View Full Version : The Templar's Tale

01-03-2003, 04:39 AM
I snipped out alot of crap, that I don't think anyone will miss, and moved a long rant to the bottom of the thread. But I cant delete this post without deleting the entire thread, and I don't want to repost all of it.

01-03-2003, 05:01 AM
The Templar’s Tale

No-one spreads as much darkness as he who has seen the light. -Proverb.

And thus did it come to pass that, on word from The Creator, that the Legion of the True Faith was founded on the blighted world of Ecrast...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

Learn now of the so-called Legion of the True Faith: Five decades ago on the world of Ecrast this menace to our just Republic was founded, a cabal of murderers and terrorists who preached to their mad followers that they were the emissaries of a “Creator”...

Exempt from a Central Governmental Control propaganda broadcast

Flinching instinctively as the shot passed her head Sister Calina turned from the crimson-tainted form of the dead security officer and looked to her right to see that the heathen that had killed Brother Marcus was trying to break their line.
Risking the exposed run to another piece of cover she worked her way to a better position while firing repeatedly at the threatening soldier. Suddenly she was beside him and, switching her auto-pistol to burst-fire she sent a volley of shots through the man’s face.
Realising her error a faction of a second too late she felt the sniper’s bullet pass millimetres from her ear, buzzing like an angry wasp. Ducking for cover she turned and ran towards the group of pipes that had sheltered her before.
Almost as soon as she got there three men in blue body armour bore down on her. Killing two with precise shots to their hearts she turned to the last one, who fired his weapon at her. The score of bullets coming from the mouth of the shotgun-like firearm graced her left arm, sending a shot of white-hot pain through her nerves.
Suppressing the pain by sheer force of will, she fired twice at her assailant, but he deftly avoided the potentially lethal trails of fire from the self-propelled small arms shells. He shot once more at her, but the shot went wide and he had no time to reload before she had levelled her gun at him.
As she pressed the trigger the firing mechanism clanked into an empty chamber. Both realised at the same time that she had a feeder jam, meaning that her weapon was useless until she had time to fix it. A luxury that she absolutely couldn’t afford in the midst of battle.
Dodging yet another shot she dived for the weapon of one of her fallen foes. Reloading and aiming meant another dagger of pain in her wounded arm, but she nevertheless succeeded in vaporising her enemy’s head and most of his torso with a lucky shot.
At a break in the fighting Calina had a chance to take stock of the situation. The enemy sniper had been joined by another, firing from a different angle. One was in a ventilation shaft that opened into the room, and the other, newly arrived was standing on an elevated catwalk overlooking the control room of Space Freighter Kraken.
Between the two of them they had the Templar incursion force pinned down, and Calina knew that they would be doomed if the snipers held them there long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Already they had lost seven of the twenty Templar and she wondered if the other team had fared better. It seemed unlikely, given that they were to meet here, at their objective.
Taking a sniper round in her right thigh brought her out of her tactical considerations and back into the hell that she was living. Ten more guards had sneaked up behind them, and were firing into the back of their line.
‘Less disciplined units had broken and scattered in such a situation,’ she thought, ‘but we are Templar! The chosen of the Creator, his name be praised! We shall not fail!’
Drawing her combat knife she focused on the end-vent, where the blasphemous coward was sniping her battle-brethren. She vanished a faction of a second later, and reappeared behind the sniper. Although the Jump had placed her in a favourable position, it had also tired her.
But that was of little consequence now. She drove her knife into the back of the sniper, picked up his rifle, and started to hunt for targets. She was surprised to discover that yet another sniper had appeared on the catwalk, but there was little time to think about it.
Picking off one of the snipers, she jumped back down into the fight. Milliseconds after she had left the endvent a high calibre sniper bullet smacked into the wall where her head had just been.
In the meantime, the tide of battle had turned to the Templar’s favour. Although the arrival of the last sniper meant that there was still one left, the removal of the other two had been sufficient for the insertion team to move halfway from their previous position to the main objective: The central computer outlet. The brain of the ship.
Calina was in front of the Templar line as they were met with a desperate last-ditch defence. Pouring out of three separate doors, the blue-armoured foes fired even as they ran towards the intruders. The first shots were far off their mark, of course, and the Templar laid down a hail of fire, felling an entire rank of the security guards.
But the assailants just kept coming like there was no tomorrow. If the team reached the computer terminals there wouldn’t be, Calina knew. Realising that they would eventually be worn down by the relentless assault, Calina focused her mind and called out for the two nearest of her battle-brothers. Signalling to the others of the team they threw themselves into the computer ´dugout,´ a lowered section of floor, running the length of the room that housed the main computers.
As the battle raged above them they executed the personnel working with the computers. While her fellow operatives began extracting the data that they had been sent to get, Calina, exhausted beyond comprehension from her Jumps and mental communication, crouched in a corner of the dugout, aiming the sniper rifle that she, for lack of more appropriate close combat weapons, had hung on to, down the corridor.
Working purely on adrenaline Calina shot all blue shapes dropping into the dugout until they ceased to move. The rifle that had been so awkward in the swirling melee was now proving very effective. She fervently prayed that the Creator and the other Templar could keep the guards on the edge of the dugout too busy to take aim. If they could not the three in the corridor were sitting ducks.
A blue-clad woman jumped down next to a computer terminal, pointing a firearm at one of the two Templar working at it. Calina reacted a moment too late, and the belly of Templar Sargus was turned into a red mist by the point-blank discharge. Moments later a rifle round carved a bloody trail through the woman’s heart. She fell stone dead to the ground, and Calina muttered a bitter curse.
Suddenly the man working at the computer was finished. Humming to life the loudspeakers, placed at regular intervals throughout the maze of corridors and storage rooms making up the Kraken, resounded with a dull female voice.
The recording that was automatically repeated by the computer systems in the centre of the Kraken said: “Self-destruct mechanisms initiated. All personnel must evacuate. Reactor will overload in T – 10 minutes.”
‘Time to go home,’ Calina thought. Then, as the other Templar began to disappear amongst her, she realised that she was too tired to Jump. The full horror of her situation began to dawn on her; she was all alone in a self-destructing craft, surrounded by hostiles. Even if they ignored her, concerned with getting to the evac pods, and even if she herself got to one, there was no realistic chance that her pod would not be intercepted and destroyed.
She heard a distinctive hiss, and, turning, she came to look right into the igniter flame of a flamethrower. She threw herself to the left, landing on her wounded arm, which caused intense pain. Accessing strength she did not know that she possessed, she managed to vanish just as the flamethrower sprayed white-hot napalm into the dugout, filling it with liquid fire.
Safely back on the Battleship class craft Sword of Purity, her adrenaline was spent, and, dead on her feet with exhaustion, she only managed to take a few steps before she passed out.

01-03-2003, 05:04 AM
...Soon they exposed the corruption of the local government to the putrid air of the damned world, and the last of the cowardly officials fled rather than face the righteous judgement of the Legion. They were destroyed by their holy pursuers, and the world was cleansed with Purifier-class warheads...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...Despite the valiant last stand of the CGC forces the noble administrators of the Republic were forced off the planet and shot in the back by rebellious craft, granting the traitors access to the CGC’s planetary nuclear stockpile...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

