The Glory of Treason – Part Two
Sci Fi Short Story
High Primarch Wesnos would be on his way, by now. The coward would never show up to the front-lines of his own war, of course – the little mole of a man would have the fastest available ship loaded with an encrypted hologram projection device that he used for faster-than-light communications. They were incredibly expensive, but Wesnos liked to know what was happening at any given moment; he made most micro-managers look like fatalists.
Meanwhile, the Aquilan response came: they had agreed to the cease fire. Alec knew that the Aquilan Frontline Board of Wartime Engagements had been given orders similar to his own: no retreat, no matter the cost. The military leaders of both empires decided to disobey in spirit, if not in practice. Technically, the Cygnians weren’t retreating, and neither were the Aquilans; they had simply decided to stop shooting at each other.
Fortunately for the people of Aquila and Cygnus, especially the soldiers manning the ships on the front-lines, there was nothing the Cygnian High Primarch or the Aquilan Divine Matron could do. The whole purpose of the offices of Supreme Navarch and the Frontline Board of Wartime Engagements was to make executive decisions in the field. Any treaties or ceasefires made by both parties would be perfectly legal in each empire, despite the explosive fury of the heads of state.
As news of the ceasefire spread, the comm-techs opened the channels from the entire fleet. Thousands of ships stationed across dozens of systems were all connected in one glorious cheer. Alec let it coat him like a second skin. The joyous cries of his men were all he needed to put himself at ease. Nothing Wesnos could do would take away what he felt right now. After all, wasn’t the imprisonment, or even death, of one man worth the lives of billions?
The Aquilan Board would likely meet the same fate. To his knowledge, the Divine Matron was a fair ruler, but her blind hatred of the Cygnian Empire would likely leave her “treasonous” military officials with no mercy. Still, their sacrifice was as great as his own; though unworried for himself, he hoped the Aquilan people would recognize them for the heroes they were.
The initial cheering finished, the Navarch had his comm-techs cease open comms with the rest of the fleet. The moment was past, and it was time to begin preparing for the immediate future.
“Sir,” a lieutenant said, “we’re being hailed by a cruiser with the High Primarch’s personal encryption set. It’s asking for permission to board.”
This was slightly more immediate than Alec had hoped. Suppressing a sigh, he said, “Permission granted.”
The lieutenant’s boarding instructions to the cruiser became a soft drone in the background of Alec’s mind as he ran himself through every possible upcoming scenario. The problem was that Wesnos’ anger was a certainty; aside from a few possibilities that involved life in prison, they all ended in Alec’s death.
The slightly raised voice of the lieutenant brought the Navarch back to the present. “They’re in docking bay A2, sir. I instructed them to meet you at SCIF 5-97-3, in anticipation of a classified meeting.”
“Good job, son. Anticipate orders like that for your next CO and you’ll go far.”
The young officer radiated pride, tempered with the knowledge of his current CO’s fate. “Thank you, sir.” Rising from his chair, he stood at attention and gave a smart salute. “Attention on deck!” Every man and woman on the bridge followed his example, some very near tears, a few even sniffling, but keeping excellent form, each and every one.
The Supreme Navarch returned their salute, did an about face, and left the bridge without another word. There was nothing he could say that would improve the moment; the only thing to do was leave.
As Alec Kouros walked to meet his destiny, he pictured himself marching alongside the seven brave Aquilan souls, his sworn enemies, who would be doing the same thing at that very moment. Nothing could have made him more proud.
PREVIOUS: The Glory of Treason – Part One
more by KENNY STONEMAN
Photograph by Adrian Pelletier