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By the Horns (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 78 - By the Horns[]

Henderson Space Port
Port Sheridan, New Vallis
Taurian Concordat
February 12th, 3026

"What is this?" Edward asked as he stepped into the concourse to await the bus that would deliver him, Jon Kincaide, and a half-dozen bodyguards to the DropShip Black Bull.

Corey Calderon stood there, a broad smile on his face, along with Helena Vickers and Raphael Montoya, Tanis Verbet and Fionna Jamesen, Ardan Sortek and Erwin Tyrell.

"There is one final matter that we must take care of, young Edward," said Corey as he grinned—almost dementedly, Edward thought to himself.

"Thomas could not—as Protector—give you any aid or assistance when you choose to pay those ransoms. And because of his inaction, he fears that there are some within the Concordat will take as the beginnings of an estrangement between the two of you."

Edward frowned, and Corey shook his head. "They would be idiots to think that, but idiots we have in plenty!" He paused and smiled again. "But there is one—well, two—ways that Thomas can show them all just how wrong they are."

"Subaltern Edward Calderon, stand at attention!" Helena Vickers barked . . . and almost before he thought about it, Edward stood ramrod straight.

Corey nodded his approval and he motioned to one side; an aide by a door let in a small crew of camera-men and photographers who began recording the scene and taking photographs.

"Subaltern Edward Calderon," he said gravely, "it is my solemn duty to inform you that you are in violation of Article 37, Section Four of the Concordat Code of Military Justice in that you are out of uniform."

He paused and Edward thought to himself, what the hell?

"Due to your exemplary service before, during, and following the Battle of New Vallis in this year, let it posted throughout the Concordat the following: by order of Marshal of the Armies Brenda Calderon," Corey continued, "acting on the direction and with the approval of the Protector of the Taurian Concordat—Thomas Calderon— you are hereby appointed and commissioned at the rank of Brigadier in the Taurian Defense Force. All rights, privileges, duties, and responsibilities of that rank are now your solemn duty to uphold and honor in service to the Concordat and the people thereof."

Erwin Tyrell stepped forward and removed the Subaltern tabs from Edward's collar and then Helena took his place and pin the insignia of a Brigadier in their place.

The two stepped back and both saluted sharply, which Edward returned crisply.

"Congratulations, Brigadier Calderon!" Corey said, his smile nearly stretching from ear-to-ear. "Stand at ease, son." he ordered, and Edward relaxed.

"Unfortunately, we Taurians are a stubborn people and there might be some idiots out there who still think Thomas doesn't approve of you and your actions. Which is why he is taking this second step—Brigadier Edward Calderon, son of Thomas Calderon, please kneel."

Corey stepped to one side and Colonel the Baron Erwin Tyrell stepped forward, an aide pressing into his hand a sheathed sword . . . and Edward drew in a sharp intake of air in shock at the sight as he lowered himself down on his right knee.

"I, Erwin Tyrell, acting as a Nobleman of the Taurian Concordat, do hereby proclaim before God and Witnesses that Thomas Calderon—Protector of the Taurian Concordat, Defender of the Realm, Champion of the Faith—has directly and expressly commanded that I carry out my duties today as Baron Tyrell, Lord Erwin."

He paused and drew the sword from its sheath with a resounding ring.

"Edward of the House of Calderon, son of Thomas," he began. "Do you have Faith in God?"

"I do, Lord Erwin," Edward answered softly.

"Then I charge you to be brave in the face of your enemies," Erwin said solemnly as he tapped Edward on the right shoulder with the blade, "for as long as you have Faith in God Above, you shall never stand alone."

"Do you Serve the People of the Taurian Concordat?"

"I do, Lord Erwin."

"Then I charge you to Protect the Innocent, Defend the Weak, and Champion the Helpless," the Baron continued as he laid the edge of the blade against Edward's left shoulder, "for a True Servant puts his People above himself."

"Will you obey the Just, True, and Right commands of your sworn Lord, the Protector of the Taurian Concordat?"

"I will, Lord Erwin."

"Then I charge you to keep your Oath, to speak the Truth, and to stand in the presence of the Protector and to challenge him when he is not Just or True or Right," and he laid the blade on the crown of Edward's head, "trusting in God Above that he can be shown the Truth."

Erwin lifted the sword and he sheathed it. "Rise, Sir Edward Calderon, Knight of Taurus, the Hyades, and the Taurian Concordat. Rise a Noble, so named in honor of your service by Thomas Calderon, Protector of the Taurian Concordat."

And Edward did as the video recorders and cameras captured it all.

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