swamp Kids from the comfort of the Swamp Kids' heartlands, surrounded in all directions by surprisingly poorly equipped Swampy battalions who were seemingly too afraid to attempt a squeeze attack. They considered an attack on the Swamp Kids purely to test just how weak the Swamp Kids were. If the Swamp army surrounding their illegal occupation army was paper-thin, the Raspara figured, they could start their new civil war immediately.

However, the Raspara were now quite weak, and were surviving mainly because they had built a series of forts in the wilderness which made them appear to be mostly intact despite the massive losses during the previous war. They no longer had a significant population of Swampy slaves in their forts. The commanders thus figured a war without waiting would be unwise. They contemplated mending their relations with the Matrix, as they had offended the Matrix leaders during their four-month occupation of Sala by giving the Matrix no power. But the Raspara leadership still believed that the Matrixes were incompetent, and refused to make an alliance, knowing that because the Matrixes were for the meantime actually far more powerful than the Raspara, the Matrixes would be in control of the alliance and could potentially waste the entire Raspara army in a useless battle.

Contact with the Soap

Since the Swamp Kids had needed the help of outside powers just to recover control of their own capital city, the other minority armies decided that the Swampy Empire might not last much longer, and decided to fight over pieces of Swamp land that had not yet been claimed by any other power. They thus were repeating yet again the destruction of Nama and of Paba, both of which had been large empires that were torn to pieces in their last days by much stronger outside armies. With the Raspara in hiding, and the Swamp Kids seemingly unable to assert their own interests, the four major players in the next phase of the war were the Crystals, the Soap Bubbles, the Matrixes, and the Zenith.

Soapy foreign policy

By this time, the Soap Bubbles had turned against their old allies, the Crystals, and because they had always maintained an independent military, they now sent out their army against the Crystals.

The new war was seen by many parties as a continuation of the Volcano War. The Zenith had not been invited to sign the Treaty of 4186, and had continued fighting as if nothing had happened.

The Raspara had signed the treaty, but considered it unfair. They promised that, as they had so many times in the past, they would respect that they had formally surrendered but were in reality simply moving to the wilderness to build up their army in preparation for their next battle. Their objective in the Pempsa War was the same as their objective in the Volcano War: to spill themselves all over the place, ruining everything they touched, and watching their enemies, even the Matrix, flee from them in all directions. But they realized that they were no longer a major player in the war.

The Swamp Kids also considered the treaty unfair, as it showed that they had yet again won a major war but been forced to immediately make humiliating concessions to the armies they had formally defeated. They too considered the war to be ongoing, partly because the Zenith had never stopped sniping at them, and partly because they wanted to once and for all free all of the Swamp Kids held as slaves by other armies, particularly the Matrix but also the Raspara.

Nevertheless, the Swamp Kids were no longer respected by the majority of their enemies, and even though Anzan was still officially governed entirely by the Swamp Kids, the major players in the Pempsa War decided to entirely ignore the helpless Swamp Kids and fight the war amongst themselves.

Failure of alliances

Throughout most of history, most wars had been fought between two opposing sides. With four mutually hostile armies inhabiting and fighting over the same territory, military strategists in Anzan expected alliances to quickly form among these groups, thus creating a traditional a two-sided war, perhaps with the Matrixes on one side and all three others on the opposite side; or with the Matrixes and the Zenith crushing the opposing Crystals and Soap, then turning against each other; but paranoia was so widespread among these groups (with the partial exception of the Zenith) that any alliances formed were soon dissolved, and each group often was forced to choose which enemy to focus on in battle.

Crystals make peace

The Crystals and the Soap, being weak, were frequent targets of both the larger groups and each other; but by late 4186, less than ten years after the chaotic four-way conflict had begun, the Crystals announced they wanted to make peace with the Soap Bubbles and the Matrix so they could focus entirely on the Zenith. The Soap Bubbles agreed to the truce, thus restoring the original alliance they had made with the Crystals three hundred years earlier.

But the Matrixes grew suspicious and, despite the fact that they had also been focusing chiefly on the Zenith, they now turned against the Crystals as well. However, the Soapies responded to their treaty with the Crystals by offering to make one with the Matrix, and the Matrix agreed. So now, the Matrix was fighting the Crystals and the Zenith; the Crystals were fighting the Matrix and the Zenith; the Bubbles were fighting only the Zenith; and the Zenith was fighting everybody. The Matrix revoked their feud with the Crystals and pledged to help them against the Zenith, so now the Matrix, the Crystals, and the Soap were united against the Zenith. After about two years of more organized (but just as brutal) fighting, in 4188, the Zenith were driven into a position comparable to that the Crystals had occupied thirteen years before.

However, the Matrix then realized that the Crystals had in fact agreed to the truces only for their own sake; they had reaped nearly all the benefits, for they were well aware of the fact that the Matrixes would much rather support the Crystals than the Soap, and that any land the Zenith lost would likely go to the Crystals rather than the Soap, as there were far more Crystals than Soap Bubbles. (As the fighting against the Zenith continued, the Crystals were able to develop their weapons technology to the point where they were as strong, per capita, as the Bubbles. This was possible because in the truce they had implied that weapons secrets would be shared between the two groups so as to make them both stronger. Most Bubbles, however, at first dismissed rumors that the Crystals were being insincere in their truces.)

The Bubbles recoiled in shock as the Crystals, now second in power only to the Matrix, renounced all its peace treaties and focused on fighting all three groups once again. (They realized that all three groups would hate them, so they could not focus only on the Matrix (their most powerful enemy) and thus secure a stronghold as the dominant power, because the Soap Bubbles would come to rival them if they did not abrogate the peace treaty and refuse to share their technology with the Soap. Similarly, they could not pretend peace with the Matrix and try to gain their weapons technology because the suspicious Matrixes would reiterate that they refused to share their technology, which was still greater than that of any of the other three groups. Thus, the Crystals had choice between remaining in a delicate position as a junior ally of the Matrix and trying to gain the senior position themselves.)

Thus, the war suddenly shifted against the Crystals. The Matrix hated the Crystals and the Zenith about equally now, but they had become closer to the Crystals due to increased support for the Crystals[2] living outside the shell of Anzan. (The Matrix also were active abroad, because they were so closely related to groups such as the powerful Neamakists in Aboa.)OR DREAMLAND!!!! Thus, the Matrix agreed to sign a secret peace treaty with the Crystals wherein they would agree to make it seem as though they were still enemies, and still fight each other, but in reality they would be deliberately trying to make the casualties as few and far between as possible. In fact, they agreed that those who would die in Matrix v. Crystal battles would be those people who were the least valuable, whether it be because they were poor soldiers or because they were suspected dissenters or double agents.) This peace treaty was indeed unknown to the other two groups, and thus the Soap continued to focus its attacks far more on the Crystals than on the Matrix. The Zenith did likewise, and thus the Crystals, the weaker of the two groups, were forced to bear the brunt of the devastation in battle. However, the Matrix then made their secret treaty public and stopped attacking the Crystal altogether, so that they could focus more on the Zenith and the Bubbles.

Foundation of the Little Country

September 3, 4191

The Swampies invaded Baeba Swamp and settled in the areas where escaped Lenian slaves lived. The 13,630 Swampy soldiers were able to conquer and control the much more numerous Lenians (over 70,000) despite violent attempts by the Lenians to resist. They enslaved the Lenians and made them work building weapons, and this made the Swamp Kids even more powerful. The Rasparas had been nearly destroyed by earlier attacks, so they were unable to stop the Swamp Kids' invasion of Baeba Swamp. Furthermore, the Swamp Kids even managed to settle parts of Nama despite violent resistance from the Namans.

New ideology

The Swamp Kids threw off the Raspara-led ideology when they became able to control their own affairs. They promised a strict government and said that it was immoral for people to have the right to control their own behavior.

Party name

At first, they retained the name Swamp Kids, but began to promote aggressively masculine imagery and stated that their name referred to their members' typically small body size, not immaturity or helplessness. They stated that their victory over the Matrix army in Anzan proved that small soldiers could sometimes defeat larger ones. Additionally, most of the Lenian slaves they had conquered were taller than typical Swamp Kids, and yet they had fallen to the Swamp Kids even though they had had overwhelming numerical superiority. The Swamp Kids associated these Lenians with Dreamland because they did not want their members to realize that many of the slaves were in fact formerly of the Play party, and that some were even former Swamp Kids.

However, as a name identifying them with Baeba Swamp meant little in Baeba Swamp, the Swampies then attempted to restore their original party name Lava Handlers, only to hear that the Cold Men still also claimed ownership of that name, saying that cold hands could turn the hottest lava into stone. The Swamp Kids settled for an alternate reading of that original name, the Slime Handlers, which they quickly shortened in diplomatic meetings to Slime.

The Slimes did not like their new name, but knew that they needed to tolerate formalities such as this in order to establish diplomatic relations with Baeba Swamp.

New form of government

The Slime army successfully subdued the northern districts of Baeba and immediately began the militarization of the population with slavery, and renamed their nation The Little Country (Punumiva Pisap) because they considered the city of Baeba Swamp far more important than the vast tracts of wilderness they had conquered along the way. But they for the time held off on moving their seat of government to Baeba, worried that the native population would resist the imposition of formal government structures on their territory. This meant that, officially, the capital of the Little Country was still Šaapausu, which was thousands of miles away. The Slimes realized that they had little hope of communicating with their old capital city and therefore that they would need to create a new, practical government running inside the old, formalistic government.

The Slimes realized that they could no longer use a democratic system of government, because they were oppressing a much larger aboriginal population that would simply vote them out of power if given the chance. They built a new city just outside Baeba, on land that had been inhabited by Lenians. They then declared this city to be the capital of the Little Country, and asked Baeba's Leaper party to consider their new city to be part of Baeba Swamp, so that the Slimes would be able to claim that they had finally achieved their long-desired goal of conquering Baeba Swamp. They promised that, having gotten this, they would make no further intrusions into Baeba Swamp and would aid in the defense of Baeba from future invasions just as any other citizens of Baeba would. The Leapers agreed to this, and the Slimes came to refer to their new city as being the Baeban district of Pavaitaapu, but among themselves they simply called it Baeba, underscoring the Slimes' idea that Pavaitaapu was the only part of Baeba that mattered.

Naming

Properly speaking, The Little Country was quite large, since it contained the newly won district of Pavaitaapu as well as vast tracts of rural countryside taken from Nama. They assigned their nation's unusual name to stress the fact that the relatively small territory of Pavaitaapu was much more important to them than the Naman countryside, which was useful primarily as a trade route.

The name Pavaitaapu was taken from the Players who had won control of the area fifty years earlier; it was simply a descriptive name for the mountainous terrain, which was much more comfortable in summer than the lowlands of Baeba Swamp, but had a less reliable supply of food.

Census of 4192

A census taken in early 4192 showed over 360,000 slaves working for the surviving Slime soldiers, of whom there were about 12,600 (the Slimes had lost almost exactly 1,000 soldiers fighting the war). By comparison, the population of Baeba Swamp, including the slaves, was only slightly above 200,000.

However, the Slimes doubted their own census, saying that there was no way that they could be outnumbered by such a wide margin. The census takers admitted that they had been merely estimating the population of the rural areas of the Little Country based on what was known from prior eras, but stated that these rural areas were just as much a part of their country as was the city of Pavaitaapu.

Borders

The focus of settlement was Pavaitaapu, an upland area with an unstable food supply but which was difficult to invade. The Slimes had taken advantage of this, committing their own invading force to prioritize capture of the locals rather than construction of forts and military strongholds. The total area was about 10,000 square miles, about one fourth the size of Baeba Swamp. Thus, the population density was about the same as Baeba's, even though Baeba had a much more stable food supply. The Slimes were not troubled by this, saying that if the escaped Lenian slaves had been able to survive there, so too could their captors.

Economics of TLC

The Slimes supported STW, which had opened bases in the area. Some of the Slime leaders were STW members. Because STW's economic model combined capitalism, piracy, and slavery, the Slimes did likewise, although they did not plan to raid foreign nations the way STW traditionally had. STW itself had lost so much power in recent years that they had come to rely mostly on slavery.

Currency

The Slimes brought their palm coins (Play tampaaba) with them, and declared this to be the official currency of TLC, but the Slimes owed a large debt to the STW corporation, which issued its own currency, the asala (a transnational name). STW claimed that because the Slimes owed so much money, the palm coins would be worthless, but STW itself was facing severe financial stress, and STW's leaders realized that their new nation could soon end up using a barter economy.

Coronation of the Golden Sun

September 13, 4191

To secure their new government, the Slimes then set out to choose a king who would rule the country strictly and suppress dissent.

However, the STW corporation had financed the Slimes' war, and the Slimes had admitted that without STW's help, they would have run out of weapons and armor because they had lost access to the mines from which they obtained their raw materials. They had even been reliant on STW for transportation. STW had carefully kept track of how much they had given the Slimes, and now stated that, because STW had won the war for them, STW would assign them a king who would ensure that they paid their debt.

Then, STW's leaders seated a boy named the Golden Sun (Play Pipunapa,[3] Late Andanese Hipilii) on the throne of the Little Country. The STW corporation had chosen this boy from among their membership to be the king.

The Golden Sun was only 13 years old, but was legally an adult by STW's reckoning because he had graduated from their school. He was the son of the shipbuilder Naipatepa, the richest man in TLC and one of the richest men in the world. His birth name did not contain a color word, and thus was best translated simply as the Sun, but he chose a more humble name after he graduated school.

Coronation ceremony

Play-speaking rulers did not wear crowns or expensive royal clothes; the word "coronation" here is used as a cultural loan. The STW corporation held a ceremony outdoors in an area of the Little Country that had recently been cleared of all slaves and other previous inhabitants, and declared that this territory would belong to the king and to anyone he deigned to share it with. STW's leaders then invited the Slime parliamentarians to come meet their new ruler.

STW had made sure beforehand that the Slimes knew who their new king was; they did not want the parliamentarians to attend the ceremony expecting to meet an adult or a non-STW member. STW knew their choice would be controversial and therefore reminded the Slimes that if they did not accept their new king and his plan to collect their financial debt, STW had allies in other nations who could invade the Little Country and put the Slimes in a much worse position.

Stage design

STW was worried about the possibility of violence at the coronation ceremony, so they sent dozens of adult STW soldiers to patrol the crowd and secure the stage. The Slime parliamentarians were made to stand close together on the ground in front of the stage, with a wall of STW soldiers separating them from the stage, and facing the parliamentarians rather than facing the stage.

When the king arrived, he was thronged by kids his own age and younger, rather than by adult STW soldiers. These kids walked together up the staircase to the raised platform, where they looked at the crowd before them and the STW soldiers separating them from that crowd. The kids arranged themselves in a line along the stage, and held hands while facing their audience. When they realized they were too numerous to stand hand-to-hand, some of the taller kids walked backwards to stand behind the others. Thus the kids standing in front were the youngest ones, except for the king and a few others who had remained in front. Even so, the kids were standing so close to each other that, to the crowd, the king did not stand out in any way. STW had earlier told the parliamentarians that their king had blond hair, however, and most of the kids had dark hair, so the parliamentarians looked for a tall blond boy standing near the center of the stage.

The Slimes noticed quickly that their new king was very shy. All of the kids on the stage had speaking roles, as they told the audience their names and what they planned to do once in power.

Assumption of rule

Titles and status

The Play language had two root words describing absolute monarchs: nenu and paus. Rulers of both sexes could use either term, but feminist societies tended to refer to their rulers as paus while masculist societies used nenu. Feminist societies, especially Moonshine, rejected the idea of a single head of state, and therefore Moonshine's queens had absolute power only in a small territory, and were required to pay taxes to the Moonshine Empire. By contrast, kings referred to as nenu often had no authority above them. The Golden Sun chose the nenu title for himself, saying that he had no obligations to the wider society around him, even though he had been appointed to his position and ruled over the Little Country rather than the whole of Anzan. (However, the Little Country now contained almost all of the Slimes' population.) Properly inflected, this made the boy's name Pipunapa Nanua. In Andanese, he was known as Tununa Hipilii; Andanese had only one word for king.

Friends and relations

The Golden Sun did not trust adults, and most of the classmates he knew best did not trust adults either. Their only interactions with adults so far in their brief time in power had been hostile, apart from the STW leaders who had placed the king on his throne. Rather than appoint adult advisors to help, the king appointed his classmates and other friends his own age to positions of power within his realm.

Sources of new names

Clovers (Vatuīs)

Critics of the new regime soon called these kids the Clovers (Vatuīs); this was not a party name, but merely a term of convenience for the king and his young friends who stayed close by his side. The kids did not choose their name; in fact, it was no more than an insult, as the Play word Vatīs? meant "What country (are we in)?" and the extra /u/ was simply an artifact of the grammar. The adults in the Slime party who found themselves ruled by children were thus claiming that the young Clovers were so naive that they did not know the name of their own country.

Even the harshest critics of the Clovers were careful not to criticize the king, in part because they recognized that he was better educated than most of the other Clovers, and in part because they knew that, in a sense, they had asked to be oppressed because they had specifically shaped their government to accomodate a strong, authoritarian king. The Slimes hoped to sway the king's opinions by using psychology, but knew that they did not have any legal means by which to overrule the king's actions when he had come to a final decision.

Thus, when the Clover name spread to the wider public, the critics explained that they had attended the coronation and had heard one young Clover quietly ask another which country they were in, but stated that neither of those kids was the king, and did not accuse the king of being unfit for rule; rather, they said that his reliance on even younger children to advise him was the main weakness of the Clovers' regime.

Most Clovers spoke only Play because STW limited its use of Late Andanese to specialized uses such as the number system and abbreviations. Nonetheless, they learned the Late Andanese word for clover, tupiana, and wondered if they were being insulted twice with one name, as some said the word reminded them of pupuyana, a word typically used only by young children in a hurry to find the nearest bathroom.

Sources of migration

Most Clovers were orphans of Play ancestry who had been scattered when STW had been forced to close its orphanages a year earlier. These had come from all across the former Anchor territory, but there were relatively few immigrants who had come from southern lands such as Thaoa and the traditional Play homeland of Memnumu, where STW had never been particularly strong.

Others were local children who had fled their parents' households for various reasons; the king himself was among this group. His best friend had run away two years earlier from his abusive parents, and the Sun had run away to be with his friend even though his own home life had been comparatively peaceful. The Sun's parents respected his decision to join his friend, and although they were insulted, they soon realized that it was what they should have been expecting all along, as STW graduates typically had little contact with their parents after the age of 13.

All of the Clovers were between the ages of 10 and 14. Regardless of age, those who had graduated STW's school were considered legally adults by STW, and not as orphans or runaways. Most of the graduates were 13 or 14 years old.

Early differences with STW

Exclusion of Soap

The Sun distrusted not only adults but also former classmates who were older than him; for example, a boy named Soap[4] (Play Šipaamemip, also known as Mepu) had been refused entry into the Clover dynasty because he had been born in the mid-4170s.

Younger students

Many students had not graduated yet, and thus could not legally hold any position of power by STW's standards. STW's leadership argued that the Sun was merely delegating his authority to them, and therefore they did not truly hold power.

However, a more important objection soon arose. These younger students had not graduated from STW's school, and STW bound all such members to absolute obedience to STW's leadership until they completed their schooling. But now the Sun was requiring the students to obey him, and because the Sun had graduated, he was allowed to give orders that defied those of STW. Moreover, the students had chosen to move to the Castle to live with the Sun and the other Clovers, and there was no STW school inside the castle for them to attend.

Therefore, the Sun was now a kidnapper, even though he was only slightly older than the kids he was holding in place, and even though the kids had come to him of their own will. STW realized that they could not simply ignore this because it would lead to a conflict within STW's hierarchy, as STW members who opposed Pavaitaapu would have a valid legal reason to shut the entire project down, which would force STW to invade and allow the anti-Pavaitaapu STWers to abduct the kids that the Sun was withholding from STW. But the pro-Pavaitaapu STW leadership was unable to find a way to solve the problem, and therefore invited the anti-Pavaitaapu leadership to start their legal case against the Sun immediately, figuring that they would not do so because it would mean a war not only within STW but also against the people of Pavaitaapu, and in particular the Slime army, which had just won control of that territory after a brutal war.

Appointment of the Red Sun

The Golden Sun also brought into power his best friend and former classmate, the Red Sun (Play Pippamana). He gave the Red Sun control over the military and an abstract promise of additional powers to come when new problems confronted them. The two boys trusted each other well enough that this abstract promise was all they needed. Both boys' names referred to their hair color, as light hair shades were rare in their original homeland and even rarer in their new homeland.

Color symbolism

In Play-speaking cultures, yellow traditionally had been seen as the color of peace, and during times of war, also of cowardice and quick submission to stronger powers. This was underscored by the fact that the invading Slime army had quickly subdued more than 70,000 escaped Lenian slaves, who mostly had blonde hair. The Slimes were of diverse origins, and therefore of diverse appearance, but most had dark hair. The Slimes thus believed that men with blond hair would not fit well into their masculine power structure.

Orange-colored hair was not typically described with words for red in Play-speaking cultures. Red hair was uncommon enough that it was simply seen as a variety of blonde, sometimes described as fiery blonde or as the color of the orange fruit. The stereotypes against blondes thus extended to red-haired people as well. Nonetheless, in color-limited art, such people were often drawn with deep red hair, the color of blood and of the sun during remarkable weather events, and red hair was considered more remarkable than blonde.

The boys were blissfully unaware of their culture's stereotype against blonde hair, having attended a school run by the STW corporation, whose multicultural history stood them apart from the surrounding culture. They instead identified with the color symbolism of the feminist Moonshine Empire, in which yellow, orange, and red were all colors of the sun, and therefore aggressively masculine, just as the sun was.

The Andanese culture also associated yellow with masculinity and warmth, as yellow and red had been the traditional colors of the Andanese people. There was little knowledge of Andanese in their society, however.

First wife

The Sun had already married a girl, Žaŋavaufa, in a ceremonial wedding, and had already divorced that girl.

Second wife

The Sun found a second wife, who called herself Right Arm. These weddings were formalities, and most outsiders considered his wives to be best described as girlfriends, but the Golden Sun had absolute power and therefore demanded a wedding ceremony for each girl, and that they be referred to as wives rather than girlfriends. Nonetheless, the constitution did not afford any political powers to the queen, or even recognize the existence of a queen, as the Slimes agreed with their forebearers and insisted all political power be held by males.

