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Emergence (Concertverse) Chapter Cover

Emergence (Concertverse)
- Chapter 45
[]

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Those Whom the Gods Destroy[]


Patient Says Goodbye[]

Fort Defiance Medical Administration Building
Roslyn, Eastern Islay
Arcadia, Arcadia Royal March
Royal Federation
2nd March, 3143


Like most of the AFRF's departments, the Medical Department used its headquarters at Fort Defiance as main offices for its lead personnel. With his clearances and in light of the summons he'd received, Doctor John Albright easily strode through the existing security and into the offices of the Military Psychiatry Division. A yeoman brought him into the presence of Vice Admiral Sirtis, where he promptly saluted his superior, seated in her chair wearing a standard red duty uniform with black naval trim. She returned the salute. "Doctor, you sent a note about discussing the Hazen situation?"

"I did, Doctor, ma'am." He drew in a breath. "Firstly, has there been any progress in my proposal to fit her for prosthetics? She's trapped in bed and utterly crippled, and the lack of activity is a cause of significant psychological stress and discomfort." He said the words as he'd said them two dozen times these past four months.

"I'm sure it is, and I will repeat the request." Sirtis shook her head. "I suspect it will be 'considered' and quietly ignored. Your own reports of her past, and Miss Hazen's behavior, have convinced the rest of the Medical Department, particularly those responsible for hospital security, that she would be a danger to herself and others if provided any means of independent locomotion."

"So they would torture her instead." Albright shook his head. "It's wrong, Admiral. This is a violation of her rights."

"The Department feels it provides sufficient stimulation through her holovid access and the orderlies giving her tours of the Corey Hospital's garden and grounds. I will take the matter up again regardless, but don't expect much change," she warned. "For that matter, how have your sessions gone? You provide vital interaction for what remains of her mental health."

Albright chuckled bitterly at the words before shaking his head. "It's been quite a challenge for me," he admitted. "Especially since the material from Morges came through, and Malvina's unrepentant reaction."

"I would take that as further indication of her sociopathy, the lack of remorse is marked."

"It is." He swallowed. "I simply… do not know if we can ever understand what drives such a person. What creates this bizarre assemblage of traits. A sociopath shouldn't have the fondness and regret she feels for her dead sibko mate Aleks. Nor would she have treated the girl Cynthy as she did, where genuine affection seems to have crept in despite the otherwise abusive nature of her behavior. There's just so many contradictions."

"You find them in our line of work, Doctor." Sirtis patiently settled her hands on the desk. "My question, the salient question is, are you going to testify against her competency to stand trial?"

"I cannot, in good conscience, testify for it," Albright said. "I honestly do not think a trial will give anything but the most base sense of closure, especially with the likelihood she will be condemned. Her mental condition, her upbringing, all these factors tell me she was put on the path to becoming what she is, and I don't feel comfortable with declaring her competent. I'm still not convinced it is the just end."

Sirtis shook her head. "Doctor, I would like you to consider that you are mistaking a professional judgement for a personal one. You are deciding a trial would not be just, so you are refusing to acknowledge her competency."

Albright quietly pondered Sirtis' words. I can't deny it's possible, but all the same, it doesn't mean it is. "If you feel so, Admiral, then remove me from Hazen's care," he finally said. "That would be the appropriate choice."

"Don't think I haven't considered it." Sirtis warned. "It's clear to me that you've become overly fascinated with studying Malvina Hazen. Remember that at the end of the day, she is a monster, as you've admitted in your own words."

"She is, yes." he conceded, "but she is a crippled monster, without fangs or claws to harm any living being ever again. Executing her will not protect a single soul, it will only be vengeance."

"I can't agree with that," Sirtis said. "Not wholly. No, she can't cause harm herself, but she has caused so much harm already, killed so many, that to let her live untried is to diminish her crimes. At some point, people like her have to answer for their misdeeds."

"Even if she, as an individual, has diminished capacity from her upbringing? If anyone should be tried, it is the entire Jade Falcon Clan, for the horrors they subjected her to as a child. Malvina Hazen the Chinghis Khan, Butcher of Skye and Apostica and whatever else the Lyrans call her, isn't the product of a diseased mind. She's the product of the traumas visited on a scared little girl by an entire culture. She was never given a chance to be better, she was broken before she even joined their warrior caste."

"So noted."

He sighed. "But yet, you don't agree with me, and you're still on board for this trial."

