I know it must be painful for you but could you tell me more about Judgement?
Judgement.......oh, my, what an awful, awful day. Things were looking up, mind you. The talks with the Vasari and Advent were very favorable during the beginning of the Entrenchment years. And then.........oh, my. So many dead, so many ravaged planets on all sides....I better start from the beginning.
I was stationed on the TDN Kolossus, which was captained by the beautifully seductive Jessica Doremi. We were patrolling the area around the site of the STARBASE project, since we had gotten reports of pirate trouble in the nearby area. STARBASE was directed by the team that designed the Novalith Cannon, don't ya know. Professor Newman and his crew must be geniuses. Anyway, we enlisted the help of three other fleets to help protect and defend the STARBASE site. They called that starbase Judgement, you know, after what happened. So each fleet was sending out patrols to nearby sectors as we had heard pirates were in the area, and then one of our patrols never came back. We tried to hail them, but all we got was static. We sent another patrol out to find them, and they were never heard of again either. By then the patrols from the other fleets had returned, and Jessica Doremi ordered them to prepare for an assault coming from the phase lane our patrols had disappeared into. Thank the stars of heaven she was ready. Suddenly, out of the phase lane came a fleet of pirates, accompanied by three Vasari fleets! There were Ravastra Skirmishers, which we used to call dogboys, all the way up to Vulkoras Desolators! Now we were shocked, let me tell you. The peace talks had been going so well, you know. But we were fairly well matched, so Doremi outlined formations and battle plans fairly quickly, and then me and my squad were running for the hangar bays. There were four total squadrons docked on the Kolossus at this time, you know, my squad, the Flying Fish, and then there was the Steel Blasters, the Origami Orangatangs (that leader had a sense of humor, let me tell you), and the Death-by-Lightning squad. Every major capital ship had a Death-by-Lightning squad back in those days. A more serious or deadly group of men and women there never was. Without them, the Flying Fish would never have made it out of there. So we were just launching out of the hangar bay when our TACCOM representative on the Kolossus radioes us and says that they've detected more major phase signatures coming in from the phase lane behind us! (Relatively speaking, of course, as there are no directions in space.) So we turn around, expecting more Vasari, and guess what we found? FOUR Advent fleets! Four of them! It seems that during the three-part peace negotiations, the Vasari and Advent had cut a deal and gone after us. It was all run by the Advent leader, though. A more eery or despicable man I never did meet. Well, by the time the Advent had come in range, Doremi had already sent distress calls out to every single command ship in the TEC, notifying them of this betrayal. By the time the Steel Blasters and Origami Orangatangs had been eliminated and half my squadron destroyed, the TEC commanders had authorized all-out attacks at several large Advent and Vasari installations, but no help was coming our way. This I learned afterwards, mind you. They would not have been updating a lowly fighter pilot with this kind of urgent information. All I knew then was that Jessica had ordered all fighters back into their ships ASAP, and I was wheeling my fighter around and getting the tainted stardust out of there. The next thing I knew, my beacons were blasting full out and eight---eight!---enemy fighters were making their way towards me. Just when I thought I was finished, out of nowhere comes Death-by-Lightning and deflects the forward enemy fighters' lasers. But that wasn't all, no sir. Even as their ships burst into flame and the men and women inside surely perished, the Death-by-Lightning squad hurled their ships on automatic towards the enemy fighters. They collided in mid-space. Just think of the immense bravery and heroism of that action, though. Death-by-Lightning sacrificed themselves, their whole squad, so they could kill the enemy and help me escape. I was never really friendly with any of the Death-by-Lightning members, but I remember every single one of them dearly. Now once I got back into the Kolossus's hangar, Doremi herself is there waiting for us. She fills us in on the situation, how no one is coming to reinforce us, how we were outnumbered 8 fleets to four. And Advent and Vasari fleets were larger than TEC fleets. They more than doubled our numbers! Our last hope, Jessica told us, was the starbase. Now the starbase was almost completed and they had moved all the personnel onto it yesterday as the living quarters came online, so my wife was already down inside it, waiting for her section to come online. She was in charge of monitoring the weapons systems and making sure none of them got overheated. A real mechanic, she was. There were thousands of men and women working in the starbase, and every single one had a small but immensely important job to do. Like my wife. All she had to do was scroll through the system's reports on each and every weapon, which I'd think was tedious but she loved it, but my wife had to rely on the man checking to make sure the computer's were recording the information correctly, and in turn rely on I believe the woman responsible for maintaining adequate power to that part of the computer systems. There were thousands of men and women working in that starbase, and each one had to completely trust the rest of them, or the entire installation would fall apart. For the last year and a half, my wife's sole work in preparation for working on the starbase was bonding and trust activities with the other members of the starbase. A year and a half, and every day of it activities designed for one person to get to completely trust another! That gives you an idea of the mental strain a starbase position demands of you. Keep that in mind, young one, if you are ever asked to work on one. Did you know that starbase positions are the only military jobs that are legally not allowed to be put into the draft? You cannot be forced into working on a starbase, you have to be 100% willing to do it yourself. Anyway, half my mind was trying to come up with a way to save the fleet and get myself out of there alive, while the other half was filled with worry for my wife. She couldn't try and make a break for a phase lane, she was trapped on a not even fully-completed starbase! And even when the starbase was completed, there was no surety that it would work as expected, no promise that Professor Newman's designs were flawless. They were planning on months of testing before putting the starbase online.