Sleep. Deep, dreamless sleep, blacker than the void between the stars. Then a soft voice, intruding upon her consciousness. “Wake up,” the voice said. “Wake up Atti,” it repeated itself with irritating insistence. Slowly, like a Battleship with its engines shut down, Attica Calina drifted from her sleep. As she opened her eyes she looked into the face of her roommate, Ina.
Still tired beyond measure, Calina found that she was lying in her own bed. She rose slowly. She was tall, had jet-black hair, cut short so as to prevent it from being in the way in a fight, pale skin and grey eyes with a hint of green. She would have been pretty, even beautiful, had she not worn the cold expressionless mask of a veteran soldier who had seen far more than her share of misery and destruction.
Six and a half years ago, on her twentieth birthday, she had completed her training, and been given the rank of Templar, her dearest ambition since joining the 3rd Crusade, where she had first heard of this secretive organisation.
She and two others had survived the tests, and she still kept the first firearm that she had been issued. But that was a trophy. It had not been used since its firing mechanism was irreparably damaged, five years before.
Ina was four years younger than Attica. Unlike her roommate, she had tan skin, almost brown. Her hair was golden, and her eyes brown. She had only been with the Templar for one year, and was far more emotional and forthcoming than any of the more experienced soldiers. Calina knew that it was only a matter of time, though, before Ina too would have the face of a cold, dedicated killer.
“I feel like I’ve been in cold sleep,” Calina said, fatigue clearly apparent in her voice.
“You have no idea how close you were to death,” Ina’s voice betrayed a little concern. “It’s a good thing that you are strong, or that Jump would have killed you. By the way, how did your cheek get that way?”
“You should not express your emotions so openly,” Calina reprimanded. “An enemy could take advantage of it.” Ina had come to regard the older, veteran Templar as a mentor of sort. Calina was sure that that had been exactly the reason for putting the two together for the past half-year.
She raised her hand to the side of her head, and winced slightly at the pain that greeted her upon touching the scorched flesh. ‘First degree burn,’ she thought. ‘Not too bad.’
“As for my cheek,” she told the younger Templar, “I ended up in the wrong end of a flamer.”
“Not the best place to be,” Ina noted.
“Tell me about it. What time is it, by the way?”
“Standard time is 2100 hours. They have altered the cycle delay by plus one hour to six hours, giving a craft-time of...”
“1500 hours!” interrupted Calina. “Then debriefing was scheduled two and a half hours ago. Why didn’t anyone wake me?”
“Scheduled, yes,” Ina said, “but someone was nice enough to tell the Paladin of your Jump, and he felt that taking out that sniper justified the risk of expending energy to Jump a third time. He pushed the debrief three hours, because you’d need all the rest that you could get.”

01-03-2003, 05:09 AM
...Seeing the folly of opposing the missionaries of the Creator, the neighbouring worlds of Slantar, Anost and Unari soon bowed to the True Faith. Purged of blasphemers and heretics, they formed the main command node of the First Crusade...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...Awed and subdued by the sheer scale of this senseless genocide, the three other populated planets of the system pledged surrender to the rebel scum. Their pleas were answered with a full scale ´ethnic cleansing´ that resulted in the deaths of over 50,000,000,000 innocents, to clear the way for those who had thoughtlessly destroyed their own home world...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

Even after eleven hours of sleep, Calina felt ready to drop, as she entered the debriefing room. In it sat twenty-two Templar in their black battle outfit several with field dressings like her own. Effectively the uniform doubled as clothes, as it didn’t in any way hamper movement.
Calina wondered if she would learn whom to thank for the field dressings of her wounded arm and leg. She had the idea that it was the same person who had placed her in her bed.
Something felt amiss, she found. Or out of place perhaps. She felt that there was something wrong with the debrief, even before it had started. Then Paladin Thosar entered, and began talking: “As you will surely have seen, brothers Dlane, Keran,...” he began. It was the names of the fallen that were recited.
Suddenly Calina knew what had been wrong. Had she been more awake she would have realised. The shock was almost too much for her, and in her weakened state it was a stoic show of will that she did not begin to cry. Dlane was dead. Othkal Dlane, the only person that she had had left. After the incident at Sontal anyway.
She struggled to dismiss the thought. The Templar in her told her that it was to be expected. After all, it was against the doctrines to get involved with other Templar. But that was the rigid, empty shell that was just going through the routines of battle, devotion and downtime that made up most of the Templar life. Another part of her stirred against those notions. The part of her that felt that mourning was justified. That she had loved him.
“... And they shall be entered into the Book of Martyrs. Their names be praised.” With these words the Paladin finished his account of the casualties. To him, nothing more than a routine. He then proceeded to commend those who had played an important part in the battle, but even as Calina’s name was called out she struggled to contain memories that she wished she could ignore.
As the painfully long debriefing finally reached its conclusion, the other Templar on the craft were called into the room. Apparently they had known of this, as they stood ready outside the door.
Again the Paladin spoke: “The information extracted in the last raid has already proven itself to be worth the effort of acquisition. A heathen belly-ship, carrying the heretics who are too fearful to face our just purification, plans to leave the planet that we are currently orbiting.”
It is heading for the inner planet of this system, which serves as the main communications relay for the region. It is imperative that this planet is cleansed of the unworthy presence before we launch our holy crusade to liberate the rest of the system. Without this brain, their pitiful ´warriors´ will be lost and confused.”
To accomplish this cleansing we shall need to get inside the capitol of the planet, for that is where the blasphemers have chosen to place their command centre. The most viable option available to us is to commandeer the belly-ship and use it to transport our holy warriors.”
As it will be expected, and contains the correct identification codes within its computer systems, it should be able to bypass the city’s considerable defences. The operation will commence in ten standard hours. Get some rest before this. You are dismissed.”

01-03-2003, 05:11 AM
...But the unworthy unbelievers that called their pathetic ´union´ a ´republic´ would not cease to oppose their destinies. Their corrupted craft set out to kill the servants of the Creator. In an act of unprecedented evil they bombarded every standing structure on Anost with their heathen nuclear weapons...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...Although the fanatical terrorists that made up the so-called Legion were prepared to give up their lives for there ´faith,´ and proved so by sending their run-together of lowlifes into our proud cities carrying nuclear warheads, the CGC would not be scared into surrendering to such vile foes. Thus three thousand starships with firepower equivalent to that which had destroyed Ecrast set out for the system that had been infected with the taint of religion...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

“I wonder why we had to go through all this trouble getting info about the ship, commandeering it and all,” Ina said.
“You heard the Paladin; it’s the easiest way in. Besides, we’re soldiers. Wondering isn’t what we are supposed to do. We should just obey,” Calina replied. They were on their way to their quarters to get the rest that the Paladin had recommended. Calina needed it the most, but Ina knew that the next operation would be outside the normal day rhythm, meaning that she too would need to rest now.
“Also... I’m sorry,” Ina said.
“For what?” Calina’s reply was as sharp as a drawn knife. She had the feeling that she would be able to answer her own question.
“For your loss.”
“What do you know of it?”
“There is no need to get upset. I didn’t tell anyone. But sometimes I think that you are forgetting that I, too, am a Templar. And we sleep in the same room. Given that, how could I possibly fail to notice.”
“Now I’m the one who is sorry. I underestimated you and I apologise for that.”
“No need for that either. You just got emotional and lost your head. You didn’t seem like a worse soldier for it, so I didn’t report it. I know that it’s wrong to make such decisions myself, but it seemed right.”
“Thanks. I owe you one.”
“Let’s say that we’re even for the Alexander incident. You pulled my bacon out of that fire.”
The hint of a smile crossed Calina’s lips.

01-03-2003, 05:14 AM
...Hugely outnumbered by the vile heretics, our noble fleet suffered horrendous casualties, but still it fought on against this tide of villainy, driving it from the system, and preparing for a second crusade...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...Having dealt a harsh blow to the ´Faithful,´ the fleet pulled back, leaving a trail of burning enemy craft in its wake...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

The boarding action was almost over by any account. There was nothing that the blasphemers could do at that point. All information of redeployment of personnel over the loudspeakers had been replaced by the crew’s yelling of each and every curse, swearword and obscenity in their vocabulary.
This either meant that the bridge no longer had knowledge of the defenders’ whereabouts, much less control of their movements, or that they had found some other way of communicating with them. Calina was ready to bet real money that the former was the case.
She got into a habit of shooting every second loudspeaker she came across, as this would still allow for any intelligible communications to reach the intruders. She doubted that any would.
Then suddenly three guards jumped on the invading Templar. One was carrying a pistol that he had ´salvaged´ somewhere, but the other two were armed solely with their Enforcer Rods. While the stunning electrical shock generated by these weapons was more than enough to pacify unruly passengers, they were insufficient against any ranged weapons.
It took but one volley of shots from the Templar to fell the three men. As Calina ran past the bodies lying facedown on the floor, she picked up the firearm. It was the only weapon that posed a threat to the team. ‘That was almost unfair,’ she thought. ‘They didn’t have a chance.’
The notion had just touched the edge of her mind, but she found it surprisingly hard to kick. Not that they had had worse chances than anyone else who had ever faced the Templar. ‘Still,’ Calina thought, ‘I’ve never been in a fight with anyone who couldn’t even reach us or fire on us.’
Then the team breached the first cargo hold. Ina and two others had been instructed to stay at the door, to look to it that no-one else entered or escaped. The civilians stowed in the hold barely noticed the Templar whom they thought were merely another guard patrol. All communications had evidently been shut off from them to avoid mass panic.
Two dozen refugees dropped from the first volley. Fear began to run rampant through the ranks. Some fell on their knees or bellies, begging for mercy. As the second volley was fired, the civilians realised that they were doomed, and pure terror took over the mass.
‘This isn’t almost unfair,’ Calina realised as the horrified faces of a thousand doomed humans were turned towards their attackers. ‘This is downright unfair.’
Each of the pitiful faces was contorted into a mask of terror so profound and indescribable that it clawed on Calina’s mind. She felt physically sick. On each of the frightened faces was a pleading look, but it was painfully clear to everyone that no-one would be spared. Calina tried to shut out the faces of the men, women, and children, who were going to be cut down like grass before a scythe. She failed. Miserably.
By the time the third volley was fired Attica Calina, Templar of the Creator, was cowering in a corner, trying in vain to escape from the horror that would haunt her dreams for months to come.

