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The Sirelva Defense

Short story By: Todd5747
Science fiction



A small planet is defended by two space stations and defense forces against a tyrant's forces in space. Two brothers on opposite sides of the conflict reunite. What happens between them could decide the outcome of the battle.


Submitted:Oct 31, 2011    Reads: 7    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


The Sirelva Defense

A Messenger Wars Story

Table of Contents:

  • Preparations
  • Arrival
  • Sabotage
  • Fleet Movements
  • Fighter Waves
  • Battle in the Halls
  • Family Reunion
  • Tough Choices
  • Eager Destroyers
  • Edge of Sanity
  • Dying Station
  • Ultimatum
  • Buying Time
  • New Messenger
  • Changing Tide
  • Brutal Tactics
  • Heroes and a Martyr
  • Loose Ends
  • Final Report

Preparations

Everyone ran here and there, getting ready for the coming battle. Beyond the colony, the three battle stations, and a few messengers already lining up for the battle; the Holy Legions raced toward the colony. The Legion messengers were coupled together, the messengers of speed pushing the fleet as fast as technologically possible. Within a few minutes they would arrive, and the battle would begin. Hangar doors opened, pilots climbed into small fighters, gunners and communication troops double checked their instruments to pass the time. Outside the colony and the stations, the messengers began to run their battle lights. Twelve messengers, armed with anti-fighter weapons, and weapons to rip apart other messengers. Two messengers were barely armed, instead they were wired with huge shields, and covered with extra armor. The stations' lunchrooms were abandoned by anyone with a job to fill on the station. On Station 2, two brothers prepared themselves for the coming battle. Zosh, a station security officer, finished putting together a rifle. Usually unnecessary, the rifle is a good choice in defending a station against enemy troops landing. Zaul, a civilian technician, sat in the lunchroom, thinking about the modifications he and his small crew had made to the station command systems. Slowly everyone defending Sirelva finished preparing, and an uneasy calm settled. Everything waited and watched the incoming fleet. Pilots in messengers, and fighters, gunners, communicators and battle coordinators all watched, the larger fleet of the Holy Legion as it came into range. [back]

Arrival

The Legion fleet began to separate, and the twenty messengers began to distinguish themselves. Four were transports in addition to speed messengers. None were the heavy armor/shields type. Sixteen war machines drifted, their reverse thrusters slowed them so they would not fly past the Sirelva colony. Two transports released fighters, little more than a cockpit with an engine and pair of high powered cannons. There was almost as many as the fighters on the three stations. The other two transports headed for Stations 1 and 3. The primary commander of the Holy Legion piloted the transport headed for Station 3. The secondary commander piloted the messenger in the middle of the portside lineup of Legion messengers. The defender commander piloted a smaller messenger, with potentially lethal tweaked weapons. The primary for the Legion issued a statement over the "VD com" system offering a "peaceful" occupation by the Legion if all forces declared allegiance. The defender issued a response related to the famous "Give me liberty, or give me death" phrase. In the stations and the defending messengers, a collective cheer echoed. Then the fighters held by the stations were deployed to defend them from the other fighters, and maybe shoot an enemy transport down. Then the messengers of the Legion fired, and the fighters fired, and defending messengers, fighters, and stations replied with their own display of counter measures, cannon-fire, and plasma missiles. The battle had begun. [back]

Sabotage

Zaul and his crew decided to leave the lunchroom after they received a secret notice via their small pocket communicators. It was time. The stations were all designed with a peculiar flaw. Most of the systems that ran the station were stashed within a single room, called the Station Electronics Closet (SEC). Few military forces who defended places like Sirelva were gifted with building and maintaining large systems like those on a station, so the defense council hired good technicians and electricians to build and maintain these systems. Unfortunately, the team hired to work on Station 2 were all Legion operatives. With the flip of a switch, Zaul and his team would 'automate' most of the station, and after reaching the SEC, that's what they did. A minute or two passed before the twist of fate was noticed, and gun-pods outside the station targeted the defending messengers, fighters or other stations. Zosh was watching the battle through a view-port when it happened, and through years of curious inquisition, had an idea as to how the station was automated. So he set out to stop it. He knew his brother was on station as a technician, and figured maybe he could enlist his help, so he called him up. They didn't tend to bother one another when working, and hadn't been real close friends lately. The conversation didn't turn out the way Zosh had hoped, and was somewhat disappointing to Zaul too. Zaul knew his brother could find the switch, so he knew he had to destroy it, and had to. The rest of the team left him there, hijacking a shuttle from the hangar. Both brothers dashed through the halls. Zaul avoided the other security personnel, who mostly were busy trying to help others figure out what they could do to stop it. He reached the SEC and checked the hall to make sure it was clear. He relaxed when he saw it was, and then entered and locked himself into the SEC. He walked over to the switch, and laughed to himself. Behind him, from between two electronic racks filled with components stepped Zosh. Zaul felt a tap on his shoulder, turned around reflexively, and met his brother's fist. While Zaul was stunned and falling, Zosh tranquilized him, and flipped the switch. [back]

