We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand
Captain Nomed Legna closed his eyes once again. He floated listening to the sounds of war, the boom of cannons, the repetitive fire of anti-air guns, the groans and moans of tearing ships, and the distant cries of men. Some cried for death, others life and some for god, for a savior from the hell brought upon them. His mouth became coated with bile, as he remembered.
"Congratulation, Capt. Legna this will surely bring the peace this world deserves," Said the old queen.
He raised his head looking into those piercingly wise teal green eyes. An spoke evenly, "At what cost though, the loss of Aderes, Fumi and Mikoto…isn't this a price too high to pay."
Her expression became solemn and withdrawn. She looked at him saying, "Yes, it is too high. Yet isn't the price of peace just that? Isn't the price of peace, no matter how vast, worth every effort in the end?"
Nomed heard the slight hitch in her voice; he saw the watering of her eyes as she spoke. Still within them he also saw the hard determination to achieve the goal she had set. No words were needed. He looked to his hands and quietly, ever so quietly, said.
"Tonight is the end of a bright life, and with these hands I will end that life. Not in war though but in peace, both for its name and beginning."
His eyes opened, he regretted ever closing them. He struggled within himself to balance out what he was and who he was. Both gave him enough trouble, but his memories became a different story. They distorted themselves, even those memories that are joyous, and little by little. These memories became his mistakes. And
His most destructive enemy.
He looked upon the battlefield again this time marking critical ships and assessing the battle. His earpiece activated as he heard his commander speak.
"Sir, we have positioned ourselves at point gamma, your orders," Tate said.
"Ready the main gun, targets are painted, fire on my mark," Nomed said.
Tate eyes widened, he was surprised by the action they were to undertake. His doubt though came and passed as he gave the orders.
"Main guns at the ready. Rise to level."
With this the ship began to rise into battle. The ship could be described as a blade- like as the forecastle cuts through the sands. The ship was mostly similar to the old battleships of the 20st century, except for size. Its deck was flat, but as the ship was raised from the ground, its twenty armaments began to peak out from the deck. These weapons included four anti-air cannons on the starboard and port side, two sixteen inch gun batteries at the stern, eight missiles tubes, and 4 main gun turrets. Its guns though were smaller than the cannon used by the Suzushiro but these gun turrets packed more of a punch. These guns were railguns turrets.
"All generators are active and stable, the railguns are live and ready on orders," said the fire control officer.
"Main batteries turn 60 degrees southwest. Load cluster missiles. Fire on Capt's mark," Tate ordered.
They waited. And waited.
"Targets are marked and primed," Nomed said over the intercom, "Fire"
Nagi looked smug as he saw the retreating Windbloom fleet. Oh, his day was here, his revenge was to be satisfied. Now the world will be…..
Before he could be informed a large explosion rocked the ship.
"REPORT," he yelled over the explosions of various electronic equipments.
"Our starboard side has been hit and breached by unknown shell. Two other ships have suffered the same damages," said the navigator, "One of those ships have been put out of….INCOMING MISSILES SIR."
"Evade, now," said Nagi.
The order came too late, eight hundred missiles impacted in a radius of one hundred thousand miles. Taking out hundreds SLAVES while disabling three hundred ships and destroying four hundred. This included Nagi's flagship.
"REPORT," Nagi barked.
"Seven hundred ships have been disabled or destroyed," the comm. Officer said.
"WHAT, our SLAVE protected them from the top," Nagi said.
What Nagi didn't know was the cluster missiles were specially made for SLAVE destruction. Within the eight original missiles, there are one hundred smaller missiles, and within each are one hundred needle-like missiles. These needles are then propelled and cut through the SLAVES to get to any ships. Inside of these holds one milligram of antimatter. This milligram was still enough to cripple a ship. Combine with eight thousand needles in one volley these missiles were meant to destroy anything.
'Sir, our ship can't hold much longer," said the navigator.
Seething, Nagi pondered his dilemma, "What do I do? Wind is weak and ready for me but if another one of those come then I'm done. And who just," he thought.
A thought crept into his mind; he smiled as he gave the order to abandon ship. He walked into his personal escape vessel with this navigator and comm. Officer.
"I think I need to look into those books again," He thought.