"Correct." Sirtis leaned back in her chair. Her voice turned conciliatory. "For what it's worth, Doctor Albright, I do believe you have justifications for the way you see this matter, even if I don't agree with them, which is why I haven't actually removed you. And as it turns out, the JAG attorneys assigned to the case have their own views on your participation." She produced a printed paper and handed it to him. "Consider this a sign of their interest in your continued involvement."

Albright accepted the paper. He read it quietly. Really? I never expected to… He looked back up at her. "So the process is beginning. And I am being assigned indefinitely to serve as Malvina's psychiatric counselor?"

"I do not envy you your job, Doctor, but yes." Sirtis said. "Lord Cassel was impressed, and he's made clear he wants you, the most vocal critic, to have a role here. This is going to be a fair trial."

"With all due respect, Doctor, it can't be. Malvina… does not understand the concepts for which she will be charged and put on trial. She can't support her own defense."

"Opinions like that are why you'll be here, as Malvina's court-ordered psychiatrist," Sirtis said. "God help you too, you'll need it. You are dismissed, Doctor."

With the orders in hand, he departed the office. So the trial goes on, despite my reports. Though I can understand why…. yes, seeing those images from Morges, I can see it. People need justice for it. Closure. Telling them Malvina can't stand trial would rob them of that.

But it's not true justice. Her Clan destroyed her as a child and now she is being punished for it, though they were the ones who turned her into the monster that committed those terrible crimes. God have mercy on all of us.

And with that in mind… time to say goodbye to my other patient.

He returned to the parking area, got into the Ford-Chrysler 3110 model Splenda he'd been assigned by the Fort Defiance motor pool, and drove his way out of the Fort Defiance grounds and to the nearby environs of Roslyn Aerospace Port. The complex for runways and blast-protected landing pads was a combination airport and DropPort, servicing aircraft and spacecraft alike in connecting Roslyn to the rest of the planet, the space stations in orbit, and beyond. After parking — thankfully AFRF personnel and their vehicles enjoyed free complimentary parking by law — he walked through the assemblage of shops, eateries, and interactive terminals to the DropPort terminals. Near a store of consumer electronics, for those travelers desperately looking to replace a broken noteputer or backup data drive or the like, he found what he was looking for.

Cynthy looked… normal, for lack of a better term. Her hair was in a loose ponytail and well-kept. She'd gained a little weight, too, and filled out the blue blouse and dark slacks she was clad in, enough that one might almost think she was just a normal adolescent girl. It was when you looked at her face, the uncertainty there, the glimmer in her eyes, that you could see she wasn't quite what she looked to be.

Indeed, the two women flanking her also made somewhat clear she wasn't just coming through with family. One was a tall, broad-shouldered woman of middle-age, half of her dark face just slightly off-color from the rest to show it was the result of skin grafting and reconstructive surgery, the kind you saw on survivors from the business end of a flamer. The metal cast of her right hand lent further credence to that. It was a prosthetic for a limb that was once incinerated. Given her age, just young enough for it to be from the Fourth Succession War, he guessed. Beside her, a woman of slight tan complexion with short dark hair wearing a light green headscarf was helping Cynthy pick out a case for a noteputer.

He caught the eye of the broad-shouldered woman first. His interest was clear enough that she brought a hand up. "Excuse me, sir?"

"Doctor John Albright, Military Psychiatrist," he said to identify himself, bringing up his military ID from his wallet. "Cynthy here was my patient, I came to say farewell."

The woman nodded. "Borna Nyaoke, Marsabit Regional Family Protection Service on Uhuru." she said, speaking with a slight Kenyan-Uhuran accent. "My associate, Zainab Salbi, Royal Family Court. We're Ms. Freeman's escort for her transfer to the custody of Doctor Admassu."

Cynthy's eyes flashed with brief fury at the use of the name "Freeman", but she said nothing.

Albright nodded in acknowledgement. "A pleasure, and please, my regards to Doctor Admassu, and my thanks once more for his agreeing to take Cynthy in as his patient." He felt recalled gratitude at first hearing the news just a month before. Doctor Sir Haile Admassu, Dean of the College of Pediatric Psychiatry, Royal University of Kenyatta on Uhuru, was one of the most distinguished child psychiatrists in the Inner Sphere, with experience in handling children traumatized by violence and abuse. I can only imagine how emotionally trying it is to work with children like that, and I hope he helps Cynthy. He will do her far better than I did. He glanced her way again. She recognized him, and she wasn't entirely pleased to see him, but at least she didn't have that energy about her, like any moment she would leap into violence, as she'd been like months before after being recovered from the Falcons. Maybe she can have a normal life. A good family.

