Voting day and the island was filled with optimism. The Jackals were especially uproarious, yelping and screaming at all who passed by. In contrast, the Lions were subdued. Theirs was a mood of reluctant acceptance of what was to come. Were the ‘Kings’ about to be dethroned?
Lions had truly been the “Kings of the Jungle” for the past eighteen years, riding roughshod over the opposition and anyone else who disagreed or stood in their way.
The economy of the island was built around hunting and the better the hunter the better the respect afforded to the hunter. The Lions were excellent hunters although, some might say, the males of the species had become complacent – if not down right lazy – and began to leave the hunting to the ladies. A good idea and an excellent distribution of responsibility, unfortunately their were not enough ladies in positions of power and the hunt began to suffer as a consequence.
One memorable day, lets call it “Black Wednesday”, the hunt went completely awry and caused hardship throughout the island. Lack of foresight and a lapse in leadership led to a paucity of surplus which took years to overcome. You would have thought that having lived through such a disaster the Lions would have learned from their mistake and then moved forward in a more constructive and positive manner. Alas, no! The only ones to learn from the mistakes of the Lions were the Jackals and under new leadership they planned and schemed for the future.
The Lions, ever arrogant and pompous, ignored the warning signs and carried on in their usual regal way. As with most Dynasty of longevity, cracks began to appear and infighting became a blood sport. Still, the Lions had ridden out storms before and managed to retain their crowns and the majority of them could see no reason why this should not be the case again. After all, hadn’t the island always been generous to the Lions? Had they not brought the island back from economic disaster? Had they not proved the naysayers wrong?
However, they failed to see that this time the island was not in a forgiving mood, which was a pity because future events would show that change for change sake was a dangerous path to follow. ‘Scandal’, was the pejorative term when referring to the Lions, all were tainted, either by association or deed. They only had themselves to blame, in general their record was good but, was arrogance and self-indulgent greed to be their ultimate downfall?
Dawn the following day was greeted by a cacophony of yelps, barks, screeches and whoops as the Jackals strutted, swaggered and paraded. The island had spoken and they now ruled the roost. Jackals outnumbered Lions by a majority of 179, not only stealing their crown but effectively ripping out their claws and fangs in the process. They were not about to let anyone forget the margin of their stunning victory and made sure that raucous celebrations continued well into the night.
The island had wanted change and now it waited expectantly for that first note of change, the first hint that things would get better.
It didn’t have to wait for long. There were new Laws, new procedures and a swift cleansing of all things Leonine. Hunting was no longer to be a priority, scavenging was to take over and to strengthen this new thinking, expert scavengers were brought over from other islands and adjacent lands. The message went out, integrate with your new neighbours or suffer ignominy. The roots of evil had been well and truly sown.
Island scribes waxed lyrical about the new regime, optimism dripping from their pens by the bucketful and splashing across page after page. Could the newly elected leader of the Jackals be the new Messiah? It was question on every scribes lips. Events during that first heady year of Jackal control certainly did nothing to suppress the optimism or quash the question.
The Jackals had a cunning plan, one which they hoped would see them in power in perpetuity. It was a simple but dastardly scheme cooked up by the Dark Lord Jackal himself. He planned to dilute the indigenous Island population by bringing in low skilled species from foreign lands and, especially from the land of the Hyena. This was a land once ruled over by the mighty Lions, one which had been given back to the Hyenas many years ago but one which still had close ties to the Island.
Under his scheming paws and with the full backing of the Jackal Council he freely advertised for immigrants in Hyena Land promising subsidised travel to the Island, free accommodation, Scavenging Rights and the Right to practice their own vile religion plus the implementation of said religious Laws once on the Island. In essence he allowed them to build their very own ‘Hyena Land’ and gave it the full protection of Jackal Law.
Pretty soon the Hyenas started to migrate across the Island setting up enclaves and new colonies. All had the protection of the Jackals and these communities also profited from generous Jackal Council handouts.
