I have returned to the scene of a crime.I stand upon the bridge of my Flagship and the crew is absolutely silent as they look anywhere but where I am standing. I am not known to be capricious or cruel to those beneath me, but my ‘history’ has shown what I will do for the Imperium and it is best not to be noticed. Besides, my bodyguard stands respectfully several feet behind me. They have seen her work once. That single instance was enough to buy me all the solitude that I require.
In front of me, the results of the moment that made me famous and infamous lie in front of me. The shattered remnants of Europa Station hang in space, one of the great triumphs of the Martian Imperium of the last war and the starting point for my current trip into the past. Luna had fallen and the White Queen was dead. Europa Station was the last major outpost of the Lunar Commonwealth, the flashpoint that sparked the whole Lunar-Martian War. My Fleet had already smashed the last pitiful remnants of organized resistance of the once proud Lunar Navy and this proud station that had survived for two hundred years through the Jovian Intervention and the Rim War, laid completely at my mercy.
There were things that we were not prepared to do to Luna and her population. We needed the Moon and her resources, her industry and its workforce. It compelled a certain amount of restraint against our ancestral enemies. Europa Station required no such forbearance. There needed to be a lesson taught to the rest of the Solar System. The Titan Code and other artifacts of the past needed to be erased for the New Solar Order to occur. An even harsher lesson needed to be taught to the survivors of the Lunar Commonwealth and to their former allies like the Ring Confederacy that was no line that we would not cross in pursuit of our new Order.
I close my eyes and I see Europa Station intact, its weapons silent and dozens of Lunar civilian ships moored to her structure. I left the intercom on as the Lunar Commander signaled her surrender and pleaded for mercy for the tens of thousands of civilians aboard the Station. She begged for the families and the children that had sought to escape our advance at Europa. She offered her life in payment for the two years that Europa Station held against us if only we would spare the families. I respected her bravery and believed her to be sincere. In the end, I did not hesitate one moment.
I don’t hide from what I did. I bear the title ‘The Butcher of Europa’ because I killed defenseless men, women and children twenty years ago. I have done worse since and before this is over, I may have to do things that will make my name the darkest of curses throughout the entire Solar System.
I once overheard one of my men remarking that I was utterly without a thought of remorse. Those words came close to wounding me because they are only half true. I can do the things that I do without remorse because I do have a conscience. I know the secret at the heart of the centuries long conflict between Mars and Luna. I know why the Demon AIs hate us. I know why the Rim War started and why we cannot go beyond the orbit of Neptune. I know how Humanity ends. I will be the Butcher. I will do what needs to be done. My one hope, the only thing that I have ever wanted for myself is that eventually Humanity learns why I did those things and understands.
© Copyright 2017 Christopher Otero. All rights reserved.
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