Interaction with Parliament

Boundaries of power

The Suns allowed the Slime soldiers to maintain a parliament, and to restrict its membership to adult male Slimes. But the king demanded that parliamentarians also be STW employees, just as the Clovers were.

Legal status of the king

The Golden Sun was also a member of STW, and therefore, despite being the head of state in the Slimes' new nation, he was still legally required to obey his superiors in STW, in particular, a woman named Lanīs. She had been his teacher when he had been younger, and as she had gathered power within STW's hierarchy, she had retained her power over him.

To answer complaints that the new Slime nation would therefore be just a toy for Lanīs and STW, STW stated that the Golden Sun was a military leader, since he had graduated from STW's training program and was legally an adult by STW's reckoning; therefore, although he was required to obey superiors when interacting with STW, he would have a free hand to act in any way he pleased in the Little Country, as STW's traditionally female leadership always gave adult soldiers the right to disobey STW's military commands. (Essentially, STW's army was comprised of mercenaries.)

As they had in Tata, some Slime leaders argued that their Parliament still had the authority to overrule their king, but this time their argument was much weaker because nearly the entire Slime population was concentrated in the district of Pavaitaapu now, meaning their legacy democratic government, which administered the sparsely settled countryside of Nama, had very few voters. The Parliament promised that they would continue to meet, but most members of the Slime Parliament now saw themselves as advisors to the king, and not as lawmakers.

Early criticisms

The Slimes had not voted for their new king; STW had forced the Slimes to place him on the throne, threatening to withhold goods and financial assistance from the Slimes if they did not comply.

Some Slimes wondered why they had received a child ruler, when there were older adults, including the boy's own father, who they assumed would also be interested in ruling a nation and did not have other responsibilities tying them down. Noting that STW was supporting another child ruler in a distant area of Memnumu, they wondered whether the king was intended to rule only for a short time, and would be replaced with another young boy once he reached adolescence. They also noticed that the Sun was the oldest of three children in his family.

On the other hand, some Slimes stated that they would have preferred to be ruled by an even younger child, knowing that such a king would be more strongly yoked to STW's adult leadership and that the nation would be thus run by someone with competence and experience, but through an intermediary who they hoped would weaken STW's control over the Little Country.

Others ignored the issue of the boy's age. They promised to treat their new leader the same as they would treat any other king, and stated that any criticism of the king's rule should be focused on his policies and not his competence, as they admitted that, without democracy, a ruler did not need great wisdom or experience to project their power. They furthermore argued that their new king would only be young for a few short years. This position soon became the most popular one, and the Golden Sun stopped worrying about opposition to his rule.

Further criticisms

Once the Slimes had conceded that their king was not too young to rule, it came to light that one of the boys the king was relying on for advice was Silas,[5] who was just ten years old. He had been standing by the king's side during the coronation ceremony, but had escaped notice because he was tall for his age and the king happened to be short for his age. Now, the Slimes who had lost the earlier debate asked the people who had said that thirteen years of age was enough to rule a nation whether ten years of age was enough to advise the ruler of a nation.

Silas was not the only 10-year-old who had been granted power in the Clover dynasty, as the king had promised that any of his classmates who attended the coronation ceremony would be awarded with a position of power. Most of the younger children had been given minor roles, and had accepted this, as they had not graduated school. Silas, however, had graduated STW's school very early, and the king saw him as a peer, not a follower; therefore he gave Silas a powerful advisory role. Silas could not exercise direct control over people from this position, but he could give recommendations to the king for issues that the king felt he had no time to read up on.

Royal palace

The Clovers owned many adult slaves which they had inherited from their parents or acquired through their work in STW even at their young age. A group of free STW laborers had been overseeing these slaves, having agreed to work for a token wage paid by STW and not by the Clover kids. (STW's policy was that children, and to a lesser extent women and men, were entitled to services like this because they could not reasonably be expected to physically control large numbers of adults.)

The Clover kids told their slaves to build them a palace on a hill called Mutanapana, located in a forest. They called this palace Mutanapana as well, but also referred to it as Šampunu Tuŋes. That is, it had a proper name and a descriptive name; the first was a previously existing Play name and the second name meant "royal forest palace". The first name came to be used for the whole property, including the meeting rooms, courtyards, and fortifications around the main building, while the latter name came to be used for the smaller living quarters where the Clovers lived, ate, and slept. Living conditions were very poor, and by the standards of the area, the royal palace was more of a fort than a castle, even though it had been specifically constructed by STW using all of their time and resources.

Creation of the Sunspots

The Little Country's traditional military was run by the Slime party, but not all of the low-ranking soldiers were required to be Slimes. Those without access to weapons were often enslaved laborers from non-Slime parties.

Protection clause

Since the Slimes' new constitution had provided no positions aside from the king and the parliament, the Golden Sun created a new position for his best friend, the Red Sun. In this position, the Red Sun had control of a private military, untethered from both STW and the Little Country, but still required to obey the Red Sun. The Red Sun was himself legally required to obey the king, but because they were close friends, and trusted each other, the Golden Sun allowed the Red Sun to direct the military himself.

For the Suns, the creation of the new army increased their hold on power. The parliamentary republic from which the Slimes had come had allowed the military free reign in all their pursuits, figuring that military commanders knew better than politicians how best to fight a war. The parliament's only check on military power was that they controlled the size of the army, and could eliminate it entirely. The new constitution in the Little Country kept this system in place, meaning that the Golden Sun could shrink or even dissolve the Slimes' army, but he could not tell their commanders where to go or what to do.

Therefore, the new kingdom had two separate armies, both of which were under the control of the king, but only one of which was required to obey his military commands. This army, called the Sunspots (Pipiūmiupa), was staffed entirely with adult male soldiers from STW.

New wave of Sunspots

But when the non-STW Slimes realized that the king could legally eliminate the traditional army, they agreed to let any soldiers who wished to transfer to the Sunspots to do so, and therefore the Sunspots began to admit non-STW members. Legally speaking, these new soldiers were more tightly bound to the Clovers than the STW Sunspots were, because although both had pledged to unconditionally obey the Red Sun, the Sunspots who belonged to STW could at any time be assigned to a well-paid mission to help STW fight battles elsewhere, and would thus have to balance their desire for more money with their loyalty to the Clover kids.

STW had assured the boys that Pavaitaapu was their priority, but the Clovers wanted to pad their army with new recruits who did not have obligations to STW. The Suns did not consider these new recruits to form a third army, but rather stated that they were part of the Sunspots, and therefore the two groups of Sunspots were mixed together in each battalion.

The new enlistments helped the Sunspots grow at the expense of the conventional army, and the Sunspots soon enrolled over 1,100 soldiers. But neither STW nor the imperial government was willing to pay the salaries of these men, and therefore the Clover kids needed to pay the soldiers from their own personal wealth. Although the kids were rich, they knew that the Clovers could not afford to pay several thousand soldiers' salaries, assuming the Sunspot army were to grow to the size of the conventional army. They hoped that they could eventually be reimbursed from STW.

Nonetheless, most soldiers did not trust the Red Sun, who was still only 13 years old, to be a competent military leader, and therefore they remained in TLC's conventional army, while the Sunspots continued to be staffed mostly by STW's mercenaries.

Differences between the two armies

TLC's conventional military was focused on defending its newly won territory and preventing civil war. They did not seek to invade foreign nations. Their soldiers lived in fortified military bases and carried weapons when traveling in civilian territory. (Note that although all adult males were required to serve in the military, as in past eras many duties were noncombative, so the term "civilian" here includes adult males serving in noncombative roles such as building roads.)

By contrast, the Sunspots had no military bases and no fixed location, and they did not always travel in groups. The Sunspots dressed as civilians and did not reveal their identities to outsiders. Therefore, the Sunspots made much better spies than the traditional soldiers did. Most were graduates of STW, which had no fixed age for graduation, and therefore some were quite young. Nonetheless, most of the Sunspots were adults and all of them were male.

The Sunspots soon realized that they would need to spend much of their time protecting the Clover kids from the world around them, as the Clovers were mostly orphans, and those whose parents were alive rarely saw their parents. Since the Sunspots were employees of STW, they received a monthly salary from STW, and therefore the Clovers did not need to pay for their own bodyguards.

Occupation of the palace

Soon, the Sunspot army occupied the Clovers' palace so that the peasantry could not disturb the Clovers. This well-worn tactic was called bipus sapus, as if the soldiers were large rocks preventing both entry and exit.

But some Clovers came to believe that they were now captive in the palace, as the Sunspot bodyguards did not always grant the kids permission to travel. Soon, the variant phrase pipus sapus appeared, incorporating pipu, the Play word for the sun high in the sky. It was open to interpretation whether it referred to the Suns, the Sunspots, or both. Most Clovers agreed that they needed the Sunspots, however.

Early actions of the king and royals

Contacts with Memnumu

Meanwhile, through STW's trade routes, the Sun had been writing letters to a girl his age, Šasuasa, a military leader ruling in the eastern Play state of Šanaampu. She had already established contact with Tata a few years earlier, when she had been younger, and had sent children who were younger still into Tata to clear out territory for future Play habitation by spreading plagues among the locals. Despite living more than 3,000 miles apart, the two young leaders were able to exchange contacts intermittently through STW's trade routes, of which they were at the extreme opposite ends.

The Slimes and Cold Men had until recently been part of the same political party and had shared a military. They had recently severed ties, and had come to live so far apart geographically that neither was involved in the other's military conflicts. But the Cold Men were at war with the Players, and some Slimes came to worry that STW's trade with the Players would pull the Slimes into a new war against their longtime allies the Cold Men.

Developments in Anzan

The titular capital city of The Little Country was Šaapausu, located in Anzan, which was now usually referred to as "Inner Anzan" or by reviving its old name of Vaamū.

Inner Anzan had remained a democracy, but the occupied territories of Tata and Baeba were allowed to disobey the central government in the event that the people of Inner Anzan democratically voted to disown the occupied territories or to extend democracy to them. Thus, Baeba needed a king to wield this right to disobey.

The Slimes were not surrendering their old territories, but they had brought most of their land army to Baeba, and this army had enrolled most of the Slimes' male population, meaning that although the soldiers' wives and other relatives had been quick to follow them in, there were many who had been captured by Raspara or other armies on the way, which meant that the Slimes' population in Baeba was disproportionately male and the Slimes' population in Inner Anzan was almost entirely women, children, and frail elderly people. Women and children could not vote,[6] so the democracy fell into the hands of the relatively few adult males still left in Anzan, most of whom were not part of the Slime.

Relations between the king and Parliament

The Slimes set up a one-party democracy in Baeba Swamp; only enrolled Slimes could vote. The Slimes said that even this democracy was merely symbolistic, intended to produce bills that the king could choose whether to accept or not. The Slimes pondered converting their true democracy in Inner Anzan to the same system, knowing that one of their weakest points had been that minorities had been allowed to vote in the democracy, and had nearly always ganged up on the Slimes in order to vote for whichever proposals would weaken them the most. By this time, most of Inner Anzan was controlled by the Cold Men, originally the same party as the Slimes, but who had now reached an ambiguous status, allowing overlapping party membership, such that it was legally unresolved whether the Cold Men and Slimes were the same party or not.

But most Slimes expected to lose control of Inner Anzan entirely within a few years, as they had been unable to control their home territory even when they had their full population in Anzan, and now they had merely a small remnant of that population consisting mostly of women and children who were trying to get out but were blocked by the aggressive armies of their political enemies.

Furthermore, those who were literate and had access to written media from the Crystals living in Baeba now knew that although for 40 years the Slimes had been everyone else's easy victims, now that they had Baeba, they were pouring out all 40 years of bottled emotion upon the helpless and innocent victims they found living there. Thus, the Slimes migrating from Anzan received little sympathy even from the traditionally softer armies such as the Crystals and the Bubbles.

First Clover War

Orphanhood crisis

Second wave of arrivals

By this time, another 500 children, largely orphans, had fled into the Clover Castle, Šampunu Tuŋes, and the Sun had decided to accept them as Clovers. Like the first wave, these Clovers were very rich, having inherited wealth from their deceased parents, and in some cases having earned wealth on their own through early progress in STW's school system.

The arrival of so many new children led to overcrowding, and the children had to sleep on the floor most nights. They rotated their sleeping arrangements so that the new arrivals would not feel inferior to the original wave. New adults had not arrived with them; the Clovers still had slaves, but the ratio was not as it had earlier been. The Clovers wanted to ask their slaves to build them a larger Castle, but the slaves now could barely keep up with the children's basic needs and had little time to spare on such projects. Thus the Clovers, the richest people in their nation, had living standards comparable to slaves and, unlike slaves, had to pay hundreds of bodyguards just for the right to keep on living in their overcrowded Castle.

Third wave of arrivals

Meanwhile, STW had dumped thousands of younger orphans into Mutanapana. Unlike the earlier groups, these children had no money of their own, nor ties to families with money. STW's leadership warned the Clovers against adopting these children, saying that the wider society of Pavaitaapu needed to do that, and that STW realized that the Clovers were overburdened already and was not trying to make their life even worse. But as the Clovers watched the orphans on the hill living even harder lives than their own, they promised each other to work together to help better the situation of the orphans. Thus, the Clovers did not seek to join political parties dominated by the issues of the wider adult world.

There were many adults in Pavaitaapu, but the only adults in Mutanapana were the Sunspots and the slaves. The Sunspots did not want to take care of young children and needed the slaves for other tasks, so they realized that they would need to either pay young TLC women to adopt the orphans or to force women into Mutanapana, creating yet more overcrowding, and make both the women and the orphans into slaves.

STW did not expect the 500 Clover kids to care for the needs of the now more than 5,000 younger kids who were living just outside the Castle. They merely chose the location because it was one of the few locations STW could securely access, and was difficult to invade from the outside areas of Pavaitaapu. Their intent was that the women of Pavaitaapu, who were mostly slaves for the Slime soldiers who had recently invaded, would adopt these orphans, and by so doing, help pay off the Slimes' debt to STW. STW did not bother with the question of whether the women would be nursing the orphans while still enslaved or whether they would be freed first; they left that up to the Slimes.

STW offered to forgive about Ξ27,000 of debt (more for younger children, less for older) for each orphan that a Slime family adopted, although since they claimed the Slimes owed STW more than Ξ1 billion, even adopting the entire orphan population (STW claimed they had more than 20,000) would only pay off about half of the debt. STW nonetheless hoped that if they could at least unload the orphans, they would be able to derive the remaining payments indirectly by controlling the government of Pavaitaapu.

Economic conflicts

The 6,000 adult men working for STW corporation supplied most of the basic needs the Slimes and others in Pavaitaapu needed to get by, and had helped them quickly construct buildings to live in. This pushed the population even further in debt to STW, and because STW was transnational, the Slimes knew that if they chose to simply betray STW by refusing to pay the debt, STW would pressure the nations around them to send in their armies to occupy Pavaitaapu and put the Slimes into slavery to pay the debt.

But many Slimes believed that by refusing to pay their debts, they would only be giving STW what it deserved, since STW had just two years earlier forced the Slimes (then called Pioneers) into a war whose only purpose was to financially enrich STW. On this basis, the Slimes argued that the money STW had gained from this war really belonged to the Slimes.

The Slime military commanders in the imperial army planned to attack STW and take their slaves, even knowing that it would immediately lead to a wider war, and even knowing that their economy was still partially dependent on STW for basic necessities. They did not share this plan with the Sunspots, knowing that the Sunspots would likely side with STW and could give outside armies advance notice of the coming war.

Raspara-Slime battles

Word of the plan leaked out, however, and STW's Base 44, located further out in the deserts, responded by selling weapons to Rasparas to use against the Slimes.

The Raspara realized that the Golden Sun was a powerful ruler, and that he belonged to both the Slimes and to STW. But STW allowed its graduates to become mercenaries, even taking on missions that could harm STW. Thus, when the king realized his two party loyalties were at war with each other, he would need to pick a side, and the Raspara did not believe that they could prod him into siding with STW. Therefore the Raspara planned to attack the Slimes on their own. In May 4192,[7] STW signed an alliance with the Rasparas that stated that as long as the Rasparas did not attack STW, STW would sell weapons at low prices to the Raspara to use against the Slime.

Meanwhile, the Slimes didn't know about the treaty, so most did not plan on attacking STW even as they found themselves facing a surprise attack from the Raspara, whose bases were mostly outside Pavaitaapu and thus out of reach of the Slimes.

Expulsion of the king

Slimes turn against STW

However, opinions soon began to change.

The Pioneer army that had given rise to the Slimes had just fought a brutal war against Tata and its ruling Matrix party. Though the Pioneers had lost many soldiers in this war, in the end they had won, and signed a treaty consigning the Matrixes to be slaves for the Pioneers and their allies. Many Matrixes had escaped the conquering army, and other enemies of the Pioneers had become Matrixes in the aftermath in the war to support the group they saw as being unfairly victimized. Therefore, the Matrix army still existed, and many Matrixes now lived to the west of Pavaitaapu, in the core of Baeba Swamp. (Tata had been to the east.)

When the Slimes set up their new government, they decided to tolerate these new Matrixes, since they were not at war with the Slimes, and because the Slimes and Matrixes had some enemies in common. However, the Slimes insisted that they have full control over their own territory, and the Parliament decided that they no longer wanted to allow Matrixes within their territory. The Parliament passed a bill expelling all immigrants, Matrixes, and STW members from the Little Country, and authorizing the army to kill anyone who refused to leave.

Order to leave Pavaitaapu

Because the Golden Sun, the king of the Little Country, belonged to STW, the Parliament's new bill had just expelled the king and nearly all of the people who helped him rule. The Slime Parliament offered the king a choice: either quit STW, flee the country, or face execution alongside the commoners. Since all of the king's wealth was derived from STW, they were sure he would not take that option. Thus they effectively were offering him a choice between fleeing the country, to fend for himself in the chaotic Anchor Empire, or presenting himself for execution.

The Slime Parliament confirmed that their threats also applied to the more than 500 Clover kids living with the king in his Castle, even though nearly all were orphans and had no reasonable chance of surviving on their own in the Anchor Empire. The Parliament had no direct way of communicating with the kids, but expected that they would probably be fighting their bodyguards first, and would be able to explain the situation safely to the Clover kids once their bodyguards had been slain.

The Slimes had never learned about the earlier secret Raspara-STW treaty because they had only ever seen Raspara soldiers attacking them. Therefore, while the Slimes were already at war with the Raspara, they believed their new attack against STW and the Matrix was preemptive.

Clover reaction

In response to this, the king and his best friend the Red Sun joined the Soap Bubbles, fired all Slimes from the government, and banished the Slime from the Little Country. Since the Slimes lived only in the Little Country, this new declaration made them stateless. And since most of the free population belonged to the Slime party, the king had just created a nation with almost no citizens other than the young Clovers living in their castle on Mutanapana Hill. He refused to consider the Slimes' slaves citizens because he did not have access to those slaves himself; they were working for the Slimes, even if against their will.

Nearly all of the Clovers belonged to STW, and the king assured his fellow Clovers that he would not force them to reject their Slime party membership. The king hoped that in the long run, the Slimes would mend their ties with the Clovers and again submit themselves to royal rule. But in the mean time, they hoped to pull in allies from the Soap Bubbles, the party that they had joined when they expelled the Slimes.

Soap Bubble propaganda

The Bubbles had been opposed to the Slime government since its creation months earlier and had called both TLC and its predecessor (Anzan) "the Empire". They supported STW and wanted STW to overthrow the government. The young Clovers promised that the name TLC would remain in use and was not tied to the Slime party which they now opposed.

Outsiders said the Soap Bubbles, despite their long history, were now no more than a front for the STW corporation and its slaveholders. But the Bubbles were descended from people who had fled into the deserts even before the STW corporation was founded.

The Bubbles, meanwhile, had flatly refused the Zenith's petition for peace in early 4192, and now the Soap Bubbles were fighting the Zenith first and foremost, even though they were still at war with the Crystals and the Matrix. Thus, a three-sided war still existed; the Crystal and Matrix were united (for the time) on one side, but the Soap and the Zenith were still arch-enemies.

Preparations for civil war

The king and his friends, the Clovers, believed that their Sunspot army was trustworthy and would not defect to the Slimes, even though many Sunspots still claimed Slime party membership. Since the Clover leadership consisted entirely of young people with no military training, the Sunspots were the only means of defense they had against the enemies around them, and indeed, the Sunspots were the only armed adult force in the country which was not at war with them. While they were still allied with STW, they knew that STW would not risk its entire army fighting a war over a territory so simultaneously small and powerful as Pavaitaapu, knowing that the imperial army by itself was twice the size of STW's.

Legal consequences

The king did not want to deal with legal loopholes and technicalities. Rather than expel the people who had expelled him, he declared that the only legal citizens in the Little Country were STW members, and to affirm one's loyalty to the Little Country, one must join STW. But he still insisted that the power to rule remained with him, and that STW as a whole would not be taking control of the Little Country. The king did not take his own declaration seriously, as he knew that most members of the Sunspots were not part of STW, and that those who were, being adults, were not bound by STW.

By these declarations, the Suns and the Slimes had expelled each other, and each claimed the right to rule the same Little Country. The vast majority of the population belonged to the Slimes, with the STW population consisting primarily of soldiers such as the Sunspots and transitory STW employees who did not bother with the question of whether they were citizens or not.

Sunspot purge

Earlier, when the nation had been united, the royal Sunspot army had enrolled soldiers who were loyal to the Slime party but believed that the Red Sun would make a better military commander, despite his youth, than the leaders of the traditional Slime army. Now, the Red Sun was worried that at least some of these men might rebel and attack him, and so he ordered a moratorium on new enlistments to the Sunspots, and expelled all known Sunspots who had maintained membership in the Slime party.

Because the Sunspots were geographically dispersed and lived as civilians, there was no feasible means for the Red Sun to track down the pro-Slime members of his army. He therefore declared that they were to be seen as enemy soldiers, and ordered that any ex-Sunspots who wished to escape the Slime party surrender their weapons first so that the remaining Sunspots could take their weapons as their own. Then, the Red Sun ordered the Sunspots to assassinate all of the ex-Sunspots who had remained in the Slime party and had not heeded his warning to surrender.

The Red Sun understood that the Sunspots would not simply assassinate all of the purged members all at once, but would likely rather pick them off bit by bit, when they were weak and vulnerable. This was the Sunspots' preferred method of attack.

