What strange bedfellows these wars have made of us, thought Academician Prokhor Zakharov. He stood in front of his mirror, looking himself over as he shifted uncomfortably in his new military uniform. Fiddling with a clasp, he tried to remember the view from his office in the hab dome of Budushii Dvor. Mountains, he thought, snow, forests...
The present situation intruded with remarkable speed.
The mission was a disaster. The first century was a struggle for survival, colonization. However, upon again encountering shipmates, factions became embroiled in private wars. Gaians fought the Morganites over ecological matters. Spartans defended themselves against a forcible -if foolhardy- attempt at disarmament by the Peacekeepers. And the brave souls of the University Defense Force had barely held their own against Miriam's fanatics. It was a natural progression of things that the two sides had formed. The Spartans, the Gaians, and the University banded together, as did their foes. The Hive was isolationist, even now on the eve of the greatest conflict in human history.
The door hissed open, boots clattering against the stone floors.
"Are you prepared, Academician?" asked a voice, while soft, belied much strength.
"As ready as I'll ever be, Colonel."
He turned to face her, still grumbling. Standing at the entrance to his quarters was Santiago, her brown uniform immaculate. Medals gleamed on her chest, and a saber dangled from one hip. She frowned, started forwards.
"Never did wear one of these, did you?"
"I did! It had been thirty years since I wore one when we left Earth, and I have not worn a uniform since then."
She reached out, fiddling and correcting his dress blues with calloused, long fingered hands. Prokhor simply let her correct his mistakes. She was not a bad person to him, really. Perhaps inflexible and a tad cagey, but he counted Colonel Corazon Santiago among his true friends. She was a pact sister first and foremost, and despite their occasional disagreements the Academician got along fairly well with her. They had made a routine of discussing tactical matters over games of chess or go, and it had always been an enjoyable affair.
Grumbling from the door. Prokhor looked up, saw Deirdre standing in her typical robes. She had almost not come to this event. The war troubled her, troubled her deeply. The Academician gave her a warm smile, and the Colonel whipped around and stared the younger woman down.
"We are prepared, then?"
Both women nodded. They had their issues. Deirdre hated war, and Corazon (the Colonel, Zakharov corrected himself) embraced the conflict. She had been raised in Free LA...she hadn't ever known anything else.
"I'm glad you have decided to join us, Miss Skye. This is an important first step- the losses of Velvetgrass Point and Monitoring Station have left our forces in disarray. It is imperative we have a show of force, rally our troops."
She nodded reluctantly, brushing back a stray lock of hair. She set her jaw.
"Indeed, Academician. Shall we begin?"
The Colonel nodded her approval. Prokhor followed them both out the door, onto the dais high above the man thoroughfare of Sparta Command. Spotlights whipped through Planet's night. Far below, Spartans, University and Gaians marched in lockstep. Legions of men and women paraded before cheering throngs, a massive show of force. Hovertanks, sleek and menacing, glided just above the ground.
This place smacks of Albert Speers, the Academician thought to himself as he surveyed the architecture and amassed forces. The three leaders stood, and the Colonel began her speech.
"People of the Confedation... today is a momentous day. Today, we take the fight back to those who seek to destroy and enslave us."
The crowds below roared, and the crescendo shook the dais. Santiago appeared to be enjoying it.
"Today, my friends, is a day of reckoning. We were once three separate people, but today we are forged as one. We were environmentalists, researchers, soldiers. We were all weak, on our own. We were all preyed upon by those who wish to force us from the life we've chosen. Religion, capitalism, government- they tried to force them upon us. And now, together, we say NO MORE!"
A fist in the air, defiant. Deirdre stepped forwards, her face on the massive screens lining the square. Her accent was a stark contrast to Santiago's.
"My people, our time has come. As it was on Earth before us, they seek to take everything from us. They want our freedom, our minds, even the very Planet itself. How can we abide it? Can we let it happen again? Can we let this place be despoiled? Can we give up our freedom? NO! We have the opportunity to stop this tragedy, and we shall take it!"
A second fist was raised. The crowd was in a frenzy. They knew their very way of life was at stake. Prokhor took a deep breath, stepped forwards and took his place beside his allies.
"My people...we were weak once. We were soldiers without arms, scientists with no one to benefit, the very children of humanity without protection! Our enemies came for us from the dark, came seeking what we had. We resisted, but alone what could each of us do?"
Pride became rage at the memory of their losses.
"Together now, we have the very finest of our fields- we scientists have found people who benefit from our knowledge. Children of earth, of planet, have found defenders. Soldiers, you have the finest arms that the universe has ever known. Now is OUR time!"
The crowds cheered, and the Academician felt it rumble through his chest cavity. He hoped that the alliance would be enough, but only time would tell. Would strange bedfellows make fine allies?