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The Federated Suns Reborn
- Chapter 62

August 3066
Interlude: A message

Firebase Korvin
New Roland
Victoria Commonality
Capellan Confederation

Sitting at his desk Colonel Loren Jaffray tried to ignore the low level and constant pain in his neck as he stared at the slim data disk that had been delivered from the HPG by a robed WOB acolyte. Even several weeks after having been discharge he was barely able to focus through the grinding pain in his neck - although the doctors had offered him painkillers to help which he had refused. He know that to become an addict to opiates would doom any future military career he might have left. Instead he was attempting to overcome the pain with various low level painkillers, time and willpower while trying to talk as little as he had to in an effort to spare his ruined larynx as much as he could. With little success.

In an effort to concentrate on anything other than the pain he placed the data disk within the player on his desk and hit play with an almost savage punch of buttons. Immediately the face of Colonel Chastity Mulvaney appeared on his screen which caused him to almost recoil in shock. Of all the people who he had expected to see staring back at him from the screen she had to be one of the least likely. Before he could process this any further the recording began to speak with a neutral expression on her face. "Hello Loren. Long time no see. I heard about your injury and wanted to hope it wasn't as severe as the Intel report's indicated. Still no doubt you're doing all that Death Commando crap about not feeling the pain or transcending the pain or whatever the hell they taught you in that regiment of lunatics..."

Chastity suddenly let out a sigh and when she continued her voice was growing thicker with the brogue of Northwind as well as genuine anger and disappointment. "You damn fool... You puir bloody damn fool... What the hell we're ye thinking? MacLeod would have battered yer ears for this nonsense and you ken it! What... We didnae vote the way ye wanted us tae so you ran off tae rejoin the Cap's? Worse ye led a parcel o' good lads and lassies with yerself! An' how's that workin' fer ye now Loren? Exiled tae the ass end o' nowhere wi' no way back! Yer own side tryin' tae strangle ye in yer sleep! Ye bloody damn fool!"

Visibly controlling her temper Mulvaney forced herself to calm down on the tape before continuing with her accent not quite so strong. "Ah'd forgive ye running of yer... yourself... But takin' the others away frae Northwind when ye ken we need every man and woman... That was low Jaffray. Low... Still... The other Colonels... They wanted me tae give you a message... You can still return hame. All of ye. Even you as much as it pain's me tae sae it. Northwind's your home still. We'll sort somethin' out wi' the Davion's tae smooth things over if ye's do. There Prince isnae a bad sort fer all he's no a Highlander... Just come hame."

As his former friend spoke Jaffray had felt his resolve weakening... Remembering Tara, The Fortress and the rest of Northwind's beauty. His feeling of coming home when he had returned. His pride in being accepted by the Highlanders there. And then Mulvaney had mentioned Him. That damned deceiver who had tricked the others into giving up Northwinds freedom. First Prince Victor Davion... Son of the Fox himself. Which reaffirmed his decision and hardened his heart to the plea to lead his troops home. No, it wasn't possible. Not now. Not to serve the Davions.

As he stared at the message he suddenly realized it hadn't ended although Chastity Mulvaney hadn't spoken for several minutes, instead she just stared at the screen intently before finally as it was beginning to freak Loren out she spoke again. "Just so you know in case ya revert to your Capellan "need to ken" crap... Every single Highlander that left with yah has received the same message from someone he or she left behind or will have soon... Hate tae dae it tae ye... Goin' behind yer back like that... But hell man ye' did the same to us when yah ran off!"

As he snarled a roar and then convulsed with the pain in his neck at the strain he had placed on his still injured larynx Chastity's face broke into an almost imp like smile. "Come hame ye' damn fool!"

The message then cut out to the WOB Broadsword spinning slowly on the screen as it ended. Leaving a panting and cursing Colonel wondering just how many of "his" troops he could not trust not to desert... And knowing that MASK had certainly seen the message as well and would be wondering the same about not only the troops but him as well... Damn her!

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