Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 12

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 12

Didn't the happen before?

Where was everybody? Why wouldn't they answer his pleas?

Disorientated and half-blind, the Baron stumbled down the empty halls of the city, calling for help at every step, praying for guidance, screaming the names of everyone he knew.

"Duke Charon!" he cried into the thick darkness.

"Sinclair!" he screamed into the barren passageways.

"Redfield! Mark!" he shouted into the desolate rooms.

But it was no use. No one replied to his desperate bellows. And something was stalking him through the city.

He realized this while traversing the mess halls, a deep sense of wrongness and foreboding filling every pore of his body, saturating his soul. A dark form slithered through the shadows in front of the Baron, the sound of a claw on metal.

"Who's there!" Bush half-screamed, half-sobbed. Why were they tormenting him like this?

An inhuman laugh reverberated from all around him, a horrifying chuckle that filled him with dread, a chuckle that promised infinite agony and endless torment. Something stirred the air behind the Baron, but when he whirled around all there was was the dull shine of metal plates.

He sensed a dark presence rising up behind him, felt a sharp pain on the back of his neck, a digging sensation, then he was on the ground. The already dim hallways grew darker.

"I'm sorry, my lord, but we mustn't let you jeopardize all that we hold so dear," a voice murmured from over his shoulder, almost regretfully.

Sinclair? the Baron tried to whisper, but his mouth wouldn't move, and why was it so black all of a sudden?

The Baron woke with a start, clutching his sheets to his chests. That was the seventh night in a row that a nightmare had visited him, when he had not had a bad dream since the days of elementary school. All featured him running from a vaguely insectoid invader, and all three ended with Sinclair digging into his neck and murmuring "I'm sorry, my lord, but we mustn't let you jeopardize all that we hold so dear." Truly disturbing stuff, but Bush wasn't the kind to see the future in dreams or prophesize with tea leaves. It was probably just his subconscious struggling with the new arrival of the Squire and his fear of the unknown.

Sighing, the Baron reached blindly for the light switch. He hadn't been able to fall asleep the other six times he had awakened with night terrors, and he doubted he was going to slumber now. His hands finally found the light switch, and he flipped it, mourning the early demise of another night's rest. He had managed to get ahead of the paperwork that being a wing commander required because of the extra two or three hours added to his days, but Bush was beginning to feel ill effects from the short nights, most prominently being a intense migraine headache that came and went at odd hours during the day.

He felt fine now however, if a bit groggy. "Enjoy it while it lasts, Jonny boy," Bush breathed, "it'll likely be the last peace for the day." Resigning himself to the truth of the statement, he spat out a frustrated "Activate holoscreen, channel designation thirty seven alpha." Thirty seven alpha was just a random choice of words (almost all possible combinations were taken by holochannels these days, mostly useless nonsense dealing with food or travel or whatnot), and Bush felt himself pleasantly surprised to find that the channel he randomly choose was the Classic Network, a station that played all reruns, all the time. Smiling, he settled down to watch "El Dos Amigos".

It still unnerved him slightly to recall that the cold metal brushing his chest was a pagan gift from a Druid. He knew Duke Charon the Man a long time before he knew Duke Charon the Druid, however, and no matter what false idols the Celtic cross was made to represent, he would wear it with pride, knowing who it came from, one of the best damn officers ever to grace the Imperial Navy.

Sinclair had potential to be on that short list alongside the Duke. The boy was showing great potential in the simulators (but not coming close to Bush's own legendary scores) and since the little accident before take-off on the Lynx, he had even become respectful towards the Baron, though he still had a tendency to irritate numerous ranking officers. Bush was glad he decided to pull the cadet along by the ear while he had the chance.

He laid there watching the antics of the two Spanish twins and contemplating for the better part of two hours before a knock came at the door as the sun was rising.

"What is it?"

"The Alexandrian Council wishes to see you right away, my lord Baron." a squeaky voice replied through the door.

Bush felt a twinge of apprehension in his chest. The Alexandrian Council was the official name for the people who met him in the Hall of Alexander the morning they informed him that he would be leading the hit on Fortress Anderson. "One minute, let me get dressed," the Baron shouted.

He threw on his dress blues (he was wearing them entirely too much these days, or so he thought) and briskly marched out of the plush hotel room to be escorted once again to the ugly green war room.

"What could have possibly happened now?" Bush whispered thoughtfully, his mind racing a mile an hour as he traversed the empty halls of the city.

"We are here, my lord Baron," the guide intoned after seemingly an eternity of walking, sweeping his arms majestically towards the heavily-shielded blast doors to the Halls of Alexander. Nervously, Bush reached for the handles.

"Ah, good Baron! How nice of you to grace us with your presence!" the Emperor smiled as Bush entered the room. Duke Charon tipped his head briefly, Brunswick scowled, and the Prince of Intelligence merely looked at him with tired eyes.

"Why am I here?" Bush demanded. It was four thirty in the morning, and he had no time for pleasantries, not even with the Emperor.

"Straight and to the point, eh, my good friend?" Duval asked. "I suppose that your indiscretions will be ignored for now, considering the early hour."

"So why am I here?" Bush reiterated.

Brunswick's mouth twisted into a smile as he glanced up a Bush. "Why have us answer you when the holoscreen does it so much better?" He asked with a sneer, and pointed at the screen.

Words Bush never hoped to hear were suddenly in the air, coming from the holoscreen, which was turned to the Galactic Information Network: "...and now, only on GIN, you will see exclusive holofilm of the raid on Fortress Anderson, with guest commentary by..."

Watching the report, Bush felt the brittle frame that held the secrecy of the operation shudder and threaten to crumble all around the Alexandrian Council, dragging the prospects of peace in the galaxy down with it.

Continue the story with Chapter 13