AUTHOR: To say that I'm sorry for how long it has taken me to update would be a great understatemend. Its just that for the past two months, my computer has had no internet connection. Seems like my virus protection decided one day to protect my computer from viruses by blocking my internet access. Only two days ago did we finally get a guy to look at my computer and he figured out the problem in less then a minute. I only hope people haven't thought I've given up on this story...
And speaking about it, I had originadly planned on writing the journey to Aureliain one LONG chapter, but it just took a lot longer then I expected, plus I hit this major Writer's Block. Am still kinda suffering from it, but I will try to break from it quickly. And I'm afraid I can not predict when I'll finish the next chapter. Sorry.
One final note before you start reading below. I wish to tell you all that I haveNO intentions what so ever to replace Gideon with Cain, to make him better or anything like that. He is simply going to see things from his perspective and have his own demons and challanges to face. So if you've somehow gotten the impression I'm stealing Gideon's thunder, I assure you I am not even trying. I love Gideon as a character in the game and think he's super cool.
DISCLAIMER: The AR world belongs to the Mustard brothers (in my opinion) and due to somewhat lack of info in the game about Aurelian culture and all that, I've taken the liberty to create a bit by myself, to make this fic more believable and realistic. This is purely speculation and guesses on how things are in the AR world. Again, I own nothing related to Advent.
Oh yeah, does anyone know how the Colony War got started?
Ethan took a deep breath before asking the question that had been burning in everyone's mind, but none having the courage to ask it until now.
"Just what is this stuff we're eating?"
None of them replied at first, though Gideon and Marin did momentarily stop eating as they looked at the bowls in front of them, containing what resembled spaghetti, only thicker and green in color. Throughout this Cain continued eating from his own bowl.
"I really don't wanna know," Marin finally said, before slowly resuming eating the green stuff. Gideon followed soon after that.
Ethan raised an eyebrow, looked at the alien food for a moment, then the corner of his mouth pulled into a teasing smile, "You know,-"
"No sushi jokes, Ethan. Not now, not ever," Gideon said sternly, holding up a finger as if warning his older brother, who held up his hands in a mock defence.
"Alright, alright," Gideon maintained his glare at Ethan for a few seconds before turning back to his food. The four humans ate in silence in their room for a while, untill Ethan mumbled a few words, just loud enough for the others to hear, "Still wanna know what this stuff is."
"Well, sir, I asked the one who delivered it to us yesterday what this is, though I think I'll be needing a second tounge to pronounce it correctly," stated Cain before drinking some water from a cup that came with the food, "Though the way he described how it's harvested, I'd say this is their version of seaweed."
At that moment, the three humans froze and Ethan's face momenterily looked as green as the seaweed he had been eating. Cain, looking like hadn't noticed the looks on their faces, resumed eating.
For a while, all three just stared at Cain in disbelief, "How...how can you eat this stuff?" Marin finally managed to ask, while Cain just shrugged.
"Compared to what the army made me eat, this is king's food," he then noticed his bowl was empty, but instead of putting it away, he pointed at Ethan's, which was still half-full, "are you gonna eat that, sir?"
"I think I saw it twitch a little, sir," Cain carefully said as he and Gideon walked away from the today's lesson with Kelehm. Well, to be more precise, Gideon stormed down the ship's corridor in a much similar fashion that Cain had once did, who this time followed his Captain.
Gideon said nothing for a few minutes, until he suddenly stopped and kicked the wall next to him with a grunt. After doing that, he placed his hands on his hips and bent his head down slightly , looking as frustrated as he no doubt must have felt.
"If this is something that once came as natural to us as breathing, it shouldn't be this hard!" Gideon exclaimed, pacing a bit back and fourth, looking like he wanted to continue kicking the wall. Cain let him pace around a bit more before speaking, while a thought wondered at the back of his head if the place Gideon just kicked was the exact same spot he himself had kicked.
"Once being the operative word, sir," Gideon stopped pacing but didn't look at Cain, "Sir, what we're trying to do, what Kelehm is trying to teach us, is something that we haven't done for over thousends of years. Even though if this power we are suppose to possess comes from the cells of our bodies, our souls or our minds, a long time has passed since it has been used, so it shouldn't be too much of a surpise if we have become...a bit rusty, sir," Gideon finally looked at Cain, looking a bit more calm.
"Sounds like you've given this some serious thought, huh?" Cain shrugged.
"I admit, I still find this all next to imposible to believe, but...I don't know, there are so many things that point it out to be true, I just can't ignore them. That, and if what we've been told is all true, then there may be more humans out there, and as a soldier of the Federation, it is my duty to ensure that they will not come to harm by the Seeker," that only made Gideon raise a skeptical eyebrow.
