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July. 9, 2020

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Re: Command and Compromise
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16 Hours Previous

Gathered around the table are 6 men. All impeccably dressed. New suits from the fashion markets on New Tokyo. The room is heavy with cigar smoke and the smell of brandy.

At the head of the table, sits CEO Matsumoto, and to the right of him Spankey.


Gentlemen starts Spankey.

Thank you for gathering today.

The remaining 4 men all look up to Spankey and fall silent.

As the 4 main shareholders in Sirius Diversified, Inc, it seems only right we inform you of what is going on.

Matsumoto stands from his seat and looks around the room.


Gentlemen, Avery has left on an important mission for SDI and SDI intelligence. It is expected he will not make it back. The only information I have to hand is that he left for Rhineland, and early reports suggest he left with at least 2 members of the TFL Police force.

Matsumoto starts to walk around the table spinning a small silver coin around his fingers as he goes.


I received a transmission from Avery with instructions for how he wants SDI Intelligence to be run, should he not make it back. SDI Intelligence will be taken over by Spankey and Daeros as a join effort.

There are whispers around the table. And the youngest attendee stands to talk.

I do not understand, what is it Avery is doing?

It is unknown the exact purpose of his current mission. What is clear is he has been in contact with Lord Nedelor, and this mission is off high importance. It would have to be of high importance for Roo to risk his life.

Gentlemen, I do not want you to worry. Should Avery not return, and we hope he does, but should he not, the Intelligence department will run as always. Avery has spent much time effort and much money training the current operatives, and they are loyal to him and SDI. Spankey has already been to the Intel's HQ and they are prepared for what might happen, and are ready to continue working for us as always.

The doors to the conference room open.


Well, that is all for now. Should anyone have any further questions, please feel free to contact me first thing tomorrow morning. For now, I have to be else where. Gentlemen, good night.

With that, the 4 share holders get up from there seats and quietly leave the room. When the door is closed, Matsumoto sits back down with Spankey and both remain there through the night discussing the future of SDI.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:42
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Re: Command and Compromise
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Blackheart and his men sat in the makeshift command room being attended to as several rebel leaders gathered around a tactical hologram depicting New Berlin. Chang and Matrix led the briefing, explaining the maneuvers and strategies they would employ to penetrate the defense net of the capitol. Presently Chang was presenting the space offensive.

"...a squadron of Daggers enter here, led by Alexander, with another squadron of captured Banshees led by Krieger entering here to intercept reinforcements. This will get us past the space net."

Matrix began explaining the atmospheric entry. Blackheart shook his head and whispered to Avery, "I can't believe we're doing this."

"The offensive? It's simpler than it sounds. Basically we'll just-"

"No, I meant I can't believe we're working with outlaws. By rights I should be arresting these men."

"Arresting your rescuers? That would be less than gracious, Colonel. You should trust them."

"Just because I want to arrest them doesn't mean I don't trust them. When Chang was a naval officer I always trusted him. Even when he fought for the Blood Dragons, I sensed he was a man of honor. I don't doubt his intent. I only doubt his means."

Avery just grinned that charming grin of his.

Matrix continued. "The sky defense platforms on the ground will be neutralized easily. Our Wolfhounds will make several passes with assistance from our Valkyries. By then the Mules will have made atmospheric re-entry and will be on a course for the executive center of the Northwest semisphere. Chang?"

"We expect Admiral JJK to be in attendance at a meeting of high-level diplomats, including some unofficial SCC reps. We haven't been able to find out who those are, but we'll decide what to do with them once they're ID'd. The ground assault will be the final key to this assault, and could decide the future of this conflict, possibly even of Rheinland herself. We're gears up in four hours. Are there any questions?"

"Yes," piped up Blackheart, stepping away from the nurse that fussed over him. "How can we justify kidnapping one of Rheinland's heroes, and a diplomat at that? Let me remind you that it was the death of a Rheinland ambassador that sparked this chain of events."