Mikoto awoke to the sound of a supersonic boom. Her eyes opened she scanned the horizon for the noisemaker. She saw it.
Instantly ready, she called to her old HIME powers. Condensing the high order energy, she materialized a spear. A yard long, she condensed the energy to the smaller form. Hands steady, arms relaxed, feet into position, she levitated the spear inches away. She closed her eyes, and instinctively aimed the spear into position. Coursing through her body the HIME energy waited, she clapped her hands together. Extending one palm outward, the energy rushed out. Coming up against the spear in seconds this energy propelled the spear to the ship right down the middle.
Erstin held Nina reverently as she flew to the ship. An instinct told her to duck, and following like any trained warrior she did. Faster than the human eye can track, she saw the spear rushing to the ship; instantly she teleported three feet away from the ship levitating Nina, Erstin raised her hands pulling a giant barrier in front of her. The spear hit seconds later. Feeling the force of the spear, Erstin firmly held up her hands and concentrated. Taking the bulk of the force, she curved her shield inward towards the spear. Pulling her own high order energy, Ers collapsed the shield around the spear, dissipating the HIME energy. Relaxing she look to see Nina beginning a freefall down, unknown to her while stopping the spear she lost the levitating platform under Nina. Nina meanwhile had one hundred feet before she reached solid earth. Rushing Ers flew fast to her. Only to see a shadow move behind her, she watched in glum horror as Nomed held Nina.
"I believe you have some explaining to do," He said pointing to the dagger at the shoulder.
She hung her head as she thought of what he would say. She didn't dematerialize the dagger to ensure the wound would not bleed as much. As well, she applied her shields to the wound to stanch the blood. Now though her inexperience had almost cost Nina her life.
"Take her in now, we'll talk later," Nomed said quietly.
Erstin looked up, to see Nomed benevolent gaze. Hinted within were still questions but they were put aside. Her arms shaking she took Nina out of his hands and rushed to the ship.
"Medical at ready in bay," Said the comm. Officer, "Come down on entry three."
"Roger," she said as she looked back.
She saw her commanding office readying an Iaijutsu stance. She didn't look back as she entered to the elevators for the otomes.
Nomed eyes changed instantly from a deep brown to an opaque blue. His eyes traced the lines of energy looking for the familiar yellow of Mikoto.
Mikoto gnashed her teeth together when her spear didn't hit, but before she could start again, she felt a rush of energy. Dodging to the left she avoided a energy missile from Nomed. Instinctively she pulled her blade out and blocked to the left side, steel met steel as the blades met. But Mikoto was still too weak to fight again with her former master and friend. Her defense open, she was powerless to stop the slashes from coming.
Coming from the right after the block, Nomed appeared slashing to her side cleanly slicing three inch into her body. Again using a series of flash steps, he appeared in front. Again she took a roundhouse kick to the head. Unable to sustain her conscious for much longer she fell to the ground. Slamming into the ground, her body already broken, bruised, and battered put her on the edge of oblivion. Her eyes slowly closing as Nomed stood over her. She saw his mouth move and although already moving to a sleep she heard the words well or rather the number
Her eyes final closed and she welcome the oblivion.
(Three hours later)
Arika awoke to find herself in the infirmary of her Alma Matter. The stark white sheets, the white walls, the sound of equipment and the familiar sound of Professor Gal's music, a tasteful mix of recent Aires jazz and blues.
Already though she could feel her lover's hand, Mahsiro's immaculate and supple flesh, held her own with the subtle strength Mashiro always carried. Arika sat up looking to the sleeping form of Mashiro. She smiled, knowing Mashiro back had endured enough days like that on a desk; Arika took her hand and moved them out of Mashiro's. Standing, Arika gently lifted Mashiro from the bed into a sitting position in the chair. She pushed the chair as she brought Mashiro into a bridal style carry, the clang of the chair didn't wake the sleeping form. Putting Mashiro on the bed, Arika gently pulled the covers as she slipped in next to her. Relaxing she slide her arms around Mashiro and fell asleep once again.