01-03-2003, 05:17 AM
...But the will of the Creator cannot be stopped, and in many other star-systems believers rose to challenge the corrupt and wicked...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...The mad crusade to convert the system of their founding had inspired other, like-minded madmen in the Auriel, Romulas, Birshud, Muril, and Canaar systems to engage in acts of rebellion, mass murder, and sabotage...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

Calina looked around the room. It had taken two days to clean it of blood. The whole craft was shining as if it had just been build. Now the Templar were busy dirtying it up, to make it look innocious. But even as she stood and looked around in the room that was to be her quarters for the next three days she remembered.
It seemed to her as if the walls were awash with blood. As if the floor was still red and sticky. But most vividly she remembered the man that they had found here. Someone with her had shot him in cold blood. She didn’t remember who. It didn’t matter. She just remembered the body. It hadn’t had the pleading look in its eyes. In fact it hadn’t had eyes to look pleading with at all. The same thing could be said for most of the face.
All the corpses had been disposed of through the outer airlocks, but it had taken a while before the smell was gone. She remembered all too well. Her dreams would turn into nightmares that night, as they had done for the past two nights. Nightmares of screams, deaths and faces. Faces displaying raw fear, terror in its purest form.
She had already done her share of the work, but there was always need of another pair of hands. Not that they had lacked hands lately. Only some of them didn’t have bodies to match. Dreading the horrors that would come when she closed her eyes and let go of her control, she had worked like no other.
Her strategy was to work until she was ready to drop. Only then would she cease. A tired mind dreams less, and so she could get at least some sleep, without being disturbed by the visage of a score of faces, all asking the same question: “Why?” In the end, though, it didn’t matter much. She would wake haunted by memory anyway.
There was an unusual level of activity aboard the craft. Calina knew that it was caused by the arrival of the decoys later this afternoon. ‘We have to fill the space left by...’ She didn’t finish the thought. She didn’t like it.
Calina put other thoughts in its stead. She considered the excuse for arriving late: They would claim that the engines overheated while being pursued by Legion ships. She wondered whether the local staff would accept it.
While the CGC sometimes didn’t care to pursue a ship with dead engines the Legion punished captains who didn’t see to it that their prize was either blown away or captured. But perhaps the Planetary Defence Force didn’t know that.
She also thought of the briefing. It seemed straightforward enough: Move into the city, get to the main reactor powering the thing and blow it all to kingdom come in an extinguisher class meltdown. Then Jump back to orbit. Simple. If only it wasn’t for the unprecedented Jump length making it imperative that no other mind-over-matter activity was undertaken. And all those civs.
The Paladin had called it ´excessive unarmed casualties.´ ´A bunch of dusted civilians´ would have been closer to the truth. Literally dusted.

01-03-2003, 05:19 AM
...Then, as the followers of the True Faith threw the shackles of the corrupt CGC yoke into the dust along with its thugs, a second fleet set out to free the galaxy of this putrid taint...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...Despite the best effort of the CGC these criminals achieved domination of several worlds, and caused others to be weakened severely. Riots and rebellions against our just regime broke out on a score of worlds, and though our competent police and military put down most of these foolish acts of insanity, the infection had grown too strong on some planets...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

Calina worked her way through the beck alleys of Tirhen City with ease, despite the civilian clothes that the Templar were forced to wear. She had decided that they definitely weren’t made for moving around in already when she had first inspected them.
But it would have been far more difficult to move around if she was to be stopped and asked about her funny outfit every time she was seen. Besides, it would have been hard to conceal the demolition charge she carried.
She noted that the area she entered was more heavily patrolled than the previous. She figured that it was more important. She sensed something wrong. Something that wasn’t as it should have been. Calina realised that it had been that way all the time, only she was now getting close enough to the objective that it would be bad if she was to be sniffed out by some CGC scout.
It took a while before she could put her finger on what was wrong. Then she realised that another Templar was following a route close to her. That wasn’t supposed to be. She recalled all the paths that were to be used. Not one other than the one she used was that close. ‘Perhaps someone made a mistake,’ she thought. ‘I’d hate to be in his shoes when I catch up with him.’
Calina decided to veer from her designated route. She knew that it was against doctrines and that, if anyone found out, she would be punished for it. But she also knew that whoever it was behind her, he might call attention to himself and if he did she rather wouldn’t be around.
She cut the way short through an open warehouse, but the other Templar seemed to also divert from his path, as if he followed her. But that notion was nonsense. If the Paladin had distrusted her she would have been in chains in front of her own brethren for it a long time ago.
She also had more pressing things to concern herself with. Such as getting into the power plant looming before her. She realised that her shortcut had been much more effective than she could have hoped.

01-03-2003, 05:24 AM
...But the heretics had known of our coming and decided to murder many millions of people rather than letting them join our pure cause. So evil and villainous are they...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...With the new Legion fleet approaching something had to be done fast unless they were to recruit their mad followers on the planets corrupted by rebellions. Every planet judged unfit to withstand the onslaught was bombed flat, to prevent the traitors on them from joining their ´masters.´ Thus did treason doom a dozen worlds...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

Having slipped into the building, Calina now faced the difficult part: Getting the explosive placed and primed and sounding the warning klaxons. That was the signal for all Templar in the city to Jump back to the Battleship in orbit over the planet. And then of course the Jump itself. She decided that she would worry about the Jump when the klaxons sounded.
‘Knowing the watch plans for the entire city is a big help here,’ she thought. ‘I bet I’d have run into a score of guards by now if I hadn’t known where they would be at what time.’ Apparently the PDF hadn’t worried about checking if their system had been compromised. If they had known, the whole place would have been full of the blighters.
Calina came up on the door to the reactor monitoring room. In there was the reactor core, along with the warning system that should be used if there was a danger of overheats. She knew that there were other warning systems for citywide alert, but that mattered little. What did matter, however, were the two green clad guards posted inside the room.
Knowing that she would have to deal with them before the next patrol swept the passage that she was standing in, she made a daring move. Bursting through the door she ducked a shot from the first guard and ran towards him. In a swift move she grabbed his wrist and squeezed. Holding him upright to shield her from the other, she picked up the gun that he had dropped.
“Put him down!” the other guard was shouting at her. “Put him down or I will fire on you.”
“You should have fired when you had the chance,” whispered Calina as she snapped of a precise shot at the threatening guard’s chest. As she dropped the one that she was holding and knocked him unconscious she noticed the microphone in his uniform.
‘So,’ she thought, ‘those two were just put to make sure that the others would be alert of any trouble. Clever, clever.’
The door behind her burst open. Calina turned, gun in her hand, ready to greet the intruder with a deadly rain of fire. The only thing that kept her from instinctively shooting the form in the door was the fact that she sensed another Templar nearby.
Recognising Ina at first sight, Calina lowered her weapon. “By the Creator! It was you at my heels all the time. Why did you follow me? Never mind. Unless we do something we’ll get company really soon.”
“But how?”
“Destroy the panels to the blast doors. They are defaulted to shut off the reactor core and we are on the right side. Move!”

