Friday, February 5, 2010

Dawn of the Dragonsworn-Part 1

Homsar Delgana still remembers the end of the last war as if it were yesterday. He was there when the final strikes occurred, and he was in the thick of it putting axe to skull and blasting fist-sized holes through chests. He'd long ago transformed from a frightened, but outraged schoolboy-turned-guerrilla into a hardened, veteran soldier and spy- one worthy of being inducted into the inaugural cohort of the Republic's elite operatives. Now in his prime, Homsar lay in repose aboard his personal ship as it shot through the ether, clad as is usual for him now in his dull gray uniform.

"Homsar!" a voice said, "You there?"

Without moving, without anything other than a thought as firm as disciplined as the body that housed it, Homsar answered: "I am."

Had there been any witnesses, they would've seen nothing and heard nothing. Telepathy required no such obviousness.

"Are you busy, son?" the voice said, "If you're up to something, I'd rather not bother you."

"No, sir." Homsar said, "I'd only just returned the remains of Gunner's Mate Fritzhof Holm earlier today to his family on Earth. Until your call just now, I'd been mulling over what to do next."

"The last of the Oklahoma's men, right?"

"Correct, sir."

"I've told you more than once that you don't have to be so formal anymore, son, so I'm thinking that you actually do that to needle me."

Homsar smiled.

"Admiral, you didn't contact me for a social call. You have something on your mind, so let's have it."

"Do you remember the incident involving the Sixth Hospital?"

"Yes, I do." Homsar said, thinking of his old pals and their kids- and the nurses they married after meeting in a hospital, "I'm quite glad that we've fixed that problem."

"I've gotten an update from the Missing Personnel inquiry."

"They didn't retrieve the remains, did they?" Homsar said, seeing where this conversation will go.

"No. Commodore Jackson got orders for the next push before he expected, and had to pull out before he could complete the job."

"Bring your men on the beam."

A moment later, Homsar noticed the presence of two others.

"Agent Delgana?" said a younger voice.

"Alex. Good. Iassc, are you there?"

No words, as such, but rather the telepathic equivalent of an affirmative nod.

"Good. Now, Lieutenants, brief me properly. Be as complete and conclusive as your intelligence allows."

They did. In a blur of thought, as language would slow the process too much, they put forth the facts of the incident--a hospital unit fell under enemy attack, and the husband of one of the nurses deserted to save her; when his fleet caught up to him, they found the entire planetary and orbital structure smashed to pieces and an abbatoir on the surface; orders to link up for another campaign arrived before the fleet could finish its inquiry and they never found the remains of either their pilot or his wife--and a development that may be related: reports of raiders hitting colonies and shipping in that area spiked within the last year.

Still without moving, still in repose, Homsar reached out to the controls of his ship and set a course for the very planet where this sad incident occurred so many years ago.

"I accept your request, Admiral." Homsar said, "As for you two young men, you did just fine."

"Homsar, I hadn't made any requests of you yet." the old man said.

"Your request came in loud and clear when you told me about the incident. I'll stop over there and recover the remains. While I'm there, I'll look into these raiders."

A sense of relief fell over the telepathic link.

"Over and out, Admiral." Homsar said, and he severed the link. A moment later, he emerged from his repose and took a short walk about his ship. He went back into the hold and inspected his armor, weapons, and other materiel; he felt certain that, as he so often encountered, things would go wrong- so he might as well be ready for any such scenario. With a smile of well-earned satisfaction, he enjoyed the thought of showing--again--exactly how and why a man has to earn that dull grey uniform.

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