Chapter 9 - Wedding Crashers
As soon as the program reverted the leeching device’s effects, the device would blow itself up, only to be replaced by another. Since QAI had turned them into unique structures, the reversing program had to repeat itself every time and because neither the artificial intelligence nor Djinn and Tinsen had any idea to improve the masterpiece of software and engineering, both parties were stuck at an endless cycle of reclaiming, draining, reversing and self-destructing.
It all made no difference in the coalition’s morale. The fact that they had thwarted part of the Seraphim’s progress in battle didn’t cheer anyone up. The same as the case on the enemy’s side. The War-Leader felt frustration at the thought that the humans were still able to put up a fight and were adapting to the Seraphim’s superior technology.
QAI had reported that the virus from Nethirstanaii had been stopped, but nothing more than that, and Seth-Iavow wondered how a human from more than eight hundred years ago was potent enough to create a weapon that was effective even today. At this rate, he expected that the ACUs they had at this moment would be completely obsolete in a mere decade.
The command units had continuously evolved to the next level, but the so-called ‘Phantom program’ had not done so in eight centuries, which meant that it was ahead of its time by at least that much.
“QAI, report.” Seth-Iavow said after he pondered on his thoughts for a while. “I will speak to Gialumeth immediately.”
Without a word, the Seraphim commander appeared and he greeted the War-Leader. “What will you ask of me?”
“You will go to Nethirstanaii as soon as possible. You will search the whole planet with QAI, for any trace of Human and Seraphim technology.”
“We are not ready yet. The planet here still houses humans.”
“QAI will take over with two of my lieutenants. Wait for them and give them the most valuable parts of your forces and then leave for Nethirstanaii as soon as possible. I wish to know more about the Cybran man named Phantom Sung.”
“We understand, War-Leader. We will await the arrival of your lieutenants.”
A group of technicians stood at the feet of an almost forty metres tall command unit. The Cybran weapon didn’t look damaged at all but the tech team prepared to clean all dust from its armour while updating its software. The pilot had spent six hours with it in the desert heat, patrolling with an abundance of radar towers and spy planes.
The members of the team seemed impatient. They were waiting for one final man, who happened to be the most important one. John Miller arrived after half a minute later and he quickly apologized for being late before he said what he expected everyone to do.
“Ok, you all know what we’re up to. Just the regular work with a software update. This is Dygonn’s ACU so don’t expect the pilot to be around all the time. He’s not good at maintenance of stuff this size, unlike some of the other pilots, but he’s excellent at pointing out what we forgot.”
The other men immediately stepped in and started to work, but one woman didn’t. She walked to Miller and explained herself. “I’m new here, but I’ve worked with the software of equipment like this before. Just tell me what to do.”
John thought the woman was about thirty five years old, even though she looked incredibly attractive. Her face betrayed she was from Asian descent and her clothing, which made her look like an army lieutenant from old war movies, told she lived in UEF territory.
“You can get into the cockpit with me, the software update gets done much faster with two people. What’s your name by the way?”
“Jessica Simpsons, I’ll follow you right away.”
The two went to the upper level of the hangar and John entered the cockpit. Jessica followed him and found herself in a cramped room. She was used to standing so close to people before but not with a man she only met a few minutes ago.
“Don’t worry about the cramped space. You’ll get used to it. Activate those relays while I get to work. Watch closely, so you can take over any time in the future.” Said John without looking at her. Had he done that, then he would have seen that Jessica wasn’t daunted by the small room.
“Yes sir.” Jessica said simply and she pressed three buttons while she carefully looked around. The room was perfectly maintained and lacked junk. The perfect example of a well-organized and efficient commander.
“Who is this Leython Dygonn anyway? I’ve heard of him, that he’s a good commander, but I’ve never found information about him.”
“He’s a good commander. He was from the UEF but turned to the Cybrans eventually. He’s been pretty successful but wasn’t widely known amongst the UEF members of the coalition until a few days ago. He lead the battle, which resulted in the death of a Seraphim commander. You’ve seen all of it happen, right?”
“No, I arrived here yesterday and news was very hard to come by.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that anyone from the UEF got here yesterday. It were all Aeon citizens.”
“That’s true.” Said an all too familiar voice suddenly.
“Commander Dygonn, we already started.”
“I’ve been captured by the Aeon a couple of weeks ago.” Said Jessica in a tone Leython recognized as perfectly honest, but he knew better.
“Didn’t they kill you as soon as you were at their mercy?” Asked John Miller, who was as suspicious about Jessica’s history as Leython.
“They found out I had a good deal of information about the UEF military and technology. Information that was mostly false. I managed to escape thanks to the excellent work of an Aeon priestess.”
Under the watchful eye of the former UEF commander, Jessica and John continued their work and finished half a minute later.