Chang looked unapologetically at the policeman. "Commander, you don't have to remind me. I put together the assault that retired the ambassador myself. You are failing to see the full picture. These people are endangered by the integration of a lesser people. The Hessians made their decision a long time ago to leave the society of Rheinland, and as a result have degenerated into a cutthroat generation intent on raping Rheinland of her resources and leaving its people destitute, consigned to a form of slavery which will require centuries to recover from. Meanwhile, the leaders of Berlin will be revered for their contemporary thinking, and the people will have no idea they're cheering their own end. So, Colonel Blackheart, if you think it's more just to allow tyrants to use the honest people of the Rhein for their own gain, you can arrest myself and everyone here once we return from this mission. But if you think these people deserve a chance to exercise their democratic rights, the rights of free people, then help us remove the forces that would deny them that, and show them that true justice is being free to decide your own future."

Blackheart looked at the floating transparent planet and wondered. But after a moment he replied.

"If you want to win, you'll need experienced tactical commanders. It looks like you have a few of us sitting in the back of the room. Mind if we come to the table?"

Chang gestured for the four men to step forward. And they did.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:42
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Re: Command and Compromise
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The orb of white hung silent against the dark contrast of space. It could have been called tranquility itself.

But inside the cockpits and holds of the approaching vessels, there was no peace. Not for the pilots, not for the soldiers, and not for their commanders. If the task they set out to accomplish was achieved, their victory would give truth and a future to the rebellion they hoped for. But if they failed, death would be a certain consequence of tonight. Death, for them, for the rebellion, and for the ideas that moved them.

The police could not participate. But that didn't mean they couldn't care.
_____________________________________________________________

A Rheinlander accent punctuated the signals of the military defense channels surrounding New Berlin.

"This is Rheinland patrol Red 1 to Battleship Dolga, requesting permission to dock. Over."

A moment passed as the controller checked the transponder and cargo scan of the Valkyrie squadron.

"Rheinland patrol Red 1, this is Battleship Dolga. Permission granted. Please proceed to Dock 2."

The dock began to open as the bombers approached. But the controller quickly grew uncomfortable with the pattern and velocity of the incoming patrol. Patching in a command channel, he addressed them again.

"Patrol Red, you are coming in too fast. Wave off and fall back to station 3 for further instructions. Over."

No reply.

"Patrol Red, do you copy? Over."

But all Red 1 did in response was wave is wings. A moment later, twelve bright white objects sped toward the open bay before them. They quietly sought their target. As the projectiles reached their destination in unison, the white blossomed into a plume of red fury. The trumpets of battle had been sounded.
_____________________________________________________________

Chaos broke the peace of the space around New Berlin, with fighters drawn from all around the planet into defensive postures. Squads of security craft were launched in response to the assaulted command ship. In a short time the Valkyries were surrounded and under heavy fire from the Dolga and her complement.

But the promised aid of Daggers stabbed into the heart of the oncoming naval forces. Formations crumbled into two-man flight groups attempting to resolve into a counterdefensive motion. The capabilities of the assault craft were pushed to their limits as a combination of skill and passion quickly reached a furious intensity.

In the midst of the fighting came new players. "Police Gruppe Grun approaching the combat zone." The Banshees screamed into the furball, showering the rebel craft with green fire. The naval pilots expressed their joy with cries of victory already on their lips.

But it was not to last. From within the ranks of the Banshees themselves came dissenters, posers who withdrew from the formation, spinning over and engaging the Rheinland officers. Confusion gripped the defenders as rebels pierced their formation, scattering pilots in every direction.

And finally revealing himself, "Old Man" Chang announced the arrival of his Wolfhounds, and behind him came the Mules hauling their deadly cargo of rebel soldiers. "Dragon Leader to Red Group, make a hole!"