"Doctor Albright." She spoke the words with a quiet tone, not reverential, more like she was testing her ability to speak them. "You still see the Khan… Malvina?"

Nyaoke and Salbi exchanged concerned looks. Albright swallowed and nodded quietly. "I am treating her, yes."

"Then, please, do right by her."

"I am trying."

"No, that's…" Cynthy stopped speaking for a moment and shook her head.

"We should get to the DropShip gate." Salbi said, giving him a look that made it clear she wanted the conversation over.

It was Cynthy who spoke again, resisting the effort to pull her away. "Doctor Albright, do the right thing for Malvina. Promise me."

He drew in a breath. How could he explain the issues with her? What did he dare risk saying, when it might cause further harm to a child who'd already suffered so much? He made his choice and, gently, replied, "I promise I will do right, as much as I can for her, that's all I can fairly promise, Cynthy. I will try to heal her as much as I can, as much as I'm allowed."

The girl shook her head. She clenched her fists. "No. No. That is not what I mean!"

"Cynthy, we must go." Nyaoke insisted.

"That's not what I mean, Doctor Albright. Do right by Malvina. Do right by her! Let her die."

Now the two women escorting the girl looked particularly aggrieved, and Albright felt a twisting in his gut. "That's not my place, Cynthy."

"Let her die, Doctor. Your people are torturing her. Let her die, it's all she wants, it's… it's all she's wanted." Cynthy swallowed. "Nobody understands. Why do they not understand? They used her and never understood… let her die. Doctor, let her die."

"We're done. Come along, Cynthy, our ship is waiting." Nyaoke gave him a displeased look before taking Cynthy's arm.

"Let her die, let it end, please." Cynthy called back before turning her head, and letting the two women pull her away.

Albright watched her go and swallowed. His mind went back to the Arcadia infirmary, to the sight of Cynthy tearing the respirator from Malvina's face. At the time he thought it was rage, a lashing out at her now powerless tormentor, but his mind likewise recalled Malvina's cries to Cynthy, the order to kill her in her bed, while the orderlies and guards subdued the girl. After Aleks, Cynthy was the only being Malvina had any affection for, even with the abuse. That girl may be the only being in the Inner Sphere, either Inner Sphere, who can understand Malvina. And now she's heading two jumps away. The insight she could offer for Malvina's defense… no, what am I thinking? She's a traumatized child and Malvina was her captor, her abuser! She needs to be as far away as possible to recover!

He stood alone for the moment in the DropPort-side shopping area. Malvina is a monster. A broken, tragic monster, but it doesn't change that she's hurt people, and Cynthy is one of her victims. It's better this way.

But try as he might, he couldn't quite stop thinking about Cynthy's words, and his own wondering if the most merciful thing for his patient might very well be the judicial execution he saw looming on the horizon, and which he still felt morally obliged to resist.


A Prisoner's Aspirations[]

Dr. Nancy Corey Memorial Hospital

It was late in the day. That was all Malvina Hazen knew, given the angle of the sunlight shining through her barred windows. Her stomach rumbled slightly from a minor hunger. Dinner was still an hour away. But it would come, unlike those she remembered from the sibko, when it might not come at all, or would come in a far reduced portion. Then they will put me in the wheelchair and walk me through their garden. Doctor John's orders. As if I am sated by a ride.

She turned on the tri-vee player. The holographic display showed one of those accursed Spheroid news services, talking yet more about the war on her Clan, on all the Clans. She paid enough attention to hear a man called Zento saying it was a waste, that it was weakening the defenses of Skye. That planet. She snarled. Aleks. Lost for that world. I should have burnt it down, but for the resources it provided my Clan. She smiled at seeing Zento shouted down by an audience and the other speakers, accusing him of myriad things like cowardice, arrogance, and "regionalism". No, if he were true to the "values of the Federation", he would be supporting "the War against the Clans".

They will war with my Falcons and the Horses. They will likewise war with the Wolves. And may Seth Ward and that upstart pup Alaric enjoy it. Perhaps even the Bears will face their armies, and nothing of value will be lost there either.

She changed the channel, once, twice, three times. The other news networks spoke of similar things. Others had the usual vapid Spheroid pap in them. All of the entertainment, whether it was degraded combat on Solaris between mercenary gladiators or fictional productions that were a waste of resources from Malvina's perspective, did nothing to fill the quiet. Trapped in this bed, without a foot to stand on, a hand to grasp with, all she had were her memories, and the pain they represented.

