Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rite Of Passage

            Where I come from, there’s a rite of passage every teenage male goes through when they turn sixteen.  There are two parts; I’ll get back to part two in a little while.  In part one, you must go into a small cave, in which there is a functioning television, powered by a generator, a VCR hooked up to said television and a single VHS tape.  You must place the tape in the VCR, and watch it.  Of course every male past their sixteenth birthday knows what’s on the tape, but no one is allowed to talk about it; hence, going in, I had no idea what to expect.  After my 16th birthday party I left to enter the cave.  I went in, found the TV, and popped the tape into the VCR.

            The Image was extremely grainy, seeming to have been shot a number of years ago.  It showed a young woman, about twenty-five, walking down a foggy road in the dead of night.  She was alone, and the only illumination was from the streetlights set up along the road.  She was visibly anxious as any human would be in that situation.  All of the sudden, as she walked past a particularly dark ally, a large creature jumped her, and tackled her off the sidewalk and onto the road.  She screamed, but no one came to her aid.  She kicked and thrashed at the creature desperately, but it was relentless, slashing at the woman with its razor sharp claws.

            Though she was weakened and covered in blood, the woman eventually managed to kick the creature off.  She ran into one of the nearby shops.  It was closed of course, so no one else was there, but she managed to get inside through the for whatever reason unlocked door and locked it assuming the creature wouldn't be able follow her inside.  She assumed wrong of course, as he managed to break through the glass display window.  He cornered her at the back of the shop as she screamed and even begged the creature not to kill her.  It looked her in the eye for a short second, and pounced on her before snapping her neck as she let out her last scream.  The creature closed its eyes and bowed its head for a moment, then dragged her to the center of the shop.

            In graphic detail the tape depicted the creature eating the entirety of the woman, until there was nothing left of her but the blood spilled in the process.  The creature exited the shop, and the tape ended.

            Well the footage was grainy, but at least it gave me some excellent hunting advice.  Oh, that’s right; I didn't tell you about the second part of the rite yet.  I have to catch my own dinner tonight.  I’m looking forward to sinking my claws into a nice, tasty specimen just like the one in the tape.  Delicious things, you humans are.  Well, that said, I've got to go hunt now, see you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

In The Name Of God 1.03 The Glistening Guardian

             Mat woke up to a loud buzzer.  He heard a thump as Dany, who had been sleeping on the bunk below, hit his head on the bunk above him.  Mat couldn’t resist a chuckle.

            “Is this funny to you?” asked Dany.

            “Extremely,” said Nax, also chuckling.

            “We’ll see whose laughing next time we get a new member,” Dany replied, “I’ll see to it that you’re the one that gets moved to a lower bunk because Kron will be SOOO much more comfortable on the to—“

            “Dany, just put your armor on and go to the briefing room,” Aaron said from the bunk under Nax.  “I’m not in a patient mood this morning.”

            Dany groaned “Yes, sir,” he said, and did as instructed.

            The Squad walked into the briefing room and sat in front of the usual lime green hologram, depicting a conduit female.

“Hello Shadow Squad,” the Briefer said, “Your target today is General Gregory Mons.  He is currently the commanding officer of all human forces in Sectors 3 and 4 of the Universal Monarchy of Humanity’s territory.  On the edge of Sector 3 is the Planet 895 C.  Our forces will soon be staging an attack on 895 C.  If Mons can be eliminated, he will probably be replaced with a significantly less competent officer; one that is less likely to be able to repel us.”

“Where can we find him,” Kron asked.

