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Sawtooth Mountain Airbase, Hanger 4

Captain Blake stood silently inside a darkened hanger by himself. He stared at the dozen of wooden caskets laid out perfectly in rows each covered with a red, blue, white striped flag trimmed with at the edges. Eleven dead Marines and One Claymore One member laid peacefully within each coffin.

Soft footsteps echoed and Blake released out the breath he was holding in and turned, seeing Princess Sherene dressed in a black coat over a dark blue dress robe. She reached out her hand towards Blake who gave a small grim smile and took her warm hands into his palm.

"I am sorry," Blake whispered. "Your people died under my command."

"No, they are standing at the Gates of Heaven now," Sherene gave a smile back at the sad expression on Blake's face. "They fought to protect and defend us from the evil of this world."

"It is never easy when you lose men," Blake replied as he turned and looked at the cold silent coffins. "I had lost a lot of men over the years."

Sherene silently stood beside Blake as he kept vigil over the coffins, shyly reaching out and slipped her arm around Blake's waist, give him mental support.

"I lost my friends and families during the invasion with the bugs," Blake continued, seemingly unaware of Sherene's arm hugging him. "I lost my two thirds of my crew when my ship was boarded fighting the bugs over the gravity well of Mecatol Rex. I stayed behind and set my ship to self destruct while buying as much time for my crew to escape."

"I lost my leg then," Blake looked up at the ceiling of the hanger. "You should have seen that battle, dozens and dozens of Titan class battleships, Zeus class battle carriers, Ares class battlecruiser, Hera class cruisers, and Aegis class destroyers."

"A mighty fleet over 200 of the finest ships and brave souls of man gathered before one of the Swarms forward planets, which they used to launch attacks into the human space," Blake rumbled on, his eyes unfocused as he recalled the fleet action.

"I was the Captain of an Aegis class destroyer, the Guardian. My ship was part of the 4th Carrier Group, escorting the Zeus class battle carrier, Endurance with my other sister ships." Blake seemed to sink into himself, as he gripped his prosthetic leg. Sherene watched him pour out his pass quietly, not fully understand the words he spoke.

"Space was lit up by hundreds and hundreds of rail cannons, missiles, energy beams, plasma spores, and bug spores." Blake turned and look seriously at Sherene, his eyes haunted from the past.

"I and my sister ships fought their best, shooting down spores before they could reach the carrier Endurance, but a sudden appearance of a Parasite Mother, carefully hidden away in the void of space, dropped over 20 Swarm parasite cruisers and they swarm the 4th."

"It was an action worthy of the history books," Blake smiled, "12 destroyers, 5 escort cruisers, and 1 carrier against over 20 parasite cruisers and 1 Parasite Mothership..."

"We killed them as they neared, our guns pealing off their bio armor and reached deep into their guts, spilling their lifeblood out, but we fared no worst as them, as thousands and thousands of bug spores rained on us."

"We fought as hard as we could, till the barrels of the guns melted and the Endurance was targetted primarily by the bugs." Blake whispered, "Guardian ran out of missiles and railgun ammo, most of the point defense turrets melted and there was this huge wave of spore about to hit the carrier."

"And onboard the carrier, the number of lives onboard were over seven thousand men and women," Blake closed his eyes. "I made the decision to position my ship in the path of the spores, to save the Endurance. And that decision caused the deaths of over a hundred men and women."

Blake gave a small smile, as Sherene wiped a tear off his eye. "And I fell into depression later on but was given another chance, the Singapore. High Command couldn't let a war hero go to waste, even doth he's mentally unwell. So I was to be the chaperone for the kids, teaching them how to go and die."

"And die they did, I lost another 370 men and women again to the Swarm," Blake lowered his head, "I couldn't save them, and most of them were just kids, fresh out of school!"

"And we landed here, and there are more deaths," Blake whispered, "Everywhere I go, there are deaths. I do not think I am a good commander, every command I give. I will cause death..."

"Hush.." Sherene frowned worriedly and she enveloped Blake in a hug, "You are not a bad commander, we are at war, and war there are deaths."

"I am tired of seeing my people die," Blake buried his head onto Sherene's shoulder. "Too many deaths and I can't show any weakness to my crew."

"I know, I know," Sherene patted Blake gently as she continued to hug him, "Not all choices we make will lead to the results we want. We can only pray for those that passed on for they have left to a better place."

"Don't worry, you can always find me!" Sherene lifted Blake's head up and smiled. "I will also be there for you!"

Blake glazed at the deep mesmerizing blue eyes of Sherene, and he felt better after pouring out his sadness that he had kept away locked in his heart. Sherene blushed as she stared back at Blake and for some reason, she leaned forward slowly, her plump rosy lips widened slightly.

Blake gave a smile back and he held onto Sherene and kissed her gently on her lips and who melted in his arms and she kissed back fiercely.