01-03-2003, 05:28 AM
...Even this gross act of violence could not prevent our rightful ascension. Though many believers were lost, the feeble CGC forces could not prevent us from acquiring their worlds for resource extraction...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...The legion attacked in force. An entire system was burned to the ground for remaining loyal to their rightful masters, and the Legion started raping the captured worlds of what resources remained...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

Between the two of them they managed to get all the doors jammed before any ´company´ arrived to spoil the party.
‘Ironic,’ Calina thought. ‘Those doors are designed to keep out intruders, if what the Paladin told us is true. And now the intruders are using them to keep out guards.’
“Hurry!” Ina’s word brought Calina out of her reverie. “We have to get done here before they access an override.”
“What is going on here,” a frightened voice asked. The guard had awoken.
“That is of no consequence to you,” Calina replied bluntly. That wasn’t entirely true, but there was no use bothering him in his last minutes.
“Who the [insert fourletter-word here] are you?”
“Don’t bother!” Ina looked ready to back the threatening tone in her voice.
“What is it that you want? Money? Politics? Don’t tell me it’s...” his voice trailed off at the thought.
“I told you to shut,” Ina said, more menacing than ever.
“Just tell him,” Calina interrupted. “We’re Legionaries, and we’re here to purify this sinful place.”
“But why? Why?” Calina realised that she had heard that voice before. Thoughts flooded her mind, and she turned away from the whimpering figure.

01-03-2003, 05:30 AM
...Thus did the Second Crusade end. It was a victory most glorious and will not soon be forgotten...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...For a time the ´holy´ madmen of the Legion rested to lick their wounds. But we did not lapse in vigilance, so by the time that they were ready to start killing innocents again, we were waiting for them...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

All over the city klaxons began to wail. Panic spread like wildfire. The Templar operatives in the city concentrated on the long Jump before them, and begun to vanish. Then, in a cataclysmic explosion Power Plant IO/352 ruptured and in a faction of a second the entire population of two thousand millions disappeared.
Two centuries of human life reduced to a pile of dust. Untold thousands of civilians were instantly vaporised, trying to find shelter from what they perceived as a normal emergency situation. They were all dead by the time several mushroom shaped clouds, from the detonating power plants, graced the sky.

01-03-2003, 05:33 AM
...Then, as was bidden by the Creator, his most holy defenders, the Legion of the True Faith, rose to wage war on the heathens for a third time. But this time they had rallied all of their corrupted kin, it seemed. We could not complete our just crusade because of their numerical superiority...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...Our intelligence on the next vile move made by the Legion allowed us to intercept it, effectively grounding the war to a stalemate. But the Legionaries are too stupid to understand the concept of surrender, and so they continue to pillage and destroy...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

“Atti! Wake up! What are you thinking? I’ll arm the charges in a second or two, and you will want to be ready to Jump.”
Calina realised that the klaxons were already wailing periodically, signalling total Templar retreat.
“No,” was her only reply.
“What do you mean no?”
“We can’t do it. We simply can’t blow all these civilians away.”
“What do you mean, Atti?”
“What I am saying, of course.”
“You are speaking treason!” Ina’s voice had a fearful note to it.
“No. I am speaking worse: I am speaking heresy,” Calina replied calmly.
“At least you can hear it yourself. Why do you worry about those heathens?”
“You can’t understand.” Her voice was no longer as calm and her bearing looked like she was gravely troubled.
“Then enlighten me.”
“You wouldn’t understand! You weren’t there.” Tears came unbidden to Calina’s eyes.
“I understand, Atti. But you must not let your own lo...”
“This has nothing to do with it! I can’t explain. Not now. There is no time.”
“Try anyway.”
“On that belly-ship...” her voice trailed away. “They slaughtered the civilians. They butchered them like animals!”
“They were to clear the hold.”
Calina didn’t take notice of Ina’s words. “And they laughed. THEY LAUGHED!” She was visibly shaken, as if she was living some horrible dream. She was. For who knew what time.
“I’m sorry, Atti. But I am a Templar first and your friend second.”
‘Friend.’ The single word stunned her. ‘Were we friends? We must have been. After all, We cared for one another. That’s what friends do, isn’t it. That’s the whole point of it. And now we’re enemies.’ For the first and last time, since joining the Templar, Attica Calina cried.
“I’m sorry Atti.” Ina’s voice was soothing. She turned to the charge and moved to set it. Calina’s voice stopped her in her track.
“May the Creator forgive me for what I am about to do.” Even as she spoke the words she could feel Ina’s mental assault. The young Templar was strong beyond her age, but Calina merely parried what would have reduced a normal mind to a useless pulp of fat and nerves. “I am sorry, Ina,” she said as she pulled the trigger. The shot went clean through Ina’s brain, killing her instantly.
‘At least it was a clean kill. Straight and painless,’ Calina thought, tears now flowing unrestrained from her eyes. ‘KIA. At least she will be entered into the Book of Martyrs. The second greatest honour to a Templar.’ She closed Ina’s eyes, repeating her last words: “I’m sorry, Ina.”
A sharp sound behind her brought her back to her senses. “Don’t even think about it.” She didn’t sound threatening. Rather she seemed impossibly exhausted. She sounded like a person whose worldview, belief system, and entire personality had been shattered, burned, and blown away. He hesitated. Calina turned to look the guard in the face. He seemed frightened and confused, yet curious.
“Had I faked that tone your hesitation would have cost you your life,” she said darkly. She had stopped.
“That cannot be faked,” the guard replied. “I don’t mean to be impolite, but what was going on between the two of you. You seemed to be co-operatives.”
“We were more than that. We were friends. I think.”
“I’m sorry if this seems rude,” he said, lowering his weapon, “but then why did you shoot her.”
“It doesn’t seem rude. It is rude. But it concerns you. She was about to blow the reactor to smithereens.”
“I don’t understand. The usual Legion suicide bomber would just have dropped outside the city and detonated a nuclear device?”
“We aren’t ´usual Legion suicide bombers.´ But now is not the time for explanations. We’ve got to get to the nearest spaceport.”
“Wait a sec...” He started at the tone of Calina’s voice. It had regained almost all of its former strength.
“It wasn’t a suggestion.”
“But I want you to explain...”
“For now all you need to know is that you’re dead if I don’t live and that we’ve got about three days to get as far away from this planet as possible. After that they may return to finish what I just prevented.”
“But then we should warn the local admini...”
“This world is a command centre. The Legion wants it dead. There are four more cities of this size on the surface. Just exactly how did you plan to evac them off-world without the boys upstairs knowing? They will all die anyway. Our best chance is to attempt to prevent it from happening on other worlds too.”
He was about to say something but thought better of it. Merely nodding he turned towards the door, and his mood darkened. “How do we get out? You and your friend blew the blast doors shut.”
“Give me a hand with the dem-charge and we’ll be out before you know it.” Mostly to herself she muttered: “We have half a kilogram of powdered NTC and the man asks how we are going to bypass a mere metre of reinforced steel and concrete.”
After blowing open the door the pair noted that the corridors were empty. Apparently the populace had evacuated with practised ease. Outside they ´commandeered´ a vehicle, and headed for the nearest port.

01-03-2003, 05:37 AM
...And now, as our just Legion sees the dawn of the next century, we stand with will undiminished, faith uncorrupted, and armies unmatched.

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...But remember that the valiant forces of the CGC stand ever watchful, ready to protect any good citizen of the Republic.

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

“What is your name by the way?” the guard asked. He was dressed in a loose, green uniform with a cap of the same colour. His eyes were emerald but his face tan. More so than the rest of the people in the city, Calina noted. He was about 1.6 metres with fair hair and a friendly face. At least it was friendly when he wasn’t shocked out of his wits like he was now.
“Calina.” She seemed as cold and unmoved as ever. Only the redness of her eyes hinted at the pain within her soul.
“Mine’s Jhonsson. Martin Jhonsson. Private in the most praised CGC army. Subdivision PDF Ranost/Tirhen/49-386. Servant until death and dog soldier of the so-called Republic of Valdra. Valdra is the capital world,” he added, remembering that Calina had probably never heard of it.
“Why so-called?”
“It’s a big thing this Republic. Composed of 96 colonised star systems as opposed to the Legion’s seven. There are some 500 colonised worlds and more than treble that count of moons. With such a huge system it’s easy for a few billion votes to be ´lost´ during elections. The CGC, that’s the Central Govern...”
“I know that. Go on.”
“Well the CGC controls the media, the police, the military, the courts, and most of the politicians. It is a public secret that one man in fifty is hired by the CGC to give them information on troublemakers. By the way... You friend called you Atti?”
“My first name is Attica, but that is of no importance.”
“Attica. That’s a pretty name.”
“Concentrate on getting us to that port.” If she was amused by the transparent flattery she didn’t show it.
The streets were as empty as everywhere else. At regular intervals were placed shelters for emergency situations. The klaxons still sounded. Soon teams would be dispatched to the site where the alarm had been raised to check if everything was clear. There was no evidence of panic anywhere. No rash acts of desperation. For all the two in the vehicle could see the people of the city could have vanished instantly.
Calina wondered briefly what would happen if they ran into any of the decoy personnel, but guessed that they had been evacuated with the rest and wouldn’t be let out until some sort of all-clear reached the shelters.

