Turtle Bay: Genesis
Turtle Bay: Genesis by Justin Allard
Chris brought his proton sword up in a defensive posture. The green blade making the air hum as it effortlessly passed through the air. He struck out to test his opponent's defenses. As Chris guessed, the sword was swatted away as if it were a fly rather than a weapon. Sweat began to pool on his brow as the thwarted the counterstrikes. His opponent made a furious swipe at him with the sword, slicing into his undefended neck. Chris's sword disappeared in a flash, signaling his defeat.
"Good match, Chris. It seams that I have yet again won."
"So it seams, Jered, but do not forget that I do not have time to practice as you do. Being a Fin Commander has its disadvantages."
"So it does. I just hope you have done well. We will receive our first assignment after this moon."
"I know. I hope we do not get posted to far from Turtle Bay, hyperspace makes me sick."
Jered wiped his forehead. "Would you like to head down to The Beach? We could invite the others to come along as well. I am sure their teachers are working hard to finish everything as well."
"Yes, I am sure they would welcome a break."
"Then shall we all met at The Beach in two hours?"
"Sure, see you then."
Chris, a Fin Commander in the Turtles Mercenary Unit, commanded three other people. Four Fins were then put together into a Ring, lead by a Ring Captain. Next, three Rings formed a Plate, headed by a Plate Colonel. Next to last, was a Shell, made up of three to five Plates, commanded by a Shell Commander. Finally, there was the Turtle, consisting of three to five shells and directed by a Turtle Master. At the head of the Turtles was the Lord.
A Moon was when the three moons of Turtle Bay aligned. The smallest and closest was made of a rusty red color. The next in line in both position and size was a dusty, white moon. The last was a huge, blue ball of ice. Then these three aligned behind one another, the pale, purple hue was enough to see by at night. All external lighting was deactivated during the month of July every sixth year. In addition, with the warm summer nights averaging 70 F, many people swam at night. Turtle Bay was a tourist area during this period when one of the continents are open to outsiders while the Turtles have ceremonies and the like on the main continent.
"Good. I will see you in two hours, Chris"
"See you then."
Chris lay on the black sand of The Beach. Clad in a swimsuit, he was ready to take in the deep heat of the day. The amber and brown coloring were said to be like that of a real turtle, but Chris had never seen one. Next to him lay Tabitha, a Finmate and long time friend, was wearing a one-piece swimsuit similar in coloration to Chris's.
"Tabitha, remember when we did this everyday instead of train? I am beginning to miss the fun of youth. I have been taking so many tests I am worried about sunburn."
"I would rather have a sunburn than be dead. Remember that is what these tests are preparing us for."
"Yes, I know. It does not make it any better to think that though. I would still rather be on the beach than in a class. You..." Tabitha put a finger over his mouth.
"Let us not talk of what we wish was so and enjoy today."
"Diana, could you toss me a drink? I am thirsty."
"Sure, Chris, catch." Chris reaches up and catches the soda in his hand. He pops the top off and lets the dark, bubbly liquid pour down his dry throat.
"Chris, want to go take a dip?" called Jered from a few feet away.
Chris looked at Tabitha. "Want to?"
"Sure, why not. I bet I can bet you there!"
"No way!" yelled Chris as he ran after her. As Chris ran into the sparkling blue waters of Turtle Bay, he felt like a new man. All of his almost 12 years melted away and he swam like a child again.
"Catch me if you can!" Tabitha yelled as she dove under water. Chris took a deep breath. He dove under the crystal waters. The salt water stung his eyes but from years of swimming in the ocean, he was used to it. To his blurred vision, Tabitha was nothing more than a blob in the water. Calling upon years of experience, he expertly darted towards her. His fast move caught her unaware. His outstretched arms easily wrapped around he narrow waist.
They erupted from the water with a splash drenching Jered and Diana. Chris kissed Tabitha's cheek, smiling from ear to ear. Wearing the same smile, Tabitha kissed Chris's cheek.
