starless part 5
The phantses were skittish. A short soldier dressed in his grey camouflaged winter uniform came up to his and offered it a strawcose candy. His mom had sent it to him from the wastelands before the rainy season had come. He smoothed the silky mane of the grey and black animal.
"Eat this." He murmurred to the beast. "God knows where we are heading in this mess. The Captain, he is good man. He would not lead us to our doom? Right? Sully?" He felt the animal muzzle his hand, searching for more.
"Sorry, girl. That was the last piece. You should feel honored." He reached up and pulled the big head down to his level, and, looked deep into the grey eyes with yellow sclera, the phantse seemed to understand the honor of the gift as it reached down and nuzzled the man's shoulder.
The Captain watched as his soldiers mustered. The activity was always exciting to him. He loved preparation. He enjoyed the excitement of the hunt. But as he thought about the glimpse of the man with the overcoat and fedora, he shuddered. Nothing could have take out the vid cam like that. There were no fingerprints, only a stare from the culprit and the camera can turned off. Then there was the desk. It had been carefully built with the specs to stand any blast, even to the extent of a nuclear one. Yet the secret compartment was shredded and broken, as if torn to bits. No sound had been reported by the guards outside. How could any "man" do that?
He had always known the Governor to have secrets... but the reaction of him losing this thing, whatever it was, was beyond reason.... The man sighed deeply, reflecting how he had come to this place. He smiled, something that was seldom if ever seen,.
"Captain Smithson?" The Sargent of Arms stood at attention, his arm over his heart. "Sir?"
The Captain came out of his musings with a Humph like clearing of the throat.
"The troops are preparing as to your specifications, but they are worried, Sir. It is the rainy season after all, and the phantses may not be able to handle this muck."
"We will proceed. We simply must. There is no other discussion."
"Sir, I mean no disrespect but rumor says we are going to Rockbridge."
"And what of it?"
"At least a third of our men have family there." He looked at the Captain, whom he had served for the last five years. "My auntie lives there."
"This is a mission. We must act like soldiers, trained professionals. If any one does not wish to follow me, then they need to resign their post and stay here." He paused. "Although, I do not know what the Governor will do to them. I will not force them to go."
"Captain?" He had never seen the Captain so...odd. "You know we will go thru hell for you. The problem is..."
"Don't say it, Sergeant. Insubordination and treason are entering my mind now. Go tell the men of their choice. My motives for serving the Governor are my own. Each should look into themselves and see what is there."
The Captain turned and walked along the lowly boardwalk leading to the mess tent. The man did not miss a step in the grey muck that had covered the walk.
Jane woke up with a start, finding herself in her father's study, lying on the couch. She had no idea how long she had been asleep, but the headache that threatened to take her over had disapated.. As she focused, she heard voices.
"I won't wed my daughter so quickly." She heard her father say.
"I am here on best intentions, Governor. No one else could possibly love her like I do."
"Cameron, I know. You are very like me. You see something and you want it. But I am telling you that now is not the time to be having this discussion. You are my chief scientist and archaeologist. You found the treasure that has been stolen. Only after it is found, when all is back to normal." He paused, "Only then, will we have this discussion."
A servant showed up then, whispering something in the Governor's ear.
"Cameron, if you will excuse me now. I have other matters to attend to."
The tall man with slicked back blond hair, with his traditional black suit and black and white striped vest clicked his heels together and bowed.
"I will look forward to this discussion at that time when the artifact is recovered. Until then." He did a smart about face and walked out.
Jane let go of the breath that she had been holding for so long, as she spied the tall figure of the Captain entering into the room.
"Your Honor, the men are mustered. We will pull out in a few minutes."
Jane thought, what? Pull out? Where?
"Captain Smithson. I knew I could count on you."
"Yes, your Honor.. That remains to be seen, if the mission is successful, I would then wish to make a request of you upon my return."
"I would love to hear tht request, but, I will tell you this. If you do not come back with the stolen treasure, don't come back at all."
The man flinched. As the Governor placed his hand on the taller man's shoulder, who leaned forward pulling the man down to his level.
"I mean it. If the mission is a failure, don't come back." As he pulled away, he looked into the young man's face. The governor smiled, watching the fear be replaced by the same deadpan expression that Captain Smithson always wore.
"Understood, your Honor." The man turned a little, then halted, noting the open door with Jane standing behind it. He smiled inside, knowing that the reason for him being here was just behind that door. He knew she had heard. His heart filled with hope.
"You are still here, Captain?"
"Yes, your Honor. I bid you goodbye, your Honor." He turned back towards the Governor, and bowed.
"You are dismissed."
The Captain about faced and made his way to the entrance. He stepped out into the grey mist that had been a down pour earlier. He paused as he contemplated the cloud filled sky...wondering if even the planet itself was crying out. He pulled his rain gear around him, pushing all sentimental thoughts aside and forced himself to slowly move towards the gate.
As he passed thru the opening to the street to either go to the town or to the encampment, a slight girl with red braids and emerald eyes stood quietly there, as if waiting for someone. The Captain nodded and took another step.
"Captain, you would walk by me and not say a word."
He turned sighing. "Miss Right, you should not be out here alone. I heard that you had a fall."
"I don't care about that." The girl looked at him almost accusing him of a crime. "You are leaving, aren't you? I heard. You are going to leave and not say good bye to me?"
"M Miss Right, it is not like that. A soldier must do his duty first."
"Duty? What duty are you talking about? Duty to my father? Duty to the town?"
The man took the few steps to close the distance between the two of them. He reached out and held the girl at arm's length, making sure no one could see them by backing her behind the gate.
"Jane, my duty has never changed. Not from the first time I laid eyes on you. For us to be, I must prove my worth to your father. Don't you understand the ways of men?"
"I only understand that Cameron is in my father's eyes as far as my future and his political ambitions are concerned. I beg you, don't let that happen. I cannot be given to him."
"Then wish me God's speed that everything will be well. I will find your father's treasure and return a hero. I will then ask for your hand. I am no longer the beggar boy who saved the Governor's daughter, I will be a man in your father's eyes."
Jane looked into the deep blue eyes of the black haired man. She hated the scar placed on his right cheek by her father. She traced it and said, "I wish we were elsewhere. I wish we were together like before. All these years have passed and we can only steal moments like this." She shoved a huge wrapped box into his hands. It was the leftovers from her father's lunch she had made earlier.
"I have to go before they find me missing. Take this and know you are in my thoughts."
"Thomas, may the Gods be with you. May the wind be at your back."
He pulled her into a tight hug and breathed in her scent. It was as if time had stopped for him, then, he quickly pushed her away,
"Good day, Miss Right." As he turned and walked quickly towards the encampment, Jane saw two men approaching the residence. She turned quickly and headed thru the secret path that led to the back entrance of the house. Running in she headed to the baths, wondering if she would ever see Thomas again.
This is a continuation of a fantastic story started by Slarty O'Brien. It is a continuation of the story from his chapter four. Look to Motown2Chitown for the next instalment. These are two very well respected writers, and i feel very privileged indeed to be involved with this project. take care and happy reading.