The fire was a blizzard of green and red, creating a seemingly impenetrable wall between the battleship and the Valkyrie bombers. But in a suicide run of conviction and passion, they reformed as best they could. Navy fighters and their gunboats turned on the squadron, laying heavy ordinance and laser fire into their tails. One rebel went up in flames, then another, and another. Holding the pattern with resolve immovable the rebel fighters aimed for the port engine block and released the fury of their powerful craft upon it.

Emerald flames licked the hull as bulkheads ripped apart and tore the engines from their body. A shock wave hit the Valkyries head-on, damaging their systems at such close range. But the hole was made, and through it charged Chang and his men.
_____________________________________________________________

Re-entry burned the undersides of the fighters and drop ships as they penetrated the atmosphere at galactic temperatures. It shook them violently, threatening to tear them apart. Some half dozen ships were lost, never to see the completion of their task.

Finally reaching the skies above the capital city, Chang led his fighters against the air defenses, blowing up turrets and missile pods everywhere. The heavy Wolfhounds roared over the streets and skyways of Berlin, throwing the people into a panic.

Approaching the government district, the Mules hastily lowered to the ground and threw open their cargo hatches. As men poured out, each soldier quickly moved toward the main complex. Matrix led his commandos quickly up the steps of the Bundesrat capitol building, eliminating the guards with brutal efficiency.

Blackheart yelled above the din of the transports to his troopers, Goldar and Alpha. "You boys go with him! If there are SCC reps in there, you make sure Matrix doesn't touch them!"

Avery interjected, "That wasn't part of the plan, Colonel!"

"I don't care! These are my citizens, Avery, and they will be left alone! Do you get me?"

A cursory nod from the spy and Blackheart followed him across the plaza toward the intelligence building. The other two tailed Matrix's men into the capitol.
_____________________________________________________________

Inside the capital building, the fighting was intense. Rebels and Imperial guards clashed in the hallways, spraying blood and boiled flesh across the marble floors. And soon the fighting spilled into the halls of the legislators. Desks became cover and aisles became gangways as soldiers exchanged deadly blows. John Matrix continued to charge forward with his men close behind while the soldiers held the chambers, and the police followed.

Running up the stairs to the conference hall where the meeting was being held, Matrix began issuing orders with hasty hand motions. Upon reaching the stretch of hallway that led to the chamber they halted briefly. Goldar and Alpha looked at each other, pistols in hand, then up at Matrix. Then came the charge. And as they moved fearlessly forward, troops suddenly appeared lining the gangways above and stepped out from behind the massive marble pillars that stood before them. And throwing open the chamber doors was indeed Admiral JJK himself, watching as his men tore into the rebels.

There seemed to be no escape. Commandos fought with courage, falling before the guns of the Rheinland Imperial Guard. There was no let-up. They just kept fighting and dying. Soon there was only a handful. And Matrix knew it was over. He looked to a window on his right and saw his only way out. Making a break from the cover of his men, he yelled an urgent command to follow. Some did, and others could not. And as Goldar and Alpha made a break for it, only one of them would reach the window.

Goldar looked back just in time to see his wingman take a round to the head and collapse in a heap on the floor. The officer stopped, spun around and knelt, heaving the body of his dead compatriot onto his back, then mounting the window's edge, and leaping for all he could muster. Firing the grapple from his gun, it caught an edge and he stopped with a jerk that dislocated his left shoulder. He cried in agony. The grappler ascended to a ledge where Goldar disconnected and settled, his dead comrade in his lap.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:43
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Re: Command and Compromise
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The government district was not a widespread area of the city, but it was large nonetheless. Avery had led his men across 100 meters of street and had yet to encounter heavy resistance. Blackheart knew it was strange that so few guards were present in the district. He and Avery communicated their uneasiness through subtle glances, and each knew what the other was thinking.

They entered the square where the main entry to the intel center was located. Avery held his men at the corner of a building on the opposite end of the courtyard. He motioned an order to a troop commander to take a group of men forward to secure it.

At that moment, the square lit up. Turrets raised up out of the ground around the perimeter and commenced firing. Simultaneously, Imperial guards poured out of the gates and entries scattered throughout the courtyard. The outgoing squad was being cut down before them and there seemed to be no way to stay the onslaught.