Then the Advent leader contacted us. The conversation was displayed on every monitor on the ship. The remainder of my squad and I crowded under the immense single screen in the hangar bay, so large that it covered half a wall, while Jessica went back to the command bridge. l never in my life forgot the site of that Advent scum. Haiti, he called himself, and he spoke with such calm assurity and arrogance in his every word it put a bad taste in my mouth. I spat, and it felt like I was spitting out grease, or slime. Then Doremi was up in the command bridge, and she was talking with this monster.
"What is the meaning of this?" She demanded, and the Advent leader laughed. His laughter was cold and harsh, humorless. He said, "Today is your day, Sinner. The Reemergence has ended, and now comes your trial. Now comes the time where every terran in your pathetic union will be weighed and found wanting. Today is the day where every member of the Trader Emergency Coalition is found a Sinner. Today is the day of your Judgement." He laughed again then, and it sent chills up my spine. He disconnected the video transmission.
It was eerily quiet in the hangar bay after that, and on the command bridge too. It was Jessica who broke the silence. She ordered multiple copies of the conversation to be made and sent to prominent members of the TEC government. She sent for a status update on the starbase which, we were all realizing, was our only chance for survival. A few minutes later, after the videos had been sent out, Doremi received her update on the starbase. It was due to come online at any moment. All the monitors instantly switched over to an external camera that was facing the starbase. It filled the entire screen, dark and lifeless, with the flashes of lasers and beam weapons flying around it. And then it came online. A more majestic thing I never saw. All at once, thousands and thousands of windows lit up brightly, and hundreds of lasers shot out from around the starbase at Vasari and Advent ships alike. The pirates were long annihilated by now, by the very allies they brought into the system. The attack was beautiful. The entire ship was laughing and shouting with joy, but then we received the first diagnostic reports from the starbase. The attack had drained too much of its power, if they didn't immediately shut off now, the entire starbase would explode. We were very quiet then. My heart went out to my loving wife, stuck alone on that deadly time bomb. It didn't matter that thousands were in the same predicament, without me by her side, she was alone. Doremi was silent for a long, long time. Professor Newman came on screen and told us that the inhabitants of the starbase had all voted, and they had all agreed to keep the starbase running for as long as they could, to do as much damage as they could to the Vasari and Advent. He sent Doremi all of the notes and logs of his starbase design, and told her to get it out to the scientific community, so better-designed starbases could be constructed. Then he too signed off, and a hush descended on our ship. But this silence was not to last for long, for as the monitors were still displaying the command bridge, sensors went off and large red lights on the ceiling began to flash. We were being targeted by an enemy capital ship! As Jessica had ordered the Kolossus to be far above and away from all the fighting so she could manage it properly, now as most of our ships---our four fleets!---were destroyed, the Kolossus was being fired on as well. Doremi ordered us to the very edge of the gravity well, as far as possible from the starbase. Our weapons systems came online and began firing back at the Advent ship, as I saw it was. All of a sudden, there was a great white light, and a moment later, a roar that resounded throughout the ship, shaking it as though it were no more than cloth. All of us were thrown to the ground and the glass on a nearby fighter exploded, showering us with shards. When I looked up again, the monitor had switched back to an external camera, and was aimed at the fiery explosion of the starbase. Even the fact that it was taking out hundreds of enemy ships with it held no warmth for me. I felt it like a physical slash across my heart. My wife, oh my darling Illana!, was consumed by that fire. But even for this I had no time to mourn, for as the explosion died down, the Advent ship flashed and our engines came to a halt. But they didn't fire on us! Oh, no, I assume they wanted us alive, to question us on the starbase most likely, but I never found out. It's not like I ever discussed this with the Vasari. Oh, yes, it was the Vasari that boarded us! They came in from behind while the Advent ship was still keeping us frozen, and blew out our engines. After that, they hooked onto us from the side and blew breaching holes into our hull. One hole was blown into the hangar bay. I've seen stills of the Vasari before, so I knew what they looked like, and I knew that they could communicate with us as they had developed a sort of device that was surgically implanted in them all to be able to understand and replicate any language, since they conquer so many, but nothing had prepared me for what I was about to see. The Vasari that poured out of the hole were completely