Should he go by Major, Colonel, or General? Richard Blaine cannot decide. Then, life gives him much more to ponder!
SUMMER’S FINAL HYMN TO THE SETTING SUN
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world:
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
― George Bernard Shaw
I fought sagging in my chair. Rachel, Cloverfield, and I had raced our drones to the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach.
I depleted the last of my acid light at the gun emplacements while my two Spartans had done the same,
inflicting more damages with their greater reserves of hellfire than I could with my meager supply.
As I did so, it had felt odd looking down on the cliffs and the still smoking tunnel entrance
where I knew my Spartan 300 were still getting their bearings three days in the past.
With nothing left to shoot, we aimed our drones into the still firing gun emplacements and dived-bombed into them.
Sentient had mockingly left out how bad it would hurt us back in our seats in the present.
“Withhold my compliments to your Dark Passenger for being so reticent of the consequences of following her instructions.”
From the echo effect in my helmet, I knew Sentient was speaking to all three of us:
‘If you cannot glean my words I will explain, but do not ask me to reveal what I've left unspoken between my lines.’
“If we cannot glean your words, Sentient, how on earth can we ask what lies in between them?” asked Rachel,
swathing her question in a sigh intended to convey an impression of hard-pressed fortitude.
“Now all you need to do is to fall dead at our feet to make the picture complete,' remarked Cloverfield.
“You first,” said Rachel deadpan, making of her expression a visual pun.
I stretched my aching back and sighed,
“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances.
The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.”
“I know that makes sense to you, Major. Confound it all! At least let me address you as Colonel. Heavens knows, Roosevelt himself promoted you.”
I told him and Rachel what Sentient had shown me of his implication in the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby.
“Oh, that. MI6 knew all about that years ago.”
“Oh, yes. What you obviously did not know was that the mother suspected Lindberg himself of the crime.
Seems like the man couldn’t even bring himself to look at the poor rickets-afflicted child. Never called the infant by name.
Always referred to the infant as ‘It.””
Cloverfield snorted, “So, what Roosevelt intended to destroy the man actually took a burden from his shoulders.”
He shook his head at the expression on my face.
“Sorry, old chap. I really do look upon you as a younger brother like Rachel. But you have a much too simplistic idea of morality.”
“Which I have been trying to rectify his entire life,” spoke a voice behind me that sent chills down my spine.
I spun around in the chair. “Sister Ameal?”
I stumbled out of my chair at the sight of the person beside her.
Tall as I remembered but now clothed in fatigues that fit her even more snugly than Rachel’s did her.
The nurse in question slowly raised an eyebrow noticing what I had.
Helen matched her raised eyebrow with one of her own.
Cloverfield snorted, “Women.”
“Only half right,” smiled Helen in her dry, amused way.
She turned to me, a strand of strawberry blonde hair slipping out from beneath the helm of her own Spartan helmet.
“Richard, you have ever asked the wrong question. It is not ‘How’ but ‘Why’ you should be asking.”
James said, “Oh, we know. You want to warn us about those nasty hybrid beasties.
Sister Ameal shook her head. “Yes … and no.”
“You haven’t changed, Sister,” I said.
Her angular face showed disappointment. “You have never seen me as I am, Young Sir.”
I smiled drily, “That’s not how you address me within my mind … Sentient.”
“How long have you known?”
“I did not know. I guessed just now. Lately, I have been beginning to feel like Pip at the end of his tale,
finding out all the important people in his life were not what he supposed and were related one to the other.”
Helen murmured, “I am not a ‘People,’ nor was I ever.”
I shrugged, “I suspected that much, Helen. But I fell in love with your spirit and that was enough for me.”
“Mate, from anyone else that would have sounded daft. But from you it sounded natural. Here now, did I just insult you?”
Rachel glowered, “Yes.”
I shook my head at the same time Helen smiled. “No. It is what one brother would genuinely say to another.”
Her eyes grew wet. “Odd. All his life Richard was an orphan. Now at the end of it, he has found a family.”
“I know this is the End.
I hear the roar of the Void.
One last fight.
My last stand.
Nowhere to run
Nor would I if I could.
If this ends,
I end it right.
No regrets, no wailing.
For I have lived
To see Her again.
That is enough.
And if I fall,
I fall the right way:
Never backing down,
Never kneeling down.
Choosing to protect others.
Standing and fighting.
Denying the reality of my death.
Every human has been here:
A time of birth
A period of struggle
A place of death
Where I didn’t expect mine to end.
But who does?
Shadows lengthen as summer sings
Its final hymn to the setting sun.”
– Richard Blaine