The Fall of Nathan Zachary
Five figures sat around a round table, in the middle of a large room. Two of the figures sit next to each other on the West of the table. Another two sit on the East side of the table. At the South end sits the last man in the room. All eyes present are directed at him.
His naval dress uniform sets him apart from the others who are wearing suits. His cloak is navy blue with red lining, and has a heightened collar. His uniform underneath the cloak is crimson red.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Admiral?” One of the two men on lone man’s left, challenged. “Do you have any words to defend yourself with, or are have you subjected yourself to your fate?”
The Admiral diverted his attention from his pocket watch to the challenger. “I’m sorry… I could’ve sworn your name was Roland, not Tarron Damos.”
Roland spat. “You will answer me when I ask you a question, Zachary!!”
Zachary just laughed. “In your dreams, you moron! So long as I am Admiral, I’m not listening to a word coming out of your pompous mouth! And I’m sure as Hell not going to explain myself to anyone aside from Damos himself! So suck it!!"
The other men let out groans of disgust. A couple of them even berated Admiral Zachary for his childish mannerisms. He doesn’t care.
The double doors at the far end of the room opened inward, letting in four more people. At the head of the procession was a tall, broad shoulder, muscular, winged man. He wears a bright red military dress uniform, sporting many medals, with a cloak draped over his shoulders and connected with a gold chain over his chest. His polished black boots echo throughout the room as he steps towards the bickering men. His seemingly, angelic wings spread out from appropiately made holes in his clothing attire. His mood is dour, as if he is eternally displeased by his surroundings.
Coming in behind him on his right, is a dark haired, man with a mutton chop beard. He wears a black naval uniform, although it does not bear medals. Over it he wears a dark red cloak with epaulettes. He wears a visor on his face, and his left arm is mechanical. On his waist is a handgun, the only visible one in the room.
At the left of the bearded man is a White haired woman wearing her own ink blue, naval uniform. She wears knee high boots and a black hat. As soon as she is able to, she strides over to Admiral Zachary.
At the end of the procession is a spry skinny man with a smile on his face. He wears black dress pants, a black dress shirt, a red vest, tie, gloves and shoes. He closes the doors behind him before following the others.
Admiral Zachary saluted the winged man. “Welcome to the party Mr. Damos. I would offer you a drink, but I’m afraid that my supply of liquor is now lost to the world.”
“Spare me the formalities Zachary. You have a lot to answer for.” Tarron Damos replied. The man in the vest hurried to pass the others and pulled out the two closest chairs for Damos and the mustached man. He waited for them to get seated before sitting next Damos on his right.
The White haired woman sat down next to the Admiral. She whispered to him.
“Please tell me that you at least acted like an adult while I was gone.”
Zachary replied. “Only as well as they were acting, my love. Tell me, did the engineers fix our little ‘problem’?
She sighed. “Unfortunately, they still haven’t restored the actual footage. We’re still stuck with the edited video log you happened to stumble unto last night.”
Zachary groaned. “It’s a damn good thing I decided to look through that blasted thing… Damn it, all of my heroic acts were completely cut out!!”
Frustrated the woman raised her voice. “NATHAN this is serious!”
“Relax Naomi, I got this. Your husband has a plan.” Zachary simply stated.
Tarron’s voice broke through the chatter. “NOW, my admiral…. Tell me, what happened to my ships?”
Roland hastily stood up. “They were completely destroyed your lordship every last-”
Tarron stared down at Roland, causing him to shut up. “I asked my admiral a question. You will speak when addressed, and you will keep silent until then.”
Roland sat down uttering a weak “sorry”.
Nathan would have laughed had Damos not returned his gaze back towards him, but he still smiled.
“Well your Lordship, what actually happened was not far from what the idiot just blurted out. Nearly all of our ships were destroyed during our last skirmish. Out of the seven battle cruisers, ten grand cruisers, thirty five light cruisers and the plethora of frigates, fighter jets and destroyers that flew into the fray only a small amount made it back. To be precise, only one grand cruiser, nine light cruisers, two frigates, and a lot of slagged jets and destroyers ever returned. Our grand cruisers, and battle cruisers, including my own ‘Crimson Redemption’ were ruthlessly shot out of the sky.”