01-03-2003, 05:41 AM
...Trying to enlighten the heathen with words is like trying to bring light to the bottom of a sea by throwing down a torch...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...The Legion does not know the meaning of surrender. They cannot be bargained with or bribed. All they know is force and that is how they should be subdued...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

As the pair arrived at the port they saw that it, too, was deserted. While not in itself a problem, it presented them with certain difficulties. Namely how to find, fuel, and pilot a craft. Jhonsson seemed to have an idea of how to handle that. He went to the nearest shelter and logged onto a comm-link. The voice on the inside asked what was going on.
“We have a breach in the outer wall. But that is not of consequence. What is important is that the lunar station has run into trouble with their gun emplacements. Assistance has been requisitioned, so we’re sending up a team.”
“Why do they want our folk? Haven’t they got their own?” the voice asked cautiously.
“How the [insert fourletter-word here] should I know. They just picked up the phone and called us, so up we go. We need a pilot to fly us though, so if you’ve got one, tell him to get his behind from the seat and into a rad-suit and get out here.”
“Who are you?”
“Private 49-386.”
The comm shut down. A few moments later a young woman in a rad-suit exited through the airlock. She froze as she saw that none of the other two wore suits.
‘The boy knows his way around here,’ Calina thought. ‘If he is as good in a fight we will make a strong team.’ To the woman she said: “You will be frightened by this. Within the week this whole world will be scorched earth. There is nothing that we can do about it, but we can get your bacon out of the firing line. We’ll need a shuttle capable of making it to the neighbouring system and someone to fly it.”
The woman looked almost too terrified to move. “I cannot fly that kind of craft without aid,” she said. “And besides, I’ve got a husband and child here.”
“Jhonsson, get everyone out of the shelter. Can we take them all with us?”
“There is room for fifty and supplies for a month in a shelter. Any craft capable of intersystem travel will be able to take it.”
The shelter was full. Between them the refugees succeeded in ´acquiring´ a craft and stocking it with enough supplies to make the trip. They weren’t bothered by anyone, as no all-clear had been sounded.

01-03-2003, 05:48 AM
...Let the betrayer find no quarter, nor succour, nor rest within your walls. For he is more vile than a heathen. He has seen the light and turned away...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...All good citizens should rest assured that the CGC forces will find all traitors and that the CGC forces will punish all traitors and that the CGC forces will deny all traitors...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

Calina remembered instantly why she hated cold sleep. It took a couple of seconds before her body began to respond to her brain, and even after that she was nauseous and felt weak. Getting out of the stasis capsule she saw that someone else was in the room. It took a while for her eyes to focus properly. Then she saw Jhonsson sitting on a chair next to the door.
“What do you want?” she asked, a little edgy from the fact that someone had snug up on her while she was defenceless.
“I don’t quite know what I want, but I know what I don’t want,” he replied. And that is walking around like a drunk because I cannot control my legs. I hate cold sleep,” he said indicating with his hand that he had been in the other stasis capsule in the room.
“That makes two of us,” Calina responded, relieved that no-one intentionally snug up on her.
“So what do you fight for, now you’ve turned your back on the Legion?”
“I don’t quite know,” she said. “I was fighting on adrenaline in the city. I’m certainly not fighting for the CGC. I think that I’m fighting to stay alive long enough to find out what I fight for. And you?”
“I once fought for the army. But after an exceptionally brutal battle at Sontal, I was transferred to the PDF. Since then I fought for my home.”
“I remember Sontal. Vividly. But there weren’t any CGC survivors.”
“Not on the ground, no. But some of us just saw death coming up those cliffs, chanting and all. We hijacked a dropship and got off the planet in time.”
“Yes. There was a craft leaving the planet. Then the commander made two mistakes.”
“Letting us run?”
“Yes. And taking the place with the Regulars. He kept the Templar as a mobile force to drop if a counterattack materialised.”
“From what you told me of the Templar, that seems like a sound plan.”
“It is not. The Templar are commando infantry. What he should have done was to move in with the Templar, have them take out key structures and then charge en masse. He answered for that with his head.” Even as she mentioned the penalty of failure, Calina’s face or bearing didn’t reveal any of her thoughts on the matter.
“Don’t you think that it is a little hard?”
“I had a brother with the regulars. They gave me his dog-tag.” She betrayed no emotion as she recounted for the loss of her brother.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Don’t be,” Calina said calmly. “Some memories should not be disturbed. But now you’ve lost your home and your career. And you don’t have a god. What’s left to fight for?”
“Lots of things. Staying alive being chief amongst them. But also I fight for such things as progress.”
“Yes. One of the benefits of living under CGC rule is that things improve. We have – had – rad-suits back home for example.”
“The Legion has rad-suits too.”
“The only Legion rad-suits ever captured were TO-pattern class four suits. That is a fifty-three years old republican pattern. In other words: The Legion never developed improvements. Back home some fool wearing such a suit would be fried instantly if he ventured out of the city. It was only fifteen years ago that we got the new suits. Before that repairing a breach in the outer wall was suicidal at best.”
But that isn’t all. Seven years ago we refitted our reactors. They new ones are prototypes. They yield twice as much, meaning that we could almost double our industries. We had the lowest unemployment rate in the entire sector. And the best industry output pr. person. Prayer-junkies didn’t make that possible. And no priest could have made my arm.”
“Your arm?”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t notice. It’s cybernetic, second generation. It’s actually due for replacement, now that the third and fourth gens have hit the streets, but I haven’t had the money.”
“Cybernetic. Come on.” Calina’s voice was disdainful, as if she doubted the truth of the man’s words. She did.
“Yes. Cybernetic. When the Legion was founded it was science fiction. Twenty years later it was science. The first generation was produced twenty-seven years ago. Second generation came six years later. In a couple of years they expect to make hands, and we’ll have eyes within the next century if the eggheads keep up the pace*.”
“Fascinating. But I don’t understand how you can just replace the Creator with science. Don’t you need a god?” Calina sounded genuinely curious.
“A god is just a way to explain why things are the way they are. Science is a way to improve how things are,” he shrugged. “Thus they don’t replace each other. I simply don’t care why we are here. Only that we are here.”
“You’re a philosopher!”
“No. But dog-soldiers have a lot of time to think. And I had a lot to think about after Sontal.”
“They prosecuted you for desertion?”
“No.” Jhonsson’s face was distorted by the unpleasant memory. “But the escape was living hell.”
“Worse than this one? Half the Legion troops were already planetside and the other half was in transit. And the Templar were never deployed.” Even her extensive training could not hide Calina’s curiosity.
“Imagine this: You are running for your life, like we are now. Only you have friends down on the planet you’re running from, so you try to contact them. And then,” a dark look crossed his face. “Then you are being scrambled by a blanket broadcast.”
And not just any blanket broadcast either: Recordings of screaming people. Of men, women and children being tortured, begging for the release of death. No-one knew how to shut it down. It took half a minute to cut the transmission. Those thirty seconds aged me thirty years.”
Jhonsson was visibly shaken and his eyes were watering. For a fleeting moment Calina remembered her own ghosts. Faces. A thousand faces pale with terror. It took her but a faction of a second to shake the memory, but she still felt like she had been stabbed. She would never be able to truly forget those faces. They would haunt her until the day of her death. Then again, that might be so short a time that she didn’t need to worry.
“Perhaps you were right about memories,” Jhonsson said. “Some shouldn’t be disturbed.”
Suddenly a voice rang out over the loudspeakers, interrupting their conversation: “Attention all personnel. This is the Bridge speaking. We are initiating perimeter orbit of moon FI-/263. Gravity is about half standard, so iron soles are recommended.”
Surface data read this: Background radiation: Not detectable. Atmosphere and average pressure: Terraformed to Terran Standard. Time to make full orbit around its planet: 2.3741 years. Day time: 23.73 standard hours. Magnetic field: None. Lifesigns: Not detectable, except for a single CGC base.”
All data on the base are encrypted beyond our security clearance, apart from the name: Lunar Installation ZK-32. Several hundred lifeforms are evident in the complex. By now everyone should be out of cryogenic stasis. Our time-delay is 4.927 standard days. I hope that everyone is well.”
“As if!” Jhonsson said, but Calina was already on her feet. She strode out of the cryo-room, leaving Jhonsson to wonder how she managed that, given his own, still shaky legs.

