Chapter 18:

Nemo Wars - Entry 10 - The End - [Final Chapter?]

Further Tales From The UnderCurrent (Short Story Prequel Series)

Entry 10; 03-03-Ta425
It's getting to be a bad habit isn't it, starting these with the words 'Its been a while?'
But what can I say, I thought that last entry would be my final one - I mean there hasn't been anything else to write recently.

I've been feeling, well honestly, better - Started talking with people more often, going into town again and so on - The Doc' says I'm making a full recovery in great time.

And I did go to that dinner too, a few months ago now, thought I suppose for 'you' reading this it might of been just a few moments ago

It would seem I was wrong all along about that too - I never thought anyone would read this but now I guess they will, so the 'you' is, I guess someone from the town.

I hope you don't think poorly of me after reading this - I know I struggled to settle in and I also know I may have been cruel in places during this journal, thrown some accusations around baselessly.

I won't lie, you can see for yourself I wasn't doing so good for most of my time here in the town but I want to make it clear for anyone who goes through these daft pages - I love this place.

I don't say that lightly either you hear?

I think, no I know, that had I crash landed into any other place in the universe things would of gone so much worse - I think anywhere else, and I really would of snapped, used the Patchwork Nemo to go on some sort of rampage, or lost all hope and ended everything - As cliched as that may sound.

No it's this place that saved me, when I was at my darkest, you people kept on supporting me, kept me safe, worried for my wellbeing, enabled me to think things through, to slow down and work my head out for all those long-ass months.

Understand that this place is the only home I've ever truly had and I regret nothing about crashing into it that day a year ago.

Ah but of course you probably have no idea what I'm talking about if you read this in a few years time - Well let me refresh your memory, or if you're too young to remember go ask your parents - It's not like any one from outside the town can ever see this.

A few hours ago they arrived, two Ogre class Vijaiks flying 'The States-Union-Special Forces' emblem, 'TSU-s'.

You'll remember me mentioning the cargo port here, that a lone frigate uses to access this place from time to time - Well they came through that, were already up to the Dome's north gate before anyone noticed - Not that we have any sort of guard.

An Ogre is this large bulky machine, covered in spikes and painted in a deep murky green - I used the spare parts of two in making the Patchwork Nemo, It's a proper two legged tank for want of a better description.

One of the two pilots dismounted and came inside the town, while the other remained in his machine, with a gun pointed at dome - A gun larger then any man, pointed at the heads of every man, woman and child here.

There was some discussions of a sort between the pilot and the town Elder, before the man exited and returned to his own machine. After that a meeting was called. It really has all gone by in a blur - I don't think it's really set in yet, the reality of it all, the sudden turn of events.

I have started going to the odd council session and of course I went to this one.
Honestly it was a bit of a mess, apologies if I describe all this a bit dryly, it really is quite dramatic - The whole town was in uproar, this is the worst case scenario after all.

TSU-s, who we presume these two interlopers to be with (Unless they somehow stole those mechs), are an organisation specifically created to hunt dissidents in space, that would theoretically include this town of Abhailen refugees.
You've got half the town cooped up in their homes and the other half all yelling at one another over this idea and the next.
Like usual the meeting consists of the three votes, Tamai has one, the Elder one and the other belongs to the few dozen who turned up - Mostly old soldiers by the way they speak and act.

If I've had suspicions before, then I know for sure know - Apparently buried underneath the town are weapons, weapons brought here when the town was established, from 'The First War'.

Of course every part of the Dome is used, terraformed to have forests, or farms or buildings - But beneath all those is a metal floor, a vast network of power lines, pipes and other systems of this incomplete Nation-Satellite.

They weren't completely clear what's down there, certainly munitions and I think maybe even old Vijaiks if you can believe that, all underneath our very feet.

The meeting went on for quite some time, some suggesting we should carve a hole in the dome, stick a rifle through it and try pick off the enemy when they exit their cockpits - Of course the fact there are two of them and that they're sleeping inside their machines, causes a bit of a fault in that plan.

Others seem to be suggesting we dig up the farmland to recover some larger weapons and then face the 'enemy' with a frontal assault - It's all very ambitions with the few hours we have spare.

The elder and Tamai have their hands full just stopping one of these crazy old coots charging out and acting on one of these hairbrained schemes - That said they mean well, I think I'd have similar ideas in their position.

The two surprise visitors have requested a list of interesting demands that must be fulfilled by tomorrow morning, it includes water, food, mechanical spares, fuel and any currency we might have.