-----

Human Colony, General Hospital

Dr. Sharon stripped away her bloody surgical gloves and dumped them into a biohazard bin before turning the tap at the sink and started scrubbing her hands with soap. She looked up at the tiny mirror, and gaunt looking face looked back. Dark eyebags covered her eyes, and her eyes were blood shot. Her cheeks had sunken in and she had a very pale complexion.

She splashed water over her face, the cold water shocking her system, making her feel slightly refreshed. "I need sleep!"

"tye maure sér-"

Dr. Sharon sighed as she heard the voice in her head, the damn voices were keeping her awake all night lately and she was at the operating theatre saving lives, as the Valkyries medivac in the wounded.

She exited the washroom and head towards the Intensive Care Unit, and stared at the health monitoring systems. The newly constructed hospital had most of the bare minimum equipment for healthcare and medical emergency with a massive helipad on the roof. It had a bed capacity for up to two hundred patients and four operating theatres.

Dr. Sharon had spent most of her time teaching and education trainee nurses and doctors on modern medical care. She also incorporated magic for healing and would mostly use magic to help recover wounds as it was more cost effective. Most of the ship's medical equipment had made their way over to the hospital while leaving behind one set for emergencies onboard the ship.

She nodded to a couple of trainee nurses who gave a short bow to her before they scurried off to wherever they were supposed to be. After she was satisfied with the health monitoring systems, she wandered off to her office.

Dr. Sharon dropped onto her sofa in her room. She appropriated the sofa from the recreational room from the ship and using her authority and now she flopped on it, closing her eyes as she worked over 7 hours non stop saving lives. She drifted away into a dreamless sleep as soon as her exhausted body hit the sofa.

"Lóre ehtelë..."

-----

The Colony, City

Groups of citizens sifted through the concrete rubble as they looked for survivors and personal possessions. The city had suffered two major quakes from the firing of the rail gun, and rescue workers and police officers worked all night to help provide first aid to the wounded and rescue people trapped under piles of rubble.

There had been a few deaths caused by falling debris and ruptured organs. Most of those wounded and died did not take shelter or ignored the warnings given by the Public Broadcast System and they paid with their lives.

Yells and shouts echoed through the city as everyone was out on the streets. Several Orcs were even sighted as they lifted heavy concretes slabs that broke off from buildings caused by the quakes. There were fear and despair in the air, yet also a strong community bond, as strangers and neighbors helped each other out during the crisis, ignoring each other's race or beliefs.

-----

UNS Singapore, Captain's Office

Blake sat on his chair as he mindlessly turned the item sealed in a plastic bag in his hand that was retrieved from the Hero's body. "So this came from the Hero?'

Commander Ford nodded, "We did all kinds of checks on it, even carbon dating."

"And the result?" Blake placed the artifact on the table.

"We do not what is it made out off," Ford answered, "It blocks x-ray scans, and carbon dating roughly tells us this thing is roughly 400 years old. Be noted that the carbon dating is not that accurate due to its exposure."

"But we estimated that it could be up to 6-700 hundred years old," Ford continued. "There are minute traces of Mu radiation given off constantly from its surface."

"Magister Thorn's conjecture is that this might be from the Age of Gods and that Dante had found it somehow and that is how he got his divine powers." Ford finished his report.

"So is it safe to touch?" Blake asked, "Can anyone just use it and gain powers like Dante?"

"Yes and maybe..." Ford replied. "To gain powers like Dante, Magister Thorn says that you might need to be chosen or acknowledged by the god."

"Also we have no idea what are the side effects of having such power," Ford added, "I don't really want another crazed hero rampaging around."

"Dr. Sharon thoughts?" Blake asked, "She be able to figure out something?"

"I did not disturb her for this," Ford said, "She's was busy in the hospital till this morning and I am letting her sleep first."

Blake nodded, "Have the families of the deceased Marines arrived?"

"Yes Sir," Ford sighed, "The funeral will be set next week."

Blake leaned back and asked, "Do you think I made the right choice?"

"You mean the main guns?" Ford asked back which Blake gave a confirmation nod.

"Yes," Ford replied simply. "Sometimes we need to sacrifice something for the greater good."

"But the price is it worth it in the end?" Blake asked.

Ford nodded, "Yes, if not the Hero would have killed everyone and march in here afterward."

"I thought you disagreed?" Blake asked again, "The main guns are too overpowered to be really suitable for atmospheric firing."

"I did," Ford replied, "It is my job to tell you the pros and cons, and the final decision is for you to make. And seeing how the Hero could actually still be alive after taking a 155 mm sabot projectile, I believe that you made the right choice in the end."

"We have deaths and wounded in the city due to the firing of the gun," Ford added, "But in the end, I think it was needed, if not the death toll caused by the Hero will be much much more higher."

"I see," Blake sighed, "Please provide all support to the civilian population and also make sure the rest of the Marines and slaves make it home. Also, we probably need to construct bomb shelters for the civilian population in the upcoming months."

"Yes, Captain!"

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