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Beyond the Paradise, part 2
Posted By: Uriel<robin.kunde@freenet.de>
Date: 29 December 2001, 11:51 pm

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Travel, Measure, Observe

You're afraid,
I know how it feels,
But it's ok,
This time is over,
For me,
And for you.
Aye mak sicur.

"You just got yourself another problem!" the thug with the biggest gun told him. He was cornered but managed somehow to maintain his grin. "I suggest you get in line. You're not the only one who wants to kill me." The smile of a winner. "But I'll be the last!" The thug took another step towards him, releasing the safety of his weapon. He took a step back and, in the same moment, felt the cold blade of a dagger sinking into the flesh of his back. He turned around, the grin half-faded, and got stabbed again. The assassin removed the blade from his belly and merged with the shadows again. He doubled over, blood dripping from his lips, and the taste of copper filled his mouth. He admired the strange forms the red liquid shaped, before following it to the ground. Without any hesitation, the thugs disappeared into the night of a place which knew no sunlight.
A person then emerged from the shadows, slowly walking over to the sunken body. The dark figure crossed a broad beam of light, but seemed to remain as dark as before, as if the shadows sticked to it. The visitor looked around, trying to spot possible observers, then kneeled down.
"Nah, it's cool. You should see their faces when I get their little present back on them." He rose.
"And how have you been enjoying your time off?"
"Time off?! I thought we were working."
"That's the problem with you, Sam. You never know how to seize your time the right way."
"I'll find out. I promise."
A light hum sounded. Sam tilted the head.
"I'm sorry to- Oh, hello Sam. Is Master Gabe with you?" a disembodied voice said.
Sam glanced at Gabe as he pounded the dust off his cloths.
"You can tell him that all preparations have successfully been completed. I'm returning to the ship now."
Sam touched the HUD.
"You've heard him. I guess you better get going, before your 'friends' decide to return and give your body a free EVA walk instead of letting you rot here."
"I admire your care, but I guess I get along very well."
"I've seen that."
"Don't start that again."
"It's not my intention you annoy you. All I want to say is that--"
"Why are you here, anyway?"
Sam sighed.
"Well, now that our task here is nearly completed--"
Gabe wanted to interrupt, but Sam raised a hand.
"-we have been given new orders."
"We aren't anywhere near being done."
"Oh, I haven't been idle, and as you've heard, the necessary preparations have been met. From here, the rest will be child's play."
"You're very confident."
"Of course I am. I know all the facts."
"In contrast to me."
There was a slight pause.
"Please finish your remaining business here. I want to depart as soon as possible."
Sam turned around and left. Gabe hung his head in frustration. He didn't want to oppose Sam but couldn't withstand. Something didn't feel right. Since he worked with Sam, he had always tried to overcome his problems with authorities. But now, it was harder than ever before. He felt used, although he knew there was no reason to. Or was there? He still had the feeling that the reason could be a lack of trust between them. "If that's the case, it's my own fault." he realized. Sometimes, he behaved like a child. Gabe knew that this was what strained their relationship. He had already approached this problem and was now determined to solve it once and for all.
"Hope is where you expect it the least." it echoed in his head. He reached into his pocket and touched what had caused so much trouble. "Was it about to cause even more?" he wondered.
Gabe veiled his head with the hood of his cape and became one of many. He chose a direction other than the one Sam left into and vanished into the absence of daylight.

Sleep tight, my f(r)iend

There are simply too many persons, who are actually trying to attract as much attention as possible with every step. If they would only contribute something to the world but I digress. Think subtle and act appropriately. Be subtleness incarnate.

"You're running nowhere. Fucking nowhere!" Ray moaned. "Damn, the heat is making me all drowsy and shit." He leant limply against the tree. "So what," I said. "I am grateful that I have finally the opportunity to relax. I had too many sleepless nights, too much horror, too much worrying-" My voice trailed off. "There are even more things to worry about, now. You may have forgot, but we're about to die. Rations barely last for another day, the weather doesn't get any better and all around us-" He lifted a hand to point at the surrounding desert, but stuck in mid-air and made helpless gesture instead. "For Christ's sake, you know what I mean."

Ray closed his eyes. He was not the easiest person to cheer up, but I didn't want to talk about death either. I might be lost but I'm not dead yet. If I really just sat there and waited to die, thinking about things I have no influence on was the last thing I wanted to do.
"I thought you were used to this kind of climate."
There was a slight chance that the memory of his home planet might divert him from his desperate thoughts. But Ray was just this kind of person who could turn a birthday party into a funeral ceremony.
"Have you ever been there? On Rariev, I mean. You just can't imagine the view you have from the Silent Cliffs if you haven't seen it with your own eyes."
Well, it was certainly not my lucky day, but it was better than I had hoped-
"Do you regret that you left?"
"No, it has been glassed."
- Or not.
"I'm sorry. It's a tragedy that so many people had to die. Even more because there seems to be no reason at all."
"Don't be. A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is statistics. History will forget their names if it hasn't already."
"But you're not dead yet. You still have a name. You have to fight a different war, but you can still fight at least."
"That's something I'm through with. I'm just one of the homeless victims of this devastating war. There's nothing special about my fate."
"You're wrong. Do you know why every unit has at least one soldier from a destroyed colony? It has a special meaning for the men. Warriors like you remind them of what they are fighting for. It maintains their determination to avenge every single lost soul."
"I think you confuse determination with mindless stubbornness."
"Maybe we're stubborn, but it kept us alive at least. And you could use some as well. Your miserable behavior makes me think we have already lost."
"Are you sure we can win, at all?"
He looked at me, but I did not reply. The silence was unbearable and I wasn't able to stand his look.
"I think I'm taking a nap." he finally said. "You're on guard?"
I nodded.

I grabbed my binoculars and kept observing until I was sure he were asleep. I checked my gear. I still had 2 clips for my rifle but no grenades. Ray had a few more rounds but I didn't want to take it. The needed something to scare possible attackers until I could help him again. Instead, I took a frag grenade from his belt. That had to do it. I stood up and loaded a fresh clip into the MA5B assault rifle. "You can't be sure, unless you try." I whispered.
I stepped out of the safety of the Mark II camouflage net we had thrown over the tree, sometimes called "light foliage" by soldiers who had to work with it. Opposing to the real military codename "dense foliage", the original version had 2 drawbacks. It was hard to see the exterior from inside and it never stood an examination which was more thorough than a tired glance. At least the first disadvantage had been eliminated with the Mark II.
I looked back at Ray. I was determined to get both of us out of here alive. But I couldn't take him with me now. His will to fight both, the odds and the enemy, was broken. I had seen this before and it rarely ended well. I had to do this alone. "All's well, that's well in the end." I told myself. I hoped Ray was not the only one who was dreaming.