"I think you've been watching a bit too much of drama-movies."
"...maybe," Cain mumbled, finding the ceiling above him to be of sudden interest.
"You can drop the macho-soldier routine and just tell me up straight why you've become a believer, Cain," Gideon said in a half-joking tone, but meant what he said.
Cain didn't say anything imidiatly, but as he stared up at the ceiling, he felt the familiar weight of the Holo-Projector. He still hadn't turned it on. When he was alone, he would just stare at it, trying to work up the courage to switch it on, but the potential concecounces were just too great. He needed to hold himself together, now more then ever before. He was of no use to anyone if he was a wreck. But he also needed to have something to live for.
"...because it gives me hope," he finally said and then he looked at Gideon, allowing himself to show just a portion of how tired he felt inside him. The Captain looked momenterily taken aback at such a sudden show of emotion from Cain, but then slowly nodded.
"Can't argue against that."
And with that, both humans continued walking down the corridor.
Severel hours later...
Again, Ethan paced across the room and still couldn't belive his leg didn't hurt anymore. The doctors had told him there was a possibility he would be lame for the rest of his life, but one bath in the so called 'healing waters' of the Aurelians had fixed it. Hell, he felt ten years younger again!
He was about to walk across the room again, when he heard someone enter the room, followed by sounds of pained groans. Turning, the hero pilot was taken aback at what he saw. Leaning on each other and looking mighty battered, were Cain and Gideon, "What the..." was all what Ethan could come up with, untill his mind fully comprehended what he was seeing, "Aw, Gid', please don't tell me you actually somehow managed to get yourself into a barfight on an alien ship!"
"Shut up, Ethan," groaned Gideon as Cain helped him up on the bed. Cain then hobbled to the nearest bed and carefully layed down on it. Ethan looked back and forth at Gideon and Cain, waiting for an explanation. Not getting it, he folded his arms across the chest, a sign Gideon knew that his older brother had determined not to let the subject drop untill he had heard the story.
Taking a painfull breath, Gideon started explaining, "After our lesson with Kelehm, we walked around a bit, untill we stumbled on what looked like some excersice room. Some of those, uh, what are they called again..."
"Feledic Guard, sir," Cain offered.
"Rigth. Feledic Guard. Well, it looked like they were doing some martial arts training, so we thought about checking it out, to see how an alien race trained. Only, well..." Gideon trailed off, not meeting his brother's eyes.
"Only what?" Ethan pressed.
"We planned on entering quietly to observe, but we might as well have announced ourselves with fireworks, sir," replied Cain, a slight grimace on his face at the memory.
"And? How'd you get all beat up?"
"Ah, well, about that..." again Gideon trailed off, giving Cain a somewhat desperate look. Cain sighed as he continued Gideon's explanation.
"The Aurelians were rather excited to see that they had caught our interest, sir. One thing led to another, and..."Cain took a deep breath before blurting out, "they showed us how skilled they were in hand-to-hand combat and how we were not."
Then he blinked again.
And then he burst into laughter.
As Gideon threw his shoe at Ethan, Cain rolled over and tried to get some sleep.
If Kelehm had heard about what happened in that excersice room, he gaved no hint of it at our next lesson, nor the days that followed. But there was something in the air after the incident. Don't ask me how I could feel it, I just did. I confess I half expected some to openly question if Humans were as great as they had been lead to belive, or even some hostilidy towards us. And in the rare times that I actually managed to sleep, I once had a nightmare of severel Aurelians holding pitchforks and torches and accusing us of being false gods.
But the feeling that overtook the ship was not in hostile nature. If anything, it felt more like everyone were holding their breath, thinking that if they made a noise, whatever they were hoping would happen, wouldn't.
Which was confirmed after one of our trainings in the Holo-Room with Daggoth.
"That was rather...bold of you, Exalted One," Daggoth said as he shut down the program. The small Seeker outpost dissappeared and the familiar yellow/black walls returned.
"We were surrounded, my gun was half-empty, so taking as many as I could before they took me down seemed like the best move," Cain stated-matter-of-factly, not meeting Daggoth's eyes as he absendmindly rubbed his chest where a Seeker shot had hit him at point-blank. Even with the safety on, it had hurt like hell, and his scars were throbbing.
"There are times when such...action is unavoidable, I will not dispute that. But in this case of scenario, there were other options available. Such as holding out until reinforcemends arrive, barricading in a position that offered the best defence or taking advantage of the enviroment."
