By Gregg Giles
As the known universe tore itself apart in something that easily resembled a genocidal frenzy, the Zhodani were noticeable absent from the fighting. At the time, no one knew for sure as to why they were silent. But then a startling answer came.
On 245-1119 (already three years ago), an Imperial naval courier broke out of hyperspace in Regina and immediately began transmitting this message to the Duke of Regina’s Palace: “The Zhodani are on the move… all forces are being mobilized within J6 range from the border… awaiting further orders.”
Archduke Norris had no idea what to do. (Panic, however, did come as a natural reaction.) Fighting the Aslan, the Vargr, and the Zhodani simultaneously would be an absolute impossibility. It simply couldn’t be done with the limited resources he was already struggling with. For two days he sealed himself into his palace on Regina and began to contemplate a resolution. Even the cession of worlds was kept as an option.
News finally arrived that the message was misinterpreted at the source. A naval patrol monitoring the Anglic communications of frontier traders stumbled upon a conversation in Zhodani. Poor translation by a bridge officer made the patrol think that the Zhos had begun a new assault. The dialog (the misinterpreted version) was as follows:
“This was evidently planned for several years, now. Only of late has the (unknown) felt it time to act… the visions are more frequent as well. (Unknown) … will stop us from getting it done this time…”
The tense years since the severing of the Domain from the Imperium has kept all military forces on edge – brinking on paranoia. The silence of the Zhodani didn’t help, either. The officer who translated the conversation merely had to hear the bits and pieces of the conversation, substitute her own paranoid suspicions, and come up with her own answer. The wrong answer. (In essence, it’s like adding 1+1 and coming out with 18.)
When the truth was learned, the good news spread like wildfire. Norris’ reaction was quotes as being “one of unparalleled relief.” The navy stepped down, and the naval officer was silently discharged. Rather than attacking the Imperium as reported, naval intelligence sources revealed that the Zhodani had in fact launched another Core expedition towards the center of the galaxy. And news of it, too, spread like wildfire.