“I was getting to that,” the Briefer said.  “Mons is housed in a base on the Planet 786 B.  The humans refer to the base as The Glistening Guardian.  The Glistening Guardian itself is a single square building whose doors will not be difficult to breach.  What will give you more trouble is the fifty-four foot tall and fifteen foot thick diamond wall that surrounds it on all sides.  There are numerous snipers, other soldiers and guard towers stationed along the wall.  The towers consist of a single, large, electrical coil with one man stationed inside.  This person operates a simple device that shoots a small stream of water at an intended target.  When shot from within this coil, what was once a harmless toy carries the electrical charge of the coil to whatever the stream hits.  If this happens to be a soldier it will deliver a fatal electrical charge.  Your drop-ship is waiting Shadow Squad, good luck.”


The Commander of the Photon Squad slammed his fist on Mons’ desk.  “Look, by the virtue of it being a ship, Domination’s defenses are far more formidable.  You’ll be much safer if we simply wormhole you up to the ship and wait until the Shadow Squad thinks you’ll be gone too long to be worth waiting for, and gives up.”

“Calm down soldier,” Mons responded. “There isn’t a thing that can penetrate our wall.  We are invincible inside this base.”

“Everything declared indestructible is soon destroyed, General.  I strongly suggest you--”
“This base is impossible to destroy,” the General said.  “It’s not a matter that can be disputed, it’s a simple fact.  Now take your squad out of my quarters.”

“General I--”

“That’s an order Commander,” Mons shouted.

“Yes, sir” the Commander said, noticeably frustrated.

The Photons left Mons’ quarters, and headed toward the wall outside

“It’s like a 12 year old shouting at you to get out of his room,” the Commander grumbled as the squad walked toward the wall. “That annoying squeal he presumably considers to be a voice even matches such a thing.”

“Sir,” Molly said.

“What?” asked the Commander.

“Why are you so confident the base can be breached?”  Molly asked.  “There are several of these bases and they have withstood yearlong sieges.  Any explosive powerful enough to break through the wall would--”

“Molly, there were two other ships identical to the titanic” the Commander said.  “And I’m sure half of the cities on earth had walls as thick as Jericho’s.”

The Photon Squad climbed the shining stairs to the top of the glistening diamond wall.  They looked out onto the mix of earthly and alien trees, many changing their color for autumn.  They chatted with the occupants of the four guard towers stationed at the front corners and on either side of the door.  They waited as the occupants of the other fourteen towers, which were stationed at the other corners and along the rear, left and right walls, watched for activity along with them.


The Shadow Squad landed on the planet.  Under Kron’s cloak, they approached the magnificent wall. 

“How do we intend to break through that?”  Mat asked.

“Breaking through it will do no good by itself,” Kron said.  “The guard-towers alone are enough to render entry impossible.”

“Kron, isn’t there something you can do to take out the towers?” Dany asked.

“Of course there is,” Kron said.


The Commander kept a sharp look out for Conduits.  His eyes were focused intensely on the ground in front of him when he heard a scream.  He turned to look at the tower it had come from.  Where there should have been an operator, there was but a disgusting parody of the human form with a glob of water floating above it.

“What the--” The water divided into streams and flew through the bars making up the head of the tower.  A jolt of electricity, not plainly distinguishable from a lightning bolt followed each stream out, one of them hitting and killing another soldier.

The Commander radioed General Mons, “General, you’ll want to take a look at what just happened.”

“What the heck?” Mons said back after a second.

“That’s what I thought too,” said The Commander.

“I order all of the tower operators to exit their stations,” The General said, now over a loudspeaker.
As the operators tried to leave, the hatches which would allow them to escape were suddenly melted shut.  The switch to cut the flow of electricity to the towers then followed.  As the eighteen remaining tower operators frantically jerked at the bars, the Commander heard another scream.  He looked and saw water seemingly being drawn out of the operator’s body.  After some moments, a similar abomination to the first was all that was left of the man.  Once again the water divided into streams, which carried glowing jolts of electricity into the base. This time no one was hit.

“Everyone, get inside the building!”  General Mons ordered over the loudspeaker.

“General, maybe my guys should stay out here and see if we can figure out what’s happening.” the Commander said.

“Sure, why not. I guess your expendable enough.” said Mons.