The Sunspots' attacks on their ex-members did not trigger the Slimes' conventional army to attack the Sunspots in revenge, even though these targets were Slimes. This was largely because the Slimes feared negative publicity from the nations around them if they were to endorse a war against the bodyguards of the children in the Clover Castle, which would leave the children defenseless. But since this was not a valid reason for the Slime Parliament to ignore attacks against their people, they were forced to expel the Sunspots from the Slime party even though the ones being expelled were precisely the Sunspots most loyal to the Slime party. This action left the pro-Slime Sunspots defenseless as well.

Sun-Shadow meeting

The Slimes had been a majority in the government, and therefore their government survived the expulsion largely intact, and they continued on as if nothing had happened. They appointed a new king, The Shadow (Matuanappa), to rule them the way the Golden Sun had. Matuanappa was a traditional politician who had served many years in the army and then come to rule in the government. He hoped to meet the boy king in person so that they could talk about what had happened, with the intent that he would convince the boy to submit to the Slimes' rule and abandon dual loyalties.

The Shadow still did not know of the earlier Raspara-STW pact, which was still in effect, and had therefore brought the Soap Bubbles into an alliance with the Raspara. The Shadow therefore went into the meeting intending to apologize for his party's preemptive attack on STW, but then to pry the Sun back to his side by showing that his ties to STW would prevent him from peacefully ruling any country dominated by non-STW members.

Debate setting

The Golden Sun agreed to meet with the Shadow. The two kings planned to meet in a heavily guarded fortress in Soap Bubble territory. The Shadow stated that he would allow the boy to arrive first, so that he would not fear a trap, and to travel with bodyguards as he typically did, so he would not fear a physical assault. The Shadow also encouraged the Sun to bring other allies to the debate table with him, such that the Shadow would be standing alone and might have to answer questions from many opponents. He believed this strategy would actually weaken the Sun, figuring that his allies would be divided among themselves, and would give way to the Shadow as the only consistent party in the room.

However, when he arrived, he was greeted by only the Golden Sun and his best friend, the Red Sun. The boys welcomed the man into the debate room, where they both sat down near the entry door. The man sat down facing them across the table at the seat prepared for him.

Apology

The Shadow apologized for the attack on STW, not realizing that the boys had seen it coming.

Offer of partition

At the outset of the meeting, the Shadow recognized the Suns' right to rule, but also his own; he proposed that the two royal dynasties split the territory of Pavaitaapu between them, according to the best estimation of each side's scope of military control. Since the Sunspots had attracted defectors from the conventional army and were already a formidable force, the Shadow offered to let the boys control about one third of the district of Pavaitaapu, enough that he felt it would be recognized as a district in its own right and not merely a toy for Pavaitaapu. He proposed that the boys call their new district Mutanapana after the hill on which their Castle had been built, though the district spanned an additional 3,000 square miles. The Shadow showed the boys a map with what he felt were the ideal borders of the two districts. The boys' side of the district was to the north, because that was the location of the Castle and because it was easier for STW to access the Castle from the north although they had roads into both northern and southern Pavaitaapu.

Clover section

The Shadow's proposal would leave about 9,000 adults and 13,000 children under the jurisdiction of the Clovers, with the assumption that the Sunspots would keep both the adults and the children well fed and safe from harm. The area contained relatively few slaves, and was demographically younger than the rest, as the Shadow figured that adults were less likely to obey child rulers whereas small children would look up to and perhaps even prefer them. Many of these children were orphans and thus would not be getting their political opinions from their parents.

The boys' terrain was the highest and most mountainous area, though the climate was similar in both regions. It did not border Baeba Swamp, except inasmuch as the rest of Pavaitaapu could be considered part of Baeba Swamp.

Shadow section

The remainder of Pavaitaapu's population, about 70,000 people, would remain under control of the Slime party, with the Shadow as their first king. It consisted primarily of complete families, with few orphans, but many of the families owned slaves whose marriages had been recently broken up. The Shadow knew that the STW corporation was trying to get families to adopt their orphans, which, if realized, would mean that many of the children living in the Clover district would move south to the Shadow district, making the population of the Clover district even smaller.

The Shadow admitted that this division would seem unfair to the boys at first glance, and so he asked the boys to concede that they were not truly equals of the adult Slime population and could not expect to control half of the country, let alone all of it, by themselves.

Objections to partition

The boys had not been expecting an offer of partition and had not prepared a quick answer. They were both taken aback by his claim that they were not equal partners, and that he was expecting them to both answer the same question without consulting each other to agree on an answer. The Red Sun stepped back from the table to push at the entry door, wondering if the Shadow had told soldiers to follow him in order to trap the boys in the building until they agreed to give up all of their power. But there was nobody outside besides the boys' own bodyguards.

Nevertheless, they realized that they might be walking into a trap: the Shadow had asked the first question, and seemed eager to ask many more questions. The boys wondered if this meant that the entire debate would consist of the Shadow making a carefully preconceived argument and then the boys hurrying to construct a counterargument. The Golden Sun was unable to speak and so the Red Sun asked the man directly what he had done to consider himself superior, and what he meant by that.

Claim of popular support

The man answered immediately, saying he had never claimed to be superior, but that he had the support of the common people, whereas the Clovers clung to power only because STW had forced the Slimes to accept them, and that STW might simply betray the boys once the Slimes finished paying off their debt. He claimed the partition would bring the truth to light, figuring that if they put the bulk of the Slime population back under Slime control, STW would lose interest in the project and would betray the boys immediately, or else stand firm and promise to support the boys even if they had little to gain from it.

Doubts of popular support

The Suns knew it was absurd to claim that the common people of Pavaitaapu supported the Slimes and their new king when they were outnumbered 5 to 1 by their captive Lenian slaves. Both kings ruled by force, and both kings knew that they did not have the support of the people as a whole.

Matrixes join the coalition

The Matrix leadership believed that Pavaitaapu was important for the Matrixes to win, as it was a district of Baeba Swamp with a rich natural environment, and thus by winning Pavaitaapu, they would have a section of Baeba Swamp all to themselves. They could also potentially gain control of parts of Nama, since the Slimes also claimed jurisdiction over large areas of Nama, which in a deliberate irony they had contained within the nation they called the Little Country. Since the Slime army was represented nowhere outside Pavaitaapu, the Matrixes planned to encircle them. Then, if the Matrixes could defeat the Slimes, they would seek full control of Pavaitaapu.

The Matrixes had actually been exerting efforts in this war for several months, but only became able to use propaganda once the war was well underway.

Lilypad Association meetings

Contact with the Players and Pine Tree Planters

In August 4192, a young girl named Stargazer defected from the Players to a group of children called the Rash, and then the Rashes carried her westward towards Clover territory. They did not use STW's much more convenient trade route because the Players had already blocked their path in two different places and the Rash boys knew that the Players were actively trying to take her back to Play territory to imprison her.

Meteor and Waterfall

Now two girls named Meteor (Play Titapīm) and Waterfall (Žavapūvīu) rose to prominence as diplomats and began providing advice to both the Clovers and what remained of the Cold Men. Waterfall was just nine years old, and had not been part of the original Clover dynasty; rather, she was an orphan who had been admitted to the Castle during the second wave of migration and had earned the king's respect over a period of months. The king had grown increasingly distrustful of adults and had begun considering investing power in children younger than himself so that they would not outgrow him and become manipulative. Meteor was thirteen years old, however, showing that the king did not exclusively rely on the very young for advice.

Matrix appeals to Clovers and Sunspots

The Matrixes wanted to seize power in the Little Country by gaining the kids' trust and then quickly cutting them off from access to basic needs so that they would realize their dependency on the Matrixes and then surrender their power. But they knew that they had at most a few years to accomplish their mission, because the Clovers would not be so easily pushed around once they reached adulthood, nor could they be counted on to step aside for their younger classmates.

Sincere diplomacy

Although rejected by most foreign diplomats, the Matrixes were still sometimes invited to meetings hosted by STW. From contacts with STW, the Matrixes had learned that the Clovers were just one of several nations run by children, and that the adults being ruled out of these nations had quickly moved from attempts at reconciliation to diplomatic intimidation, and then to abductions, and within months to combat missions against the children.

Comparison with Cooks

On the other end of the Little Country, the young soldiers in the Cook and Rash coalition armies had suffered tens of thousands of casualties, including over a thousand deaths, in a war against the two adult armies of the Players and the Seeds. The Cook-Rash coalition soldiers were mostly between ten and thirteen years old, and preferred to fight by swinging their weapons at their opponents' hips, but had so far captured only a few dozen enemy soldiers. In one battle, the children desperately threw snowballs at the opposing army's men, knowing that they stood no chance in close combat. Though the Matrixes praised the young soldiers as being the bravest people in the world, they said that bravery alone could not win a war. The children had also been unable to control their nation's surging crime problem as adult criminals such as the Tadpoles simply laughed at the young police officers' attempts to arrest them.

Private estimates of war deaths

Privately the Matrixes estimated that at least 7,600 children had died in Play labor camps in addition to the smaller number who had died in battle, and provided an upper bound for the labor camp deaths of about twice that number. The Matrixes therefore believed that the Cook-Rash coalition had lost a tenth of their population. The Matrixes themselves had killed about 15,000 Pioneers in a recent war, but the total population size had been much larger, and the deaths were entirely confined to soldiers. The Matrixes understood that the Cook and Clover children considered themselves soldiers as well, but privately could not accept the idea that children of such a young age could volunteer for military service in the same manner that adult men could, and therefore considered them to be equivalent to civilians.

The Matrixes planned to hide their much higher estimate of the death count from the Clovers, as they believed that the children would easily be able to imagine a thousand of their allies stabbed and crushed by larger adult soldiers on the battlefield, but would struggle to relate to ten thousand children dying of slow starvation in labor camps. The Matrixes believed that the number of deaths was not so important as the manner in which the children had died; while the Clovers were mostly orphans and had led difficult lives, even at the worst points in their lives most had not been in danger of starvation, because STW's orphanages were located close to their trade network, and STW had always prioritized the orphans over their own profits, having historically derived much of their support from their dedication to this promise. The Matrixes believed that the children in charge of the group, the ones who the Matrixes needed to reach emotionally, had never once in their lives been forced to go to bed hungry.

By contrast, even the best off among the Clovers understood violence. To ensure they described the situation properly to the young Clover diplomats, the Matrix leaders told their own diplomats to imagine fighting soldiers ten feet tall, and then to get no sympathy from outside powers when seeking help in such an obviously unfair war. The difference in size between the adults and the young Lilypad soldiers was not actually so stark, but the adult Play soldiers had other advantages, such as sharper weapons, much better armor, and the ability to change strategies whenever needed. Indeed, the children did not have armor at all, but had been forced to fight the Play soldiers while wearing their street clothes. Moreover, the Matrixes performed tests of strength on children and concluded that adult male soldiers would typically have about four times greater upper body strength than boys and girls of the same age as the Lilypad soldiers.

Explanation of situation

The Matrixes assembled their evidence and planned to convince the Clover children that they would be slain in battle if they did not find an adult protective power immediately. They also planned to claim that the first stage — attempts at reconciliation — had been available to the other children because at least some of the adults they were negotiating with were their own parents. But since the Clovers were mostly orphans, outside powers had no family ties, and may well skip directly to intimidation or even to violence.

Insincere diplomacy

Even as they prepared their arguments based on logic, the Matrixes turned to the same well-worn emotional intimidation tactics that they accused the other traditional adult powers of using. They attributed the other nations' failure to other factors, saying that perhaps the adults had simply never taken the children seriously as heads of state. The Matrixes would subvert this by treating the Clover children as absolute equals, respecting them and therefore expecting them to perform as well in any given situation as would a group of adults. By holding them to adult standards, the Matrixes could make diplomacy very stressful for the Clovers, and embarrass them whenever they did not overcome the behavior expected and appropriate for their age.

The Matrixes agreed to pretend the Clover rulers were in their natural place, and then force them to attend meeting after meeting with the Matrixes and other traditional adult groups, wearing them down intellectually, emotionally, and even physically, hoping that they would quickly give up and sign over their powers to the Matrixes before they realized that the Matrixes had never made such difficult demands of adult leaders.

East-west divide

The eastern Matrixes (the founding members) stressed the need for constant physical intimidation, repeatedly shaming the Clovers for being small and frail. They proposed tactics such as forcing the kids to move heavy stone chairs to sit at a table too high for them to rest their arms, choosing meeting sites that could only be reached by a long hike, and so on. Some of these tactics were well-known to the Matrixes and their forerunners, the Raspara, who had used them primarily against adults from tribes that tended towards a smaller adult male stature. The eastern Matrixes stated that the Clovers' lives were so controlled by adults already that they might completely miss the intellectual forms of intimidation.

However, the western Matrixes (mostly of Play ancestry) voted down this proposal, and because they outnumbered the eastern Matrixes, the eastern faction could not complain. They also threatened that if they noticed any Matrixes using crude physical intimidation tactics against the Clovers, they would simply point it out even if it cost the Matrixes a major diplomatic victory. The western Matrixes promised that although they would be very manipulative and selfish, all of the other outside powers had so far shown themselves to be even worse, and therefore the Matrixes, led by the western faction, could outsmart the Clover kids while winning their support for being the closest they had to an ally.

The east-west divide was a remarkable turn of play, since until recently the western Matrixes had been known for being even more cruel than the eastern faction, and for showing no particular sympathy towards children. It was the western Matrixes, running the sovereign nation of Tata, who had captured more than 100,000 slaves from the Play party and boasted that they could kill hundreds of slaves every day because they were forcing them to breed even faster than that. The change of positions was largely because those Matrix slaveowners had eventually lost their war and were either killed or enslaved themselves. The faction itself survived, and its members changed their tactics as they attracted new members with their propaganda.

Promise of military support

Despite their intent on ultimate betrayal, the Matrixes promised the Clovers that Matrix soldiers would fight on the front lines so that the Sunspots could dedicate themselves to protecting the young Clover leadership, but also encouraged the Sunspots to continue their practice of targeted assassinations, where individual Sunspot soldiers would kill Slime political leaders and even Slime civilians, rather than facing off against the Slime army. The Matrixes intended to keep this promise, and therefore position themselves as morally superior to the other outside powers, hoping to erase their reputation as the world's cruelest slaveowners.

Matrix propaganda aimed at traditional powers

The Matrixes believed that they could make the most headway by appealing to the young Clover diplomats, but also continued outreach towards traditional adult powers with strong militaries.

The STW corporation had so far been unable to extract any significant payment from the Slime Handlers who owed them so much money for their help in the war, and most of the Slimes had simply left the 5,000 orphans to fend for themselves on Mutanapana Hill. STW had another 15,000 orphans they were eager to drop off, but had held back from doing so until the first crop of orphans had found homes. STW realized that they would need the help of conventional armies if they were to regain the money owed to them.

Because they were desperate, STW signed an alliance with the Matrixes that made both of them much more powerful, but also allowed the Matrixes to penetrate STW with propaganda.

The Soap Bubbles joined in on this alliance too, meaning that STW, the Sunspots, the Raspara, the Matrixes, and the Soap Bubbles had all declared war against the Slimes, though none of the five partners in the coalition had committed their full force to the war.

Matrix appeals to STW

Though the Little Country was less than a year old, the Slimes had declared themselves to be the aboriginals of the territory, saying that they were merely reclaiming a small piece of the territory their ancestors had once controlled, and that it therefore belonged to them alone. The Slimes had therefore categorized the Matrixes, who had lived in the region decades earlier, as immigrants. They did not specifically categorize STW members as immigrants, indeed not even as a tribe, but the law ruling out the Matrixes had also ruled out all STW members regardless of ancestry. The Matrixes argued that this meant that the Slimes viewed STW members as foreigners too, and that they should have no sympathy for the Slimes.

The Matrixes also stated that because STW was a transnational corporation, they could not belong to a specific nation nor be a nation of their own. Therefore, the Matrixes said, STW needed to ally with a transnational party so that they could not be legally punished in various countries in which they had no means to fight back.

Appeals to Soap Bubbles

The Matrixes chose not to spend time on propaganda intended for the Soap Bubbles. Most Soap Bubbles lived in the deserts far south of Baeba, and had no reason to commit themselves to a war in a district in the northeast corner of Baeba. The Matrixes assumed that the few enrolled Soap Bubbles in Pavaitaapu were loyal to their king and that whatever helped the Matrixes control the king would help them control the Soap Bubbles.

Appeals to Moonshine

The Matrix believed that they could win the support of the pacifist nation of Moonshine by portraying the Matrixes as fighting for the weakest members in society, the ones who could not stand up for themselves. They would claim that oppressed parties such as the Crystals and Soap Bubbles were being slaughtered in Pavaitaapu, and then prove their case by sending Matrix soldiers in disguise to carry out the killings. Thus, the Matrixes hoped to lure the Moonshines into the war by creating a humanitarian crisis, and then abduct the Moonshine humanitarian workers once they were too far into Matrix territory to flee back out. The Matrixes then planned to restore slavery and position themselves as a ruling class once again. Most Matrixes promised to spare the Clovers from this fate, but they could not bind themselves to such a commitment because the Matrix party charter stated that the Matrixes needed no allies and therefore binding treaties could not exist.

Appeals to Slimes

The Matrix leaders planned to further outsmart the Slimes by blurring the distinction between them. They stated that despite their violent past, they had many ideological beliefs in common, chief among them being the idea that men should rule over women. The opposition to feminism was not the only belief they had in common, but the Matrixes believed it would be a strong motivator because the Slimes were locked out of feminist parties by this belief. Most of the other parties in the coalition army were neutral on this issue, so the Matrixes were able to ally with them even while reaching out to the Slimes.

Reaction to Cold Men's surrender

January 23, 4193

By this time, the Players had subdued the Cold Men, who despite their name had ended their war as a nation consisting entirely of children, as their small adult population had been attacked separately and had surrendered first. Quickly, rumors spread that as many as 30,000 child soldiers had been slaughtered by the Play soldiers, a death toll much higher than in most recent wars, both in absolute magnitude and as a proportion of their population; the Lilypad census had recorded around 120,000 children the previous year.

The Clovers could not confirm or deny these rumors, but they knew that they would not be hearing from the Cold Men again. The Clovers' earlier reaction to hearing the Matrixes' much smaller estimate — about 1,000 deaths and several thousand captured — had already brought many Clovers to the limit of their emotions, and they struggled to comprehend the news they now heard.

Trade with STW

Shipment of alcohol

The leaders of the STW corporation hoped that selling wine to the Clover kids could help them retain some means of controlling the king and the Clovers in their castle. They figured that wine addiction could help STW in three ways. First, the Clover kids would lose interest in wielding power if they were more interested in drinking wine each day, and would devolve important decisions to the adults in STW and the mostly STW-allied Sunspots. Also, the STW'ers could charge arbitrarily high prices for the wine, which the Clovers would pay with their inherited fortunes. This would lessen the kids' frustration at not being able to access the money they had earlier been told was securely theirs. Lastly, if STW could secure a lock on the wine supply, the Clovers would cling strongly to STW's politics and shun all of STW's enemies.

Use of alcohol

The Golden Sun became an erratic and abusive ruler.

Shortly after his 14th birthday (in late 4192), he began drinking palm wine (Play pūmačuaba, Late Andanese yusalahia, Leaper tăkʷa), which was illegal according to the Slime party constitution, and this law applied even to the king. Furthermore, the Soap Bubble party platform demanded that its members follow the laws of the nations they lived in, and so this law still applied to him even after he had joined the Soap Bubbles. But the king ignored this and continued to drink wine.

Because the Sun was very rich, he was able to buy this wine directly from STW, whose merchants had no interest in the laws. STW's leaders hoped

The Sun also shared the drink with his friends and acquaintances. The Sun and his friends soon came to refer to this wine as soap (bimamiba) because of its frothy texture. The cultural link between soap and alcohol ultimately derived from the Play party which had sixty years earlier seized power in Memnumu and outlawed the production of both substances.

Coalition army battles

Matrix position

The Matrixes worried that the Play army, having conquered the Lilypad heartlands and most of the other Lilypad territories, would come for the Clovers once the other armies had worn each other down. They believed that the Players had killed thousands of defenseless children, mostly through starvation but also through many brutal massacres in unfair battles where the adult Play soldiers had protective armor and the smaller child soldiers did not.

The Matrixes were reluctant to bring this up, however, for fear that their ally, STW, would be accused of abandoning the children to a cruel fate, potentially driving the coalition army apart. At the same time, they felt that if they did not mention the Players' war crimes at all, the young Clovers would feel that the Matrixes were just like other adults in that they did not take children's interests seriously, ignoring the world's bloodiest war simply because the Players had not yet threatened the Matrixes.

Effects of the new alliance

The Matrix-STW-Soap coalition army was very well organized, and the Slime could not defeat it. The Matrixes were the clear dominant force in this coalition, and held nearly all of the leadership positions in the command structure. They prepared for a conventional war as the Soap soldiers mostly took positions under Matrix commanders while STW formed private battalions and planned to focus on unconventional battles relying on the fact that, even in war, the Slimes still had not completely shut off trade with STW.

STW's private battalions

STW had divided its army into three. One division was the Sunspots, who had promised to obey the Red Sun and were still trusted by STW's leadership to do this. Another division was the unconventional mercenaries who planned to breach enemy lines by using their trade route and fight battles in enemy territory even knowing they were not as well armed as most other soldiers. Lastly they had their conventional army, still made of mercenaries, who relied on pure military force. This group was not controlled by the Matrixes and suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the Slime soldiers, although the Slimes could not destroy them either.

Matrixes take the lead

Although the Slimes had originally targeted the Sunspots first and foremost, the Slimes were surprised when they realized that Matrix soldiers were willingly putting themselves in the line of fire to defend the Sunspots and the Clovers, even though the Clovers did not have anything to give back.

East-West Matrix divide

The Matrixes had been founded in 4177 by Raspara who believed that the time for an all-out war of conquest had come, and that they would be able to trick their enemies into fighting other enemies and then in the end surrender all of their gains to the Matrix. Within months, many older people in Tata also joined the Matrixes. These people were mostly of Play ancestry, meaning that they were shorter but considered themselves physically hardy, and their women were taller than their men.

The Matrixes were a closed party, and held internal elections although they were not fully democratic. The original Matrix founders, living in the countryside well to the east of Baeba Swamp, therefore had to vote on whether to admit the Tataan Matrixes living to their west. They chose to do so, even knowing that, from then on, the western Matrixes would have equal rights and could potentially outvote the founding eastern faction.

