The King – Chapter 4

Chapter 4.1 – Openness, lack of.

“Alright students, please face forward.” The man says walking into the room. His white loose pants and blue shirt flowed lightly from walking. He walks past the podium at the front center of the class to stop at the polished metal table at the front far side of the room. Turning to the room he scans through the four rows of desks looking at each of the 23 individuals out of the 32 desks. Each row rose a bit higher giving him a perfect sight of all of the students. His lecture room seemed to be in perfect order on the first day of the new cycle of classes. He nods in acceptance of the room briefly before putting it out of his mind and really looking at the students. He takes note that only half of the students sitting in the room he had seen around the halls of the military academy.

The man looks down at one of the data pads he had carried in. He taps his finger through the list on the pad several times before being satisfied. He looks up at the students and continues. “I am Instructor Hocdin, or Professor Hocdin, or senior Hocdin. I am not your friend, your pal, your buddy. I will not be jumping onto a firing line to save you if you pass this class. If you do not pass this class with satisfactory results, the military has a penchant for kicking you out. This is Combat training.” Hocdin says, scrolling his hand across a screen on the wall behind him. The words combat training appears on the wall. Most of the students look around at each other unsure how to take Hocdin’s statements.

“You.” Hocdin points at a younger kid in the back of the class. The kid looks around at others before they all turn to look at him.

“Yes professor.” The kid says as he stands up embarrassed by being singled out.

“You’re a red level gate user, only 10 cycles old. Why are you in my class?” Hocdin says a bit upset that he still had to go through this ritual.

“Um, but I was assigned here.” The boy stutters out.

“No one is assigned here. You are privileged to be here. So who put you in my class?” Hocdin presses leaning forward on his desk. Some of the other students nod in agreement of what Hocdin said.

“Uh, my parents.” The boy finally squeaks out.

“Great. Get out of my class, now!” Hocdin yells pointing to the door at the front of the room. The boy hurriedly grabs his things and rushes for the door in embarrassment. Hocdin sighs as the door shuts again. He looks back at the class before continuing. “The other two stand up. I’m already tired of pointing.” He says exasperated.

“Professor.” The two say as they stand up. Hocdin looks at them shaking his head.

“What sort of excuse will you two give?” Hocdin asks with a sigh, unsympathetic to pointing them out.

“Writ guaranteed position technique amplification 35th ground, ranged division.” The girl says standing holding a crystal paper sheet.

“Well I guess that would be General Mirhee’s signature I’m sure.” Hocdin says angrily as he looks down at his desk knowing his authority had been outranked. The boy looks away from Hocdin’s gaze as he finally raises his head and looks over at the boy. Thinking he has another kill on his roster he continues. “And you there boy, squirming as you stand.” The boy seems to cringe at being singled out. Closing his eyes the boy sighs loudly before letting his head fall to his chest. He finally looks back up at Hocdin seeming ready to answer.

“M.L. 38 section 5.” The boy recites, lifting a piece of crystal paper from a binder. Hocdin lets his face go normal before a look of sadness shows across his face. This boy recited the necessary facts that he would be going to one of several top secret areas of the military. Knowing he is a red gate, Hocdin is sure the boy would head to the suffering of experimentation at the combat labs.

“You will take support roles in all exercises, now please sit down.” Hocdin says his tone a bit of sadness for both. He pauses looking down at his chart and back up at the rows of children. Sighing lightly Hocdin continues. “You will be split into groups of two. Your groups will face off against another group. Occasionally you will face off against groups with far greater energy levels. For those of you at pink through blue levels, do not underestimate, nor over estimate your opponents. I have seen pink ranked gate users rip apart defenses from green ranked gate users.

That is the point of this class. You have learned multiple ways to manipulate energy to form tools, shields, and weapons. Now you will learn to use those effectively.” Hocdin says his hands making certain motions as if shield or thrusting to defend and attack. He walks over to the podium to continue. “Effectively, means on the move. In many battlefields you go to, movement saves lives. Being able to materialize a blade to strike at an enemy you’re charging can save you or a comrade’s life. Never forget that.

