Army of The Nameless
The war continues…
It’s been three standard years since The Battle of Bloody Eye and the Vrilkist War has ground to a stalemate.
While The Imperial Confederation of Ertho readies for the long awaited counterstrike, The Black Lions are delegated to hunting down stray separatists in an effort to bring the agitators to justice, but these elite soldiers are eager to return to the “real” war against the Vrilkist.
This holds especially true for Captain Coleman, whose hatred for the Vrilkist is tempered by the guilt he feels over the loss of Sabrina and his fallen comrades. Even so, the war has already taken a heavy toll on him physically and mentally, and he finds himself questioning how much more he can take.
The future of the universe balances on the razor’s edge, and gale force winds are gathering in the distance.
Disclaimer: the sample below is taken from the Third Draft and may or may not differ from the final version.
The Scorpious docked deep within the metal and silicon guts of Special Base 928. Cornelius unbuckled his restraints and stood from his seat, taking the time to stretch and make sure his black BDUs were wrinkle-free, with not a speck of lint or a stray thread to mar the uninterrupted perfection.
The rest of his team were all in the process of standing and stretching in the expansive cabin as well, as were the other passengers; those teams who were returning from the field or leave and had hitched a ride from Moonsault Station .
“We’re home, Black Lions,” Cornelius said.
“Oh please don’t tell me I’m back on Mars!” Suza said, causing the others to laugh, Cornelius included. It seemed nothing could shake the twenty-five year old’s youthful personality, not even his recent promotion to staff-sergeant.
“No worries there, Suza,” Cornelius said.
“I’ll take Mars over sleeping on these travel chairs any time of day,” newly-minted Chief-Warrant Officer Randall Monkast said as he pushed his billed hat down over his crewcut. The team’s resident hacker was twenty-five as well but the war had aged him at least ten years more. It was no wonder; the man had witnessed horrors beyond telling—and that was before he’d been recruited into the Spy-1 Special Forces. “Though I’d give both up for an hour on The Wolfstar.”
Suza hooted and slapped Monkast on the back, “Damn straight, brother! Wolfstar is how people like us are supposed to live! When the war’s over, I’m going back there, renting a room, and not leaving until I breathe my last breath.”
“I’ll be right there with ya,” Cornelius said as he pulled his heavy black duffle from the travel compartment in the floor, swinging it over one shoulder.
None of The Black Lions had felt like going their own way for leave so he’d suggested The Wolfstar Gaming Station, remembering the good times he’d had there with his old Wolfstar Crew: Williams, Rhento, and Erikson, never forgotten.
Cornelius sighed. He hadn’t messaged his mother or Lynn the entire time he’d been on leave. The thought prompted a silky tendril of green guilt to twirl from the pit of his stomach, rising to pierce his black heart. Instead he’d cloistered himself in his rooms and drowned himself in alcohol and prostitutes, talking to his dead comrades during his few lucid moments, their faces floating before his mind’s eye on a never-ending turnstile, triggering a different, more bitter, sort of guilt.
Shaking his head he says, “Let’s go. We still need to check in with Rumfred. Black Lions!”
“Black Lions!” the others shouted in unison before following him towards the egress portal, lining up behind the other returning teams.
Less than an hour later, the Black Lions were arrayed before Brigadier Ivor Rumfred in the latter’s office. The walls were glossy black, with left and right affixed with a single large, polished gold star, the back fixed with the backlit insignia of the SSF: an obsidian skull bracketed by batwings above crossed battle-daggers. Other than that the office was Spartan, simple, with a pair of black polyglass desks making a broken L before the back and right walls.
At the brigadier’s side stood the black-uniformed beanpole that was Colonel Xavier Chane, 928’s intelligence chief.
“I take it you all had a restive leave?” Rumfred stated for preamble. He was stern-faced and square-jawed, with tight silver curls growing back from a prominent widow’s peak; a man who was big in stature as well as rank. He wore his dress blacks like a suit of armor, his arms always held stiff and rigid, hands always balled into fists as if he was perpetually ready for a fight, and the ribbon stack on his left breast held so many ribbons that it was nearly taking over the rest of the uniform, rising a good inch or two above the shoulder.
“Restive, sir?” Mikal Harlan asked. The young man hadn’t escaped the promotion call either. Before leaving for The Wolfstar, Cornelius had personally pinned the sergeant stripes to Harlan’s lapel. “I don’t know how I’ve never heard of The Wolfstar before but I owe Captain Coleman everything for introducing me to that little piece of heaven in the universe. And to answer your question, sir: leave was anything but restive, and I can’t wait to be that unrestive again. Black Lions!”
“Black Lions!” Cornelius said with the others.
Rumfred’s stern face split with a rare smile, “Ah, The Wolfstar. Yes, I’ve spent many a night there in my youth. How I miss that beloved pyramid. Summer nights! However, gentlemen, leave is over and the war continues. As you’ve probably guessed there is much work still to do. The Empire is marshaling the might of its forces around Bloody Eye, preparing for a full-on invasion into Vrilkist territory.” Turning to Colonel Chane Rumfred says, “You want the honors, Colonel?”
“Certainly.” Colonel Chane stepped forward. Everything about the man was long and thin, suggesting an infusion of Panadays blood somewhere in his family’s distant past. “As unfortunate as it is, the separatists of The Alternative Republic remain a threat at our backdoor and must be dealt with thoroughly before the invasion commences. The militants are fatally wounded, scattered and trying to lay low so they can heal and regroup; the perfect time for us to mop them up and ring them out for good.”
“And you want The Black Lions to do this, sir?” Cornelius asked, dreading the answer.
“This is correct, Captain Coleman.”
“With all due respect, sir, aren’t there other teams more suitable for the mission? We’ve been doing nothing else but hunting separatists and dismantling their operations for the past three years. If anything, The Black Lions are better suited for Bloody Eye, to be with the rest of the forces. Our experience against the Vrilkist will prove invaluable during the upcoming invasion.”
“And it will remain so,” Rumfred said, smile gone. “You are not being singled out there. There are other teams with just as much experience who are assisting in the fight against the separatists, same as yours, and they’re doing it without question. Frig, Coleman, if it’s action you want against the Vrilkist then you know as well as I that the vermin are backing at least one faction of separatists. You may get lucky.”
“Enough, Coleman!” Rumfred boomed, sucking the air from the office. “I know why you want to go to Bloody Eye but I’m the one giving the friggin orders and those orders come down from Spy-1 Command. You will lead your team against the separatists, that’s an order and it’s final. These rotations are in place for your own damn good. What you and your team did at Bloody Eye took a toll on every one of you, whether you want to admit it or not. And that’s not even including what you all went through before that. You will see action against the Vrilkist, I promise, but combat fatigue can bring down even the most hardened warriors. The Black Lions will serve The Empire better in the field than in a hospital bed babbling like deranged idiots or, worse, locked useless in the brig. Do you agree, Captain Coleman?”
“Yes, sir,” Cornelius admitted grudgingly.
“I thought so. Now Colonel Chane will brief you on your next set of missions. Welcome back, Black Lions. Victory!”
Rumfred stormed from the office before Cornelius and his Black Lions could answer the creed.
“Follow me please to Operations,” Colonel Chane said before following in Rumfred’s wake.
Cornelius and his Black Lions followed after.
Thanks for reading!