covered in a sort of shiny, black armor. It seemed to suck in light rather than reflect it. And the leader of the group, as leader he obviously was, he had a presence about him, had a sort of red symbol on his armor, on his chest, but I didn't know what it was. Some sort of Vasari marine group, I guessed. Well, we weren't hanging about to find out. We got up off the floor and sprinted towards the pressure hatches separating the rest of the ship from the hangar bay, in case of a pressure leak in the bay. At any moment we expected to feel hot Vasari lasers peeling across our backs. But the Vasari didn't pull out guns. They pulled out long, deadly-looking spears, and ran at us! They actually ran at us! But they were so, so FAST! I couldn't believe it! One moment they were by the hole in the hull at one end of the bay, and the next they were right behind us, and one second more they were ahead of us, blocking the way into the pressure hatches! They moved faster than lightning! In a blink of an eye they could be right up on you! I thought we were done for, I admit it. I thought our lives were lost. But then the pressure hatch opened, and someone stepped out from behind the Vasari! I couldn't make him out, but he moved fast, maybe even as fast as these strange Vasari, and in second the three that had moved in front of us were lying on the floor, bleeding their Vasari blood. Then I saw who it was. It was KOL! Alexander J. Kol! The hero of the TEC, and the man who had been captured by the Vasari and gone missing years ago! We had all given him up for dead after a week of no news. But here he was, years later, and with a fiery, burning vengeance against these Vasari that I could see in his eyes. Apparently, the leader of these Vasari knew him. The Vasari hissed and jerked backwards as if he was startled, but I couldn't tell because in addition to the strange armor these Vasari wore, they had intricate, black masks or helmets over their heads. Kol stepped calmly forward, twirling one of the Vasari's spears in his hands. Close up, I could see the thing sparked with energy of some kind, and a constant red, I suppose energy, spiraled up and down the thing. Up close, it looked positively fearful. Kol stopped twirling the spear like a baton and pointed it straight at the Vasari leader. "You're dead, Fokxnim," he said quietly and calmly, before with a sort of half jump-skip he was running towards the other Vasari. The Vasari leader hissed again and the remaining Vasari scattered out across the room. I can't describe the battle to you, lad, as there are no words to decribe what I saw then. All of them, the Vasari and Kol, were moving at speeds my eyes just couldn't keep up with. But it ended with Kol removing the spear from the Vasari leader's chest with a sharp tug, and a growl of disgust. Then, without a word to us, he ran back through the pressure hatch and down the hallway. We followed him. He fought through countless numbers of Vasari, all dressed in the strange black armor, but eventually we made our way to the command bridge, where Jessica Doremi met us. She went white at the sight of Kol and collapsed on the ground. But once we revived her she couldn't express enough how happy she was to see him. Kol just stood through the tears silently, saying only "I know" at the end. There was something odd about Kol, something in his manner or stance, but I couldn't place it. I had fought under him before, and he wasn't the same humourous, easygoing leader he used to be. There was something in his eyes, you can always tell by the eyes. His eyes were dark and cold. When I looked into his eyes, I felt like I was staring at a man wishing he was dead. Then I looked at his forearm, and I choked on my breath. Ingrained in his skin was the telltale dark target sign. The symbol of a Marksman. We had all knew beforehand, everyone who fought underneath Kol before, that Kol was a Marksman, but he never acted like the Marksmen in the horror stories, and we had pushed the fact to the back of our heads. He was just a damn good soldier. But now, looking at him, I could believe all the stories about Marksmen. Looking at this man, I knew. Something had happened to him over the years that he had disappeared, something that had changed him completely. He was no longer the Alexander Kol we all remembered. This man was a Marksman, to the bone. To the soul. This was a man who would kill his own mother if it benefited him someway, or was demanded of him by his brotherhood. This was a man with no rules, except to win. This was a man wishing he was dead.
Well, there you have it. That was my experience on Judgement. But that wasn't everything, oh no. There was a whole day, I said, 24 straight hours of fighting and violence. This was only the first three. I know the rest of what had happened on that day, but this was everything that happened to me specifically. Do you want to know the rest of Judgement?
[for some reason, there's a whole chunk here that's on permament bold, it can't be taken off. but otherwise, this is HUGE foreshadowing of late part 2 or even early part 3 of Sinners, depending on how much I write into part 2. This will be a climax moment in the story. ha, it seems i can't write anything about Sins without tying it into Sinners.]