Cain paused as his mind went back to the outpost, the layout of it, enemy positions and the area surrounding the place and the plan that had subconciosly formed as they had battled, "...the armory and the communication room offered a good place to hold out, provided that the enemy had no explosives. The armory would have made sure we wouldn't lack firepower, and the communication room would have made us able to radio for evac," he finally admitted.
"It sounds like you came up with that during our assault, Exalted One," Daggoth pointed out politedly.
"Yeah, I...I did," Cain replied, feeling a slight discomfort as he knew what Daggoth would ask next.
"Then may I ask why you did not share your plan with me, or put it into action?" Cain shrugged.
"Its just a simulation," but he knew it was a lousy excuse, and judging by his expression, Daggoth felt the same thing.
"The purpose of these holo-decks are to keep a warrior's mind sharp for a coming battle, Exalted One. To keep a unit together, even though many will argue this technology can not bring the true realisim of war," somehow, Daggoth managed to sound both respectful, stern and lecturing at the same time.
"And so, when they enter a real battle, they risk becoming lax, sub-conciosly thinking its just a training simulation?"
"That is what many Teachers argue, correct. I do not expect to see many, if at all, holographic technology being used by the Felidic Guard, but it will no doubt be used by the military and civilians," Cain nodded for a moment, then paused and looked puzzled.
"Wait, I thought Felidic Guard was the Aurelian army itself?"
"No, Exalted One, not exactly. The Feledic Guard is the elite of the elite, guardians of Aurelia and its people. Its foundation stretches over thousends of years back, near the end of the Great Clan War. Its members are rigoursly trained, both mentaly and physically and joining is no easy task to say the least, as there are only two ways of doing so," Daggoth's stance changed as he spoke, puffing out his chest, speaking about the Feledic Guard with pride and honor, "either you are trained since birth, or you show an examplary skill in the military and are offered a chance to be trained as one of us. And due to our high-standards, it is no surprise that are few of us, only an couple of hundred. But I can say without arrogance or blindness of pride, that even though we are few, we are the best."
"Yeah, you guys certainly know how to pack a punch," Cain said without thinking, rubbing his jaw that had finally stopped aching after the little 'demonstration' by the eager Aurelians. A second later, Cain realised what he had said and quickly tried to cover his mistake by a rather clumsy attempt to direct the conversation elsewhere without it beeing too obvios, "I mean, I saw you in action in that warehouse, back in Edumea, fighting the Seekers. It was...something alright," he finished, trying to look relaxed and to look like he was just having a normal conversation. In truth, during the fight in the warehouse he had barely paid them a glance as he had made his way towards the mad soldier, but Daggoth didn't need to know that.
"Yes, we were greatly outnumbered but held our grounds, took many lives and lost none," Daggoth nodded, then tilted his head a bit and an expression that could be best descriped as mild amusemend appeared on his face, "and from what I've been hearing, Exalted One, you and the Human Gideon were shown a little demonstration, yes?"
"Ah, yes, well, about that..." as hard as he tried, Cain couldn't think up a damn thing to say. Which was just as right, as he also had no clue just how he wanted the incident to look like; as either misunderstanding of some kind or even how to explain to someone who held his race in such high regards how he and Gideon had been beaten so badly.
But the challange left at what Daggoth said next.
"When Teacher Slevin found out mere Students had actually tried to impart the Ancient Teachings of the Feledic Guard to you, he flew into a fit of rage of such as I have never seen him in. He all but had them executed; instead he has put them into every lowly chore this ship has to offer and has them go through every excersize there is every day. Some are starting to speculate that the next time they are to clean the waste dispensers, an...incident may occur," to say that it was difficult to read Daggoth's emotions on the issue was a great understatement. Cain couldn't tell if Daggoth was silendly blaiming him and Gideon for what was happening to those Aurelians that had messed them up, or simply telling what was happening onboard the ship or even if the waste dispenser part was a joke or not. But what he could tell eyes was that Daggoth expected a some kind of reply.
"I'm...I'm sorry to hear that, Daggoth, that they are being punished from just a misunderstanding. I'm sure they only meant well, and Gideon and I weren't seriosly hurt or anything, so I-"
"I am afraid, Exalted One, that it is you who seems to have misunderstood, if you forgive me for saying so," interrupted Daggoth.
Cain blinked, "O-oh?"
"Yes..." Daggoth took a deep breath, glanced around for some reason, then motioned Cain to follow him out of the Holo-Room. Cain followed him without a thought, and after they had exited the room, Daggoth slowly walked down the blue hallway, with Cain walking beside him. For a few seconds Daggoth said nothing, and Cain could easily see the tall Aurelian was in deep thought. But finally, he started to speak, "Many civilizations here in the galaxy have factions similar to the Feledic Guard. That is to say, while they too are fiercly trained in martial arts and ways of fighting, wether it is on ground, in space or both, each one have their own fighting art and style that stretches back in their history. Some factions are part of their own military or government, while some are independent and such."