It's not enough to destroy the village but the loss of food would probably lead to some going hungry this 'winter' - Oil and gas will have to be rationed going forward too, no doubt some of the older folks might die prematurely, after all this place only has enough solar panels to power the gravity & climate, not the heating of individual homes.

There would be a number of other issues too but most of all the issue is what would happen after we meet the demands?

Doesn't take a strategist to work out what's wrong with this picture right?

Why are these two guys, seemingly by themselves, here threatening us for supplies?
Where's their mothership, the rest of this particular TSU fleet?

No, betting is that these two are deserters of the war going on between TSU-s and IAFS - Runaways who discovered this place by complete accident but unlike me they didn't crash, they've walked in and seen an opportunity.
In all likelihood if we give them the supplies they will either decide to stay and make this place their own little 'hideout' - Or they'll blow up the dome regardless and be on their merry way with the supplies and no witness's left behind.

Ya see TSU doesn't like deserters, they hunt them down and haul them before a court martialling - And the Death Penalty is a very real threat.
Entire divisions of TSU-s are dedicated to just this task of issuing out punishment to their own.

So to desert these two must of been desperate, either TSU is losing the war, which I doubt - Or they could no longer bring themselves to carry out the inhuman orders.

Whatever the case it hardly matter, in the best case scenario they take the supplies and leave, never telling anyone about this place - And we have a winter where old people die earlier then was necessary and children go hungry, but we survive.

That's one heck of an optimistic view.
No we have no choice, the council hasn't said it but I think even the elder won't try to advocate peace here, its too risky.

You can't negotiate with those who have a gun to the head of every child in your care.

I left the meeting after a time, ruffled Tamai's red head of hair on the way out - Her expression said everything, that she wanted to chase after me but how could she? It's her duty to be there, to keep that bunch of crazy old idiots in line, stop them from getting themselves killed - And besides what can a child say at a time like this? 

I made my way home through this place, past the forest, the houses, the little market square, over the bridge and so fourth.

I was nearly home when he finally spoke up - Scared the absolute shit out of me!

I think Scarface had presumed I knew he was following me, but I was absolutely oblivious, the man is incredibly quiet for someone built like a small house.

We were just a short distance from my place at this point, on the driveway up to it so to speak.

My little bungalow, or maybe 'log cabin' would be a better phrase. The shed with my tools next to it and beside that the hen house and vegetable patch.
Got'ta say never expected I'd be so good at making a homestead, if I do say so myself.
And of course my old friend, the Patchwork Nemo towering above all else.

He didn't cry, he doesn't strike me as the sort who's ever cried in his life to be honest, but he did have a presence about him, a sort of slouch perhaps? It said that he knew his actions were futile, but that he had to try regardless.

I told him to go back, keep his subordinates in check until morning.

He said the same back to me, told me not to take another step, that I should go keep them in line instead.

I laughed and kept walking of course, and he with his lone hand, drew a pistol.
I've never noticed him carrying it before, yet there it was, his aim steadily focused on my left leg.

I'm sure you can imagine how it went, I ain't no poet I'm afraid - I suppose someone could describe it as exciting, two men on a backdrop of the early night's sky, a gun in hand, a stern expression to us both, a calm evening's breeze passing quietly between us - That sort of Cowboy jazz I guess.

It was a nice conversation. I think I'm happy we had it - He said all the things you would expect, told me that he and the town had made a promise, that I should never have to fight again.

I pointed out how there was no better option, how I'm the youngest and fittest, how he and others haven't piloted in a whole decade or more and that their machines have probably degraded and rusted being below the ground for so long.
Pointed out that many would mourn him but none me.

Still he refused to lower the pistol, said he could pilot the Patchwork Nemo, that back in the day he was a Vijaik Knight - Heh, now that was an interesting claim, Abhailen Knights were the personal armoured escort of top nobility and even the royalty.

If he's telling the truth, which surely he is, then he really was brilliant back then but of course I had to point that out, I mean it was cruel but true;
"You only have one arm."
I said flatly to him, no amount of skill he might have over me could bridge that gap in our limbs.

And on it went, I asked things like, "Is that how you lost that arm then? Did someone else force you to stand-down long ago, do you ever regret it, running away?"

Scarface had something interesting to say then, he didn't answer my question outright but rather he said;
"I don't regret it for a moment, what's an arm if I can watch over my people and protect them for all my days to come?"

I know I know, I wasn't expecting such sentimental nonsense either.
However time was wasting so I began to walk away, as you can guess he did not shoot me instead he said; 

"No one person will mourn you, rather every last one of us will, you hear me Guy?!"

Talk about ridiculous! Guy isn't even my name.
Still I'm glad he said it.