The door opened. Doctor John entered. "Malvina."

"Our conversations have long exhausted the stories of my past." Malvina replied, her lip curled in a disgusted, frustrated snarl. "Perhaps you are not the hunter of mental illness you thought to be, if you have not caught your prey among my words yet."

"Memories are just the start of such hunts," he replied, moving to a chair. "Before we begin the session, I have news to share."

"You will give me prosthetics? Let me move on my own? Perhaps just legs, so that I might walk." Then I can smash my brains out against the wall, if I choose.

"Not approved yet," he replied. "I've been given your first court hearing, it's in about seven weeks. To determine your fitness to stand trial for war crimes."

"Ah, my trial you promised. My, how slow you Spheroids are. I look forward to it."

"You'll be assigned a defense team. And I will remain as your psychiatric counselor."

"To continue your hunt, up until the day I am shot. Well, we shall see how well that goes." She noted his frown. As if I will face any other fate. They will kill me. I look forward to it.

"You still feel no remorse for the people you hurt?"

"Had they surrendered, had they accepted their new roles in the Jade Falcon Clan, they would not have been hurt. They chose to resist."

"You're going to lose the trial if you say things like that."

"I doubt I have any chance to win either way, so I shall be honest." She glanced at him again. He was tapping the noteputer again. I will not let it bother me. Let him tap. She grinned. "So let the trial come. I look forward to it."

Unpleasant Discovery, Fatal Results[]

Provisional Jade Falcon Council Building
New Hamarr, Sudeten
Jade Falcon Occupation Zone
25th March, 3143

Everything was ready long before the Timurlane made its landing and disgorged the warriors of the Ninth Talon. Isaac Roshak led the other Bloodnamed Mongol warriors of Delta Galaxy and its attached units to the Council Building, flanked by vehicles commandeered by the Watch for their transport. The other commanders like Lisa Hazen would not be far behind, but they would find their efforts to depart their ships hindered by a lack of transport. The Watch had to get their convoy from somewhere, after all.

Upon arrival Isaac led his comrades right to the Council chamber. They eschewed the helmets that were normal, indeed, each was in their black combat BDUs, as if all they needed was a few moments to get into cooling vests, flight suits, or infantry armor and face battle, separating them from the Falcon warriors wearing formal council uniform. Seeing them made Isaac smirk in contempt. Tradition, as always. The binding chain that has held our people back, until the Chinghis Khan showed us the way forward. Without a word he and his comrades took their seats and waited for the meeting to begin.

The Loremaster, Andwar Icaza, was already in his place, Isaac noted. The senior Khan, the doddering old fossil and former Clan Oathmaster Wenceslas Buhallin, was seated beside the main target of Isaac's ire, Beckett Malthus, though their faces were obscured by their Falcon masks. Isaac thought he saw anger in Beckett's eyes, but he couldn't be sure. I hope it is fear too. Fear for what he has reaped.

Still, as much as he ached to be done with this, he had to play along for now. They would do this in open session. If anything, it would buy the Watch the time needed to finish other preparations.

The mere appearance of Isaac Roshak and his black-clad warriors prompted a snarl to form on Beckett's face. A part of him pondered calling the disrespect out, but somehow he couldn't find the energy. The very fact Roshak was here, wearing the insignia of a Galaxy Commander, spoke of how wrong things had gone. He'd sent Stephanie Chistu to secure the future of the Clan, but instead she'd followed Malvina into death. Noritomo Helmer would be my only hope, but I have no expectation of his return, not in time. He glanced towards Wenceslas, who remained quiet. He was only supposed to serve as a temporary fill-in, but now, I need him longer. Assuming I can block the Mongols.

He listed patiently to Loremaster Andwar open the meeting before speaking, firmly, "Star Colonel Roshak, you insult this chamber with your lack of appropriate dress."

"And you insult our entire Clan with your machinations and treachery, Malthus," Isaac spat back. He pulled the noteputer from his uniform and held it aloft. "I have read all your correspondence with Galaxy Commander Chistu. Your treasonous plans to destroy the followers of the Chinghis Khan were found by the Watch, and you will answer!"

"Treasonous plans? I spoke only of what would have to be done if the most hardline Mongols reacted poorly to her election," Beckett answered. "But if is satisfaction you want, I will face you in a Circle of Equals."