June 4193 offensives

Note: The June date is approximate and fighting may have been sporadically present earlier.

STW supported the Sunspots. The Sunspots were responsible to the Red Sun only, and not to the wider STW military; STW explained that this was nothing new, since STW had always allowed its soldiers to act as mercenaries and thus fight private battles without the help of the wider STW military.

Most STW chiefs allowed the Sunspots and other Soap Bubble soldiers to take up positions in STW's fortified bases, which were geographically dispersed, even though many of these soldiers had not joined STW. This was an unprecedented action, as STW had always stressed that their forts were for STW's soldiers only, but the STW leadership had begun to divide internally, with some realizing that their strategy in the past had been disastrous. With STW's help, the Sunspots soon stationed soldiers to the west and south of the Slimes' district of Pavaitaapu, while other soldiers that had been stationed further south moved closer in.

Because the Slimes had earlier promised never to invade the core of Baeba Swamp, they could not stop the Sunspots from stationing soldiers there, and Baeba's ruling Leaper party refused to intervene in favor of the Slimes. Since the Slimes were mostly adult male soldiers, the Leapers clarified that the core territories of Baeba Swamp were closed to all adult male Slimes.

Attacks against the Slime

Around June 4193, the Sunspots attacked all Slimes simultaneously, winning their battle despite the Slimes' superior numbers. Other Soap Bubbles joined in on this war, but they mostly obeyed the Sunspots' commands because they felt the Sunspots had been better tested in war.

Nonetheless, the Soap Bubbles believed that they, too, were a rising military power. They claimed that the Slimes were too weak to run a nation, and had only won their war last year because they had been fighting the weakest of all possible enemies — escaped slaves — and the Soap Bubbles promised that the Slimes would never again have a nation of their own.

Peace treaty

Soon, a peace treaty was signed ending the war. The winning side was a coalition army consisting of the Sunspots, the Soap Bubbles, STW, the Matrixes, and the Raspara, while on the opposite side there was just the Slimes. Moonshine also sent a diplomat to sign the treaty, and stated that they were part of the Matrix-STW coalition, although because they had sent no soldiers, they accepted that they would not be allowed to help write the treaty.

The new treaty restored the Golden Sun to the throne of the Little Country as the undisputed king, with the Red Sun retaining his control over his private military. The new government was just as it had been before: a parliamentary monarchy in which the king had absolute power, but in which multiple parties were electable to Parliament and could gently pull the king in one direction or another since the king was free to switch parties at any time.

Nonetheless, and to the surprise of the watching world, the Matrixes pulled their army out of Pavaitaapu after the peace treaty, allowing the Sunspots to become the official army of the newly restored nation.

The Matrixes were ceding control of the very territory they had fought for, and had planned to claim as exclusively theirs, because events in the other districts of Baeba Swamp had forced them to compromise with other outside parties. The Leapers had demanded that STW's original wishes be respected: STW had assigned that territory to the Slimes, the Slimes had accepted their new king, and the king was not a Matrix.

Clovers return to power

Adoption of political ideas

Though a monarchy, the Clover kids began adopting some ideas from the nations around them. The king believed that he could find good leaders among the Clovers if they ran political campaigns for the offices they sought, and in some cases, could ask for new offices to be created. The king promised that the whole Clover party membership could vote for these leaders, and that he would not be able to overrule these elections.

As king, the Sun still wielded absolute power, including the ability to disobey the leaders he appointed; but he was not the leader of the Clovers, which were still officially tied to STW. These were Clover-internal elections in which no other people, not even the Clovers' own bodyguards, could vote. But they were not running for party-internal offices, but rather the offices that helped the king exert his power over his territory.

This was unlike the system in the first year of the kingdom, in which the king appointed people directly to positions and did not hold private elections, let alone public ones in which other parties could vote. He was aware that the young Cook leaders had attempted to run a multiparty democracy but had been so quickly overwhelmed by their enemies that within months the Cook political apparatus was irrelevant and they were forced to devote all their attention to war. Believing that this meant democracy made leaders weak, the Golden Sun reaffirmed that he would never turn the Clover nation into a democracy, and that the Clovers' internal party elections and campaigns were not a compromise as they did not yield any Clover power to the other parties.

First campaigns

The Clovers' membership consisted of orphans and runaways. Therefore, they had no strong emotional attachments to the adult parties around them, and unlike the Cooks, made no attempts to reconcile with the Slime army which had promised to spare them but was attacking their allies in the coalition army.

However, the Clovers had received much less political education than the Cooks, apart from the king himself and the leaders he had appointed early on. Therefore most Clovers had little interest in politics and the voters could not produce the sort of questions that would help distinguish one candidate from another.

Therefore the Clovers seeking political office allowed entry at their campaign speeches to adults from the various coalition parties, with a preference for their bodyguards, the Sunspots, who were the most trusted among all of the non-Clover groups.

Crowding events

However, adults soon flooded these events, and because the Sunspots were armed, the newcomers were also armed, so the children felt intimidated and unwelcome at their own events.

Worried that fights would break out, the king said that attendees who carried weapons, even the Sunspots, could not ask questions. This reduced the fears of an uncontrollable fight but adults still rushed to the front of the crowd and paid little attention to the children in the crowd, who became fewer in number as they were now seeking to meet with their candidates in private venues. Those Clovers who did ask questions often had to wave their arms to be seen amidst the crowd of adults. In desperation, the king banned all adults except the Sunspot bodyguards from attending the meetings, saying that the Clover kids were smart enough to ask questions on their own and simply hadn't realized it. Even then, the adult attendees disobeyed the king until the bodyguards began applying the new rule by force.

New Soap Bubble army

With the Slime army destroyed, the Golden Sun announced the creation of a new traditional army alongside the Sunspots, but conceded privately that this was a formality, as he trusted his friend and preferred to have an army that was bound by pledge to obey the military plans of the king rather than an independent strategist who made his own plans. The king claimed that their recent victory over the Slimes proved that the Suns were intelligent military strategists as well as good political leaders.

Because the Clovers did not identify as a political party and the Lilypad identity was meaningless at this point, the new army was considered to belong to the Soap Bubbles, the party to which the king and his friend the Red Sun officially belonged.

Attacks against the Crystals

Then, the Golden Sun declared that because their nation was run by the Soap Bubbles, only the Soap Bubbles would be allowed to carry weapons. The Crystals, though closely allied with the Soap Bubbles, would have to surrender their weapons to the Soap and allow the Soap army to become stronger. The Crystals agreed to this request, thanking the Golden Sun for asking them himself rather than delegating the decision to the Red Sun.

Battle of Ŋaišauša

Once the collection of weapons was complete, the Red Sun sent the Sunspots after the Crystals, and in just a single battle, he killed or drove out nearly all of the Crystals from the Little Country.

Repercussions of the battle

As worries spread about a wider war, the Red Sun promised that he would never attack Crystals outside the Little Country, and that the Soap Bubbles living outside the Little Country were not bound to the new war.

Crystals declare war

The Crystals now believed that the Suns were not legitimate Soap Bubbles, because although they had claimed that party identity, they held no special positions within the Soap Bubble hierarchy and had not implemented Soap-style laws in the Little Country.

The Crystals demanded that the Soap Bubbles formally release a statement ejecting the Suns from their party, but the Soap Bubbles refused to do so. In response, the global Crystal party declared war on the Soap Bubbles for the first time in their long shared history. The whole Crystal party had voted on this, meaning that the Crystals' entire male population was now obligated to invade Pavaitaapu to fight a war against the Sunspots, the Soap Bubbles, and any Clovers who did not immediately surrender. The tropical Crystal armies had no feasible means of getting to Baeba, however.

Refugee rescue program

July 17, 4193

The king's second wife, Right Arm, had by this time fled into Moonshine's state of Hōki, traditionally known for hosting war refugees from across the world. The state had been hosting refugees for hundreds of years.

Now, Right Arm wanted to attract the Crystals into Hōki as well, saying that the Crystals were under attack by not just the Slimes, but now also the Soap Bubbles, and that the Clover kids were complicit in this new turn of events.

The Crystals were seeking to move to Tulip Lake, the site of an ancient Crystal settlement.[8]

Tulip Lake was more than 2,000 miles to the east, but a river originating in the Clover highlands flowed directly into Tulip Lake, and therefore, all the Crystals needed to complete their journey were boats and enough weapons to defend themselves if they were to run into enemies on the way.

However, the Crystals contemplated taking a longer route that would first have them descend the mountains to the north, in Tata, and then travel northeast in boats along the icebound coast of the northwest region where people lived in low population densities and considered themselves more bound to their tribe than to their political ideology. After 2,000 miles of this, they would arrive at the border of Moonshine, and then move on from there to the refugee state of Hōki (which did not have coastline).

Both routes would have the Crystals risk running into the Matrixes, as they knew that the Matrixes almost certainly had control of the upper reaches of the river, and that it would be difficult or impossible for the Crystals to make the journey downslope to reach Tata and then climb back up again to follow the river course at a place east of where the Matrixes were concentrated. But Tata was the Matrix homeland anyway, so both paths put them through Matrix territory.

Sunspots take control of trade

Since the Slime party no longer had any means by which to enforce its laws, the Sunspots declared that alcohol was now legal, although they did not go so far as to write a new constitution of their own. They also did not identify themselves as a political party, as they still had multiple affiliations amongst themselves, including STW membership, and STW still denied its members the right to join political parties.

By the second half of 4193, the Sunspot army was supplying wine for the Clover Castle, having blocked STW's path to Mutanapana Hill. The Sunspots were the ones guarding the castle, and they resented STW's attempt to keep control (even though some Sunspots were still STW members themselves). The Sunspots encouraged the Clover kids to drink more wine and offered them other exotic drinks at higher prices. Many of the youngest members took to the drink quickly, and the king himself drank the most of all, but his best friend the Red Sun refused to drink wine, saying he needed a clear mind.

The Sunspots were able to secure control of the wine trade because wine palms grew abundantly in TLC and they did not need to rely on roads. They bought the wine from local farmers, paying them handsomely, all while dressed in civilian clothes. The kids then paid the Sunspots just as they had been paying STW.

Some farmers knew that their wine was going to feed the Clover kids, but the Sunspots knew that they could not seize control of a palm plantation and force slaves to produce the wine because their identities would be revealed and they would be attacked.

In Baeba Swamp, it was common for children to drink palm wine, and so the Clover kids were not doing anything outrageous by the standards of their home nation (Baeba still claimed jurisdiction over Pavaitaapu). But they were mostly of Play ancestry and had grown up in an empire in which all alcohol had been illegal for both children and adults.

Matrix appeals for power

Appeals to masculine imagery

The Matrixes positioned themselves as the natural ally of the Swamp Kids and enemy of the Crystals, since they supported a male power structure whereas the Crystals were led by women. Since the nation still consisted primarily of Slimes, the Matrixes felt that they would be the best leaders for the nation. At this time, the Suns still wanted to bring the Slimes back until their control peacefully.

Comparison to the Sunspots

By comparison, the Sunspots were a traditional adult army that dutifully obeyed the Red Sun and considered the Clovers to be legitimate rulers. They drew power from this position, since the young rulers trusted no other adults, and therefore the Sunspots were always called in whenever the Clovers needed to travel or otherwise needed protection from the commoners and from outside armies. The imperial army by contrast had an independent command structure and was not given this privileged position.

Corruption of the Clovers

Marriage to Soapy

The Sun soon married an orphan girl named Papipu, who represented her name in foreign languages as Soapy.[9]

Birth of Pasīpas

In October 4193, a boy named Pasīpas was born to a young family of Leaper-speaking STW employees in TLC. This name was considered to be at once Leaper and Play.

Marriage to Bubbly

Having divorced his wife yet again, the Sun married another girl named Navutampi, who referred to herself as Bubbly. Her name was a reference to the grape wine that had once been common in Memnumu before the Players and other parties adopted strict economic controls and banned the production of wine. Both the Sun and his wife still only had access to palm wine, however, since the Sunspots were their new supplier, and they kept their soldiers clustered tightly around TLC, where only palm trees grew.

Wine parties

The king and his new wife both enjoyed drinking wine, and had some wine with every dinner late at night. They continued holding parties in the Castle for the other Clovers to attend, as well. All of this was funded with their own private fortunes, and therefore did not cost the citizens of TLC any money, but the royals knew that their funds would one day run out. One jug of wine cost about Ξ250; this was an international currency used for price comparisons; here, a person with an annual income Ξ20,000 was considered moderately wealthy. Thus, the Clovers' wine jugs cost more than the entire salary of most of the people they ruled over.

By this time, the king was so addicted to alcohol that nearly all of the important decisions were being made by his adult bodyguards, the Sunspots, or by the Red Sun, who still had not started drinking wine. The Red Sun was still in control of the Sunspots, so when the Sunspots chose to act independently, they claimed their authority derived from him. Nonetheless, some Sunspot actions were spontaneous, and a power struggle arose within the Sunspots: those who acted independently of the Red Sun had different opinions, whereas those who promised to absolutely obey the Red Sun had only one opinion. Therefore the fight was between the groups who disobeyed, and the Red Sun became even closer to the Sunspots who promised unconditional obedience.

Because the bodyguards sometimes disobeyed the Red Sun, the other kids realized that they were losing their respect for the Clovers, and that even staying sober would not necessarily leave the Clovers a path to power. Moreover, the bodyguards also drank wine themselves, though they were required to put away their armor and weapons first. This led the other kids to increasingly take up drinking alongside their king and his bodyguards.

Crystal refugees flee

NOTE, due to the period of migration, parts of this section might happen --after-- the battle of Paafauta and thus would need to be split.

Refugees reach Hōki

The Crystal refugees arrived in Hōki after a months-long journey.

Arrival at Tulip Lake

Unexpectedly, the migrating Crystals collided with the Scorpions who were also fleeing a certain defeat in their own homeland. Both groups knew of the lake and believed that they could build themselves a new habitat on the lakeshore, even knowing that other groups of refugees were also concentrated along the lakeshore. The Scorpions were children, but unlike the Cold Men and Clovers, they were led by a small group of adults, whom they dutifully obeyed. The Crystals knew little else about the Scorpions.

Crystal-Scorpion treaty

The Crystals and Scorpions agreed to share the territory along the lake, even though each group was suspicious of the other.

Crystals reduced

Battle of Paafauta

November 4, 4193

Not all Crystals had been able to escape the Little Country, and even many of those who did have the opportunity had chosen to remain. By this time, all Little Country citizens identifying as Crystals were women or young children, since the global Crystal Parliament controlled their entire male population, and had ordered the men to retreat eastward to ensure a safe journey for the Crystal population as a whole, and if necessary to fight the Crystals' other enemies such as the Slimes. Many Crystals women who had chosen to remain in TLC were actually recent converts from other parties, who mostly did not have children, and felt they would best help the Crystals by remaining in the center of the conflict to help tie down the other armies and keep them from flooding into Hōki to attack the Crystals and other refugees.

On November 4, the Red Sun ordered the Sunspot army to fulfill his promise of killing or capturing all Crystals living within the Little Country. Swords in hand, the Sunspots set out to kill women, and women only. They realized that they would have little difficulty identifying their targets because they would be the only women in public without either men or children by their side. Nonetheless, the Sunspots had planned ahead, and had a list of known Crystal women. The list of victims included the king's own wife, Bubbly, who had converted to the Crystal party just days earlier. She had fled the Castle and joined a troop of other Crystal women and girls, making them easy for the Sunspots to attack.

The Sunspot soldiers struck by surprise, and suffered only injuries as they killed 150 Crystals, all women, and brought just four Crystal women to prison alive. None of these women was Bubbly. The Sunspots claimed they could have easily killed vastly more Crystal women, but had allowed hundreds to flee the nation. They did not expect these women to return, but that they would be on the alert for a counterattack even so.

That night, the Sunspot troops entered the Clover Castle and told the king that they had killed his wife because she had joined the Crystal party. They then held the king down so that he would not throw a fit, reminding him that they had acted on the direct orders of the Red Sun, and that they had targeted the king's wife because he had been unable to stop her from joining the Crystals.

Sunspots assess situation

The Sunspot army had no means of attack outside their home territory, and so did not pursue the Crystals who had fled. They knew that they had won a very important victory at Paafauta, showing the Crystals just how weak their soldiers were, while also making it clear that even being married to the king could not spare one's life when they had orders to kill. Nonetheless, the Sunspots knew that the Crystals still outnumbered them, and could theoretically be building an army of their own just outside the borders of the Little Country. The Sunspots believed that the adult male Crystals would make better soldiers than the women, and could theoretically sail back to the west to avenge the killing of the Crystals who had remained. But they also understood that the Crystals had sent their men to Hōki specifically because they understood that they would be in danger there as well, and that they might not be able to launch any effective counterattack for years.

New Crystal motto

Around this time, the Crystals began to rally around the phrase "throw off the evil of the Empire". They believed the Sunspots had compromised the Clovers, and that their nation was still run by the traditional adult male power structure of the Slime party, with the Sunspots mostly serving the Slimes' interests. One young girl who closely followed this motto was Lifeline (Play Mamnuaa, an abbreviation of her full name Ŋamatapai Mamnuaatata). She was a diplomat who had been in contact with the Cook kids as they rose and fell.

Betrayal of the Red Sun

The Golden Sun then strangled his best friend, the Red Sun, saying that it was not in revenge for the slaying of Bubbly, but because it was the only way to stop him from killing more Crystals and other innocent people. The Golden Sun did not, and knew that he could not, attack the adult bodyguards who had actually committed the killings.

Sunspots regroup

The Sunspots never formally apologized for killing the king's wife, but they also agreed to stop killing Crystals who he specifically requested be spared. These included all Clovers and all children under the age of 13. The Golden Sun threatened to execute any Sunspots who violated this command, even though he privately understood he had no reasonable means of carrying out such a threat.

The Sunspots agreed to obey the boy's commands, but the young king knew that his power stopped wherever any adult bodyguard drew a line, and that, therefore, he had no real power at all. His fellow Clovers promised to stand with him in any future conflict of authority, but privately the Sun realized that this might only make the situation worse, as it would lead to a conflict of young Clovers against adult Sunspots, and that the adults would only be emboldened by this.

By this time, the bodyguard who had killed Bubbly had resigned due to social pressure from the other Sunspots, and this too bothered the king, as he had been unable to punish the bodyguard in any way, but yet the other bodyguards, who were supposed to obey the king, were able to do so.

Crystal-Scorpion relations

The Crystals settled in Hōki within the children's colony of Tāmta, also known as the Blue Cocoon. This was run by the militant Scorpion party, who kept to themselves but promised to allow adults to live in their territory.

Battle of Lanăra

By January 4194, the Crystals had lost so much of their strength that a troop of young Scorpion boys, the Spines, killed dozens of Crystal women working together outdoors. The women tried to flee, but had no weapons to defend themselves with, and the slowest women were overtaken by the fastest boys, who were armed with swords and spears. This was in the Moonshine refugee state of Hōki into which the Crystals had fled.

The Crystals received very little sympathy from the wider world when they sought help from former allies. Some blamed the Crystals for the attack because they had deliberately chosen to settle in a children's colony instead of seeking territory of their own, and also pointed out that even without weapons, their leaders should have known other means of protecting the women from assaults, such as placing them within barriers and guarding the entrances with what few weapons they might be able to find or manufacture.

Marriage to Firebird

Wedding ceremony

The boy king married yet again, this time to a Crystal girl who called herself Firebird (Play Kapapuapa). Though a Crystal, Firebird was ancestrally from Play country, in the northeastern highland state of Tapimuū. She was moderately wealthy and had tried to keep out of politics, but found that the new war had left no room for a neutral side, and that even the pacifist empire of Moonshine was taking a side in the war. She was very similar in many ways to his slain wife Bubbly.

Firebird's name literally meant "shield biter" (Play kapap + muapa), but in the middle of this Play word was papua, the Play word for the firebirds that had killed many Players at the outset of their nation's history. Thus, her name consisted of the word for firebird splitting the word for shield (kapa) in two. Just as the firebirds had perched on and cut through the middle of the early Play soldiers' bodies, Firebird promised to cut through the shields of the soldiers in any opposing armies. Locals soon began to refer to her simply as Papua for convenience, though she always used the long form of her name in personal communication. (The root words papua "firebird" and muapa "bite" were not related. Play regularly resolved the consonant cluster /pm/ into /p/.)

Physical abuse

The Golden Sun was still a boy, and fairly short for his age. Furthermore, women of Play ancestry were usually taller than their Play husbands. This meant that their society had no great taboo against men assaulting women, seeing it as a fair fight. Therefore, when the Sun began physically assaulting his new wife almost immediately, there was no great outcry from the Clover kids, the Sunspots, or the wider society of Pavaitaapu, and his wife did not seek an escape. Nonetheless, the Clovers and others saw his behavior as a sign that he was becoming ever more corrupted, both due to his frequent drinking of palm wine and because of intangible frustrations such as the death of his previous wife. The king began to show increasing signs of desperation, but attracted little sympathy.

Firebird's independent actions

The Sun allowed Firebird more political freedom than he had given to Bubbly, and was beginning to support Crystal policies again, just as he had during his very first months as king in late 4191.

However, Firebird wanted to hold power in her own right. Though the Clovers had been originally appointed by the Slime army, who obeyed only male rulers, they had quickly broken relations with each other, and therefore there was no looming reason why the Clovers could not have a queen instead of a king. She also suspected many Clovers would rather have her in power in any case.

Firebird believed that she needed to convince her husband to abdicate the throne, even if she was not the replacement. She decided to remain humble for the meantime by offering him advice, and in some cases, speaking for him when he was unable or unwilling to appear before the Sunspot bodyguards who by now controlled much of the Clovers' contact with the commoners. As such, she built up her reputation within the Castle.

Resignation of power

After several months of this, the Golden Sun announced that he was resigning as king of the Little Country. However, he appointed no new successor, and did not relinquish all of his power; he merely stated that he no longer claimed absolute power over all of the Little Country's affairs. One of the powers he retained was the right to appoint his successor. Therefore, the Little Country was officially without a leader, and only the Golden Sun could solve this problem.

The Sunspots effectively took control at this point, even though they still preferred to coax the boy king for decisions so that they would not need to fight amongst themselves; the Sunspots still had no leader and most Sunspots stated that they would sooner obey another child ruler than a leader who had arisen from within the Sunspots. Indeed the Sunspots encouraged the king to continue making decisions even in those avenues he had given up control of.