And if we're saying childish crap like that then it's my turn eh?
So know this, I don't do this because of 'Fate' I will not go out there to die on behalf of TSU, IAFS, Abhaile or anyone else - I don't do this for politics, for some bureaucratic cause and I refuse to die a victim of some blasted cycle of war!!

The Patchwork Nemo won't be my tomb as I feared but rather my ally, my god-damn partner to the end, and I'm going to come back alive hear!?

I've run the numbers and everything says I'll die - I can picture the scenarios, I've done my best to paint a gaint 'IAFS' logo onto my machine, hopefully that will help convince the enemy I've got nothing to do with the town - I'll take my Vijaik out the South gate, I'll attack in a few hours, when their body clocks if they're anything like mine, will naturally be at their most tired - Hopefully the one on look-out at that time of the night, might for just one second believe he's dreaming when he sees some crazy lone 'IAFS' Vijaik come charging out of the night.

Every second will be critical - I'll remove all limiters on power generation, this will be a quick battle if I'm to stand any chance at all - And I'm bringing every weapon I can get working from off all three of the mechs that crashed here that day a year ago, that day when my life changed for the better you got that?

I'll land the first shot, there won't be an opportunity for heroics, instead I'll just aim for the largest surface I can, start the battle by grabbing their attention - Once I have it grabbed they'll no doubt return fire, I'll sacrifice one of the already half-destroyed shields from the fall and dodge to the side - The gravity out there is a little weaker then inside the dome, once the shield is gone I should be able to use thrusters to cover the rest of the distance while the two Ogres are still confused.

I have one operational Arc-Staff, that'll be my trump card, I'll hit them hard with Calabar blades first, I've hooked them to all the Nemo's surfaces, its covered in swords and axes for me to use up close where their rifles will be less useful - I'll Try to take off their arms, if I can do just that the Dome will be far safer.
Of course these two are in state of the art, top condition suits, mass production models or not - I'll no doubt get atleast a limb blown off, I have to be ready when that happens, I have to lower the bulk heads in time, I will not be a victim of accidental machine failure!!

And If it comes to it, I'll try lure them in close to me and away from the dome, active a controlled implosion - Might damage the outer walls a-bit but if I'm careful the Satellite would survive it - My intentional self-destruction... But only if I have to, only if the element of surprise and a quick, frenzied assault and all else fails!

Its been fucking tough, and you know what? Maybe there is something to this mental health business, maybe I really was 'ill' for a bit there, a while in fact and maybe I wish I could of spent more of my time being happier here instead of suffering - But I don't regret it, not one bit.
This place saved me from that, so how can't I return the favour eh?!

I know this is madness, The Patchwork Nemo has no bulkhead, the Nemo's was damaged in landing so I had to weld sheet metal across the frontal armour, for all purposes the cockpit is defenceless - Though it made a good flat surface to paint the IAFS logos on, a big old 'Bull's-eye'...

And while I've piloted more recently then those old men in the council, it's been a full year and I was never that good to begin with. Logically I know I'm dead, but I will do everything I can to up the chance of atleast disarming the two enemies, it'll be up to Scarface and Co after that.

No, I know objectively, I'll almost definitely die but my feelings, my emotions?
They all say screw that noise! I will survive this shit and I won't die in this stupid war between groups I don't give a crap for!

Mad ain't it? A half year ago I thought everyone here hated me, it took just a few months for that to change, for me to start imagining a new tomorrow for myself - Imagine how much more I can do in a few more months?!
If my life could be changed in a matter of weeks by people simply being 'good' and looking out for each other, then what about in a few years?
What more can I do with this life, I could definitely live another 30, maybe 40 years - Imagine the possibilities for my life in that time?!

I won't die out there, I'll protect Tamai, Scarface, the Doc, the elder and his wife and her mighty fine cooking, and every last other one of these idiots - That's my job as a soldier isn't it?
Not to mop around being depressed that 'The world is out to get me' or to kill people mindlessly for some asshole general or politician's ambitions - No I am here to protect my people, that's my job, that's why I'm a soldier.
I will not be just that guy who appeared from the sky, stuck around for a year and then died just as things got good, just as he felt home.

So if you find this and if I'm dead, then know this, I die for this town and no one else - I represent nothing but these people, and that is right and good you hear?
I will come back alive, me and that stupid mech both!

I would sign my name but I think its better I don't throw up any more flags - Take it as my way of showing my promise is serious, that I'll tell you all anything you want to know when I come back - That I'll finally return the kindness and trust you have all shown me in such abundance.

It's nearly 3 in the morning now, I'm heading out now but keep the pot boiled - See you all soon eh?