*www.sciam.com had a Feature Article about mind-controlled robots (with electrical circuits, mind, it’s not psyker-stuff) some time ago. If you run a search on it or go dig in the archive you may be able to find it. It’s called “Controlling Robots with the Mind. This research could very well lead to cybernetics, IMO (though I am by no means an expert).

01-03-2003, 05:58 AM
“This victory will be my most glorious.”

Legion Field Commander Madarius, just prior to the battle at Sontal

“We’ll introduce these pious fools to their god. The hard way.”

CGC General Nochten, just prior to the battle at Sontal

The blast doors sealing the bridge from the rest of the ship silently slid open. In walked a young woman whose pale skin almost shone in contrast to her black hair. Walking up to Martins, the man who had been placed in top of the craft hierarchy, due to his being the most experienced in flying inter-system class ships, Calina told him to open a communications link to the base.
“I don’t like being bullied around. Remember that I was selected to run this place,” the short man said, his puffy cheeks flopping gently.
“I remember all too well. You are the most experienced, and I know that everyone is working overtime as it is, due to the lack of more personnel.” Calina modulated her voice as if she simply recounted facts, despite knowing that the little man despised her. The feeling was mutual, but unlike him, whom Calina could read like a book, she didn’t make a show of it.
“But we need to get in touch with whoever is down there. The CGC don’t place installations this far away from nothing without giving them a large garrison.”
“How exactly did you get to know the strategy of the Central Governmental Control, the most worthy defender of the Republic?” Even if he had tried he would not have been able to hide his poisonous tone.
“I am not privy to CGC strategies, I merely assumed that they aren’t total dim-wits.” She knew that he wanted a confrontation. That he wanted to take control of the situation. Normally she would have let him have his empty victory. But being pursued by Creator-knew-how-many Battleship-class Legion command ships wasn’t normal.
“The way I see it,” she said calmly, “we’ve got two options: 1) Get a comm-link up running or 2) Hang around here until my old mates show up. I know which I prefer.”
“We could just land,” Martins ventured, in an attempt to regain some of his lost pride.
“We could land,” Calina agreed. “But that is assuming that they don’t put their anti-orbital guns to good use, and swat this feeble belly-ship out of its landing trajectory like a silly fly. Not a risk I would run.”
Realising that he couldn’t really argue with that Martins handed her the microphone to the comms-relay. Buzzing into life, the relay loudspeakers were filled at first with the crackle of static, then the high-frequency tone that indicated the relay searching the different wavelengths for a receiver. Suddenly the piercing note was cut and replaced by silence, meaning that the link was true.
“This is Attica Calina speaking,” Calina said through the link. “Does anyone copy? Repeat: I am Attica Calina. Does anyone copy?”
The reply rang clear over the loudspeakers: “This is Sargent Montz, comms-officer on Lunar Installation ZK-32. I read you loud and clear. I assume that you are in that little ship swinging around just outside our AO weapons’ range?”
“Good guessing,” Calina replied. We want clearance to land. I am a defecting Legionary and if I’m still up here when my former colleagues catch up with me, I’ll be a very dead deserter. In the craft are also one PDF guard and fifty civs. I have important information for you, that will be of vital interest to the CGC.”
“Why should we believe you?” Montz asked through the link.
“Because,” Calina said, her mind racing, “if I had wanted you dead, you would already be torched. A craft of this size, carrying a load of nukes could just try to land. If your AO killed it on the way down, the radioactive material would spread throughout the atmosphere, causing lethal levels of radiation.”
“Nice try,” was the amused reply. “Truth is: We thought about that when we designed the installation.”
Just then a low man with tan skin entered the bridge. Walking over to the communications relay, he beckoned for the microphone.
“My name is Martin Jhonsson,” he said, “I’m private 49-386 of the Ranost/Tirhen PDF Subdivision. My call-sign is Foxhole. By sheer coincidence I have a universal Alpha keycard.” He put a thin data disc into the computer outlet and pressed a number of buttons in a seemingly random order.
That apparently did the trick. “The mainframe acknowledges your Alpha clearance,” the loudspeakers informed. “But how in the name of the Republic did you get it?”
“Before I was transferred to the PDF I was an officer. But I rubbed the governor up the wrong way so I ended up on guard duty. You know that an Alpha is gene-coded, so it can’t be a fake. Now if you’d just let us land, please. I for one don’t fancy hanging in high orbit when the Legion shows up to crash the party.”
“Just one more question,” said the comms-officer. “How did you know that we were here? That there was anything here?”
“We didn’t,” Jhonsson replied truthfully. “But we had to leave Ranost to get a launch window to anywhere. A whole bunch of Legionaries popped out of nowhere and pounded us for three successive days. We just took the first window we could catch.”

01-03-2003, 06:05 AM
...Those who break the holy laws laid down by the Legion shall suffer torture and death. For citizens and privates, if the error is inexpensive, in terms of resources and citizens, the penalty is a reprimand. If the error is unforgivable or costs too much the penalty is whipping. If the error is priceless the penalty is prolonged electroshock torture and if an error is both priceless and unforgivable then the penalty is death. The errors of unit commanders are one category worse, of force commanders two worse, and of battlefield commanders three worse...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

...CGC commanders punish those who fail and only those who fail. Good citizens do not fail...

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

The transport ship cut a trail of fire through the atmosphere as it dropped towards the surface. Thrusters blazing from a damaged hull, it touched down just outside the reinforced steel/concrete wall, kicking up the grey dust that covered the moon. With a hiss of hydraulics a hatch on the side of the craft opened and the lean figure of a woman jumped out, even before the stairs had been lowered.
With an agility that belied her strength the black haired, pale skinned woman landed on dust with a colour that closely resembled that of her eyes. As she walked towards the wall, an amplified voice made her stop in her tracks.
“Halt!” it commanded. “You will go no further. You are under our protection as long as you stay at least one hundred metres from the installation. If a host of Legionaries show up, it pretty much confirms what you told us, and you will be allowed in.”
Calina could not suppress a touch of irritation as she replied. “By the time those craft show up, it will already be too late! You saw Jhonsson’s clearance. Now let us in.”
“It would be too great a risk to run. You will stay in your craft,” came the blunt reply.
Calina began to walk towards the base. “If I had wanted you dead, I would be inside your pretty little base by now,” she began. Then, suddenly, the top of the wall was marked by a hundred muzzle flashes. Some shots flew wide, but most found their mark: The black haired figure striding towards them.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the figure didn’t drop. The shots passed straight through it, many of them piercing its chest, but it didn’t even falter. There was no blood at all.
“As you see,” a voice said through the loudspeakers of the transport, “I could already be within your base. I am a Templar, and I could have Jumped in from orbit if that was what I wanted to. Now please let us in. Maintaining a phantom self is quite tiring.” At those words the figure on the ground disappeared.
Apparently convinced that Calina meant them no harm, the men at the wall drew back from a part of the white-painted surface. A massive gate, large enough to accept armour swung open. ‘Impressive,’ Calina thought. ‘That gate fooled me.’
As the pitiful refugees walked towards the fortress, Jhonsson drew level with Calina. “How did you do that?” he asked astonished.
“You spoke of science as we entered orbit,” Calina answered, her voice clearly marked by exhaustion. “That is our variant. Whereas the Republic turned its resources towards mastery of the outside cosmos, the Legion wished to achieve mastery of inner self. Mind over Matter, I think you would call it.”
“Impressive. Can anyone learn it?”
“No,” she replied coldly. “Most can’t. Most die.”
They were interrupted by a stern-looking officer. A Colonel by his rank pins. “I am the commander of this place,” he said. He had a broad face. He was tall, lean and would have been handsome, had his face not been disfigured by a splash of acid, numerous burns and scars, and a hint of cruelty in his eyes.
“Aha,” Calina replied rather more acidly than she had planned. “So it was you who ordered that little show of friendly fire?” It wasn’t really a question. She was struggling to regain control of her temper. But she was tired and angry.
“It can hardly be called ´friendly fire,´ as we had yet to determine that you were friends.” He was slick like no other, and Calina didn’t like him at all. A feeling in her gut told her that he had much the same inclination.
“I thought so. It didn’t seem all that friendly either.” She had demonstrated remarkable ability to control her anger, but there was a hint of dislike nevertheless.
“Still we have to work together, if what you said was true. It seems to me as if you are the centrepiece of this deadly little dance?” He too had a remarkable self control, and was definitely trained to turn a good phrase to heighten morale. Measuring her with his eyes he added: “And quite a prize to dance for too.”
Calina smiled, but without warmth. “I’m afraid that I shall have to disappoint you,” ‘and in more than one way,’ she thought. Aloud she said: “They dance with me, yes. But what they desire is this.” She produced a small box about 10cm*10cm*3cm. A Data Storage Capsule. “Within this DSC is contained detailed information on everything I know of the Templar, and the Legion as a whole.”
It contains everything that I have ever had access to information of. Social structure, army organisation, tactics, you name it. You will want to send for someone to pick it up as soon as possible.”
He led out a low whistle. “You sure know how to put some life into a party.”
“As you must surely have guessed,” Calina said, “we shall need to find a safe place to store this. If the Legion take this place, they’ll level it. Any and all recordings will be destroyed if found.” Her tone had a sharp edge to it, as she was getting tired of the Colonel’s manners. Or rather his lack thereof.
“Then I think that you have come to the right place,” the Colonel replied. “This is a research station, you see. We are developing new methods of encryption. We are currently working on – no finishing – Alloy Encryption.”
It goes something like this: You take an alloy that reads clearly on the correct scanners, then you alter the order of atoms, and their atomic nuclei*, so that both every atom and the order of atoms become binary code. That way it is possible to safely store every governmental and military secret of the Republic and every sneaky move that the Legion ever thought about in a container the size of a bullet. But if you want details, you’ll have to speak to the eggheads.”
“I don’t care about the details. Just make plenty of copies. You won’t get a chance like this again in the foreseeable future.”

