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Inbound from Zenith Jump Point
Unnamed G7 IV Star, Deep Periphery
18 November 3039

The excitement aboard Distant Memory and Shearling was so thick you could taste it. Six weeks had passed since the fateful encounter with the Wanderers and they had finally, at long last, arrived at their destination. After three tedious months in deep space it came as a great relief to everyone. Among the Fighting Fusiliers, two more birthdays had been celebrated: Cera’s on the eleventh of October and Jimmy’s on the fourth of November. She was now twenty-four standard years old; he’d turned twenty-nine. There had been the usual parties with cakes and presents, many of the latter having been acquired from the Wanderers. Everyone had a great time on both occasions. For Cera, perhaps her best present had been Marie (before they’d made passionate love that night) telling her that she was hopelessly in love with her. Not simply friends and lovers, but genuinely in love with her. Cera was ecstatic and told Marie she felt exactly the same way.
    Now they were about to go treasure hunting.
    In addition to the Fusiliers, several of Distant Memory’s engineers were also aboard Shearling for the trip in-system. If there was any chance of fully salvaging the Overlord, of getting her into space again, those engineers would be needed as well as the ones in the crew of Shearling. Along with the added personnel, one of the DropShip’s two free ‘Mech bays was now home to an IndustrialMech that had been leased from a mining firm on Kolovraty. The other bay had been fitted with a special tank holding fuel. If the lost ship was salvageable, it would need fuel to get off the ground.
    Distant Memory jumped into the system on the sixteenth of November and quickly began scanning for any other vessels. To everyone’s great satisfaction there were none. When the all-clear was given, Captain Hamilton ordered the jump sail unfurled and a scan of the system itself to be initiated. What they found closely matched the data that had been supplied by the Wanderers. Distant Memory’s sensors were far superior, however, and corrected errors and filled in a lot of gaps.
    The star was a G7 IV, a yellow subgiant home to five planets. The first at a mere 0.3 AU was an airless, scorched ball of rock not unlike Mercury. The second at 0.6 AU was a Terra-sized planet with a boiling hot and highly toxic atmosphere. The third planet at 0.9 AU was another rockball with an extremely thin atmosphere and a dayside temperature that made Galatea seem chilly. Orbiting at 1.5 AU was their goal, a bitterly cold desert world that could support life but would never be put in a travel brochure. At the outer edge of the system, at 5.1 AU, was a gas giant a bit smaller than Jupiter. In the space between it and the desert world was a rather sparse asteroid belt.
    When everything was ready, Shearling detached from Distant Memory and began the trip in-system, which would take 6.59 days at a speed of 1G. Shearling’s crew were just as excited as the Fusiliers. They finally had something to do, were finally able to get back to work and do what they were trained for.

