An Address from the General
The Commemoration of a Tremendous Victory, and of a Fond Lover...
Thank you, thank you all. Please be seated.
I’ve gathered you all here today on a worthwhile anniversary to commemorate, and I’m fortunate that it isn’t one being commemorated on the battlefield. On this day, in 2466, we expanded our territory in the largest offensive yet taken by our team, the Centurion as it was termed. Haven’s forces never knew what hit them that day, and it is the most control we have had over the Marshall Settlements since, oh, about 2400 on the nose.
And I’d like to tell some of you young bucks about the soldier responsible for that final blow, the one stab that had them all falling back over their heels. And that story begins with myself. Before I slayed my first U1, before I had my first drill, and even before I had really come to grips with where I was in the world, and the state of that world itself.
My first memory beyond the City was crashing on a couch. A beautifully kept home was what I got a load of first, my tungsten-heavy eyelids easing me into the world of the living. Felt like I was run through with the business end of a Mack truck, but regardless, I picked myself up.
My arm was still together, no worse for wear, its steeled exterior and electric trappings all in order. I wasn’t out long enough for it to start rusting on me, and thankfully, I could still feel it. The old battle axe propped me up as I started coming to my senses. My boots and jeans were still on, though my shirt wasn’t. That was slung over the back of the couch. Through the grog, I could see desert out the window, so I knew I was finally out of it for good.
I stood up, and man alive, was I aching something fierce. But it was through the pain that something dawned on me.
“Who the hell keeps a house this good out here?”
Yeah, who does? I thought all the people out here were just hermits in shacks and stuff. If I didn’t know any better, I thought I had stepped right into the Old World itself. But then something perked my ears up as I tossed on my T. I heard the sound of an engine. Not my gal, someone else’s. And she was a mean sonofabitch by the sounds of it.
I staggered my way to the front door, still wiping the coma out of my eyes. As I opened it, I was first blinded by the sheer brightness of the whole desert. Felt a little like Frankenstein’s monster staggering away from a villager’s flame. I dug through my pockets, grabbed my shades, popped them on, and finally got a good look at her. And what a beauty.
A Porsche, a genuine 356. None of that replica bullshit. I’m talking the real deal, white as the fairest cloud in the sky. She was the real article, the bona fide McCoy, and she was revving up...to hit a wall.
Before this mechanical unicorn was a wall forged of only the finest two-by-fours that could be rustled up. When I got a load of the scene, a shiver shot down my spine, and my arm went cold. The Porsche gunned it, full speed, spewing desert sand out her rear tires. But then, from beneath her rocker panels, two Gatling-style guns appeared, and soon the mythic beast was unloading everything she had as she charged towards the wall. By God, you should have seen this for the first time. Cut through it like scissors through paper. I think you can begin to see the value of this particular soldier, especially to those of you in our Auto Corp. One of our best weapons, and I got to see the trial run.
Somehow in my daze, I managed to catch the driver after the Porsche cut clean through. The blackened figure behind the wheel waved to me, and I returned the favor. The Porsche whipped right around and came hurtling my way, skidding to a stop in front of the house. Out stepped that driver, and boy let me tell you, she was a 110%, all-organic, no additives, no preservatives woman who greeted me with a sweet yet low “hello.”
She was white from head to toe, with her brown sandals and the subtle pastel of her tank top and shorts popping off her fur. She walked up to me and gently took my hand. The real one.
“Welcome back” she smiled, showing me back inside, “Mind hitting the Elec before you go too far? I figure plenty of nanobytes had a sporting go at you in while you were out.”
“Not at all,” I said, “Where do you keep yours?”
She showed me to the Electric Tube, I stripped down, and with one zap, thousands of the nasty little spies came tumbling off me.
“Fucking disgusting,” I blurted out.
Yeah, fun fact about old General Knox: was a bit of a pussy when it came to nanobytes back in the day.
All she could do was giggle.
“You were out for a while,” she replied, “Good thing my Baby and I found you two when we did.”
“So she’s alright?”
“No worse for wear,” she reassured me, “She’s a tough old lady and you’re lucky to have her.”
“That goes double for your Ms .45 out there.”
“She packs quite a punch,” she smiled coyly.
“She’s packing to boot!”
“Want to come for a ride” were the next words out of her mouth...and just the invitation I was waiting for.
As she slipped into the driver’s seat, I slid into shotgun, and man alive, an aura I’ve never felt since hit me. Warm, tender, yet secure. The way she sat there said it all; they were one in the same. Unlike most gals, she had white bangs, some of them covered her left eye. I cleared the hair from her view and she blushed. I smiled.
“What are two pretty dames like you doing out here in all of this desert?”
“It’s just a big old playground,” she grinned as she turned the key, “Always was a sucker for a good sandbox.”
When she turned over, that Porsche idled like a kitten and revved like a lion. I could see the smile work across her face as she worked her darling up and over the top.
“You trust me,” she asked.
“You haven’t killed me yet. Came close when you whipped around.”
“Fair enough,” she chuckled.
With her soft hands gripping the wheel, she threw the Porsche into gear and hit the gas with a loud thud. The Porsche, spitting gravel, roared off into the desert. While I hung on for dear life, she was cool as ice. One hand on the wheel, tapping ever so subtly upon it, and one on the gear lever. You couldn’t pry her foot off the throttle if you had a crowbar. You’d only get one chance. When the time was right, she’d strike and shift in one second flat.
I knew when she had reached third gear because both of her hands were on the wheel, clinging to them with the force of a vice. But better yet, she had that big, beautiful smile of hers. It was the kind of drive designed to impress. What impressed me wasn’t the skill, though she was damn good, but just her. All 110% of her, given over to the machine. The two were in complete sync the whole time. And she looked like an angel there. A pastel angel.
