Approx. 1800 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
A Touch of Chaos:
The Meeting After
written by SJ
When Jennifer Dakota learned about the disappearance of the Terminus Est, she was furious. Once the meeting with the General was over, she had to vent her anger:
“Why are we doing this, Marcellus? Why are you training me to be a Librarian when NO ONE will listen to me?” She paused for a deep breath. “I tried to warn them to NOT go into the Captain’s cabin...I tried to tell them not to go on that ship at all. And what do they do? They IGNORE ME!”
He was going to say something--
“Now we have yet a THIRD Chaos army to fight--”
“Jennifer.” He implored. “We don’t know if this Chaos warship will return from the WARP. All we know is that it’s gone--”
“You don’t understand--what I saw on that ship!” Jennifer was starting to calm down, but was still serious. “A Plague Ship--that could easily infect the whole Sol Frontier. And this wouldn’t be just some virus or bacteria. It would be a WARP Plague!”
“I don’t know what to say, Jennifer.” Marcellus tried to be a voice of reason. “What do you want us to do? Quit?”
She took a deep breath and sighed...
“We’re all they have...whether they listen to us or not.” He smiled rationally.
“How do you do it, Marcellus?” She sighed, “when they don’t listen to you.”
He made an almost comical face. “Jennifer...no one’s been listening to me for as long as I’ve been a Librarian. Why do you think there are so few of us left? I guess I've simply gotten used to it.”
“Do you think they’ll listen to us, now?”
“I assume they’ll listen to us when they get ready to.” He smiled. “Until then, we’ll just have to wait.”
The next day, there was an online meeting called from the space station orbiting Cornucopia in the Proxima Altair star system, a place now officially being called, Warhammer 40K Headquarters. The General had been allocated an office, and rooms for his staff. Marcellus and Jennifer had their own rooms, but met with the General in his office.
The meeting, like many meetings, turned out to be online. Officer LaFong and Officer Dion had their computers and were each alone in their rooms. Colonel Gallardo was in his office, and Major Taliaferro was in his.
After the General had brought the meeting to order, it was Marcellus that spoke first, wanting to relay not only Jennifer’s feelings, but his own about being ignored in the Terminus Est situation. He concluded by saying, “if neither my opinion, nor Dakota’s opinion is going to be listened to, then why are they asking for it, why are we even here?”
The General spoke up right away. “I just want to reiterate how much myself and others, including Yarrick, appreciate your opinion. I’ve had a chance to talk to President Cooper and Prime Minister Lebesque and they told me that Tel’ba Mal has been recalled to the Tau Sept worlds where she’s expected to be replaced. Her initial excuse was to say that it was one of her staff that handed out her official authorization to the small exploration vessel to board the Terminus Est.”
“But, what about all the other scientists that went aboard?” Jennifer needed to speak out. “No one should’ve ever gone aboard that ship...not until we knew more about what we’re facing with Chaos.”
“I agree, Sergeant Dakota.” The General nodded. “That’s why Tel’ba Mal is being recalled. Her excuse was simple: nothing happened. A team of scientists carefully examined the Terminus Est. They analyzed the rooms with WARP darkness and came up with a way for us to navigate in that darkness, what they are calling, Infinite Darkness. And they did not investigate the WARP power source at all. With great caution they opened the door to the Captain’s cabin, found nothing, and nothing happened--”
Jennifer looked like she was about to explode. But, Marcellus preempted her. “But, something did happen, General. We still don’t understand how Chaos works. We still are not sure what they want...and how they are doing it.” He slapped his hand on the desk of his table. “Once those scientist were finished with their investigation, they should’ve locked up the Terminus Est and did what Jennifer said to do: close the door to the Captain’s cabin and fill in the hallway with Talmar.”
The General sat silently, then responded, “I agree, Marcellus. I agree one-hundred percent.” He leaned forward, speaking rhetorically. “You want me to tell you what I think happened? Tel’ba Mal took a chance. She knew if her scientists boarded that ship and found something important, she would get the credit for it.” He sat back. “But, she lost. And now she’s going to pay for it.”