Wasp and Stinger were fast asleep on the bed and Garadun sitting at his cabin’s small desk when there was a knock at his door. He switched off the computer and got up to answer it. When it swished open, there stood Cera and Marie. Side-by-side, their height difference was obvious. Marie, who was the same height as Garadun at 175 centimeters, stood 10 centimeters taller than Cera.
    “Hey there.”
    “Hi, Gar. You asked us to come by?” said Cera.
    “Dozo,” he said, stepping back, and the ladies entered. Despite being a single occupancy cabin, with three people in it, it was a bit crowded. Even on a DropShip as fine as Shearling, space was at a premium. Garadun sat at the desk chair and the women sat carefully on the bed. The kittens woke up anyway. They gave little miaows and then snuggled closer and went back to sleep.
    “Adorable,” said Marie fondly.
    “So what’s up?” Cera asked.
    “I was hoping you could answer a question and do me a favour,” Garadun replied.
    “Of course.”
    “All right,” he said, gazing at them steadily. “Is it or is it not going about the company and ships crews that me and Alexandra are an item.”
    Cera and Marie exchanged glances.
    “So that’s a yes to my question.”
    “Everyone assumes so,” Marie explained. “You and Alexandra are very close after all. Ever since I joined the Fusiliers on Galatea, I thought you had more than simply a professional relationship. A very discreet one because of her being who she is of course, and that’s understandable, but a relationship nevertheless.”
    Garadun looked at Cera. “That the scuttlebutt?”
    Cera nodded. “Most people think you’re involved, just really quiet about it. When I told Marie you weren’t dating, she had a hard time believing me.”
    “You seem like a couple in so many ways,” Marie explained.
    “We’re good friends, that’s all.”
    “You two clicked from the first day you met on Solaris,” Cera interjected. “You think I haven’t noticed the way you look at her sometimes?”
    “Who can blame you?” Marie added kindly. “Alexandra’s beautiful, not to mention a really wonderful woman.”
    “And she likes you,” Cera insisted. “I know you keep saying she doesn’t, not that way, but I think she does and just doesn’t know what to do about it. Alexandra’s very much the traditional, proper Lyran noblewoman most of the time. A rough-and-tumble Solaris gladiator is well outside her experience.”
    “Do you like her, Garadun?” Marie asked gently.
    He avoided her gaze, and then took a breath. “Yes, I have some feelings for her,” he admitted at long last. “But it’s not the first time I’ve had feelings for a woman I can’t have. I always make those feelings go away. It’s just been harder this time because of us being in the same mercenary company.”
    “Mon Dieu, ask her out,” said Marie. “If you care for her–“
    “No, forget it,” he said, slashing the air with his hand. “I have enough problems without humiliating myself in front of the woman I work for. Alexandra doesn’t like me romantically, no matter what Cera says. I’m not ruining my friendship with her and my professional relationship by asking her out and then getting rejected. How the hell could I stay around her after that? I’d have to leave the Fusiliers.”
    “Gar, it wouldn’t be that bad.”
    “Oh, wouldn’t it, Cera?” He stared at her and Marie. “What do you two know about being rejected? You’re both young and beautiful. You can have anyone you want, have had anyone you wanted because you’re gorgeous. Now you have each other. I’m not Erik or Ian or Sun-Lao. I’m not what women want and never have been. I’ve spent my entire life being rejected.”
    Marie was subdued by his outburst and looked away. Even Cera felt embarrassed. He was her best friend and she knew he had a temper. But she’d never really had all that anger focussed directly at her. It wasn’t enjoyable.
    “And even if, for argument’s sake, she did like me?” Garadun ranted on. “It would never work. She’s a royal, for Blake’s sake! She’ll want kids to continue the Grosvenor line, and most likely marriage of course. Cera, you know me.”
    Cera sighed and nodded, looking at her girlfriend. “Now that he’s right about. Gar never wants children. Any girl who dates him has to accept that.”
    “Oui, I can see that being a problem,” Marie conceded.
    Garadun took a deep breath and let it out slowly, calming himself. “Sorry I snapped at you. Look, now that I know what’s going on, do me a favour, okay?”
    “Of course,” said Cera, who never liked it when they had a spat.
