"Agelius Salvage."

"Rix, it's Saeera." There was a slight pause on the other end of the phone.

"What's that? Who is this?" He sounded puzzled.

"It's Saeera. Bara-" He cut her off.

"Oh shit, Saeera!" he remembered. "Damn, I'd given up thinkin' you'd call." She hadn't spoken to him in a couple of years, since her father died.

Bara Baillien and Rix Agelius had met during the war almost twenty years before. They'd been stationed at an outpost on Arzachel, the second moon of the jungle world Perreine, home to the largest natural magnetic core in four galaxies. For this reason, it had for almost eighty years been seen as a place of high spiritual energy, and therefore a religious landmark. The world was reclaimed from the natives, who were all shipped across-world and never heard from again. The ancient stone temples used by the natives were renovated but kept out of convenience, being impervious to the magnetic pull of the planet’s core, and the central shrine, and Perreine itself became the permanent residence of the third of the four Great Monks.

The high content of magnetic rock deep underground made any sort of metal construction useless. The magnetic pull threshold was about four hundred feet above ground level, making landing any normal ship far too dangerous. Special ships had been engineered with vertical landing thrusters designed to counteract the magnetic pull. The ships’ components were made from plastic wherever possible, but when metal was necessary, special precautions were taken to ensure that nothing dislodged or came unhooked. These ships acted as the shuttles from Perreine’s three moons to the planet’s surface. Rix, Bara, and the other troops of the Commonwealth Army stationed on these moons served as the guardians of the Great Lord’s Perreine.

Rix and Bara held post at one of the CA’s many four-man radar posts on Arzachel monitoring the atmosphere of Perreine. The two were off-shift when the attack came. After eight months of playing cards, talking about women, and watching for blips on a comscreen, they finally got the chance to be soldiers. Somehow the terrorists had managed to build a ship that fooled the radar system. They’d managed to keep the ship hovering above one of the hilltops, as to avoid the magnetic field, and the terrorists had air-dropped in. It had been an almost two-day journey from their drop-point to the temples, to give their offering of chemical weapons.

The Great Lord survived the attack, holed up with his ministers deep inside the underground tunnels of the temple, but the CA lost about half of the men stationed on Perreine. Within a few minutes of the initial attack, over half of the soldiers stationed at the temple were dead. The chemical “infected” the oxygen in the body and soon clotted all of the blood in the body, making for a quick death. The remaining forces held back the terrorists who had now used up their supply of the gas, but were making use of the anti-magnetic weaponry left on the dead soldiers’ bodies.

Not three minutes after the terrorists’ initial strike, Rix and Bara were on a packed shuttle and headed for Perreine. The soldiers inside the temple had some trouble against the terrorist force, but once the reinforcements landed, the enemy was far outnumbered. The attack was the first taste of real combat for many of the young soldiers posted on the moons around Perreine. For Rix, it was also the last.

Within half an hour, the terrorists were dead, and the CA was taking count of its’ own. Somewhere during the fight, Bara had lost track of Rix. He searched, dreading the loss of the man with whom he’d spent the majority of the last eight months. He found Rix lying near the edge of the jungle, shot from behind. The bullet had entered the back of Rix’s neck, and had become lodged inside. It turned out to be his ticket home. After he recovered from his injury, he returned to work overseeing his family’s Salvage yard. He couldn’t do much of the physical work anymore, for he had lost all but basic function in his right arm. Bara was left on the moon to make new friends.


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3:24 PM  

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