Fleet Movements

Dodging high-velocity ammunition is hard enough, but only gets harder when it comes from three or four different directions. The almost neat battle lines that had appeared at first had quickly dissolved. Now it was a massive space melee with groups of messengers and fighters trying to outgun or outmaneuver one another, and a loner or two trying to help other members of the same side. In the confusion a pair of Legion messengers found themselves under no attack, and picked a small messenger to attack. The small messenger was currently facing a larger foe. The two new messengers came down upon him in a fury, unleashing a torrent of ammo. He didn't notice, because he was circling the larger foe he was busy with, and none of that torrent hit him to get his attention. Trying to follow him, their target systems sent a wave of frozen plasma and missiles into the larger Legion messenger. The two stopped the onslaught just short of wiping out their fellow messenger, and passed him, looking for the small messenger, who was curling up the back side of the large Legion messenger. The small messenger poured plasma into a good sized weak spot and turned the large messenger into expanding debris. Across the battle, a group of Legion messengers battered a pair of defending messengers. Missiles left dents in the armor, and frozen plasma turned those dents into holes, the gel exploding on contact, ripping the armor apart, and then the two messengers were torn inside-out by the vacuum all around them. Few of the other defenders had time to notice the loss. [back]

Fighter Waves

Groups of fighters flew toward one another, targeted, fired, rolled or juked to dodge, aimed and fired again. Slowly they broke down into small two or three fighter teams, trying to single out and down enemy fighter groups. But a few Legion fighters would break from dogfights to strafe the stations, blasting the weapon pods that hovered along the surface. Defenders would try to intersect them at the end of their strafe run, and blast them. But it was the anti-fighter weapons that helped even the two sides for the defenders. Slowly, the Legion was destroying more fighters than they were losing. Then a lone messenger came out of the turmoil, and it targeted and blasted Legion fighters. Moments later the messenger moved back toward the war-zone full of messengers, having turned the Legion fighter groups into an almost insignificant number. The rest of the Legion fighters split up to try and deal out as much damage as possible before being hunted down by defending fighters. Each Legion fighter was targeted by two defending fighters; and the rest of the fighters started to strafe Legion messengers. Now they used their missile payloads, which they were saving. Several waves of cannon-fire and missiles targeted preoccupied Legion messengers, either distractions, or just minor hindrances. One Legion messenger was distracted fatally, his sudden attention diverted to the fighters allowed the defending messenger to exploit a weak spot in his armor, missiles and cannon-fire being poured into it until the messenger itself became a cloud of parts. [back]

Battles in the Halls

Transports in a hurry blasted into the open hangars; crash landed and skidded up to the far wall. By the time they came to a full stop the cabin doors were open and Legion troops leaped out. A few base defenders passed through the airlocks, and started trading fire with the Legion troops. But soon they were too outnumbered and they backed through the airlocks being chased. The troops took a few moments to line up, and then started moving into the airlocks about ten at a time. The first ten held the defenders busy while the next came through, and the defenders were forced again and again to fall back. The Legion troops began to move toward the bridge. On Station 3 a small team was detailed to move through the station, executing gunners and other station personnel who were not busy fighting the troops. A pair of troops were also set at the SEC to destroy everything in it if the assault failed. The best ambush defense point was the personnel quarters not very far from the bridge. The troops on Station 1 kept together, their leader thinking they were gaining ground very easily and would soon have the bridge, then the ship with little difficulty. As the Legion troops entered the branches leading to quarters, defenders attacked from above, ahead, across from the side halls and some came out from behind. The troops pulled together, taking out who they could, but they were surrounded, and would never make it to the bridge. In the end, the bridge crew heard the gunfight slow, then go out completely. [back]