Looking incredibly irked by his normal standards, Damos interjected. “I see. . . . Care to explain why?”
Zachary started to sweat a little, but he was determined not to appear cowed; his smile didn’t lessen in the slightest as he spoke. “Well sir… I’m afraid that the odds were against us from the start. We were literally outnumbered two to one in this battle, and if that wasn’t enough, a new threat arrived just as we were winning the fight. Despite my heroic and legendary battle stratagems, I could only whittle them down to their last three battle cruisers, two of which were bellowing enough black smoke to be mistaken for a small cloud.”
Tarron grimaced. “And the rest of their fleet?”
“As far as I know, either damaged or destroyed. It’s not exactly easy to get a head count of those ships during battle.”
Roland coughed. “If I may speak my lord?” Tarron glanced at Roland. “Permission granted.”
Roland smiled and turned to Nathan. “Admiral Zachary, I believe you said something about a threat that arrived midway into your battle. Please enlighten us, what do you mean by that?”
“The threat? Oh right! You see our fleet had finally shot down enough of the zeno fleet to outnumber them, when our dear neighbors, The Druxans, decided to send in two of their own battle ships with their own fleet right at our flanks.”
The men in suits murmur among themselves. Roland decides to make his statements heard. “Druxans?.... That’s quite the bold claim Zachary. How are you certain it was their fleet? Did they have any markings on them?”
Zachary stared at Roland. "I fucking knew it.” He thinks to himself. “They didn’t have markings on their vessels. All of them were painted with a new coat of paint in a vain attempt to prevent us from recognizing their fleet.”
Roland smiled incredulously, but Tarron held up his hand and talked first. “Zachary, we are on good terms with the Druxan nobles, yet you would have us believe the biggest reason that my fleet has been shattered, is because they have stabbed us in the back. And all of this, without the slightest bit of evidence?”
Nathan replied immediately. “Oh I got evidence! One, they were the only other human fleet in the area, meaning that the culprits were not Xenos in nature.
Two, the direction the ships came from was the Druxan’s own jurisdiction, there is absolutely no way they would have missed two giant freaking battle ships and their retinue just cruising over their lands. Those guys are such tightwads about their airspace! One time I flew a helicopter just a mile around it one time, and they scrambled a cruiser to intercept me!
Three, even you humor the possibility of it happening, human pirates and mercenaries don’t have enough money to maintain a battle cruiser let alone a fleet that large.
FOUR, the ship designs themselves are Druxan in nature, I could tell them apart from any other ship if you had them in a lineup!”
Roland laughed. “That’s hardly evidence! You’re just trying to save your sorry ass by shamelessly attacking our allies! All just so you can safe face, and hide your own folly!”
Zachary’s counterattack was swift. “Clear your ears, moron!! I just said that the ship designs were Druxan in nature, and there’s no possible way I’m mistaken, or lying!
Don’t you have any idea why I’m so good with ships to the point of being ranked as an Admiral in our dear Tarron Damos’s fleet!? It’s because I have an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge concerning all aircraft and their capabilities!! You probably couldn’t tell the difference between a frigate and a destroyer, but I can tell you everything about them down to the very bolts used to fasten the pilot’s seat!”
Roland remained calm in the face of Zachary’s rebuttal. “I still have yet to see any evidence that these ships even exist, Zachary. Why don’t you show us the feed from your ship’s cameras? Surely they would have seen these ships coming in from behind your fleet.”
Naomi tensed up slightly, but Nathan put his hand on her shoulder and leaned back with a smug look on his face. “Oh if only I could do that Roland, sadly that will have to wait till a later time.”
“Why is that Admiral? Is there something wrong with your ships’ camera feed? Or are you trying to buy time for your crew to forge footage to back up your claims?” Roland tried to maintain a straight face, but a malicious smile broke through his façade.
