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The Captive of Embrellon – 10

They were in their respective offices. Jason was not only the swordsmanship instructor, but he was now over all of the first year cadet training. Vesarra was over their next six-month block of training, flight school and gear making. They had to learn to make their own saddles, saddle bags, rifle scabbards, saddle pouches, stirrups, girth straps, and any other gear they might need. She taught them how to make an emergency kit, with everything in it in case they got hurt. How to treat different things that they could come across.
They had the Academy running well, cadets worked their way through all the training, they had fencing instruction daily, followed by whatever training they had for the rest of the day. It was a good way to train. Whitlaw was pleased and he had decided to use the outpost as a training base as well, once the cadets had completed advanced scout training, they would report to the outpost for a six month, intensive training and deployment with Jana. She agreed, now that the Marn exiles were gone, and the Vatarians had taken the continent, the island was a southern outpost where they could train troops, and send injured Guardians.
Jason had set up training standards that had to be met, and the instructors who taught the Cadets had to have the best skills at whatever subjects they taught. They had books now, filled with the knowledge the Guardians had about every subject. The Archives had books on everything they knew, not just about the Guardians, but the processes that the Brellon used to make faron, shape tanzite, dye cloth and leather, making leather, etc…, they were working to be a complete society, without losing their values and way of life.
Goran, Yoran, Risa, and their son Joran, were now the chief instructors at the Conservatory. They had gotten approval from Whitlaw to start the school of higher learning for any Brellon who wasn’t a Guardian or training in the Craft Halls. They were teaching engineering, history, printing, applied sciences, conservation and preservation of knowledge, and advanced construction techniques. It was part of Whitlaw’s vision for the planet almost from the start. With the help of the individuals who were running the school, academy, conservatory, and craft halls, they had taken the group of refugees, and created a society of their own.
The threat of Marn incursions was the only shadow on their lives. They knew they would return, and they prepared for it constantly. Jason had developed competitions to hone the skills of the Guardians. They competed in games designed to test their skills and knowledge. They held mock battles, archery competitions, endurance tests, races, obstacle courses both mounted and on foot, the Skree Bond-Mates were tested as well. Shandarro shared with them his experiences in the arena on Marn, and taught them how to fight on the ground and in the air against opponents bigger and larger than they were, and how to develop strategies to overcome them.
Jason and Shandarro had escaped from Marn five years earlier, they didn’t know how much damage the Whitlaw Maneuver had caused on their homeworld, and they hadn’t seen as much as a scout ship in their system since the escape, but in the back of Jason’s mind, he knew they were coming. They would be outraged that their world had been devastated by what they considered to be a backwater savage and an animal. Their pride would make them come, and when they did come, it would be with a vengeance.
None of them knew what had happened when they left. The Whitlaw Maneuver had disrupted the magnetic field of the planet. They had severe earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, massive tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, and the population had been decimated. They once had a population of three billion, and that one maneuver had killed seventy-five percent of the population. Every Marn who was outside the day of the escape had died, and the natural disasters that followed took another ten percent. What once had been several billion Marn, was now less than five hundred million. They were struggling to put their society back together and their ships had extreme difficulty landing on the planet. They had outposts and enough troops deployed to mount an invasion, but without a central government to pull them together, they were basically reduced to pirates again. But it wouldn’t last forever. Jason had asked his father how long it had taken for Epsilon to recover, when he did, his father got a hollow, haunting look in his eyes, and said “I used that maneuver to bring an end to a war that was devastating to both sides. It nearly destroyed the inhabitants of Epsilon. It was five years before the planet returned to order, and when O’connor was here, he told me that it took another five years for their life to return to normal.” Jason kept that in mind.
They had five years’ tops before the Marn would be back, sooner if they were able to pull their outlying forces together and make a temporary command base on some other planet. To Jason, they were on borrowed time. He had witnessed first-hand how barbaric and bloodthirsty they were, he knew to what depths of depravity they had sunken, and how far they would go to seek revenge. He was sure that he was marked for death, and considered their greatest enemy since Whitlaw had formed the Guardians. He knew that O’connor, Linarro, and Rena would keep their word, and that Singh and the others wouldn’t talk about Embrellon. They might mount a full-scale invasion of the Marn homeworld though, but that was something they didn’t know, and Whitlaw had taught him at an early age, never assumed and plan on things you didn’t know.