Soon, the Golden Sun announced that he had chosen his successor: himself. The Sunspots accepted this but figured he would soon tire of the situation and did not order a second coronation ceremony. Within months, the king resigned again, as the Sunspots had predicted. And just as before, the Sunspots continued to coax the young king to give them orders to carry out, knowing that having a very weak leader might help keep the Sunspots together, whereas having no leader at all could lead them to civil war.

Floor tiles and papers

Since the nation was once again leaderless and yet once again under control of the king and his bodyguards, the king's wife, Firebird, started plans to overthrow her husband.

Birch bark papers

Searching the castle, Firebird found birch bark documents the king had written detailing his plans to overthrow the government of Xema (ZDE), a tiny nation in the arctic icecap whose navy had nonetheless proven itself in war by occupying much of Play territory eight years earlier. Most citizens of Pavaitaapu had at most a very weak interest in Xema, since both Xema and the Players were thousands of miles away from Paviataapu and the chances of a war with Xema seemed remote. But the Clovers had a personal connection to this situation, because Xema's entry into that war had frustrated the STW corporation's trade with the Players, which extended thousands of miles northwestward, ending in Tata, to which Pavaitaapu had belonged at the time. More importantly, the Clovers recognized STW as the entity which had granted them power over the adults around them who had been expecting a king to be appointed from among the wider society.

Rather than blaming the king's mental decline entirely on wine consumption, Firebird came to believe his attempt to win a war against Xema was his overarching problem, and that he may have turned to drinking only to relieve his mind of the problem.

Plans for overthrow

Firebird decided that the only way to force the king to abdicate the throne was to physically overwhelm him. She knew this would be difficult, as she would first need to separate him from his bodyguards and then fight him in hand-to-hand combat. And because the king always wore armor for protection, even if she were able to steal a weapon such as a sword or a heavy mallet, she would stand little chance of overcoming him by herself.

She realized she had several options to physically overcome her husband. First, she could try to convince the bodyguards to betray him. Even with his armor, the king was vulnerable because he was physically smaller than his adult bodyguards, and even one bodyguard could carry out a coup by simply lifting up the boy and throwing him into a locked room. But Firebird believed the chances of this were small.

Another idea would be to get a crowd of Clovers to swarm the throne room and fight the king and his adult bodyguards in hand-to-hand combat. She knew this would lead to a lot of bloodshed, and that even a hundred of the Clover kids together might be unable to overpower a few armed adult bodyguards, as they had military-grade weapons and armor, while the Clovers had neither. The only means by which this method could succeed in overthrowing the king, therefore, would be if the bodyguards took mercy on the Clovers during the fight and betrayed the king as in the first method.

The only other method Firebird could think of to dethrone the king was to meet with him in private and force him to take off his armor. She knew that weapons were stored somewhere within the Castle, even if most likely in a locked room, and that she could hide a weapon such as a sword within their shared room for her to grab once he took off his armor. At that point, she would overpower him in a pure physical fight because she would be the stronger party with her weapon.

Medicine closet

Searching the Castle some more, Firebird discovered writing from the king mentioning a room labeled Panapunapai within the Castle. This was drawn with floor tiles in the Late Andanese script. Neither Firebird nor the Golden Sun could speak Andanese, but the boy king's slain companion, the Red Sun, had been fluent in it and had helped build the Castle. Firebird thus figured this was a code name she would need to figure out, noting that the king's birth name also contained the syllable sequence punapa.

After further searching, she found that the Castle indeed had a room labeled Panapunapai, and which was not locked. She assumed therefore that instead of a lock, the room must have a trap behind the door that she would fall into. After some thought, she figured her best course of action was to walk into the trap, knowing that the incident could highlight how desperate she had become and turn the Clovers' opinions towards favoring a coup. She opened the door.

To her surprise, there was no trap waiting for her behind the door. However, inside the room were not weapons, but rather medicines stored in bottles. She looked at the bottles for a while, knowing that she was relatively safe from discovery because she was in a little-used area of the castle. She decided that the medicine bottles would be enough to defeat the king.

When the king arrived home that night, he shared with her their usual evening meal, and then they retired to their shared room, all while the king still had his armor on. However there was no adult bodyguard in the room with them. Then she grabbed a bottle of medicine and splashed her husband's face with it. It soon dripped through his helmet and down his body.

The immediate pain of the medicine on his skin forced the king to remove his entire suit of armor immediately. He quickly understood what she had done and why she had done it, and offered his surrender, but because he had not been physically weakened, Firebird knew that this was not enough. She grabbed a heavy box she had earlier hidden and then began hitting her husband with it, forcing him to physically fight her, as he had many times before, but this time for his own protection.

When the fight was over, the king had hardly touched Firebird, and she had hit him so many times that he was near death. She alerted the bodyguards, who were well aware of the king's history of abusing his wife, and who therefore assigned her no blame in the incident. The bodyguards carried the king outside the castle, to a team of Moonshine medical workers who promised to nurse the king back to health even though he was an enemy of the Moonshines.

Kaifi War

When his injuries healed, the Sun continued to attack the Crystals again. His wife began to believe her quest to tame her husband was impossible. As the attacks against the Crystals increasingly turned into a battle of the sexes, with men always attacking women and never the other way around, the Sun began to speak of the Kaifi War, similar to what had occurred about fifty years earlier (although the Sun was not aware of this history). Kaifi was the Play word for contact sports in which men were teamed up against women, and the rules of the game were such that the match was considered fair.

Change in demographics

When the Sunspots weren't killing women, they were driving women out of the country. Since the Crystals were making converts primarily among women, the population of Crystal women was constantly being replenished, but the female population of the other parties, particularly the Slimes, was being rapidly depleted. This meant that the Slimes were now primarily adult men, and those who had been too young to marry earlier now found few women available for them. The reason for the Crystals' inability to make significant converts among the male population was that the ongoing war would force any male converts to immediately leave their families and go to battle for the Crystals.

Leapers' view

Outside parties such as the Leapers predicted that the growing male surplus would pull the Slimes into the war against the Crystals, seeking to acquire what they considered a fair share of the helpless female population, most likely with the promise that the Crystals' lives would be spared if they submitted to Slime control and gave up their party membership. Meanwhile the Sunspots' war against the Crystals was still traditional as they were still under the command of the young king who had no interest in a captive population of Crystal women.

Yet the Leapers were in no hurry to rescue the Crystals, and some Leapers even proposed sponsoring both the Sunspots and the Scorpions further east who seemed liable to side with the Sunspots and start killing the Crystals who had settled within Scorpion territory. According to the Leaper doctrine of làti nantēs,[10] the naturally dominant party in a two-sided conflict could earn the Leapers' support even if the war was grossly unfair, so long as the Leapers gained in power from siding with the winners.

Matrixes agitate for a new role

Baeba Swamp's ruling Leaper party had earlier stated that the Slime Handlers were the legitimate rulers of the district of Pavaitaapu, and that any attempt to wrest control of their territory would be seen as an act of treason. The Leapers had earlier allowed the Matrix army to invade and crush the Slime army, but did not allow the Matrixes to remain in Pavaitaapu after the war, or to claim political dominion over Pavaitaapu. Instead, control of Pavaitaapu had passed to the Clover kids, and the Leapers then declared that the Clovers were the new rulers of Pavaitaapu and were entitled to the same protections that the Slimes had once had.

But now, the Matrixes in Baeba's parliament were arguing for their right to launch a second war, saying that the Clovers' bodyguards, the Sunspots, had overrun the whole district of Pavaitaapu and that they had become even worse than the Slimes had been. The Leapers granted this request, and the Matrixes mobilized their army for a fresh assault on Pavaitaapu.

Siege of Pavaitaapu

Just as before, the Matrixes had the support of the STW corporation in their war. STW supplied weapons, transportation, and shelter for the Matrix soldiers so that they would have the advantage in their war against the Sunspots. The Soap Bubbles, however, did not join this new coalition army, stating that the Clovers needed their bodyguards, and that any war against the bodyguards would be a war against the Clovers. Since most Soap Bubbles agreed that the Clovers had inherited the rights to rule Pavaitaapu, they opposed the new war. However the Soap Bubbles did not plan to enter the war on the opposite side.

The Leapers warned the Matrixes that they would not allow a legal declaration of war against Pavaitaapu, and that they considered this new operation to fall under the command of the police force. Therefore, just as in the previous year, the Matrix soldiers would be allowed to kill any Sunspots they could find, but would not be allowed to attack civilians and would not be allowed to keep the Matrix army in control of Pavaitaapu after they won their battle. Thus, the only immediate thing that the Matrixes could gain from their operation was political capital, hoping that they could be invited in to rule Pavaitaapu in the future. The Matrixes believed that the common people of Pavaitaapu disliked both their child rulers and the Sunspots, and that the Matrixes only needed to convince the Clovers to trust them the way they had earlier trusted their bodyguards.

Having absorbed Matrix propaganda, Moonshine joined the coalition as well, stating that even a pacifist nation like Moonshine was obligated to send soldiers into Pavaitaapu to help wrest control from the Sunspot assassins.

Fall of the Empire

New coalition

The new armies leading the charge into Pavaitaapu were comprised of a coalition led by the Matrix, supplied mostly by STW, and helped by soldiers from the Crystals who had just fled Pavaitaapu the previous year, along with some Moonshine men who had broken from their nation's firm commitment to pacifism. The coalition expected that the Sunspots would have the help of some Slime soldiers, but that since the Slimes were no longer considered the legitimate rulers of Pavaitaapu even by the Leapers, they would have little to gain by joining the war and so their support would be weak.

The Butterflies and the Soap Bubbles remained neutral, saying that if the Sunspots were eliminated the Clover children would have no bodyguards, although they both refused to join the war on the Sunspot side either.

Therefore the Sunspots had no firm allies in their war, and would need to fight a defensive war, focusing on protecting their small nation's borders even if it meant an unsafe situation for citizens within.

Contact with Moonshine

The Little Country was overthrown in late 4194. It was with help from Moonshine. Moonshine had been ranting about how awful life was for the Matrix and STW, and how much the Matrix could improve the situation. With the Slimes mostly out of power, and many fleeing, STW and the Matrix were free, and very clean. Though Moonshine had helped, they soon realized that they would be locked out of power in the new empire, and the Matrixes even threatened to invade Moonshine if they did not cooperate.

Assassination of the Blue Sun

The invading coalition army did not seek out the Clovers. Many coalition soldiers believed that the Clovers were just as corrupt as the Sunspots, but that due to their youth, they could only act through the Sunspots. Therefore, they focused their attention on the Sunspots only, believing that they would find the Clovers unharmed, even if the Sunspots became desperate to bargain their way out of an unwinnable war.

Nonetheless, not all Clovers stuck by their bodyguards. A young Clover girl calling herself the Blue Sun welcomed the Matrix army into Pavaitaapu, holding a sign celebrating the fall of the Empire. After she turned to walk home, a Sunspot soldier slashed her with his sword, leading her to die of her injuries.

Sparing of bodyguards

Despite this, the coalition soldiers understood that the Clover kids had a legitimate reason to prefer Sunspot bodyguards they had learned to love instead of foreigners, so the coalition army spared the lives of many Sunspots, but said that they could no longer consider themselves a police force, and that their duties would be limited to protecting the Clover children.

Foundation of Rapala

Out of respect for their enemies, the STW-Matrix coalition stated that they had overthrown an only mildly corrupt empire, but that the revolution was necessary in order to replace it with a clean one, which they named Rapala. This name was not in a living language, but rather in a certain script used to write Tapilula, already obsolete four thousand years ago. This was in a tradition of using inaccessible names to appeal to all sides in a conflict.

As they had in the past, the winners of the war appropriated all of the cumulative land claims of their enemies, so that they claimed not just the former Little Country, but also all of the land that the Slime had attempted to control in previous years, and all of the land that any army which had allied with the Slimes had ever attempted to control. Thus Rapala claimed nearly all of the land east of Baeba, and much of what lay to the south and west as well. As in the past, the STW-Matrix coalition knew that they had no realistic chance of occupying more than a small fraction of this land, but they chose to invade Nama, which they felt was very weak, in order to shore up their military in the region west of Creamland. They also claimed Baeba itself, but made no attempts to settle there.

By this time, the king of the Little Country had resigned due to corruption, but no new king replaced him. When STW took over, they abolished TLC's monarchy but allowed the former king to wield a great deal of power within STW's internal governance.

Changes in the Castle

King renames

By this time, the king had changed his name to Dizzy (Play Sašup), a name which could also be translated with an English adjective such as tipsy or unbalanced. By giving up his prideful birth name, he was acknowledging his personality flaws and seeking a lesser social status. By choosing his new name, he was acknowledging that he was liable to soon fall from power. The Play metaphor here involved a person in power speaking from a physically elevated platform, rather than power itself being imagined as giving one extra height.

The new name was not about alcohol, although he was still drinking wine, and acknowledged the potential double meaning. Nonetheless, many Clovers continued to refer to the king as the Golden Sun, representing the personality they wished to remember.

Loss of armor

As king, the Golden Sun had always worn thick metal armor for protection. By 4194, however, he had outgrown this suit of armor and asked his slaves to forge him a new one. Even out of power, he still formally retained control of his slaves. As he was approaching the age of sixteen, he expected he could fit into an adult-sized armor suit, but he specifically asked for a suit to made tailored to his body shape, both because he was short for his age and because he hoped that he might still grow some more.

However, the king's Sunspot bodyguards announced that the Sun did not need a new suit of armor, and that the Sunspots would take over the job of physically protecting him from attacks. The king asked if he could give his armor suit to his younger brother, Sayap, but the bodyguards denied this as well.

Separate living

Although still married to Firebird, they began sleeping in separate rooms. Firebird remained in the marriage because she felt it would help her rise to power in the future, and Dizzy remained in the marriage because he realized that yet another divorce would do more harm to his public image than he was willing to shoulder. Firebird was still merely the king's wife, not a queen, and she held no special political power in the Clover kingdom.

As was traditional for young couples, they had always slept in separate beds, and therefore the king invited his younger brother Sayap to sleep in the bed that his wives had formerly used.

Foundation of the Slopes

In early 4195, a Clover boy named Kupūm Kakavaap founded the Slope party (Masuau), shortly after the Clover kingdom had been overthrown for the second time.

Legal party identity

Previously, the Clovers had never identified thmselves as a political party, since they held various allegiances, to the Crystals, Soap Bubbles, Slimes, and a few with minor parties. But by founding the Slope party, Kakavaap forced the Clovers to declare themselves an entity that excluded the Slopes, and therefore the Clovers accepted that they, too, had become a political party. Nonetheless, the Clovers did not wish to isolate themselves from outside alliances, and therefore announced that their party would be one of the few that allowed dual party membership, and that Clovers could even join parties that were at war with other parties whose members also belonged to the Clovers.

War on All Things Beautiful

The Slope leaders were in their early and middle teen years, like the Clovers from which they had come. They forged an alliance with the ancient Zenith party, and indeed, stated that their own party's name was a pun intended to show that the Zeniths were above them and that the Slopes would carry them down.

The Slopes announced that they were declaring war on all beautiful things (samafaŋap nafatam besias), and would celebrate death and destruction in and of itself. This was the philosophy of nišasauvaa: by rejecting life, the Slopes could become immune to death.

Midnight celebration

The two parties held a celebration a few days after the signing of their treaty of military alliance.

However, at the end of the celebration, five Zenith men raped a young Slope girl named Ŋaāušau. She remained at the scene of the rape for several hours before realizing that nobody was coming to help her get home. Thus she realized the Slope party would not protect its own young members from sexual assault.

Slope leadership crisis

As the Slope population learned what had happened, most Slopes endorsed a document stating that the Slopes were a close-knit group, dependent on each other for protection, and that they would neither be allowed to rape each other nor would they allow outsiders to rape them.

This needed to be stated explicitly because their new allies, the Zeniths, did not believe in crime at all, and therefore acts such as rape could only be avenged by the victim, by their family and friends, or by a random passerby who chose to get involved.

The Slopes had known this when they signed their treaty with the Zeniths, and had been encouraged by the Zeniths' warm reception that the two groups could be equals. They did not realize at the time that the Zeniths were friendly because they saw the Slopes as their ideal prey.

Nonetheless, some Slopes believed that they would do best to carry on as planned, and endorsed a new Slope platform abolishing the concept of crime. Rape would indeed be punished, but not in a court; rather, just like the Zeniths they admired, the Slopes would allow any of their own kind to assault the rapist in revenge.

Both groups of Slopes considered themselves the only true Slopes, and the Slopes in favor of abolishing crime refused to join the Zenith, saying that the Zeniths had some other political beliefs that would destroy the Slope nation, but that the Slopes could live like Zeniths in other ways.

Meanwhile, the victim changed her name and assumed a new identity as she came to consider herself a Clover again.

Further repercussions

As the Slopes debated how best to protect themselves from the Zenith, a local man kidnapped a young girl, Kaināapu, and raped her while the two were in a confined space between two stone walls. It soon came to light that the perpetrator belonged to the Slime party, which had become a rogue force considering its members above the law, and with no intent to regain power peacefully. The news service told the young Play-speaking couriers to say that the girl had been vepibi "crushed" so that they would not realize how dangerous their nation had become.

The public threw fits when they heard what had happened. The reaction to this rape was different than to the previous for several reasons. Firstly, the victim was much younger than the Slope girl had been. Secondly, she was attacked in public, whereas the Slope girl had been attending a party with many adult men. Thirdly, the perpetrator belonged to the Slime party, whose members promised a strictly law-abiding society in which men would protect women and girls from harm. Thus, though the public sympathized with both victims, they realized after this incident that their society had collapsed.

Common reaction

Soon the population of Pavaitaapu realized that the Sunspots were good assassins but very poor police officers, and that their small nation had no means by which to enforce its laws. Because of the recent war, the Slime population had been largely depleted of adult males yet again, meaning that there were many orphans and most women were unmarried. The Sunspot army had also suffered, but had entered the war only towards the end, having been promised by the Matrixes that they would be allowed to do this, and thus survived the war better than the other armies. Most Sunspots had remained Sunspots, and thus the Sunspot army enrolled a large portion of the nation's adult male population. But they were not police and only obeyed the king, who was largely unaware of the situation on the ground.

Some Clovers, while strongly identifying and sympathizing with both victims, were frightened by the different public reactions, as it made them realize that many people outside their community had abandoned the Clovers to their fates, caring little that they were children caught in a power struggle between various armies of adults.

Appeals for outside help

As crime tore through Pavaitaapu, many civilians of all parties pleaded with Baeba Swamp's Leaper party to invade and occupy Pavaitaapu, even if it meant putting the Matrix army, notorious for its abusive slavery operations, in charge.

The Leapers at this time were just a minority in Baeba, but held power through undemocratic means. Originally, in the middle of the century, the Leapers had defeated the Crystals and thus won full control of Baeba Swamp, and set up a parliamentary government with the Leapers as the only legal party. As the decades passed, the Leapers were forced to allow other tribes to move to Baeba Swamp, as the Leaper army was too small to keep them out, and therefore the Leapers held power by allowing a multiparty democracy in which the other parties such as the Matrixes and Zeniths would fight each other in Parliament rather than on the battlefield.

Therefore, although the Leapers were few, the citizens of Pavaitaapu hoped that they could in some way invade and subdue Pavaitaapu with a humanitarian coalition army that would not simply abuse the citizens.

New police force

A thirteen-year-old boy named "Silas" (Play Našaata) declared himself a police officer and stated that he would restore order to Pavaitaapu so that the Leapers would refrain from invading their territory. He was the youngest of the first crop of Clover leaders, and had started out with only an advisory role. Nonetheless the Sun had quickly befriended him, and outsiders assumed that Silas would someday be a king, either of Pavaitaapu or of a new territory that the Clovers would soon subdue and conquer.

Silas had briefly joined the Sunspots, but found that the Sunspots no longer obeyed the king and had decided to start a new paramilitary force that focused on crime prevention rather than assassinations of political opponents. (Note that the name Silas here is a trade name meaning farmer, from sīl "farm" with the -as agentive suffix. It was not his native language.)

Silas was very tall and strongly built, and still growing; he did not claim to derive respect or authority from his stature, but supporters among both the Clovers and the new police hoped that the adult males signing up for the new police force would accept the boy as their leader and would not fight amongst each other to rule in his place. Silas was also a close friend of the king, as he had been a few grades below the king and they had seen each other both inside and outside of school even before they had come to think of themselves as Clovers.

Naming and motto

Silas named the new police force Tapupais, meaning people who had been turned into trees. He created the motto "It's silly to pretend, but good to dream."

The Impossible Dream

The dream the police believed in was a society without violent crime. The founding Slime party was a masculinist society in which women were deprived of political power, and the Slime party platform specifically allowed men to beat their wives in order to ensure that they obeyed their husbands. The Police hoped that by putting women in control of society, they would invert the Slimes' power structure and make it impossible for men to commit violent crimes of any kind. They thus supported Moonshine, and Moonshine alone (not its allies).

The police nonetheless believed that it was silly to pretend that embracing a feminine power structure would put an end to violent crime. Even in a society where women were biologically bound to be taller than men, men still attacked and abused women, and the Slimes were a perfect example of this.

More to the point, though, the police stated that by creating a society with no adult male power structure, the various feminist societies were making themselves even more vulnerable to attack by outsiders, both because they were seen as easy victims and because women in charge tended to support pacifistic foreign policies and friendly relations towards allies and enemies alike. Thus Moonshine's army had helped the Matrixes overthrow the Clovers just a year earlier, only to see the Matrixes lock the Moonshines out of power and then threaten to invade Moonshine if their soldiers did not immediately flee Pavaitaapu or submit themselves to work as slaves to help prop up the new STW-Matrix coalition government.

The Clovers, lacking adults, therefore also lacked an adult male power structure, and the police stated that this is why they had been abused by the traditional adult allies they had sought to ally with. The police promised that they would be different than the previous groups of adults, but acknowledged that they could not simply wish themselves into having good behavior and would be constantly needing to police their own members in order to ensure that they did not take advantage of the vulnerable Clover children they were entrusted to protect.