“Oh no, no, no, no,” Nathan replied. “You see, it has nothing to do with my ships mind you. That data is still secure. We’re actually still in the process of retrieving the data, because you all know how much protection said data needs to prevent theft and destruction. Because of this, it's something of a pain to retrieve through the proper procedure. But that is not why I cannot show the data today, even if it was retrieved within the hour.
You see, the biggest problem is…. This table.” Roland and everyone else blanked. Roland could only mutter a “What?” Zachary grinned.
“Can someone tell me what’s so special about this table? Hmm?” He looked at everyone present, and saw one raised hand. “Ah, good old faithful Ramierez, tell me what you know.” The man in the red vest, sitting next to Damos, stood up. “Actually, I’ve been led to believe that I’m only half your age, but I digress.
The answer is simple, this table doubles as a hologram projector, and it creates a three-d environment based on the data that has been inserted into it! In this case, the table would serve as a video projector, showing us exactly how your mission turned out.
“Very good Ramierez, you are absolutely right!!” Exclaimed Nathan. “Except for one tiny detail….. It’s broke.”
Nathan gave the table a solid kick, and a panel opened up. Electrical circuits zapped and sparks flew out of the machinery under the table. All the suited men looked over and inspected the damage. “Yeah, turns out, some inept idiot damaged our precious hologram table! So even if we did have footage to show, we couldn’t use it!”
Before Roland could respond, a phone rang out. “Sorry about that. I’m afraid I neglected to put it on silent.” *Bleep* “State your business.” The mutton chop man said. Tarron Damos glared furiously at his left hand man, but he held his hand up to silence everyone up in the room.
After a moment of uncomfortable silence, the left hand man spoke again. “Good, send me photos of what you found, NOW.” He hanged his phone.
“There had better be damn good explanation to why the call could not wait, Alexi Harahknivi.”
“Sir, that phone call was from my Stiletto Guards. Last night, I had them scrambled to investigate the battle sight that we are now talking about. They have searched through the debris, and have found the wreckage of two human-made battleship cruisers that do not match our designs.”
Gasps echoed among the suited men. Roland face was a mask of shock.
“I’m getting photos of the ships now, here.” Harahknivi hands Damos his phone. After a moment of silence, Tarron hands the phone back to Harahknivi.
“So it appears that there were other forces that are willing to see us fall to our knees. Still, I see no evidence of the Druxan nobles being behind this. Frankly I don’t believe them having the backbone for it.” Damos exclaimed in a ‘matter of fact type’ of tone.
“As convincing as your argument is Admiral Zachary, we cannot make any moves against our allies so long as we don’t have the solid evidence to prove that they were behind this attack. I believe you would know the consequences of such an unjustified action.”
Zachary scoffed but made no argument against his lord. He learned well enough when to keep his mouth shut and when to rant off against Damos. The timing never proved to be right for the latter.
Instead he decided to move the conversation into a new direction. “Right you are Mr. Damos! On that note, I would like to show you exactly what happened during the big fight!! Hey General Faux Shot, did you ever get around to doing that other thing I asked of you!?”
Harahknivi seemed to be on the verge of chuckling. “No one has called me that in years” he muttered to himself. “Yes, I just received a text message that my men are just right outside the door. My Lord Damos, if I may?”
On Damos’s command several soldiers dressed in black cameo gear walked inside the room carrying several, miserable looking boxes. As Ramierez helped unpacked the contents of the boxes and set them on the table as Zachary instructed, Naomi finally got to speak to her husband.
“Didn’t I tell you to get rid of those things?”
“You did, but I was just too attached to them, so I decided to keep them in storage. When I accidentally spilled alcohol on this machine the other day, I thought this would be the perfect time to bring them out. And how about a pat on the back for me, buying us enough time for your plan to work?” Nathan replied.
Naomi smiled. “You really are just trying to piss everyone in the room off aren’t you?”
“Is it working?”
“Not yet for me, but Roland seems to be at his limit.”
As if on queue, Roland spoke out. “Model airplanes…. You’re bringing out model airplanes, to this trial!!??