“Photons, look around for anything that might be causing this,” said the Commander.

“Do you have anything in mind?”  John asked.

“No,” said the Commander, “I have no idea what might do this.”

“Please stop talking about how likely I am to die,” said another operator.  Right as he spoke those words, he was destroyed in the same way as the others.

“Anyone else want to complain?”  The commander shouted.

There was no response.

“Good then,” he said, “Photons, resume searching.”

As the Photons searched in vain for the cloaked Shadow Squad, another operator was killed, reducing their number to fifteen.

Yet another was killed reducing it to fourteen.

Then thirteen,

Then twelve,





Seven, each having the water sucked out of their bodies and hurled inward toward the center of the base.

The commander jumped as the stream of water from that last victim appeared to be aimed at him.
He looked around and noticed a pattern.  It seemed as if those closest to the southeast corner were all dead, and those farther away not yet killed.

Photons go to the northwest corner of the wall,” the Commander said.

The squad did as instructed, as they scanned the exotic forest for anything that could be causing this destruction.  Slowly, the operators continued to fall one by one, until there were none left.  Each kill was accompanied by the most haunting scream ever to touch a man’s ear. 

After the last man operator was killed the towers were ripped off of the wall in quick succession, until only the wall itself remained.

“I think we should probably get inside,” Mike said.

The Commander agreed.


“It looks like the last ones have gone inside,” Kron said.

“Dude,” Dany said, “That, was, AWESOME!”

“Indeed,” Nax said, “It was most enjoyable to watch them squirm.  My favorite part was right after you sealed the towers, when they knew there was no escape.  They knew they were going to die, and there was nothing to do but pray.”

“I’m glad you liked it,” said Kron.

“Excuse me,” Aaron said, “as great as this is, and that was, we still can’t follow them inside with that massive diamond wall in the way.”

“Indeed,” said Mat. “Kron do you have anything in mind?”

“You guys shouldn’t be counting on me to be able to do everything.” Kron said.  “That said, there is a trick I do all the time at shows.”

Kron approached the wall.  Once he arrived, he reached out and touched it with both hands and his tail.

“Excuse me,” Gar said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m telling the Higgs field to shut up,” Kron said, “There we go I’ve greatly reduced this wall’s mass.  It should be easy to lift out of the way.”

“Nice, in a different way,” said Mat.

“I’m glad you liked that too,” Kron said, casually tossing the enormous wall aside.
“And now we go in,” Aaron said.


The Commander huddled with the others in the General’s quarters at the back of the twenty-room state-of-the-art facility that was once protected by that majestic wall.

“So you have no idea what’s happening?” the General asked.

“No one does,” the Commander said. “We just watched things that are impossible, at least for a Conduit.”

“Sir,” Molly asked, “How did you know this base would fall?”

“Hold on,” General Mons asked, “Even without our wall, there are hundreds of soldiers in here and only 6 of them.”

“You ever hear of a certain defense system called, ‘Medusa’?” the Commander asked.

“Wait, so you’re just going to ignore me?” The General asked.

“Yes,” Molly said, “Yes I’ve heard of it, I mean.  It was a defense system that surrounded the planet 156 C.  It was deemed impossible to penetrate.  As a result, when the Conduit attack came, it was assumed they could handle it.  They got almost no backup, and the planet fell.”

“I lived on that planet,” the Commander said, “until it fell, when I was about seven.  I can’t think of a single person on that planet whose first name I knew, that didn’t die in that attack; except for me of course.”

The Commander heard the door to the facility burst open.  He motioned at his squad to head that way.

The General likewise ordered his soldiers, “Let’s go,” he shouted.

“Be quiet,” the Commander said. “It’s ideal that they do not know where we are.”

“Hey, don’t tell me what to do.” said Mons.

The Commander heard footsteps approaching the general’s quarters.  He signaled Tim, John, and Crystal to split up and search the building.  The Commander opened radio contact within his squad.

