Pinterest Books & Legends by Ava D Dohn: This AUTHOR'S WORDS tied to Thomas Bergersen's music by this blogger, do you agree with me?

Friday, September 19, 2014

This AUTHOR'S WORDS tied to Thomas Bergersen's music by this blogger, do you agree with me?

Darla's actions in the following minuscule section (the reading is from Sisters of the Bloodwind, by Ava D Dohn pp. 374 - 393) and, this blogger thinks, it ties with great harmony to Thomas Bergersen's, public album Invincible, shared here, (music begins at 20 seconds after clicking the link). Please read, listen, and compare to see if your heart tells you the same thing. 

. . . During this silence, Euroaquilo took opportunity to advance a brewing question.  “My Dusme, many are the dreams we have shared since the Great War, yet never have I found revealed your adventures of this great and terrible battle.  Now you speak to me concerning your experiences regarding the Day or Tears in such an off-handed way so as to dismiss it.  Please share with me the moments of your glory during that conflict.  Why hide it from me any longer?”

Darla’s jaw stiffened and face soured.  At length, she relented.  “To you I will speak of this matter, but you must not tell another soul for its pain is too deep for my ears to hear it repeated.  Until the healing day, it must remain secret.”
Euroaquilo promised he would keep it so.

Darla slumped as if in remorse, tears welling up in her eyes.  Resigned to her fate, she began her account.

“My platoon had been together for just over a year, I being its senior officer.  We had already participated in six major engagements up to that time, having lost eighty percent of our original complement and, even with replacements, were currently down to only seventeen troopers reporting for duty.  Our acting company commander, First Leftenant Ricteer, had ordered us dug in above Mordem Heights, which we held from spring to mid-summer.  The constant soaking rains and lack of sanitary conditions were making us all sick.  By early summer we were calling ourselves the ‘mudpuppies’ because of how badly we stunk and our deplorable living conditions we called ‘home’.”

“When High Command asked for volunteers to man transports for a gathering invasion fleet, I offered up the ‘mudpuppies’ seeing we should all die soon if we remained in those filthy trenches much longer.  We shipped aboard some wreck of an ore freighter converted into a transport… I don’t even recall its name… our job being to support the crew and maintain the safety of the ship.  It was little better than what we left behind…  Not really.  We had hot food, warm showers, and dry bunks to sleep in, and our duties weren’t overbearing, and we had a good ship’s captain.  In short order, we’d settled into keeping things safe for the six hundred men and women of the Eleventh Infantry Battalion, they suffering far worse from their overcrowded living conditions.”

“Twelve days out, we were joined up by six other transports and their support ships and were only hours away from the Commodore CythereaNoah’ha’s Third Teleohodos Battle group.  The captain had just heaved off the lines from a supply ship and had called down my fire crew when all hell broke loose.  Several squadrons of enemy fighters and heavies slammed into us without warning.  We were sitting ducks, eight lightly armed transports, a half dozen merchantmen, and all defended by two cutters, an ancient barq, and a handful of antique fighters, facing over thirty frontline enemy attackers.”

“Our fire station was aft the main hold, near the stern.  After refusing stays on the refilled canisters of thallium oxysulfide, my crew of nine departed, leaving the remainder of the stowage work for the incoming fire crew.  Following the captain’s shipboard combat zone protocol, we remained suited up and on internal life support systems until we were safely retired from the fuel storage compartments.  It’s a good thing we did.”

“We had only just entered the second deck safety locker, in process of closing the lower hatch, when exploding torpedoes ignited the thallium oxysulfide, creating a massive firestorm that engulfed the hold, incinerating everyone below and aft of us.  The ship’s energy systems couldn’t take the strain, rupturing our shields and buckling the first deck, which tore everything on that level asunder.  Corporal JasmiKusbi and Private SoshieZulita were instantly sucked out through the hatch, while the rest of us were slammed about like rag dolls in a whirlwind until the hatch fully sealed.  Had the hatch remained open one more second, none of us would have survived.”

“Things happened so fast.  The floor of our locker buckled, twisting its walls up something dreadful, but somehow it held long enough for us to escape through an emergency hatch into the boson’s pantry and out through the officers’ mess.  We were very fortunate because our fire suits were not only self-contained, but made of much tougher material than ordinary suits, being designed for harsh duty.  Those suits saved us that day.  I later heard that our platoon sergeant, LeviaBritt, was cast to the skies when the ship blew apart, being rescued several hours later by search scullers.”

Darla’s mind drifted into private thoughts, she staring off into space as if reliving some particular moment in her life.  When she realized what had happened, she tried to make excuse.  Euroaquilo nodded politely, acting as though he had not noticed.  He then commented about how warm the room was getting while handing her a kerchief to wipe her sweating forehead.

Thanking him, she then went on.  “As we stumbled along the debris-filled companionway, searching for a way to reach the upper levels, we heard the cries and screams of the trapped, injured and dying, and also the shouts of others trying to escape or assist those in need.  There was nothing we could do to assist, what with the numerous fires breaking out and filling the passageway with noxious smoke, and the terrified soldiers packing the narrow walkway.  My current duty was to save my fire crew, I realizing that the entire second deck could collapse at any moment, sending us all into the bitter cold of deep space.”

“With only the flashing of emergency lights to see by and the deafening bleating of alarms in our ears, we found it very hard to locate our escape from the second deck, which was rapidly tearing apart.  We were moving forward along the main passageway, expecting at any moment to be crushed by collapsing bulkheads, or swept from the ship through a buckling deck.  To our left we could hear the constant tearing and screeching of metal as deck plates and compartments gave way to the ever-hungry vacuum of space.”