Popular reactions

The common use of the motto soon led outsiders to refer to the new police derisively as the Dreamers, the Pretenders, and the Sillies. (All of these could be nouns in Play.) The Play words for "silly" (suami) and "pretend" (nebibe) did not have the same childish connotations as their English counterparts, and indeed the word for silly was commonly used where an English speaker would metaphorically use a word such as "blind" or "oblivious". Nonetheless, the words were insults, and Silas had not intended for his police force to be accused of believing what they claimed to have rejected. But the empire of Dreamland to the west was so hated that even the opposing armies fighting for control of Pavaitaapu considered it beneath them to accuse their opponents of supporting Dreamland. Thus the new police force accepted the derisive name Nebibea, the Pretenders, but continued to refer to themselves as Tapupais and hoped to wish away the byname that had come to them from their enemies.

Identity

Although Silas was the leader of the new police force, he claimed no title and stated that while a strict hierarchy was necessary to keep the police force together, that would come in time once the military threat from Baeba's Leaper party had been held off. The police themselves encouraged Silas to give direct orders, however, joining a recent trend of adults obeying younger leaders in order to prevent infighting among the adults.

Most Tapupais police were Slime soldiers who had invaded the Little Country four years earlier, married women from among the captured people, and built a home for them to live in. Many of these women were already married to husbands, and the soldiers incorporated these men into their family as slaves. Many of these couples also had children, and the soldiers were allowed to choose whether to adopt or enslave the children; this was a decision that had legal consequences, since slaves were not counted in the census and if the children were enslaved then the soldiers would be listed as having no children.

Many of the police were men who had also adopted children from STW, saying that they were paying the debt that their party owed to STW for STW's help in the war. STW thus favored these men, but had no way of rewarding them, just as they had no way of punishing the men who had chosen not to adopt STW's orphans.

Police begin operations

Because the police often had large families (even if some family members were slaves), they had homes to live in, and did not seek to move into the Clover Castle, which was still overcrowded. This led the Clovers to trust the new police force more than they had trusted the Sunspots, who had demanded that the Clovers allow them to come and go as they pleased, saying it was necessary for them to have a secure hideout.

Settlement of campsites

By this time, many Clovers had fled the Castle to be with Silas and the new police force. The policemen had their own homes, and therefore treated the Clovers as adopted children, but because the Clovers had many enemies, the kids could not rest securely at home and so spent much of their time camping in the wilderness with the police.

The Clovers had never formally renounced their claims to the vast wealth they had inherited, and therefore they remained among the richest people in their nation. But now, having lost their Castle, their slaves, their bodyguards, their access to reliable food supplies, and even the safety of having a home to live in, the camping Clovers now had an even rougher lifestyle than their nation's slaves. Some Clovers now wanted to move to Pavaitaapu and seek any adoptive family that would shelter them, even if it meant becoming a slave. But the Tapupais police force refused to allow the kids to leave the police-controlled areas, meaning that yet again they found themselves trapped by a group of adults who were claiming to be their protectors but treated them as though they were subhuman.

The Tapupais police performed a roll call every morning at the campsite, making sure that all of the Clovers were alive and well, but also to make sure that none had escaped the campsites during the night. The police rotated the duty of patrolling the campsites at night to prevent escape, though they also explained this by saying that if they did not patrol at night, the campsites would be vulnerable to attack by the Sunspots or other stray criminals. As the police officers learned the children's names, each officer chose one or more children to specifically watch over.

The night of music and games

March 26, 4195

When the king learned that the Leapers were planning to invade his nation, and that his best friend was attempting to hold them off, he endorsed the new police force and stated that, if necessary, the Tapupais police could also become an army. He announced a party in the Castle called the Night of Music and Games (Play tiukāa čīubešes tamžabas), celebrating Silas's love of music and board games, two things the king had never enjoyed, as a symbol of his willingness to share power with Silas. The date was set for the night of March 26th and word quickly got out to all the Clovers, including those living outside the Castle.

Preparation

The Clovers in the Castle wanted to make sure all of the other Clovers who had recently fled the castle understood that it was safe to come back for just one night. Silas had promised that the Sunspots would allow the party and also would not attend the party, as they were merely to serve as bodyguards, although he was not as insistent to the other kids about attending his party, as he knew that some of them would not feel safe there.

Plans for accomodation

The party planners soon realized that more than 1,500 Clovers were expecting to attend the party, far more than they had planned on. This was because the Clovers in the castle had lost touch with the populations outside and did not realize that new members, especially younger ones, had been joining the Clovers in the past three years. These new recruits belonged to the Third Wave (Play baupapi pamam) and many had never been inside the Castle.

The caterers, belonging to both the Tapupais and Sunspot leagues, promised that they had the necessary resources to accommodate such a large crowd, but that because the Castle did not have enough room for 1,500 people, the party might need to last five days instead of just one night. The Sun approved this and planned for an even larger festivity than he had previously imagined. STW was not allowed access even temporarily.

Schedule

Because many Clovers were young and they lived in close quarters, they shared an early bedtime and those who needed less sleep woke up early instead of staying up late. Since they would be drinking wine as well, the king and the others planning the party were worried that the partygoers would fall asleep before the party could even get underway. Therefore they prepared food with a high sugar content and purchased the sweetest wine available from the Sunspot bodyguards who were now their only suppliers.

Celebration begins

All of the partygoers arrived at the same time, so the party began with the serving of food at the tables the new arrivals remembered from when they had last lived there. The Tapupais police force and the Sunspots had put aside their differences for the night, allowing the delivery of luxurious foods from Baeba Swamp that neither STW nor the Sunspots could acquire or cook on their own.

End of the party

As the partygoers retired to bed, a Sunspot assassin swept into the royal palace and stepped over the sleepy, drunken children sprawled across the hard stone floor. Entering the king's chamber, he then stabbed both the king and his younger brother Sayap. Then he left the same way he had come in and disappeared into the night.

Siege of Mutanapana

Since the Sunspots were the Clovers' bodyguards, the Clovers were defenseless and could not avenge the slaying of their leaders. The Sunspot leaders proudly announced that they had overthrown the Clover dynasty for the third time and that, this time, the Clovers would not be coming back.

The Sunspots then announced their plan to kidnap all of the Clover kids, saying that the kids who were now camping in the wilderness were so vulnerable that they would prefer to be held captive in the Castle once they again came to trust the Sunspots.

The Sunspots announced that they had killed the king and his brother, believing them undeserving of compassion, and that they were targeting Silas next, but that they would spare the lives of the other kids since the kids posed no threat to the Sunspots and would never escape. The Sunspots said that they would kidnap even those Clovers who were too young to have ever held power, and that they would be converting Pavaitaapu into a military stronghold run by the Sunspots, and that they would hold off the Leaper coalition by force instead of by appealing to the Leapers' humanitarian instincts.

New order in the castle

To keep order in the Clover Castle, the Sunspots turned to well-worn intimidation tactics. Rather than build a prison within the castle, Sunspot soldiers stationed themselves in the castle's many arched doorways, blocking the path of anyone trying to pass through in either direction, and forced the Clovers to perform tedious rituals to get permission to pass. The intent of this is that the Clovers would soon tire of the rituals, and decide to stay in their assigned separate rooms so that they could not coordinate an escape plan. They killed slaves (who by now were the only secure source of food), and threatened to put the slaves' chains on the Clovers if they misbehaved.

By now, the original Clover leaders were in their late teen years, but many among the first wave were only just now reaching the age of 13. Among the Sunspots' intimidation tactics was to treat all of the Clovers precisely the same, regardless of age or physical body size, meaning that even those who would have been considered adults in the outside world were now being made to ask permission simply to walk around the castle, just as young children would be. Because the Clovers were unarmed and not protected by armor, their growth meant very little in a hypothetical fight against the bodyguards.

Sunspots reform

The Sunspots did not have a leader of their own; they had been obeying the Clover boys, first the Red Sun and later the Golden Sun. They had held to this even after the Golden Sun had assassinated the Red Sun, saying that his action was as legitimate as their own assassinations. Privately, most Sunspots had little respect for the Golden Sun or even the Clovers, but realized that a power struggle could break out within the Sunspots if they chose to disobey, and therefore most Sunspots had remained loyal to the king, with those who chose to disobey being forced out of the Castle. But now, there was no leader for them to obey.

Most Sunspots realized now that they had little to gain from holding the Clovers hostage, and returned to their former homes in the wider area of Pavaitaapu. Some moved to the wilderness instead, figuring the streets and neighborhoods of Pavaitaapu would be as dangerous for Sunspot soldiers as for commoners. But because there was no longer a Sunspot leader, they could not order their entire membership to disperse, and therefore some Sunspots remained in the Castle with the surviving Clover kids.

Talks with Tapupais

Some Sunspots defected to Tapupais, promising they would not only obey Silas, but also take a subordinate position to the original Tapupais members. They supplied the Tapupais police force with weapons and armor, saying that this was their proof of sincerity. They urged the police to rescue the Clovers from their castle, but again realized that the police might have other priorities since crime was raging through the rest of Pavaitaapu and the Sunspots had promised that they had no intent on killing more Clover kids.

Clover reaction to betrayal

The assassination of the king and his brother eliminated the Clovers' last remaining illusions that they held any real power in their nation. Previously the Sunspots had focused their attacks on the Crystals, and while the Clovers considered this unfair, most did not support the Crystals and did not complain. Now, they realized that they could be executed simply for expressing their opinion, seeking protection, or seeking to escape their captivity in the Castle.

Leaper reaction

The Leapers still considered the Clovers the legitimate rulers of Pavaitaapu, saying that they were the only truly neutral party since they were too young to have alliances with other powers. Therefore they crowned Silas the new king of Pavaitaapu and stated that they would be invading after all, but as a friendly power, and would keep Silas on the throne.

Shortly after the coronation, several Leaper diplomats shepherded Silas into a private room.

Annexation

In private, the Leapers told king Silas that he needed to give up his nation immediately. Though they would allow him to remain on the throne, they strongly recommended that he sign a treaty annexing Pavaitaapu into Baeba proper, and making it a district just like Baeba's existing districts.

The Leapers explained to King Silas that if the Leapers did not immediately annex Pavaitaapu, the Matrixes in Baeba would vote to invade Pavaitaapu, which, as an independent nation, would have no standing to complain to the Leapers' Parliament. Furthermore, the Leapers' laws could not control what the Matrix soldiers would do in a foreign nation. By contrast, there was no provision in Baeba's constitution that would allow a party within Parliament, no matter how strong, to initiate a civil war, and if the Matrixes were to attack the Clovers inside Baeba's territory, they would be executed for treason.

The Leapers were able to annex this territory without the approval of the Matrixes in Parliament because of longstanding non-democratic entities in Baeba's government dating from the era in which the Leapers were the only legal party. Likewise, the Matrixes were able to start a foreign war without the Leapers' approval because these same non-democratic entities had foresworn themselves the ability to overrule the Parliament in issues regarding other nations.

The Leapers promised, after annexation, to reject any Matrix-sponsored legislation that violated Clover law; that is, the Leapers reserved the right to mediate between the other parties in Baeba, even if it meant defying a parliamentary majority. The Leapers promised that the Clovers merely needed to maintain their status as a legal political party within Baeba Swamp to retain this protection, but that to maintain the Clovers as a legal party, the king would need to agree to phase out the Clover party as the members grew into adults and require each individual member to join the Leapers or lose their Baeban citizenship.

The Leapers concluded by telling the young king again that if he did not accept annexation, the Leapers would leave him the choice of whether to let the Matrixes invade him or to start a civil war in which his private police force, Tapupais, would be fighting the much larger Sunspot army, knowing that both forces would probably have defectors, and knowing that the Matrixes were planning to invade after the two armies had worn each other out and take ownership of the winning side.

Treaty of Kakobora

King Silas accepted this, as he had never specifically sought the title of king himself, but nonetheless he continued to identify himself as a king because there was a tradition of kings being subject to higher authorities of wider empires and still referring to themselves as kings so long as they had absolute power in their own territory.

The Leapers thus annexed Pavaitaapu into Baeba Swamp, ceremonially renaming it the district of Kakʷabʷâra, and answering the question of whether it was an autonomous district of Baeba or an independent kingdom.

The Leaper annexation of Pavaitaapu made the Sunspots' assassinations into criminal acts, and therefore made the Sunspots into criminals. Baeban law allowed for the preemptive arrest of all such people, and therefore the Leapers planned to sweep into Pavaitaapu to arrest the Sunspots. However, they knew that annexing Pavaitaapu had not changed the minds of the people within Pavaitaapu, and that many locals preferred the Sunspots to the Clovers even though the Sunspots were killing people every day and the Clovers were defenseless.

For legal reasons, the Leapers declared that the Sunspots were a political party as well, since no existing political party was willing to endorse the Sunspots at this time.

The Leapers promised to allow Silas' Tapupais police force to exist, but stated that they would need to accept commands from Baeba's central police force and to accept laws other than their own local laws as requiring their enforcement.

Sunspot response

The Sunspots reminded the Leapers that the Sunspots were the only armed adult force in Pavaitaapu, stating that the Tapupais police force was doomed because they had no way to access or manufacture weapons. Therefore the Sunspots had the ability to massacre civilians in numbers far out of proportion to any deaths which a Leaper-led police coalition could inflict on them.

The Sunspots declared themselves an army, and stated that it made no difference whether Baeba annexed Pavaitaapu or not: Pavaitaapu was Sunspot territory and would remain so because the people of Pavaitaapu lived in fear of the Sunspots and not of the Leapers, the Matrixes, or any outside army.

The Sunspots rejected alliances with outside armies such as the Slopes and Zeniths. The Sunspots were for the time a male-only army, and they believed that it was the nature of men to fight other men, not to make peace. They pitied the Slopes, who had attempted to make peace with the Zeniths and were promptly crushed and abused by the Zeniths. The Sunspots promised that they would never betray their allies because they would never seek any allies.

The Sunspots put off their plans to abduct the Clover kids who had earlier fled the Castle, figuring that protecting them would tie down the Tapupais police force, and knowing that any rogue who managed to abduct any of them would both embarrass the police and be able to gain a large sum of money from them as ransom. Likewise, although the Sunspots continued to occupy the Castle and enforce strict discipline on the Clovers who remained, they allowed most Clovers to leave, saying that this proved that the ones who remained were doing so voluntarily and thus supported the Sunspots. The children who remained were mostly younger than those who had fled; most belonged to the first wave of arrivals, but some were orphans who had arrived in the second wave and then been adopted by the first wave.

Clover-Slope relations

Privately, the Tapupais police force was pleased to learn that the Sunspots were not giving up, because even though the Sunspots were actively hunting down Clovers and their allies, the police force believed that they could competently defend themselves and their young supporters from the Sunspots, but would not be able to hold off the Matrixes, who now enjoyed a positive reputation among the common people.

By this time, many Slopes had fled back to the Clover party in terror as they had realized what living in a truly lawless society would mean for young children living independently. The pro-Zenith Slopes therefore retained the Slope party name for themselves, all while insisting that they were not Zeniths. The Clovers were not happy to see the ex-Slopes, who had just months earlier promised to rid the world of all things beautiful, but they realized that both the Clovers and the ex-Slopes were in a desperate position, with the tiny Tapupais police force as their only protectors. Since Tapupais told the Clovers to accept the ex-Slopes, the Clovers did so.

Rebellion of 4195

The Tapupais police force declared that they, too, were above alliances with foreign powers, and that they would rule the territory of Pavaitaapu just the same whether the Leapers considered it a sovereign nation or a district of Baeba Swamp. They thus declared war against the Sunspots, but also against the Leapers who had promised to rescue them and their two groups of young supporters from the Sunspots. They also began to refer to themselves as the Clover police force, but understood that outside parties always thought of the children and teenagers first when they thought of Clovers.

Defiance of royal decree

By insisting that they were still a sovereign nation, the police force were defying the orders of the boy they called their king. Bystanders who had resisted the Clovers for years now finally began to feel sympathy for them, as they had seen the Clovers seek alliances with traditional adult powers four times only to be immediately betrayed as soon as the adults took power. The police informed the Leapers that while Silas was indeed their king, and had absolute power, they would not allow him to make decisions on such important matters because they believed he was not properly educated. Therefore they called for a new meeting, with Silas present but with more educated police officers given the seats in front of the Leapers.

Plea for democracy

The police force also asked their young leaders to consider transitioning their kingdom into a multi-party democracy. The police believed that the common people would vote for the Clovers, the only party who had never attacked them, instead of the Matrixes, the Sunspots, the Leapers, the Slimes, or any of the many outside entities who were now at war or planning for war against the Clovers and their police force. By winning a democratic election, the Clovers could thus stave off the Matrix claim that the common people were requesting a humanitarian intervention from the Matrix army.

To the dismay of the police, King Silas refused to give up his absolute power. He thanked the adults in the police force for dedicating themselves to protecting the Clovers, but stated that they would not be getting voting rights because their nation was in crisis, and in a crisis, a nation needed a strong central government with no divisions among those in power. In a democracy, he argued, there would always be one party which would have something to gain from siding with an enemy during war.

The humiliated police officers accepted Silas' argument, as it was familiar to them from their own childhoods, when it had been used to justify the suspension of elections in occupied territories such as Tata.

Change in enrollment

Because they knew that they could not vote, the police force now began to demand entry into the Clover party, saying the Clovers had no reason to keep them out. Previously, they had held off on this, figuring that the Clover kids would fear an adult takeover of their party if the adults were granted voting rights, particularly since the police mostly had wives and some also had children who could theoretically all be granted voting rights as well. But since the Clovers had decided to remain as a monarchy, and because the police were no longer loyal to any other party, they pushed for the children to admit them to the party.

The Clover kids were wary of the new plan but the police promised that they would not be physically intimidating as the Sunspots had. Therefore their request was granted, and the Clover party became a traditional party with both adult members and children, even though the children were the ones in control.

Birth of Clamshell

Around this time, another boy named Clamshell was born.

Dissent and protests

By this time, both the Sunspots and the Tapupais police expressed sympathy for the Clovers, even as both groups refused to emancipate them. The Sunspots had relaxed their control, and allowed kids to leave the Castle, but only when they knew that the Tapupais police were patrolling the area and would not let the kids go. The castle Sunspots also promised never to attack the police, just as the police had promised never to attack the Sunspots in the Castle. This was despite the fact that the Tapupais and Sunspots each wanted to overthrow the other and rule the whole of Pavaitaapu; the underlying rationale was that any such attacks would endanger the Clover kids, and therefore both groups made the pledge of peace to prove their allegiance to the Clovers. The pledge did not, however, restrict the Tapupais police from attacking Sunspots anywhere else, nor did it prevent those Sunspots from attacking the Tapupais police. The result of this was that the Tapupais police and the camping Clovers they controlled moved slowly back towards the Clover Castle, and kids were allowed to travel between the two groups of adults, though both groups put limits on this travel, in large part to remind the kids that they were still in a position requiring strict obedience.

Pišasapta's speech

A few days after the Tapupais police announced that they were going to join the Clover party, a young boy named Pišasapta started a protest against the admission of the police.

Background

Young children such as Pišasapta had been giving political speeches just as adults did, but they typically attracted listeners their own age. For a short period of time, adult men began crowding into the children's events, sometimes to disrupt them and sometimes in a vain attempt to win the children's support. Their behavior ranged from calm debate to deliberately standing in the front row, yelling angry words at the speaker, all the while knowing the children standing behind them could not even see over their shoulders.

This behavior had emerged in early 4193, roughly coincident with the Players' conquest of the Lilypad heartlands, and the resulting fear that the Players were soon to invade the Clover kingdom as well. These adult men believed that if the children did not immediately hand power back to adults and allow the adults to face the Play army on the battlefield, both the adults and the children would soon be enslaved by the Players.

However, after some months of this, even the adults who had behaved the worst realized that they were doing their cause no good, and so adults mostly stopped attending children's speeches and the children felt that they did not need help enforcing this.

Speech begins

Pišasapta had remained in the Castle with the Sunspots, but because of the newly relaxed travel rules, he had been taking trips into the campgrounds and had connected with the other kids. Thus, he knew of the happenings both within the Castle and without. The speech took place in an area of Mutanapana by the lake outside the Castle, where the gentle topography was convenient for allowing one speaker to stand above their listeners. Thus the boy stood on a patch of slightly higher ground while his listeners stood on the same level facing away from the water. The taller children stood in the back so that all of them could see clearly.

The boy gathered a crowd and argued that the Clovers had been betrayed too many times already and that, by now, they were wise enough to govern themselves and only needed weapons and armor to physically protect themselves from the various predatory armies around them. With their vast wealth, the Clovers could easily afford weapons and armor of their own, even if they were greatly overcharged for it, and thus no longer needed adult protection or even adult contact of any kind. Pišasapta argued that the Clovers had enough collective knowledge to survive on their own, whether they were able to regain control of the Castle or forced to camp in the wilderness, and that neither the Tapupais bodyguards nor the Sunspots were doing anything the Clovers could not do on their own.

As the speech went on, a police officer approached the crowd of Clover kids and stood close behind the rearmost row of listeners.

Arrest

After the boy finished his speech, the crowd began to disperse, including the policeman who had been watching from the back row. Once the man was out of sight, a different Tapupais police officer appeared from behind the trees and rushed through the crowd towards the grass-covered stage, where he leapt up and seized the boy's throat in his right arm. Then he lifted the boy and asked his name, to which the boy replied truthfully. Still holding the boy, he then asked "Where do you live, little spy?" (Play Pītabis pisisaes?; note that the boy's name contained a Play word that could mean "spy".) The boy struggled to speak, only able to pronounce the name of the nearby Clover Castle.

He then spun around, still holding the boy, repeating the Play word pafuu, a word often used by parents playing with their children.

While the Clovers who had remained looked up helplessly, the policeman carried the boy in both arms off the stage and back into the woods from where he had come, accusing him as he ran of being a Leaper spy who was trying to destroy what was left of the Clover kingdom so that the Leapers could invade unilaterally, without the Matrixes. The arresting officer had not heard the content of the boy's speech.

Imprisonment

The policeman placed the boy in a boat and brought him to his home, where he placed the boy in a cage, saying it was the only prison that the Tapupais police had access to at the time.

Police force reaction

The officer who had watched the speech opposed the arrest, but the police's internal rules did not allow them to undo each other's arrests without a vote of the entire police force, and he realized he had little chance of convincing the arresting officer to set the boy free. Therefore, he renamed himself Firestick (Leaper Ximōŋŋa)[11] and applied to join the closed-entry Leaper party.