"That defense net is nearly impenetrable from this range! We've gotta pull back, try another way!" yelled Blackheart over the blaster fire.

Avery watched as the rebels fell like wilting grass. "No! We've come this far! We need to accomplish the mission!"

Blackheart pleaded with Avery. "Forget your mission, man! Your life is at stake! If you take it in your own hands, you're signing your own death warrant! It's not worth this!"

"It's all worth this! Let's go, men! Your comrades are dying! Go, Go, GO!"

They charged across the plaza completely disregarding the thick cloud of fire raining down on them from all directions. Men fell with bloodcurdling screams, limbs being severed and blood boiling in plumes of vaporized matter. And on they charged.

Halfway across the courtyard they came to a fountain. Some of the men jumped in using the lip as cover. Others ascended to the higher levels, and the remaining men took up prone positions surrounding it. The now-drenched Avery peaked over the lip and spied the entrance to the intel center crowded by a squad of heavily armed guards and two turrets.

They think they've got big guns. Watch this.

Reaching for his comlink, he activated a frequency and yelled into it. Blackheart could barely hear from across the fountain. And suddenly the commander felt the early pangs of panic creep into his mind as he saw red running down his arms. But as he realized he could not have been hit, he turned his gaze upward to see the corpses of dead soldiers in the upper levels whose blood was now washing over them.

Suddenly the comlink came to life as a tin radio voice broke. "This is Dragon Four, initiating ground support."

"Get down!" cried Avery.

A split second later, a thunderous roar filled the plaza as a Wolfhound flew over the plaza and released a bright blue object from its underbelly. None but the men near the fountain could realize that it was a Cannonball missile modified for a surface-to-ground assault. It blew the whole front end of the intelligence center wide open, ripping floors of debris down around the now-disintigrated entry.

Fire abated for a moment, giving Avery and his men the chance to make a run for their destination. But the boldness of the Rheinland Guard soon returned. Another Wolfhound approached, intent on providing cover for the imperiled soldiers.

"This is Dragon Lead, making my attack run!"

Blackheart spun around to see Chang's Wolfhound on approach. Without knowing why, he looked down the path of the oncoming fighter and saw in an alleyway a small manned missile turret taking aim.

No.

"No, Avery, tell him no! Tell him to wave off! Wave off!"

Blackheart found himself waving frantically at the Wolfhound, hoping against hope he might be seen. But it was too late. The missile left the ground, and a second later made impact directly on the aft underside of the fighter. It rocked, pitched over left and went into an uncontrollable roll. Smoke billowed out from behind the craft as it descended behind the buildings in the square, and a horrendous boom and the sound of wrenching steel signified the fighter was down.

Blackheart looked at Avery as he sped toward the building. He had to make a decision. Would he follow the man whom he had followed all this way to discover the truth of Rheinland's dealings, justifying a war the Council anticipated all-too-strongly? Or would he turn away now to save a citizen of the Council, and a trusted ally?

It seemed like minutes as he crouched in the middle of the wartorn plaza. But he came to a decision, and so with a heavy heart, he watched Avery charge over the mound of rubble before the intelligence center and disappear with his men.

He looked to the fountain and saw some of the soldiers still holding their ground, now emboldened by the support that was ripping the Rheinland defenses apart. "You men, get over here! Your commander is down!"

They leapt up and followed the officer across the plaza, every man opening fire to make a path to the nearest alley, hoping it would lead to their fearless leader. But Blackheart didn't hold out much hope.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:43
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Re: Command and Compromise
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By the time the dust had settled and Roo had managed to get his bearings, he was crouched down low, alone.