*It is actually possible to alter the order of atoms in alloys with available technology. I think that it is something like neutron or alpha bombardment, though I am not sure. I’ve heard that research on how to alter the structure of the atomic nucleus is underway, but I’m not sure about that.

01-03-2003, 06:07 AM
…Only the coward needs to enhance himself through anything but prayer…

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

…Our soldiers can safely use combat stimms. We wouldn’t give them anything that wasn’t within the safety margins…

Exempt from a CGC propaganda broadcast

There was a sharp knock on the door. Reaching for her clothes and firearm, Calina asked who came to disturb her in the middle of the night. She knew that she should have slept in more than underwear, but there had been no half-decent clothes available, and what was available chafed.
“I am Lieutenant Morgan, ma’am,” he replied. The commander told me to fetch you ASAP. A whole host of Legionaries are popping out of wormholes in the outer sectors, and are coming in way too fast for us to be comfortable.”
Opening the door to her room, Calina replied: “Then we should hurry. There is much to be done. I am sorry for the delay, but I had to dress.” She had been issued a uniform, which she had clearly donned in a hurry. All the insignia had been cut off.
“What have you done to your uniform?” The soldier asked her. “The Colonel will go hopping mad when he sees that.”
“Let’s just say that there is no love lost between the CGC and I. They are neither better nor worse than the Legion.” Even as she spoke Calina walked towards the command centre of the base, at a speed that even the well-trained Lieutenant could hardly match.

01-03-2003, 06:09 AM
...In the beginning there was only darkness. Then the Creator saw that, and made the stars and planets. But they were lifeless rocks. The Creator saw that and made the many lifeforms that inhabit the planets. Then the Creator rested...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

“Recent archaeological research indicates that human life originated on planet FG-317. It has the correct amount of water and land mass, orbits 1 AU* from a middle aged star, has a single natural satellite, and, most importantly, highly primitive technology has been found below its surface. It has been determined that beings of such primitive levels of science could not have traversed the gulf of space between the stars. The lethal amounts of radiation on the surface, however, are opposing this theory. Unless it is man-made of course.”

On the history of the galaxy, by Nakrod Schim

The hiss of the door made the Colonel turn. “Ah. I appreciate the speed of your arrival. Three Battleship class craft with numerous escorts appeared at the edges of the system a few minutes ago. ETA: Six hours.”
“What are our assets and liabilities?” Calina asked, no evidence of her having been roused just moments ago left in her voice or bearing.
“In combat situations, you mean?”
“No, of course I don’t mean combat situations,” Calina remarked snidely. “After all, we’re expecting a diplomatic congress one of these days, aren’t we?”
The commander decided to ignore the sarcasm. “We have numerous automated wall guns, STS rocket systems for busting tanks, a thousand infantry, AA and AO sufficient to make anyone reconsider ´contested landing,´ and anti missile defences.”
“And of our liabilities?”
“If our generators are put out of commission, the automated defences will power down, allowing for the employment of orbital barrage.”
“Can you give me some more details on the generators. They seem to be our weak link.”
“They are located at four different places throughout the installation. This moon has rich H2 deposits beneath the surface, so they are powered by hydrogen. If one should fail the rest can still keep the place running, if two fail the lighting will fail, three will impact on the defences.”
“How fast can you start them up?” The semblance of a plan began to form in Calina’s head. Perhaps she would not have to write off base after all.
The Colonel frowned. “From the time of activation it takes about two minutes to power up the defences, why?”
“Because,” Calina told him, “the Legion will launch strikes against them as soon as they can. At their present distance they cannot pinpoint their location, and we’ll want to keep it that way as long as possible.”
“It is something of a gamble,” the Colonel said, his face darkening. “But if but half of the data you gave us is true, then I don’t see that many other options.”
As she turned to walk away, the Colonel made another remark, ice in his voice: “There is also the question of morale,” he said.
“Morale?” Calina knew what was coming, but she didn’t give the commander the pleasure of her showing emotion in the matter.
“Morale, yes,” The Colonel continued. “And more specifically your morale. Whose side are you on.”
Suppressing a laugh the pale woman said: “Neither. But there are fifty civilians here whom I owe. I know which side will butcher them for sure, and which side might wait for a while.”
“So,” the commander said, in a threatening tone, “you are going merc**?”
“Whatever you call it,” she replied with a dismissive shrug. “Does it really matter?”
“It does if you decide to turn coat,” the Colonel said. “Because then I might have to execute you.” He seemed more than happy with the thought.
“Don’t get your hopes up too high. If I turn coat again the Legion will get me long before you do. And even if you get there in time, I am more than capable of making you a very dead little upstart.”
Calina could clearly see that the commander was scared. Actually he was quite good at hiding it, a skill that only a well-drilled officer could muster. “We shall see about that in due time,” he replied. “For now, though, I want to know if you have a problem fighting your old friends.”
“I have no friends within their ranks.” It was all that she could manage to prevent her eyes from watering. But she would not give him that victory. “I killed the last one as I made my escape.”
That remark caught him wrong-footed. “You killed your friend,” he said, clearly surprised at the frankness of the Templar. “But why?”
“Because,” Calina replied, as cold and apparently unmoved as always, despite her ferocious battle to cull her feelings on the matter, “she was about to prime a breach charge on a plasma/fusion reactor. Those things have a nasty habit of levelling everything within a considerable radius when broken open, and we were in the middle of a city. She had been sent to keep an eye on me.”
“Why?” the commander demanded to know. He didn’t even have the courtesy of condoling. Not that it would have put him in a better light anyway.
“The Paladin didn’t trust me,” Calina said flatly.
“Then why did he send you in?” There was a note in the Colonel’s voice as if he was suspecting her of not telling the truth.
“A gamble, Corporal. Sorry; Colonel.” Her undertitleing was deliberate. “A gamble that gave him an extra operative.” She wasn’t telling the whole truth, but then again, it didn’t really concern the Colonel.
As she spoke the memories flooded her mind. A tan face encircled by golden hair kept asking her why she had done what she had done. So did a thousand others, but yet it was that of Ina that did so with the greatest insistence. She had told no-one of the contact. She had even tried to forget it. But now the past was catching up on her.
The moment, a mere faction of a moment really, between the bullet connecting with Ina’s skull and its killing her, her mental attack had faltered. Instead her thoughts and memories had burned their way through even Calina’s impressive defences. For a moment they had shared thoughts. In that moment Calina was burdened for life by the thoughts of her fellow Templar. Her friend.
Most vivid amongst them had been the question that had burned in Ina’s mind, as she realised the full extend of Calina’s betrayal: ‘Why, Atti? Why would you betray us? You were the best amongst us. The Paladin told me as much. Why would you betray the Legion? The Paladin? Me? Why, Atti? Why you?’
At once she realised that this whole, tragic chain of events was hinged upon one word. One question: ´Why?´ Jhonsson is right, she decided, in saying that faith is about the ´why?´, but she disagreed when it came to the importance of the question. What he dismissed as a subject for philosophers to discuss had radically changed her world. Her universe. She didn’t even notice that she had been dismissed.