Yes many abilities you have learned can be very powerful when used from a stand still. Accessing the gate can be like second nature during quiet times. On a battlefield you will have to draw on that power while possibly every other person around you does the same. You will experience explosions of energy around you so powerful that they cause ripples in your gate. To run, jump, dodge explosions and steel yourself in the middle of all of it so you can call forth a fireball or a shield of the thickest materials. That is the final thing that must be conquered. Every cycle three people are killed during this course. I have been lucky that none of my students have been the ones to die in the last five cycles. I hope to make this class another of those.” Several of the students look around at each other unsure if what he said was supposed to be a joke. Hocdin notices the students looking around and places his hands together in front of himself. After several seconds some of the students begin to wonder what is going on while others sit in awe.

“Who can tell me what I am doing?” Hocdin asks. One of the students stands taking the initiative to answer. As his mouth opens Hocdin forms a small line of energy on the outside of his right hand. Turning it into ice Hocdin thrusts his hand forward sending the ice flying at the student. Instantly the student assumes a defensive stance and shatters the ice with the base of his fist. Before the student can speak Hocdin answers. “Good work, you activated the barrier quite well, but more than that, you initiated on the energy inside the ice. Something I hadn’t expected from your graduation year.” Hocdin smiles slightly.

“You used energy solidification. Which prevents most energy based attacks from hurting you.” The student says.

“That’s correct, you can sit down now. Energy solidification is a major component of combat from gate users, it allows you to bypass exhausting shielding systems and go straight to taking an attack with your body.  Though your information is slightly wrong, this is easy to see when your defense teacher was Professor Joursia. Professor Joursia is half Farasha, where energy solidification is considered the primary use of the gate. Anyone who can use gate abilities to actually kill a person can easily sharpen the energy to full elemental potential to kill. The ice ability I used was the lowest possible I can even do and I could still feel fluctuations in your solidification. By the end of this course you should all be able to use energy solidification to take on medium ranked abilities from me without fluctuations.” Hocdin lectures while smiling occasionally. A slight gasp is heard as the door opens and two men wearing military dress uniforms walk in.

“Someone wishes to speak with you. Immediately.” One of the men says. Hocdin pauses looking at the two for a few moments before turning back to his class obviously unhappy at the interruption.

“All of you split up into groups of two. Write down your names on the board and circle it with your partner’s name. The courtyard to the side is setup with barriers and shields. Have one member use shielding and the other offense and compete against other teams. Use low level abilities. Killing a student can still earn you an imprisonment sentence for life. The two red users, you will group up and practice amplification with the other groups. Don’t stay with just one team, go down the line. That will help them learn how an amplification gate user feels and works when you modify their abilities. You will get experience with different styles of gate use.” Hocdin say obviously unhappy at his class being interrupted right away. Hocdin walks to his desk and locks his console and data pads before turning and walking to the door. The class gets up and starts walking around and talking to each other as Hocdin walks to the door where the two men still stand. They back up out of the room to allow him to exit. Even though the Draunian government hadn’t changed its stance as a safe haven for reformed criminals he was worried by the two soldiers now escorting him. He could see they had Command six and seven Insignia on their shoulders which would be low in rank to fight him if they intended to kidnap him back to a prosecuting world.

They escort him down two different hall ways towards the front entrance. His mind buzzes at their direction wondering if they were in fact going to try and kidnap him. As they walk into the final hallway Hocdin remembers that there was several school meeting rooms usually used by the recruiters to talk to advanced gate users at the end of this hall. The command six walks ahead to key in a security code into the door keypad. The door slides open showing the lit room with a rectangle conference table in the center. On the other side of the table facing the door is a thin Farasha man in formal military dress. The markings on his shoulders designate him a fleet General. The command seven standing at the door holds his arm out for Hocdin to enter the room. The eyes of the two soldiers go wide as Hocdin’s body tenses.

“This is not an arrest.” The General says calmly, while motioning to the chair opposite him. Hocdin eases a bit still weary at the group. With a fleet General and command six and seven they would likely have the ability to overpower him. He steps into the room and waits for the door to shut before he sits to the left of the door. The door lock could be heard engaging as the General waits a few seconds. Hocdin could feel the two Farasha soldiers walk away from the door to the far wall of the hallway. The chair squeaks slightly as Hocdin fidgets. He looks at the Fleet General inspecting how he sits and holds his hands. The man is a Fleet General but seems to use a disarming gentle appearance but he can see the training in the way he holds his hands and positions himself in his chair. This man was prepared for battle at a moment’s notice.

“Why is a General here?” Hocdin says his voice still quite hostile.