He could hear gunfire behind him towards the entrance hall of the Intelligence department. His men where still holding their ground. Something had detonated as Roo made his way down the first corridor. He looked around; debris, but no sign of anything else. Rising up on his feet, Roo spotted his blaster lying just a short way from him. He walked over and grabbed the gun, and placed it in his shoulder holster. Checking his boot, his knife was still there; the knife he acquired during the Blood Dragon incident. Might come in handy, Roo thought.
_____________________________________________________________

The large metal doors looked slightly damaged, but Roo knew even damaged they would be impossible to pass without inside help. He took a small black box from his coat pocket and placed it over the data terminal on the right side of the doorway. The box started making a small humming noise once attached to the terminal. Knowing it would take another two minutes for the doors to open, Roo took a Marlboro from his shirt pocket and lit up.
_____________________________________________________________

The door had just slid open with no resistance. Roo was unsure exactly what the box had done, but it worked. It was an invention belonging to Daeros. He had let Roo test it. It was a shame Roo was unlikely to ever let him know how well it worked.


Entering the chamber that was previously hidden by the big metal doors, Roo stood and looked upon what it was he had come for.


The terminal wasn’t as complex looking as he thought. It was small in comparison to a Corvette main data terminal, but he knew the size was misleading. This terminal stored information on Lord Nedelor, the new Chancellor, but most importantly the information Roo had come to destroy... the ultimate weapon designed by scientists from the Gemini Sector. The weapon had been given the name "Alexandria". Roo was led to believe this was after a famous figure from "Earth". But here it all was, information so deadly Lord Nedelor himself was going behind the SCC to destroy it. It was best for the SCC, they should not know this technology existed; if they did, they would keep it. They would say things like "We wish to study it". No studies would be undertaken. They would reproduce it and use it for themselves. Lord Nedelor had not even informed the Chancellor, or Blackheart. It was a secret shared only by 5 people. Lord Nedelor, Sir Avery, and two top ranking officials from the Rhineland Government. The fifth person was Spectre, former Chief Executive Officer of SDI.
_____________________________________________________________

It was rumoured Spectre originated from the Gemini Sector, and for many years it had been rumoured Spectre revisited the Sector to work on his prized project... "The Centurion". Roo knew the rumours where true, as he himself had dropped off his former CEO many times at particular places so that Spectre could catch his "lift" as he called it. Spectre had become aware of "Alexandria" on his latest trip to the Sector. After trying to learn what he could, he came back to Sirius with only one bit of information.... Rhineland. This was shared with Nedelor, and later, Roo.
_____________________________________________________________

Roo stood and looked around him. He knew the data had to be destroyed. The gun blasts were getting louder outside the chamber. His men must've been falling back towards his location. That must've meant the Rhineland military where here... that was not good. Roo quickly dropped to his knees and got to work removing various instruments and devices from various pockets. It was time to build the bomb.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:44
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Re: Command and Compromise
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We're going to make it, Blackheart thought in the harried moments after the crash. He had gathered a group of survivors from the plaza and was now running with all speed toward the place where he hoped he would find the downed Wolfhound that carried Chang. It was all he could do to hope that they wouldn't find him first. There was no telling what the Imperials would do to him if they couldn't find him in time.

They charged through the back alleys and side streets of the capitol district. It was in fact only two or three clicks to the crash site, but it seemed so much further. They crossed street after street, showing no sign of the craft but the wreckage that had descended while it spiraled out of control. They were losing hope.

Then, finally, a sign. As they prepared to cross another street, Blackheart could see several hover tanks and a platoon of soldiers moving quickly toward them. The rebels held their position in the relative safety of the alley. Blackheart peeked around the corner to observe their movements, and saw they were turning east from their northbound course down the street. He knew they had little time. As the last of the troops rounded turned the corner, the rebels opened up with a dead sprint to the east.

But it was hopeless after all. Even as Blackheart began to make out the edges of the wreckage through the alleys ahead, he knew in moments the ship would be surrounded with soldiers. And yet he couldn't stop running. Something in him echoed with the principles of justice he so deeply believed, that he had no choice but to continue flying to the scene of what he feared would be an execution.