Family Reunion

Zaul awoke in a cell, his doorway blocked by shock-plasma bars. Outside Zosh sat, thinking of something else. "You hit me," Zaul started with. Zosh shifted, "Sorry, I was saving the day, I guess." Zaul smiled, a faint memory playing in the back of his head. Then he groaned as a headache hit and shook his head. "Still playing the hero," Zaul said. He rolled slowly over to look at Zosh. "But this station won't turn the tide of the battle. You'll still lose," Zaul explained. Zosh looked at him, still in thought. "We at least tried," Zosh replied. Zaul shook his head, "Why not just give in, and let Nefzix take over?" Zosh stood up, "Because Nefzix is a toy puppet, not the true Creator." Zaul shrugged, "So?" Zosh explained, "The Creator should be sought and called upon, not replaced with men or statues of stone." Zaul stood up this time, "And what if Nefzix is truly the Creator?" Zosh replies, "Then the true Nefzix has been replaced with a fake, a puppet." A moment or two passed while they held each others' gaze. Then Zaul laughed. He laughed again and Zosh felt the tension melt away in the air. "Then maybe I'll do this for the true Nefzix," Zaul said. He then stepped forward, closer to his brother. "There's another Legion operative hiding on the station. He has a secret, that can turn the tide of this war if it is played on your side. The weapons aren't tested yet. It might even turn the tide of the whole war. But you'll have to find it, and then somebody will have to pilot it, and it won't be the Legion operative, he won't turn sides," Zaul explained. Zosh leaned forward, "A secret with untested weapons? What are you talking about?" [back]

Tough Choices

A fighter raced around Station 1, blasting each weapon pod he crossed. Behind him, a pair of fighters followed. Suddenly the fighter was almost destroyed by a another fighter running from the opposite side. One juked high, the other flashed past below, both as soon as they were passing opened fire on the enemy fighters ahead. They each destroyed a defending fighter, then juked to avoid the remaining fighters coming at them. The two enjoyed a brief moment of freedom while the two fighters recovered from the shock. Then they came after them, firing a hail of cannon-fire. The two Legion fighters dodged, and left the surface of the station. One word was radioed between them, 'Gauntlet'. Then they wove their way into the messenger battle, luring the other fighters in after them. One Legion fighter lost both wings. Then a defending fighter was hit dead center with a missile from a messenger. The Legion fighters continued to attempt to weave through the cloud of cannon-fire, missiles, fighters and messengers, until the wingless Legion fighter took aim and slammed full speed into a messenger. Armor was lost, and a gaping wound appeared in the side of the defending messenger. It spun to hide the soft spot from enemies, while continuing its battle. The other Legion fighter, still tailed by a defending fighter, turned around amidst the fray, and took aim at the messenger with a weak spot. Forget survival, he was ready to give up, but at least, maybe he'd become a legend. [back]

Eager Destroyers

Up until now, two messengers ran back and forth, and collected stray cannon-fire and missiles. Largely ignored by anyone else. Protected behind them, a shuttle from Station 2 moved toward the Colony further behind them, as fast as its engines could. Out from the battle came a Legion messenger, which assaulted a shield messenger. Another Legion messenger assaulted the other shield messenger. The shield messengers, with no weapons, continued to perform their duty the best they could, and wove around a little to try and get the Legion messengers to absorb stray weapon fire also. A group of fighters were called off to help the shield messengers. They didn't arrive before the shields failed. No longer as well-defended as before, the weaponless defenders started to dodge any incoming fire. Cannon-fire and missiles passed them toward the colony, making the shuttle dodge ordinance. The fighters attacked the Legion messengers, who turned on them and wiped them out with hailstorms of cannon-fire. Then they turned back to their prey and battered them until chunks of armor were torn off, and then the two messengers were ripped apart into explosions. Then the Legion messengers turned back to assault anything else as the shuttle began to buck from stray weapon-fire battering it. [back]

Edge of Sanity

Five to one. Five big messengers to one small messenger. Low on ammo, the small messenger juked and rolled dodging the relentless enemy. Littered with small dents, the armor of the small craft was slowly resembling a lunar landscape. Despite this, the pilot hung in. In a few minutes he would have his ammo levels re-grown to halfway. By then, he hoped the enemy would be running low. His years of piloting were now being stretched each minute. He tried to study the enemy messengers, all five of them, in a search for minute weak spots that might be worth attacking. He rolled and juked, and watched as a plate on a nearby enemy wiggled as it followed him. Another juke and the enemy followed, and the plate wiggled again. He rolled again, half dodging, half lining up a good shot. Plasma lanced out of his cannon, in a frozen blade, and blast the loose armor plate spinning off into space. More plasma wiggled in between the other plates through the hole and wound their way into the sensitive electronics and power systems. The chain reaction turned the enemy messenger into a cloud of parts. His ammo level dropped a little. But a pair of attackers had to drop and run to give their ammo levels a chance to re-grow. Two more filled the space though, opening fire with apparently acceptable levels of ammo. He wouldn't last forever. He juked, then rolled left. He wondered if there were any other defending messengers out there. He couldn't see one, not that he had much time to really look for them though. He saw another loose plate on another Legion messenger. A quick plasma blast sent it flying away on its own trajectory. But he couldn't get sideways of that messenger to blast it. He would have to wait for an opportunity. Four messengers to one small messenger. [back]

