Martyr’s Shadow

An old piece of writing I found digging around. Good for a laugh if nothing else. Peter Talek is definitely the classic Gamma protagonist.

Martyr’s Shadow

The marine sentry held his hand up to his ear bug for a second before grunting “Ensign Talek, the Lady Admiral will see you now.”

Reserve Ensign Sir Peter Marcin Talek came sloppily to attention and snapped a salute that was half-assed and half mockery, “very well Sergeant perhaps it’s time to see what all this fuss is about.”

The sergeant rolled his eyes but held off a rebuke on account of Peter’s last name, “Yeah whatever kid, just don’t get the Old Lady too riled up will you?”

Peter gave an impish grin as he opened the heavy pseudo-oak door,” Oh come on it’s not like anything that happened was my fault, was it?”

On the other side of the door Peter was shocked to find two additional guards, this time in full body armor and wearing the black and purple uniform of the Special Forces. A third man wearing a Captain’s shoulder patch came up to greet him.

“So Sir Peter what do you think of Mount Atlas, so far?”

Peter stared incredulously,” The door was a fucking checkpoint?”

“Well, I wouldn’t go that far but as you can see we do take the Admiral’s security very seriously,” the Captain said.

Peter eyes narrowed as a tiny fragment of strength leaked through his youthful irreverence. He never did like being threatened or intimidated even absentmindedly. “Still I do object to being drugged and whisked away to a secret location, simply on the principle of the thing.”

The Captain motioned down the hallway and the two of them started walking. ”Well that is the principle of the thing. What is the point of having a hidden facility if everyone knows where it is?”

Peter conceded the point still it was an odd feeling to be walking around a secret military base in civilian clothes, “If my aunt wanted to chew me out why couldn’t she just screen me normally, rather than go though all this trouble?”

The still unnamed Captain practically growled his reply,” maybe she’s serious

this time.”

Peter started to reply but was cut short as the Captain grabbed the front of his shirt, “Listen punk… I’ve seen your fucking aptitude tests. By all rights you should be wearing this uniform not sitting around all day playing video games and smoking pot with a bunch of anarchist shitheads.” The Captain stuttered for a moment perhaps feeling he had gone too far; “what would you father think?”

Peter’s answer boiled up from deep within him. Cold and callous but somehow appropriate,” My father would not approve of his old unit becoming a Praetorian Guard.”

After that they walked to the end of the hallway in awkward silence.

Peter entered into the Admiral’s office and was briefly stunned at the richness of the furnishings and décor. Most members of Concordia’s ruling class were notoriously Spartan (at least in public) and he’d never gotten the impression that Aunt Karla was any different. The gold trimmed carvings and elaborate paintings that covered most of the walls seemed to be styled after Old Earth’s Roman and Greek eras. Peter had never studied any mythology older than John Wayne and Clark Kent or at least not in any depth and thus wasn’t terribly sure precisely what aspects of this art he was supposed to be appreciating.

Lady Admiral Karla Barbara Estara rose wearily from a large wooden desk cluttered with papers. She was a stern-faced woman of middle age with touches of grey finally working their way into her reddish mane. The off white cream color and forest green of the Concordian Navy’s uniform gave an odd contrast to her features yet only added to her aura of command and confidence.

“Out of uniform are we? I suppose that’s to be expected,” she said greeting her great nephew with a sinister half smile.

“You goons neglected to dress me,” Peter fired back pausing just a split second to make sure his aunt’s bodyguards had withdrawn. Talking back… well defending yourself in front of your clan Matriarch was one thing disrespecting a senior officer in front of her retainers was quite another. “I’m not in active service right now anyway.”

Aunt Karla glanced down at one of the notes on her desk,” You still have four years peace time service if I remember correctly.” Peter stuttered what might have been a reply. “Besides,” she continued gracefully shifting to another point, “you were born a Corsair so your skin is all the damn uniform you fucking well need.”

“Any salute you get from me will be with one finger. I’ll let you guess which one,” Peter answered perhaps a bit too sharply for this sort of social occasion but pomp and circumstances had always been a complete waste of time for him.

If the Matriarch was offended she gave no sign, “After the fleet reorganization in three months I will be assuming command of Second Fleet. I am willing to offer you a place on my staff as my flag lieutenant. If you accept I should be able to get you a promotion to Sub-Lieutenant in about six months.”

Peter wasn’t too surprised his few surviving relatives had been pushing to get him back into the military every chance they got. “You don’t really think I’m that suited to staff work you?”

Aunt Karla laughed. “Dear Nephew your sole redeeming virtue is the fact that I am absolutely fucking sure you are not an enemy spy. I feel it would a shame for that virtue to go unused. Surely you wish to serve your country?”

“If I believed my Nation was in real danger I would rally to the flag like any patriot,” Peter replied. “In the meantime I see no point in serving in order to build a career for career’s sake.”

The Admiral snorted perhaps she hadn’t actually expected his rebuttal,” Whatever, your career plans are a subject for another time.”

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Martyr’s Shadow

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