“Remember, we know they have a cloaking device, so be really care--”

“We don’t think of him as a device actually,” Aaron said, “Oh, you didn’t know we could tap into you radio?  Its incription is so amateurish that any child could do it.  Well, any Conduit child could.  Maybe if you found some unusually smart, adult, human, probably a hybrid with some kind of microbe, he would be able to comprehend me as I walk him through it.”

“What do you mean you don’t think of ‘him’ as a device?” the Commander asked.

“He meant I’m not a device,” Kron said. “Photons just find me authoritative, except for you, until about five minutes from now that is.”

“Do you really think we’re that incompetent?”  Tim asked as he, John and Crystal continued searching room to room.

“Your parents certainly thought so,” Nax said.

“My, my parents?” Tim asked.

“It’s really sad” Nax said “when you can’t trust your own son to protect you on a routine--”

“I interrupt your taunt” Mike said.

“That’s quite alright,” Aaron said, “By the way, one of you is in the same room as us.”

All of the doors in the facility suddenly locked shut.

“Photons, report your location,” said the Commander.

“I’m in one of the sleeping areas,” said Crystal.

“I’m in the Dining room,” said Tim,

            “I’m in the medical war--” John began.

            “Well it looks like we have ourselves a prisoner,” said Aaron, “What do you think we should do with him Mat?”

            “Well, since I’m a nice guy, I think we should offer an exchange, we’ll give you the Photon, if you give us Mons.”

            The Commander paused for a moment.

            “What are you doing?” Mons asked.

            “Considering it,” said the Commander.

            “WHAT?” asked Mons.

            “You’re annoying, immature, and arrogant and have the general attitude of a twelve year old,” the Commander said, “What do you think John?”

            “The mission comes first, sir,” John said.

            “Alright then,” said the Commander.

            “So that’s a no?” Aaron asked.

            “Yes,” the Commander said.

            “Too bad then,” Aaron said, “Nax, kill him.”

            Nax raised his sword.  John struggled to break free of the lock the Shadows had him in.  John punched the space above him, causing Gar, who was holding him, to release his grip and reel back.  John quickly ran across the room, unholstered his sidearm and opened fire in the direction of the Shadow Squad.  Kron deflected each bullet before it hit any members of his squad.

            The doors suddenly opened again.  John ran out of the medical ward and headed back toward the General’s quarters.  The doors to the medical ward shut and locked.  John arrived at the General’s quarters.

            “Thanks Mike,” John said.

            “I didn’t unlock the doors,” Mike said.

            “Then who did?” John asked.

            “I think the better question is what that thing on your neck is,” said Mike.

            “What thing?” asked John.

            The object, an adhesive sphere with a barrel extending from it, aimed its barrel at Mons’s head and fired a bullet.  Mons fell on his back, dead.

            “Why else do you think I would unlock the doors?” Kron asked.

            “We really must be going now,” said Aaron.

            The medical ward’s doors opened again.  The shadow squad left what was left of The Glistening Guardian, and wormholed back onto the Righteous Judgment.

            John gulped as the Photons wormholed onto the Domination, afraid of what punishment the Commander would have for him.  He was not pleasantly surprised by the ocean of pain that greeted him before he went to bed, leaving a trickling trail of blood as he walked down the hall.

