Space is an endless dream of deadly silence, cold and chaos. Humanity was never mean to conquer it. Many believed that it was built by the Almighty specifically to contain them to Earth – it was created solely to keep humanity from reaching the stars. Humanity’s frailties were exposed and exploited when they first reached beyond their own little world. However, they explored it anyway.
Instead of a barrier or wall, humanity saw it as a challenge. Instead of residing on a world with dwindling resources, they adapted to the challenge and set forth to make humanity’s presence known in the universe. Adapting included modifying their own being, upgrading parts that needed to be enhanced, and downgrading those parts that limited them. So one could ask … how much did humanity give up to say hello to the stars? How much humanity did they give him to form a new empire? Are they still human?
It took an invasion from another sentient being for humanity to truly discover itself, however. Still bound to their system, humanity remained trapped by the Eisensteinian barriers of physics. When the Thesurye arrived and occupied Earth, humanity was never more united. But it took several generations for that unification to manifest into triumph. The Thesurye occupiers were all but wiped out and Terran humans began their new quest to go beyond their own star.
That was hundreds of years ago. Now all that is distant history. To those in the Otharian Cluster, more like myth and legend.
Sergeant Argusonius “Argus” Flamor represented a threat to his captors… or hosts, as they continue to call themselves. But not a threat in a conventional sense. Argus was used to being a threat in the conventional sense. He was a soldier and damn good one. He was sent to this God-forsaken edge of known space to do his job against a new enemy of the Terran Imperial Authority – the Sarginians, ugly tall gaunt humanoid creatures that looked like rejects from a scarecrow convention. But don’t let their appearance fool you. They were savage warriors. Apparently, these Sarginians took exception to humanity setting foot on worlds in what they called their territory. Never-mind the fact that they had not settled nor even knew about these worlds before humanity settled them – Edge (once called Edge of Hope) and Cavanaugh. Argus and his fellow troops were sent to take out Sarginian positions on Cavanaugh in an effort to push them back.
Unfortunately, all that went to hell and he has no idea what happened.
Argus was a threat to these people because he represents something they all chose to forget, and erase for their memories. That told him something, at least. He’s been under for a long time. Long term stasis can have detrimental effects on one’s brain. His memory was fuzzy, but he remembers being on a transport prepping for the drop planet-side, fully armored and ready to fight. Something happened and the suit stasis field kicked on. Now, by his guess, they have awakened him several generations later. He has seen enough evidence from his hosts to believe that.
For the first few months, they kept him in a cell. They kept him fed and comfortable but never answered questions nor asked any. They seemed to know all they wanted to know, probably from his suit logs. It took several days of pushing, angry taunting and violent outbursts to finally get some answers. They confirmed that it has been nearly 100 years since his battle of Cavanaugh and much had changed. Earth was a myth to these people. They chose to separate themselves completely from the Terran Imperial Authority from what he could tell, there wasn’t much of it left. Apparently, the Authority had overstretched itself and collapse in on itself. Talk of Earth existing as a real place was blasphemy, almost to a fanatically religious sense.
Meanwhile, they gave no answers to where his other troopers were, if any survived, or where they found him. Scenarios ran through his head as to what happened. The transport could have been blown to pieces and he thrown free, in stasis, propelling out into space. If that was the case, he was lucky. Most troopers were probably thrown into a dead drop into re-entry and burned up in the upper atmosphere. But some could have been thrown clear like him. Regardless, they were not telling him. All he knows is he survived.
They referenced themselves as the Alliance Council and were holding him under their authority. The only faces he saw were human, with varying degrees of genetic engineered “adjustments” for the various environments the must be adapted to. They did confirm he was still in the Cluster but it was now called Allied Space or the Alliance Cluster. Who they were allied with, they would not say. Where they allied with the Sarginians? God, I hope not!
Not long after his hosts began to talk, Argus got the distinct feeling his presence was causing much more angst then just the few people he had contact with. Perhaps his existence had reached political levels and if so, who did Argus have to thank for that? Argus knew that they could just kill him and be done with it but the more humane he was treated and the longer he stayed alive, the more he realized that he was being kept alive for a reason? Political pawn, perhaps?
It was only a few days ago that Flamor found out about the trial. A trial? What did I do? Apparently, this grand council needed a trial to decide what to do with him. Today was day three of that trial. A tall and very authoritarian man named Ambassador Willusius Ames Sparx – duly “elected” representative of the human world of Hegnaius IV – was the closest thing he had to an advocate. Perhaps he was the one Argus needed to thank, but at this point, it did not matter. In this closed to the public committee trial, the array of human delegates and representatives all were pushing agendas and in the balance was his life.