Mai watched the fading sun on the Cat God National Park. With a clean bill of health and an advisement on rest and recovery, she had been discharged from the Garderobe infirmary but a restless energy pulsed in her body. The feeling of death was its cause. People say when death comes your life passes before your eyes; for Mai it was different. The cold touch of those flames made her regrets surface with a vengeance. Regrets only a certain feral female could attend to. To further her own distress though, Mikoto was gone. Along with Nina, Mikoto was listed as missing. At the end of the fighting and struggling resistance of SLAVES and ships, crews of people drove on to the battle field looking for any survivors. Many of them were surprised to find the bulk of the otomes on the ground unconscious and seemingly unharmed. Shizuru, Chie (and her squad), Nao, Arika and Haruka were all found in relation to where they had been last heard of. Natsuki as well, although she been out of her position as mid-range support.
Mai was, interestingly enough, found on a bed in the Cat God National Park with a scent of cloves and cinnamon on her clothes. Scents, again, that had reminded her of a certain feral girl.
Frustration welled up in her throat. About to scream, she felt the slender finger tips against her back. With the scents of cloves and cinnamon assaulting her sense she turned and hugged the newly looking twenty-nine year old Mikoto. With boyish looks and the same mess of spiky hair and two shoulder length braid. Mikoto looked unchanged except her face became more angular and sharper. Her body lost the girlish figure and gained in its stead a willowy and lithe of a woman beginning to blossom. Her flat chest though did grow into small breast but still not as generous as Mai's.
"Why do you cry, my little sun goddess," Mikoto asked.
"Why can't I, you've been missing for," Mai said hiccuping along the way, "a long time and I began to…"
Her words were cut off suddenly, as Mikoto pushed her lips against hers. Mai surprise was evident but evaporated with the incoming wave of heat and lust. Finally parting, Mai's face reddened while she licked her lips.
"Such a beautiful face," Mikoto said tracing Mai's lips. Heat flared again and their night began.
There touches all conveying the simple words, "Thank god your okay."
Erstin stood stock straight at attention. Her face a careful mask of rapt attention and stiff respect.
Nomed's eyes kept on the screen and his face too a mask of calm. With a sip of coffee on his desk, he looked up to Erstin.
"At ease, private," he said, she relaxed visibly. "The conduct of the mission was recon and takedown of officers. Yet you broke protocol and now I have a captive enemy otome on the ship privy to our location. Do you have anything to say for yourself Private Ho?"
"No sir only her wounds if left untreated she would of have died. The time for the rescue would come too late for the other side."
"Why didn't you leave her then? If you have left her, you wouldn't be court-martialed for spying for the enemy."
Her voice lower and her lip shook, "I couldn't leave her sir."
"Well that is too bad," He said calmly.
She looked to the ground, knowing her fate would be decided now.
"From this point onwards you are off the duty roster and are to ensure the captive's health and well-being until reassigned," Nomed said.
She looked up wide-eyed and questioning but his face brokered no argument.
"Your schedule will be the same, your duties are the same but during red alert you are not to let her leave her room. She is limited to the room she is in and the surrounding areas you are to escort her to the mess, bathrooms, and training areas. Any movement outside this will be considered spying. She and you will be shot on sight from then on. Your patrol starts twelve hours from now. I want you situated and your HASM code locked from this point forward. You won't need it until patrol or until I say otherwise. I'm I clear, Erstin."
"Yes sir," She said.
"You have your orders," Nomed said looking to his paperwork.
She saluted and walked out the door. She briskly walked to the armory. To code-lock an officer wasn't unusual but it made clear that she was now considered a traitor. She gritted her teeth and walked faster. The people she had found here, the friends she has made were now her enemies, and she couldn't do a thing about it.
Coming up to the armory bay, she stood now blank in mind and expression. Her life as she knew was fleeing and walking into the room she would cement that forever. An yet her heart couldn't help but to flutter. Now she would be able to go back to the past, to Arika, to Nina; but in her mind she knew that couldn't happen. This place had changed her. She had evolved to be more than what she was, more than she thought possible. An deep within her heart she knew she couldn't go back.
Raising her head, she walked proudly inside knowing today was her last day of her life in the warship, Auir, and a new life would await her.
For in her soul, she knew she had to let go.
Authors notes: Wow, I'm deeply sorry for those who had been tracking this story. Can't say I will be constantly writing but still completing this story is something on my list. Rant, review if you want