Awakening Epilogue
31
March, 2012
Awakening Epilogue

In all, it takes three months to weave, splice, and mount the K-F drive filament.  During that time there is no further sign of the mystery invaders and things are, for the most part, quiet.  Out of the remainder of Cooter’s force, some independent treasure-hunters, and a very few residents of the settlements on Persephone 3, you recruit forty new men, including Flannery McTavish, much to her father’s chagrin.  Cooter’s surviving officers – Jameson, Rance, Sims, and Lev Arris – remain uncommitted.  Your bond with the people of McTavish’s Hope grows stronger – and every member of the crew is given several weeks shore leave in the settlement (two choose to join the colony permanently).

The HPG comes online several days into the tests of the jump drive.  It syncs up with the network – now wholly operated by ComStar, which has become more of a religious cult to Jerome Blake than the holding company it began as, and begins, over the course of several days, to collect your mail.
After a burst of centuries-old messages from nearly a dozen different galactic authorities outlining how treasonous, precisely, Kerensky’s Exodus and your not insignificant part in it is, the volume of messages drops.  For several months there are scattered wistful messages from family members of the crew, and for decades longer the occasional message from the more dedicated parents and spouses.  The occasional tiny ping request from hopeful treasure-hunters appear off and on for another century.  And then silence.

The new messages are dated from mid-July.  It would seem that someone managed to get word of your presence out of Persephone, but for the moment the information seems to be trickling through the intelligence services of the various powers of the Inner Sphere and has yet to become truly public knowledge.

Colonel Becker, you’re reviewing the messages sent to the Agamemnon in the tiny war room that makes up part of Tokugawa’s quarters.  The messages aren’t surprising really, but they are creative.  Every major power in the Inner Sphere wants words – the leaders of Houses Davion and Steiner are inviting you to dinner, Marik is offering substantial bribes, and the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine outright informed you that the 9th Fleet was officially folded into the Combine during the dissolution of the League and you’re hereby ordered to report for duty.
You’re reviewing an invite from Wolf’s Dragoons – the premiere mercenary company of the Sphere – to visit their world Outreach to survey their operations or perhaps even incorporate as an independent entity, when the duty officer at the comm station breaks in.
“Colonel, that one has an encrypted stream buried in a side-channel – the computer automatically decrypted it with one of Tokugawa’s personal cyphers – so whoever sent it has some pretty inside knowledge.  Putting it up next.”

[CUT TO CIC]

Major Summerville is overseeing the last of the jump simulations.  He looks up and notices Chief Chapman and the officer at the engineering station having an intense conversation.
“COB?” he asks.  Chapman looks up.
“A curiosity sir, probably something buggy in the simulation software.  We’re seeing a dramatic uptick in processor utilization in several shards of the core.”
“Inform Captain Millet, I’d like to know either way.”
“Aye.”

[CUT TO TOKUGAWA’S QUARTERS]

A woman appears on the screen in a rather severely-cut uniform, a red wolf’s head on one black lapel, a spider on the other.  She bows slightly.
“Admiral Tokugawa, when we heard of Agamemnon’s reappearance in Persephone, we were, to say the least, amazed that your plan worked.  Yes, we received your signal, attenuated nearly to non-existence, picked up by the Bernard HPG nearly ten years ago.”

You look up, and Tokugawa is sitting across the table, a meeting at some point in the past.  He appears disheveled, slightly wide-eyed, sweating slightly.
“Did you do this?” you growl.
“No,” he replies, quietly.

“Your projections were, to be frank, prescient – though the situation is worse than you predicted.  The Exodus didn’t take long to devolve into a very war-like society.  There was, in fact, a second Exodus thirty years after the first, when Kerensky’s initial attempt at a society fell into disarray after his death.  What exists now centuries later is unidentifiable from the Star League you know.  Survival in the wastes was a crucible from which several large, warlike clans formed, held together by brutal martial laws.”

“Did you let this happen?” you growl.
“There was no choice,” he whispers.
“No choice?”
“The Exodus is doomed to fail, Kim.  It’s doomed.”

“As you so eloquently put it, Admiral, he took all of the warriors…”

“And none of the poets,” Tokugawa whispers.

[CUT TO CIC]

“Major, both reactors just went to a hundred percent.”
“What?  Captain Millet?”
“Investigating.”
“Sound general quarters.  Get the Colonel up here.”

[CUT TO TOKUGAWA’S QUARTERS]

“Unknown to anyone outside the company, save now, you, Wolf’s Dragoons was formed from an elite force recon company of Clan Wolf, and sent to the Inner Sphere twenty years ago to become intimate with the societies, the governments, and the militaries.  To gather intelligence.  And to pave the way, you might say.  In that time…well…I suppose we’ve gone native.  After living among proper human society, even as ravaged by these absurd and unrelenting wars as it has been, I daresay we’re all quite unwilling to go back to whence we came.  And so, my betrayal to Khan and Clan is complete.”