“I am General Quoris. I command the combined 7th fleet. If my rank will give some weight to my duty here. Of course if your history serving and killing a fleet General allows you a sense of equality to me. I present this: I was given this mission from the Supreme Commander of the Coalition military.” Quoris says in a monotone voice. Hocdin is surprised by the information that the most powerful person in the coalition military had sent this fleet General here to see him. He keeps his pose steeled to prevent tipping any advantage it could give in this talk.

“What have I done to attract the attention of the Supreme Commander of the Coalition?” Hocdin asks his voice matching Quoris’. Sensing nothing more could be discussed Quoris reaches his right hand down to a bag beside the chair and brings the rolled crystal paper onto the table. He sets the paper in the middle of the table.

“The seals are imprinted to you. I have been told generally what it says but ordered to give it to you and to wait your response.” Quoris replies. He stares intently at Hocdin. Hocdin moves his arm slowly grabbing the roll, not taking his eyes off of the fleet General. He puts up his left hand while holding the crystal in his right. White energy flows to his left hand as the General looks on slightly unhappy with the lack of faith in the Coalition. Quoris continues while Hocdin channels the ability. “We have no reason to trap the seal. You are a member of this academy and still serve the military in a capacity here. Plus we are all Farasha here; we have no way to trigger a trap. You can sense no energy on the crystal paper right now. On top of all of that, despite being a Fleet General, you would have little trouble defeating myself and my helpers in the hallway.”

“You depreciate your skills to ease my mind. I will use the ability regardless.” Hocdin answers while looking intently at him. Quoris sighs letting his emotions show. Hocdin finishes gathering the energy and shifts it to a shield around the paper. Pressing both thumbs into the seals at the end of the paper Hocdin looks down as the red bands disintegrate letting the crystal unfold. Nothing adverse happens as the words on the crystal form on the page now that it is open. The shield dissipates while Quoris looks on with a sense of righteousness. Hocdin looks up at Quoris briefly before looking back down at the crystal.

“From the Supreme Commander of the Coalition Military,

I hereby pardon Urjo Hocdin of Draunian for the murder of Coalition Fleet General Rustin and subsequent flight from arrest of said crime.”

Hocdin looks up at Quoris again, his face unable to hide the shock of the first paragraph. He looks down at the seal at the top of the page. It looked authentic. He places his hand over the seal and pulls a small amount of energy. The orbs of energy swirl as it touches the seal of the Supreme commander. The energy is instantly disrupted with the unique swirl effect of the high military command.

“It is genuine.” Hocdin says aloud. He leans back in the chair relaxing his readied posture. He looks at General Quoris suspiciously, still weary of a trap.

“You can call into the military and civil crimes division and verify it if you really wish.” General Quoris says exasperated by the lack of trust.

“Maybe I will.” Hocdin says. He looks down at the letter. Below the details of the pardon is the office and processing numbers where the pardon was likely put into the system. Below the processing numbers another section of text appears, likely copied to the official notice after it had been processed.

“Dear Urjo Hocdin,

Many years ago you served the Coalition with the utmost loyalty. Not only a loyalty to the Coalition but to your fellow soldiers and the citizens who you protected from the horrors, minor or major, of this galaxy. I wish I could say I was blameless, but I did not see to fixing the barbaric and rabid ways of a few Generals as quickly as I should have. This led to you, seeing and experiencing great pain, as you were used as shields and pawns. The life of a soldier is not one to simply be thrown away. The Coalition is in need of your strength, not just the abilities you have but that of your convictions and loyalty to the soldiers you command.”

Hocdin looks back up at Quoris. Something about this whole situation seemed wrong. The Supreme Commander has been in power for the 50 cycles after Hocdin’s battle and murder of General Rustin, why did this pardon come now. Why delivered by a Fleet General?

“You would be assigned to your old unit which now serves under Fleet General Borheag. He is very kind and respected man. He cares for his troops. Something I am told led to the charges against you.” Quoris says believing Hocdin was finished reading the note.

“I accept your pardon, but I will need time to consider everything else.” Hocdin says looking back down at the crystal paper. Quoris taking this as a completion to his mission grabs his bag at his side and stands up. He sets the bag on the table as Hocdin tenses slightly. Quoris pulls a pair of gloves out of his pocket and puts them on before replying.