Friday, August 31, 2012

In The Name Of God 1.02 The Serene Irony

David walked down the hall of his monastery.  Out of the glass windows, he could see a quiet and peaceful river that ran beside.  Various aquatic life forms swam in the river; none of them were predatory.  On the far side of the river, there was a garden full of the most beautiful flowers from all over the Galaxy.  David passed by another monk on the way.  The two exchanged greetings before they each went on their way.  David reached the room under the surface of the large pond through which the river flowed.  The room was walled entirely with glass that showcased the aquatic life.  The fish, and other creatures that could be found therein, swam about as David searched through his files for a blueprint.  He opened the file cabinet, and thumbed through until he got to the Ps.  He retrieved from the file the designs he had been working on recently in his quiet and soothing cell.  A new class of heavily armed bombing ship called the “P-52 Sweeper” designed to systematically kill off any remaining conduit populations on conquered worlds before human settlement could be made.
317 hid behind cover as his human opponent, Mike Garretson, searched for him.  He pinpointed Mike’s location.  He requested a random number.  The result was 35703, which instructed him to shoot and miss. 317 emerged from cover.  Mike shot him. 317’s health variable was reduced from 781 to 595.  317 ignored the damage and shot slightly up and to the left.  Mike quickly dove in the opposite direction, sliding across the sandy desert, and switched weapons.  He nailed 317 with the rocket launcher.  Health variable reduced to -407.  Health variable less than or equal to zero; enemy object 317 removed.  A short musical theme played as the words “Congratulations, you won” were displayed for Mike.

            The Image of a rocky desert faded away, leaving only the blank walls of what had become of the gaming console in the year 4299.  Mike removed his virtual reality helmet.  He spoke aloud to 317.

            “Oh c’mon 317, you’re getting easier.”

            “I have not altered any of my variables since you last instructed me to reset them to levels even farther beyond the highest difficulty setting I naturally possess,”

            “Those stock settings are for 17-year-old children who are seeking to relax and kill a few simulations after school,” Mike said.  “I am a heavily trained soldier, and the only reason they let me play around on this thing is to hone my skills.  Hence, stop missing intentionally because you see your unlucky numbers.”

            “Sure,” 317 replied.

            “Also,” Mike said, “stop helmet-watching me when I get the sniper because it’s annoying and stupid.”  As he finished his sentence a loudspeaker called him into another room to be briefed on his squad’s next assignment.

            Mike arrived at the briefing room on the human ship, the Domination. He stood in line with his squad-mates, Tim, Molly, John, and Crystal, as he was briefed by their commander.

            “Photons,” The Commander said “Today the Shadow Squad is targeting David Anderson.  David is a Alexian Monk living in a monastery on 568 b.  He is currently working on the designs for a new ship, the P-52 sweeper, designed to aid in our efforts to exterminate the Conduits by bombing conquered planets from orbit.  We will be there guarding him when the shadows arrive, and we will ensure that they get a solid start on their upcoming losing streak.  Am I understood?”

            “Sir, Yes, Sir,” The Squad said in unison.

            “Good then,” said The Commander. “Let’s go.”


            Meanwhile, the Shadow Squad sat in a conduit drop-ship being cloaked by Kron, discussing their strategy as they headed toward the planet.

            “Aaron, we need to learn from our mistakes.” Nax said, while crossing his arms. “We can’t rely entirely on Kron’s cloaking again. We need to use actual stealth.”

            “I agree in theory,” said Aaron “But how else are we going to pull off our plan?  We need to get one of us within inches of the glass while remaining outside of his field of vision.”

            “There’s a waterfall on a nearby hill that leads into the river,” noted Mat. “If we land nearby, Dany can sneak up behind him from under the water.”

             “Alright then,” said Aaron. “Let’s go.”

            The Shadow’s drop-ship landed on the far side of a hill near the monastery.  The squad emerged and Kron began cloaking Nax, who headed to the peak of the hill with his sniper, prepared to eliminate the target if he escaped what would remain of his cell when Dany was finished with it.


            Meanwhile down at the pond, David was in his work-room making progress on the Sweeper.  The Photons were all nearby.  The Commander was keeping direct watch over Anderson.  Tim was watchfully pacing along the crystal clear river.  John was on another grassy hill with a sniper.  Mike and Molly were scuba-diving in pond itself.  Mike was on David’s right and Molly was on the left. Lastly, Crystal was in the hallway of the Monastery, near David’s cell.