"You witnesses have just witnessed this ritual. From this point until our death will no one come between us. Only we may have each other and no other may have us. So it shall stand until we all shall fall."
"So it shall stand until we all shall fall." Intoned Jered and Diana. Jered and Diana repeated the same ritual. This was the Turtles "wedding". According to their laws, men and women were not to kiss until they preformed it. Also, it meant they could not kiss anyone else until one was dead. Most often, members of a fin were wed. Otherwise, it would be difficult for them to spend time together.
Chris looked into Tabitha's eyes. He leaned his head toward her. His mouth meat hers and they kissed for the first time. Everything was done according to custom. They would marry on or about their second moon. Chris never noticed the wave that brought his ashore, nor did he care, holding Tabitha as if his life depended on it.
"Commanders," bellowed Ring Captain Robin, "today you get you machines. Fin Commanders Chris, Nick, and Mat, from this point on you will be rivals. You will be competing for honor, rank, and jobs. You have spent the last moon training with your fin, and now all that training is about to pay off. We have gotten an assignment on New Home, a scant 30 Light Years away. This puts it half way between here and Terra, the cradle of humanity. This is anything but standard garrison duty. We have been asked to help New Home gain freedom. It is currently being run by a tyrant and a revolutionary faction has requested our aid in bringing about a democracy. The boys upstairs gave us this one. I won the right to take it. We will send two fins on this mission. Competition for the right to go will occur on or after August 1. Dismissed!"
As he walked from the briefing room, he was met by the rest of the fin.
"What's going on? Do we have a job? When is it?" asked Diana in her rapid-fire way.
"Slow down! We have a job, after this moon." Diana jumped up and down ecstatically.
"This is good news." Jered replied in his forever-calm voice.
"My love, I sense a but somewhere in there." Tabitha sounded just as caring, as Chris knew she was.
"I have to fight Nick and Matt for the right to do it. There is room for two fins. I am sure I can beat them but I have known Nick almost as long than I have known Tabitha."
"I am sorry to hear that. I hope Nick makes it in as well. Would you mind telling us about he assignment or would you rather wait? If you do not feel like it, we understand."
"It is okay. You guys are my family. I always feel like talking to you. In this job, you never know when someone might fall." That brought a chill to Chris's spine. He could not stand to lose one of his Finmates. No, they had become more to him than that. They had become his family.
Chris lay on the beach wearing the same swimsuit he had a few days before. In the light of the Moon, Tabitha's normally fair skin was a beautiful shade of purple. Instead of the one-piece suit she had worn before, Tabitha wore a bikini.
"Ah, I have not felt this good in years." Chris said, relaxing from the stress of the past few years.
"Nor have I, darling." Tabitha's voice was just the way it had always been, but to Chris it seamed even more loving then normal.
"I am glad we did not come with Jered or Diana. They are fun, but sometime one can have more fun alone with someone."
"Yes." They sat in silence for a few minutes.
"What do you think of our assignment?"
"Chris, I think that you know what you are doing. I think that you are more than able to do it. As for my thoughts on the mission, I think that Ring Captain has confidence in us for such a dangerous assignment compared to most cadet's first assignment."
"I agree. I just do not have the same confidence in me that you do."
"Why do you doubt yourself? You grades are in the 90th percentile of all the students. Your commander believes in you, your Finmates believe in you, but you sill doubt your abilities."
"I just do not know. It is like I know I am going to fail."
"Why is that? You have no reason to think that. As far as I know, you have not failed here yet."
"I just know that I will fail. I do not know why. It is a nagging in the back of my mind I cannot seam to dismiss."
"The only place you fail is in your self confidence." She leaned over and kissed him. "Let us not worry about that now. We have each other for the rest of the month then we have to leave. Why waste our peace and quiet together?" Chris rolled onto his side and looked into her eyes. He smiled and kissed her. That moment was frozen in time for Chris. What were just moments seamed like hours to him. No matter what happened, he decided, she would always love him. He pulled her closer and vowed he would never let her go.
