The story continues! I have some good ideas for upcoming posts, including a couple of book reviews, updates on my Iron Hands army (yay pictures!), some detailed commentary on an aspect of my universe I've never really touched on before, and even a comic! More on those later, though.
Fast-forwarding a bit with the story. As it stands now, all attempts to destroy the Great Enemy capital ship have failed, and the situation grows increasingly grim. Captain Legun has argued to withdraw from the system, but the Admiral insists that's not an option, both for the people of Terranis and the secret it hides. It seems the pressure of the situation might be getting to him.
“Shields are down to 60%. We can’t take this bombardment for much longer,” Legun said as he consulted his pad, his voice edged with tension and...was that fear Renoir heard? It was a strange thing to experience; he had never heard it from the Captain before. Perhaps frustrated by Renoir’s silence, Legun walked to the front of the bridge to direct the junior officers more directly, leaving the Admiral with his thoughts.
His mind raced while he tried to think of something new. They didn’t have the firepower to destroy the Astaroth, not with whatever lurked within it being capable of destroying a Savior Suit in an instant. He couldn’t flee, there were too many people counting on the Bastille to keep them safe. And the secret of Terranis... even more than the people, he had to protect it. But how? And what of his burning desire to return to Earth? It had nagged at the back of his mind in the ten years since he had come here, the flame of desire no less diminished with the passing of time. The Bastille was the only way he would ever see Earth again, but now...
“Is your faith so weak?” Another whisper, but louder this time. Now he was certain he had physically heard it, that it wasn’t dredged from the memories of his dream. But where? Where was it coming from? He looked around, and saw only his bridge.
“How...?” he murmured. He could swear he felt a...presence of some kind, one that wasn’t here a moment ago. Like he knew someone was standing next to him, yet when he turned to look, there was nothing.
“Only sacrifice will save what you seek to protect,” the whisper had nearly become a voice now, and du Saniel nearly bolted from his seat at what he saw to his right. There was definitely something standing next to him, but it was only the faintest of outlines, a suggestion of a shape. A humanoid form, definitely, with slender arms, long hair, and flowing robes. There seemed to be the hint of wings on its back.
“Sacrifice?” he said to the shape, knowing now exactly what it was. His heart leapt at what it suggested, but fear still gripped his mind. “I’ve already sacrificed almost everyone under my command, and it wasn’t enough. What else can I give?”
“There is more to sacrifice than giving up things, even people. Sometimes you must surrender your very dreams,” the voice said back quietly. He could hear incredible sadness in the voice, yet also hope. He struggled to understand what he was being told.
“My dreams... What dreams? I only want to see Terranis saved...”
“You know what dreams I speak of. It never hurts more than when you must give up what you desire most.”
Realization began to dawn on Renoir. “My return... Going back to Earth.”
The voice’s tone did not change, but somehow he knew he was on the right track. “But how? How do I give that up? The Bastille is...” he trailed off as the revelation was completed. “No... I can’t...”
“How else will you attain victory? All other means have been lost to you.” The voice remained sad, but calm. Despite the near-panic surging through Renoir, it still soothed him to hear it. The outlines next to him seemed to grow slightly more substantial, and he could almost make out the expression on that face he knew almost as well as his own.
“Even if it works, what will we do? We will be alone.”
“No...you will never be alone. Terranis needs you. All of you.”
“And...Earth?” His panic began to give way to resignation as he accepted the path laid before him.
“It will survive, though you will never see it again. I’m sorry.” Renoir nodded, believing the apology to be genuine. Normally he might have rankled at having his course of action dictated by another, but a mix of desperation and trust left him far less opposed this time.
“Very well,” his determination began to trickle back into his voice. “If that’s what must be done.” He stood from his chair, composing himself. He took a glance to his side, but saw the outlines had already vanished. “Captain Legun!” Renoir said loud and authoritatively. The Captain looked up from where he stood over Lieutenant Biggs, his stern mask partly broken with relief.“Set...” Renoir hesitated for a second as the gravity of what he was about to order sank in. “set a collision course with the Enemy vessel. And...order all hands to abandon ship.”