Dying Station

A few armed defenders charge down the halls. They enter the corridor to their left and a quick firefight occurs between them and a lone Legion troop. Even as he fell the lights flickered, and the hum that was the engines died. Then with a gut-wrenching shudder, the body of the Legion troop bounced up off the ground, and the defenders themselves flailed about, in an attempt to continue forward, to the SEC. Another stutter of gunfire came from the room, and the main lights went out. Emergency lights, on batteries, came on, as the weapon systems of Station 1 went silent. The air circulation systems were out. The airlocks would slowly weaken, and air would leak out. Without the engines keeping the Station spinning, the artificial gravity was gone. In a few hours, Station 1 would have no one alive onboard. But those aboard starting planning immediately to make sure somebody could survive, if at least one of them. If the Legion lost outside, help could come before the few hours ended. Closets and lockers were opened, emergency suits pulled out and put on, air canisters gathered for use then or later. While the armed defenders took to dressing, the Legion troop left the SEC, firing a few rounds to help distract them. Nobody could fire back and hit him before he was around a corner. He was heading for the airlock to blast it open. He moved around another corner, and found a group of gunners, each wielding a plasma pistol. There was a short gunfight, but he lost, and the people on Station 1 began to focus on survival. They would attempt to build a temporary air circulating system, and seal the airlocks. But Station 1 was dead, especially to the battle outside. [back]

Ultimatum

The Legion was low on ammo. Their reflexes were slower than when the battle began, and they had lost pilots, good pilots. It was time to call a cease-fire, and offer a chance to serve the Legion to everyone left defending. The eight Legion messengers halted their assaults, and formed up in a line. Three defending messengers slowed and turned to face their enemies. The Legion's ranking pilot issued the statement, and determined the wait upon how much ammo he wanted to have when it was over. The small messenger, piloted by the defense commander, tried to think of some good way this could all end. But it didn't come to him. They were outnumbered by five messengers, and his messenger was on the edge of oblivion. Then a transmission came directly to his ship by laser VD Com, from Station 2. A new messenger had been found hiding in a rather large area, a reorganized crew lodge. Zosh was ready to launch, and then he just had to learn to fly. Untested pilot, untested messenger, with untested weapons. The commander knew it might be a short career, and that all of them weren't going to survive. But at least he knew there was a small chance the Legion wouldn't wipe out the Colony. He just had to buy as much time as possible, and hope that the new messenger could turn the tide for the messengers, from the Legion steadily winning. Near the end of the wait limit, he contacted the Legion pilot, and began to talk as if negotiating a peaceful resolution. Silly questions to ask the Legion came to mind, like whether or not the Colony government would remain intact. Or would the pilots and other defenders be given amnesty for attempting to minimize civilian casualties. With short text messages he informed the other defenders to get ready, by backing away almost unnoticeably. He worked the Legion pilot into annoyance, and kept attempting to negotiate. The young pilot shut up the commander, and demanded an answer. The Commander demanded time to think about what all he'd just learned. The Legion pilot insisted it wouldn't last long, but gave him a few more minutes. The commander used the time to back away slowly himself, until he was demanded to answer. So he wholeheartedly refused any such end to the battle. [back]

Buying Time

The eight Legion messengers surged forward, trying to get in as close as possible for easier attacking. The three defender messengers spun and blasted away, their hope in a good game of cat & mouse. The small messenger turned suddenly, racing toward the eight enemies. He poured frozen plasma at them to force them to break chase. A few shots he aimed at weak spots he had noticed before. The enemy broke, allowing him to rocket past, but six turned after him. He juked and rolled, far enough away to be fairly safe from the cannon-fire that chased. He curved around with measured twists and rolls, calculated dodges. Soon he was on a path that would cross the other two messengers or intercept the two chasing them. If they kept control of the situation, they could survive, hopefully. He rolled, juked, rolled again and juked. The small messenger passed under the two fleeing defenders. He spun and blasted the Legion messengers chasing the other defenders, catching a weak spot on one and destroying it. The two defenders spun and sent a wave of cannon-fire at the six messengers. Three of the six Legion messengers took off after them, the others joined the momentarily lone Legion in pursuit of the small messenger. Guessing that trick would only work once, the defender commander tried to think of something simple, or complicated, that would give them more of a chance. Where was Josh with that new messenger? Then a moving shadow caught his eye, and he met hope anew. [back]