Chris stood at attention with the rest of his fin. Ring Captain Robin held out a sword to him, blade first. The blade itself was only about 26 inches long and had a slight curve. The hilt was 10 inches long, for a total of 36 inches or one yard. He grasped the blade and squeezed his hand. The razor sharp blade easily cut through flesh, and blood began to leak from the wound. Robin released the handle and Chris slid the blade into his belt where the sheath lay. The blade it self was made of the finest silver on Turtle Bay. It took years to temper it to this sort of perfection. The hilt was a mineral called tortoiseite. It was a mineral with a hardness of 9.9. It had to be carved with diamonds. The pommel was stylized into the shape of a turtle. The sheath was also made of tortoiseite and fit the blade so closely it seamed that it looked as if it was a second layer of the blade. The same thing was done for the rest of his fin. But the hilt was 9 inches and the blade 20, making it much smaller than Chris's was.
Tortoiseite was also used in Sea Turtles, their inter-stellar and inter-planetary craft, was one of the most valuable things on Turtle Bay, along with diamonds and its silver. Now it was time for the competition for the right to take this mission. One of them would garrison the planet of Turtle Bay and the other two would go to New Home. This would give two Fins the upper hand from the start. The leader would further dominate his fellows. Matt and Nick had already fought and Nick had won. Now Chris had to best Matt.
As Chris faced Matt, he pulled his proton sword from his belt. The blade filled with energy and electricity and glowed a soft green. The sword had three settings. One, the green one, was used for sparing. It sent a small jolt out, not noticeable to a person, and if it hit the handle, it would deactivate the sword. This way, the one with the sword off lost. The next setting was a stun setting. It was white and would stun anything it touched. The last setting, red, was full power. It worked as a real sword would, but had no cutting power, just immense electricity.
As he glared into Matt's eyes all he saw was an enemy. He went on the offensive at the start, lashing out at Matt. The sword came inches from his face before Matt could react. Chris struck out repeatedly. Sweat began to pool on his brow under the strain. His arms began to ache from the effort. In a last ditch effort, he struck with all the energy he had left, knowing full well that if he missed he would not stand a chance against Matt. His desperate effort paid off, striking Matt square in the head. Matt's blade disappeared a moment later.
"Good fight, Chris." Matt said wheezing.
"Yea, if you had blocked that, you would have had me. I would not have even been able to lift the blade." Chris said, panting.
Nick walked up to Chris. "I forfeit my match with Chris, making him the leader of this mission. I do not wish to drain either of our strength any more."
"So it shall stand that Fin Commanders Chris and Nick will complete this contract with Chris as the head. Matt will remain here to protect the planet. Commanders, you leave in 3 days, get your things in order. Dismissed!"
"Chris, this is great! I cannot wait so see what hyperspace is like. I wonder what New Home will be like. Jered, Tabitha, do not you think so, too?"
"I believe I share Diana's feelings, I propose we go get our things together." Jered's voice sounded like an island of reality in an ocean of excitement and joy.
"Jered's right. You all have two days to pack, I expect you all to report to Launch Pad Iota by 0700 hours August 3. See you then." As Jered and Diana walked or ran off to pack, Tabitha hung back.
"You know, my suitcase is really small, do you think you could help me pack?"
"I do not see why. It is very conveniently across the room from my bunk, I guess I could spare you the time."
"Why, thank you, sir. I hope I do not interfere with your own plans."
He kissed her neck. "I cannot think of something I would rather do more." Hand in hand, they strolled through the compound of The Shell to their bunker.
Chris walked up to the huge ship, the Mermaid, on a cool, brisk, summer morning. Carrying the large suitcase with everything he owned, save for his katana at his waist. In his other hand was Tabitha's luggage.
"Are you sure that is everything?" Tabitha asked.
"Yes, and are you as well?" He replied lovingly.
