Plains of Faith

Homer, Kerensky Cluster

25th July 3068

Star Captain Minua Radick looked warily at his fellow passenger in the hovercar. The view of the flat plains outside sped by, mere afterimages of no consequence. Huge fields of agriculture, the breadbasket of Clan Cloud Cobra, shimmered like pools of molten gold.

As gold as the long hair of the woman sitting beside him. Her look of disdain for him was clear, from the way she treated him like a mere manservant, and the haughtiness of her head as she berated him for some imagined slight.

Minua did not mind, since he despised her right back. She was no warrior, and it was only Khan Ward's strict instructions that held him back from snapping her neck like a twig.

"We are nearing our destination." Minua said, not bothering to hide the relief in his voice at finally being able to leave the woman. It had been a long 6 months of travel from the Inner Sphere to get here.

"What sort of god-forsaken place have you and Vlad sent me to?" She demanded. Her blue eyes blazed with fury. "I am a royal scion of the Inner Sphere!"

Minua snapped back, "You are none of these things any longer! If you wish to survive, you will do as we instruct you!"

"I want to be a mechwarrior, but why here, in the clan homeworlds? I can learn just as easily back in the clan's Inner Sphere holdings on Tamar!"

And take the risk that you will cause trouble for the clan by inciting the populace there? No, better you are here, where you will be focused on your immediate task of learning to be a warrior, Minua thought to himself.

He said, "I do not know. It is not the task of warriors to question their superiors. I believe the reasons will be revealed to you when we reach our destination." Actually, he did know, since Vladimir Ward had explained to him the entire scheme.

The whys of the Khan's plan still eluded him, but at least he knew the hows.

Khan Ward wanted to fulfill the woman's wishes of returning to power, and the only for her to do that was to make her a warrior. However, the strong opposition to his simply declaring her a warrior by decree meant that she had to be a warrior in truth, not just by acclaim.

Furthermore, she also wanted part of her name back, but because it was held by the Cloud Cobras, Khan Ward had been forced to deal with them.

The Cloud Cobras had been shocked by his demand that they allow her to fight for a bloodname, but they had finally agreed when the Khan offered them a star of omnimechs in exchange for just the opportunity. But she still had to be a warrior first, and that was when the remarkable occurred.

The Dharmo cloister had stepped forward with the proposal that the woman train at one of their bases. They had argued that she would have a better chance if she trained with them, and that it would also distance the Khan of the Wolves from any potential fallout if she should fail.

Khan Ward had confided to Minua his misgivings about the Dharmo cloister's offer, but it had been the best solution for everybody. No other cloister wanted their land to be soiled by her presence, and the Dharmo cloister was well known for the skills of its warriors, despite their pacifist stance.

He could have explained the whole affair to her, but he enjoyed seeing her discomfort at not knowing what was to come next.

"See that spire? That is the place," the driver of the hovercar, a freebirth from the capital city, waved his hands at the landmark. It was a piercing needle into the sky.

They could see signs of habitation now, small huts and buildings scattered along the road. There were also taller vegetation now, leading up to full grown trees surrounding the tall spire, which Minua could now see was built atop a large hill.

The small town they passed through had a few people walking to and fro going about their daily tasks. Minua saw the distaste on his companion's face as she saw a woman trying to pacify a gaggle of children.

"You do not like children?" He mocked.

She replied, "They are noisy and troublesome. That woman's also a stupid one, for she allowed herself to be a broodmare, doing nothing but raising children. I would sooner die than submit to such a fate."

Minua shrugged. "That would be your fate if you fail to become a warrior. I suggest you try to accept the idea, before it is too late."

"I will be a warrior. If he can do it, so can I."

The Wolf warrior shrugged again. The person she referred to was a naïve fool politically, but as a warrior was worthy of respect even within the clans. She had a long way to go if she thought she could be that warrior's equal.

They left the town behind them, going up a slight slope into a dense forest. They soon came to a small gate made of wood, standing incongruously framing the road. Atop it were the words

The hovercar slid to a stop. They could see a tall man standing near the gate.

"Alright, here it is," The driver said, "Star Captain, I will wait for you here."

The woman turned to Minua, "You are not staying with me?"

"Why should I? You will have everything you need provided by your new patrons. Let us go see them, or rather him, now." Minua grabbed one of her arms, and pulled unceremoniously her out of the hovercar. He had grown accustomed to pulling her wherever they needed to be somewhere, since she had a stubborn tendency to stay in place.

The woman fumed, but she went along. She had learnt that she was no match for clan bred strength.

The man meeting them was an elemental. Signs of age could be discerned from the wrinkles around his face, but his gray eyes conveyed a profound wisdom and serenity that Minua had never seen before. One of his huge hands went up an offered handshake as Minua and his unwilling companion neared him.

The man said in a deep basso, "Greetings, I am Peyes Mannix, ecKhan of the Dharmo Cloister. Welcome, Star Captain Minua Radick."

Minua took the hand, and squeezed slightly, just enough to indicate his own strength, and to gauge the elemental's own. The woman squirmed impatiently, but Minua held on tightly with his other hand.

"Greetings, ecKhan Mannix. I have brought her along. The rest is up to you now," Minua said as he roughly pulled the woman beside him, and then shoved her forward towards Mannix.

"Indeed." The elemental said to Minua, then turned to the woman. "Well then, I greet you, Katrina of the Wolves. Welcome to the Boundless Soul Temple."

How about it? Like it, dislike it? Do tell!

This story takes place within the New World Order setting. Peyes Mannix and the Dharmo cloister will appear in Des Winters' tale, Across The Sea Of Stars. Des Winters might make a cameo appearance, but no promises!

Oh, and all readers should know who the woman was by about the eighth paragraph!