            Dany went around the hill, and headed toward the waterfall.  Nax, under Kron’s cloak, was on the hill, keeping close watch with his sniper.  “Be careful,” he radioed Dany.  “There’s a sniper on the opposite hill.  He looks to be…” Nax paused in confusion. “It looks to be Human Special Forces.”

            Dany looked up, and saw the human watching for movement on the river banks.  He slowed down to be less noticeable.  He made his way over to the waterfall and dove into the river.  The resulting splash was indistinguishable from the churn of the waterfall.  Dany swam below the surface.  Once he got to the edge of the river, he saw the rest of the Photon Squad in and near the pond.  He reached for his radio.

            “Aaron, there are two special forces in the water. It will be impossible to proceed without them noticing. Can I get a diversion?”

            “There are what?” Aaron responded, wondering what Special Forces would be doing around the Monastery.  “I’ll send one over, I suppose.”  He turned toward Mat.  “Dany needs a diversion to force some divers out of the water.   After Nax fakes out the sniper, make a big show of ‘sneaking’ along the river banks.”

            “Got it,” Mat replied.

            “Good.  Nax, go for the sniper.”

            “On it,” said Nax.  Nax took aim and fired, going high and to the left of John.

            Mat made his way down and walked along the river banks, trying to strike a balance between being obvious and not looking like he was trying to be obvious.  He succeeded.  The commander noticed him and, falling for the diversion, sent Tim after Mat.  The rest of the squad, except Crystal, was sent after Nax on the hill.


            Tim rushed at Mat with gun in hand.  Mat did the same.  Both fired.  Their bullets hit each other in mid-air and dropped to the ground.  Tim leaped up and tackled Mat, knife drawn.  Mat, got knocked down by the force of the tackle.  He quickly kicked Tim off of him before he could slash his throat.  Mat, knowing that Tim was likely to speak his language spoke aloud.

            “I’ve always noticed that you Humans are partial toward the mass death of unarmed non-combatants.” Mat said, referring to the sweeper.

            Tim charged at Mat and managed to slash his arm.

            “I’ve always noticed Conduits are partial to complaining about things that they not only are aiding in at the moment, but do all of the time and have been doing for thousands of years.” Tim replied.

            Mat aimed his weapon at Tim’s head after he spoke. Tim ducked and evaded the shot.

            “We are the judges of this universe, by divine dictate,” Mat replied “In addition, I happen to be an assassin.  Thus, my body count is more quality than quantity.”

            Tim lunged at Mat.  Mat jumped up, and kicked Tim down.  Tim landed on his stomach, but managed to turn over before Mat landed on his knees on top of him.  As Mat reached for his own knife, Tim punched Mat in the gut knocking Mat off of him, then stood up facing him.

“Well, given that you just tried to pin me without restraining my hands, I don’t find it difficult to believe that you’ve never managed to kill a civilian.”

            A loud explosion was heard at the pond.  Tim turned to see what had happened.  Mat quickly slashed him in the back with his knife.


            The massive explosion Dany had caused shook the pond, violently detaching David’s chamber from the hallway it was previously connected to, briefly replacing visibility with churning white and bubbles.  The plans for the P-52 Sweeper, as well as all of the other warships David had been working on, were waterlogged and dispersed throughout the serene little lake.  Anderson himself was trapped under the chamber whose only open side was pointed down.

            Dany spoke into his radio, “Mission accomplished sir.”

            “Great,” Aaron said, “Now report back to the hill immediately.”

            “Yes sir” Dany said, and did as instructed.


            In the monastery, Crystal was startled by the explosion.  She dove into the pond, seeing David trapped.


            Before Mat was able to finish Tim off, Aaron called him to aid in the situation on the other side of the hill. 

            “You got lucky this time,” Mat said, “Do not expect this to happen again.”  Mat began running toward the hill.

Tim signaled for a wormhole back to the ship, but was denied.

