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The Armada (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 26 - The Armada[]

History Class
Nagelring Academy
Tharkad Star System
Unspecified Future Date

"...historically definitions of what makes a hero are very much linked to the prevailing culture...

...of the time."  Amelia Ngo listened as Commander Ries began his lecture, trying to stay focused on the man giving the lecture to a class of 850 of the Commonwealth's wealthiest best-and-brightest.  A few rows down, she noticed Kas Von Hartung was doing something with his personal comm.

"...a few common threads-Cadet Ngo, is there something catching your attention?"

"Sir?" she froze.

"Maybe you would like to summarize what common thread links concepts of heroism throughout our shared history, Cadet Ngo?"

"Uhm...'it isn't heroic if it's easy', sir." she improvised, "Heroes are heroes because they do things that are too difficult or dangerous for normal people...sir?"

Ries frowned, "That is...largely correct." he said, "Extremely close, at any rate, can you give the class three examples, One ancient, one contemporary and one in the recent past?"

"Um...sir, wouldn't contemporary be in the recent past?" she asked.
"I mean within the last hundred years." he told her.

"Nicole Minh's voyage to Terra during the Blakist War, sir." she said, "Commander Minh took a fifty one thousand ton cutter through the Word of Blake's naval picket without being caught. When Minh made contact with the Metis Coalition, bringing the Sol-Belters into the war on our side." she twitched nervously, "Also Pol Nguyen's participation in Arluna Relief efforts, he landed as a corporal with the first medical expedition, and without formal training managed to transmit key  information on the progress of the 21b virus, including sympomology and infection rates, buried his comrades, and hiked ninety three kilometers to contact an enclave of survivors, so that's two in the last hundred years..."  she wanted to chew her stylus, "Very recently, Kapitan Michael Nguyen stayed behind to gather data on the subspace effects of multiple induced supernovae in an effort to expand our knowledge of navigation and Kearney-Fuchida physics, as well as astrophysical phenomena."
"And one ancient?" he pressed.

"Arminius, Sir.  He drove Rome out of Germania for two decades after the battle of Teutoburg Forest." she finally stated, "He did so with a scrub force of villagers and rival tribes by defeating and destroying two full legions of the Roman Empire's finest soldiers. That is ancient prehistory, almost legendary, in a time with better documentation when forty men held off multiple divisions in Belgium during the global conflicts of the 1940s. A company of polish infantry held off an armored, tank-backed assault in the village of Wisna during the same war.  Still ancient but relevant was Taiwan's last stand against Chinese Communism in the mid 21st century, oh, and the defense of Tel-Aviv against Terran Alliance forces seeking to install a muslim puppet government in 2071.  The Israelis held out without allies or support of any kind for nearly five years before they were taken."

"What was the outcome of that last one?" the Academy officer asked.

"For the following ten years, the survivors were worked to death mining germanium for the Terran Alliance. Much as the survivors of the invasion of Southeast Asia by the Chinese were brutalized and worked to death as punishment for their resistance, sir."
"Most of your ancient examples are of sides that lost in the long run."  he observed.

"Yes sir." she said.  "Heroic doesn't always mean successful, sir.  It is the measure of difficulty and the determination, sir."

She was aware of more eyes on her, from classmates she'd not even yet met.

"Quite right, Cadet." he said, "It is at that.  Can you give an example of successful heroism for the class?"

"Aye sir, The capture of Running Deer Mountain during the Amaris War. During the liberation of Rim Worlds operated death camps and gulags on Elbar undertaken by the 90th heavy assault, 171st Volunteers, 7th Freemen of the Free World's League, and 1st Squadron of the Kowloon Coast Guard."

"Your ancestor impaled fifty one Rim Worlds Militia officers." he said, "Are you sure you want to go with that?"

Sir, they Deserved it."  she snarled,  "Four Million, six hundred and forty one thousand civilians were parted out like used automobiles in that facility before it was captured, and the men my ancestor put a spike in were the men directing and carrying that out!  The truth, Sir, is that the perpetrators of the atrocities deserved worse, but worse is not humanly possible..." She closed her eyes, "We don't do that anymore, Sir, but it was appropriate at the time."

"So you believe the action was correct." questioned Reis

"I believe it was appropriate.  It wasn't correct.  The 171st was under SLDF flag at the time, on an SLDF mission, and Colonel Ngo overstepped his authority." she stated, bringing her tone down to an emotionless clarity, "This was in direct violation of SLDF regulations regarding the handling and treatment of prisoners of war.  It was also a violation of the Ares Conventions. It caused unnecessary command friction in the Star League ranks, which led immediately to a degradation of operational intensity and command unity that had to be repaired at a critical time in the war against Amaris.  Sir."

"You may be seated, Cadet."

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