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And on the Seventh's Day

And on the Seventh’s Day



Me and Tarry were just weaving the webs, having a drink, checking out the new bar down Orbit Corner, where the Rocket and Kale used to be. ‘New military theme for the place, eh?’ I said, looking round the pictures and souvenirs on the walls… vids of alien battles and skirmishes playing on the screens… new range of drinks served in ammo containers… stools shaped like plumose antenna. ‘All about the Seventh Cavalry, isn’t it? I’ve heard about them recently. Heroes, aren’t they?’

‘The Seventh Cavalry? Heroes? Sure they are – like eggs in H2S.’

‘Huh? Hydrogen sulphide? Y’ saying they’re rotten? Stinking?’

‘Yep, poisonous, corrosive and flammable, too.’

‘But they’re the greatest force we have. Their name’s carved in pride’

‘Sure, they’re the force behind every cock-up and massacre we’ve known for the past three centuries.’

‘The Seventh? What about the Great Hradd Stand? They were wiped out to a man. Heroes every one.’

‘Balderton! They charged onto a Deshi-controlled planet thinking they were going to have an easy time wiping out a load of civilian farmers, foresters and the like. It was intended as an example, a warning. And they did; they “chastised” four peaceful communities. “Chastised” equals slaughtered. Then found themselves locked out of their own ship; they’d left it with minimum guard. So the Deshi militia – amateur, at that – had them cornered, and took them out, one by one, without a single casualty in return. That don’t get mentioned, eh? Just the hero bit, the tragic end…

‘So they had to be reformed, with legend status, during the civil war on Alford. They set fire to the wrong town; burned the whole place to the ground.’

‘But they were all killed themselves, by the Deshi hordes ganging up on them from both sides.’

‘Sure, that’s what the publicity mack reckoned: they were caught in the middle…’

‘But actually?’ I asked, at last managing to wrap my palps round a sipping container of 30-Proof Poison Dart.

‘They all survived, and were lifted off planet. They were sent to Havos on the SN Distan.

‘That’s the ship that inexplicably blew up in orbit?’

‘Yes. It was the sole condition of peace, and us remaining in the Federation; permitting us to land, and export their derethium – and that’s essential for the new engines’ core elements. They insisted on revenge on the One Hundred of the Seventh, for an estimated three thousand Deshi civilians they immolated.’ Tarry wiggled a palp wisely, ‘The cover story added to their legend, though.’

‘Right… You noticed how this Poison Dart clogs up your probos?’ I shuffled a few legs round on the stool, ‘You were saying?’

Tarry sucked at his can and pulled a chelicera in distaste. ‘Then there was the Namese war. Where the ground army had gone guerrilla and mixed in among the civilian population, while the Seventh gassed and blasted their way through three villages. It took millions, and a lot of promises to cover that up. In the end, though, it was the Seventh that was nuked, probably by their own illegal weapons cache being set off. It might have been an accident by their own side, or deliberate by the High Command, or the guerrillas being really good at infiltration and sabotage. Personally, I don’t care. They’re utter disaster wherever they’ve been. They get shuffled away on one side, or the innocent bystanders do. Or both. Anyway… you were saying about them? You heard something recently, you say?’

‘Er, yes… their new-formed brigade’s been posted here for Total Training – Hundred days. That’ll be why they’ve re-decked this place, I imagine.’

‘Foo! Ah well, I’m probably due to take a long vacation, anyway. Can you pass me the screenpad, huh? I’ll see if there’s any flights to somewhere warm and far away.’


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