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by Lewis Roberts

During the late stages of the Hard Times the Archcanon of Quinoid David Montego of the Word of God, who's seat was on Montero due to political reasons, realized that trying times were ahead and that the people would need strength and forsight to see them through. Looking through Word history, he drew inspiration from the bloodless coup that overthrew the dictatorship on Mission and installed a Word run government. The Archcanon organized a band of followers and stormed the capital. His forces were able to seize the capital, but it was far from bloodless. There was stiff resistance from elements in the military as well as a general insurrection from the citizens. The Archcanon was forced to put down the resistance with brutal determination. Millions died.

The Archcanon had not analyzed the situation on Montero well enough. Unlike Mission which was ruled by a unpopular dictator, Montero was governed by a true representative democracy, which was highly valued by the people. Even their faith in the Word of God was not enough to allow the overthrow of the government.

While the Archcanon's political analysis skills were not highly refined, his organizations skills were second to none. Once the resistance was crushed, he was able to organize the economy so that it resisted many of the degredating effects of the Hard Times. When Virus arrived on planet, he was able to quickly organize efforts to deal with the initial damage and to halt the spread of the infection.

By 1153 the population had made up the losses of Hard Times and from Virus. The Archcanon was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and had only a few months to live. A side of effect of the cancer, caused the Archcanon to have visions. He envisioned the Word being spread through the stars and bringing civilization back. In his last few months he issued orders for the starport to be reactivated. Several large freighters were converted to battle tenders and the construction of battle riders started. These were not the 100,000 ton battle riders of the Imperium, but 100-5000 ton riders. The Archcanon died before any of the riders were finished, but his hand picked successor vowed to see his vision to fruition.

Archanon Melinda also increased the size of the army and began construction of drop ships. She dispatched Montero's remaining small jump capable vessels to scout out the surrounding territory. They were looking for planets that Montero could easily convert to the Word. Hopefully this could be done with words, but if neccesary by force of arms. In any case the jump capable vessels had to be protected at all costs. New spacecraft could be constructed, but starcraft were beyond the capabilites of Montero's shipyards.

In 1158, the first crusaders left Montero. A battle tender jumped into the outer reaches of a system and refueled. It then dropped several of its battle riders, who contacted the planet. The battle tender then remained far from the target. If neccesary it would jump for the home system at any sign of danger.

The first target world was Kestral . At the time Kestral UPP was E7586A-5. It was ruled by Prince Eneli who was backed by the Knights of the Thorn. The Knights were a group of several dozen individuals equipped with Imperial era battle dress and TL-15 FGMPs. Together they were able to keep the populace in line. After several months of negotiation, Prince Eneli agreed to convert to the Word of God and make it the official state religion. In exchange Montero would supply technical aid to him. Montero quickly sent over thousands of priests who went about converting the populace. Prince Eneli also made sure that any heretics were uncovered and put to death. The Knights of the Thorn were the chief instrument of the inquisistion.

In 1174 Prince Eneli died and passed the thrown to his daughter Princess Mileen, who was also the Canon of Kestral. She united the office of Prince and Canon and decreed that the titles would be passed down to the first born of the family. The Kestral UPP was now up to its current. It was not able to produce full battle riders due to its low technoglical level, but it was able to provide maintenance and support to the ships built on Montero.

In 1181 researchers under a grant from Princess Mileen uncovered evidence that the universe had been created in seven days, rather than the six days which was preached by the original prophets of the Word of God. Princess Mileen studied the texts herself and after several days of study and prayer, agreed with her researchers. She sent several of the researchers to Montero to present their work to the Archcanon. She also instituted the new teaching on Kestral.

The researchers proudly presented their work to the Archcanon on Montero. The Archcanon was furious at their work and declared the researchers heretics for their affrontery in claiming the orignal prophets could be wrong. The researchers were immediately executed. The Archcanon sent a battle fleet of two battle riders to Kestral to determine how much support these heretics had, and to wipe out any other traces of heresy. The battle fleet demanded that the Princess renounce this heresy and atone for her sins. The Princess firmly believed in the new discoveries and refused. The canon in charge of the battle fleet, retaliated by excommunicating the Princess and her followers. The Princess then realized that the Archcanon and the people of Montero had fallen victim to a deep seeded heresy and she declared herself the true Archcanon of Quinoid and declared for a crusade against the heretics.

The Monteran battle fleet tried to land troops on Kestral's capital, but they were repulsed by battle riders under the control of Kestral. The battle fleet then retreated to Montero.

Today the situation is a stalemate. Montero has constructed hundreds of battleriders and can deliver them to the Kestral system in several waves. Kestral has only a few dozen battle riders that were built on Montero and can not construct more. It has built tens of thousands of planetary defense missiles. Montero's troops are better equipped, but Kestral has numerical supremacy. This military buildup has not helped either economy.

The theological difference that ignited this conflict may seem trivial and even silly to outside observers, but it is of th utmost importance to believers. The Word of God places a great deal of importance on theological correctness and heretics are regarded as the most serious threat. True believers are granted paradise, while heretics are condemned to eternal punishment. If the heretical side was to win this conflict, it would spread its heresy. The converted followers of this heresy would be condemned to eternal punishment, without even being able to hear the truth. Each side sees itself as on a crusade to save the souls of the rest of the galaxy. Neither side will compromise and will only cease hostility when the other side has recanted.

Of course this was not the only cause of the conflict, Princess Mileen and the Knights of the Thorn were feeling increasingly threatened by decrees from the Archcanon, and felt that their power was being erroded. The Archcanon realized that Kestral would soon overtake Montero in terms of economic output and would come to dominate the Word of God and the subsector.

Montero has a small jump capable navy of three converted freighters for use as battle riders and a scout/courier and a far trader. Montero still sends out occasional crusaders, but has focused much of its energy on dominating Kestral.

Free Traders come to Montero's port, as it is the best in the area, but they are forced to listen to several hours of sermons in an effort to convert them. Some Free Trader captains refuse to come, while others regard it as a neccesary evil if they want the best maintenance for their ships. A few have even converted.

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