Firestick plan

Firestick crowned himself King Ximōŋŋa and declared that his only goal as king was to draw the Leaper army into Clover territory, and to put the territory solely under the control of the Leapers, with no occupying Matrix army. This was the exact plan that the arresting officer had accused the boy of, and therefore Firestick assumed it was the best way to eliminate the corrupt police force.

Since Firestick knew that the Matrixes greatly outnumbered the Leapers, he proposed a partition, similar to that which the Shadow had proposed years earlier, in which the Leapers would administer the whole of Pavaitaapu, but would have exclusive control of the Clover territory (Mutanapana and environs) while sharing power with the occupying Matrix army in the rest of Pavaitaapu.

The Leapers themselves had never proposed this plan because they considered Pavaitaapu indivisible and believed that it was best governed with the Clovers in direct control, but mostly enacting orders from the Baeban Parliament. Moreover, because the Clover part of Pavaitaapu was in the north, it did not border Baeba Swamp proper, and thus was difficult to access from Baeba. This meant that the Leapers would need the Matrixes' permission to access their exclusive territory, and the Leapers knew that the Matrixes would want to see some benefit from this arrangement. Firestick conceded this, but argued that the safety of the Clovers and the many young orphans still living in Mutanapana was more important.

Firestick promised he would resign as king as soon as the Leaper governors arrived, even if the Leapers refused to award him party membership. He also endorsed the Leapers' earlier plan for the Clovers to phase out their party as they grew into adults, with most becoming Leapers, and therefore he saw a role for the Clovers in the future, but not while they were still kids and teenagers.

Opinions of other police

The arresting officer had specifically accused the young boy Pišasapta of being a Leaper spy, and all the children in the crowd had heard him. The man realized he had no credible evidence to base his accusation on, and could only explain that he had misheard the boy's name as pišap yaaka, "the spy in the sky", and that the boy was bragging about having spied and nearly gotten away with it. He realized that he would have difficulty convincing even the other police of this, and so hoped that they would see through his lie but yet side with him on the basis that they needed to remain united against the Leapers and retain control of the Clovers, even if through unfair tactics of intimidation.

Reaction in the Castle

At this time, many Clovers were still held captive in their Castle, trapped inside by the remaining Sunspot bodyguards, whom the Tapupais police had promised not to attack. Word of the arrest soon reached the Clovers in the Castle, but they were afraid that they would be slaughtered if they asked to see their friend again.

Reactions at the campsites

The Clovers outside the Castle pledged loyalty to the Tapupais police even after they had arrested the boy. They were by this time so terrified of the world around them, having been attacked first by the Slimes, then by the Zeniths, then by the Sunspots, and now by the police, that they were willing to give up all pretense of holding power in their nation, even saying that when they finally reached adulthood they would still consider themselves subordinate to the police force and would continue to obey commands.

Reflection on current situation

The Clovers realized that in their nation, like other nations, political power was reserved for adults. By claiming the right to rule, the Clovers were portraying themselves as adults, but the society around them seemed unconvinced. Although some Clovers were now in their late teen years, others were younger, and the Clovers had always refused to set up an internal party structure with the older teenagers controlling the younger ones. This is why Silas, only thirteen years old, was able to take control of the police force and be respected by the Clover population as a whole.

The Clovers also understood that their society, like other societies, afforded more sympathy to children, especially to orphans, than to adults in a comparable living situation. This sympathy was the only reason why the adult armies around them had not simply converged on the Castle and slaughtered the children the very day they had started their reign. Even the powers who most stridently opposed the Clovers always mentioned that they were willing to help the young Clovers, and the even younger orphan population living in Clover territory, find safe adoptive homes.

Nonetheless, the Clover leadership did not appreciate these gestures of kindness. Unlike the adult armies around them, the Clovers had no means of avenging attacks on their people. Though they acknowledged it would be worse for them if an army moved in to kill or enslave the entire Clover population, this was no comfort for the young Clovers such as Bubbly and the Blue Sun, who had both been murdered by adult assassins simply for expressing their opinions, or for Sašup and Sayap, murdered for even less. Because the Clovers could not punish these men, or even prevent further attacks, they were helpless, and considered themselves deserving of more sympathy than they were given. But they realized that the only way to obtain protection from outside armies was to submit to them.

Offer of resignation

Even Silas was ready to give up, and announced his resignation as king, though the police explained that the situation was complicated and that they still wanted him to remain in power because if he stepped down the police would likely break up and attack each other. The police thus were forced to admit that they wanted him as a leader but that they would only obey him when most of the police agreed with his orders.

Change in attitudes

Nonetheless, the camping Clovers' temperament deteriorated in the days after the arrest, as they realized Pišasapta would not be coming back anytime soon, and that the kids' wishes meant nothing to the police. Even those Clovers who believed that their new bodyguards were doing their best to survive and to protect the Clover kids from outside harm could no longer hold in their emotions.

Afraid to hold organized protests, the Clovers simply let out their emotions individually. The Clovers no longer claimed to be adults or equivalent to adults, having realized that that argument had never worked in the past. Instead they accepted the situation at hand, and expressed their helpless rage through temper tantrums and incidents of simulated violence against inanimate objects such as trees.

Campers turn against their guards

Indeed, soon the Clovers began venting their frustration even at the bodyguards who were doing their best to meet the Clovers' basic needs, and had been previously held in high regard even by the most temperamental among the children. Thus, the bodyguards were greeted with anger even where they had come to expect gratitude.

Expressive gestures

Yelling at the guards became a common means of communication, as the Clovers figured that even if they were arrested for expressing their emotions, a life in prison would be no worse than a life of moving from camp to camp. Clovers would stand very close to the bodyguards and talk loudly, even yelling into their ears, implying that when the Clovers used ordinarily polite communication styles they were routinely ignored. Some Clovers expected that their armed police bodyguards would hit them just for speaking their minds, but by and large the police were eager to prove that they were better men than the adults who had abused the Clovers in the past.

Bodyguards reconsider their duties

The bodyguards realized that the Clover kids were too widely separated from each other to have coordinated a plan, and that the sudden change in behavior all at once indicated that the Clovers were nearing the limit of their ability to handle emotional pain.

Since many of the guards were under similar emotional stress, they saw the situation from the Clovers' perspective and felt that they could better relate to them than could their earlier groups of bodyguards. The Tapupais bodyguards passed a nonbinding resolution to encourage the Clovers to act out their frustrations on the guards, saying that they made ideal targets since they were well protected from harm, whereas the Clovers could inflict serious harm if they were forced to direct their rage at each other.

And yet, even as they considered themselves the most benevolent of all the adult bodyguard groups, many Tapupais police felt that it was their duty to give up their control of the kids.

Plans for emancipation

Some Tapupais bodyguards contemplated delivering the kids back to the Castle, but having passed the kids back and forth to and from the Castle, most Tapupais police now considered the Sunspots to be abusive.

Therefore, more of the police force supported the so-called Firestick plan which would have the Leapers govern the Clover territory while a Matrix-dominated coalition army took over the rest of Pavaitaapu.

Still other police trusted the Leapers, but figured that they would be unwilling to send in their army, and so they proposed simply delivering the kids to Baeba Swamp, saying that nowhere in Pavaitaapu was safe and that the Leapers would be best equipped to take in the Clovers. With this plan, the Clover nation would disappear and both the Clovers and the unadopted younger orphans who were bound to them would be entrusted to Leaper control. But the Leapers were also considered abusive for different reasons; few Clovers had seen Leaper society up close, but rumors had spread that the Leapers were no more than a manipulative upper class who played both sides of every war, profiting financially without fielding soldiers, and who were more known for creating orphans than for adopting them.

By now, most Clovers assumed that they would never inherit the vast wealth their mostly deceased parents had left them, and had lost everything else of value to them, so the bodyguards figured that they would be willing to move to a foreign society as well.

Leaper-Clover meeting

The Leapers now granted the police's request for a new meeting in Pavaitaapu, this time with the police doing most of the talking. Firestick, Silas, Pišasapta, and the officer who arrested him were all due to attend the meeting.

Firestick had hoped that most of the other officers would defect to his side, and come to think of themselves as Leapers or at least as Leaper supporters, but in fact, he was almost alone. Many officers had since come out against the arrest of Pišasapta, but opposed Firestick's plan to effectively disband the police and hand over full control of their territory to the Leapers. Even Pišasapta himself was unsure of what to do.

Police conditions

Many Clover kids, including Silas, had accepted the invitation to attend but requested not to speak, and the police told the Leapers that they could not address any of the Clover kids directly. Only a few Clovers wished to both attend the meeting and to voice their opinions; even here, the police insisted that Leapers not be allowed to start a conversation with them, but only to answer.

Leaper conditions

Since Firestick had complained the loudest by demanding that Pišasapta be present, many attendants on both sides assumed that Pišasapta and Firestick would voice the same opinions, and that Pišasapta would be afraid to say anything without Firestick's permission. Therefore, the other officers demanded that Firestick be physically separated from the boy, and positioned such that other men would be standing in between them, so that they could not communicate even in a nonverbal manner. The Leapers agreed to this, but also insisted that the barrier between the boy and the officers be comprised of Leaper men, perhaps just one, and that the boy be made to stand at the corner of the table so that the officers could not easily see him. Thus, the Leapers wanted to place their own men on the police's side of the table. The officers objected to this as well, saying that they would trust Firestick before they would trust any Leapers, but Firestick himself endorsed the Leaper plan, saying that it would be proof that he and the boy had formed their opinions independently.

By this time, the boy Pišasapta had admitted that he felt overwhelmed, and did not wish to pursue his political agenda further. But Firestick took this as a signal that his own platform deserved an amplified voice, and claimed that Pišasapta's shyness was proof of outside intimidation.

Mainstream police arguments

Arguing that they were defending children against adult assassins, the Tapupais police appealed to the Leapers' humanitarian sympathies. They invited the Leapers to tour the rest of Pavaitaapu to see how ruined their society was, and how the police force was doing the best they could to protect their society's vulnerable people. They also argued that they were the only adult male armed force that had not started a war with some other armed force. Moreover, unlike the Sunspots, they continued to obey their leader, Silas.

At the meeting, the Tapupais diplomats again stated that they preferred Pavaitaapu to remain an independent nation, and that they could defend it on their own. And they stated that this was not selfishness, because the common people of Pavaitaapu were surely happier under Clover rule than they would be under the rule of the Matrixes, the Sunspots, or any other outside power. They argued that all of the problems in their nation had been brought to them by outside parties, and that the Clovers were the rulers best suited to govern a small nation such as Pavaitaapu.

Comparison to outside views

Recently, some had come to believe that the Leapers, with the help of STW and the distant Players in Memnumu, had been propping up child rulers to help them easily control foreign nations, and that in order to keep control, the Leapers would seek to perpetually replace these children with younger children by any means possible.

One strong argument for this theory was that child rulers had appeared almost at once in four different areas of the planet: Memnumu, Anzan, Baeba, and Amade, and that, though separated by thousands of miles, these areas were all waypoints on STW's main trade route. However, STW did not actually have a sea connection to Amade; this area was instead controlled by Wax, an ally of AlphaLeap, suggesting that STW was not acting alone in placing children into power.

Supporters of this theory also noted that the young king, the Golden Sun, was kept safe from harm while young, and fed wine to keep his temperament positive, until shortly after he turned sixteen years old, when he was slain by a bodyguard for attending an all-night party.

Tapupais stated that they did not know the truth of this rumor and did not care; they endorsed the Clovers and stated that they would obey the Clovers both while they were young and when they grew into adults. Thus, even if the rumor were true, STW and the Leapers would be denied the ability to replace the Clovers with younger children.

Leaper response

The Leapers claimed that there was no special connection between STW and the Leaper party, and that the Leapers had modeled their economy after STW, making them a rival and not an ally. They admitted that they were promoting child rulers in Amade, but stated that the policy was not to perpetually replace teenagers with younger children but rather to conquer a territory, entrust it to a young child ruler, and then to leave that person in control when they reach adulthood while winning new conquests and installing new child rulers in those territories. And they stated that if anything, STW had copied the Leapers, rather than the other way around, since STW was not known to have done that in the past. The Leapers stated that while Pavaitaapu had an extremely large orphan population and an unusually high ratio of children to adults in general, they would not support replacing the reigning Clovers with younger Clovers or with uneducated orphans simply for the sake of having rulers that were easier to control.

The Leapers also acknowledged the claims of the Matrix party, stating that Baeba Swamp was a democracy, and that the Matrixes had won the support of the population by legitimate means. They believed that the people of Pavaitaapu mostly also supported the Matrixes, and that a Matrix-Leaper coalition army where the Matrixes were the dominant party would thus have the support of the people. But they preferred to annex Pavaitaapu into Baeba Swamp rather than invade and conquer it, because annexation would mean that Baeban laws would apply immediately, and that the conquering soldiers could not simply plunder and abuse the population of Pavaitaapu. There were no Matrix representatives at the meeting, so the Leaper representatives admitted that they did not fully trust the Matrixes.

Repercussions of the wider war

At this time, a coalition army consisting of the Zenith and the Slopes was at war with the STW-Matrix coalition army for control of Baeba Swamp and Rapala (the successor state to the Anchor Empire). The Leapers were obligated to defend the STW-Matrix coalition inside Baeba, but not outside it; therefore, if the Leapers were to annex Pavaitaapu, the Clovers and their supporters would have protection not just from their internal enemies but also from the roving Zenith army, which was now pushing into territory within Baeba that it had never before controlled.

Entry into the wider war

Return of the Tinks

By this time, the Slime party had petitioned the Leapers to change their name yet again, this time back to their original name from the year 4149, the Lava Handlers. They were able to do this now because the other claimant to that name, the Cold Men of inner Anzan, had abandoned all claims to the Lava Handler name and had come to focus on surviving attacks by the Play party to their south. The Leapers, though strongly opposed to the Slimes, granted this request, saying that diplomacy took precedence over war. However, this time, they chose a Leaper translation of their Play name which was much shorter and referred explicitly to metalworking rather than describing them as shaping lava. Thus the Tinks were restored.

For the next two years, the Tinks fought back against STW and the Matrixes for control of Rapala, but kept losing. Many Tinks fled to Baeba Swamp and used Dolls as soldiers to gain protection from their enemies. But the Matrixes continued to win, and their society with its new milder slave labor was very productive, competitive even with STW.

Taxation depression

The Zeniths, who had been thrown out of power in Baeba, signed an alliance with the Tinks combining all their efforts in destroying the new STW-Matrix coalition government of Rapala. The Zeniths seceded from Rapala, and stopped paying taxes even though they still continued to use the nation's public services.

When the citizens of Rapala realized that the Zeniths had legally seceded, stopped paying taxes, and kept on living side by side with their neighbors, all while collecting social benefits, the other parties considered doing the same thing, and the government of Rapala realized it might soon collapse.

Base 44

Lanīs and the richest of the people of Base 44 had moved to a new base, 257, in Baeba Swamp. The Zeniths owned the land that STW Base 257 relied on, so STW Base 257 was now almost completely cut off from its allies in Rapala, and they had little power there. The Zeniths were entirely against STW now, and they focused their attacks more on STW than on the Matrixes. Soon they had almost completely destroyed STW in Baeba, and only Base 257 (the strongest base) remained there. Lanīs realized Base 257 was in danger, so she suddenly fled with Base 257 and all of its members to the western part of Rapala. She rebuilt all the buildings in the wilderness. She also established forts in Lobexon, which was cooperating with STW. The Matrixes promised to defend STW during the war, because they knew that STW was largely responsible for their own existence. Base 257 also built a nation of its own in the rainforest, in case it might become necessary to flee Rapala altogether.

Twist of fate

In spring 4197, the Zenith army surrendered to the STW-Matrix coalition army. The Zeniths had actually gained land in this war, but had lost control of important and heavily populated areas in Baeba Swamp, and soon the Zenith battalions could no longer communicate with Zeniths stranded by the new divisions.

Rapala continued to get richer each year until late 4197. In late 4197, the Matrixes had secured power for themselves, and no longer had to fight off the Tinks. The Matrixes made a truce with STW, promising that they would not attack each other. Once the Matrixes were safe, they became far more corrupt than had been the Tinks. They went back to true slave labor, saying that it was after all the superior system.

The Matrixes' only fear was slaves they could not control. They wanted to make sure that there was nothing anyone could do that the Matrixes could not. To make themselves feel safe among Rapala's population of "polluted" people, the Matrixes killed people that they felt were unclean, and they violently abused those who were clean.

The Matrixes merged their slave pools into a single group they called Dolls (Mumpum). (They had planned to use the name Mampum, but they changed it to Mumpum.) The Mumpum were very easy to exploit and abuse in large numbers, and even STW captured a lot of Mumpum slaves and made them work for STW. Thus, the only people who were safe were the Matrixes and the people in STW, who had made a promise to attack only Mumpums, and never each other. (The Rasparas had almost completely disappeared by this time, although many Rasparas had joined STW or signed contracts with STW and thus stealthily caused STW to become mostly pro-Raspara.) Thus, every Matrix was guaranteed his own safety. Moonshine realized that the Swamp Kids had definitely been the lesser of the two evils. Moonshine got very angry at the Matrix for abandoning its promises and did not know what to do. They wanted to continue to send in more laborers to try to keep the Rapalan economy going, but realized that they could no longer support Rapala because of its corrupt government. Instead, they began to prepare their people for war against Rapala, hoping that with their own form of free labor they could overcome Rapala's military and restore Rapala to a less perverse system of government.

STW spreads out

Birth of Halulima

In October 4197, a boy named Halulima was born; this was a Late Andanese name though not one in the traditional style. This was because STW had coined the name and they did not follow the long-established naming traditions of the now-abolished Andanese tribe native to Play territory.

Zenith enters the war

The Zeniths decided that their only hope lay in breaking the fragile bond between the Crystals and the Matrix. The Matrix had sincerely agreed, to the surprise of all, to release all Crystals and Bubbles from its slave pools, and hand over its armories to the Crystals and Bubbles.

The Matrixes were afraid of the Tinkers, and they felt they would be better off by far in a world run by the Crystals than a world run by the Tinkers.

Soon the Crystals became almost as strong as the Matrix. The Crystals were thus in 2nd place in terms of military strength. The Zenith was 4th, and they hoped that if they could ally themselves with the greatest power (Matrix), they would be able to secure a position like that enjoyed by the Crystals, while the Crystals, as their true enemies, would be reduced once again to the helplessness that they had just recently escaped. The Bubbles, meanwhile, would be killed altogether by the combined Matrix-Zenith. The Zenith realized its plan was unlikely to happen, but figured they would all lose anyway if they didn't act, so they put their plan into effect.

The first thing they did was to protest against the Crystals. The Zenith announced that they were going to attack the Crystals (not the Matrix), and try to kill as many Crystal women as possible before the women overwhelmed them by force of numbers. They stated that they knew they would lose, and planned to collapse early on and write a plea seeking peace with the Matrixes, and asking them to turn against the Crystals.

The Matrixes refused, and crushed the Zenith completely by December 4198. They retook Baeba, and STW Base 257 moved back into the Swamp.

Matrixes grow

Still, the situation improved gradually over the next two years. The Matrixes apologized for their misdeeds (their party was fragmented; kinder people got into power) and began to try to help the Crystals and Bubbles become stronger so that they would not have to always fear a takeover by the Matrix.

But in late 4198, the Matrixes decided to abandon Moonshine and break their promises once again. This time, they passed a law stating that all people, no matter what tribe or party they belonged to, were to be seen simply as slaves for the Matrixes, who had declared themselves to be above all others. The Matrixes' new law also stated that they could do absolutely anything they wanted to with the slaves, so long as the Matrixes did not attack each other.

They abused the slaves so badly that Moonshine began sending its people on very dangerous rescue missions to bring Dolls to safety in Moonshine.

The Matrixes thus revived their war against the Crystals and Bubbles, just as the Zeniths had been hoping they would.

Crystals fight back

But because the Matrix had just recently been helping the Crystals and Bubbles become stronger, their opponents were significantly tougher than they had been just a few years earlier, and the Matrixes were afraid that they might all be killed by the Dolls they were attempting to enslave. Many Matrixes began to switch parties in order to escape their coming doom. Most of these became Crystals. The Crystals exalted these people and protected them better than they protected their original members, but even so the Matrix army was eager to kill any defectors, and they often focused their energies especially on Matrix traitors.

Moonshine coalition army

August 28, 4199

In August, the pacifist empire of Moonshine declared war on the Matrix, and began sending their surprisingly powerful armies into Rapala to attack the Matrix. Their armies were so powerful because they had the help of many other nations, who were eager to destroy the Matrix's slave empire.

Lilypad participation

Leading these soldiers were over 18,000 now grown-up Lilypad soldiers, formerly divided into groups such as the Cooks, the Rashes, the Scorpions, and the Butterflies. They had fled into Moonshine's refugee state, Hōki, which welcomed refugees even from nations that were at war with each other, or with Moonshine.

Because the Lilypads outnumbered the other refugees, they had carved out a safe territory within Hōki for themselves even when they were still young to wear armor and carry full-sized weapons. They had renamed this territory the Blue Cocoon, the same name that the other Lilypads had used for the other safe territory far to the south, because they had lost contact with the original Cocoon and suspected it had been popped open by the Play army.

The Lilypads had allowed the Matrixes to abuse their slaves unchecked for five years, saying that even such a situation could not justify mobilizing 18,000 still-growing adolescent soldiers to face an army consisting entirely of adult males who had already become known for boasting of their cruelty.

The Lilypads were still poorly equipped because there was no legal means in Hōki of acquiring war supplies, but because they were so close to each other, they worked together to produce new weapons and armor from supplies they found in nature. They reminded each other that they had always been Cold Men and that they would attack anyone who opposed them, even if Moonshine would not back them up. They identified themselves more narrowly as Tippers (Play Vaunas Pava), derived from the Play word for the tip of a sword. This was similar to the name of a militant pro-Moonshine faction who had invaded Dreamland a few decades earlier. Like the earlier Tippers, the new Cold Men promised to defend Moonshine through offensive war, something Moonshine's pacifist ideology stopped them from doing on their own. The new Tippers knew of the earlier group through diplomatic contacts in which the Dreamers had complained that they were so weak that they could not stop outsiders from invading their territory and then starting wars in Dreamland far out of reach of any outside parties.