“Right, that should do it, I take it you run some diagnostics while we’re here?” Asked John and Leython nodded. “You’re going to have to get out of the cockpit so I can do that.”
The two technicians obliged and John realized that Jessica didn’t have to do anything he couldn’t do by himself in the same time.
With a couple of buttons, Leython saw that the whole update was a success and, without even looking, he told John he could go on with the next ACU.
“Hey, did you see where Simpsons went?” Asked John, with a sudden trace of panic in his voice.
“No, I was looking at my screens so she could leave unnoticed.” Answered Leython impassively.
“You know it’s no good to have situations like that. You don’t want to think of what happens to you if one of your commanders runs out on you and flees.”
“Your assistant leaving you now is like a stupid trainee letting me down on the field. She’s not important.”
“What do you mean with that?” Shot John at him. “She was good, didn’t do much but at least she knew what she was talking about.”
“Oh yes.” Leython said and he finally turned around. “She knew perfectly what she was talking about. She knew that she knew nothing about it and that she was useless in this.”
“But how... How did you see that?”
“She’s not a UEF citizen. She’s the Aeon priestess she mentioned.”
“I thought they couldn’t lie? All about their own culture, this ‘don’t lie policy’ might actually be the only good thing from it.” Said John harshly.
“There are more good things from it, but I’ll put that discussion aside for now. She’s not an Aeon priestess either. Not at this moment. She infiltrated in the society and doesn’t particularly show any disrespect to The Way, but she has rather left that behind her for some time.”
“I don’t get it, why would she do that?”
“It’s impossible to explain if you don’t understand it’s a challenge.” Said Leython and he was sure it wouldn’t help John in any way.
“Never mind then.” Said John in disappointment before he left. Out of sight of everyone, Leython opened a small storage box and took an ancient weapon out of it.
The night always drew solitude. The most people awake at this moment were the ones charged with the HQ’s security. Apart from them, few walked in the corridors or streets of the massive complex.
One of them was a woman. Still wearing the same clothes that represented her as today’s most popular first person shooter’s female sniper, she would’ve drawn the attention of many teenage boys, if it weren’t for the late hour.
Jessica Simpsons seemed to know what she was doing, as she walked along with a determined pace. She quickly climbed the ladders in the hangar that would take her forty metres higher and while she did so, she carefully looked around for the few bystanders in the hangar, as if she was about to steal the ACU she was planning to enter.
The bystanders didn’t even notice her though, unable to hear the steps that were softer than a predator’s crawl to his pray. Despite of her success to be sneaky, she knew that she couldn’t even hope to make it into the ACU. Surely it would be tightly locked, keeping outsiders like her where they belonged.
Jessica wasn’t surprised at all to find out that she could open the cockpit’s top hatch and peek inside and even if she was, what she saw made it any surprise go away. “I still know you well, Leython.” She said in an inaudible whisper. “Leaving a supply box open is the only sign you gave me to tell you know about my presence here.”
Jessica closed the top hatch as quietly as she could and she grabbed an extended hand and stood directly front of the man who helped her get up.
“Then why did you anxiously look around just a minute ago, hoping to find if I was looking for you?” Asked Leython.
“You know the answer to that already.” Said Lyndis with a serene smile on her face.
“Yes, I do.” Said Leython simply. “I bet you were looking for this?” He asked and he showed his former mentor the ancient sword. “Trying to best me again?”
“I would rather phrase it as... Finding out if you are still as good as you once were. The answer to would be no, since you have improved well.”
“You are a priestess now, are you not?”
“Yes, I am. The philosophy I have been taught on Earth helped me very well. Along with our other skills, The Way is easily understood, but I am not sure if anyone will understand it being abused at every opportunity. Not as long as it preaches harmony.” Said Lyndis.
“Idle phrases said by hypocrites. You were not like that. Our harmony with battle was not concealed behind a curtain of lies.” Said Leython bitterly. “It is the one thing Marisa hates about the Aeon community, a society that claims to live on truth like that is downright hypocritical.”
“I have found out how easily they are deluded by the so-called enlightened priests and evaluators. I see no problem with The Way as it is, but they refuse to embrace the truth that is directly in front of them.”
“What did you do in the past year?” Asked Leython. “Josh Funky told me you caused some issues in the Order?”
“Yes, but it is nothing that makes a mark. I hacked in an ACU or destroyed an Evaluator’s complete archive. Things like that.” Said Lyndis with a casual tone. She could have mentioned her daily life as a priestess. It cost Leython all of his concentration to look natural, because this was one of the most surprising things he heard in his whole life.
“Every little bit helps. The Seraphim are the ones with the extreme power and technological advantage, but it is QAI and the Order that are looking for us. The more they are hindered, the less probable it is that the Seraphim will ever attack us.”
