David Madore's WebLog: Gratuitous Literary Fragment #4 (Science-Fiction)

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Gratuitous Literary Fragment #4 (Science-Fiction)

Another story fragment for which you'll just have to invent a context—or not.

Kevin woke up to find a gun pointed at him.

Lionel! What the fuck are you…?

I'm not aiming at you, Lionel answered, I'm after that—creature at your side. Though if you make any movement to defend her I will be pointing this at both of you.

Patricia? But why…?

Is it possible, Kevin? asked Lionel. Is it possible that you actually have no idea? Can you be so utterly ignorant of who it is you have been sleeping with?

Kevin just looked blank.

Or perhaps, Lionel went on, you have never heard of the Iron General? Well, there she is.

You're kidding me. You must be kidding me. This is just too…

Too wild? Do I look like I'm joking? There she is, Kevin. Now please stand aside and let me shoot her.

Could it be true? Could it be? Patricia? The Iron General? This exquisite woman? In his bed! Inconceivable. Simply ludicrous. Yet Lionel was obviously serious as hell about this.

Ask her, Kevin. Just ask her! Was she or was she not made a senator by the Parimsah emperor out of gratitude for her loyal services? Did she or did she not retire at the age of thirty-five—the youngest senator in the history of the Empire, she who had been its youngest general—after killing twenty-five billion of ours? Is this woman not responsible for the massacre of Tuqnil? Go on! Ask her!

Now Kevin was beginning to grasp this. Please, Patricia, he said weakly, tell me that's not true.

It is, she answered. Not in the frail and timid voice Kevin had thought hers but steady and proud, she announced: I am Siona Patricia pa-Lehyll pa-Drusia Ishgur-Sal, Lady of Tyren, sometime general in His Majesty's army, dame of the Empire, and senator of Tuqnil. Then, more softly: I'm sorry, Kevin.

Sorry? Lionel roared. He spat. Sorry? Sorry for what? For the billions whom you killed at Tuqnil?

I'm sorry I was unable to tell Kevin the truth from the start. She spoke calmly. As for those who fell in battle, I always grieve for them—for all times and for all wars. But I did my job and what I thought was right, and I feel no shame at that.

Lionel was delirious with anger, yet he still did not shoot. Your job? What you thought right? This was no battle, Lady! Armed as we were—armed as you were—it was no battle, it was mass slaughter. It was genocide. I lost three brothers on Tuqnil.

Well, my condolences, then—there was a slight contempt in her voice. And I lost my father in the battle, or in the slaughter if you prefer the word. Now will you fire or not? This conversation gets us nowhere.

But why, Patricia? This time it was Kevin who spoke. Why do this to me? How can I go on, knowing that I slept with Ishgur-Sal, the Iron General?

My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee; had I it written, I would tear the word, she quoted. Is it so difficult to understand? I love you, Kevin.

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