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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 6 - The Other War[]

08/16/3059 Location – Justice Annex, Fort Absalom, Truscott City, Sheridan

Star Captain Seth Irons wore a fresh black eye and multiple bruises just barely concealed beneath his blue gray duty uniform along with all the scars that come with a violent but long life. He stood in the middle of a sparsely furnished chamber. Opposite him were three benches, one high and the others lower but just above his eye level. The doors on both sides were blocked by a pair of Adder Patrolmen.

They didn’t seem that threatening compared to others he had seen. However, freeborn Elementals with weighted gloves, bad attitudes, and worse assignments were a very real threat as evidenced by the black eye. He had learned over the past two days his Bloodname was no protection for him in the stockade especially among those that knew who he was and why he was here.

There was motion behind the bench and the door opened to reveal a mature male Warrior not much older than himself wearing the formal uniform of Clan Star Adder. He wore the rank insignia of an Inquisitor, what passed for lawyers among the Clans, and the Meytani Blood Seal replaced that of the Cluster on his brooch. He took his position behind the right-side bench.

Another man entered closer in age but also an Inquisitor except with the Irons Blood Seal. Seth’s eyes were drawn to him recognizing the man from his past. Not that it was surprising. He knew almost every Irons of note whether they liked it or not. The signs of recognition and incredulity were apparent. Not that he intended to hide them.

He muttered something under his breath and the Patrolmen behind him shoved him, What was that? Speak up slug.

The Irons Advocate waved him off, Its fine Patrolman. I can guess what he was saying.

Been a long time Seth. You never make our meetings.

You never wait for when I get around to it Michael. Why am I not surprised Sparrow sent you to be my Advocate?

I am the best Inquisitor in our Bloodhouse. Having plenty of practice because of you.

He lifted a cybernetic arm over the bench looking down at Seth’s left hand with a burn scarred visage, Seems you have one of your own now. About time you faced consequence for your actions. You should be grateful I deigned to appear, but Perot insisted that I speak in your defense.

One of the Patrolmen shouted out from behind the bench, All rise for the Loremaster!

Loremaster Dagmar Lahiri ascended the steps looking small but hiding great energy for man nearly sixty. He had a distinguished codex, was one of the youngest Keepers, first Aerospace pilot to command a Galaxy, walking right off the battlefield at the request of the Khan to become Loremaster. The man had distinguished himself in all manners of Adder society earning respect for his fair judgment and cunning intellect.

Seth once more was taken by surprise he had expected an inquiry followed by a speedy Grievance and Refusal. The Loremaster being here meant something else was afoot. Dagmar sat down followed by the Inquisitors while the Patrolmen returned to their ready postures.

He activated the holo-projecter hidden in the ceiling to show the Sidewinder’s BattleROM as the Trial played out at triple speed to its fateful climax in silence. The display lingered like a phantom above him in the display cube showing the last moments of Bryza Meytani before her life was snuffed out by his Omnimech's feet.

Star Captain Seth Irons you stand accused of the dishonorable executions of Star Captain Bryza Meytani and Star Commander Kurt Daniels. Both formerly of Delta Galaxy’s Seventeenth Cavaliers Cluster in a Trial of Position regarding command of said Cluster and the rank of Star Colonel on the Star Adder Proving Grounds two days ago.

Meytani Inquisitor Cyril has demanded the right to Reave your legacy and lineage from the Irons Bloodhouse. Do you have anything to say in your defense before I ask your Advocate to speak on your behalf?

May I speak freely sir.
Stay on topic.
I would like to dismiss my Advocate.

Inquisitor Michael hardly moved but Seth could see him grimace, Inquisitor Michael is known as a fair arbiter of The Martial Code. On what grounds do you seek his dismissal?

He covets my bloodname. I am the one that injured him in the Trial of Refusal he issued to my Bloodright. Then I piloted his former Stormcrow in the REVIVAL trials with the Fifth Assault.

With that Michael stood posed to leap over the bench, Patrolmen on both sides readied to intervene. Savashri! You damn Freeborn! Can you not see that I am trying to help you?

You never think of anything but your own Glory and that is why Gabriela and the others are dead! Just like your former commands. Yet Star Killer Seth Irons always lives. No one looks back to see the mess that is your Codex and I’m sick of it. What will it take to end you?

He turned to the Loremaster and adjusted himself, If it pleases the Loremaster I will accept my client’s dismissal.

Dagmar pondering it a moment, Motion dismissed. Inquisitor Michael please stay for the remaining proceedings. Perhaps Star Captain Irons will retract his request. Now back to your defense, Star Captain.

I would like the BattleROM to be wound back approximately three minutes from this moment with audio enabled. I will determine the mark.

An unseen technician returned the display cube to moments before the Summoner was mortally wounded. Both machines had multiple armor breaches and critical damage. A well-placed strike could have easily ensured a double kill leaving the fate of the trial in the hands of their partners currently fighting it out nearby.

Seth’s voice came in over the radio, Star Captain, I am offering you hegira. Power down your weapons.

The voice of a dead woman came in eerily clear, Neg, all it will take is one more shot.

Seconds later the Summoner made an unexpected turn firing its autocannon towards an unseen target. The turn put it in an excellent position for Seth’s weapons to punch through its core and immobilize it with a solid gyro kill. It crashed back into the dirt unable to keep itself vertical. The smoke clears revealing the Linebacker standing motionless next to a face down Hellbringer venting steam.

An exuberant Seth came in over the radio, Gabriela, we did it!

A slight pause followed, Star Commander, do you read me?

The Sidewinder walked toward the Linebacker with an increasingly anxious Seth still talking on the radio, Speak to me woman. This is not the time for a silent treatment.

Once the Sidewinder reached the Linebacker the cockpit camera captured what remained of the Star Commander shredded beyond recognition by an LBX cluster munition at close range. Star Commander Daniels didn’t see the Sidewinder aiming the Gauss round that would punch through his mech’s head.

Star Captain Meytani though, she saw the foot coming down on her because she attempted to block with the Summoner's arms but was to slow. The tech shut the projector off just as the cockpit glass crushed.

As you heard I offered Bryza hegira before she broke Zell to headhunt Star Commander Gabriela, possibly knowing that her cockpit was compromised. She chose to fire cluster munitions at my partner rather than me even though I was the easier target and she could have disabled my mech in the process.

It is possible that I was too hasty with Kurt. Though he may have conspired with her there is no way she had a clear idea of how damaged Gabriela's Linebacker was without hearing it over comms. I will seek Surkai with the Daniels Bloodhouse only if it is proven he was not complicit in the murder.

However, Bryza was still an active target. She failed to shut her mech down and cede the trial when grounded. She could have shot me in the back given the opportunity and still won the Trial.

The Meytani Inquisitor spoke up, Slander! Bryza was an honorable Warrior of Clan Star Adder. These accusations impugn her legacy as surely as you have ended it. The Meytani Bloodhouse will not forgot what you have done. You will face justice for the crimes you have committed Star Captain Irons.

Dagmar looked over to Michael, Any more words, Inquisitor?

I have spoken my peace Loremaster and offer no further comment in the defense of my client. The Irons Bloodhouse will support whatever judgment you impose on the Star Captain.

You are dismissed, Inquisitors. Star Captain Irons and I will discuss his judgment in private and announce it by hour's end. Both Inquisitors saluted and walked out the doors opened by the Patrolmen. Loremaster Lahiri signaled to the Patrolmen who left leaving the two Warriors alone in a darkened room.

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