    “Stop the rumour mill for me, will you? Put it about that we’re not an item and never have been. If you two both start saying ‘no they’re not involved’, people will begin to question the scuttlebutt. Hopefully the truth will get out.”
    “I’ll do what I can,” said Cera, nodding.
    “I’ll tell people as well,” said Marie, running her fingers through her hair.
    “Merci. I appreciate it.”
    Marie smiled. “We’re friends, lancemates. Of course I’ll help.”
    “If you really want to help,” said Cera with a playful grin, “set him up with one of your supermodel girlfriends when we get back home.”
    Garadun glared. “That’s not funny, Cera. Drop it.”
    “Why funny?” Marie was puzzled. “You’re a good man, Garadun. You’re loyal and brave and speak from the heart. If how you treat Alexandra is simply how you treat a friend, I can only imagine how you would treat a lover.”
    “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him,” said Cera, rolling her eyes.
    “Marie, no offence, but supermodels aren’t into guys like me.”
    “I was a supermodel.”
    “And were you into me?” he countered bluntly, and she had the good grace to look uncomfortable. “Yeah. Thought not.”
    “All right, you have a point. But in my defence I was interested in Cera.”
    Cera stared at her in wonder. “For how long?”
    Marie blushed. “From when we met on Galatea. Secretly, deep in my heart, I mean. I was very attracted to you. I just couldn’t admit it to myself.”
    “But all that gushing over Erik–”
    “Overcompensation, I think. I wanted you and I was confused.”
    “God, I love you,” said Cera and they kissed ardently.
    “That’s not fair,” said Garadun, quickly looking away.
    Cera broke off the kiss. “Sorry.”
    “You know,” said Marie thoughtfully, “I think some of my fellow models would find you very refreshing from the men they’ve dated.”
    “Yeah-huh, right.”
    “I’m serious.”
    “Marie, you’re different,” he said, trying to be diplomatic. “You always wanted to be a MechWarrior, right from when you were a kid, right? You’re one of the most beautiful women in the Inner Sphere, so becoming a model was only natural. But you kept your dream and then went out and grabbed it. You got sand. You’re a Hatchetman pilot and you’ve kicked pirate ass on the battlefield. You are not the average supermodel.”
    “He’s got a point, baby,” said Cera, nodding.
    “Normal supermodels want young men who are rich, handsome, hung like a horse, and are holovid stars or music stars or race aircars or are Solaris Champions or royalty like Ian. They do not want aging, ugly ‘Mech jocks like me.”
    “You are not ugly,” Cera protested, frowning.
    “Are you saying supermodels are shallow and superficial?” Marie asked defensively.
    “In general, yes. Every single model I’ve ever seen on the vid or on the net or in a magazine is dating some handsome, rich holovid actor or star athlete or whatever. Hell, look at you. You’re dating a beautiful MechWarrior.”
    “Again, baby, point,” said Cera, wincing slightly.
    “All right, so I am,” said Marie, almost embarrassed. “But I am not shallow.”
    Garadun shook his head. “Never said you were. I said other models are.”
    “Then let me introduce them to a real man,” said Marie with genuine conviction. “One who puts his life on the line for others. I know you don’t like the word, but I think you’re a hero. You’re a good man, kind and honourable.”
    “Now she has a point,” said Cera, her eyes twinkling.
    “Say you do,” said Garadun evenly. “And when they say ‘Nope, not interested’ like they will of course, then what?”
    “Then I will call them fools,” Marie replied with classic French pride.
    “Hey, don’t waste your time then. Besides, that’s all a very long, long way away and a completely academic point right now.”
    “Well, I think you’re a worthy man,” said Marie and surprised him when she got up and kissed him on the lips before giving him a kiss on each cheek in traditional French fashion, along with a tight hug.
    “Merci, Marie, I appreciate it,” he said, hugging her in return. They let go and he felt a little uncomfortable as he repressed the feelings she’d roused in him. She was incredibly gorgeous and his reaction was only natural. He coughed.
    “Say, who wants to go blow something up?”
    “I’m always up for that,” said Cera happily.
    “Moi aussi,” said Marie.
    “Right, how about the arenas of Solaris?” he suggested. “Ishiyama?”
    Cera grinned. “You’re on.”
Future Shadows, the sequel to Fusiliers Forever, is set in the BattleTech universe. Characters appearing use the MechWarrior 3rd Edition game rules for stats. The BattleTech setting is copyright Catalyst Game Labs.