"No, not everything I own in is that bag. The only thing missing is the man carrying my suitcase." He looked into her eyes and gave he a, "I love you" look but could do nothing with the heavy bags in his hands. She gave his the same look back.
The walked up the ramp onto the egg shaped craft. They walked into their room and set the bags down.
"A whole three days of hyperspace. I saw a video of it before. It made my stomach lurch." Chris said, a sense of foreboding in his voice.
"I understand how you feel. I think I have a method for combating space sickness." She kissed his ear. "Who knows, maybe time will pass quicker as well."
After a days burn from the planet, they entered Hyperspace. The jump through hyperspace was odd as Chris thought. It was a blue blur in the windows but the artificial gravity did not function. This caused them to float along for three days. When they exited hyperspace, they still had a day until planet fall.
As Chris's task forced dropped onto the planet of New Home, Chris wondered why anyone would fight over this dustbin. It was mostly just rusted dirt in the higher elevations where the military stayed but was too hot in the coastal areas. Only a small band was inhabited.
Chris was dressed in a typical suit of armor in the Turtles. The heavy armor hide was very reassuring. On his right arm was a gauntlet with an under slung machine gun. On his left arm was a micro missile launcher, or MML. It carried four missiles with only five salvos. The missiles were the more deadly of weapons but had very limited ammo. They were perhaps as wide as Chris's thumb and about twice as long. The warhead was only a half-pound. This composed the full threat of his armor.
As he gazed out with optically enhanced imaging from his V shaped faceplate, he searched for an enemy. His efforts proved successful and he located the enemy he had sighted earlier. He moved in and triggered a blast with his machine gun by tensing all the muscles in his upper arm. The whine of the gun deafened him for a few moments as a storm of metal his target in the chest. The man flew back but remained alive. Chris was hit moments latter by the man's return fire. His training taking over, he lifted his machine gun arm and fired again, leaving a smoldering hole in the enemy's faceplate.
He turned to a call for help from Diana who was fighting with a heavier Incinerator class armor. He lifted his left arm and fired off a salvo of missiles. They hit, shaving off the rest of the armor off his chest. Diana gave a shot with he machine gun and he dropped for good.
"Enemy Commander, this is Captain Marcus Delphi of the Terran Defense Force. I challenge you to one on one combat."
"Captain, I, Fin Commander Chris of the Turtles, accept your challenge. In the nature of this challenge, I choose to fight you without armor, augmented only with my fists and my sword."
"I agree to your terms. Our duel will commence in 30 minutes while we fetch our swords and remove our armor. All warriors will remain here. The victor will have the victory of this battle. My forces will accept defeat if you allow us to remain on this planet."
"I accept your terms. I have my sword with me and will be ready. Good luck." Chris removed the heavy helmet and placed it on the rock he sat on. His fin came around him.
"Chris, are you certain you can defeat him? You can not even defeat me." Jered questioned him from his right. They were all removing their armor as well.
"Jered is right, is he not, Diana?" Tabitha sounded very concerned.
"Chris, I do not think you can win against him. He has twice as much experience as you." Diana said, her seriousness evidence of her worry.
"All of you, I am your superior officer! I have a duty. This is not a matter open to discussion. Sometimes you all must learn to trust my judgement."
"Chris, I love you. I am worried about you but if this is your decision then I will abide by it."
Chris looked her in the eye. "You do not understand. The reason I chose to do this is you. Look at Diana, her armor is all but gone. Jered is out of missiles and has only five shots left in his machine gun. You are fighting with no missiles and half your armor. This is the only way. If you do not have faith in me to save you now how can you do so in the future? Trust me, I will not die."
"How can you be so sure?" She began to sob.
"Because this is what I have trained to do for the past six years of my life. All I have done in he past six hears was eat, sleep, and train."
She gave him a brave smile. "I know. Come back to me." Chris removed a small necklace from around his neck. It was a turtle made of silver, and the shell was carved from tortoiseite. It was the symbol of command from the start. Even if Tabitha commanded later, she would never have one. It was one of the most prized possessions he owned, along with his katana.