            “I don’t care if he lobbed your arm off,” the Commander said. “There are 4 Shadows on the other side of the hill, and you are going to be helping us out with them. Understand?”

            “There is a rather severe wound in my back!” Tim shouted.

            “Perhaps there is. I’ll tell you what, if you die from the bleeding, I’ll pretend to be sad at your funeral.  Now move soldier.”

            “Yes, Sir,” Tim said before rushing around the pond and to the other side of the hill with what little speed he could muster.


Crystal frantically looked around the lake as David grew closer and closer to drowning.  She eventually found a large stone, which she could barely lift.  She grabbed it and with great difficulty swam above the room and dropped it on top.  The glass that walled the chamber shattered.  She went inside, found David, and swam out dragging him behind.  She pulled him ashore and gave him mouth to mouth.  As he began to breathe again she requested a wormhole for them.  It was granted.  Having completed their mission, the rest of the Photon squad worm holed back onto their ship as well.  The shadow squad, having failed, also returned to theirs.


            The Shadow Squad conversed as they ate at the dinner table on The Righteous Judgment.

            “It’s quite the coincidence that there just happened to be a Special Forces squad guarding the area,” said Nax.

            “You note this for what purpose?”  Aaron said.

            “The incredibly obvious fact that they knew we were coming,” Nax responded.

            “How could they?” Aaron asked, “They’d have to know who we were targeting, and there is no way to acquire that information.  It’s not as if there are no safeguards against that kind of security breach.”

            “Well it appears that they did know somehow” Nax Replied, before going off to bed.


            Tim emerged from the medical ward on the human ship, Domination.  He reflected on the battle. 

“How could I allow myself to be distracted by that explosion?” he thought.  “Crystal was able to save the target this time, but that may not always be the case.  I can’t fail, I can’t ever fail again.  Not after that … that awful failure.”


            Aaron, having finished his meal, put his feet up on the table.

“Aaron, the general is ready to speak with you.” The briefer announced over a loudspeaker.

            Aaron walked into what was usually his squad’s briefing room.  “I’m here sir,” he said aloud.

            “I can see that,” the General replied. “Now what is this I hear about my best squad failing?”

            “We were able to destroy the plans.  Not just for the sweeper, but everything he had in progress.  But the target himself was rescued from drowning by Human Special Forces” said Aaron.

“Human special forces?” asked the general, “I find that interesting.  And who is responsible for this failure?  Was it because of your newest member?”

            “No,” Aaron quickly responded. “He had nothing to do with it. He performed perfectly.”

            “Then who?”

            “Me,” said Aaron “I should have anticipated that the humans would have someone stationed inside the Monastery and had Dany wait to take out anyone who attempted a rescue”

“I see,” the General said.  He looked directly in Aaron’s eyes. “Are you afraid of me?”

            “Yes,” Aaron replied. “I’m afraid that you will somehow punish my squad for my personal failure.  All of them followed their orders and performed their appointed tasks perfectly and-”

            “Aaron we no longer punish soldiers in excessive ways for failure.” the General said.  “The knowledge of the innocent deaths that Anderson’s survival will lead to should be torturous enough for your entire squad.”

            “Yes, sir,” Aaron replied. He went off to bed.


            Later that night on Domination the Commander sat back in his chair, holding a drink in one hand, and read from a display screen in front of him. 

            Molly walked in.  “What did you call me to see, sir?” she asked.

            “The Shadow Squad’s target for a specific day isn’t decided upon by their leadership until the night before they receive a given assignment,” said the Commander.  “But they keep a shopping list of individuals they are planning to get to soon.”

            “Interesting,” Molly replied. “Why are you telling me this?”

            “The Healer is on the list.” the Commander replied.

            “Has he been contacted?” Molly asked.

            “Of course he has” the Commander replied. “He should be out of harm’s way soon.  We wouldn’t want to lose the sort of icon he’s become.”