The Jackal propaganda machine was put into overdrive. Islanders were told how lucky they were to have such diverse immigrants amongst them. They were encouraged to welcome the Hyenas and to name and shame any Islander who spoke out against the Hyena or the immigration policy. It worked, Jackals believed in the old adage that if you told the same lie forcefully enough and often enough it would become fact. This is precisely what happened and the Dark Lord was ecstatic.
However, matters were not as rosy as painted by the Jackal propaganda machine. The Dark Lord was thrown out of the Jackal Cabinet for nefarious activities and would not return for a further ten months. Even this return was short-lived because once again he was caught up in scandal. This time the scandal involved passport rigging and although cleared of any wrong doing, (probably more a case of knowing the right people and where the bodies were buried), he did not return to government for another eight years.
Small protest Parties began to form. The Jackals and, for that matter, the Lions dismissed them as being just that, irrelevant protest groups. One such group, the United Kinsman Island Party, consisting of disaffected Lions and people who just wanted their Island back, managed to struggle through despite the lack of finances and support. Their day would come but they would have to wait many years before that day dawned.
The years rolled by and the Jackals managed to win the next General Election with ease. Social policies had been established with some written into Law, by now the majority of the populace were under the spell of the charismatic Jackal leader. He could do no wrong, even when he blatantly flouted international Law the people would sooner blame others than him. He dragged the Island into two foreign wars, both fought on a lie and both at the cost of hundreds of Islanders lives.
If ever there was a time for the Lions to regain their famous roar it was then. Alas, they were having major problems of their own. Infighting amongst young bucks was holding them back. They desperately needed a leader who would bring them back together and give them direction. Shame on them that hubris and arrogance had seen them force the best leader, albeit a Lioness, out of office. Had they left well alone, she may well have nurtured a future leader to replace her. We will never know.
Meanwhile the Jackals appeared to be going from strength to strength. In line with Jackal mentality, hunting was all but forgotten. Even scavenging, which was the very essence of Jackal way of life, had been abandoned. No matter, the Jackal hierarchy had made it possible for anyone to live off the State with the minimum of checks and for little or no reason. Hyenas and other immigrants exploited this to the full and, why not? When the State indicates that there is a limitless pot of money and that said money is there for the taking, why not take full advantage of it?
Still the Lions were silent.
To consolidate the position of the Jackals as the true leaders of the Island, the hierarchy put the second part of their Grand Plan into action. The mainland was ruled by Jackals and they had formed a union of countries. The aim of the unelected leaders of this union was to rule the whole of the mainland and the seas around it. The Island hierarchy saw this as an opportunity for continuous power. They lied to the Island population, telling them that full integration with the Mainland Union was not what they wanted, rather, a (vague) trade deal. However, it soon became apparent that this was but a front for full integration into the Union. This was all helped through by the Dark Lord who was now a Commissioner to the Mainland Union.
Immigrants were flooding in from the mainland, taking jobs and housing from the indigenous Islanders. The Dark Lords scheme to bring in Hyenas by the boatload was also proving to be a great success for the Jackals. However, one June morning the peace of the Capital was shattered when bombs planted by four Hyenas caused mayhem and devastation.
The foul, cowardly deed was not carried out by outside forces but by Hyenas born and bred on the Island. The Jackal propaganda machine, once again, went into overdrive. These were not bad Hyenas but youths disaffected by Island society and radicalised by unsavoury Hyenas. They failed to mention that the Hyenas doing the hate preaching were living the high-life off the State and that there was nothing the State could do about it because of Laws passed by the Mainland Union!
However, the Islanders were placated and life carried on. Were the Islanders not used to such atrocities? Were they not steely enough to turn a blind eye and carry on as normal? In fact, this was the message pumped out by the Jackal propaganda machine over and over again. It was designed to make the Islanders feel good about themselves, make them feel invincible, show the Hyena that this Island population would not be cowed by such acts of violence.
Meanwhile treaties were signed; without the consent of the Islanders, which gave away the fishing grounds, control over farming and scavenging, hunting and Islanders Rights.