Naomi answered for her husband. “Calm yourself Roland; there is a perfectly good explanation for this if you would give me a moment to explain.”
Ramierez chimed in. “All done Mr. and Mrs. Zachary!” “Good boy, Ramierez; that will be all.” Naomi said. “Gentlemen, back when holograms did not exist, military staff would often plan for future battles, by placing models on a map to simulate a battle. While this often done for imminent struggles, it wasn't an unusual practice for them to use the models to review past battles as well, like we are about to do now. While these models are a little more different than the ones used in those days, they are entirely appropriate for this very serious matter.”
Tarron Damos sighed, causing everyone to remain silent. “Ramierez.”
“Yes sir!” “Get me some wine. If I’m going to have to sit through this, I need something strong to pacify me.”
“I’m here to help!” And with that, Ramierez went off.
In the next couple of hours that followed, Nathan and Naomi took turns describing the battle in detail. Nathan was adamant about being the one to maneuver the models, claiming that he was the one best suited to moving them to the correct points: However, is mannerisms were more akin to a child playing with their favorite toy, rather than that of a distinguished adult.
“And that’s when I went out on my custom fighter jet, ‘The Pandora’ and proceeded to single handidely destroyed two Battle Cruisers! Whoooooosh. Pew pew. Boom!”
Damos had finally finished drinking the last drop of his wine. “ENOUGH, I’VE HEARD ENOUGH!” He exclaimed. “I am ready to pass my judgment.”
Everyone sat straight in their seats, while the Zachary's stood at attention; all of them waiting to hear Tarron Damos’s words. “Admiral Zachary. I understand that you came back to us, with your ‘Pandora’ somehow parked on the prow of a frigate.”
Nathan put on a serious face and responded. “Yes sir. The frigate in question had its hanger already overfilled with damaged fighters, so I took drastic-”
“Is the captain of this ship still alive?” Damos demanded to know.
“Yes sir.” Naomi responded.
“Promote him, and give him a new ship befitting his rank.
As for you Admiral and Lieutenant Zachary, you both have faced overwhelming odds and managed to prove yourselves, not entirely incompetent, but I still have a battered fleet that lacks a proper ship. My forces are now fighting without any real air support. What’s more, is your loss of the ‘Crimson Redemption’ is nothing but inexcusable. That ship was a vital piece of our military might.”
Nathan Zachary spoke. “Sir, I take all responsibility for everything that has occurred. My wife was fighting under my orders and when I gave her control of a ship, she executed her tactics flawlessly.”
Damos nodded his head. “I accept your words. Now here is your punishment.
You will retain your rank of Admiral. I'll pull some strings in order to regain the fleet that you lost; but when I get Battle Cruisers back into our skies, you will not be operating at their helm.
Henceforth, I hereby sentence you to work on the ship you arrived back on. Until such a time as you prove yourself capable of maintaining a fleet properly, you will not pilot anything larger than that frigate. That is all.”
Scene: General Alexi and Admiral Zachary are leaning on a railing overlooking a frigate.
“Ah gosh…. That could have gone better.” Nathan Zachary exclaimed.
“You are a very lucky man, Nathan. You should consider yourself as such.” General Harahknivi said.
Nathan seemed exasperated “You call this lucky? I’m in charge of this piece of junk now!! *Sigh* my poor Redemption, why did I have to lose you? You were so good to me."
Alexi frowned. “Probably because you keep poking the sleeping bear that is Roland. He may be a stock up suit, be he has the right connections to dangerous people. I’m close to figuring out who he truly works for, but I cannot stop him from trying to kill you in the meantime. You’re welcome, by the way, for saving your ass from being canned.”
“Yeah, yeah, you can stop with your lectures. Thanks for putting up with me, and thanks for the favor, I hope to never return it back.” Zachary said.
“Glad to hear it, now if you’ll excuse me, I have other things to take care of before the day is over.”
As the General walked away, Nathan gazed at the ship that was now his.
“The Homestead, eh? That’s not entirely a bad name for a ship.” He said to himself.