Saturday, July 16, 2011

Honor Never Dies.

I'll never forget that night, not as long as I live. I was nine years old, and had just finished a training session with my father. He was teaching me the fine art of handling a duelist's blade, a task that he had begun a few years before. My father had often chastised me for not taking my practice sessions with him seriously. Often I would ask him when frustrated: "But what's thee point of this dad, I mean, who uses a silly blade anymore?" He would always reply in a kind steady tone that was underwritten by an authority I couldn't refute to his face. "Albrecht, always remember, my son, that a blade - much like those called to the most honorable duty, must never fail. It cannot in fact, for a blade never runs out of ammunition. A blade will never jam or fall short on you. A blade is an extension of it's wielder and his skill. The person holding that weapon is a keener edge and better forged tool than any weapon they might wield. Never place your faith in the tool, but instead in the hands that hold it." Laughing, he would always add: "Besides, in tight spaces you cannot always bring a gun to bear on your target. A fact many a member of the Republic Guard never learn or would willingly admit."

Both my father and my uncle had been soldiers in the New Republic military, and both had managed to be selected as worthy to join the elite Republic Guard. The Guard were those who personified the best of what the New Republic's military forces. They were issued some of the best equipment, including hi-tech powered armor, a thermal edge half-blade that could super-heat to pierce thick armor and a vicious sidearm that while looked ceremonial was anything but. Members of the Republic Guard were looked on with respect wherever they went, I remember how I used to idolize the idea of one day joining their ranks myself.

But within the ranks of the Guard was another group, one I only later learned the existence of, and that my own father was among it's prestigious ranks. Within the Guard the most skilled soldiers were chosen, ones who possessed certain key traits to bear the noble duty of the Honor Guard. Where the Republic Guard were the elite of the military, the Honor Guard were the elite of the elite. Rigorously trained for close-quarters combat, defense and special tactics they were issued tasks that heavily armed and armored Republic Guard troops were less than suited for. To fit their duty the Honor Guard abandoned their infamous armor for lightly reinforced jackets they soon came to refer as Arete Fidei; or 'Armor of Faith.' Replacing both their sidearm and trademark blade, the Honor Guard returned to service an almost forgotten weapon and made it their own. The Duelist Blade was a relic of ages past that only saw use among nobility and sport enthusiasts. A small light handle that produced a wisp-like beam of energy it was well suited for duels, and was speed and precision by it's supporters. But as a concealable weapon that was highly reliable and efficient it earned a place in the hands of the Honor Guard.

It wasn't long before almost every Senator or public official demanded Honor Guard bodyguards or escorts due to their skill, noted loyalty and most importantly their ability to protect them without their presence being known.  Unfortunately dissension soon formed among the Republic Guard, especially when rumors began to circulate of the Honor Guard receiving specialized training denied to the Republic Guard itself. I never would of believed it myself, most still don't, but it became fact for me that night.

Without warning the door exploded inward and thunder filled the room knocking me to the floor. While I shook the confusion from my dazed head a strange scene formed before me. My father had taken a stance in front of me, directly between me and three armor-clad figures that I immediately recognized as members of the Republic Guard. In a hushed tone that did little to hide a tinge of fear my father's voice floated back to me, almost as if I was in some terrible dream. "Go, Albrecht, run while you can," my father pleaded with me.

Throwing his helm to the ground, my own uncle declared his presence grinning sadistically and almost dripping with contempt. "Yes, dear nephew, do run. Once we're finished with your disgrace of a father, we'd be more than happy to hunt you down with the rest of the trash." Pained by facing his own brother I saw the hurt in my father's face, I could hear it as he begged for an explanation that might make sense of this madness. "Cayle, what is going on, what is the point here?"

"It's simple, Seraph, I have the privilege to carry orders to execute every last member of the Honor Guard and any who carry the now illegal Duelist's blade. Several Senators are dead, they're Honor Guard assigned escorts no where to be found, all evidence points to your precious little pet-groups' treachery. The Honor Guard is ordered to disband and receive punishment for it's crimes."

As I watched, my own uncle raised his sidearm to fire at my father, his own brother, while the two other weapons follow his lead. At the time I chalked it up to the shock of the moment, the stress's effect on my young mind. Projectiles flew with deadly aim to seek my father's life, and somehow each failed as they met with some shimmer that pulsed before my father. With the roar of some noble beast my father bellowed a challenge that didn't need words. One last gesture was all he could spare to urge me to obey his wishes and flee before he charged forward, fluid and graceful. And yet, the last glimpse I managed to snatch as I ran was of a deadly vision of my father parrying and thrusting against three foes. Not for his life, but instead - for mine.