“At length, we took a narrow passage that went to the right, I recalling it led to an emergency hatch that went to the third deck.  Finding and opening the hatch, we assisted two dozen or so others who’d followed us up to the third level.  Being the last one up, I secured the hatch, fearing we would lose the seals on the second deck at any moment.  My heart ached to think of my brothers and sisters trapped below, but could only hope they might find another way of escape.”

“Exiting a tiny containment chamber, we found ourselves on the shuttle bridge.  Already it was so packed with people, it was nearly impossible to move.  Everything was so rushed at the moment, my mind racing with my duties to my fire crew and the need to locate the others in my platoon, so much so that I ignored the people around me as best I could, only reflecting on those events in the lonely hours while awaiting my rescue.  To this day the guilt haunts me, for what I witnessed there makes me feel that much more the miscreant and coward.”

Euroaquilo attempted to make excuse for Darla by calling attention to the fickle winds of war.

Darla would have none of it.  “I watched the real heroes that day…the crew of that tramp freighter fighting so hard to save lives.  The duty officers and other marines assisting the injured and confused, calming others in a panic, and… and sacrificing everything so someone else could hope for a chance to live.”

“A midshipman feverishly worked to help load one of the shuttles, she clothed only her officer’s kepi.  Another sailor surrendered up his oxygen suit to an injured soldier before assisting her into a shuttle.  There was no panic, the officers in charge refusing to permit that.  No.  While I scrambled about to find escape, those brave warriors stood their stations, saving lives.  I doubt few of them ever made it away alive… and yet how many of my comrades owe their lives to them?”

“Give me a minute, please...”  Darla excused herself and walked toward the back of the bridge and past the elevator.

Euroaquilo believed he heard quiet sobs, but remained where he sat, waiting upon Darla’s privacy.  Eventually the woman returned, sitting again, but remained silent for some time.  Finally, through reddened eyes, she looked into Euroaquilo’s.

“I could not locate any of my other platoon members, so I attempted to get my fire crew queued up to board the shuttles.  The lines were very long.  It was decided that my 2nd Duty Officer, Corporal AsteiosAllotrios, and I would go up to the fourth deck to search for our remaining platoon members and, if unsuccessful, make our attempted escape via one of the several tethered craft riding piggyback on the ship’s hull.”

“With the elevators and all the main portals secured, we made our way aft to where the shuttle bay bulkhead separated the bay from the ready chambers, which were still intact.  There we found an escape ladder that went up through an emergency hatch that remained operable.  We scurried up the ladder as best we could, what with the bulky fire suits and extra life support tanks we were still carrying.  Asteios spun the mechanical locking system release, pushed hard open the hatch, and proceed to struggle through the tight opening, I helping by giving her a gentle shove up.”

“Asteios was just halfway through the opening when another explosion racked the doomed ship.  The hatch triggered automatically to close, slamming down a smashing blow on Asteios’ back.  I heard her scream of agony in my headset before she passed out.  Then everything went crazy.”

“The shuttle bay was still holding, as well as the chamber above us, but the power died, leaving us in almost total darkness.  Then the gravity machines failed, at first intermittently, which was deadly dangerous.  I heard the cries of those injured and dying when some crashed back to the floor or were crushed by falling objects.  How I remained on the ladder, I cannot recall.”

“Finally, the gravity machines failed completely.  Fortunately, the red flashing firelights activated, helping us see a little bit.  In that eerie, pulsing world of mayhem, I somehow managed to push open the hatch, freeing my unconscious companion - an easier thing to do without the gravity systems working.  My biggest fear during this time was that those machines might start up again, sending me plummeting into the living morass below.  It was a struggle, but I managed to seal the hatch while holding firm to Asteios’ suit, something that, I believe, saved many lives, seeing what soon happened to that fourth deck compartment.”

“The area we entered was called the ‘Aft Ready Transfer Station’, one of the ship’s several docking bays with access hatches to tethered shuttles riding piggyback on the transport.  It was a ghastly sight to behold.  An earlier firestorm had ravaged the place, killing anyone in this area at the time.  The only living souls on that deck were recent arrivals like us.  Seeing the situation, I decided to attempt our escape by way of one of the tethered crafts, hoping there might still be one able to give us safe passage from the ship’s coming doom.”

“Searching the destruction, I found that most of the exit hatches were lighted up red, or flashing red, which indicated empty tethers or ruined shuttles.  The ones where I saw no lights at all I never attempted, not knowing what might be there.  My heart sank, I feeling that we were come to our destruction.  Then, just about the time I was beginning to surrender our fate, I spotted a green glint out of the corner of my eye.  Holding my duty officer snuggly by her harness, I pushed off for the light, only to come crashing down to the tortured deck some feet away because the gravity machines began working again.”

“Having twisted my ankle in that fall made it very difficult for me, but thankfully the gravity machine was not operating at full power.  I managed to hobble my way through the tangle and up the twelve-foot climb to that shining green ray of hope above us.  After what seemed an eternity, I was up the ladder, with a semiconscious Asteios tied off to my fire line lying on the deck down below.  Hesitantly, I pushed the release button, fearing there was no rescue on the other side of the hatch, only to be sucked into the black cold of empty space.”

“But no!  There was rescue…what, at the moment, I could not tell.  About four feet away was another closed hatch that opened into an escape craft, its safety light, too, was still green.  Crawling into the connecting tube, I hit the switch and the most pleasant sound of servos met my ears, revealing the cockpit of an old T-4 fighter.  It only took a minute or so, but it seemed like hours, after I had crawled into the tiny ship and managed to pull Asteios up to safety.”

