Even the keenest vultures miss choice pieces of carrion and overlook those scattered, not-quite-dead remnants that look like too much effort. The feast is on, after all, and the assembled scavenger flock must pick and bicker over the dwindling good bits. Then they fly back to their respective nests, sated but exhausted from their own sundry battles and feuds. The carrion fleet disperses into its component parts, no longer unified by a single purpose and once again rivals, officially or not. Then they wait in nests, the piled bones of their deposed rulers. They build nothing new. They are at a loss as to the how and why. And they start to get hungry. And it’s downright impossible for them to root out all the scraps of that fallen world order.

Is the old order gone? Oh my, yes. With a certainty. But many of those tumbledown pieces persist. Here and there. It remains in the sharp depths of your banker’s eyes. In the freelance captain’s distant, glittering ambitions. In the councilor’s true motives, masked even from herself. They’re waiting for the right offer. Until then they make do with what they have, as all folk, reasonable or not, do. No need to place bad bets until the time’s right. One innocuous action for every unrelated nine.

They work towards an ideal, a dream, a vision. Even if they don’t quite know it’s shape or scheme. Nostalgia? Naw, not entirely. There’s little wistful pining in their actions. Inspiration? Yes, certainly. Choice component virtues of the past. The things worth fighting for, those indelible cornerstones upon which one might construct a grand, new monument. It’s the work of years, a disconnected effort striving for a unified, if ill-defined goal. The final result will be molded from the conditions around it, a product of upbringing.

And behind it all, an amorphous They. Those more dedicated survivors who limped away from the carrion feast and hide themselves in order to lick their wounds and mend their broken wings. Now they shift pieces around on the board, seeming no different from everyone else. They will simply do what we could not. They will build something new, assert a revised order, and invite the willing in. No true conquest necessary. There’s opportunity in dissolution, a chance to turn the disparate, chaotic threads and fragments toward a better purpose, to weave a new tapestry. All they have to do is pave the way and sound a clarion call. And people will respond. More than you think, even here, where the legacies of loyalty and sedition are so very muddled together.

How does one unravel this new tapestry before it becomes binding? Where’s the crown to decapitate? Where’s the citadel to sunder? Where’s the flagship to scuttle? None are presenting themselves, by my eyes. And I’ve looked. For years I’ve looked, watching the signs coalesce across these grand frontier skies. I can identify the components but cannot place a name to these gathering remnants.

So let’s just go with that for now: Remnants.

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Copyright © Michael L. Watson 2016