They had crossed the final street, even in sight of the soldiers just several blocks south of them, and broke out into the open air of the crash site. And there was Chang, blaster in hand, sitting below his wrecked ship, covered in cuts and burns, his jumpsuit ripped and torn. Blackheart ran to him as the soldiers attempted to take up defensive positions.

But to no avail, they were surrounded. The Imperial guards had arrived and moved efficiently to knock down and beat the rebels. They ran to Blackheart and tore him away from Chang, throwing up against the ship. They began to punch him, and would've beaten him the way they had beaten the others. But a moment later, out of one of the tanks came their commander.

"Stop, gentlemen!" he ordered. "Don't you know who this is? Why it's the commander of the Police himself, Colonel Ice Blackheart. We wouldn't want him to think we were uncivilized."

Blackheart arose with a hand on his gut and saw Teig Junge standing tall and proud. Junge looked down at the injured rebel and acknowledged him as well. "And the infamous Old Man Chang. Where is your partner, John Matrix? Not protecting you, I see. Or you might still have gotten away with your life. But even now I hear he has attempted to capture the admiral of the Rheinland navy and has failed. I am told that when he realized his failure he was overcome with shame and jumped out of a window twelve storeys up."

Blackheart and Chang exchanged a knowing glance.

Junge pretended not to notice. "Colonel, I had sent you a package in the hopes that things would not come to this. I understand you did not receive it. That is regrettable. This insurrection might have been avoided if you had not arrived to aid them. The Union meant to build a relationship with the SCC. Now, that will be more difficult."

Blackheart tried to stand, but the pain wasn't going away any time soon. He winced as he spoke. "I am here on an official investigation from the Sirius Central Council. I am investigating charges of conspiracy in the destruction of RA convoy Gordon 3-8 and death of the Rheinland ambassador to Bretonia."

"Ha!" exclaimed the Rheinland officer. "You are investigating us for these claims? My dear Colonel, these crimes were against the Rheinland Union. Why would we commit such acts against our own interests?"

"A pretext for imperialist intentions, perhaps?"

"Colonel, if we wanted to take a territory, we would have no problem doing it. We do not need a pretext. The Rheinland Imperial Guard is intent on re-establishing its empire, for the good of all Rheinlanders. I fear, Blackheart, you have sadly misinterpreted the situation."

Confusion gripped him as he began to realize how wrong his assumptions may have been. Could this all have been in vain? Could all these deaths and sacrifices have amounted to nothing more than a dramatic build-up to a colossal miscalculation of the events of the past few weeks? How could that be possible?

Junge stepped forward and crouched before the two men, removing his black gloves and looking up at Blackheart, then at Chang. "This is all...very unfortunate, and I wish there was some way I could allow the two of you to leave, what with the shape you are in. Unfortunately, I am pressed to enforce justice for the people of Rheinland. I'm sure you understand, commander?"

The troops began to move in with bindings to place on the men, having already bound the rebel soldiers and lined them up on the street. With a cry of pain, Chang was hauled to his feet and bound. Blackheart was about to be bound, and was braced to experience the pain of the neural stabilizer they were preparing to place around his neck, when seemingly out of nowhere came a voice he hadn't heard in some time.

"Don't do it, soldier."

They turned to see the commissioner himself, Lord Nedelor, seemingly materialize out of a doorway in one of the buildings behind them. He stepped out in green fatigues and a trench coat, an appearance not typical of the sergeant-at-arms. "Lord Nedelor," spoke up Junge, "you have arrived just in time to see me take your commander into custody. Perhaps you care to observe how well we treat our prisoners?"

"Don't pat yourself on the back too much, Admiral. I'm here to relieve you of the good colonel here."

"Indeed. On whose authority, might I ask?"

"Klaus von Hapsburg," replied the the commissioner, pulling a datapad out of his trenchcoat and handing it to the admiral. It was a letter of marque granted unconditionally to the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Sirius Central Council for diplomatic matters. "This man comes with me."