Future Shadows is an original story, and all the characters therein are copyright by me.

You can find all the chapters of the book here [link]

Map of the Lyran Commonwealth [link]
Map of the Deep Periphery [link]
BattleMechs: [link] [link]
Vehicles: [link] [link]
Distant Memory and Shearling [link]
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Colourbrand Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Just had to read this again - the bit where Marie come clean about Cera - that really touches the heart.
DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2013  Professional Writer
Awwwwwww :aww:
Timekeeper9 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
They're out in the middle of nowhere, and for some reason I'm half expecting one of the crew to say they thought they saw a strange blue box with a flashing light atop. :lol:
DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Professional Writer
Hahahahahahaahah :lmao:

Thanks for the fave :XD:
Timekeeper9 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
Better yet, digging through the Overlord someone finds a fez. :D
Ordaka Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
I enjoy these "down time" chapters ... they add more flavour to the book in general and the characters individually ... well done goos sir :#1: :D
DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Professional Writer
Thank you very much, m'friend. Deeply appreciated :handshake:
Ordaka Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
err good sir :p
Colourbrand Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Gar is the best character (so far) I have read and what you have done here is nothing short of exceptional.

Rare if at all does anyone who is alone, wants to be alone, incapable or not wishing a relationship. I admire – no respect the bravery of doing it here in this work.

I have read the above comments and respect them; all believe that Gar should either man up or this will cost him. Maybe so, but how many times have we been here with the hero lead falling for the girl? Getting into the relationship and say dying? Some people cannot have or be in a relationship – and what is delightful is he knows the consequences and is wise about them.

I understand Gar’s anger and belief; how many times have we seen the pretty lass go for the stud? Or that the model is interested in the hunk? Of course the average person will always go for the looks. I like the fact you emphasise that well here – and that not a glib statement; I also like the way Cera persists on him having someone; some people are like that. I also like the admiration he has earned despite his own belief – what true great men are – never pompous or overt; modest and honest.

I have no idea how this will end but all I say is this is your baby and stay the course – let no one else tell you “this will be better etc”.

Overall this is the best you have written – and its brave, its bold, strong and admirable. Wish writing in general is more like this.

On a final note – I know where Gar is coming from; I am there.
DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Professional Writer
First of all, Chris, let me say thank you very much for all the kind words and support. I always worry a bit about these "down time" chapters, that they're not compelling enough. I always put my very best effort into my writing, so it's nice to know the work is appreciated :)

As for Garadun, writing him is ridiculously easy ~ because it's no secret that he is, barring different settings ~ me. Like most writers, I take my life experiences and put them into my writing. The difference is that while other writers put themselves (in part or in whole) in characters they create. I skip all that and just go for it. Y'see, waaayyy back in 1982 there was this superhero RPG called Villains & Vigilantes (yes, I'm that old). Its premise was a bit different: you played *yourself* but with super powers. The idea was so fun, I took it first into other RPGs over the years, and from there into my writing. Gar is, well, to quote Hitchhikers: "He's just this guy, you know?" He does his best to get through life and all the crap it throws at him. He simply lives as he wants; which often puts him at odds with society and its expectations.

In all my stories, the lead characters are never "chosen ones", or the rulers of nations, or the greatest wizard (or whatever), or destined to do some epic thing, or any of the other usual things you find in fantasy and sci-fi. They're just people. Skilled professionals, or very good at what they do, maybe even well-off, sure; but never the hyper-elite.

In that regard, I try to make stories that go a bit "out of the box" and come up with atypical angles. Ian's a good example. Here he is, a Davion, and yet he gets shafted at the academy, abdicates his claim to his title, and takes off to live a life of his own ~ which includes marrying a Kuritan yakuza girl! All the Fusiliers are odd ducks in their own ways.

Lastly, seeing how you're enjoying this, I can suggest reading my Planescape books. I have two novels available [link] which show an alternate "Gar & Cera" universe :D
Colourbrand Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well sir - thank you for your candid and honest reply; i understand and thought it was the case.

However, it is very noble if not powerful that you have gone down this road; and I admire it; he is a man doing a job; not a 'hero' or superman. His experience and understanding makes him a great savant in his field.