“If you wish to accept you can transmit your acceptance through the processing office on the paper. They will give you the location of the fleet General Borheag commands. I’ve been told you still have in your possession a military transport you escaped with. It will have enough power and weaponry to take you to the fleet.” Quoris says grabbing his bag and walking around the table to the door Hocdin had entered from. As he reaches the door he throws the bag over his left shoulder stopping at the door. He looks back at Hocdin who is still facing away. “I hear you killed General Aldorin’s mentor, the late General Rustin. “ Hocdin’s eyes go wide, his head tilting a bit to catch Quoris out of the corner of his eye. He holds his right hand flat, rigidly. A white glow seems to emanate from it. Hocdin can feel the energy that Quoris is giving off. It is the same energy that General Rustin had used when they had fought a little over 50 cycles ago. This ability was not something trained by the coalition. 50 cycles of time and he now sat within striking distance of this General who used the same skills as the man he had killed. Quoris was far more dangerous than a normal Farasha Fleet General.

“Yes I did.” Hocdin replies, trying to subtlety prepare for a strike from Quoris at any moment. The energy from Quoris intensifies.

“Did he happen to give up any secrets before he died?” Quoris asks his voice light as if feigning curiosity.

“No, he simply died hard.” Hocdin says his voice showing mock anger. The bluff works as Quoris laughs for a second before using his right hand to push the release button on the door causing it to slide open. The energy Hocdin had sensed from Quoris disappears instantly. Suddenly the beginning of the meeting comes back to him. The comments he had made to Quoris about him and his helpers being more powerful then they let on had put Quoris on the defensive, as if Hocdin had some secret piece of information to draw those conclusions from. Hocdin breaths heavily as he continues to feel the three Farasha soldiers leave the building. They soon cross the grounds to their vehicle than leave for space. A few minutes pass as he tries to not pass out from the experiences as his mind frantically grasps for anything he could remember about his fight with General Rustin. It had all seemed so inconsequential but now everything he may have said or done during the fight had to be scrutinized to gleam some clue to this puzzle General Quoris posed. Another few minutes pass before the door at the opposite side of the room opens causing Hocdin to jump.

“Are you still using the room?” The tall thin Draia asks with a smile.

“No, sorry.” Hocdin says standing up blinking several times trying to slough off the haze of memory. The man looks happy at the response and begins moving in several boxes. Hocdin moves to the side, clicking the open button on the side door opening it. He walks out into the hall. He looks around at the empty white halls. The slow haze covering his memories begins to dissipate as he walks slowly back to his classroom. He can remember the sounds and feelings so vividly. The 30 foot high hanger was burning from the opening all the way down the quarter mile to the other wall. Fighter craft and tanks that had been set up neatly in rows for deployments were most piled against the walls where they had been thrown or blown away by abilities. The remainders were strewn around the room, sparks occasionally coming off of electronics as they burn out.

Rustin smiled smugly as he lay on the ground, metal poles, spears going through his shoulder and stomach, burns on his hands and legs. Hocdin stood over him sickened by the smile as he watched Rustin gasp for breath saying one final thing as the realization hit him that his life was over. Hocdin looks up from his hand to see his class room door in front of him. He knew he had to go back to teaching a class, but this memory seemed to haunt him now, clawing for his absolute attention. He clicks the button on the door opening it up to the sounds of battle.

 

4.2 – My Friend

Hocdin sits calmly, his right hand pressed to his cheek. The metal framed chair was comfortable with the newly padded seat. He looks out the side windows able to see birds flitter around above the trees in the distance. The breezy afternoon sun was beginning to set casting orange and pink hues across the trees and battle courtyard. He turns his attention from the courtyard back to the screen sitting on top of his desk displaying a please wait message. Hocdin had already managed to verify the authenticity of the pardon and that it was processed. He was a free man now, able to go virtually anywhere in coalition space.  All he would need to do is send a message and his full military command would be reinstated. He pondered the structured life, working with his squad, the games with comrades. Soon the terrifying memories flood in. The assaults against nearly unbeatable odds, watching comrade and old friends a like die. The last battle he had ever done was against General Rustin. It had left him with scars, a few of which were emotional. The battle had brought him to the depths of his being and the height of his power. He now easily opened his gate to 64%, 14% into gold level. He was still the highest gate user in coalition space.