New Messenger

Lazily the new messenger dashed through space. With barely a glance a the instructions, the pilot's manual, or even a conversation with the Legion pilot spy; Zosh played with the controls, to get a sense of the raw power of the space craft. Spin in place, roll, juke, then a loop, a barrel roll, and he had some basics. He aimed for the group of four chasing the lone small messenger. Closer, closer, and he still had some distance to cross. He took aim anyways, trying to get a good lead on the four messengers, and fired his cannons. The frozen plasma leapt from the ion-rail barrel, carried into space by inertia, then tiny micro-rockets fired and pushed the plasma ever faster. Zosh realized his aim was too far ahead, and the plasma would hit the small messenger. "Look out!" he radioed. The small messenger changed vector, curling until almost parallel with the plasma and slowly cut across the path the plasma moved along. The four Legion messengers followed, absorbing the plasma. Zosh pondered how he would catch up, if there was some kind of extra engine booster. He studied the instrument panel and didn't see nothing particular. But slowly, he did catch up, as the small messenger kept a fairly straight vector. Zosh aimed and fired some more plasma, and some missiles. The plasma hit armor, and on one messenger a plate came loose. The missiles impacted on the sides of two messengers, between all four. A cloud of plasma and shrapnel, acid-lined shrapnel, hit all four and started to slowly chew away at their armor. Zosh shook his head, "There has to be some real heavy weapons on this thing, real experiment super weapons. I just have to find them." So he went to studying the instrument panel some more. [back]

Changing Tide

Zosh noticed the layout of the instrument panel. There were four parts, the first two in the middle of the other two, a top and bottom panel, then the two side panels. These he slowly realized resembled the layout of the systems on the messenger. One interesting button on the front panel held his attention, so he pressed it. Several target boxes appeared on the heads-up display(HUD) and Zosh directed them at the four Legion messengers. He locked in his choices, and the messenger acted on them. Small wires shot out to the four messengers, and small explosives were zipped along the wires at incredible speeds. The explosives were glued fast to the messengers, then the wires disconnected. The HUD showed four target boxes, one on each messenger. Zosh took aim at the first one, and unleashed a blast of plasma. The plasma hit the explosives, which ripped the armor apart and sent shrapnel and plasma deep into the messenger's systems. It was quickly shredded by the damage and by the vacuum of space. Zosh was stunned. He took aim again, and wished that the Legion had never decided it wanted to rule all mankind. He fired. Then aimed and fired again. The last one turned and fled instead of continuing his attack on the small messenger. The small messenger turned also, and gave chase. Now there were four messengers to four. The tide had turned, and the defenders actually had the chance to win. And not a moment too soon. [back]

Brutal Tactics

The ranking Legion pilot didn't like this. Things now favored the defenders. He had to get full control of the moment, and somehow manage a desperate victory. He tried to think of every idea, even vague or suicidal, while he juked and rolled to avoid the cannon-fire aimed at the target of explosives on his back side. The other three Legion messengers continued to chase and pelt the other two defenders. He set course to intercept the two messengers. He hoped to stir up a little confusion that could be life-saving. About a minute passed with a series of rolls and jukes before he got close enough in. He raced past them, twisted, then pulled under and toward the three others. Zosh and the two defending messengers all tried to dodge one another. As they reorganized the Legion came upon them, twirled and spun around them, blasting away. The small messenger came into the area and the enemy all turned on him and suddenly unleashed a barrage of cannon-fire. The Legion broke down, one to one, and each Legion pilot tried to keep the defenders under attack, and where their attacks could be dodged, and possibly hit the other defending messengers. Once in a while, all four Legion troops would target the small messenger. A panel came loose. Zosh studied the instrument panel again. He knew there was more to this messenger. He just had to find it and use it. The Legion couldn't win in the end of this. They just couldn't. [back]

