Power Authority – Level X.
“I had the intruder in my sights,” Walten said softly. His voice was whispery as there was not much breath behind it due to the effects of a collapsed left lung.
“You did everything that you could,” Janette comforted while overlooking Komst’s handiwork. It was a wonder that Walten was even lucid at all – calm with the amount of drugs that were being piped into his system via intravenous means. Oxygen nodules had been jammed up his nose to make sure that he was getting a fresh supply pumped into him, but she could only imagine or hope that the soldier was flying right now and feeling no pain.
The wound around Walten’s upper left chest was ghastly, and Janette had seen bullets taken out of gunshot victims with less scarring. The gauze and surgical tape were bled-through with an unsightly shade of his dried crimson red fluids, and it really was a wonder that anybody had even gotten the bleeding to stop at all. Of course, Komst’s methodology in unsubtle tact was meant to prevent the spread of infection from the Deew’s impalement at all costs, but again, the centerpiece dish of meat from the main course of a meal would not have been carved up so unimaginably. Maybe it could have healed normally if another had performed the extraction procedure.
Since the occurrence down in Inner Corridor, Walten had not had an opportunity to discuss things with anybody until he noticed Janette sitting down in a chair on the left of his bedside. It was an honor for such a high-ranking official to be giving him the time of day let alone an audience, so he hoped to make the most of it by making it continually worth her time and prayed that she would not leave. Soldiers got scared too. Alone, gravely injured, and confused – nobody would be immune from fear at that point.
In searching his fuzzy thoughts for something poignant to hang onto, Walten found little difficulty in clutching to the memory of the intruder and his feelings on the subject, “Why was he even down there? It’s almost like he was some sort of guardian angel, how he rescued me. What would anybody with malicious aims be wasting their time…for…in doing that? I was dead. The Deew had me. It doesn’t make any sense.”
On the inside, Janette smiled at Walten’s attempts to figure the intruder out. She still did not even know the intruder’s real (name) or codename – just knew him only as ‘the intruder’, so the botanist could share in the soldier’s wonderment. Her hanging out in the infirmary was a way to get another’s take on the antics of this Space Force infiltrator, and although she had places to go at the current moment, this particular conversation provided reason enough to stay until the wounded troop dropped off from exhaustion.
Finding out what made the intruder tick would make it a little bit easier to wind his gears, so Janette asked, “What did he say to you down there?”
“Nothing – we talked about…music,” Walten said under the effects of a truth serum which happened to be some really good drugs.
“Music?” Janette said to an utter lack of surprise. It was quite facetious of her to believe that the intruder would have left the ailing soldier with any relevant information that she could pick up on and take away from this discussion.
But then Walten mentioned something interesting, “He has a warrior’s soul but a servant’s heart,” while staring listlessly up at the ceiling.
That was an odd thing to say, but Walten’s impression of the intruder pretty much summed up what Janette had seen of the person. A warrior’s soul and a servant’s heart were a strange combination if not dutifully reversed from where an enlisted individual would have normally been classified. Being a high-ranking official herself within Galaxy Bloc (and that meant militarily despite not having followed the path which included boot camp, drills, and combat), she could understand this concept from afar. Ironically, it helped her to put into perspective the infiltrator’s own political leanings.
From team sports to the corporate universe to the military rank and file, people like the intruder normally did not last long for one reason or another but basically because they were using their position to further their own ambition rather than falling in line as an interchangeable role-player for the purposes of enhancing the conglomerate. Maybe there was a little bit of the latter mixed in there since he sure seemed to be singing the praises of the Space Force often, but Janette was beginning to realize that there was something else hidden just out of plain sight behind the man – other than the portrayal of a sworn obligation to a faction. Anybody else who knew their role as being clearly defined and took pride in the pressure release which doubled as simply following orders with no disobedience to speak of would not have given a second thought to carrying out those objectives where honestly, he hesitated.
To deal with the type, Janette needed to draw upon her managerial experience in dealing with the likes. The group was self-motivated and internally driven. Outsiders or outcasts – perhaps cast out at one time, finding some common ground with what they would be willing to contribute to her cause and bracing for the impact of the fallout from where these people might be known to try and take away from that same cause were the only two things that she could do.