New Cold party platform

Dedication to protecting children

The new Cold Men believed that their responsibility to protect young children was paramount, and that they would also need to protect children in hostile nations, not just their own. The Cold Men had not yet reproduced and indeed had not yet lifted the law against wartime childbirth, so any babies born automatically convicted both parents of child abuse. Because these people could simply change their identity in Hōki, many couples had become non-Tippers, but by doing this they lost their legal obligation to be protected by the Tipper army.

Adopting orphans did not break this law, so long as the orphans they adopted were coming from an even worse situation. They believed therefore that they should adopt the orphans of STW's Third Classroom, who originally had numbered about 25,000. Many of these had grown up and some were as old as the Cold Men themselves, but the Cold Men estimated that some might be as young as five years old, since STW had been adopting abandoned babies up until five years prior. However, these children were living more than a thousand miles away from Hōki and the Cold Men were not sure that a journey across hostile terrain just to adopt orphans was realistic.

Acknowledgment of descent from Players

The new Cold Men acknowledged their descent from the hostile Play culture, and that their political opposition to the Players was no barrier to recognizing positive cultural traits that the Players had passed down to them.

The Cold Men and the Clovers had both grown up in non-traditional societies with few or no adults present, and with those few adults being primarily soldiers without family ties to the children they were entrusted to protect. Both groups of children had repeatedly sought to form military alliances with the traditional adult nations around them, only to be crushed over and over as the adult armies either betrayed the children to face other adults unaided, or attacked the children directly. Thousands of children had been killed in unfair battles in which they had no hope of victory or even escape. Many of the killers had been Players.

But the Cold Men now argued that the Players, despite being by far the most violent of the various adult groups, were also the only group who had tried to relate to the children diplomatically. This distinguished the Players from cultures such as the Leapers, the Matrix, the Tadpoles, the Zenith, the STW corporation, and perhaps even historical allies such as the Crystals and Soap Bubbles. The Cold Men, by contrast, were descended primarily from Play families who had split politically several generations earlier but had remained culturally close to the Players' ideal worldview in important ways.

Comparison of cultures

The Cold Men stated that most societies in their world considered children to be worth less than adults because children who died young were easily replaced. Therefore, supposed adult allies had little reaction to the children's repeated requests for help, and felt little guilt when they were complicit in the massacres of the Cold and Clover children.

By contrast, the Cold Men believed that the Players considered young children's lives to be more worthy of protection than those of adults, and that proof of this was that the Players always sent huge numbers of adult male soldiers into battle, and that Play women were similarly expected to fight to protect the lives of their children should any war turn against them. The result of this was that the Play army had always overperformed in war but that each generation had produced large numbers of orphans.

However, the Cold Men noted that the Players' dedication to protecting children's lives had limits. Even though the Players had tried to make peace with the children in the Cold nation, they had eventually given up and launched a traditional war. Some Cold Men had also met young children in the Play nation who were not well protected from invasions, and therefore proved that the Players sometimes did not protect their own children from harm either.

The Cold Men resolved to do better than this, and asserted that the promise they had made as children was still in effect. That promise was to state that, as adults, they would continue to put children first in their minds, just as they had done when they were themselves children. They stated that parents had an inescapable duty to protect not just their own children, but also those of other families, and that many adults might die in a war to protect the young children who could not defend themselves. However, they also believed that it was wrong for parents to leave large numbers of orphans with no one to take care of them, and that orphans living in Hōki might live in even worse conditions than what the Cold Men and Clovers had grown up with, as the Cold Men were now surrounded by hostile parties in their home territory. This is why the Cold Men living in Hōki had not yet started families of their own; they believed anyone giving birth in such a situation was guilty of child abuse, and that any baby's life was more valuable than those of their parents.

Cold domination of military

As militants living in a pacifist nation, the Cold Men held power vastly out of proportion to their population size. Though still poorly equipped, the Cold Men realized that they were probably stronger offensively than the entire Moonshine army, because the Moonshines were primarily focused on defense and on humanitarian aid. The Moonshine diplomats had started this new war, but many Cold Men believed that the declaration of war was merely Moonshine's attempt to hide the fact that the Cold Men who had fled into Moonshine as child refugees now had control of Moonshine's borders and foreign policy.

Outside reactions

However, the Cold Men's invasion actually created some allies for the Matrix, because these allies believed that if the Cold-Moonshine coalition won the war, then the Tinks could later could re-emerge as a powerful threat to their nations. The Cold Men had no interest in supporting the Tinks, but outside nations believed that the Tinks and Cold Men would eventually come together because of their shared culture and history.

Matrixes take hold

Matrix-Raspara relations

Yet the Matrixes themselves revived many of the Swamp Kids' abusive policies, policies that the slaves of Rapala all hated and that Rasparas and STW members now hid from in fear.

Life for Dolls got worse and worse until it improved slightly around Jan 4200 due to a truce that STW, which had begun winning battles, had forced the Matrix to sign.

But in Jan 4200, the situation got much worse when the Matrixes took even another step downward and committed themselves to an alliance with the Rasparas. They legalized Rasparism in Baeba Swamp, and welcomed Rasparas who wanted to ally themselves with a winning power and still be able to practice Rasparism. But most Rasparas wanted nothing to do with the Matrix government; everyone was against them now.

Many Dolls tried to flee to Hōkī to escape what had become everyday life in Rapala, even as the Cold Men were fleeing away from Hōki. The Cold Men wanted the Dolls to fight, but were wary of angering their allies.

The Matrixes (who had been taken over by a group of Matrixes called Inaga or Nainainahanai) even admitted now that they didn't care at all how painful the lives of the Dolls they abused were; they cared only about each other, and securing a powerful future for their nation. They planned to have Rapala take over the world and extinguish all other nations. Then, they said, the world would be perfect, because by this time they would have perfected themselves and eliminated all pain. They saw that everyone else in the world, including Rapala's traditional allies, was against them, but they told each other that they were confident that they would overcome their enemies if only they forced their Dolls to work even harder building weapons.

The Matrixes now lived in buildings that had been built by the Dolls in recent decades, buildings that were not designed for Nenenhane people to live in. Still, the Matrixes recognized the signs of their cultural affiliation with the Dolls in the spacious design of their buildings. Their new home, Enasisira, was the largest building complex in the world. But they had invaded the buildings, and were not at home there. They survived only because they forced their Doll slaves to work as hard as possible at all times to keep them comfortable. The Matrixes had destroyed a lot of very valuable technical knowledge, so the Dolls were forced to do heavy manual labor that often injured them. This caused a lot of accidental deaths among the slaves, but the Matrixes had them reproducing so fast that they could not die fast enough to cause the Matrixes any alarm. The Dolls were taught that they were perfect, and that their job was to do their best to improve the lives of the Matrixes who controlled them, because the Matrixes claimed that they were morally perverse and in need of a lot of help from innocent, perfect people like the Mumpum Dolls. They also taught the Dolls that the worst thing they could do would be to kill a Matrix, and that they should never be violent in any way. They did this so that the Mumpum would not desire to eliminate the Matrixes completely so as to create what they thought would be a world of perfect people.[12]

The Matrixes had pushed to an incredible extreme that cruel imbalance of justice that had long been the rule on planet Teppala: the Matrixes themselves lived a very luxurious, indulgent life because they each had hundreds of slaves to work hard for them to keep them alive. These slaves, called the Dolls (or Mumpum), were forced to work as hard as they could for the Matrixes, and any who refused were killed. But even the hardest-working Dolls had to deal with sexual and physical abuse from the Matrixes, who used their helpless slaves to satisfy their own sadistic desires. The Dolls were worked so hard that the leading cause of death, after diseases, was injury while working. The fact that most Mumpum people died young didn't upset the Matrixes, because they were forced to reproduce at such a rate that the Matrixes couldn't kill them fast enough to keep the population down.

In fact, the Matrixes knew that they could afford to kill one slave about every day because that was about the rate at which they were being delivered to each campsite. There was an incentive, however, for the Matrixes to not kill too many slaves: no matter how many they killed, slaves were delivered to the Matrixes at the same rate. Thus, a Matrix who took good care of his slaves would amass an ever larger army of slaves, whereas one who was careless and let them die could find himself virtually without slaves. Even without slaves, however, a Matrix was guaranteed support from other Matrixes, and did not have to worry about being attacked. Very rich Matrixes (those who had many thousands of slaves) often let some of the slaves work for the good of the Matrixes as a whole by developing technology, rather than by caring only for the immediate needs of their owner.

STW appoints more leaders

In 4200, the STW corporation formally crowned a young boy named Pasīpas king of STW's holdings in the rump state of Tata, the coastal state between Baeba Swamp and Moonshine. By this time, having seen the Clover kids slaughtered by their own bodyguards, STW knew that they had to keep young rulers protected from enemies occupying traditional avenues of power. Even the younger Clovers such as the Moon had fled their palaces when they realized that they had no means of protecting themselves. Pasīpas had his own bodyguards, but the common people wondered if he would meet the same untimely end as the Clovers.

Pasīpas was six years old and STW described him as belonging to the Play party, even though the Players did not allow male rulers, much less young male rulers. This was in keeping with STW's claim that the Play party had been abolished in the areas in which STW was fighting for control, and that the continued existence of the Play party in Memnumu should not deny STW the ability to start their own Play party in Tata. STW called this new party Pata Yaavaa, which could be translated as Play Ants, but they insisted that it was the Play party and not the Ant party.

Matrix victory

In Jan 4202, the Matrix defeated the Cold-Moonshine coalition army in the Battle of Papilalapapi (named like the 49ers (yaala)), ending the war with a victory for the Matrix.

Opposing armies were then driven out of Rapala, and the Matrixes attacked Hōkī in order to kill all the people living there. The Matrixes said that they would mostly kill Dolls, not Cold Men, even though the Cold Men had attacked them and the Dolls had not. Nonetheless they raped thousands of Cold women, expecting that their attacks would demoralize the male Cold population and that the women would be forced to raise babies in Hōki despite earlier saying that wartime childbirth was a crime.

The Matrixes invaded Hōkī, and killed many Dolls as promised, but the Cold Men fought for the Dolls and eventually killed the Matrix invaders.

Then, the Cold Men carved out a wilderness area within Hōki for their own use only. This was illegal by Moonshine law, because Hōki was intended to be a safe space for refugees of all parties, but Moonshine had lost control of their refugee territory even before the Matrix invasion. In their private territory, the Cold Men resolved to revive their strength and remain a powerful enemy of the Matrix government.

Matrixes regroup

The new Matrix government was based on a system of technology far more primitive than that used by the Swamp Kids. The only reason they still held power in their dying world was that they had signed a treaty with STW, and STW supported them enough to not object to what the Matrixes wanted to do with them. The Matrixes sought to prevent the assembly of another Swamp-style army by ruling over their slaves with extreme oppression, and forcing the entire population except themselves to work very hard for the Matrixes in order to keep their government stable. All of the world supported the Matrixes now, because they were not nearly as powerful as the Swampies had been just a few years earlier.

Restoration of child labor

The government lived up to the earlier Matrixes' promise of an era whose cruel injustices would make those of all preceding eras pale in comparison. The Matrixes still had a massive slave army of people they called Dolls. When the Dolls were born, they were immediately subjected to extreme abuse. The Dolls were forced to work extremely hard, doing all of the labor needed to keep the Matrixes alive and safe, and the rest of the time building weapons to make Rapala's technology surpass those of all rival nations in the world (at this time, Tata was the champion of weapons technology). Even the Raspara had mostly abandoned child labor by this time, not out of compassion, but because they believed it was inefficient. But now the Matrixes were putting enslaved Dolls into dangerous occupations as soon as they were able to walk.

Matrixes attack the Soap

Beginning in summer 4202, the Matrix focused on conquering the Soap Bubbles (there were still many Dolls that had not yet been captured). This turned out to be no easy task, as the Crystals immediately began to object. The Crystals demanded that the Bubbles be allowed to participate in a new coalition government to include the Matrix, the Crystals, and the Bubbles. The Crystals insincerely stated that the true evil had been the Zenith, and that the only reason there was any war in Rapala was because of the Zenith.

The Matrix responded by trying to compromise with the Crystals, saying they would agree to a coalition government if it was to be run without the Bubbles, in which case they would let the Bubbles live, but without substantial power. The Crystals, after a long period of debate, agreed to the plan, saying that the Bubbles were an insignificant minority group and that they would not matter much in the long run, anyway, because they likely would be outvoted by the Crystal-Matrix to such a point where they would be reduced to powerlessness even more absolute than what they faced here. Still, the Crystals secretly knew this was an excuse, and they wanted the Bubbles to have some power.

STW attacks

The STW corporation, considering themselves to have lost all of their allies, declared war on 21 nations of escaped slaves. They started out facing just a few of the nations but were soon at war with all 21. Within five years they had conquered all the nations, and added this land to its own territory, Lindasia. But many escaped slaves spread out to even more nations in the wilderness, and soon there were hundreds of nations of escaped STW slaves, with a combined population even larger than STW's slavepool. These and many other Mampum slaves escaped control of STW and built up their own nation and army in an area that was inaccessible to STW and its military leader Piplap. Soon, the slaves turned around and attacked STW.

Religious imagery

In this war, even many STW leaders admitted they had long since lost the moral high ground. Piplap and other leaders declared that the escaped slaves were in Heaven, and that they had come to conquer Hell and free its remaining subjects. Piplap said that everything the slaves did was morally justified, and that they were incapable of evil, because a war against evil could not itself be evil. Yet Piplap reaffirmed his commitment to STW and promised he would defend STW against the armies of Heaven.

There were many small battles. For the most part, Piplap himself did not attack the soldiers here. Instead, he sent out enslaved Matrixes and others from Rapala to help him, or he sent animals. Piplap realized that to confront the slaves directly would be too dangerous, because he didn't know at all how strong the slaves were.

Matrixes fight slaves for STW

Note: All names in this section are in Late Andanese.

A small troop of Matrixes invaded a school for female Patalapama Dolls and the Dolls welcomed them in, but the Matrixes quickly turned violent and killed all of the girls. Then the Matrixes attacked another all-female Doll community, this time enslaving the girls instead of killing them. Then the Matrixes kidnapped two girls both named Inalahagalana and killed them.[13]

Then a troop of Kapa men kidnapped 270[14] Lakumini soldiers who had been guarding the border of their nation. At this point, the Matrixes pulled back, and sent in animals, mostly cougars and rats, to fight the next layer of Dolls. The Nipa Matrixes (that is, the Brooms)[15] then abducted 120,000 more Dolls. In eastern Tata, 600 Likumita Dolls were eaten by animals as they fled the swamp to escape their captors. They had nearly died of hypothermia before the animals found them.

A humanitarian troop of 4,000 Lini Dolls got attacked by the Kapa Matrixes and then submitted to them. Next, a battalion of Matrixes calling itself Mi swept into Haka territory but the Haka refused to fight back and thus were quickly defeated. Then the Kapi wing of the Matrix army invaded a Doll community called Lu and the people there immediately prostituted themselves to the Matrixes, laughing at the abuse they were about to endure, and promising to give the Matrixes more pleasure than they had ever experienced before. They put on shows for the Matrixes and said that they would happily serve the Matrixes even if the Matrixes chose to torture and kill them.

The Ka wings moved together at this point and declared martial law over the territory of Lii. They prostituted the females and physically abused the males. At this point, the Matrixes again pulled back and allowed animals to kill the Dolls who had not yet been enslaved. Then the Ka invaded southern Dreamland and killed many of Dreamland's strongest soldiers, suffering little damage in return. Then they killed a few more girls. Then, animals turned against the Doll orphans and they fled into Matrix territory saying they would rather be enslaved than eaten.

Self-discipline

Soon, the non-STW Matrix slaveowners had so many slaves, and were receiving so many more each day, that they could kill their slaves for sport and never run out. Some slavemasters became so addicted to abuse that they ordered their slaves to build cages for their masters, into which the masters would confine themselves to control their behavior. Even inside the cage, however, some masters killed their slaves.

Physical expansion

At this point, STW ordered its slaves to build walls around all territories controlled by STW, and STW sent its ships across the sea to subdue faraway lands. The slaves rapidly built a wall in a C-shape that surrounded Tata and northwestern Rapala. Because the wall cut through central Rapala, the non-STW Rapalans could no longer reach the remainder of Rapala, and so declared that Rapala was now reduced to its northwestern edge, and merely a district within STW's new nation of Lindasia.

Matrix rule

The Soap Bubbles formally merged with the Crystals in the summer of 4205. This was because they both had lost the ability to rule independently, and party membership had become a legal fiction: the Crystals were female, and the Soap Bubbles were male.

Partition

In September, the Matrixes partitioned the Anchor Empire (by now called Rapala) into three independent republics. The Soap Bubbles were assigned the republic of Lihatasăro, by far the smallest of three, and mostly controlled by the STW corporation.

Elections in the three republics were all tied to party identity, and not to a voter's place of residence. That is, Soap Bubbles living in all three republics were constrained to voting in the elections in Lihatasăro, and had no representation in the other two republics. They were not expected to physically travel to Lihatasăro to vote; rather, their votes were collected at their place of residence and sent by transit to Lihatasăro. Thus, the Matrix system was a modified Play system. Meanwhile, Crystals could vote only for elections in the Republic of Saġʷùpa, and the Matrixes had the republic of Mataŋal.

The Matrixes were a closed-entry party, almost entirely hereditary, and restricted to adult males. The rest of the population was divided into Crystals, Bubbles, and unenrolled people. Of these, the Crystals were female and the Soap Bubbles were male, as they had traditionally been in recent decades. This meant that the Matrixes' wives could not be Matrixes; indeed, the Matrixes enrolled most of their wives into the Crystal party since this was the only way they could legally vote. This meant that the Matrixes' wives competed with the Crystal party base for vote share in Saġʷùpa, and the Crystals had no means by which to expel the supposed converts.

The Matrixes also enrolled much of the Empire's child population into the Soap and Crystal parties. Just as they enrolled their wives into the Crystal party, they also enrolled their sons into the Soap party and their daughters into the Crystal party. The Matrixes insisted that voting rights be granted at birth, stating that a democracy that restricted voting rights to adults was no democracy at all. Furthermore, the Matrixes insisted that young children have their own voting places so that their parents could not intimidate them into voting along family lines. Neither the Crystals nor the Bubbles recognized the right of children to vote, so these children could not vote in the parties' internal leadership elections, but the Matrixes controlled the voting system of the three republics, so children did have the right to vote in the national elections. (That is to say, even though Lihatasăro was a one-party state run by the Soap Bubbles, there was a difference between the Soap Bubble party and the state of Lihatasăro, and the leaders of one could not be guaranteed posts in the other.)

The Matrixes also owned many slaves. They assigned Crystal and Bubble party membership to these people as well, both to children and to adults, and as above the Crystals and Bubbles did not have any legal means by which to expel these people from their parties. The laws against intimidation did not apply to Matrixes, so the Matrixes ensured that their slaves would vote for the best interests of the Matrixes and not with their formal party identification. Furthermore, the adults among the slaves could also vote in the Soap and Crystal internal party elections, just as though they were voluntary members.

Effects on voting patterns

This meant that the Crystals had to compete with the Matrixes' wives and female slaves, and some Crystals stated that these two groups were one, as the Matrixes seemed to pick up and discard wives at their leisure; and there were also more than 100,000 Crystal children, many of whom were not actually the children of voluntary members.

Meanwhile, the Soap Bubbles had to compete with the Matrixes' male slaves, and like the Crystals had more than 100,000 children on their voting rolls, many of whom were not children of Soap Bubbles either. In fact adults were a minority in the Soap party, and the Soapies realized that the Matrixes' insistence that children be allowed to vote out of sight of their parents would mean that the children's votes would dominate every election and that the Soap Bubbles' autonomous republic of Lihatasăro would quickly become a farce in which the few actual bills coming to the Soap Bubble parliament in Lihatasăro would be pro-Matrix ideas dressed up in order to appeal to the young Soap children scattered throughout the Empire.

Finality

The Crystals lasted only a few more years in Baeba, although word of their surrender did not reach the Crystals living in the equatorial zone, and the Crystal party continued to exist in remote areas without participating in Baeba's new coalition government.

Cosmopolitan Age

STW

Shortly after the Soap party abolished itself, STW began to call many of its slaves Soap Bubbles. This was an involuntary use of the name, as neither the slaves nor the former Soap Bubbles approved of it. But because the original Soap Bubbles had abandoned their rights to the name, even neutral parties such as Nama would not stop STW from using that name. STW stated that the new Soap Bubbles were not a party, but a subsidiary of STW.

This may not be part of the Cosmopolitan Age, however, as it is not clear whether these slaves were parceled off in groups after STW collapsed, such that they would preserve their identities.

Clovers

The Quest tribe that ruled southern Tata during the dawn of the Cosmopolitan Age used the same root word as the Clover kids. That is, the name "Quest" here represents their reuse of a young Clover boy's alleged question to his friend, "which country (are we in)?" By repeating this question, the Quests acknowledged that they did not know where they would be living in the future.

The Quests were a unitary ethnic group ruled by adults and had more in common with the traditional parties such as the Slimes. Nonetheless, they were the shortest people in the region, and accepted the association with small stature that reusing the Clovers' name brought to them.

Notes

  1. False? During the early 3900s it was true that "Some Thunderers wanted to move to the Crystal Empire, figuring that they could at least prevent a Crystal takeover of Altotta by threatening to cause problems in the Crystal Empire itself, but the Crystals wouldn't let them in." However during the preceding Lantern Empire immigration was welcome in both directions.
  2. known as Freemen
  3. Not /pininapa/, because the letter for "pini" was deliberately misread as "pipu"
  4. This is not a self-insert character, as he was in my writing before I was using the name Soap for myself. Mepu is a very old trade name.
  5. a trade name meaning farmer
  6. Contradicts something written earlier.
  7. but possibly 4193
  8. Note that this is true even assuming that the major Crystal city was far to the south. The lake was simply the most reliable food source for any population.
  9. This character may be the same as Bubbly, although in my original writing, they seem to have been separate people. This is not a self-insert character.
  10. this is sulalaka
  11. The last morpheme of the name means "thing used once only" and thus is difficult to translate to English except with anachronisms such as "bomb" or "bullet", technologies which did not exist in this world. Since it also meant "disposable", it was prone to derogatory use, but the officer had made up his mind and was ready to die for his cause.
  12. Enasisi = tu in Xap
  13. This section seems wildly out of place, but 550.html confirms it is exactly in the right place. It is merely written in a different style than the rest.
  14. or "for 270 days"
  15. 2169