This is part of series that began with Kamikaze: Preface. For a complete listing of the entire series click here. All material is the property of the writer and cannot be reproduced without the authors written consent (and all the rest of that “please don’t take my work and make money off of it” stuff).
I learned a lot on the Babylon. More than I would have expected to learn that’s for sure. I always knew the importance of discipline on a ship or in any kind of company, but the truth is that I never knew how important. The men and women aboard the Babylon all wore uniforms for example, something that the K’s had never done. I had the opportunity to watch a midshipman become an officer while I was onboard and the change in demeanor when he put on the officer’s uniform was…indescribable. There was just such a change that came over the young man because he knew that the uniform carried a different level of discipline and a different level of responsibility. And he knew it and embraced it.
There was no dedicated cleaning staff. Everyone was required to take part in keeping the ship clean and it resulted in a fastidious attention to detail that would have saved Artie and Wilson from my plans against them. It was also the kind of thing that made this ship the best in the sector.
I’m not going to lie, I was very much afraid to teach anyone aboard this ship anything I knew about the Ks. My only advantage, the Kamikaze’s only advantage against this ship, and any other Captain Forest decided to train, was in our dedication to fighting and tactics. A dedication that had, over the centuries, had developed new techniques, and was more than enough to keep any human foe at bay. Our dedication was unmatched, but our discipline was eclipsed.
But I also learned about loyalty and a little something called integrity. Back on the Fist we always said that a man was only as good as his gun. On Babylon they said that a man was only as good as his word. Angela taught me that…
Alright if I don’t stop there I’m going to end up all weepy on you and that’s boring stuff don’t you think?
About a week before Forest was going to give me back my ship he sat me down in his cabin to chat. Just as was his style he got straight to the point.
“Why mars?” he asked me.
“You know me Kemp,” he said cutting me off. “You know what my priorities are and you know my crew. Anything to help the K’s, and I’m in.”
I hesitated. I trusted this man. Hell if he had asked me to leave the K’s and join his crew I would have without a second thought.
“The only reason I ask,” Forest said, “is because Sam and I go way back. And I don’t want you bothering him.”
“You know Samuel Voxes?”
“Yeah. Like I said, don’t bother him. Man’s had enough.”
“I can’t leave him alone Captain.” I said. “My orders are to find him, debrief him, and if he’s willing bring him back to the fist.”
“Put your feet up kid. I’ll tell you exactly what happened to us when we finally won ground against the demons, and how we barely managed to make it out alive.”
“You were there?”
“Yeah. Me, Sam, Gina, Chris and Butch. I’ll tell you with one condition. You leave Samuel Voxes alone. Give him his retirement on Mars and leave him in peace.”
“Were you close?”
“Sam saved me. I was fourteen at the time. My family ran a methane harvester. Back then the harvesters were on ships that skimmed through the atmo, none of the remote stuff we have now. Anyways every so often there’s a huge methane pocket that shows up in the Earth’s atmo that’s especially valuable because it’s usually pure with only just a touch of nitrogen. There was a pocket that day. We ran for it. The pocket ignited and our ship went down. Next thing I remember Sam is pulling me out of the wreckage. While the other three fight off a pair of demons. They had already unloaded their guns and were holding the two off with power rods.
“Kid I saw them land blows that would have shattered skulls and left a pile of mush behind. The most they did against these two was bruise them. But Sam stood up and was about to run and help them when a third demon came up behind us. Sam turned and stared at it. Just stared it in the eye. I’ll never forget what happened next. He said
‘You ain’t got nothing on us.’ Just like that. ‘You ain’t got nothing on us.’ Then he pulled out his pistol and pointed it right between the thing’s eyes and said. ‘Now go to Hell.’ And fired. The demon fell over dead. But he was too late to save the others. So he picked me up tossed me into the shuttle they had brought down to save me, and left.”
I remember I sat in silence for what must have been at least ten minutes letting it all sink in. I sifted through the information Forest had given me and when it didn’t make sense I did it again.
“How did he do it?” I asked no one in particular. “How did he kill it? We can’t kill the ones we manage to capture.”
“Sam told me how he did it.” Forest said. Immediately my attention was riveted. This was the information I needed. This was the information I wanted. “He said the demons are not limited to the basic laws of the universe we have come to accept and learn. As such, we must learn to meet them on a level unrecognized by any branch of science.”
“And what is that?”
“A Mystical one.”
I tried really hard not to laugh. I really did. I mean, this is the stuff that every doomsday prophet since the exile had thrown around. Mysticism? Was he going to tell me to kill chickens and read their intestines next?
But I laughed.
“I’m not messing around here kid.” Forest said. “Samuel Voxes told me that he has no real idea of what he did to kill that demon. Only that he did it. And if you manage to avoid sending him into a psychotic episode he would tell you the same thing. But you won’t get to find out.”
“No. Because your ship is repaired, and I’m not going to let you ruin the last days of the man who saved my life. Time for you to go home.”