18 Threnody For The Victims Of Chedoul

Isilia and I sat strapped to our respective seats as I engaged the ships thrusters and made off for orbit. We raced up into the sky our visibility blinded ominous clouds. The Stormbird shuttered as we passed through them. Their density caused extreme turbulence but the ship held. When we finally breached the clouds rays of sunlight exploded into the Stormbird and for a brief moment of joy I was blinded. Yes, I could feel the sun on my face again. It had been almost a month since I'd seen sunlight, the dark clouds of Chedoul having robbed me of the sensation for so long I'd forgotten how glorious it was. The light was something to strive for, it was a purpose in itself. Blessed.

I opened my eyes again a new feeling of purpose coursing through my veins. I looked towards Isilia. I had actually expected her to share in my new found sense of hope, but if anything it seemed to sour her mood as her only reactions were to scowl and put up a hand to keep the sun out of her eyes.

When we broke the world's gravity well I did a quick check on the radar screen: no contacts. I punched the coordinates Isilia had given me into the on-board cogitator and unstrapped myself from my seat. I pulled my floating body along the rails that lined the bulkhead back to the troop area and opened a compartment. I dug through until I found a case of ration packs and bottled water. Taking two of each I returned to the cockpit. I offered them to her but she only took the water. The cogitator pined once to tell me it had finished is computations. I scanned the green text for an ETA: 2 hours 19 minutes. I reclined back in my seat and set the Stormbird on autopilot.

We didn't speak for the duration of our flight and though I still had a few questions for the Xeno, namely the origins of her tattoo I kept quiet. It didn't seem right to interrogate someone who'd saved your life. After I'd finished my meal I went back to the troop compartments to look out the starboard porthole. I wanted to see the nightmare that was Chedoul. As I began to look the console beeped and I turned feeling a bit of apprehension until Isilia looked into it and told me it was nothing. I returned my gaze to the porthole and gazed down at Chedoul. The majority of it's surface was barely visible due to the dark clouds that literally covered the entire planet. The exception of course was the Northern continent, the entirety of which seemed to be engulfed in a firestorm in the same vein as the ones I saw at Longs Reach only magnified a million fold.

I tore my gaze away content that I'd stared the devil in the eye and returned to the cockpit. 49 minutes remained in the last leg of our journey. I was anxious to get on the ship and get the hell out of the system. Of course If I'd known what waited for me ahead I would've taken my chances on the ground.

With 12 minutes left the cogitator suddenly started making long beeping noises and the Stormbird jerked suddenly out of the course I'd set for it. I scanned the screen but the text flew across too quickly to read. I tried to disengage the autopilot but the controls were locked out.

"Was this supposed to happen?" I asked Isilia a sound of concern permeating my voice. She nodded her head in acknowledgment and removed the Rosette from her pocket.
"Calm down they're going to bring us in." She said as as she removed the Rosette from her pocket saying something in her alien language that I couldn't understand. Not having much of a choice I sat back in my seat and waited. "That is the Ides Of March." She said when the ship decloaked itself not a hundred meters off our port bow.

The Ides Of March was not a massive vessel, as it were it was only the size of a large troop barge. It still held the shape of most Imperial vessels albeit a much shortened version. At the fore was a jagged prow made for ramming, in truth I'd always wondered why the bridges of these ships were in such close proximity to the rams but I'd never asked. The aft section held the engines and crew quarters. Connecting the two was a quarter mile stretch of serrarated armor and what appeared to be servitor operated Volcano cannons by the way they were tracking us. I'd seen in several space battles the damage those weapons could do. Punch through shields and armor alike with contemptible ease. They were usually operated by men, the aiming and reloading, practically make it a one shot per battle weapon. If those actions had be regulated be performed by a mechanical means then their firing rates, accuracy, and overall lethality would make it as deadly as a capital ship. But for the triple layer of void shields, cloaking technology and the fast action devastating weapons the vessel would have been an embarrassment to anything but the smallest of fleets. That and the ability to control the spirits of machines nearby.

The spirit of my Stormbird was guided like a child into the Ides docking bay. Upon entering the bay our ship killed it's own engines and was magnetically clamped onto a crab like arm that placed the transport in a predetermined spot. I let out a sigh of relief.

"Stay on the ship." She said as she got up to exit, tucking the snub-nosed pistol in the small of her back.
"Why...would I do that?" I asked puzzled.
"Inquisitor Casca has questionable loyalties, Beldame always suspected him."
"Then why were they working together here?"
"It's a long story, I'll explain later."
"No. I'm going with you."
"You need to be here, if this goes to shit we need to be able to make a quick getaway."
"Getaway? Are you fucking serious? Are you blind? Did you not just see this ship? There is no way well get away."
"Just stay with the fucking ship!" She screamed this time adding a strong psychic suggestion. I instantly sat down on the troop bench. I knew what she was doing but I was powerless to stop her. It had been unexpected and I'd left myself open to her. With a force of mental will I broke the spell over my body, though she didn't look particularly shocked that I had been able to get back on my feet. She looked me in the eye.

"Stay here Flynn, I'll be back shortly." She said. Then she turned around pressing the ramp release and dropped out of sight. I didn't bother following her.