Junge, visibly dejected, motioned for his men to release the officer. "Very well. Take him and go. As you can see we have work to do." With that, he mounted his tank and shouted, "Los!" The rebels were marched into a transport with Chang behind them. Blackheart caught one last glance at the "old man" as he entered the vehicle and was seated on a bench near the opening. They simply exchanged nods. Then the gangway was raised on the transport and closed. The convoy geared up and left.

"You okay?"

"I'm fine," replied Blackheart, his frustration clear.

"Then you'd better come with me."

Then, like a flash, Blackheart suddenly recalled the man who had dragged him here. Avery.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:45
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Re: Command and Compromise
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Back in the intelligence building, in the lower levels, Avery had almost completed the construction of the device which would obliterate all knowledge of the fearful weapon conceived by the Rheinland government. He worked with poise and care as wires interconnected with detonators and the explosive compounds which could destroy an entire building. But Avery was satisfied that only the room would be left a burned out wreck, along with its exponentially more destructive contents.

All seemed well in hand as the final pieces clicked into place. A moment later another click he was more familiar with came from behind him.

"Stop what you're doing, Avery."

The spy slowly raised his hands and placed them behind his head.

"Very good, you already know the drill. You always were a smart one."

"Yes," admitted Avery,"but not smart enough to see this move."

Behind him stood John Matrix, the alleged ally of Chang and leader of the rebellion against the Rheinland Union, and he had a gun pointed at the back of Avery's heart.

"You almost did it. To be honest I'm not sure how to feel about it. I was very pleased to see how well my men fought today, but their tenacity almost prevented me from being able to get here in time. I should thank you for leading them so well."

Avery's stomach turned on itself as he thought of the needless sacrifice of the good men who were mowed down like grass to get him here, to this place. Anger began to rise in his heart.

"Matrix, if you take this information to use against the Imperials, you'll have negated everything they fought and died to achieve here today. You'll become the enemy! Do you understand?"

"Don't fool yourself, Avery! Everything I've done has been for the rebellion! Do you think that for one second I was fighting for anybody but them? It's for those deaths that I am doing this now! If I don't do what must be done to achieve peace, then I am no better than the fascists who will sentence my soldiers to death!"

Grabbing Avery by the neck, Matrix began to march him to a nearby wall intent on binding him to a rack of data modules. Matrix didn't have to say it. The spy knew he would be left for the Rheinlanders to execute.

As Avery walked across the room, he began to recall all his life had stood for. Spectre taught him that duty always came before honor, and that there was no sacrifice too great to give to accomplish the mission. He had given aid to those who needed it, had been a faithful soldier, and had always been willing to do what needed to be done, make whatever sacrifice, to accomplish the good.

In those moments, Avery's mind was filled with the faces of those he cared about. If he allowed this travesty to occur, he would destroy all for which they had fought and suffered. Beyond all that, he knew he really had no choice. All was decided for him. He had his mission. Now it was time to complete that mission.

Everything suddenly seemed to move in slow motion. Avery lurched back and drove his head into Matrix's jaw and jarring his teeth together. Matrix cried in pain, but Avery made a break for the bomb. He ran as fast as he could even as he waited for the death blow Matrix would deliver from the barrel of his gun. The rebel turned and began to back away toward a large rack of data modules for cover. With frantic aim he fired away at Avery, peppering the air around the spy with hot plasma. Avery dove through the air and hit the floor to slide the final ten feet to the device. In mid-air he took the hit straight to his back. He could sense that his lower body was no longer under his control as he fell to the deck. He looked up toward the detonator on the floor before him and reached with all his might. A cry of desperation left his lips as his fingers stretched to grasp it. He took hold of it and pulled it to himself. As he placed his thumb over the manual detonator button, he uttered one last affirmation to himself: "For the good."

