By Marwynn


I never liked Jaeson. Ever since we moved to Orestes in 3047, he’d picked on me because of my name. Rulf Wagnar.

What’s so bad about that name? It is a proper Rasalhaguian name after all. Well, I’ll forgive you for not knowing the Wagnar name in all its infamy. After all, it’s a special curse reserved for the people of Rasalhague. We’ve got little enough of everything else but curses.

We were mercenaries, from a long line of mercenaries. Freedom fighters was what we had called ourselves back in the 24th century, fighting against the Dragon with what little we had. At first, when our entire family was cast out, exiled, by the Dragon, our name was pretty famous. Many of the first resistance movement leaders were called ‘Wagnars’ as deferrence to us.

Not that they accomplished anything.

That had changed. In the years of our wild, nomadic tour, the Wagnars lost their noble sheen to reveal the brutal icestone underneath. We never delved into piracy, but mercenary work was just as bad. At least it was in the eyes of our people.

Strange isn’t it? The Wagnars moved to Rasalhague after most of the colonization work was done; we settled only for about thirty years before the Dragon came a knockin’. We had spent the last seven hundred years wandering the stars in centuries old jumpships, even staying for generations at a time in one planet or another. None of us had even set foot on Rasalhaguian soil again till thirteen years ago.

That’s right, we fought for Rasalhague, like we did for the Davions and Steiners, or for any two-bit power willing to pay. I had thought we would be welcomed with open arms, hey I was a dumb kid, but even now I can’t imagine the reception we got.

Up before then, I had only been spat on twice in my life. Once was by my brother, missing his mark, some Kuritan kid from Nirasaki, and hitting me instead. The second was from my first girlfriend’s father, a Liao merchant who didn’t want a mix-breed like me sullying her daughter’s virtue. I had the balls to say that he was two weeks and twenty times too late.

Back to Jaeson and my unquenchable dislike for him. Name calling I could live with, hell I had lived with for all my life. Fighting wasn’t a problem either; I’m a spacer and a merc after all. It was what he told other people who wouldn’t have given a damn either way. Within weeks of my enrollment at the Tyra Miraborg Memorial Academy, everyone knew I was a merc, and you just now how popular those guys are with the Rasalhaguians.

Lies with truths in them are the best kind of lies. He told everyone that I came to Rasalhague in 3034 and was under contract. ‘Traitor’ was about the kindest word I heard in months. Then you get these poor sons of bitches who think their blond hair and blue eyes gives them enough of an advantage against someone.

The staff wasn’t much better. That asshole Tor Miraborg, god bless his soul my mother used to say, even started egging other cadets to pick fights with me. Why the hell not? Beat up an offworlder merc, look good in front of the ladies, and earn old Tor’s respect… it was a win-win-win situation for them. Poor, stupid idiots.

The first three were probably too dumb to know that the real first ones who started it before I got to the Academy were still in the hospital. Months later. After all, it was only on the news that some offworlder gang harassed three innocent Rasalhaguians for the past few months to try and keep our thoughts away from the Clanners. Yep, I was the gang.

I wasn’t in a rush to actually stop the fights, practice was always good for me. Remember that kid from Nirasaki? Hell, I didn’t know he could fight! Kicked my ass after knocking out my brother with this jack-knife kick that I’ve never been able to copy. Kuritan kids, what can ya expect? Heard he turned into a merc too, funny that.

Well, surprise, surprise, I met another kid who could fight. And she was ready to kill.

I don’t mean ‘kill’ the same way as you use it with your friends who just ate all of the pizza without leaving you any – at least I hope not. It was the kind of hate you reserve for your archnemesis or the Clanners. Or for Rasalhaguians, for mercs.

Long story short, I wound up on a hospital bed, my name probably the last on the doctor’s to help list. She was with me too, laying on her bed crying silently. For some long minutes, I did nothing but look at her. Pale and white skin, lucious yellow hair, amazing green eyes, and from what I saw, and felt, during our tussle, a great athletic body too.

Just my type.

Hell, all women are my type. All women are my bane too; nothing ever works right. I started talking, about what I can’t remember, maybe something about my childhood or what I had for lunch. She stopped crying and just watched me behind those hating and tearful eyes. Damn, did I fall for her!

