Sunday, 14 September 2014

The House of the Autumn Breeze - We All Have A Past

The heavy cruiser decelerated into the outer rings of the Borderlands system and waited, drifting under it's own momentum while it scanned the area. Trails of ships that had passed recently were still fresh but nothing was visible. Slowly, and with definite intent it turned it's stubby nose towards the a distant planet. Launch tubes cycled open at missiles were loaded, sensors were on full. Even from this distance the crew were tense.
"Captain, this is suicide. If they decide that they don't want us there they will destroy us without so much as a reason."
"Technically, we are allies. The FET and the BHD work together."
"The are fanatical bastards and I don't want to risk my ship!"
"Technically my ship, you work for me. If you don't like that, I can change it."
Carmilla D'Morenta looked up from the station she was sitting at and looked at the Captain of the cruiser. The captain was one of her friends, one of her Autumn Breeze girls, but that didn't make her stupid. There was truth in her words, there was always that risk.
"Believe me, I don't want to have this ship shot at, but we received the flight plans, the location of the colony, even details on how to get past the natives. Trust me, we'll be fine!"

Several hours later the ships alarms rang, waking Carmilla from her sleep. As she walked into the command deck she saw the reason through the bridge viewscreens. Dozens of large warships were in orbit, dozens more could be seen on scan. Space stations in orbit little more than orbital gun platforms tracked them. Sensors from at least three different factions scanned and analysed them. One by one they slowly passed.
"See, Captain. Nothing. Because we are allies and we are allowed here. Now, land at the co-ordinates given, but Captain, make sure everyone is armed."
"You don't trust the natives?"
"No, I don't. And I don't trust my fathers reasons for sending us down here either. So I'd like to survive."

There was no place to land so the ship simply crushed an area of the forest to make it's landing platform. One by one the ground party made it's way out of the ship and into the forest. They all checked their weapons and packs and Carmilla sauntered down the ramp and walked off. Although she couldn't see them she knew the locals were there. The sounds of the animals in the forest were loud usually, but here they were silent, as if being driven off by something.
"So what are we after here?"
"The back way into the colony. Should be over this rise. Father always liked to talk about this colony, said it was his favorite and he was sad to leave it."
"Yeah... Carm, I don't want to put a dampener on your day, but there is no colony here. That looks more like a resource dump."
She crested the rise and looked out. What was once a flourishing colony was now an overgrown ruin. Only a small area of the colony was still working, several rows of mines and factories churning out product while workers could be seen heading to the overgrown residential towers. It seemed someone was making a go of the place, unwilling to let it simply fade away. She turned back to the heavy forest and then sighed.
"We have a job to do, so lets do it."
It was the work of a few moments to locate the substation and open the door leading to a descending corridor. The sound of water dripping and little else could be heard. Torches were turned on and they walked in, scanning the walls and floor for any signs of security devices.
"Carm, are you sure we should be here? Trespassing on the Brotherhoods territory? There are rumors of what they do to people."
"Those are just rumors, we'll be fine....."
The corridor opened up into a great underground compound, all around the walls were decorated with the banners of an old Brotherhood House. Signs of fighting were visible all around, damaged warbots and scattered armor littered the floor. The walls were criss crossed in places with bullet and laser marks.
"No one has been here for a long time it looks like."
"I guess some things are best left hidden.... maybe there was a reason they left this place."
"Yeah.... I guess...."

"They never left, they were executed where they stood!"
The voice when it rang out caused the small party to fall into position, their weapons raised, eyes scanning to find the source. He spoke again, now walking out of the shadows by a darkened corridor, followed by heavily armed troops.
"You are trespassing. By the power invested in me I pronounce you all in violation of Brotherhood law and sentenced to summary execution. Do you have any last words?"
Carmilla followed the man, the monk approaching her, her weapon still raised.
"You dare point a weapon at me? Can you make your execution any more painful?"
"We can leave once we've come for what we need. There is no need for any violence."
The monk laughed.
"There is need, you are violating a sanctum that has been declared excommunicatis. Your presence here is enough to kill you all a thousand times over. Troops, take positions.... aim..."
"Stand down."
The words drifted across the chamber, soft yet full of command. A large monk in heavy purple robes walked into the room, flanked by the papal guard.
"Your eminence, you should not be here!"
"You tell me where I should go? You think I did not know of this woman's presence here? More that I should wonder why you are here?"
"Your eminence, it is written that that place was a sanctum of the De Vermis, one of the most heretical traitors ever to be excommunicated, we patrol here in case any of the taint returns."
The purple clad man walked towards Carmilla, his kindly face looking down at her, his hand gently pushing her weapon away from him.
"Your zealous nature does you proud, but this here is the daughter of one who was always loyal. And I had her sent here."
"But your eminence...."
"Leave us... or I will be forced to be... unpleasant."

The monk sat down on one of the piles of debris and looked at the group before him.
"Aaah please, my dear, if I wanted you dead you'd never have landed. The True one in his wisdom has sent you to me. And not without a little bit of guidance. In truth, my zealous companion was right, I should have you executed for trespassing."
"But.. you won't?"
"Oh good lord, no. I think it's far more likely that you will survive. You may even accept what I am going to offer you."
"A life in servitude to the Brotherhood? I don't think so. I never was one to be a slave."
"A slave? Is that what you think of us? You are the daughter of one of our darker members, a traitor and a heretic, a blasphemer and mass murderer."
"Are you talking about my Father?"
"Yes. And by my faith, you know I tell the truth."
"No. No! He was excommunicated, cast out!"
"Aaaah my dear. Are we incapable of sending out spies?"
"That's not possible, he was hunted down!"
"But never caught.... ever. That was his cover. And now, it is time for you to take his place."
"My father would have told me if he was still working for you. He would have told me!"

Her cries were more pleading than anything else. To be told, buy the enigmatic leader of the Brotherhood no less that her Father, far from being the cast out traitor she had believed, was still one of the faithful. And that she was being offered a position.
"Say I believed you for one minute. What post could you even offer me? There are too many who would remember and...."
"Remember what? You know how long ago we are talking. Time passes. People forget."
"Yes, but we all have a past."
"Yes we do, and yours have come back to bite you. It's simple, Carmilla D'Morenta, or should I say, Carmilla Porteus, you will join the Brotherhood, or I will have you, your family, your friends and everyone one you know executed."
She looked at him for a moment. The silence of the moment extended into minutes, then she laughed and lowered her self to her knees and bowed.
"Who am I to deny my family. The True One has always been watching me, I guess this is fate. I pledge myself to you, and my family once again to the service of the Brotherhood."
"Excellent, now rise, my young apprentice, you have much to learn and we have much work to do."
Carmilla rose, reaching up and tearing off the FET symbol from her shoulder and letting it fall to the ground. There was now a new beginning, and as she looked around and followed Algienon she smiled. Yes, we all have a past.

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