Then he pressed the button. In a bright white flash, everything in the room was obliterated.
_____________________________________________________________

Blackheart could see the smoke leaking out of the blast door down the hallway as he and Lord Nedelor stepped off the lift. The commander ran toward the door regretting that he had left Avery to fend for himself. He touched the door, but his hand was scorched by the heat from the fire blazing within. He sank to his knees and yelled at the pain. He yelled at the pain, yelled at his failure, and yelled at the injustice done there that day.

Nedelor walked up slowly behind him. He crossed himself then put his hands in his trenchcoat pockets. "There was nothing you could do. He knew even before this that he wasn't coming back."

"How could you know that?" questioned Blackheart.

"He told me himself."

Blackheart looked up disbelievingly at the commissioner. "You mean you knew...and you let him go anyway? You should have done something. You should have helped us! If you knew, you could have spared us all of this and a good man would still be alive!"

"I did. I sent you."

The realization dawned on Blackheart that he had been allowed to discover all the events that had led him here. A bitter taste arose in his mouth.

"We all have our duties, Colonel," scolded Nedelor. "Mine was to make sure nothing interfered with his."

Blackheart looked down at his hands, then slowly stood to his feet. He faced the door and raised his right arm in a salute. Turning around, he stopped short just beside the commissioner, but couldn't find any words. He walked the distance to the elevator and turned to see Nedelor staring after him with a shadow cast on his face from the lights above. Then Blackheart closed the lift door.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:45
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Re: Command and Compromise
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Limping with the pain of seared and exposed flesh, the badly burned John Matrix made his way out of the building via an alternate hallway, leaving a trail of blood and soot behind him as he dragged his left foot. He entered the open air past the mound of rubble that had fallen at the entrance to the intelligence center. The rebel soldiers who had followed him there from the capitol building were standing guard when they observed their injured leader struggling. A couple of soldiers ran to him and put their arms around him. "Get a ship down here!" one of the soldiers yelled.

Moments later, a Mule descended from the sky and opened its hold up. The men and their wounded commander all boarded and were lifted up into the sky. Then they disappeared with an arriving escort of starfighters.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:46
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Re: Command and Compromise
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Gemini Sector

Spectre was sat at the desk in his office. He had spent the last few days shut away in his private residence. He feared the news Nedelor was due to bring him. Failure. But he feared success also. As success meant death of a friend.

He looked out of the window and watched a "Centurion" come in for land on the grassy plain. His scientist had almost finished the work. He looked carefull at the one landing. It was the one for Avery. Both Avery and Spectre had designed custom ones for themselves.

There was a knock at the door. "Enter"

A figure entered, no talled than child maybe 10-12 years old. Yet this figure was fully grown.

"A parcel for you boss Spectre"

"Thank you, leave it on the table and you may go."

The creature left the parcel and disappeared. Relief, and dread spread across Spectre all at once. He knew what the box contained, he knew now how the mission had ended.

Spectre stood and crossed to the table. He stood there for a moment, maybe longer, he was unsure. But after a time he began to open the parcel. He lifted the lid, and his heart sank. Inside where 4 items. A ornate carved knife. A bretonian tunic, a leather wrist slap and a sealed envelope. There was a note on the underside of the box lid.

Spectre,

I retrieved these items for you. The Tunic and wrist strap where left in Averys Office. The knife i retrieved from his body.

The envelope arrived at my personal residence 2 days ago. I have not opened it. It is addressed to you.

I am sorry,

Nedelor.


Spectre stood a while. He turned to window and saw Roo's ship launch for a second flight test today. He was dead. He had gone through with it, and now was no more. "For the good" he thought.

He took the envelope and opened it. Inside was a picture and a small note.

Hey there boss,

Smile you grumpy git. Bet you never thought I would be speaking to you from beyond the grave huh?
I had Spankey send this to Nedelor should I successfully complete mission, resulting in my death. I know Nedelor would hjave passed this to you.

I want to say only a few words boss. You were a friend and mentor. But more than that. The picture explains it all.

Take care,

Roo


Spectre put down the note and picked up the picture. He placed it in his top shirt pocket and left the room.

Posted on: 2008/5/21 22:46
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