Tuesday, 15 September 2015

I Believe

Sister Pilar watched the Dewiek while her companions argued between themselves. It was obvious that there was some hatred amongst the troops, it wasn't easy to have an outpost taken so quickly. It may not have been by the Dewiek, but she had no way of checking. Definately the Flagritz were involved, but weren't the Dewiek and the Flagritz allies? Was this just a ruse? She watched the hulking Dewiek and wondered why. The scent of the orange that he was eating with obvious relish was in her nostrils, it seemed to be a cloak that surrounded her, reminding her of days gone by at the Convent..... for a moment the memories closed over her and the arguments and pleading of her band were so many grains of sand on the breeze, her hand reached her throat and touched.....

She sat in a semi-circle with the other acolytes, listening to the stories that the Sister was giving to them. She remembered the day as if it was yesterday. Although the others considered her a dragon and a harsh disciplinarian she was always in awe of her, always listened, always remembered. That day, while she was talking to them about compassion and the martyrs of the True One she was eating an orange as well. The small knife she had working each piece as she told the tale, the way she would use the blade to emphasise points as she said them. That day she had openly wept at the teachings, something no other acolyte had done. They had laughed at her for it, until the Sister has scoulded them and sent them away in a howling fury. None of them had seen her so terrifying before. And yet when she sat down next to her, there was only kindess in her face.
'Pilar, my dear. You of all of them it seems have understood what I was trying to teach. I hope in your darkest hour you will remember that. It doesn't matter who, or why or where, always have compassion, always believe in yourself. I see something in you that I remember in myself, that I lost.'
She took her necklace off, it was one that we all talked about, the symbol of the True One that she had made herself. A piece of bone, scrimshawed and coated with a microscopic layer of silver.
'This is my rosiary, it came from a person I fought, who nearly killed me, but he let me live. Though we were both wounded severly, he was less so, and with a working hand he could have killed me. But instead, he stabilised me and left me where our brethren could find me. Three days later he was captured and executed. I risked excomunication in pleading for his life, and was punished more severely than you will ever know. Compassion for an alien was unheard of, they said. A thousand lashes over a hundred days. Through the will of the True One I survived. When I returned to my cell I found his skull fragments on my table, and a message from the Abbot. In defiance I took the largest piece and scrimshawed the piece with the most beautiful artwork of the True One I could muster. No one could destroy it after that. I have no daughter to pass it on to, so I give it to you. One day, I hope you will pass it on as well. Polish it well, look after it, and it will look after you.'

Pilar looked at the Dewiek and her hand squeezed her necklace. The scent of orange bringing tears to her eyes as she remembered the past. Slowly she turned and walked to her companions. The sergeant stood up and cast a dismissive wave at the warrior.
"What are we going to do about it? We do not give in to the demands of alien filth. We kill them."
"Sergeant Sergio, if you do not keep a civil tongue in your head I swear by all that is holy I will remove it."
He was shocked at her tone, quiet and cold and took a step back.
"You are going to agree with it?"
"Let me put it this way. If we stay out here, we are dead. If we fight him and die, we are dead. If we win I believe that his people will keep their word. And some of us may live."
"Sister, your talk is heretical! I would be within my right to kill you now and bury you beside him."
"Our outpost was overrun, we don't know how many survived, we dont know if the rest of the convoy was destroyed, we don't know if they reached Dune Cove and were destroyed there."
"We can get to high ground and try the radio...."
"We did.... there was nothing. We may be the only Brotherhood forces left on this planet. Even in this system. And if I am given a chance to save even some of our brethren I will take that chance. I would fight the devil himself to save your soul. I know your pain and anguish, I feel it more so. How many people lie dead, or captured? I don't know. I DON'T KNOW!"
The Dewiek looked up at the shout and shook his head, scratching at the sand which seemed to get everywhere.
"What I do know is we are alive. And we have been given a way out. Some of us will die, that is for sure, maybe all of us. But we will do this because it is the honourable thing to do, it is the right thing to do and because I believe....."
She pulled out her necklace and kissed the symbol of the True One scrimshawed onto the bone of an enemy who showed compassion, with effort she stopped herself from crying, just.
"Because I believe."
The Sergeant looked at her and lowered his weapon.
"Sister, we will all do as you say. Won't we?"
One by one the others, even the civilians agreed.
"Sister, please forgive my arrogance. I could only see through my rage. If you will lead us in a final prayer, we will be ready. And I would be honoured to be the first to fight."
Sistar Pilar reached over and placed her hand on his face and rested her forehead on his.
"The strength of the True One will be with us. It is in the hands of the True One if we fail or we succeed. Either way, I hope that our story will be retold. If not at one of our convents, then at the Halls of the Dewiek."

The Dewiek looked up as the woman walked over to him. He stood up and flexed and looked down at her.
"Your people have made a decision?"
"We have."
He could tell from the look on her face, a grim stoicism that they had accepted.
"There is a place near here that we can use, a natural arena."
"Give us a moment and we will follow you. Before we do, I have a question. What is your name?"
The Dewiek smiled at her.
"My name... is Gath."
"Gath. My name is Sister Pilar of the Blessed Order of the Little Sisters of Charity. If you do.... if we all fall, leave us here, but will you let the others of our Order know?"
"Yes, I will. If I die...."
"I will. I give you the word bond of my Order. We all will."
He looked down upon her and nodded, holding out his hand, his claws retracting slowly. They shook and looked each other in the eyes. They both understood.

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