Bleda Khan seemed stunned like a turtle roughly thrown on it's back. He stared at the piece of paper in his hand and slowly, almost unnoticeably, placed it on his desk. Though his expression didn't change, tears began rolling down his cheeks.
"Why do they do this? Why do they continue this doomed struggle?"
"I don't know, sir," said Colonel Bura Karakoram.
After receiving her burn wounds she had been incapacitated, but had recovered enough after a short stay in the hospital to begin working again. A few hours had been her short stay. It was all the doctors could spare considering the influx of wounded troops.
Being unable to continue fighting, she was relegated to message carrying duty. She had just brought the news to Bleda Khan that Jagatai had refused to lay down his arms. She was still a little stunned herself to see her leader, especially in such a disconsolate state.
"I started this whole terrible conflict. I wish I could make things right again. I wish I could stop this now. I wish I could change things somehow. I feel such sorrow for the things I have done."
Bura felt a bit uneasy about addressing the emperor, but she felt she should.
"Perhaps you should apologize, my emperor."
Bleda's eyes suddenly glimmered in excitement.
"You're right. I should at the very least apologize."
He leapt up with an urgency he hadn't felt in years. He opened the doors to his balcony and stepped out. A microphone was there, always ready for some impromptu speech he was going to make. He walked to the microphone but said nothing.
Below him the streets were still bustling with people. Many of them were now the invaders, taking prisoners and resting after the battle. Ulan Bator had left the conflict at Bleda's order, but much of Mongolia was following Jagatai. Slowly eyes began turning upward toward him. Gradually the din quieted down to a low rustle. Even the Allies were looking at him expectantly. In the crowd was a GRTH reporter, who began recording and transmitting Bleda Khan's image all over the world. He began to speak.
"I have retarded progress for so many years now, I would like to make a step in the right direction for once. I know that a simple apology can not make up for the pain and horror I have caused, but I hope that it can at least be a start. I wish to apologize to the people of the world. The people I've invaded: Russia, China, Kazakhstan, India. The people I've hurt all over the world by my involvement in The Last War. Most of all I'd like to apologize to my own people, the Mongolians, for having led you all astray.
"I've been seeing things through the eyes of a child. I've only been looking at dreams, not at realities. I realize now that it is action which counts, not ideas or dreams. If a soldier is killed, is he any less dead whether he was killed by a communist or an imperialist? Motives never matter in anything, it is only what you do.
"I have ruined the world, but I had the best of motives. Some men would hide behind that. I will not. I wish to try, as best I can, to right the wrong I have done. I've realized now that this must truly be The Last War. We must work for peace now. Man has killed other men for far too many millenia. He must now go beyond that stage of evolution, and learn to work together in peace.
"A man does everything for some reason. Everything men do is because they think it is the best thing to do at that time. Men are not machines. They can not trace every action to a diode or a lever. Men must make complicated decisions. Men must sort things out before acting.
"If we could think a hundred steps ahead before we acted, we would never wage wars. Alas, we can not. We can only perceive one step ahead, if that many, I began this war because I believed - I believed - that it would bring Mongolia to it's former glory. I made two great mistakes that day. First, I tried to regain the past. Second, I thought war would solve a problem. War never solves problems! It only causes more! If we as a species can realize that we can rid ourselves of the urge to make war, and we can usher in a new golden age of peace and prosperity.
"War is like a drug. It offers instant gratification, but it solves no problems. We as humans must break this addiction. Let us vow to make this truly our last war. If we should ever want to fight again, let us merely remember these last few years and shudder in horror. When we have broken our addiction to war we can evolve and become a truly civilized people. We can advance technology and social causes through words and thoughts, not through guns and fists.
"I beg of you, let us all work together to make this truly our last war. Jagatai, please, lay down your arms. Let this hideous conflict end. I began this, and I would gladly sacrifice everything I have, my possessions, my country, my life, my soul, to see it end now. Please let this wicked war end."
Kirghiz Jagatai heard his emperor's plea, nodded, and ordered his troops to stop fighting. Basilisk hissed like his namesake upon hearing the news. He'd be imprisoned for war crimes now. The dream was gone. Bura Karakoram felt a sense of relief upon hearing Bleda Khan. She began wondering what she would do now that she had a trade. Farming would probably be a nice change. Beshu continued plotting to reconstruct the Mongolian Empire, with himself as the new Khan.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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