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One Good Soldier: Chapter Three

       Last updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 19:13 EDT



July 1, 2394 A.D.
Tau Ceti Planet Four, Moon Alpha, a.k.a. Ares
New Tharsis, Capital City of the United Separatist Republic
Saturday, 7:40 AM, Earth Eastern Standard Time
Saturday, 3:40 AM Madira Valley Standard Time

    Admiral Sterling Maximillian of the United Separatist Republic Navy looked in at Elle Ahmi through the long-range quantum membrane communication link.  “The QMT facility is fully operational, madam president.”  Elle only half-heartedly paid the highest ranking officer in the Separatist military any mind. Just then the brilliant colors of the gas giant planet’s rings were cresting over the horizon and casting a brilliant purple and blue hue over the valley below.  She looked through the partially transparent holoview and out the floor-to-ceiling windows on the other side at the beauty of the jovian system.  Moons Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, and Iota were clearly visible, although Iota had never really qualified as a moon in Elle’s mind, but astronomers will be astronomers.  The sunlight reflected from the gas giant onto Epsilon in just the right way so glimmers from the manmade albedo changes could be noticed.  The mining facility there was growing every day and soon, they would be exporting that to the other colonies – all of them but the Sol System of course.

    “President Ahmi, ma’am?” the admiral interrupted the Separatist leader’s tranquil moment.

    “Max, what does the governor say?” Elle walked barefooted across to her desk and sat in her oversized leather desk chair.  Other than her desk, the room held only the Martian oak four-poster bed, and a formal sitting area with a modern Ares-style honey leather couch, loveseat, and straight chair combination complete with area rug, coffee and end tables.  The formal furniture was rarely used as Elle was always too busy running a brand new country, world, star system, and multi-generation-long plan to overthrow the Sol System government. Entertaining guests was something that she had little time or use for, unless it suited some part of her ingenious, intricate, and, as history might show, murderous and bloody plans.   Along those lines she had high hopes that soon, very soon, she would be hosting a foreign dignitary from Ross 128.

    “He has agreed to your proposal and has promised action today.  He is waffling on us a bit though.  I think he is waiting for his one last shot at Moore.”  Sterling paused for a second and, Elle thought, was discussing something with his AIC.  “I’m having the recording of our conversation uplinked to Copernicus now.”

    “Waffling!  Waffling!  You tell that weasel slimy shit that if he even thinks about waffling on me that I will personally gut him from asshole to cerebrum while keeping him alive to watch as I eat his fucking insides!  You got that.”  Elle’s hands trembled and her eyes widened with anger.  Ross 128 was critical to her plans.  She rose from her deskchair, turned, and grabbed the wooden guest’s straight chair from beside her desk and beat it into the floor several times while screaming violently.  “I will smash that sonofabitch!  Do you fucking understand me!”

    “Ma’am.  Uh, I will—“

    “Do you fucking understand me!” she tossed a piece of the chair’s leg at the viewscreen cracking it on one corner.”

    “Yes ma’am.  I’ll take care of it.”

    “Good, Max,” her mood and personality seemed to change almost instantly to her more calm and calculated persona.  “When do you snap-back?”

    “We are loading personnel now.  It was a good R&R for my crew, but we’re ready to come home.  As soon as we get loaded up and our package arrives we’ll be underway.”

    “Good.  That package is precious cargo, is of the utmost importance to our cause, and will be treated as such.  You understand me?  You see it to it that no harm comes to it.  Personally, Max.”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    “I mean it.  Any harm comes to that package and I’ll personally kill the person or persons that allowed it--after I torture, dismember, and kill their family and force them to watch.  You get me?”  Her fists clenched tight as she glared at her top admiral.

    “Yes ma’am.  Understood.”

    “Good.  Let me know the instant it arrives and then get it and my ship back here to New Tharsis.  I feel…vulnerable…without it.”  Elle smiled at Sterling in a very unaffectionate way.  The thinness of her lips and the deep thoughtful stare in her eyes were more than enough to give away that she felt a piece of her plan falling into place. “Admiral, see you soon.”

    “Good day, ma’am.”

    Elle shut the holo off and exhaled softly.  She pulled the red, white, and blue ski mask off her face and undid her ponytail.  The long dark locks of hair fell loose about her shoulders as she shook her head about from side to side to relieve her stressed shoulders and neck.