That night, over dinner, we talked of her days tooling around, my days in the H.P.D., the ever-popular story of my arm, and other such small talk. Anything to lock onto those baby blue eyes of hers, bangs obscuring them. As we kept going, we both simultaneously began to grow quieter and quieter as we gazed into each other. Then it happened; a kiss.
The sweetest thing in the whole wide world. It was like putting a big bouquet of those purple flowers up to your nose. Oh hell, what’s the name for ‘em...ah yes, lilacs! Like a big bouquet of lilacs. We’d sit and hold each over every night, and by God did we make love. She was as good in the sack as she was in the seat, let me tell you.
Alright, get the chuckles out of you all now.
But in all seriousness, it was good to have someone to be with. Good to have someone to hold, good to have someone to talk with. She didn’t mind the arm thankfully. Said it made her feel safe. Probably the first time I heard that one.
I stayed with her for what felt like the most blissful eternity. I spent a whole summer unwinding. She helped to get the ‘Cuda some of that style and punch of her Porsche and hell, I didn’t mind rocking a Hawaiian shirt she dug up for me. Still have it kicking around somewhere. If you ever see me in it again, know that I’m in R&R mode and if anyone of you calls me General or Sir, I will deck you with the hand that’ll hurt the most.
Funniest thing was, all the while, she never told me her name. When I finally popped the question one day, and all she said was “oh, just call me Angel or something sweet like that. I’ve forgotten it myself if you can believe it.”
I kinda couldn’t, but Angel stuck like glue, so why not? Angel it was and is. It wasn’t until afterwards I discovered her real name. Lorraine it was. A real honey of a name.
Wish I could have called her by it.
We were recruited in General Godred’s door-to-door campaign and when we started fighting out here, we were pretty good at tag-teaming the rat bastards. She kept me going, and I did the same for her, all the way down the line.
She shot pretty good. Not as good as her Porsche to start, but when she’s behind the wheel crushing ‘em left, right, and center, that can be forgiven. We had the cargun idea refined to such an efficient point, that lo and behold, you all are still pumping ‘em full of red-hot energy at 150. 200 on a good day when you put your backs and throttles into it.
In time, the pair of us made ourselves quite invaluable to the efforts of this team. The Good General was kind enough to take us in under his wing, and if I could tell you young bucks all the stories of that tremendous man, we’d be hear ‘til the end times. Never was there more golden a heart than in the body of that black wolf. When I became head of the outfit in the wake of his retirement, she was right there alongside me, every step of the way.
Then there is, of course, the Centurion Offensive.
To you younger members of the crew, that was the last time we fought actual people.
I stood atop the ‘Cuda, gun ready to kick off the proceedings, and before I fired, I looked back at Angel. She looked up at me and gave me that sweet smile of hers, nodding as she revved up that beautiful beast.
When I fired that gun, I might as well have put it between her eyes.
What you all see as a victory in the books, one of our crowning achievements in battle, know that you can thank Angel for the securing of it. We had ‘em good in the beginning, that first wave of hovertanks were dropping like popped balloons. Truth be told, the A7 on its best day is never a real challenge. But then came the second wave, packed to the hilt with A.C.E.S’s pride-and-joy; the U1s. It was then that those metallic beasts started working their demented digital magic. As magical as the stopping power of those 105 mm electric shells gets. Then we started losing many men.
And many is a whole hell of a lot when you line up every last fucking man you’ve got. When we counted the bodies, saved the men we could, and salvaged the enemy’s leftovers, I had that realization that she wasn’t there. Body wasn’t even recovered. The only solace I had at all was hearing one story from one of the guys laid up in Sickbay. I’ve kept a transcription of his account with me ever since I could have it recorded. Allow me to recite it:
“General, you shoulda seen ‘er. She took stock, had the guys behind her fall back, and she just ripped into the U1 like it was tissue paper. Then the gunfire stopped. I dunno if she ran out, the guns jammed, or what, but I swear she just looked that fucker dead in the eyes, and the last thing I heard ‘er say was ‘up yours’ before dropping the hammer.”
If you wonder why we’re the 365th Infantry, that’s why. Lord knows why she got the numbers backwards when restoring that beauty of hers, but if it wasn’t for them both, you would be picking up the pieces of that day, not waving a banner in its honor.
Remember that. Because I can never forget.
And it is in her honor, and her memory, that I am still here fighting today. I could have gone with her, I could have taken my life, but I lived. And until I perish of natural causes or in the heat of combat, I will use everything I’ve got to beat those bastards down. In the name of freedom, the name of what’s good and right, and in the name of the one woman on this rotten, atomic rock I knew enough about to make me care.
Care about getting out from under the heel, care about my fellow man, care about standing up for what is fair and just. Being able to make an honest start in life. Being able to get by with hard work, steeled grit, a man’s own iron will. Being able to look your child in the eyes and say “You will inherit a better Earth than the one I was left holding the shambles of.”
I’m not asking for you to worship someone you never knew, though we’ve plenty of acquaintances in the room. I’m asking that you put every last thing you’ve got in you into this fight.
She and her ride did their part in watering that tree of Liberty.
I am asking YOU to do the same.
It is for the future, our future, our children’s future that I ask you do the same every day and night we live, breathe, and fight. Do it for the soldier standing next to you. Do it for the families back home, you and your neighbors. Do it for those will not be with us to see the glorious day at our war’s end.
Soldiers like my Angel don’t grow on what’s left of trees, nor are they forged by nanotech. They are the products of themselves, their drive, their passion, and their skill. Find what makes you that sterner stuff than the day before, and embed that into every move, every shot, and every turn of the wheel. May we ride to see Victory each day, on the battlefields, and on that beautiful day, into the heart of Haven. May God bless you and this Force.
That is all. Dismissed.
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