Prying his mind from thinking of the old battle he comes back to something he had heard this morning. The reason the pardon had seemed so suspect. He had overheard a staff member say their friend had been recruited by a high ranked military soldier to arrive at the fleet under Borheag. At lunch he had read a report that the highest military teachers on the Farasha home world had been conscripted back into military service. He looks around the room again. The sun setting had come quick and now very little light remained. The birds which had flittered about at the edge of sunset would now be hiding from the predators that roamed the night. The room remained dark. The black screen with the wait sign was the only thing shining light.

Something didn’t make sense about all of this. He looks down to his news subscription pad. He taps the button at the top right corner causing it to come alive. The top article was about the deployment of high ranked gate users to a fleet in galactic quadrant three. He furls his eyebrows as he glances back up at the screen where the communications system was still trying to get a hold of his contact.

Trying to put the impatience out of his mind he stands. The sudden blood flowing back to his legs makes him realize how weary he was. Once he had walked a few steps he can pick up the resonance of his students energy manipulation, the slight changes in energy where a student had used a shield.  Hocdin looks back at the class door. He can feel many students in the school practicing for tomorrow’s classes. Looking up at the clock over his visual board Hocdin sighs. He had started the call on his screen nearly 65 micro-cycles ago when class got out and he was still waiting. He had sent his students to their dorms telling them to rest from the day of fortifying shields excessively and over calculating attack strengths. As he thinks back to the new students overly shielding and not even trying to sense their enemies attack. His temper had been short and he had lashed out at times instinctively. Though he had said his apologies, such an act would never have happened before today. He kicks the desk leg upset that he had allowed it to happen. He had kept his cool leading men into battle. He paces back and forth behind his desk.

After several micro-cycles pass a dot blinks on the screen. Hocdin stops and bends over to stare at the screen. A line appears at the top showing encryption and protection systems engaging. A gold dot on a small rounded data chip sticking out of the side of the screen turns on. The screen flashes twice before another string comes up

“Initializing tertiary protection systems, custom settings in effect immediately.” The text on the screen fades in and out several times before going blank.

“Scrambler enabled.” Hocdin says, his face showing his eagerness.

“Yes?” A deep and rough voice comes from the black monitor.

“This is not a quick conversation.” Hocdin replies with the coded phrase.

“Nothing ever is anymore.” The voice comes back through.

“But peace will come.” Hocdin gives the second pass phrase. A slight beep is heard before the screen turns on to show a smooth headed grey skinned Eiris man with a large grin sitting there. The man leans back in his chair giving a better view of the crystal paper littered desk and organization racks behind him.

“Oh have mercy upon me, its Urjo Hocdin. What sort of heinous crime did I commit to let this calamity befall me today?” The man says with a hearty laugh with his hands on his head as the chair rocks back.

“The crime of owing me a favor Hone. “ Hocdin answers with a sly smile.

“The favor that never ends huh? When exactly am I going to get a favor?” Hone replies putting his arms up in the air exaggerating the motion. Hocdin sits down in the chair his smile turning mischievous.

“When you save my life eh? Maybe this one will be it.” Hocdin says his smile fading a bit.

“Well well, this is the call I’ve been waiting 50 cycles for. What can I help you with?” Hone asks pointing at the monitor before leaning forward.

“I um.” Hocdin clears his throat looking down for a second before looking back up at the screen and continuing. “I had a General come to the school today to talk to me.”

“Hoc my good buddy, I have Generals come to see me all the time.” Hone scoffs a bit his smile still going strong as he leans back a bit let down by the news.

“Pitara. It was Fleet General Quoris.” Hocdin replies. Hone’s smile fades quickly. He blinks a few times rapidly before replying

“What did he say?” Hone asks no longer wishing to joke.

“I have a crystal paper message from the Supreme Commander of the coalition with a processed pardon for General Rustin and an open invitation to rejoin the military with my old rank and squad aboard General Borheag’s fleet.” Hocdin replies. Hone looks around a bit, obviously in thought.

“General Borheag huh. That’s not too surprising. “  Hone replies his head still turned to the right.

“Is he the General of the fleet out in quadrant three?” Hocdin asks. Hone looks back at Hocdin before nodding in affirmative.

“To be correct, he is who you are talking about, but there is more than one fleet in quadrant three.  One fleet is fighting against the Ashkelris and the other was involved in that disaster with the Vesicia.” Hone replies grimly looking down.

“Is Borheag really going to go against the Vesicia? The news had said the Vino were working on Ashk, and would make it nearly impossible to beat them without the entire coalition fleet.” Hocdin says still confused by what could be happening. Hone shakes his head leading Hocdin into more confusion.