I resent chosen ones, special, the uniques, or the one with "the gift"; to prove a point - look at Star Wars; it was about originally ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events - by Jedi we discover Luke is a Jedi, his dad's Darth, a girl he fancies is in fact his SISTER, and low and behold, he is the one to bring balance to the force!!!

"He does his best to get through life and all the crap it throws at him. He simply lives as he wants; which often puts him at odds with society and its expectations."

Probably one of the greatest pieces of philosophy I have ever heard - explains why I am resented in life; solid words sir.

Probably get people trying to bend your ear to make Gar this hubby and such; do what YOU think is best; yer a great writer - stay that way.

And its a pleasure to support you sir - the quiet bits are excellent sir - just do them because they are needed.

I saw that - may do; we'll see ;)
S7alker117 Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Professional Writer

After reading this I think we three should go to the bar and drink a few beers together. We're all in the same page it seems...

Cheers guys. :beer:
Colourbrand Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The-Colonel-382 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
Another amazing chapter man.
Although I think Gar needs a good slap up-side the head right now. I believe it may be time for the rest of the Fusiliers to have a good sit down and try to get Gar and Alexandria to openly admit their feelings for each other.
Eventually the hiding of the feelings will cause Gar to make a mistake and it is going to cost big time.
S7alker117 Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Professional Writer
This crew needs a Noah Bright in there. He would slap the self-commiseration out of Gar all right. ;P

DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Professional Writer
Thanks, man, glad you enjoyed it! :+fav: :)

Well, as I keep saying, Gar's simply a realist. When it comes to spotting women who aren't interested in him romantically, he's very, very perceptive. Cera of course always wants the best for him cuz she's his closest friend, and that sometimes puts on blinders.

And as Garadun clearly states: he wants nothing to do with kids or marriage (something Cera confirms). And as Cera herself puts it, he doesn't cohabitate well. A fact that doesn't help in relationships. Plus, dating the boss is never wise.

Some people just don't do relationships, and some guys simply don't get the girl ~ a fact that Western society has a great deal of trouble accepting ^^;
The-Colonel-382 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
Ahh I just have this pre-concieved notion that the hero should at least get one of the girls. ;)
And yes I know Gar does not like to be called a hero. But getting laid now and then is a good thing.

But what's to say that Alexandria does not feel the same? she could se Gar as a guy who is not after her for her money, or title like most Lyran men... (no I'm not biased ;) ) Also what's to say she does not suffer from a medical condition that she can't have children herself...

Okay I'll shut up now before I get hit with a dead fish. :P
Nuclear-Fridge Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh dear... How much of Gar's 'bad luck' with relationships is of his own making? As in, he genuinely believes he doesn't deserve to be happy.

I once knew someone a bit like that -- he actually was a really nice guy, but he (sub)consciously sabotaged a relationship he was in because he honestly thought he wasn't good enough for the girl he was seeing. Nothing I nor any of his other friends could say or do could convince him otherwise.
DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Professional Writer
After a lifetime of nada, Gar's simply a realist. Some blokes simply don't have the magic ~ a fact of life I know about with deep experience. It is what it is :shrug:

Also, he makes very valid points about Alexandra. Not to mention dating the boss is never a good idea ^^;
Nuclear-Fridge Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah, well, there you have a point about dating the boss...

And as far as 'the magic' goes... I've only ever been able to attract women who turned out to have some deep-seated psychological issues. So at my late-ish date (I'm 47), I've got no illusions about finding 'Miss Right'.

Which is why seeing the guy I mentioned wreck his relationship was so painful to watch. I tried to tell him he was making a mistake. He didn't listen.
Colourbrand Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
cellester Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
loved it! Gar really needs to find a lady. i always get sad when he talks down on himself. have you played mech warrior online? its betaing right now so its free to play. lots of fun.
DrOfDemonology Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Professional Writer
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it :+fav: :D

Gar's just a realist, especially when it comes to women ~ even more so when Cera gets on one of her "find him a girl" kicks ;)

Nope, I don't play on-line games :shrug:
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