“Asteios’ feet had just cleared the hatch when I felt a terrible rumble and heard a roar and then someone crying for help.  I looked down the connecting tube in time to see a hand reaching up for help through boiling smoke.  An instant later all was quiet, the entrance hatch having slid shut, its sensors automatically closing us off from the destruction below.”

“There was no time to think about the fate of that poor soul who was so close to escape.  I frantically worked removing Asteios’ life-support tanks and firefighting gear so I could secure her in the fore navigator’s seat.  I also had to remove my helmet and extra gear because of the tight spaces there.  She groaned so, in pain, as I secured the harness over her shoulders.  I knew I was torturing her, but… there was nothing else for it.”

“I was almost finished, leaning back, when I was startled by a sudden thud! On the fighter’s canopy, next to my head.  I glanced up, almost falling over with shock.  For just an instant of time, I stared into frozen eyes that were blankly staring back at me.  My mind can still see it as clearly now as I saw it then…the most beautiful of white marble statues looked in serenely upon me, it smiling so carefree.  It was carved so flawlessly perfect in every detail, the work of a master carver.  Then it was gone, my mind having not been able to comprehend that it was not a statue, but a once living, breathing woman creature with the same hopes, loves, and desires I possessed.”

Darla looked Euroaquilo in the eyes.  “She must have been already dead when cast into those icy seas, for the death that awaits those thrown into a vacuum alive is often much more gruesome.”

Euroaquilo only nodded in agreement.

Darla continued, she fidgeting with her fingers.  “Though the corpse quickly passed by, it was instantly replaced with the most horrific and macabre of scenes I ever witnessed.  Many are the fields of slaughter I have stood upon, but nothing ever to compare to that hour, that place, that horror.  My demon cannot conjure up a more horrific nightmare than what appeared before me in that hour.”

“Debris of every description continued to erupt from the dying troopship.  Fiery smoke filled with litter, machines, flotsam and jetsam, and…yes, bodies, dozens upon dozens being thrown from the monster’s belly, whole and in pieces.  The men and women on that ship were being consumed by the ever hungry emptiness of space.  At times I would see people, alive, being flung from some newly erupted hole in the beast, they thrashing about only seconds before silently drifting away, frozen forever in their last gasp for life.”

“There were a few shuttles detaching from the ship, getting away safe for the moment.  But there were other shuttles, still secured to the hull, or held loosely by some tether lines that never moved, their passengers eternally waiting rescue.  One, less than ten yards from my fighter, drifted free of its mooring though it was still attached by guy wires to the hull.  It lazily rotated round and round, the gaping holes in its sides revealing the fruitage of the slaughter, dozens of more names to be written in the Silent Tombs.  And this nightmarish vision was but one of so many that overwhelmed my senses.  As if in very slow motion, I was watching the end of the world… one person at a time.”

She hung her head in remorse.  “And there was nothing I could but watch it dissolve around me...”

Euroaquilo started to offer some comforting words.

Darla’s head snapped up with tear-filled, angry eyes staring into his.  “You shall not interrupt me or, for a certainty, I will refuse you this tale!  My heart is already overwhelmed to the point of breaking.  My words, my way, or the struggle will be too great for me to relive with my speech.  Better it is that I should have died that day.  Then, for absolution I would not have begged these many years.”

Nodding with understanding, Euroaquilo remained silent.  He knew Darla was guilty of no sin requiring absolution, but he understood quite well the remorse and guilt that often floods a warrior’s heart when the winds of war allow that person life while it rips it away from so many others.  Only now did he begin to understand why this woman never shared these dreams with him.  If only recalling events by speech were ruining her so, how could she have survived the trauma that a dream share would produce?

The rage over her own guilt did not diminish in her eyes, or the self-loathing in her angry tone, as she went into a rant.  “You think me innocent?  Well I damn well am not innocent!  I did nothing!  Nothing!  Here I sat, in a most fearsome fighting craft, one like I had flown countless sorties in, and I could not gather my wits to leave off the panic of securing my rescue and escape.  Oh, I the coward, standing the breach with power unimagined, and I could not think to use it for other than a pardon from death.  I am so ashamed...”

She broke down crying, releasing pent-up energies that had built up over these many years.  Euroaquilo did nothing, keeping his promise, he fully understanding that ‘upon every soldier must the night watch fall’.  Alone, the picket must stand the post, on to death or the morning light… It is the battle each sentinel must undertake.

Gradually the tears subsided until, after one final whimper, Darla continued.  “I tell you… many were the soldiers that day who kept their wits about them.  If it hadn’t been for the insane actions of those brave warriors, I doubt anyone would have lived to tell the tale of that day.”

“The gun crews on that transport never left their stations to make an escape.  As the madness unfolded around me, I saw the fiery spray of red, blue, and green tracers lighting up the blackness, those gun turrets ever swinging back and forth to pour iron and death upon the enemy.  They stood their posts to the end, dying with their fingers frozen on the triggers.”

“And our fighters…! Those heroic pilots fought with a madness few have ever witnessed.  Many of the scrap heaps they flew were relics when we charged Memphis’ gates during the Third Megiddo War, but in the hands of those warriors they were first-rate killing machines.  Why, sometimes one fighter would take on five or six of the enemy’s best, breaking up one attack after another.”

“One fighter blasted past, its guns all ablaze, it just clearing the transport’s hull.  I watched amazed, seeing the pilot paying no heed to the fire and smoke belching out of the gaping holes rented in it.  Others I saw took on the heavies, hurtling themselves against the overwhelming onslaught with careless abandon.  They dove like hornets upon evil intruders, holding back the unleashing of their ordnance until right on top of the enemy.  And when their guns went empty, some made their own fighters ‘missiles of destruction’, turning those heavies into cauldrons of flaming death.”