“A younger race in quadrant three was never reported to news sources or archives. They were even under watch when we served Rustin 50 cycles ago. They have been under scrutiny for over 350 cycles. Just why or how the planet has been overlooked, says something was wrong right from the start. Perhaps that had something to do with it, but something happened. Something very very big happened. I have bits and pieces. Some hearsay some verified.” Hone replies his face showing worry.

“They didn’t do this sort of thing for the Ashkelris or the Vesicia. Are things really that bad?” Hocdin asks in disbelief.

“We were thrown against Vino bases and fleets the like no one in the coalition had seen. We attacked with terrible odds like one in twenty would survive. I’d take those over odds over what Borheag faces.” Hone says. A sudden sense of fear grips Hocdin. He looks around as if trying to find a specter of death circling him.

“Did the whole planet cascade?” Hocdin asks the fear clear in his voice. Hone clears his throat not quite confident to answer but bites the bottom of his lip before deciding to reply.

“No. Two of the people jumped from grey to gold.” Hone replies, his tone very serious.

“What!” Hocdin’s voice filled with shock and anger, he leans forward before continuing while yelling. “I come to you in genuine need and you play a stupid joke on me with this. I thought we were past that stuff!” After letting all his frustration out Hocdin leans back in his chair waiting for a reply.

“Hey hey calm down. I’m dead serious here. All of the fleet Generals attended an emergency meeting at the Coalition headquarters space station. The last time that happened, the Neerkin attacked. The word is spreading faster than military security can squash it. I got my info from a tight lipped Adjunct General” Hone says a little angry at being doubted and questioned. Hocdin sits upright mouth a gap still shocked from hearing all that. Finally his face forms a pained look.

“I’m sorry I doubted you. It’s just.” Hocdin stops for a moment looking around. It was now pitch black outside, some of the night lighting shines in through the side windows. He finally drags his attention to the screen. “I just never expected something like that.” He leans back in his chair looking up at the light bouncing off the polished floor onto the ceiling, wishing all of this worry would go away.

“I am sorry.” Hone says leaning forward before continuing. “But it doesn’t stop there. I got word from a tech in Borheag’s fleet. “Hocdin looks back straight not sure what else could make it worse.

“How could it be worse then?” Hocdin asks.

“The tech said the sensor array data uplink was damaged and the assembly of Fleet Generals didn’t receive gate sensor data. He also saw the video when no one was looking. He said the commandos sent in to slow them down were supposed to use a fire wall approach to keep them busy for half a milli-cycle. They were so overwhelmed that they didn’t last much more than 10 micro-cycles. The main target used the Royal Shield, and the colorless beam of nobility. Those are abilities only capable of being powered by the highest gate users.” Hone says fear in his voice.

“Hah! Is that it? I can use both of those.” Hocdin says not wishing to acknowledge Hone meant they used them with far greater ability.

“Your royal shield was four seconds and your colorless beam barely scorched metal.” Hone says punching holes in Hocdin’s argument.

“Yeah, well you didn’t see me use it fighting Rustin; I really went to the ragged edge and pulled some amazing feats out.” Hocdin says sadness filling his voice as he looks down at his hands.

“These two used royal shields, invisibility, and high class abilities without strain. The main target was a boy, about 2 cycles younger then you were when you first deployed to a battle. The sensor data they had on him while he was using a royal shield and casting the colorless beam put him at 101% of gate use. They say it didn’t even faze him. He cut off nearly a quarter of the ship. Those long term survey and watching ships aren’t small. The commandos they staff them with are usually top five percent as well. ” Hone says his face showing the horror of the information.

“They hope to overpower him with as many users as possible. “ Hocdin says analytically calm as he bites the corner of his lip, before curiosity strikes. “It was 101% not just an anomaly or a stat error? Common theory says that’s impossible.”

“Absolutely, the tech checked the calibration nearly 20 times. I have a few retired sources that say if a person like that wasn’t even stressed, he is likely able to hit 105 or 110%.” Hone says waving his hands in the air trying to look a bit knowledgeable about gate users.

“You have no idea about this do you.” Hocdin points out shaking his head at Hone.

“Bah.” Hone says folding his arms and looking to the side.

