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PostPosted: Thu May 12, '11, 7:23 pm
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To say that things were not going well for Lune's armies on the Alisa III was a vast understatement. Waves of Orakian robots had been pouring into the western lands and none of the nearby kingdoms had claimed responsibility. Even more curiously, new species of biomonsters had been appearing that were not under the Layans' control.

Many of those under Lune's command, both Palmans and monsters alike, had been slaughtered in battle. He refused to concede defeat, however, and kept trying to find ways to both avoid the new enemies and break through the strongholds of the Orakian lands. Those who died were replaced by new recruits and he encouraged the men he had put in charge of the training programs to both enlist younger Layan males and send the new soldiers into the war zone even earlier than before.

Early one morning, before Lune could meet with his officers, there was a knock at his door. Alair greeted him, holding two cups of hot tea as if presenting a peace offering. He, however, chose to get right to the point. “What do you want, Alair?”

“One of your lieutenants came to see me in the middle of the night.”

His eyes narrowed. “I'm not sure I want to hear the rest of this story.”

“He had Kara with him.”

“Kara?” He groaned and shook his head. “What was she doing?”

“Apparently, she snuck into the training facility at night. I got her to admit that it wasn't her first time.”

“I am going to have a word with that young lady as soon as I finish getting dressed.” Lune gestured towards the door in an effort to get Alair to leave, but she remained, unmoving, in the center of the room. “Is there anything else?

She cocked her head to one side and frowned. “Well...he said from what he saw, she appears to have as much potential, if not more, than any of the boys her age coming in. She seems to have inherited your skills with a slicer.”

“Oh really?” He couldn't keep his skepticism out of his voice.

“I said I'd speak to you and you can decide what to do.”

“I don't see what decision needs to be made. You need to keep a better eye on her so she doesn't get into things she shouldn't.”

Alair refused to back down from her brother, as this was a battle she was prepared to fight. “Kara is getting older, you know. She needs to do something with her life. Why not encourage her natural talents?”

“Because they're never going to amount to anything? What, I'm supposed to bring her down to the ship with me and let her loose with the rest of the troops?”

“If that's what she wants, why not?”

“You sound ridiculous.” Lune wanted to put a quick end to this conversation, so as much as it pained him to do so, he decided to compromise with his sister. “If she wants to use the training facility at night to play her little games, I suppose it's not a problem as long as she doesn't break anything or make a mess. I'll tell the lieutenant she has my permission, you go talk to her. Be sure to make my expectations clear.”

“I always try,” she sighed.

Several nights later, Lune's curiosity got the better of him and he made his way across the compound to where the young Layan soldiers learned combat skills. There was light coming from one of the large simulation rooms, designed to look like the landscapes of Elysium and Landen, and he quietly let himself inside. Kara was busy programming one of the vaguely camouflaged consoles and didn't notice her father enter behind her.

He watched as a half dozen lizards emerged from behind a mound of artificial grass. As they advanced upon the adolescent girl, she produced a curved blade and threw it at the nearest one. The slicer neatly bisected all six of them before returning to her hand, where she caught it with ease. Once the lizards had been disposed of, a group of genetically mutated snail/rodent hybrids appeared next. With her free hand, Kara reached out and sent a current of electricity through them, weakening their tough outer shells, before finishing them off with the slicer.

After several more groups packs of creatures had been eliminated, Lune audibly cleared his throat to alert her to his presence. She spun around and looked startled for a split second, but her her face quickly settled into its default sullen expression. Clipping her weapon to her belt, she silently stared at her father, waiting for a reaction and maybe, just maybe, a sign of his approval.

“I hear you've been coming in here at night for a while,” he simply stated.

“Yes.”

He carefully deliberated for a few moments on what he would say next. “If you'd like to train with the others, I suppose that wouldn't be a problem, as long as you don't get in the way.”

Her eyes widened slightly. “Really?”

“It would save Alair from having to keep you out of trouble. Just so we're clear, though, this does not make you a member of my army and the moment you become a distraction or a hindrance to the others, I'm pulling you out. Understood?”

She nodded. “I understand.”

“Then I guess you'd better be getting to bed. You'll be expected to report here early in the morning.”

“Yes, Father. As soon as I shut down the machines and clean up in here, I'll leave.”

“Good.” Without any further conversation, he turned around and left the room.

Knowing that Kara was being supervised by someone more reliable than Alair was actually a relief to Lune, and he no longer had to worry about her being underfoot when he was trying to work. As long as she didn't prove detrimental to his program, he was willing to let her stay there indefinitely in order to keep her occupied. In his brief encounters with Alair, he vaguely noticed that she seemed more relaxed due to not having to keep track of her nearly-teenaged niece every minute of every day, but he had far more pressing concerns to occupy his mind.

Nestled safely in the middle of the thick forest, the kingdom of Divisia continued to be Lune's greatest source of frustration. Years of near-constant attacks had brought him no closer to his goal of destroying the Orakian inhabitants. The idea of retreat never crossed his mind, though, as letting the Orakians win was simply out of the question.

His army continued to battle the elements, the robots, the rogue biomonsters, and all sorts of other obstacles that stood in their way. They tried approaching from the open plains to the north, they tried slipping through the trees for a sneak attack, they even tried forging through the surrounding lakes to try to catch the Divisians by surprise; none of their methods were successful. Even as their numbers diminished, Lune instructed them to press on, determined to find a weakness in their defense.

As he frequently took a more hands-on approach when leading his men, he had narrowly avoided death himself several times. The new waves of enemies, both biological and mechanical, were stronger than anything he had ever seen before, even when he had been fighting alongside Laya in the previous millennium. Still, the incensed commander was determined to exact his revenge and would stop at nothing until he satisfied his thirst for Orakian blood.

He was frequently absent from the compound on Dahlia for months at a time, trusting that things would run smoothly while he supervised his forces down on the Alisa III. Though communication could be difficult when he was out in the field, trips to Aerone made it possible for him to stay in touch with the lunar base. He made an effort to greet the new troops as they arrived from the purple satellite, newly graduated from the training program, in order to issue his first set of orders personally.

As he inspected a new group of young soldiers that had recently descended from Dahlia, he thought he saw a familiar face underneath one of the helmets. Thinking that all the time spent out in the camps was causing his mind to play tricks on him, Lune started to continue down the line, but as he took a second look, he realized that there was no mistaking those fathomless black eyes. Without saying a word, he grabbed his daughter's wrist and yanked her out of the formation, leaving the rest of her team to stand motionless while waiting for further instructions.

“What do you think you're doing?” he hissed at her as he led her back in the direction of the shuttle.

“They said we were ready. I came down with the rest of my class,” Kara answered plainly.

“This is not your place. You will return to Dahlia immediately.”

“What is my place?” she argued. “Sitting idly in your wretched palace, staring at the walls and waiting for something good to finally happen.”

“Watch your tongue, young lady.” The shuttle was now in sight and he had no intentions of stopping to debate his stance. “You will be a liability on the battlefield, just as your aunt was. Women are too weak and emotional to kill mercilessly and I can't be worrying about any hesitation at crucial moments.”

“What about Laya?” she snapped.

“Even Laya declared that we should kill no living thing, and look where that got her. You are getting on that ship and going home.”

Kara looked around and saw that there was no escape from the small hangar, except for the narrow passage where her father was standing. Having no other choice, she stepped onto the small ramp. “You know,” she started, without a hint of emotion in her voice, “if you sent me out into battle and I died just like the hundreds, if not thousands, of men you've already lost, I wouldn't be such a burden to you anymore.” Before Lune could formulate a response, she had already disappeared into the ship.
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