Axiom - February 2000
Pause - Mansoor Choudhury
(page 8/18)

Pause

He looked around, waiting and hoping he didn't find what he was looking for. The night sky was empty as far as his many senses could tell. That could change in an instant of course. He and the planet Earth hadn't survived this long by being foolhardy. But for now no danger was imminent and for a few minutes, here, gliding above the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, Zerelus could afford to relax and reflect on his life.

It all seemed so long ago. Six years ago, if he'd been told he was his species' only hope against extinction he'd have probably gaped and stared like his former bosses, when told profit growth could possibly be 5% less than expected. Now the same bosses were probably directing operations at the few thousand war camps scattered across the battle-scarred planet, and were most likely making the same fish-like motions when informed mech-suit production was falling behind schedule.

Still at least they were still alive to fight. He tried, for the ten thousandth time, to try to imagine his life if there were no such things as the Xavid or the Riisians and their Great War and he was still a financial analyst instead of some goddamned Flash Gordon. And for the ten thousandth time he sighed and gave up.

Zerelus increased the temperature in his mech-suit by a few degrees. He was virtually immune to most extremes of the environment now, with or without his mech-suit, but still liked to pretend now and again that he could feel sensations of cold and warmth, instead of his HUD bluntly informing him that by all rights he should be freezing his nuts off or sweating more than a debtor to the Russian mafia. Sweating. That reminded him of the first time he had gone into battle, shortly after his Transformation into a Trexian. He'd gone up against a Xavid Centurion with decades more battle experience. It was there on the barren plains of Mongolia that he'd earned his spurs although he had nearly died of shock when he'd lost his arm and his right eye. They had both since regenerated but one thing he had lost permanently was the vague hope that when he died, it would be of old age. Of course that was to be expected. He had been told as much.

When he first became Zerelus, the Riisian emissary assigned to be his superior had warned him, "There is not much I need to tell you, Nathan. The world you will be part of will be one of solitude, the world of a solitary tiger in a jungle. You must always remember that somehow, somewhere, you will die in combat. Virtually all First Trexians end their careers by being ripped into a million atoms. Your path in life is to bring death, prevent death and finally to embrace death. But at least you will have the knowledge that you may have staved off the genocide of your race. And if you have done your job properly, there will be more than enough worthy successors to your mantle. Perhaps if you are lucky, you will be remembered favourably. But the only legacy you will leave, the only friends and family you have will be the humans you can save from the Xavid elite." Well, that wasn't all strictly true. He did have friends in the WorldGov who he could rely on. It was a lot better than the early days when the Americans, Russians, Chinese and for some reason even the North Koreans had tried to rub him out. They couldn't accept what he was and acted accordingly. He laughed inwardly, and remembered when the entire United Nations General Assembly, save for Ecuador, had voted to exterminate him. The Ecuadorian Ambassador of course was haggling with an NYPD cop over a traffic ticket at the time, but now claimed that of all the statesmen at the United Nations that day, he was the only one to recognise Zerelus as the saviour of Earth.

He made yet another sweep of the area, and still found no signs of Xavid activity. He returned to his thoughts, wondering when he could expect to see new recruits to join the war along his side. The VV mech-suits were still some way from completion and not enough candidates had as yet completed their training.

Hopefully this New Wave of warriors that was due to arrive would not be a complete disaster like the ones that came before him. Then, Zerelus had foolishly allowed the various Earth governments to coordinate their own campaigns while the factories on his battle-station had produced the mech-suits for them to fight with. The soldiers provided by the individual governments had of course, either joined the Xavid or proved to be remarkably inept at controlling their mech-suits, making them nothing but target practice. Zerelus shuddered as he remembered the terrible day when, as a consequence of this, he'd had to destroy Australia when the Xavid had gained a major foothold there and were threatening to conquer the entire southern hemisphere. He knew this job had no room for sentiment, no room for hesitation and he had had no alternative, yet he prayed to God every single day to forgive him.

After that, he'd forced the creation of a World Government and drastically increased his involvement in the war effort. The vast focus of mankind's energies were now, more than at any time in history, focused on war-making. He couldn't expect any reinforcements from the Riisians or any other Trexians since they were already heavily committed all over the galaxy. He knew that the Riisan Septarate had had a furious debate about whether to even send a Trexian-creating emissary to Earth when they could concentrate their resources where they were needed more. After all, Earth was hardly a major planet and the Earthers themselves would probably exterminate themselves through their own stupidity without any help from the Xavid. Well perhaps Nathan Brooke could convince them they were wrong and humans were worthy of a place in the universe. Soon he'd have a few men and women, personally selected by himself to fight for humanity. Six years probably seemed a long time, but hell, this wasn't the beginning of the end; it was only the end of the beginning.

Mansoor Choudhury