“Let me try to explain this to make sense. The difference between me and a one percent gate user is like that between me and a small animal. The difference between a 90 percent gate user and myself is like me being that small animal. Sure I can kill one but that is nearly impossible. The difference of 100% and a one percent would be like an insect trying to stop a planet from crashing into the surface of another planet. That gap in power between 1% and 100% is the same gap that would be between 100% and 101%” Hocdin replies. Hone’s eyes go wide as he looks back at Hocdin. He had never heard such an explanation of the power difference, and no one had bothered to tell him this before.

“Why is this not more common knowledge?” Hone asks his voice suddenly hoarse.

“Theoretical gate use above 95% is theoretical. Even the Neerkin commander was only a 94%. If this man can really use 105% or 110% he could easily use abilities that we’ve only seen in a small form be used to take out fleets, perhaps even whole star systems.” Hocdin pauses putting his right hand to his head in thought before continuing. “Though maybe not, the intensity is always a curve. Still, they would be very large.” Hocdin trails off in thought.

“I wonder if you could tell me something. One of the Ling assisting the tech said something under her breath. Afterwards she acted very worried and afraid.” Hone said breaking Hocdin’s concentration. The look on his face was very curious and suspicious.

“Why ask me? I’ve barely been in the field for the last 50 cycles.” Hocdin replies with an upbeat tone but is a bit taken back by the comment.

“It was right after the sensor data spiked the 101% gate use. She said Hosh’Ti.” Hone says. Hocdin shakes his head slightly.

“I’m sorry I don’t know Ling language at all and I can’t recall ever hearing the word before.” Hocdin answers his mind still going in rapid directions thinking about the gate user.

“It’s translated into Eiris dialect as Valo Kal Horun.” Hone says looking down at a paper. Hocdin stares at the screen in shock. Hone continues to look at the paper reading lines. Hocdin’s heart beats rapidly as memories flood back. One second in his teaching room, the next in the hanger bay, the emergency shutters had locked the other crew out. General Rustin lay on the ground saying something. The fire had been so loud he hadn’t heard it all. At least he hadn’t thought so.

“I wish I could have seen V**o K** **run legacy on Sear.” He had wondered what he had heard, certain letters had been stronger but the fires and cracking of electronics had muffled a lot. In his early days of searching he had never thought to check Eiris language. The man was a Farasha.

“I wish I could have seen Valo Kal Horun legacy on Sear” Now Hocdin sits in his comfy chair in his clean and orderly teaching room. The startling realization that he had missed something so very important hit him like a ton of rocks. Hone sits there staring at Hocdin from the screen.

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah sorry I got caught up thinking of something. Did you say something else?” Hocdin answers.

“The Eiris dialect Valo Kal Horun for the Ling Hosh’Ti.” Hone replies his voice showing a bit of worry.

“Oh yeah I had heard that.” Hocdin replies wanting to sound courteous.

“I added that in Coalition standard it comes out to white tipped spear. Though there is a weird note under the translation that the word Horun used to have a secondary meaning but historians can’t seem to find it.” Hone says looking back down at the paper as he recites the final note. He looks back up at Hocdin as he shakes his head lightly.

“What do you mean can’t find it? They misplaced it or something?” Hocdin jokes with a laugh, a smile wide on his face.

“They can’t find it. They have old ruins and papers listing the word but none are in context that make it easy to decipher but the current description doesn’t match it at all. They can’t seem to find what it means.” Hone replies his tone obvious that he wasn’t joking.

“But that doesn’t make sense. I could swear I heard a different translation once before.  Well what the heck, you’re Eiris. Certainly you know what it is?” Hocdin says his smile slowly fading.

“You thought you heard a different translation before?” Hone asks now with a slight smile leaning in his chair. Hocdin’s smile quickly but stops before answering.

“Yeah sometime way back, I could swear I read or saw something about it. Hey, maybe I’m wrong here.” Hocdin says raising his hands up in the air a bit.

“Well if you can remember, let me know?” Hone says.

“Yeah of course. Hey I got to run, this whole gate use thing has got me troubled, I need to run through some stuff and check resources.” Hocdin says leaning closer to the screen.

“Sure, it was good to talk to you. Next time I am on planet there I’ll stop by and get some food and drink, we can go on and on about our deployments and hatred for General Rustin.” Hone says with a mischievous smile.

“I look forward to it.” Hocdin says raising one hand to the screen. Hone can be seen moving his hand to the side of the camera. The next moment the screen goes black before a message displays.