“Either way, if I am to contribute more to the coalition, I could better work with the technology we now have. I took my time to understand software of command units and command centres. That is also how I learned to exploit the flaws in the Aeon’s security system.”
“Why did you return? Why did you allow me to find you?”
“I have heard rumours. Rumours about Marisa Gawain. Shortly after I arrived in the Aeon community, I heard about who she was. If you still remember the moment I left Earth, then you should also know that I somehow found a connection between you and Gawain.”
“There is a connection, yes. We battled on Sinivar Island and met again on Tessalis, more than a year before the Seraphim invasion. We planned to marry but it hasn’t come to that point yet. The war has prevented that.” Said Leython. “Now you are here, that may be different.”
“More priests have left the Order and joined the coalition. Why have you not approached them yet?”
“Marisa had the plan to be married by the princess’ blessing. She urged us to leave as soon as we approached her, for our own safety. Marisa has now let go of the wish to be married by Rhianne Burke but she still wants some relatives or friends at her side at this moment. She has long ago accepted the fact that the wedding is not going to be the best day of her life, not if she has to do this in secret. To add to it, she has no family left. Only some friends and Burke was her best one.”
“I understand. Her life has not been so very nice. To compare, it was worse than yours.”
“In a way. The death of my mother, no matter how dreadful it was, is nothing compared to what she has been through. She was in training of Abigail Toth, who has been accepted as the best evaluator of all time by many, so she learnt to carry the burden well but that does not change anything about the way her youth has been messed up.” Said Leython and Lyndis noticed the bitterness in his voice.
“You have told her about me?” She asked.
“Of course I have. That is why I have the feeling she already suspects your true identity when I avoided her question as to why it had to be you to marry us.” Answered Leython and he looked directly at his former master. She understood his statement as a request immediately but she didn’t answer it directly.
“As well-taught as us, of course she is. How else would she notice your enigmatic behaviour of the past few days?”
“She knows more about interpreting other people’s expressions and noticing their true meanings of a conversation than either of us. Still, I think I have managed to keep her puzzled, which is something we both like. We enjoy much of our time together like that.”
“So she suspects, but cannot tell for sure? I bet she will be able to after I tell you I would be delighted to arrange a marriage. Gather all of your friends, I think we will need them to cheer this place up for a moment.”
“I will do so, Wayu Lyndis.” Said Leython and he bowed slightly. “I will meet you tomorrow and give a date.” Then walked away without even turning around to look at each other for the last time that night. Lyndis slipped out as easily as she came in, as did Leython. Before they left, his ACU had locked itself tightly without either of them noticing
With eleven in total, the attendance to the wedding was at a minimum. Wayu Lyndis knew of the reason: the history of both Marisa and Leython seemed too dreadful to bear. Neither of them had much of a choice to live a perfect life but both had chosen the worst possible option.
“You know Shilon, I have seen more cheerful marriages. I bet that’s because those were on Earth, with no one worried about the War.” Said Jeff Lancet.
“That’s also because the families were a lot bigger, I think. These two don’t have any friends or relatives apart from us.” Answered Shilon. “I mean, they are on good terms with the superiors, but they’re too busy managing everything. It’s also a miracle we have had this moment for all of us at the same time.”
“Now we’re talking about that, I’ve got to go back to guard again in an hour. I’d better go already.” Josh had suddenly appeared behind them. “I’m going to tell Selene, we’re supposed to work together.” He said cheerfully.
“You’ve spent some time with her already, haven’t you?” Asked Jeff but Josh had already turned around and ignored him. A few moments later, he and Selene left the bright but undecorated room.
“I still remember our first day on Tessalis.” Said Marisa, looking directly in her husband’s eyes. She finally had the time to do so, since the last time they stood on the planet she just mentioned. “I must say I had not expected that our marriage would ever be attended by so many people.”
“You accepted the fact that you would only have two people attending, at most. One of them would be your friend, it is unfortunate that you have to miss her.”
“The members of your team make up for that. Your father too, as well as the others we have met.”
Without any warning, red lights started flashing and one of the security officers stated the worst fear of all members of the coalition: “Enemy commanders detected. Evacuate immediately.”
“Great.” Said Leython with irritation in his voice. “The Seraphim don’t like to see us married.”
“Our marriage can be very helpful for the Coalition. They can obviously not accept that.” Replied Marisa simply while they quickly walked away. “If it goes on like this, we will have to postpone our honeymoon.”
I did placed the original game: supreme commander.
I do have a small piece of comment
if "John miller" is male, as the name suggest, then it should be "followed him".What’s your name by the way?”
“Jessica Simpsons, I’ll follow you right away.”
The two went to the upper level of the hangar and John entered the cockpit. Jessica followed her and found herself in a cramped room.
For the rest keep making stories
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