"Hold on to this for me. I would hate to get his blood on it. You know how bad that stains." She kissed him, her tears running down his cheek. "I will come back. Do not cry." She tried to hold back her tears and look brave while clutching the small turtle.
"Your time is up. If you are done kissing, we can begin."
"I am looking forward to wiping your blood from my sword."
"Try me." Chris drew the razor sharp blade from the sheath and welded it with both his hands. He advanced towards the Captain.
He struck out at him with the katana but Marcus's rapier deflected it. Chris again struck out, swiping for Marcus's neck. Again, the blade was deflected. Marcus stabbed out with his rapier. The blade was blocked by the katana but the force sent Chris onto his back. Jered grimaced while Tabitha buried her face on Jered's shoulder. Diana looked way. Marcus grinned.
"You just do not have it in you, boy, you should have never agreed to fight me. I am twice your age and much more experience. Why do your foolish Turtles field children? You cannot have more than a year of training. How could you hope to kill me?" He stabbed at his chest, but Chris rolled from the blade less then a second before it would have impaled his left side. The blade carved his left shoulder into a mass of blood and torn flesh. Marcus struck at him again, slicing his right shoulder. Blood ran like water from his twin wounds, the pain sending him to his knees and then his back.
"You bug. Your kind has no place among warriors." Marcus's sword can down an inch to the right his heart. His breath escaped his lungs and he coughed up blood. Marcus gave an evil laugh.
"Bug, you are hardly worth the effort." Tabitha cried even harder at the site of her dead lover. Chris's eyelids fluttered and darkness began to envelop him. The pain, I need relief. Why will the darkness not just take me away? He felt darkness rim his sight. NO! The only way to escape this pain is death, and I cannot die while Marcus lives. Tabitha needs me. He raised the heel of his hand and stabbed at the sword. It slid from the earth and the point came half way from his chest. Pain arced through his body and he felt like giving up. He steeled himself against the pain and the sword again, popping it out. Pain racked his body and the darkness threatened to overwhelm him. He gritted his teeth and grabbed his nearby katana. He dragged himself to his knees and heard a hiss and bubbles arose in the blood pouting from his chest. Oh, no. Lung hit. This is not good. He pushed himself to his knees and drew a breath.
"You rat! Get back here and finish the job!" Marcus spun and his jaw dropped. His face paled as if he had seen a ghost. Chris placed the katana on the other man's throat.
"You would dare to hurt her! Die!" He leaned on the blade and the razor edge cleanly sliced Marcus's throat, his head rolled a few feet and stopped at the foot of his second-in-command.
"Nike! I am the victor. You leader is dead." And he collapsed.
Chris's eyes fluttered open. "Where am I?" His voice, barely audible sounded like it normally would to him.
"We are back on the Mermaid. You killed Marcus and won the battle for New Home." Jered's voice was an island in the wide ocean of confusion in his mind. Like a tsunami, all the events of the day before came rushing back to him.
"How bad is it?"
"Well, your shoulders are both severely lacerated and will be scarred but noting serious was damaged. He punctured your lung but it was stitched up. That will leave a scar as well, plus you should avoid heavy activity for a while." Jered's voice held the tone of someone who was reporting the score for a game, not telling a man how bad he had been injured. Chris knew he was in bad shape. The gurgle in his voice and the low volume told him he lung was in bad shape.
"Chris, I am glad you are alive." Tabitha reached down and placed the tiny turtle around his neck. Then she kissed his forehead gently, as if he could shatter under the slightest pressure.
"So am I. I thought you were dead when he pinned you there."
"Diana! Do not talk to him about it! How would you like to be reminded of something like that!" Tabitha scolded Diana.
"It is okay Tabitha. I remember it. Nothing anyone can say will make what happened to me any worse. I remember the pain of it popping my lung like a balloon. I remember the worse pain of having to pull it free of my chest. I remember the pain it took to breath, let alone walk and slay a man. I would rather talk of it then leave it as a forbidden topic."