However, day three was different. He had gotten very little sleep the night before. Getting used to the regimented 20 hour days was taking some adjustment. However, last night was more than just adjusting to new hours. It was anxiety of something new, a feeling Argus had not felt in a long time. Anxiety, fear, and apprehension were trained out of him a long time ago. Perhaps that was their plan in keeping him isolated and captive for so long – to break down that training.
He was told the trial was “promoted” from the subcommittee he was used to dealing with to a larger, broader committee. It’s nice to know that one thing hasn’t died in the future. Bureaucracy. This meant more of the “alliance” would have to hear what Sergeant Flamor had to say. At this point, a part of Argus wishes they would just kill him. All this training they were trying to break down, his hatred for government officials had not changed. This next committee will include other members of the alliance. And this is what Argus was most anxious about. He didn’t ask questions he did not want to know the answer to – one most of all. Sarginians?
The room was cavernous, with a transparent-steel dome showing the true nature of his prison. He thought the atmosphere was somewhat artificial. Now he knew why. Before him just outside was a moon-like landscape of an asteroid. Built on it and in it was the station he called home for the past several months. From what he could see, it was a considerably fortified, with heavy weapons mounted along positions all across the landscape. By the stars, he could not make out where he was but he did see some familiar stellar formations that confirmed he was somewhere in the Cluster. He vaguely remembered a massive outer-rim stellar debris field marking one border of the Cluster. I think they called it the Pelvarvis Belt. This could have been it.
However, apparently the station had not been operational for some years. It was a relic of the war years, constructed after his accident. He recognized much of the technology but other tech was new. As someone explained later, part of the peace accords between the humans and the Sarginians was this big station. The Terran Expanse Authority handed it over as a peace offering. From the view, Argus could tell it was a massive weapons platform. He wasn’t sure if it was still functional or not.
An alien hand reached out to greet Argus. A robotic device translated the strange series of clicks and noises “Welcome to the grand council committee of cultural protection, Sergeant. I hope your stay has been comfortable.” The alien was best described as a bug-headed humanoid – two large eyes, mandibles where the mouth was supposed to be, and a thin layer of hair-like sensory organs twitching as it spoke. What was shocking about this individual was the smell – a sickening sweet smell that was not too offensive but noticeable. He introduced himself as Gre’ae’nesh Hokk’ee’nik, second chevron holder of the 2nd hive cell, ambassador to the planet Ur. Argus resolved to call him “Greenhawk“. Urians were a race previous unknown to humanity but apparently were a client race to the Sarginians. Human propaganda would have called them an “enslaved race” but as Argus would learn, the Urians were perfectly content peacefully living under the Sarginian rule.
“Thanks you, sir. ” was all he could say.
“You have been a considerable source of controversy here, sir. We knew one day the human past would come back to haunt us, but we never thought it would be in pure form like you.” Pure form? Interesting way to put it. Standing behind him was someone he recognized – the administrative assistant to Sparx, a young human man named Graves Diorvan. He and his little robotic assistant hovering behind him quickly rushed through the crowd that was forming around Argus to rescue him from the throng.
As he pulled Argus from the crowd of assistants, ambassadors, and others, he said into Argus’s ear “… Sparx will not be able to make this meeting. He’s been called away by his government for more pressing matters. I will be acting in his stead.” Argus did not trust Sparx nor did he trust this assistant. Their agenda was not clear but he could tell he was simply a means to an end.
He broke through the thick crowd of delegates to see the open floor of the meeting. There were over 2 dozen delegates seated or standing along a long semi-circular table. As he feared, standing among the various races – Humans, Urians, Karians, and others, was the Sarginian delegate. One single tall gaunt pale creature in robes. Somehow, though, it looked different from the ones he saw in the field of battle. Paler. More gaunt. Less intimidating. Maybe because it was a diplomat and not a warrior. Somehow, he felt it was more than that.
An instinctive emotional boil swelled in him subconsciously. This surprised him. Perhaps more of his training was drained away than he thought. He was trained not to hate his enemy. Hate is an emotional reaction and emotions can interfere with the mission. What’s my mission now?
Around the perimeter of the room were armed soldiers. This was still a closed meeting. It had more authority to do something about his situation but he had no hope things would be decided today. The way things were going, he was looking at a long and hard inquiry.
In the middle of the semi-circle was a podium where stood the chairman. He called the meeting to order once Argus took a seat at the “defendant” table. “Thank you for coming, Sergeant. Can you please identify yourself and your home-world for the record.” the chairman of course was a Sarginian.
Standing straight at attention, he summoned up all the honor and integrity he could muster as he proudly stated “Flamor, Argusonius David. Sergeant first squad, 12th platoon, 104th Company, 4th Battalion, Terran Imperial Authority Marines. Home-world, Earth, United States.”
He then saluted. The murmur of shock and concern rolled across the room. This was going to be a long day.