“The troop ship was lazily spinning larboard, round and round, providing me a panoramic view of this world of chaos.  Slowly, like a full moon rising over the hills, I witnessed a sight my eyes could not believe.  In the distance, I could see two cutters circling three of the troop transports, their defensive fire keeping many of the attackers at bay.  One of them, I believe it was named the ‘Cranberry’… I recall that because it was moored alongside our transport before our departure…”

“The cutter was an old squat thing, a converted collier possibly from before the Three Hundred Years War.  Anyway, when it came around and turned hard to starboard, I saw that everything in front of the fore bulkhead was a twisted jumble of wreckage, with similar destruction on the upper decks all the way back past the captain’s bridge, the outer hull being completely blown away over the communications and battle bridges.”

“The Cranberry was slowly dissolving into nothing, just like our troop ship, but it was still heavy into the fight.  Somehow, the remaining crew managed to maneuver that ship, keeping it between the enemy and the transports.  All the while, the gun crews heated up the sky with their cannons and torpedoes.  I never knew what became of that gallant ship and its brave crew.  The annals from the Day of Tears doesn’t even list the Cranberry on its roster… nor does it mention this horrific little battle.”

Darla’s words came sharp and bitter.  “I watched a sky full of heroes that day.  They fought with abandon, not to save their own asses, but to save the helpless and weak!  No battle flags waved them forward.  No glorious words to assuage troubled hearts.  They were the leaders, the wonderful throng who stood the line without orders, defending this Empire… if it deserves defending.  Their names are forgotten, not worthy of the Council’s attention, worthless little people who did only what they were supposed to do, nothing more, nothing less.  Why… isn’t that what they signed on to do, anyway?”

(Author’s Note: The Cranberry survived the battle Darla witnessed, but was abandoned because of extensive damage.  Of the seventy officers and crew, thirty-two were lost, another twenty-one wounded.  Salvage crews eventually took the ship in tow, delivering it to the DowHardy Navy Depot, on Stargaton.  There it languished in the salvage yards until broken up for scrap in the days just before the King’s War… See The Slaughterhouse Chronicles, pp. 892-4, Vol. II.)

Darla sighed long and sad.  She became quiet and morose to the point that Euroaquilo believed she had finished with her account.

She had not.

Looking across the bridge, through the window at the lashing rain, she continued.  “I finally came to my wits and released the securing pins locking the fighter to the transport’s mooring station.  We were just floating free, me about to charge the engines, when two enemy fighters swept over the ship.  One opened fire on us, six tiny red tracers blurring across my vision.  The fighters blasted past, leaving us and not returning.  Whether we were considered a valueless target, or they were out of ordnance, I don’t know, but the damage done was sufficient to be devastating.”

“Computer systems, communications, hydraulics, electrics, the main thrusters, even life support systems, were damaged or destroyed.  There we were, tethered by a single line, unable to escape certain death should the giant holding us fast decide to shudder in fear or erupt in anger.  And then smoke began seeping up from the bomb bay compartment into the cockpit.  I needed to do something, and it needed to be done fast.”

“I rummaged through my firefighter’s gear, finding a Plesso Wrench.  I took its claw end to rip loose the pilot’s power control panel, and then used its side cutters to snip the lead wires going to the computer.  After stripping the insulation, I managed to short out the security system, releasing us from the tether line.  Then I took to jumping wires to ignite the engines, which didn’t happen.  When I was about at my wits end, I finally located the main switch wires for the vertical lift retro-rockets.”

“Touching those leads together set all four of the rockets ablaze, sending us cart-wheeling away from the troopship.  Fortunately, it was away and not toward, because I couldn’t shut the rockets down.  It took me forever to jimmy the retro-switches before I gained enough control to stabilize the fighter, much of the wiring harness having melted when I touched those leads together, I having been forced to bypass the fuses in my hurry.  By the time I got the retro-power under control, we were hundreds of miles from the fleet, drifting alone in the stark emptiness.”

“While I was still struggling with the controls, about four miles or so from the transport, there was this blinding orange fireball that lit up the cockpit.  Looking up, I saw the fore and aft ends of my troop transport tumble off into space, leaving a glowing white cloud of burning debris where the ship had once been.  It’s funny, as I think about it.  I was working so frantically to get that old T-4 under control, I gave that event little notice until now.”

“Sometime after the Armistice, I was visited in the convalescent hospital by Corporal SaleenHavson, the platoon’s clerk and my bunkmate.  The corporal was part of my fire crew, escaping on the last shuttle to make it out before the troopship exploded.”

Darla hung her head in remorse, speaking in little more than a whisper.  “Saleen was killed by Stasis Pirates less than two months ago.”

She then wiped a tear from her eye and cleared her throat.  “Anyway… Saleen filled me in on the fate of that ship.”

“The gallant crew saved nearly three-fourths of the troops aboard the ship, losing over half of their own doing so.  They surrendered up their lives to save over four hundred others.  Of my platoon… everyone other than the fire crew did not survive the initial attack… their barracks being one deck above the main boiler, which blew up when the fuel storage hold was destroyed.  Of my fire crew… only four, including me, survived to tell of that event, Saleen being the only member to survive totally unscathed that day.”

“Two of my crew, Privates TeleoZugos and DeuroHorkos gave their fire suits to some injured comrades and remained behind to assist the ship’s company.  With the death of Saleen, Sergeant LeviaBritt and I are the sole remaining survivors from the Mudpuppy Platoon, and Levia was so badly damaged later at the Battle at Memphis that she cannot recall her own name.  I visit her at the High Banks Sanatorium, up north of here, whenever I can get the chance.  I can tell by the look in her eyes that she recognizes me.  I think it lifts her spirits when I come.”

