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Old 01-03-2003, 06:09 AM   #19
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Denmark
Posts: 1,068
...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´

Last edited by ShadowTemplar; 04-25-2003 at 12:00 PM.
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