"Vermin like you don't deserve honorable combat. You are fit only to be exterminated. You in particular, traitor, for your disservice to the Chinghis Khan you claimed to loyally serve."

By now a number of the other warriors, Mongols or Mongol-leaning Bloodnamed, were casting furious eyes his way as well. Beckett's jaw set under his mask. We lost too many in the Rending. I have no other options left.

Movement at the doors caught his attention. Elemental infantry in the colors of the Ninth Talon, mixed with black-clad warriors armed with rifles… and bearing the insignia of the Watch.

"You conspired to destroy us, the followers of the Chinghis Khan," Isaac charged openly. "To put our Clan back on the road to slow death and decay, not glorious victory and our destiny as the future ilClan. For this, Beckett Malthus, Wenceslas Buhallin, you are now condemned. The Watch has already begun purging those loyal to you, freeing our Clan of their cowardly taint. The Mongol Way is the way of the future."

"Everything I have done, I have done to preserve our Clan, to remain true to our redes as the Great Father and Elizabeth Hazen set them down," Beckett responded curtly, though inwardly he felt fatal resignation fill him. I have lost. I have failed. My Clan will not survive this; yet still I must try to make them understand. "Even Malvina, bloodfoul as she was, understood this better than you; she had enough wisdom to know when not to kill."

He only managed to finish the sentence because his insult to Malvina had rendered Isaac and the other Mongols stupefied briefly. But now retribution came. With a furious shriek Isaac pulled a sidearm from his waist and leveled it towards Beckett. He met the mad Mongol leader eye to eye before the gunshots rang through the Council Chamber.

He imagined the pain would be intense, but it was still more than he expected from the bullets piercing his uniform, smashing their way through his ribs and into his lungs, heart, and stomach. The whole clip was spent in the time it took Beckett to fall back into his chair. Blood flooded into his lungs, but only briefly, as his savaged heart could no longer beat on account of the damage it had taken.

So dies the Jade Falcon Clan, he thought bitterly before the chasm of death swallowed him whole.

Isaac listened to the repeated hammers of gunfire. The Watch were methodical, targeting all that their own investigations determined were insufficiently Mongol, or those that strayed after the loss of the Chinghis Khan. It took half a minute for the purging to be complete, but when it was done, over a third of the Council members present were dead at their benches, leaving only those true to the Way of the Chinghis Khan.

He cast his eyes to the standing, quiet form of Andwar Icaza. "We have vacancies," he said. "Who shall step forward to assume the Khanship."

"I will," said Isaac, chambering a new clip into his weapon as he did, the audible clicking of the pistol mechanism filling the blood-smeared chamber.

"You?!" Uther Mattlov's voice echoed through the chamber. "You failed at Timkovichi, you are—"

Isaac turned, his gun leveled. His tormenter had no time to speak further before a bullet went through Uther's neck, blasting through his larynx and silencing him before exiting out the side of his throat. Uther stared in shock before slumping down, trying to stop the bleeding from his throat.

"I fought and slew many of our foes at Timkovichi, just to be betrayed by the dezgra Galaxy Commander Chistu during our combat trial, who allowed the enemy to focus on my 'Mech," Isaac proclaimed. "I survived her treachery and assumed command to pull our forces out of the trap her timidity placed them in. Had she honored the ways of the Chinghis Khan, Timkovichi would have burned, a warning to all who would defy the Jade Falcon Clan. Now our foes are emboldened. They believe us cowed and weak. Under my leadership, we will prove ourselves anything but. We will strengthen the Clan, punish our foes, and prepare to resume the desant, to become ilClan as is our rightful place."

"Until the Republic's so-called 'walls' go down, what shall we do?" The question was from one of the new Bloodnamed Mongols, Jacinda Icaza. "Expand our invasion of the Lyrans? Strike at the Bears? Punish the Horses?"

"We will have suitable enemies to blood new warriors, that I assure you." Isaac grinned. "The truce that the coward Chistu extracted from our new Arcadian foes is of some use, but I would reinforce it with blood. We must remind them what renewed hostilities mean, especially under the Chinghis Khan's way and not the coward Stephanie Chistu's. Once we are assured they are cowed, we will turn our attention towards the Republic and any others that stand in our way. For now, my fellow warriors, we prepare for revenge. After all…" He sneered. "Chistu's truce was for the Arcadians and the Lyrans. It says nothing about the traitor Wolves."

The laughter that came from his peers told Isaac the election was as good as his.


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