The intruder just needed to be himself, hopeful and conservative. Even if a spacestation (or a planet killer as the mecha was unaffectionately dubbed) were called in to obliterate Dio Qze, he could still have the final say-so over the silent operation’s commencement. There was no way that the destruction would make it on anybody’s view-screens as the Space Force controlled a good portion of the Human media. With the universe’s largest network, WZZZ, in their back pocket, Janette was really only left to wonder which story they would wind up picking to feed the news cycle about the planet’s disappearance. Again, those were things that she could not control. Based upon his undeniably cautious nature, the time and direction of the strike had the potential of being something that she could control.
And poor, beautiful Dio Qze was not fated to survive these next few days or weeks in any event. But the planet, which doubled as a secret Galaxy Bloc military installation, was just a decoy anyway – meant for momentary distraction and diversion away from the seed of salvation in the container which sat within the palm of her hand. So for the intruder to have not initially known but eventually learned that this was not a civilian settlement, it spoke volumes to the lengths that the unincorporated planets had gone to conceal these extensive matters from the almost omniscient eyes of the Space Force.
For all intents and purposes, this operation had been a wild success – up to this point. The only thing that remained was for the intruder to get the Space Force chasing its tail – or Burdlit’s and those of the Carriveaua in general when hunting down this Deew dead angle. Meanwhile, Galaxy Bloc would be reaping the financial benefits of the nanite-infused and genetically reengineered seeds which they planned to sow throughout their corner of the universe to make them a megapower via the old-fashioned way: Commerce.
Nobody could produce nutritious or distribute crops anymore cheaply than this, so even with the disguised embargo that the Space Force held around the unincorporated planets, all those potential trading partners who were holding off would soon be forced to reconsider. And with that reconsideration came influence. Military power was one thing, but at the end of the day, people still had to eat, and the path to continued Galaxy Bloc sovereignty would ironically go through the stomachs of the universe.
And to think – to thank for all this was Walten’s sacrifice. A freak happening (him being impaled) because of a freak accident (the intruder showing up) had accelerated a freak of nature (the Deew) to a point where the unincorporated planets could take control of their own destiny. Janette praised, “You might not realize it from where you’re lying right now, but your efforts have delivered Galaxy Bloc to a new era. A new age is upon us, and because of that, we’re eternally indebted.”
Now, they were not exactly out of the woods just yet or even close to the daunting goals of faction-hood which were set, but the floundering society had signs of life. Impoverished by the fallout from the sheer conviction of a self-induced trajectory toward independence, it was always thought, said, and believed that planet-building was not the simplest of endeavors. Bowing to the economic pressures of the Space Force would have been easy. Succumbing to the political pressures from a Carriveaua act of war would have net the same uneventful conclusion, running back and kneeling at the feet of the faction who the unincorporated planets had seceded away from – shamelessly begging for assistance. No. They tightened their purse strings, held Galaxy Bloc together through increased calls for unity, and put their best and brightest minds together to try and overcome these innumerable challenges. Finally, there was an ‘out’.
Modest as only a soldier who was as hopped up on drugs as Walten could be, he responded, “But I failed to bring down the intruder and nearly got myself killed in the process.”
“One day you’ll understand,” it was funny, however Janette assured, “but from this day forward, generations of unincorporated planet inhabitants will speak highly of your name, Mister Uchbinder.”
“Why?” Walten delicately questioned. “The intruder got away.”
He was so frail that this anxiety started to peak the wrong set of indicators from his biometric scans which were highlighted by the view-screen that hung on the wall above and behind his bed. Catching Janette’s eye, she might not have understood the exact meaning of the spike in readings because medical was not her field of science, but common sense told her to end this conversation so that the soldier could rest and not become any further agitated. The botanist concluded, “It was because of you that we got the intruder right where we wanted him. You’re a hero,” with a calming bedside manner which wound up putting the patient and his readings at ease.