Lantana and the Seers kept a constant vigil around the planet, always looking for Marn. They knew that at any time, an armada larger than the last could arrive when they least expected it. They had progress reports from the Vatarians, they had established a solid colony in the south, and had found no Brellon descendants on the continent. They had surveyed it, had sent reports, charts, and complete maps back to Goran via the island outpost. They maintained an amicable and friendly connection to the outpost and even supplied it with some of the things they had found on the continent. There were varieties of the Auroch, runner beasts, and the large birds that the Brellon ate. Some of the plant varieties that the Brellon consumed were even larger and produced more food than their northern counterparts, and they had a variety of marine life there in the rivers and lakes, as well as along the sea coast. There were crustaceans there that were larger than any they had seen. The samples sent to the island were so well appreciated that the outpost there had started fishing for them along the coastline of the island.
Jason knew that if they failed to maintain vigilance, they would be surprised by an attack the way he had been. He had so much to fight for, more than when he had been held captive. He had a son and daughter of his own. Two years apart, and they were beautiful children. The boy looked just like Whitlaw, and when he was born, he named him James. His father felt honored. When the girl was born, it was Vesarra who named her. She had wanted to honor Shamira by naming their daughter after her, it was a Velan custom, to keep a persons’ memory alive by naming a child for them; but Jason couldn’t bear to have that brought up, so in honor of her own family, she was named Lashira.
Jason was in his office, preparing lists for Whitlaw, when Lantana came into the office accompanied by Braela. That was unusual, normally Lantana would call him on the link. She came in and closed the door, took a seat across from his desk, and when she and Braela had gotten comfortable, Braela asked him a question. “When you were on Marn, and you and the others who were being held captive, you met someone named John Harlow.” Jason nodded, “what do you know of him?” Jason felt thought the question was odd. “I knew him as well as the others I guess, He knew our father, and he was an excellent swordsman. We were forced by Shagon to fight each other, and Harlow sacrificed himself to make sure we escaped, why?” Braela answered him, “I want you to come to the Seers room, and I want Whitlaw to see the memories of Harlow, this is his request, he says that he needs to see what you showed us.” Jason nodded and said “When?” Braela replied, “Now.” Jason tidied up his desk and rose to go with them. Shandarro came with him. They both had seen him, and both had memories.
They entered the room and Yoran, Whitlaw, Goran, Risa, Lara, and the whole contingent of Seers were in the room. The doors were closed, and Whitlaw asked them to set next to the Steele and do as the Seers asked. Jason got comfortable, and Lantana told him to relax and think about Harlow. The first memory that they saw was when they first met. All the different people in the room, the introductions and each person there. They watched as Jason spoke to them in English, and how each reacted. Harlow was there and he was as big as Whitlaw remembered. They watched all the conversations, the different interactions, the planning of their escape, the Linarro and Rena telling him all they knew about Embrellon, and then the ship. The last memory Whitlaw watched repeatedly, he saw the conversation, the apology, the fact that Harlow chose to make the sacrifice so the others could escape, and his death.
When they were finished, Jason asked his father “Why did you need to see the memories?” Whitlaw looked at him, and said “I needed to see if my suspicions were right. John Harlow was a clone. He had to be. He lost an arm at Epsilon, and had a prosthetic arm in its place. There were no scars around his shoulder where the arm was replaced. Jason asked him “What is a clone?” and Whitlaw replied, “A clone is a complete copy of the original, grown in a tank, and wouldn’t know it was a not the original depending on when it was created. What you killed wasn’t John Harlow, it was a replica of him. Yoran, do the Marn have cloning technology?” Yoran replied, “They could, but they wouldn’t have developed it, they would have stolen it.” Whitlaw rubbed his jaw. He had started wearing a beard, and it didn’t hide the worried look on his face. “If the Marn have cloning technology, and it survived the planetary destruction you caused on your escape, we could have a serious problem coming our way.” They all spun and looked at him, he continued “Cloning takes about nine months, and when complete, you have a full grown, fully functional being, with all the memories of the source material.” The implications dawned on Jason. They could be facing a full invasion by the Marn if they had cloning technology and it survived. Whitlaw told them that if they did have that technology, and they had Harlow’s DNA, they could be facing much worse than just the Marn. Harlow knew his strategies, had studied under him, had been his first officer at Epsilon. They could be facing something much worse than the Marn.