"I understand my love."
"So what was it like to be pinned to the ground like some bug?"
Chris winced, "Let me say I would not recommend trying it." He offered her a smile that lost its warmth through the oxygen mask.
"Sir, I have a message from Turtle Command. It seams that you have been promoted to the rank of Ring Captain under Plate Colonel Susan. Your new Ring will be waiting when we get to Turtle Bay."
"Excellent! Now all I have to do is heal up a bit. I hope we get some leave. I could use the rest. I cannot wait to fight by your sides again." His eyes drifted from Jered, to Diana, then to Tabitha who lowered her eyes.
"I have to tell you something. I resigned my position as a fighter. I am still going to be working with you as a tactical advisor and communications officer, but after what happened to you. I just do not want to put you through that again. You said yourself that you faced Marcus Delphi to save me. I will never hurt you like that again."
"If that is your decision then I will accept it just as you did mine."
"I hope I have not hurt you."
"No. I understand. You feel responsible. I can understand that. I almost was killed because I feel I was responsible for you and the rest of my fin."
"Why would I lie to you?" He reached his arm up and caressed her face. The IV in his hand and the weakness in his arm made him shake but none of the love was lost to her.
"What were the other casualties besides me?"
"Well, I have some second degree burns from armor, Diana is scrapped up, and Tabitha will have a bruise or two for a while. Nothing serious." Jered casually reported.
"Good," he winced, "Glad to hear that. I feel a little sore myself." They all laughed at that. Chris's face contorted in pain but tried to keep a happy look on his face, failing miserably.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, Tabitha, I am fine. Just hurts when I breathe. Maybe I should not do that anymore." He smiled, but the effort seemed to pain him and zap his strength. "I need some sleep. I am guessing you all could use some as well."
"I could use some rest." Jered intoned.
"I am a little tired." Diana said sleepily, then yawned.
"I am fine. I want to stay here with you." Tabitha said remorsefully.
"This is not your fault. You could not have done anything if you tried. Everything is fine." Pain danced in his eyes, half was his physical pain, the other his pain for Tabitha and her pain.
"I know. If I had done anything they would have shot me or he would have killed me. I just want to be with you."
"Tabitha, I have known you all my life. I know that you blame yourself." He took a deep breath. "Please, do not do this to me. I love you and I cannot see you like this." He gasped. "Please, go with the others. I will be fine. I need to rest."
"Please, let me stay."
"You can stay. But if you stay up all night I will not allow you to remain here."
"Thank you." She placed her hand of his face. "Does it hurt?"
He managed a smile. "No, not really. It is just really sore and hard to breathe. I will manage."
"You are so brave."
He reached his hand to the controls on his bed and raised his head. "No, I have been trained from birth to withstand pain. Just as you have."
"I know, but I could never do what you did." She sighed. "I wish I could hold you, but I do not want to hurt you."
He smiled. "Nothing you do would hurt me." She sat on his lap and draped her arms around his neck. She held him as tight as she thought she thought she could without hurting him. A tremble racked his body and she pulled back.
"Your shoulders. I am so sorry. I forgot." She placed her hand on the left side of his bared chest. "Would you like anything?"
"Well, you could get some rest. That would make me happy." He smiled at her.
"I will. I want to stay her with you incase you need something."
"Okay, we should be going into hyperspace soon. They said that they are going to have to give me something for pain. Hyperspace is not very kind to wounds. They said it will make me tired as well." As if on cue, a nurse came in and injected something in his IV.
"Ring Captain, we will be going into hyperspace soon. Ma'am, you look like you need some rest. Maybe you should go. He will be out for most of the ride home." Chris had already begun to nod off.
"Nurse Joy, this man got these injuries because he tried to save my life. I owe him more than just staying by his side."
"I understand." She hurried out of the room to tend to other patients. Tabitha lay a hand of Chris's.
"Sleep well, my love." She kissed his forehead and she fell asleep in the chair.