Kinda like the Federation having Special Ops, I guess, Cain thought to himself but did not voice it, not wanting to interrupt Daggoth, though he was tempted to ask him what he had been saying had anything to do with the incident with the other Aurelians.
"Many are recognised and even feared for their skills and training, but even so, many of those have acknowledged that the fighting arts of the Feledic Guard are..." Daggoth paused, probably trying to find the right description word.
"Better?" Cain offered, but an odd throat-clearing sound came from Daggoth, as if politedly disagreeing with his chosen word.
"Effective, Exalted One," Daggoth corrected. As they walked down the ship's corridor, they reached an intersection that had a large window, offering a good view of the now familiar red haze of hyperspace-travel. The Human and the Aurelian stopped in front of it, and a silence remained between them for couple of minutes.
"I...see," Cain finally said, "...I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you're getting at," he admited, and Daggoth nodded, as if he had expected it.
"I realise that, Exalted One, and I apologize, but the reason for discussing the various fighting arts of other species, I wish to reveal to you that the Ancient Teachings of the Feledic Guard teaches us to harness our bodies to its full potential, though not just in brute strength, but to sharpen our senses, becoming more aware of what is happening around us and inside us, to know how much force one should put into one's blade or direct it for that matter. Meditation is one of the first that we learn, to train our minds. The path of a Feledic Warrior is a difficult one, Exalted One, and one must be both strong in body and mind," at this point Daggoth seemed to hesitade, and when he resumed speaking, he spoke somewhat slowly, as if choosing his words carefully, "And...among us Feledic Guard, it has been our belief for a long time that the Ancient Teachings were given to us by Humans."
It took Cain a second or two for the words to sink in, but when they did, he still wasin't sure if he had heard right, "W-what? But...why?"
"Some believe so because of the similarities of how our two bodies work, Exalted One, how joints and muscles appear to be in same places as us."
Without meaning to, Cain briefly looked at Daggoth from head to toe, and yes, asside from appearance, an Aurelian skeleton structure appeared to be similarly built to that of a Human, asside from the long legs and arms and the three fingers, among other things. But he still felt doubtful, "I find that to be a bit hard to belive. No offence, Daggoth, but I'm sure there are many other alien races that are similarly built like Humans" he quickly added, but the Aurelian only nodded.
"I share your doubt, Exalted One. However, there is more to the Ancient Teachings, what they offer in discipline and training. Many have spent an entire lifetime studying them, yet only the greatest of us have managed to master half of it. It is because of that, many have wondered if the Ancient Teachings were given to us by Humans, or if it was meant for Humans themselves, and our ancestors learned from you."
In a way, it kinda of made sense now, why the young Aurelians were so eager in showing him and Gideon what they knew. They belived they could, like Kelehm, help unlock something inside them. Something...well, something. Or maybe...
...or maybe this might help us. I mean, you might say that Kelehm is training our minds, but why not body as well? Doing both might actually help us achieve something. And if it doesn't, at least we'll have something to do untill we reach Aurelia.
Two Hours Later...
"Bah! Pathetic! Completly pathetic! And to think that someone actually thought you worthy of wearing our proud armor! Again! And do it right this time!"
"Yes, Teacher," all three students replied wearily, all looking like they could barely stand before the ruthless Teacher, who either ignored their state or simply didn't care. The students lined up again and started performing what almost looked like a dance, all moving in such simultaneity that one couldn't help but wonder if it really was only one Aurelian doing the moves and had two other reflections of himself.
And yet, despite the perfect work of the students, a dissapproving hiss came from the Teacher, and the students couldn't help themselves but to cringe at what the Teacher would make them do next.
But the words never came.
The old Teacher was looking towards the dojo's entrance and looked completly frozen. Tempting fate, the students turned to see what had their Teacher distracted, and saw, to their mixture of horror and surprise, Cain and Gideon standing there, observing them. The students' movemend made the old Teacher snap out of it, "I did not give you permission to stop! Again!" he snarled and the students quickly obeyed. They went through the motions once more, and after they finished, the Teacher ordered them to leave. As they did so, Cain and Gideon approached the Teacher, while the students stayed far away from them as they left, no doubt not wishing to enrage their Teacher even further.
"Exalted Ones," said the old Teacher respectfully in his raspy old voice as he bowed, "how can this old one be of service to you?"