    “Ah, that’s better,” she sighed and looked at the broken guest’s chair scattered about, “better get somebody up here to clean up this mess.” Her deskchair creaked obtrusively as she leaned back in it.  She gave herself a moment to prop her feet up on the light brown Queen Anne style oak desk and rest her eyes.  She had been plotting and scheming for so long behind that mask.  And she had been isolated in her penthouse sanctum for so long.  Oh sure, she went out often to run operations or oversee projects or to show her people she was still there in person, which usually meant an execution, but since her long friend and co-conspirator and father of her last child had died she was lonely.  She missed Scotty.  She had loved him since the day he, Supreme Court Chief Justice Scotty P. Mueller, swore Sienna Madira into the office of President of the United States of America so many years ago.  Scotty had always added a bit of humanity and morality to the plan.  And then he had to go and help a damned CIA agent escape. Of course, she had been the one that had killed him.  There was no other choice; she had to.  So, she was solely to blame for her loneliness.

    Oh, Sienna Madira had had family, two daughters and a son, a multitude of grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. Sienna Madira had long since been dead and she would never know that part of her life again.    Although, a small few of them, a very select few, were in on the Separatist plan and helped her subtly from within the Sol System.

    But Elle Ahmi had only had the one daughter, Sehera Ahmi Moore. Sehera grew up in hiding with her mother and father during the early years of the Separatist terrorist movement.  She was in her early teens during the so-called “thought police” era.  Elle never thought history was fair to her for calling it that.  She had only used a modern technology to find people within her fold who were disloyal to her.  Of course she had them thrown out into the Martian desert without an environment suit, but she had to protect the integrity of her terrorist cell structure.

    Elle had watched Sehera turn into a tough but beautiful woman before her eyes and hoped that she would be right there by her side all the way to the new, better, and truly free humanity.  But that was all destroyed by one soldier.  One really good soldier who managed to survive the surprise offensive of the last Martian Desert Campaign and then withstand the Separatist torture camp, and had somehow managed to get under her daughter’s skin.  And that is when Sehera did the unthinkable and betrayed the Separatist movement, her father, and Elle herself for that one goddamned Marine.  Sehera helped him escape.

    But that hadn’t been good enough for that son-of-a-bitch!  Any sane man would have cut his losses and run, bounced, crawled or whatever he could do across the Martian desert to the nearest American outpost. Any sane idiot would have bounced away from the very torture camp that he had just spent years in watching his fellow Americans tortured, wilt, and die around him, but not him.  Hell no, not Major Alexander Moore.  Against all odds that SOB spent five weeks inside his armored e-suit planning, plotting, and scheming just so he could come back to the torture camp and kill every last one of Elle’s soldiers.  He had been too late to save any other of his fellow prisoners, because Elle had killed them in a fit of rage following Moore’s escape.  When he returned there was nobody left for him to rescue, so, he killed everybody.  Everybody.  He killed everybody in the encampment but Elle and Sehera.  Elle would never forget that day as long as she drew breath.  Had she shot her daughter for the treason of helping Moore escape – the way she had executed Sehera’s father, Scotty – she wouldn’t have had Moore to deal with all these years. It ended up in a big Mexican-style standoff.  Moore had discovered Elle’s secret identity, so there was no longer any alternative but to take him out of the picture.  Elle was certain that he had to die, and then at the last moment Sehera stepped between her mother and the bloodied, enraged Marine.  Sehera tried debating with them and pleading with them to cease, but Elle and Moore were ready to die as long as they managed to kill the other one in the process.  Elle had, for a brief instant, considered killing her daughter, or at least wounding her, but she couldn’t do it.  That is when the unthinkable happened.  Then Sehera, Elle Ahmi’s only child, chose Moore over her.

    Elle had been so broken hearted that she let them go without a fight. And Moore seemed, at that moment, content to leave with Sehera and his life.  After all, he had killed over ninety of her men and women in his surprise rampage.  Elle always wondered if Moore had thought of the fact that he took her daughter from her that he was torturing her or paying her back.  It didn’t matter.  Sehera was still alive and as far as she could tell was happy with Moore.

    Ever since that day, Elle had been accounting and allowing for the two of them in her plans, for decades.  Often times, that damned Moore would do some random act of heroism that couldn’t be accounted for that would ruin years of scheming, arranging of events, and planning, not to mention major resources.  But she still couldn’t bring herself to take them out of the picture.  She just couldn’t bring herself to ruin Sehera’s happiness.  Sehera was indeed the final love of her life.  In fact, she even prodded and directed their paths every now and then without them knowing it.  Elle had learned long ago how to manipulate a popular vote and was instrumental in Moore winning his first race as Mississippi Senator.  Moore had no idea--or at least Elle had no reason to think he did.  Neither did Sehera for that matter.