Just as they were about to leave the room, Lantana stopped them and turned their attention to the Steele, between the orbs was a ship approaching fast and it was on a direct course for Embrellon. It looked different than the Marn ships. It had the same basic shape, but the engines weren’t the same. It was Linarro, and he wasn’t coming from Marn. The ship came into orbit, and slowly came down. Once the ship had landed Linarro and Rena exited the ship, and in Linarro’s hand was a device. Whitlaw wanted to know why he had returned. He told them that they had made it to an Earth Space Station and had downloaded all the information from the ships memory banks, with the exception of any information about Embrellon. They had been discussing the designs of his ship when he looked at their viewer, and saw a fleet of Marn ships headed towards the station. He told them to take defensive positions, the Marn were raiders and pirates. They had just gotten the shields up and the fighters out when they got within range, the battle was pitched and they decided to escape the battle and come back here. The ship had weapons capabilities that he didn’t want falling into their hands as well as the engine designs. Whitlaw understood. Everyone was standing there watching when Linarro keyed some sequences into the little device he had in his hand, and the ship closed up and went back into orbit. They followed its path into space and when it was far enough out and at a safe distance, Linarro pressed another sequence into the device and there was an explosion in space that sent a blast of light out in an arc that passed by the planet. With that, Linarro and Rena looked at them and said “We had originally intended to come back here and see Risa’s child, and then were going to attempt to return to Vela. Now, we are refugees here as well. At that, Yoran burst into laughter, and said “Linarro, we have positions here for you and Risa. We have a conservatory here that could use some Professor’s.”
Whitlaw asked them to accompany him to see the Seers. They went to the room and he asked the Seers to show them what had happened. They showed him the whole scene. He was astonished. They had come here from the space station known as Epsilon Nine. When he had come here, it was still under construction, and it was twenty-five parsecs from here. It had taken the Rapier a year to get to Embrellon. Once he saw everything that had happened, and the destruction of Epsilon Nine. He turned to Linarro and asked him to tell him how they escaped. Linarro said “When the Marn fleet showed up and O’connor got the shields raised, the Marn started their attack, we estimated that they had over one thousand ships. O’connor and Singh, knowing what the Marn were capable of, had launched all the fighters in the station, the Marn sustained heavy damage to their fleet, by the time O’connor told us to flee, they had taken the fleet down to fifty ships, but, they had no fighters left, the torpedo bays were empty, and the phase cannon batteries were depleted. The only thing they had left was to cause a plasma explosion from the reactors that powered the station. O’connor got us out of the space dock, closed the bay doors, and dropped the shields. He had set the reactor on overload and when we left, we watched the Marn ships come in close proximity to the station and the station exploded, taking all that remained of the Marn fleet with it. We were out far enough to escape the shock wave from the explosion and made all speed for here.” Whitlaw asked him how long it took them to get here and he told them it had taken a month. Whitlaw was shocked that the ship that was just exploded was twelve times faster than the Rapier, and when he had come here, it was the fastest ship in the Earth Forces Fleet.
He knew that it was time to keep the Seers on alert, and to get the scouts ready. The Marn were coming, and if they had made it out to Epsilon Nine, then they would be coming here next. O’connor had known that to end an invasion into earth territory, the total destruction of that armada had to be done. He would remember him fondly, and he went to the keepers of the hall and commissioned a plaque for O’connor, Singh, and Epsilon Nine.
Everyone was on full alert, Lantana sent out the alarm, the Marn had just entered the system; they were coming from the direction of Marn, a fleet of ten ships travelling at top speed. That meant they would be here in five days. The battle was coming to them, and they had spent five years preparing for it. All that they had to do now, was see where they landed. It was going to be a one-sided battle if their preparations proved out.
They hadn’t slowed down since entering the system. The ships were coming and they were on a direct course to Embrellon. All of the Guardians had gotten into place the rail guns were ready, and the ballistae were prepared, but not deployed. That was a secret they didn’t want to expose unless they had no choice. The Scouts were at their posts, and making sweeps, and the Rangers were ready and assembled at their outposts. They were all waiting on the arrival of the Marn.

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