*AU is an abbreviation for Astronomic Unit, which is the distance from the Earth to the Sun. The republican scientists would not be able to draw any connection, as the units had been revised, and this is simply a convenient translation.

**Pronounced ´murk´

01-03-2003, 06:17 AM
...Do not out of hand reject the mercenary. Remember that each one of the scum is worth three to you: One more on your side, one less on the enemy’s side, and one more worker in your uranium mines...

Exempt from the teachings of the Legion

“Beware of the mercenary. Most have turned coat once and most have no compunction about doing it again. Still, they are wonderfully expendable should you find yourself in a tight spot.”

Of Warfare, by Nakrod Schim

In the line of soldiers atop the wall was a single outstanding figure. Partly because she was the only woman amongst the soldiers, partly because she knew better than any of the others what was to come. Everyone looked skywards, watching the fiery trails that marked the landing trajectory of the twenty Legion dropships.
AO units had pounded one of the Battleships in orbit, forcing it to withdraw and thus removing a third of the strike force. ‘We might even stand a chance,’ the young woman thought, her contours strikingly beautiful against the blue sky.
“It is said that when you see a falling star, you are allowed to make a wish that will come true,” said one of the soldiers next to Calina.
“If that is right, then we’ve all got a lot of wishes coming.” She wished of all her heart that those stars would stop falling. Her disbelief of such heathen superstition was instantly confirmed.
A small man with a tan, friendly face walked up next to them. “Sgt. Montz just told me,” Jhonsson said, “that there is a Vengeance pattern Destroyer-class warship coming in. It should be here within two days.” To the other CGC soldier he said: “How many, d’ you reckon?”
“Dropping in? Well there are twenty ships. Assuming that they stay outside firing range of our AA sites. With about one hundred men per ship...”
“That figure is off by twenty percent,” Calina interrupted. “The correct amount is 125. That gives us about 2500 able soldiers, including Templar.” As she made the count she realised that, for the first time in her life, she was going to fight for no noble or grand purpose. The data were secure within the moon’s crust. They would be found whether the defenders lived or died.
‘So why am I going to fight,’ she asked herself. Again that ´why?´. Why indeed. Putting the thought away, she returned her attention to the falling stars.

I've moved the long rant from the top of the thread down here.

Long rant about the setting.

Interstellar travel is accomplished by means of wormholes. Wormholes connect two places in space to allow for nearly instantaneous travel. Mark that “nearly”, it becomes important later. Wormholes zip in and out of existence everywhere all the time, but they are so small and shortlived that they are almost impossible to register.
With the correct equipment, however, these proto-wormholes can be expanded and kept alive until they are big enough to be useful. This kind of device is called a ´wormhole stabiliser´. This then enables travel at great speeds (and, with a little more equipment, great velocity (which differs from speed in that velocity has a direction)).
However, in an area where a wormhole overlaps a gravitational field, time starts to behave in funny ways. Normally this is not a problem, because it only effects the wormhole itself, but for the traveller who intends to use the wormhole it suddenly becomes very relevant, as the “nearly” that was pointed out earlier is stretched to hours, days, or months, increasing exponentially by the total intensity of the gravitational field(s) in question and proportionally with the travelled distance.
So in order to get reasonable travel times (less than a week in most cases) spacecraft must therefore leave orbit and wait for a launch window before setting off. A launch window is basically a route from where you are to where you want to go to that doesn’t have too many gravitational wells. Launch windows are calculated by extraordinarily powerful computers, using inanely complicated star-maps.
No starmap can be perfect, however, and for this reason living organisms are usually kept in cryogenic hibernation, called cold sleep by many, as an insurance policy, just in case the wormhole crossed an uncharted black hole, white dwarf, neutron star or other nasty, heavy body, which would create oddball fluctuations in the time-stream, killing anyone unprotected.
Communication is accomplished in much the same fashion, but since the signals are electromagnetic waves (radio signals) they can use much smaller wormholes, due to their diminutive size. However, this also means that you can tap such lines, since, basically, you send a signal bundle in a general direction, which then moves along wormholes, becoming increasingly dispersed with the distance travelled.
Therefore, encryption is still required and effective transmission distance is limited to several billion light years. But this only impairs intergalactic communication, and is therefore not relevant to the story.

The Legion and the Republic are by no means the only factions in the galaxy, but since the Legion’s territory borders solely on Republican space, and since the story follows a Legionary, they are the only factions relevant to this story. If I get encouraging response I may make a follow-up, where I broaden the setting.
Note that, so far, humanity has not encountered non-Terran life forms. Every living thing in human space originates in the Terran biosphere, though there has been a certain evolution since the present times (yes, there is evolution in this universe: It’s my setting, so I make the laws of nature that govern it).
I find the notion that a single empire could control all of humanity for an extended period of time silly, given that it has so far been impossible, even on a terrestrial scale. In fact, the size of the Republic is quite fascinating. This, however, is due to the question of food supply.
I imagine that most worlds inhabited by humans have been extensively terraformed*, in fact almost none have been left untouched (with Ranost and similar planets as some of the few exceptions, due to highly radioactive surface, nearby pulsars** bombarding them with cosmic radiation, little in the way of atmosphere or gravity, or similar unfriendly environments).
Even with these extensive alterations, few planets are capable of upholding life on their own (usually it is the most waterrich planets that are terraformed into environments that resemble Terran, and then seeded with part of the Terran biosphere. The process is, of course, not as simple as it sounds). These worlds are used for intensive farming, and can only support few inhabitants, as most of the surface is taken up by agricultural industries.
This means that the major population centers are vitally dependent on these “agri-worlds”, leading to high levels of import and export. It also means that vast amounts of people can be controlled by relatively small armies and starfleets, since it is quite easy to subdue the almost unarmed agri-worlds, should it decide to rebel, and other rouge planets will suffer slow and horrible death by starvation if they don’t surrender in time (in which case they will be disarmed, and then most likely suffer the slow and horrible death by starvation anyway, just to make an example of them).
This situation is in many ways similar to the situation that we would be in if the US took complete control over the oil in the Middle East (since they would have the military and economic strength to survive shutting off the flow of oil to the Western World), though much more severe, since we are talking about the food supply.
Of course this situation also makes the agri-worlds central to any military strategy: If you can capture or fusion bomb an agri-world, then you have likely killed as many as ten other planets at the same time. Since agri-worlds are vital and almost irreplaceable, destroying them is considered the greatest and most unforgivable atrocity amongst civilised factions (including the Republic), though the Legion and a few other frowned-upon organisations kill agri-worlds with impunity if it fits their schemes. Even they know the value of these planets, though, and will take them alive if at all possible. (Slantar and Unari are agri-worlds, whereas Ranost, Anost, and Ecrast are industry worlds).
*Terraforming is the process of changing the climate and crust composition of a planet on a global scale. Differs from climate changes such as global warming in that the process is controlled. This has so far not been tried on the Earth.
**Pulsars are neutron stars that spew massive amounts of cosmic radiation into space in relatively narrow cones. Their name is derived from the fact that to an observer on the Earth they seem to “pulse” as they rotate rapidly.

Lost Welshman
02-03-2003, 01:29 PM
/<ool, I read the first few lines and It seems pretty cool. Keep it up, unless its finished then. KOOL!

06-28-2004, 10:15 AM
:eek: You must be Tolkien's descendant! :eek:

You should release a book or something....

07-02-2004, 11:34 AM
Lots of the stuff here is better... Look around for Kurgan's threads, they have pretty good links, some of them.