Heroes and a Martyr

In the messy battle the ranking Legion messenger finally backed into frozen plasma, that detonated with the explosives. The other three kept the dance going, trying to get most of the cannon-fire to hit the defending messengers. Zosh pressed a button, hoping he would unleash a battle-ending super-weapon. A huge beam blasted out of his ship. The back side of it. Towards the colony. A huge cylinder of energy moved steadily toward the colony, and in it the death of the colony could be easily imagined. Before anyone else recovered, the small messenger raced out to intercept it. He strafed it, blasting it with his plasma cannons, trying to whittle pieces of it away, and some of the energy was used on the plasma. But he couldn't stop it completely that way. His cannons ran dry, and he pulled ahead of it, then turned and raced toward it. "I am sorry, so sorry," whispered Zosh as he watched. The small messenger slammed into the cylinder of energy and absorbed the rest of it within a massive explosion. The Legion pilots had ignored the matter, still blasting away at the messengers, the other two defenders were busy defending themselves. Zosh sat there, absorbing cannon-fire. Then two escape pods from Station 2 hit a Legion messenger. It wobbled and some armor plates came loose, and the two defenders finished blasting that messenger. The other two Legion messengers blasted away, racing toward the colony. It had come down to this, simple mass murder, blast the airlocks on the colony and let space tear it apart. They couldn't beat the other messengers now. The three defenders who raced after them. [back]

Loose Ends

This time Zosh looked for something that could give him a boost to catch up with those two Legion messengers. But then he noticed that Station 2 and Station 3 were closing in on them. Slowly gaining speed, they looked like they would crash into each other. They were really only going to pass by, and intercept the Legion messengers. Zosh changed direction, to circle around the stations, and the other two defenders also changed vector. Then the Legion messengers figured out what was going on, and split in opposite directions, racing out and around the stations. Zosh turned after one, and the other defenders picked the other one. Zosh fired and fired, attacking it with plasma and missiles. Then he set up the explosive trick to work again, this time on the one messenger. It tried to dodge the wire, but got hit on the side, where the explosives connected. Zosh tried to maneuver to shoot that side, but found it hard, the pilot trying to stay alive. Then an escape pod jettisoned, right in the path of the other messenger. It turned a safe side to the escape pod, leaving the explosives in target range of Zosh. As the Legion messenger bounced off the escape pod, Zosh fired at the explosives. The other Legion messenger also collided with an escape pod recently launched, then as it recovered it was hit again by a launched escape pod, and some armor came loose. The two defenders who kept up with him fired and fired, and some plasma found the weak spots. The battle was finally over. Three messengers remained. Two stations were still semi-operational, and proceeding to prepare rescue shuttles to run to Station 1. Zosh headed for Station 2 in his new messenger. He looked forward to telling his brother about their freedom from the Legion. [back]

Final Report

The general stood there. The Legion commander sat in his comfortable chair, lazily reading the report. It was not good reading. It was almost unreal. Almost totally unbelievable. Sixteen war messengers. Two troop squads, and transports. Every fighter. The sabotage team. Even the new prototype messenger. All lost. All of it belonging either to history, or those defenders. All lost over one colony. Too many losses like this could prolong the war indefinitely. Maybe even force the Legion to pause the conquest, let the 'freedom people' spread their ideas among faithful servants to Nefzix. But wasn't it supposed to be Nefzix who wanted the universe to bow before him? Wasn't the glorious kingdom long overdue? Still, there was a complete loss at Sirelva. A complete loss he was supposed to brief to the High Priest. "There isn't any good news out of this?" he asked the general. The other just shrugged. The commander scowled. He was facing life or death, and the general was probably looking forward to a new job. He scanned over the detailed report, trying more closely to follow it and find the little good news he could give to the High Priest that might save his life. Finally he read a few lines, and smiled. There was a silver lining to this big, dark cloud after all. He reread it, then highlighted it so he could find it easily in the meeting. "Alright, there it is, I'm going to live through the day," he announced. A look crossed the general's face of mixed emotions, although mostly unpleasant. "What good news did you find in that?" he pondered. The commander explained, "The prototype messenger was field tested for us. A new pilot used it successfully. Some of our unique weapon ideas worked well." The general nodded. Then he smiled, "So we can start putting them on new messengers sent out to fight." The commander nodded in agreement, and for a moment, they were on the same side again. Then the VD com came alive, and the concubine of the Holy Priest called for the final report to be brought in. The commander stood up, feeling a little queasy, and went through the ornate doors to brief the High Priest on the Battle at Sirelva. [back]

The End.





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