Darla groaned as she stood, her legs aching from sitting too long.  She made her way back to the elevator, leaning over the rail to view the sights below.  The DusmeAstron was equipped with multi-leaf safety hatches on each deck so that, spreading out like flower petals, the hatches would close off the elevator opening and seal the separate floors of the ship up tight.  When opened, like it was now, the exposed parts of the hatch wings pulsed green with hundreds of tiny lights.  When the lights began flashing red, it was a warning to stand clear the elevator shaft.

Euroaquilo watched Darla from his officer’s chair.  She was always so beautiful in form and comeliness, so concerned about how well kept she appeared.  Yet today, the woman looked old, aged like the mountains, haggard.  The long wars had not been nice to her, she having fought in nearly all of them.  How many of her lovers and companions’ names were written now on the Silent Tombs?  He pondered.  She had lost so much, given so much, taken so much.  Could her frail body continue to weather the persistent storms hurled against her?  He shuddered to think of his visions and the coming Prisoner Exchange.  Would that day be her ‘Armageddon’?  Would she survive to tell of its passing?

In time, Darla returned to her chair.  Staring out the distant portal, she noticed that although the driving winds were diminished, the rains still ruled the sky.  Looking into folded hands, she continued her account.

“By the time I got control of the retrorockets, we were alone in the galaxy.  All I knew was that we were somewhere in the Oreion Shelf Region, a most unhealthy place to be.  This was still very much enemy-held territory, and was a well-known haunt of the Stasis Pirates.  But we did have patrols in the area, and a few military encampments scattered about the star systems.  There were also some neutral colonies within range where rescue might be afforded.  Still, even that was a reach.  I needed to find help soon or there would no worry about who found us. Asteios and I would only be a couple of frozen castaways drifting through a cosmic wonderland of an eternal evening.”

“The smoke and toxic fumes were gathering in force.  If it hadn’t been for the chemical filter canisters on our fire suits, I doubt we could have survived.  I locked Asteios’ helmet on, she crying out in pain at my slightest touch.  When I explained to her what I was doing, she begged me to let her die.  I could not.”

“I figured we had ten good hours of clean air from those filters…longer if we conserved our energy.  I foolishly attempted to do without my canister, thinking it better to save it for Asteios, if need be.  After I puked twice, almost passing out the second time, I had no choice but to use the apparatus.  My radio was broken in my helmet, so communication was impossible.  I have no idea the suffering Asteios went through.  I was heartbroken that I couldn’t even speak consolingly to her.  At least she was staying alive.”

“I am a child of this wicked age and have few of the witching powers of my older siblings.  Still, I attempted to focus in on the energy of the universe around me.  It was so difficult, what with my growing fatigue and my ever-aching ankle.  I drifted in and out of sleep continually.  It was during one of my waking times, when I was adjusting the retro-thrust that I realized I wasn’t alone in that wilderness.”

Darla smiled.  “As I slowly manipulated the thrusters, ever so slightly changing our course, I began to notice a quiet tune playing in the back of my head.  The more I altered course, the louder the tune played.  I discovered that if I stayed on that course, the music would play hauntingly loud and clear, it diminishing when I veered from it.  It was the same music that has always been with me, my companion when the world around me is going to hell, when all hope is lost, when nothing is going right.  That little tune will start playing, guiding me down a safe path, if I should make sure to listen to it.  I did this day.”

“I was so tired… Every bone in my body ached from the stress of the day and my lungs burned from breathing so much poisoned air.  I finally fell into a silent stupor, having no idea how long I slept.  I awoke to sudden quiet.  No music.  I began to panic until looking out the canopy.  There, much to my surprise and relief, I saw a beautiful blue-green planet.”
She looked at Euroaquilo, wondering aloud.  “I lost track of time, I know, but after I was rescued they told me the name and location of that star system.  There is no way that broken T-4 managed that distance in only ten hours.  Even with full thrusters and hard running, it was a good day’s journey from where our troopship was attacked.”

“Anyway, trusting to the fact that the music had delivered us here, I prepared to attempt a landing on the planet.  I worked my way forward to Asteios, opening her helmet long enough to communicate my intentions.  She was groggy, offering little more than a nod and a weak smile.”

“I had to close her helmet because of the toxic air, but when I strapped her into the seat, oh, the pain she must have endured, me twisting her broken back the way I did.  I cried out to Mother, tears streaming down my face to let me, please, take Asteios’ pain and carry it for her.  I believed Asteios was dying, her injuries more severe than I’d realized.  I wanted so badly for my companion to pass away in peace, dreaming of happier times and more pleasant places.”

With tormented eyes, Darla lamented.  “There are times when I have wished that death take me.  This was one of those times.  You know, the devil takes his own, but I guess nobody finds me desirable...”  She broke into a little rhyme.

“Heaven and Hell both reject this waif.

So she wanders the world on a midnight broom,
Seeking solace with the wolves and snakes.

Ever, ever onward goes the wayward child.
Chasing Death as it flees her wiles.

Oh, my dear love, why do you run from me,
When in your sweet arms is where I should be?

So sings the sailor lost on desperate seas.
With all hope gone but the breath she breathes.”

A sad smile crept across her face.  “That Jebbson fellow gifted me with that tale.  Said he made it up on night when the schooner he was on was taking water and everyone thought they’d all drown.  Jebbson said an old Indian medicine man told him that ‘if you seek death, it will flee you’.  So he made up that little poem and shouted it out to the storm.  Well, he and the ship survived the tempest.  After that, he would sing that little ditty when Death walked with him, for he said that Death is like a flirtatious lover who ever seeks to catch but never be caught.”

“I changed the words a little, but… well… I don’t know why I thought of it just now.  That Jebbson is a strange fellow.  He can get into your head – deep, I mean - like he knows who you are and what you’re about without you ever saying a word to him.  I like him a lot.”