When it looked like Jennifer was going to say something, the General continued. “The only positive side of this is now we have full Tau backing; they are officially part of the Warhammer 40K. And I think Tel’ba Mal is going to be replaced by a someone with more professional military experience.” He tried to smile at Jennifer. “So, you see, Dakota...even the Tau believe and accept your opinion...at least most of them.”
Jennifer sat for awhile, feeling sort bad about her earlier outburst. After a sigh, she spoke sincerely. “I’m sorry, General. But...if you, or anyone had seen what I saw on that ship, in my vision. Well...”
“I wish we could.” The General seemed to want to move on with the meeting.
Then Melinda spoke up. “You know, it seems curious that in both cases, it was the presence of an exploration ship that caused the problems. On Thanatos 4, I read in the report that the supply ship bringing in the new planetary gun was stopped in space by an exploration vessel. And here, it was an exploration vessel that was the last ship to board the Terminus Est, just before it went missing.”
The General thought for a second. “There’s no way I can get the registry number for the exploration vessel spotted in the Thanatos system, but I know I can get it for the one that went onboard the Terminus Est. I’ll have one of my staff get that for you after the meeting.”
Melinda nodded, happy she and her team might have something tangible to investigate, this time.
The meeting went on for a little longer about supplies, which was always an issue for any and all military commanders. Colonel Gallardo mentioned that since a battle with Chaos could happen anywhere, anytime, they should all have a ready reserve of supplies and ammunition.
During the end of the discussion on supplies, Jennifer and Marcellus had been talking with each other. When it looked like the supply discussion was over, he felt he should mention something that happened on Thanatos 4. “Jennifer and I have been trying to figure out why those people were ritualistically tortured on Thanatos 4. We think we have an answer.” He paused to think. “You see, these demons reside in a place that could very well be torment for them...a place were they get tormented and torment others. Once an opening is made from their world to ours, how do they find that opening? The only answer I can come up with is that the suffering of the victims at that massacre site provided a kind of lure, a way to draw the demons out of the WARP, and into our world.”
“So, if we find similar sites in the future,” LaFong considered the possibly, “we should be on our guard for demons nearby...assuming we haven’t already encountered them, like what happened on Thanatos 4.”
“Yes.” Marcellus agreed. “Even though we only have one instance to go by...I think, if in the future, God forbid, you run into a similar massacre site, you should be ready for demons.”
“How about the demons on Tolstoy?” The General asked. “There was no massacre site there?”
“Well, we’re still learning as we go, General.” Marcellus responded, then explained, “on Tolstoy it seems the area had been prepared in advance in some way...as Jennifer said--felt demonic. In that case, it’s possible the demons were simply led. Those Chaos Sorcerers may have the power to summon and control demons. On Thanatos 4, the demons seemed to be on their own--set loose, as it were...like a pack of wild animals.”
Everyone online seemed to agree.
When there was a long pause, the General needed to change the subject. After getting everyone’s attention, he explained. “Over near Cartel Sector 4, in the Sol-5 sector, there’s a small independent colony called, Tiberias. It’s not formally part of Cartel 4, but some of the smaller trade ships drop by there quite often. Well, as of about one Galactic month ago, we’ve lost contact with them. It’s not uncommon to lose contact for several days. But, a month. That’s too long. And trade ships that go there always call in advance; they can’t reach them either. With Chaos still on the loose, we’re going to have to send a team over there.” He paused. “I don’t want to send any warships, yet, even though I know something has to be wrong. I think the best way to go about this is to send LaFong and Dion’s teams over there to investigate. And, of course, Dakota will be joining LaFong’s team. Just remember. This is a small independent colony. They might not even want you there. If nothing else, you can scan the area for any trace of the WARP. And, also, I want you to drop off a couple covert observation probes. With all the problems with Chaos, I want to keep eyes in that system no matter if they like it or not. Major Taliaferro should already have all the information you need on the Tiberias system, and he’ll be in communication with you most of the time by FTL com link. Dion’s team will be carrying a Navigational Beacon. I want that set up and activated first. After that, if you spot Chaos warships, stay stealthed, take cover, call, and I’ll send warships there immediately.