“Connection lost due to encryption failure.” The message fades in and out. Hocdin moves his hand up and pulls the small encryption chip out of the side of the monitor. He grabs the small metal case on his desk with his other hand and fits the chip into it. A minor clasp clicks as a red light blinks on the case once to let Hocdin know the lock is activated and would need his DNA print again before opening. He pushes his chair back as he stands. He walks to the door grabbing his thin thermal coat that is on a hook next to the door. He clicks the button on the door causing it to slide open.  He steps outside into the quiet halls putting his jacket on before turning to the door. The door shuts giving him access to the panel at the right of the door. He sticks his thumb to a small pad at the top of the controls. A button above it illuminates with gold light, he clicks it with another finger causing it to turn red and a clicking sound in the door to be heard. The light on the panel shuts off. Hocdin walks towards the front office. His shoes give off an odd click that echoes through the halls. Reaching the front office Hocdin sees the headmistresses room lit as he had expected.

He puts his thumb to another panel at the front door of the main offices. After several seconds the light turns from red to gold and the lock can be heard disengaging. He opens the door and walks past the front desk and several other offices. Reaching the final room, he knocks on the wall lightly. The older graying Draia sits at the desk, she waves in Hocdin and smiles warmly. The room walls had been lined with thin wood pieces giving it a warm brown look that made people feel at ease when stepping in.

“How are you doing Professor Hocdin?” She says her voice giving off gentle warmth. Hocdin is relaxed by her words as he sits down in the chair in front of her desk. He rubs his hands over the chair arms appreciating the wooden chair with the freshly padded seat and arms.

“You always manage to put people at ease. I don’t understand how you do that.” Hocdin says smiling a bit as he looks around the room. Many of the walls have pictures of her family or prize students.

“I learned long ago that if I can’t scare a student or professor with my power they must be disarmed by my personality. Oddly enough my personality works far more often than my power.” She replies with the same smile.

“That’s because they likely haven’t seen you angry.” Hocdin replies with a big smile.

“Oh I wasn’t that angry that time.” She replies.

“That is probably true.” Hocdin says with a few laughs before continuing. “However this might.”

“You’ll be returning to service then? I did see General Quoris here earlier. You had spoken with him I’m told.” She asks with a slight frown. She looks down and continues working while waiting for Hocdin to answer.

“I talked with him but haven’t exactly returned to service. Unfortunately it has been quite a day of news. I also came across a troubling personal issue.” Hocdin says hoping this would be enough to warrant a blank acceptance. The headmistress works on some documents not responding right away. As she pushes several buttons she looks up to reply.

“This wouldn’t have to do with your encrypted use of the interplanetary communications array?” The headmistress asks the warmth gone from her voice now.

“A small amount, however the issue presented itself prior.” Hocdin answers not giving any clues. The headmistress sighs at the lack of cooperation.

“I suppose since you aren’t being as forthcoming as I would like I have to assume to get any information out of you I’d have to seriously wound you. You are our finest combat trainer this school has likely ever had. Since your third cycle teaching here we have become the top military academy in the Coalition. The full range of Generals, even Fleet Generals have extolled plenty of compliments on the capable nature of our graduates. This is all thanks to you Hocdin.” She says the warmth coming back into her voice towards the end.

“I’m not saying I won’t come back.” Hocdin says his face blank. The headmistress smiles at the words before responding.

“I know that, but personal issues have a tendency to change people. Change in a way that rarely brings them back to these doors. You are not the first teacher to leave on a personal mission and never come back after it’s done. Though I can see from your face that you have already set your heart and mind in motion.” She says looking at him, when he doesn’t answer right away she looks over at her console and continues “I’ll have your pay put immediately into your account and a replacement trainer for your class. I am sure many will be disappointed but they will move on.” The headmistress replies. She stands up. Hocdin stands up putting his hand out palm face up. The headmistress puts her hand on top of his smiling.

“It was an honor to see you teach, being a coalition veteran myself you still taught me as much about combat as you have your classes. We will miss you however long you are gone.” The headmistress says.

“Thank you for your support. I hope this will be cleared up quickly; If it doesn’t I wanted to say it was just as much of an honor to teach under an administrator as caring and firm in managing as you are. You shaped this school into what it is just as much as anyone here.” Hocdin says smiling briefly before letting his hand drop. Her smile gives way to sadness as Hocdin turns and walks out.