Pattern of Infinity - Part XI - Violence is Life, AlwaysBy J. Kel
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Violence is Life, Always
THE PATTERN OF INFINITY
By J. Kel
I call on Heaven and Earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
-- Deuteronomy 30:19
The Fog of War
He had chosen to entertain the illusion, to maintain it, to push it for all it was worth that he was the Commander-in-Chief for the patchwork of forces that made up the raid. He was not. Never came close. He was just an independent functionary, and only for a few hours. Did he ever know it now! He was just one more soldier desperately trying to complete his mission -- as he tore through Servalan's underground apartment -- and get out alive!
It was completely dark. Good. He told the others the power would be down for thirty seconds at most. Their strike could not possibly disrupt the power grid for any longer and if the grid came up before they teleported out . . .
Night vision cameras tracked him. Warnings blared at him. He was under surveillance every moment. The emergency lighting . . .
Ahead of him was a door. The teleport coordinates given had been close, not quite accurate. No matter. He quickly burned through it. Twenty seconds.
He had isolated himself from the crew. The meals he took, infrequent, were delivered to his cabin. He focused on logistics, supplies, weaponry, and after everything else, strategy. He communicated only what they had to know. The orders were to be obeyed without question, without hesitation. Everyone on board had adjusted. The result: Dayna was perplexed, Cally resentful, Vila relieved. Or some such order. But they accepted! He was in charge! War was relentless thought; merciless action. Part of him still resisted; part of him exulted at being drawn ever deeper.
Fifteen seconds. He threw himself against the door and it crashed in. In the corner was the box, lights blinking, as if festive for the holidays. ORAC-the-original beckoned. He got out the proximity bombs. Ten seconds.
Each of them had gone his own way. Not quite the team approach he envisioned, but given their history, understandable. Vila, "Admiral Vila" of the mine-layer as he was chided, and Dayna and Cally were all on separate trajectories. There was no future for any of them, only a present of alternating and unending tasks.
Despite his isolation, he watched them. Sometimes he would find one of them napping, in such a light state there eyes were virtually open. He would let them sleep. He himself seemed never to need it.
He listened. Each made promises, boasts, to the others. Dayna vowed never to be captured alive. Cally vowed that this would be her last mission. They all said they would say good-bye to the Liberator forever. They accepted what had to be done. But after the raid, they would keep on going, never to see each other again.
He placed the tiny bombs all along the device. One, two, three . . . Then put in the key and the device came to life. "Meet your equal," he said. He heard running sounds like a machine gun. The lights were beginning to flicker on. Five seconds . . . "Teleport now!"
ORAC awoke complaining, shrieking, bitterly besieged by overwhelmingly conflicting, shall we say, feelings? Tarrant vanished as shots filled the room and rude people burst in and the bombs came alive in a hellish chorus. "We're proximity bombs! Better get away! We're proximity bombs! Come back some other day!" They hesitated. They stopped. They got.
Back on the Liberator, breathing hard and loving it, Tarrant watched the flow of data into ORAC-the-Copy. He had no idea if the armada had arrived on time and for the moment he did not care. His time was everything; the allies could fend for themselves.
He glanced at the clock. Seconds to go if they succeeded.
What was he overlooking? For each second of his life he wondered. He lived now moment to precious moment. They had been chained to the past, their time without future, one rushed instant after another. He had broken free. Either he would remain alive this instant -- he saw the teleport calls come in as the automatic retrieval began -- and make the next -- that was all that mattered -- or he would not. There was nothing else to say.
Fifteen seconds. He stood as if ordered to attention. Nothing mattered. Yet when he saw the five of them materialize, he breathed enormous relief.
The first thing that hit Cally when they teleported on stage was that everything was tar black. That is what they planned (of course!) with the night vision equipment, but it was as if they had been thrown into a pit of raging demons . . . and that was the second thing she noticed . . . the emergency lighting had not yet come on . . . and now there was the overpowering sound of vengeance coming from the crown. At first the crowd had been stunned but in seconds, fear turned to terror, terror turn to fury and by the time the two women had reached the three prisoners, the stage was being attacked; waves of people, breakers of them. They roared and screamed at whoever it was who had cheated them. As Cally and Dayna rushed to the prisoners, great claws of sounds tore at them. Cally pitched a gun to Avon, hoping he would find it in the dark then she worked feverishly to release Jenna.
Dayna returned fire at the guards. They were hesitating and that is what enabled the rescue. Killing a single Auron was one thing, but did the Supreme Commander want all the prisoners killed as well? Each of guards was unsure.
Once Jenna was freed, Cally gave her a gun. Fine, but then Cally tripped and fell almost on top of her sister. Both Avon and Jenna were returning fire over her head. Cally got up, but not too far. The shots increased in number, their aim was getting wilder. She put a bracelet on Li's wrist.
Steams of people were trying to run up the stage stairs. The roiling mass of confusion and hatred was surging closer, a flood tide of rage. Dayna handed a teleport bracelet to Jenna. Everybody's aim was starting to improve. Dayna felt someone behind her, turned quickly, saw an open hand thrust forward. She handed the last teleport bracelet to Avon. They were all hugging the floor, but with bracelets snapped on Cally, holding onto Li's wrist let out a cry of "Teleport Ready!" for it was time to get out!
Around them a circle of shadow shapes closed in, wary in the dark, shouting for them to . . . someone broke through, rushed over; Dayna turned, but Cally saw him first, shot, taking him down. She gave the command again. "Now!" Nothing. "Teleport now!" she yelled and swore and finally they were gone.
They were back on the Liberator. Li stood up in her great flowing dress, looking dazed. Jenna looked furious, angry like she had been cheated of a fight, disgusted and frustrated together as only she could manage. And Avon looked, well it was hard to read any meaning into his face as he stepped from the chamber, looking ridiculous in his suit.
Tarrant was, however, looking pleased, He stepped forward and made his greeting. They all turned to him. It was the first time anyone had seen him looking relaxed since the planning had begun. If action had a name . . . he was at ease with himself, if breathing roughly. The expected result, he seemed to say, had been achieved.
He greeted each of them in turn. He first took the hand of "Li? Molli?" "Li." She looked at him curiously, saying nothing but her name. He thanked her for her crucial intelligence and told her firmly she was still very much needed. She nodded slowly, but did not look any less distraught. He went to Jenna, spoke to her solemnly, then Cally.
Then to, well it could not be avoided, Avon. Tarrant's relaxed manner had begun to fade. He stood there before him, imagining pulling out his gun and plugging him without ceremony. Their eyes locked for a moment. He directed Avon to a bench by the teleport controls, pointed out the large monitor above them (as if it could have been missed), explained what has happening. He indicated ORAC and mentioned in passing a few things he hoped to learn from the device. Soon. Then as his clipped efficient phrasing came to an end, urged Avon to have a seat. Did he require anything? No. Good. They would need to talk.
His purpose he feared was wavering, denying him authority and control when he needed it most. He should decide now about this, but for the life of him, Avon's life actually, could not. The two men sat. Thirty minutes until phase II began.
Tarrant focused on ORAC, telling Avon to watch. Any second now . . . then it happened. "Psychological warfare," he said, beaming.
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