“Do you really think we’re going to survive this daft plan of Cottle’s?  You’ve killed us.”
“Perhaps.  But if we do not survive, I’ve sent a warning.  It may be heard in time.  And the Agamemnon…the Agamemnon will survive…Rasputin will see to it.”
“Who the hell is Rasputin?”

[CUT TO THE COMPUTER CORE]

Captain Millet sits at a console, her face bathed in the light of the screen.  She freezes, her eyes widen.
“Oh…oh my god…”
She bursts from the chair and races to the door.

[CUT TO DEEP SPACE]

Stella, you’re approaching the end of a deep-space endurance exercise.  The Thermopylae dropped your wing off a week from Persephone 3 and you’ve spent that time with no gravity, no booze, no decent food, and all of that while sitting in a diaper strapped to a vacuum cleaner.  You volunteered to lead the exercise in exchange for being left alone for two weeks on Persephone 3 once you got there, and, while you may be approaching from the dark side of the planet, you’ve been watching that beautiful black spot grow bigger and bigger for the last day.  You finally get within real-time communications range.

“McTavish’s Hope, Echo Flight, g’day!”  You wait for a few minutes for someone to get to the radio, but receive no response.

“McTavish’s Hope, Echo Flight, anyone there?”  Again, silence.

“Dervish, Echo Flight, you there, Bob?”

You switch to a broader set of frequencies.  “To anyone receiving me on Persephone 3, this is Agamemnon sortie Echo-Three-Nine, respond.”

You take your wing into a wide orbit around to the lit side of the planet.  Someone in the flight gasps in shock.

[CUT TO TOKUGAWA’S QUARTERS]

“Admiral, you must come and meet with me on Outreach.  To that end I’ve established a holding corporation in the name of the SLDF Agamemnon and deposited to its accounts five million credits – that should be sufficient to purchase whatever you may need on the open market as well as allow you to pay the necessary fees to send a few interstellar transmissions on the HPG network.  But you must hurry.”

You’re staring at the wall now, where the phrase “All of the warriors, none of the poets” was scrawled when you first woke.  There’s a sound in the back of your head.  A grating sound…like the head of a fire axe dragging across the deck.  There’s a memory of voices in your head that were not your own, begging, ordering, screaming at you to stop Tokugawa, that he had gone mad.  You look down at the pen in your hand.  You’ve written “DON’T SLEEP” on the back of your free hand.

[CUT TO CIC]

“Sir!” comes the panicked shout from the jump station, “the jump capacitor has just shunted into the K-F drive and my computer is resolving a plot for Bernard!”
“Son of a bitch…” Summerville growls, “Chief of the Boat, best speed into Persephone’s gravity well, let’s have Isaac Newton put a stop to this.”
“Aye sir!  Helm, make your heading two-five-zero karem one-seven-nine, all ahead flank.  Prime the transit drives!”
Summerville pulls the handset from the map table and dials in the main reactor room while the helmsmen are repeating back their orders in the background.
“Engine room, under no circumstances is that goddamned K-F drive to fire, understand me?  Take any action necessary!”

[CUT TO DEEP SPACE]

Stella, you’re sitting limp in your fighter, in orbit next to the shattered remains of the Dervish, destroyed by weapons fire at some point in the last few weeks.  You’re close enough to see Bob’s cracked and frozen body through the bridge viewports.  Below you, Armageddon has befallen Persephone 3.  A caldera hundreds of kilometers wide boils, ejecting millions of tons of ash into the atmosphere.  The very crust of the planet appears cracked.

You slowly switch to your high-band radio.

“Thermopylae, Echo-Three-Nine, mayday, mayday.  My flight has twenty-seven hours of consumables remaining…and nowhere to go.”

[CUT TO TOKUGAWA’S QUARTERS]

“My people harbor such rage, sir.  Admiral,” she takes a deep breath, “my name is Natasha Kerensky.  My great-great-great-grandfather gave you a mission, and for all of our sakes I hope you succeeded.  We need the precious cargo that you’ve kept safe from humanity’s folly all these years.  We need mighty Agamemnon to defend the people of the Inner Sphere.  Because you see…sir…
…Mother Terra’s prodigal sons are returning home…
…And they intend to see us all burn.”

[CUT TO CIC]

Summerville looks down at the inoperative handset in dismay, and looks to the helm when Chapman shouts “DAMMIT!” and bangs his hand against the console.
The panicked murmur in the CIC falls silent.  All eyes are on Chapman as he locks eyes with Summerville.

“Sir, we’ve lost control of the ship.”

And thus ends Chapter 1:  Awakening.

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