Euroaquilo nodded.  “He’s a good man.  He’s a lot like you.  Likes a good fight and wants to see it through to the end.  He’s a scrapper, can stir the pot with the Council.  Doesn’t make a lot of friends there, doesn’t care to.  If I was Death, I’d be afraid of him, too...”

Darla smiled, nodding.  She then shook her head as if to clear it of these and other distractions.  She planted her hands on her knees, leaning forward a bit.  “Let me get on with it.”

“As you know, and I learned that day, the T-4 is a stout ship, designed back in the days when the welfare of the pilot was more important than the ship’s.  Its wings are massive enough to permit a dead stick landing if need be, and for us it was need be.  With retrorocket propulsion, we would be able to enter the planet’s atmosphere without overheating.  Then, with the fighter’s generous wingspan, I should have time to search out a reasonable landing place.”

“There were many worries that crossed my mind in the fateful moments before making the final maneuvers into descent.  I had one shot at this.  There could be no turning back.  So some questions:  ‘Would I find ‘friendlies’?  Was there truly breathable air down there?  Not knowing the damage to the ship, would it hold together after entering the planet’s heavy atmosphere?’ ”

“Some gauges still worked, like altitude and air speed, but few others.  I had already chosen the landing location in the northern latitude, but close enough to the equator to offer some seasonal warmth.  Visuals looked good, low mountains with broad valleys that, hopefully, offered several safe landing spots.  I waited for my descent window and then committed us to whatever the fates offered us down below.”

“The retrorockets held long enough to get us through the most dangerous part of the entry.  Much to my joy, the batteries maintained a strong charge all the way down, allowing me reasonable flight control over the air wing.  My calculations were quite adequate, bringing us down on deck at a perfect altitude and slow enough descent to study the general terrain.  I saw no signs of civilization, no cities, communication towers, power dams, nothing… at least yet...”

“Narrowing my search to just north of a line of rocky outcroppings, I swept down in a wide arching circle and lined up at what looked to be a broad valley ideal for my purpose.  Well, I guess that others also found that valley to be the ideal for similar reasons.”

“I’d dropped in real low, hiding myself from possible hostile eyes.  But that trick had also blinded me to my landing spot because of several high hills to my immediate north.  Passing just south and west of a tall rocky bluff, I lined up on my landing zone, nosed down a little and set up a gliding trajectory for the location I’d decided on to land.  About six miles out, I noticed some strange shapes hidden among the scattered giant conifers up ahead.  At just over two miles, I recognized those shapes to be camouflaged fighters and buildings.  I’d chosen to drop in on an enemy encampment!”

“I know I screamed in panic and frustration.  I don’t remember it, but I know I did, because I felt my heart rip right out of my chest, I was so terrified.  ‘Get away!  Get away!  Get away!’  I remember me shouting those words to myself over and over.  I almost ripped that old joystick right out of its socket to turn away.  Yanking the nose up and rolling that T-4 over, I gained enough altitude to clear those same bluffs and make my escape south.”

“We had been drifting straight in toward the enemy’s camp, apparently on their same flight path.  They took no notice until I banked hard and retreated the scene.  It would only be a matter of time before they’d scramble their fighters and come after us.  Still, I guess they’d believe we were skedaddling, not thinking we were coming in for a crash landing. And we were going to crash, for sure.”

“The question was, ‘how far could we get away before it happened?’  As I hurried south, I hit my retros again, hoping there might be something left in them.  There was - about a four second burst, enough to get us another eight or ten miles away.  The terrain was also dropping, maybe several hundred feet, but it looked real ugly.  We’d tear ourselves apart if some better landing sight didn’t appear soon.  By now I was flying the valley, the hills above us on either side.  Seeing nothing but death approaching, I chose to follow a narrow canyon that ran east between two tall buttes, and prepared myself for a hard landing.”

“After turning hard to port and descending into the canyon, I noticed that up ahead was a tiny patch of gray and green several hundred feet long and filled with pebbles and sticks.  I dropped the flaps and lifted the nose to stall out.  I don’t remember the rest of the ride.  I just remember holding back on that stick with all my might, and then everything going black.”

“Things got a little fuzzy after that.  I woke to the stink of smoke, not much, but a real bad noxious stink.  It was then I realized my helmet was missing.  How or when it came off, I’ve no idea.  My fear of dying from the poisonous air was quickly assuaged.  The cockpit was smashed all to hell, with the canopy twisted beyond recognition, its glass shattered to the winds.  There wasn’t enough left of that old T-4 to know it had ever been an interstellar fighter.”

“The clearing I landed in was really a volcanic wash filled with boulders and broken trees.  The ship piled into that field at over a hundred miles an hour, ripping itself to pieces as it skidded through that jumbled mess.  Little was left of that machine other than the cockpit, upper hull, and part of the tail section.  At least the fighter had cut a straight path along the skid way, not flipping, it finally slamming to a stop against some ancient giant tree trunk.”

“It was eerily quiet, other than a little hissing of a steam vent and the popping sounds from tiny electrical fires.  I figure my fuel dump before we started our descent saved us from a fiery inferno that would have surely enveloped us had the tanks not been emptied.  As it was, there was little to burn.  The fires died quickly.”

Darla blinked several times, shaking her head as her heart returned to those fitful hours.  “I was waked by a burning sensation in my leg.  Also, the fingers on my left hand were crushed and broken, and blood ran down my face, half blinding me.   I was a mess!  Blinking away the blood, I saw that Asteios’ navigator’s seat was torn loose, pinning her between it and the control panel.  I bolted forward to help her, instantly falling back in screaming agony.”