When I stopped, she started speaking. Told me all about her childhood on Radstadt – damn – and the hell she went through as a teen, a beautiful teen, in the remnants of the Republic. Escaped prisoners. They had raped her when she was younger, her mother and younger sisters were too.

When she had refused, the pirates – bastards forever in my book – killed her mother and forced her father to watch. When they were done, they cut out her father’s eyes for looking at something naughty. It was a sin, they claimed and laughed as they poured alcohol into the empty sockets. Her two sisters didn’t live long afterwards.

I was amazed that she hadn’t cried throughout. I was [naughty] astounded that I was. She looked at me, and I just felt foolish for wiping away the damned tears and pretending they never were there. She had wanted to say something, something wonderful from the glint in her eyes, but it was lost as a policeman came bursting in.

You know the type. Overweight, uncaring, definitely racist. Most probably corrupt too. Damned sonuvabitch wanted to cuff me, damn the IV at my wrists, or the fact that my left arm was broken. That was when she spoke, like sharp steel kissing silk, she spoke.

The cop could do nothing as the apparent victim – just why the hell would they put her in the same room with me, I only found out years later and you’ll just have to wait till I get there – pretty much said that she attacked me and I could only be guilt of self-defense. The dumbass actually wondered, aloud, what the penalty was for that.

Charges were dropped, people apologized and let me go home. Only my brother blinked an eye when I got home in bandages, probably checking where the bruises are so he can put more emphasis in his ‘life lessons’.

They found her body the next day. Raped. Viciously. Also, apparently, with a few of my things strewn around, a notebook, a pack of gum I was looking for, and so on, to cast blame on me.

When I showed up to get my prints scanned, my eyes were already red from crying all night. About her teddy bear she buried beside her youngest sister who always tried to steal it, or the box of new shoes that was never worn that her mother worked overtime for. I cried for the pair of glasses in her locker that was her father’s reading glasses and for her green eyes and the words I never will hear.

So when I got to the pig farm – ‘police station’ for you upright citizens – they could do nothing to piss me off. See, what I hate most about Jaeson is that he’s not subtle, nor is he smart, and he doesn’t care that he isn’t. Big, dumb, and dumber. The finger prints were not only not a match, they were too big. Factor in the DNA samples that didn’t add up, and I was already home free.

She was found on campus grounds, and that meant video surveillance which the police eventually confiscated as evidence. I needed all of two seconds to identify the sonuvabitch. Jaeson Miraborg. Long lost bastard son of Tor Miraborg and sister to the late national hero, Tyra. It was respect for her that I hadn’t killed him in his sleep that night; it was her birthday anniversary after all.

When I got home, I had already worked out a plan to kill him. I knew my brother, Thorston, the big lug, would help just like his namesake would and he was the first and only man I wanted along side me when I hunted the bastard down.

Instead, I came home to a sad press conference, lamenting the fact that Jaeson Miraborg – Oh of course! THAT Miraborg! – had to shoot to kill the prime suspect wanted in the brutal rape of a cadet, my knees gave out and I, from the look Tor gave me, had apparently the bad manners of interrupting his son’s triumph by mourning my poor brother Thorston.

I wanted to kill him, right then, sorry Tyra. Before any conscious thought, I was already kicking away the Miraborgs’ bodyguards and strangling the bastard with every strength that I had. I took three gunshot wounds before I felt the pain, and two more before I stopped.

What the hell does this gotta do with you? Well, I’m an old man, kind warrior, so do listen as the reward is quite well worth it. Tor, god crush his soul, died years ago, and the bastard has taken his place on the wings of my victories. You’ve heard of them? Good, young Bear, good. So you know who really won all those battles I was forced to fight?… yes, I suppose the stories would’ve leaked out from my former comrades.

It is quite simple. Jaeson Miraborg has deigned it that I and a guest are to dine with him. So gracious no? Give me your Codex. Good. Your genes have already been scanned and sampled, and I assure you they will yet find their way into the next generation of Ghost Bears, but only if you, my lady warrior do as I ask.

Jaeson has a thing for female Clanners. Some sick ideal of purity. You have already been cast out of your Clan, and you find it repulsive to pass your genes some other way… so I give you this chance. You know of my power within the lower castes, and you know my honour as a warrior. But only against honourable ones.

Mate with Jaeson. Then kill him.