Islanders woke up one fine June day to find that their lives were being, pretty much, run from the Mainland. Still the Islanders trusted the Jackals, maybe because they had fostered an air of apathy throughout the land, maybe because there was no real opposition to these overbearing overlords. Whatever the reason, the Islanders put the Jackals in power for a third term at the next General Election.
It was during this third term in office that the wheels finally began to wobble on the great Jackal juggernaut. Infighting took place, old rivalries came to the fore and battle lines were drawn. The leader of the Jackal pack was forced to resign by the evil one-eyed Jackal of the Lair, who had, for the past ten years, controlled the Island economy.
This unnecessary act of spite was to see the downfall of the insidious Jackal pack. The new leader proved to be arrogant, incompetent, and duplicitous. One might say, all of the attributes required in a leader of a pack of Jackals.
The civil war within the Jackal cabal gave the Lions the impetus that they required and with a new leader they began to find their roar; if not their bite. The new leader was young and ambitious, a Lion who saw his destiny as leader of the Island. It was a shame therefore, that he saw the future of the Island as part of the Mainland Union.
The One-Eyed jackal of the Lair wasted no time in consolidating the Island’s ties with the Mainland. Once again, and in line with arrogant Jackal policy, the Islanders were not consulted about matters which would seriously affect not only their lives but the lives of their offspring and their offspring. However, he did not have the courage to sign this new Treaty along with all the other Jackals from the mainland. No, he arranged to sneak in at the dead of night in order to sign away nearly all that was left of Island Sovereignty.
On his return, he received some much deserved criticism for the way that he had conducted himself and for not consulting the Islanders about this clandestine deal which he had signed off on their behalf with the Mainland Union. In an act of pure desperation he even had the temerity to bring the Dark Lord out of retirement and back into Cabinet.
Leading the critics was a young Lion, recently chosen to lead the United Kinsman Island Party. He wanted to know why The One-Eyed Jackal had refused to give the Islanders the promised referendum before sneaking off to the Mainland to sign the Treaty. Like all other critics of this useless Jackal, he got no answer.
To prove just how incompetent this Jackal was, he had the chance to lead the Jackals to a fourth consecutive victory but decided against it. Instead he took the ridiculous decision to let Parliament run its full term before calling a General Election.
This decision made the Lions roar, not only that, they got their fangs back. They began to look, if not like the Lions of old, like a good copy. Their dynamic leader was, unfortunately, less dynamic than the Island press portrayed him to be. He was another product of the “Pride Elite”, one of those privileged Lions who knew the right Lions and was seen in the ‘right’ places. Most of this could probably have been forgiven but for the fact that his public persona was flawed. He refused to give a straight answer to a straight question and was useless when pitted against his peers in open debate.
This trait led him to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the subsequent General Election. The One-Eyed Jackal held a very slim majority albeit not enough to rule. He hoped that the Wild Dogs would give him their allegiance and form a coalition thus enabling him to carry on as leader.
This was not to be as they threw their weight behind the Lions and formed a coalition with them instead.
So, after thirteen long years of mis-rule and deception the reign of the Jackals was finally over. The young Lion was made leader and took the Wild Dog leader as his second in command.
The full extent of the shambles and incompetence of the Jackals began to unravel almost immediately. Not only had they borrowed on a massive scale to finance their ridiculous welfare programme, they had raided the savings and pensions of millions of Islanders in order to try to balance the books.
Repairing the damage done by the insidious Jackals would take years, if not decades.
Meanwhile, the Hyenas have been slowly eating away at the Establishment. Infiltrating schools, subjecting the young to unimaginable misery and undermining the very fabric of Island life. The authorities seem unwilling to do anything about this threat and anyone standing up and talking about it is vilified or, worse, arrested.
Island life will never be the same again thanks to the apathy of the Islanders during the thirteen years that the Jackals were in charge. Never again must the Island have such perverse rulers.