“When I regained my senses, I checked to see what the matter was with my leg.  Shocked I was to find a barb of metal sticking three inches out from where my kneecap should have been.  It was then that I realized how close to death I’d come.  My pilot’s seat was skewed and twisted… but it had held… how I don’t know, what with the wreckage piled into it.  Our sudden stop into that tree must have broken all kinds of things loose behind me, driving the rear of the ship into the cockpit.  One jagged spear-like piece of metal punched its way through the lower panel of my seat and into the back of my leg, ruining my kneecap.”  Feeling with my hand, for I could not see the damage done to me, I discovered that my leg was skewered, the spike of the shaft sticking some three inches out the front of my knee.”

“’Oh, this is a sweet one you’ve done, fool.’ I said to myself.  What was I to do now?  My sister was possibly already dead, and I?  I was near to being little more than a trophy for the day’s hunt, my head the guest of honor at the night’s festivities, it garishly staring down from the pike at the end of the feasting table.  This was not good.  I must do something quickly.  I must get away, but how, what with my leg already being skewered upon a pike?”

“As our friend Jebbson has been heard to say, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures.’  Well, I was desperate.  The only way I was going to escape torture and certain death was to get unstuck.  The first attempt racked my body with such nauseating pain that I wretched into passing out.  When I came to, I was sweating profusely and breathing hard.  I began to panic, feeling there was no escape.”

“I fought down the panic, reasoning that any pain I might inflict upon myself would be far less than what the enemy would do when they found me.  Pain was my friend for the moment.  Pain offered me freedom.  All I had to do was reach out and embrace it, seek it like you do the arms of your lover.  I gripped the front of my seat and with all my strength lunged forward.”

“Well…” Darla smiled, grimacing with the memory.  “It was no lover’s embrace...”  She admitted, “Having my belly ripped open at the Battle of Argototh was nowhere as cripplingly agonizing an experience.  Pain was no lover, but it did save me that day, freeing me from a certain, even more painful, death.”

“While the world spun around me, turning ever gray, I stumbled forward, falling over the wreckage to get to my sister.  I’m sure she was already dead, but I refused to accept it.  ‘I’ll get us out!’  I screamed.  ‘Hang on!  Hang on!  We’ll get out of this!’  I then began slamming my shoulder into the cockpit side door to smash it open.”

“I have no memory of the following moments… or hours.  When I awoke, I found I was free of the fighter, a pilot’s pistol and my life support system beside me.  There, only feet away, Asteios lay, looking like she was resting, so peacefully resting.”

She shook her head.  “How I – we - got out of the fighter and down to the ground, I cannot imagine, and with all the emergency supplies scattered about, too.  There was food and water to last for a while, and whatever tools and equipment I might be able to haul away with me… us.  Yes, I refused to leave my sister behind to have her temple desecrated by those animals.  I cared not the cost to me.  It was all or nothing.  And that was that.”

“I believed it to be late in the day and possibly the season to be high summer.  The air was dry and dirty with dust, enough so that the sun was setting in an orange haze.  That explained why we were not yet discovered, and their possible notion that we had not crashed, but hightailed it away.  I was sure when they found no trace of our ship on their radar screens they would conclude we were hiding out somewhere, but maybe not so close as we were.  Still, it was only going to be a matter of time before search parties would come calling.”

“Rummaging through the emergency gear revealed a treasure trove of valuables.  The medical kit contained everything from gauze, bandages and painkillers to surgical equipment.  I soon discovered that the T-4 was captained by a ‘Major somebody or other’… the name I don’t recall.  It was in transport to Commodore CythereaNoah’ha’s flagship, the Cyrene, to be delivered to the major.”

“I tell you this because of how well stocked I found the fighter to be.  The major must have personally stowed those treasures aboard before departing with the fleet.  Well, whoever the person was, I’m grateful to ‘em.  Those supplies saved my life.”  She paused, quiet in thought.
Euroaquilo patiently waited.


(Author’s Note: I recently received a letter from NikaoEimi, who served as a liaison officer aboard the Cyrene during the Day of Tears battle.  He was pleased to inform me, after reading a transcript of this section of the book, that he believed he was the major mentioned by Darla in her account.  I quote a few of his words to me regarding the aforementioned T-4.

“…My fighter I had named ‘ChrimsonKnight’, was a relic assigned to me during the Three Hundred Years War, I obtaining it for my personal use after the war ended.  For most of the Great War, I served aboard various Navy ships as a staff officer, coordinating activities between the sub fleets, Special Forces, and the main carrier fleet.  I left the T-4 at my home base on Stargaton, feeling no need for it aboard the new carrier, Cyrene… that is until I was told about Operation Willow.  I immediately requested base to have the ChrimsonKnight transported to me as soon as may be. The manifest I received after the demise of the T-4 says that it was being shipped aboard the troop transport, Shallie.

“You may possibly find more information on that ship in the Archives De Loriet, at Tilgath, on Pilneser, the Navy’s Archival Museum for the Great War.”

From Adaya’s (Darla) description of events, I believe the Shallie was the troopship she sailed on and the fighter she took rescue in was my old T-4, the ChrimsonKnight.  If it is, I am proud to think that my old battle tub helped to rewrite our history by saving such a renowned hero and leader.”)


Darla sighed, returning to her account.  “I hurried as best I could in preparing to get away, not understanding why I’d not heard or seen any search craft.  Then I heard it, the muffled roar of distant wind, and then the hot, stifling air, hazy dust-filled sky.  There was a storm coming… a massive sand storm.  Now I grasped why no one was searching for me.  It didn’t make me feel better.  I had to git, which meant braving hurricane force winds, driving sands, and suffocating dust. No holing up for me.”