    And she didn’t really regret not having killed them.  They, somehow, seemed to keep her connected to her own humanity.  Scotty had often told her that she had become so logical and calculating that he wasn’t certain she had any emotion left in her soul.  Maybe the Moore family was the only spark she had left of that.  One day, she also hoped to see her granddaughter.  So far, Moore and Sehera hadn’t allowed that. But Elle had a plan for that, too.  If all went according to plan she’d meet her granddaughter in a matter of hours.

    And there was always the plan.  The Separatist plan that she had been developing, tweaking, forcing, and maintaining for decades and no matter how many simulations she and her AIC Copernicus ran it always ended the same way.  That Mexican standoff between her and the Moores had to be played out to the finish.

    Maybe you should get some sleep, ma’am, Copernicus said into her mind snapping her out of her racing memories and thoughts.

    Perhaps I will.  Elle thought as she sighed again sliding her feet to the floor softly as not to disturb the quiet of the room and the tranquil view of the rings of the rising gas giant.  Call her emotionless or even evil, but Elle still enjoyed the absolute beauty and wonder of the universe.  Then she,  Elle Ahmi, the most notorious and murderous terrorist known to the Sol System, the leader of the Separatist movement, the once great United States Army General Sienna Madira, the one hundred eleventh President of the United States of America Sienna Madira, felt the weight of her years on her shoulders pressing her like Atlas must have felt.  But Atlas had only held up the Earth.  Elle was trying to hold up the Tau Ceti star system, trying to coerce the Ross 128 system into jumping on, and planning to overthrow the Sol System.  At that point the other human colonies should follow suit.  No, Elle wished she only had Atlas’ problems.

    Turn out the lights and bring the transparency of the windows down to about fifty percent, she ordered Copernicus.  Her loyal AIC complied instantly forcing Elle to blink a few times and stand still as her eyes adjusted to the darkness.  She dropped her clothes on the floor at the foot of her bed and dragged herself under the sheets.  She allowed herself a few moments to view the panorama from her office, her home, of the domain of the Separatists.  Not a very full home, she thought.  But great plans require great sacrifice.

    What’s that, ma’am?

    Just mumbling, Copernicus.  Good night.

    Good night, ma’am.

    Her mind still raced a bit so she focussed on the view through the windows.  The arched windows of the penthouse stretched four-meters tall and three-meters wide with only a few centimeters of semi-transparent metal structure between them.  The giant windows sat side-by-side, completely around the office.  The lack of opaque materials in the three-hundred-and-sixty degree view would frighten sufferers of agoraphobia beyond their wits.  Those afraid of heights wouldn’t do much better either.  The penthouse sat atop the capitol building, looking to the north across Madira Valley at the spaceport several tens of kilometers away.  The dome at the vertex of the Separatist’s leader’s home allowed for not only the three hundred and sixty degrees of view through the transparent armored walls but upward in a full hemisphere at the sky as well.  Sitting in the quarters gave the impression of sitting on top of a very tall building on top of a high mountain peak with no walls or ceiling.  The entire room could be blacked out if needed or even have false images displayed on them to represent wood, concrete, or any other building or decorating material.  But Elle liked the open view.  She liked seeing the stars and the lights of the Tau Ceti capital city below and around her.

    Her four-poster bed sat near the east side of the penthouse, so she could watch the jovian rise several times a day and Tau Ceti rise in the mornings.  She also could look out in any direction and see across several states of the Separatist Nation.  It wasn’t the cold dry desert of Mars where she grew up.  In fact, it was a far superior planet, with oceans and an atmosphere and climates ranging from subtropical to cold mountainous regions.  Ares was beautiful and the Separatists would make the Tau Ceti system their home away from home. New Tharsis was the capital city and she lived at the capitol building above the Senate floor.

    Elle laughed at that thought.  The “Senate” was nothing more than a gathering of powerful women and men who were her governors and generals overseeing certain regions of the system or large-scale projects.  She didn’t trust a one of them and if something ever happened to her total dominating control over them she feared that they would begin fighting amongst themselves, turning Ares into a world of separate regions controlled by powerful warlords.  Elle didn’t want the United Separatist Republic to turn into something akin to twenty first century Africa.  She rolled over onto her left side and looked out across the valley at the occasional spaceport traffic flying out of the city as her mind slowly rolled off to sleep and her eyelids were too heavy to keep open.  Elle needed her rest because she had a big day ahead of her, whether she knew it or not.

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