Cain and Gideon glanced at each other, and with the slightest nod from Cain, Gideon started to speak, "We were hoping if perhaps we could participate in your lessons, sir."
"O-oh, w-well, yes, of course! I- we would be honored, Exalted Ones," replied the old Aurelian, failing poorly to keep the excitemend from his voice.
"I hope we are not intruding in any way, sir, since we are not Aurelians and we have heard that the Feledic Guards are the Aurelians' finest warriors," spoke Cain next.
"None at all, none at all, Exalted One. It would be my greatest honor to instruct you and show you our proud Ancient Teachings!"
"When can we start, Teacher?" Asked Gideon.
They started immediatly, and as much as he tried not show it, the old Teacher was as happy as a schoolgirl with her first crush.
Cain paused, looking at the small screen of the data-slate he was holding. As he sat by himself in Marin's ship, he wondered if he should change the entry. Shrugging, he continued.
Stumbled on couple of these empty data-slates and Marin said it was ok for me to use one of them. I think I saw Ethan use the other one this morning but I can't be sure. If he is, i'ts none of my bussiness.
Three days have passed since Gideon and I started to be tutored in the Feledic Guard's Ancient Teachings, or, in shorter words, their fighting arts. We are still covering the basics and already I've discovered muscles I didn't even know I had. Saying that after surviving boot-camp and Colonel Hark's training, is saying something. Convincing Gideon to be with me in asking to learn from these Ancient Teaching was easier then I thought. Maybe it had something to do with that the Aurelians believed the Ancient Teaching originated from Humans. Maybe it peeked his curiosity or maybe he was just plain bored when I approached him. Whatever the reason, both of us have started and quitting now would be like a punch in the face to the Aurelians. Daggoth hasin't made any comment about me and Gideon's decision, but I don't think he's unhappy about it. I think. I'm still figuring out how to read Aurelian's facial expressions and stuff like that, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.
Anyway, not really sure what to write here, never had a diary before. Oh wait, Kelehm did tell us the other day that it will take us some time to reach Aurelia, four to five months. Around 125 days, give or take a few. Wahoo.
I suppose I could write here how we are all...dealing with things.
At this point, Cain stopped writing and for a long time he just gazed out the window from the chockpit before resuming.
Ethan and Gideon, well...from an outside perspective, they look like the loss of Edumea hasin't affected them much. They were born on Edumea, but at an early age the family moved off-world, so I guess they aren't very...emotionally attached to Edumea. But the Seeker's attack has affected them. All of us. But the brothers are close, they lean on each other for support. In their own way, of course.
Marin is...she hasin't really told much about herself. Aside from taking orders from them or discussing military related topics, I really don't know how to talk to women. But she's tough, both outside and inside, is fiercly independant and not afraid to speak her mind. If I had to guess, I'd say she was raised at one of the asteroid mining places. Those places can grow some mean people. Or could, that is.
As for me-
Cain stopped again, looking indecisive for a moment, untill a deep frown appeared on his face and started to type aggresivly.
Each and every time I wake up, I gotta fight like hell to get up, to stop myself from just lying in bed and wait for everything to end. Each day, I at least glance once at my sniper rifle and wonder what it would feel like to have the cold barrel pressed against my temple, or how it would taste in my mouth. To stop myself from doing that also takes a hellish effort. And for what? To fight all over again the next day?
The holo-fights with Daggoth help, but not much, and I think he's starting to notice that something isin't right with me. And I just can't help it, having these thoughts, feeling so Goddamn hopeless. I want to just fall down and never get up again. Ever.
I know I shouldn't have these thoughts, I don't have the right. Who knows how many planets have been whiped out of existence by the Seekers? How many Humans have truly died by their hands? And for what? Are we in some way a threat to them? They've been at it for nearly countless millineaz, if what Kelehm has said is true. What are they so afraid of? Or is it fear that drives them to do this? Definately hatred, sure, but what caused them to hate us so? What did we do, our great ancestors, to deserve such hatred?
And now, probably for the first time, against imposible odds, four Humans have escaped the Seekers. Probably for the first time, they have never been so close to be exposed to the rest of the galaxy, of what they have been doing. And to cave in now, would be...it wouldn't be right, for all those who have died through time. It wouldn't be fair. It would be utterly and completly selfish to give up now. I know this.
But its just so damn hard. I just don't know if if if if-
Cain abrudly stoped writing as his hands balled into fists and a slight snarl appeared on his face as his hands shook. Whatever he was feeling inside, simply couldn't be put into words.
Finally sighing in disgust, he pressed the 'delete' button on the data-slate and none too gently tossed it away as he stood up and walked out of the small ship.