“It took me a little while before I was prepared to leave.  I modified my breathing apparatus to filter the air.  My helmet was intact and I borrowed Asteios’ left glove, seeing mine was destroyed.  She was so kind, offering no complaint.  Well, let’s see… oh, yes,  I took what few supplies as I could carry, tethered my sister up to my harness, and began the painful crawl south, down the canyon.”

“The storm was the worst I’ve ever been in.  I couldn’t see three feet at any time.  My directional finder kept me on a southern track, but my biggest fear was to crawl off a cliff into an abyss.  That’s how bad the storm was.”

“By morning of the third day, the storm was easing enough to prevent my traveling in the daylight.  I figured we were about two miles from the crash sight.  The canyon was now spread out into a rock-strewn valley about a quarter mile wide.  There were several overhangs, outcroppings, and a cave or two, making it easy to find some hidden shelter.  I holed up in a little tunnel cave made by a pile of jumbled rocks and waited for night to come.”

“This was the first real rest I’d had since leaving the wreck.  I heated some rations with a chemical heater, and risked the removal of my helmet and breathing the filthy air to enjoy eating, unencumbered, those delicious cooked morsels.  That was probably the longest day of my life, my not having a clue as to where I was or how to contact anyone, wondering where I was trying to escape to, and believing it was all useless, because I was going to die anyway.  It was only a matter of time.”

“Later in the day, after the heated red glow of a tortured sun made its arrival, I heard the sounds of machines coming down the valley.  They had discovered the wreck and were out in force searching for its crew.  For the remainder of the day, wheeled and tracked machines roared up and down the valley, and search craft flew overhead.  Fortunately for me, they did not realize the extent of my injuries.  I’m sure they expanded their search much further a-field, thinking the escapees were making time, hoofing it hard south.  Whatever the case, I saw no more search parties after that day.”

“Later that night, I pulled out and made my way further down the valley.  The hot winds picked up again, making things difficult, but it did cover our tracks from any pursuers.  Tracks?  I mean snaky, crawling marks.  I couldn’t walk, but was on my elbows and pushing with one knee, those painkillers numbing me up good.”

“I don’t know how far I made it that night and remember little of the ordeal.  I do recall sheltering in some rocks through most of the next day.  By now my water was almost gone.  I stopped eating in an attempt to retain as many fluids as possible.  Worst, I took the last of the painkillers that morning.  By afternoon, I was in such numbing agony that I doubt I cared if I lived or not.”

“I took up the escape again that night.  By next morning, I’d cast away my helmet, gloves, all my gear, only saving my pilot’s pistol to blow my brains out with if I got caught.  Of course, I still dragged my companion with me.  I refused to leave her behind.  Not now, not after all this!  We would die together if need be, but I would not leave her behind.  That day I didn’t even bother to hide.  I didn’t even care anymore.  Why, the pain was so great, I reached more than once for that pistol to end it right there.  But for some reason, each time I’d put it away, thinking better of it.”

“That’s really the last I remember of things other… other than one night.  One night, the winds were howling, blowing choking sand in every direction.  I was so thirsty, so thirsty.  And then I heard it… my tune.  It was clear and pleasant, so sweet, beautiful, but it wasn’t in my head.  Somewhere out in front of me, someone was playing my tune.  It sounded like a flute.  The hypnotizing spell that it cast over me urged me on, ever on until, suddenly, I found myself splashing in a wonderful pool of clear, cool water.”

“I drank and drank until I felt my innards would burst, and then I fell into a deep sleep and dreamed.”

Darla leaned forward, staring intently into Euroaquilo’s eyes.  “The most beautiful dream I’d ever dreamed!  I remember floating in a silent world of glowing spheres where all my long-lost lovers called out to me in loving chorus.  Why, even Asteios sang sweet songs to me.  I felt hands touch my face, voices telling me how beautiful I was, how much they loved me.  My heart ached with the joy of being in this wonderful world.  I wanted so much to stay.”

“And then I heard the music again, it playing loud and clear, but this time I discovered words in the hypnotic refrains.  ‘Come now, little one, we must leave.  For you, this journey does not end here.  No, not for you… not for you.’  Then I heard Asteios laughter, such joyful laughter.  When it faded away, the music began again, singing, ‘For her, child, for her, not you child, for her.’  I recall nothing more until waking to blinding lights boring into my tormented eyes.”

“I cried out in panic, fearing the worst. . . 

Please have fun and enjoy other posts, also please accept this blogger's repeated changes to this page, because of trying to share words beyond compare and taking time to make your reading right

Destiny's Road 1-0011-0021-0031-004, 1-0051-0061-0071-0081-009,
1-0211-022, 1-0231-024 & 1-025

Of Councils Great and Small 2-0262-0272-0282-0292-0302-031,
2-0432-0442-0452-0462-0472-0482-049 & 2-050

Legend's Heroes 3-0513-0523-0533-0543-0553-0563-0573-058,
3-0703-0713-0723-0733-074 & 3-075

Forges of Hell 4-0764-0774-0784-0794-0804-0814-0824-0834-084,
4-0964-0974-0984-099 & 4-100


  1. Highly descriptive article, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?

    Also visit my web blog-> Fail Compilation 2012 ()

    1. Yes, but what you're reading here as mentioned above is only a part of the first book in The Chronicles of Heaven's War, book two Burning Phoenix is to be blogged at when the editing is completed.

  2. My brother suggested I would possibly like this website. He was
    once totally right. This publish truly made my day.

    You can not believe just how so much time I had spent for this info!

    Look into my web site :: 123inkjets

    1. Sorry about the amount of time you spent searching, hopefully continual information will be as or more valuable for you.


Email- for private messages