Rook2 by Peasant's Paladin
Europa Memory archives
Name: Wren Sendigger
Alias: Rook
Associations: Binentin War, Europa, Europa Civil War, Europa Revolution, Founder, Revole, Truvole

Rook's subtunneller rose through the frigid waters away from the treacherous depths. The water around the sub was still pitch black, but in front Rook could see a hint of the white-blue ice shell. He was almost at the surface. He had remained near the remains of the ndrbase for too long, far too long.

He could remember when the ndrbase had been his home. His squad had trained there between missions, and been safe there, awaiting the next orders to drop from above. His had been a good squad, the best of squads. They had played all of their strengths, man working beside psionic for freedom, but they were all gone now. Only Rook remained.

The subtunneller hit the ice shelf with a screech, and eased to a slow crawl. The conical heater on the front of the pod spun in synchrony with the rotor on the back until the quiet of full glacial immersion descended on Rook. The quiet gave him a chance to remember, to keep his flame strong.

Farset had said he told bad of the attack, before Rook launched it but Rook had not listened. Always before Farset's telling had been correct, but the surface had dropped a confirmation. Rook would not -could not-alter orders based solely on a collective spawned psionic. Despite his youth, or perhaps because of it, Farset had been one of the best psionics. Born after the killing of the collective freak Renne, Farset had been tainted by the collective geneticists in their psi institutes, but never by choice. Farset had escaped the lunar base, he had never said how, and joined Rook's squad in the Europa ocean basin. Rook had gotten Farset, the first openly psionic Revole, into his squad through his contacts above ice. His tellings had saved Rook countless times. The light coming through the porthole grew brighter, and Rook knew he neared the surface. Slowing the craft, Rook eased the heated end of the pod through the crystal ice, and slid into the ultralight of the sun. The porthole automatically compensated the sun to earth norm even through Europa's atmosphere. The exit from the glacier shelf was smooth, and it had to be; Rook just bet his life that the collective could not sense the difference between his heat signature and a Ristnek's surfacing.

Rook extended the blades on the pod, activated the antigravs and turned toward New Boston. The white exterior of the pod made it virtually undetectable from above. Rook knew he had made it without discovery, otherwise the collective would have already pulsed his pod out of existence. All that remained was covering the physical distance to the city.

New Boston was the largest city on Europa, covered by the tinted dome that kept it habitable. Most of the legitimate businesses were in trouble with the military rule and civilian executions, but the bars and other establishments catering to humans needs flourished in the environment of fear. Now, Europa's only export came from the Binentin mines. Binentin was the real reason the collective colonized Europa, for it was needed to make Longevity. Although Longevity only needed trace amounts of this catalyst, Europa was the only known source of Binentin. The drug Longevity allowed everyone to live almost indefinitely without feeling the affects of age. The collective had the mines tied down tight, the Revoles had never been able to come near it.

The attack had entered the city through three gates: the one Rook used and two others. With a full three crews of fifteen Revoles, it was the largest attack Rook had launched. He stayed at podside to monitor the progress, and had seen everything. The attack went as planned, the men had broken into the voting relay center and sent a destruct out to all remote voting units in the immediate area. That was sure to piss off the collectors. They had also managed to shut down the voting relay station before the collective could assign the unused votes of Europa to its own goals. The collective never actually rigged an issue, they simply made sure all votes were cast, even in systems which were rebelling against collective rule by abstaining to vote. At least that was what Rook and the Revoles believed. Earth had an easy majority in all votes, but Rook had never known the collective to take chances, and all the colonies banded together could change the outcome of the votes

The attack was successful; The casualties of were low on collectors, and nil on civies and Revoles until the men returned to the pods. The first two pods left the first instant possible, just as Rook trained them to. Rook was the pilot of the psionic's pod, however. Farset would not let him take the pod out, and had saved his life. Too bad he had not returned the favor, Rook thought to himself.. Rook roused himself from his memories and entered the city. He transpo'd to one of the sleazier sectors of the city. The public transpo system was one of the only public services that still worked. New Boston was falling apart. The civilian cleansings were the only reason New Boston did not have food shortages. Yet.

Rook walked into a particularly seedy bar. One sparsely dressed woman led a collective soldier upstairs; as other women sat waiting for more customers. One look from Rook stopped a thin girl from approaching him. The bartender was a new fellow; Rook didn't recognize him. He was beefy and hairy, looking more like a bouncer than a tender. Rook popped a Vitality into his mouth and walked up the bar. "Who you?" the tender grunted, with pleasure reeking on his breath Rook wasted no time, and grabbed the bartender by the neck.

"I want to see rebirth and I want to see him now, or else what's left of you wouldn't feed a single Ristnek spawn in its sleep cycle." The beefy bartender tried to toss Rook off but Rook's arms did not move. Rook could feel the strength of the drug rushing through him, and he thought, ironically, that it was Revole issue. When the tender realized he could not shake Rook, he tried to swing at Rook. That was his first mistake.

Rook let go of the man's neck with one hand, and caught the arm. The sound of bones breaking filled the squalid bar, a very audible series of cracks. The man's face paled.

"Farg!" the man shouted. Rook tightened his grip. "No see rebirth! Who rebirth?" The man gibbered, broken. After a moment's consideration, he let the man drop. This had gone too quickly. Rook had not really thought the man would know who rebirth was, but he needed a little time for the vitality to take full effect.

He surveyed the other patrons. The room was dirty, and so were the patrons. Black dust streaked the bare skin of the girls, and the men were covered impure Binentin dust, its pale-green luminescence making their faces look alien, as they stared at Rook in fear and hate. None would dare attack him while he was on his vitality.

The entire team was still on their way up on their vitality when they'd made it too the shuttle, but even so Farset had been bent almost double. The transpo system kept records at that point, so the men ran from the voting collection center. Rook thought the run wiped Farset's energy, even enhanced with vitality, but Rook was wrong. Farset grabbed Rook's arm, while fighting back dry heaves and managed to gasp "don't leave"

Farset had been sick with his telling, with how bad his telling was, Rook realized. "Call the…men back…don't let those Ristnek…FARG," Farset exclaimed, falling to the ground. "Don't let them lead the collective to the ndrbase!" By then it was too late, and Rook could not alert the others without compromising both his position and theirs to the collective pulsars. Even if he did, the collective would just project the trajectories of the two pods, find where they intersected and deduce that a ndrbase was directly below that point.

Rook stepped out the door of the bar, leaving his memories behind as the vitality filled him. He started toward the transpo he'd arrived at, no closer to finding rebirth than he had been before. Suddenly, he heard what he'd been waiting for and spun around. He caught the knife just before it pierced his flesh, and held the hand wielding it in an iron grip.

"Comatose coating the point of the knife, or just death?" Rook asked. The girl wielding the knife did not struggle against Rook's knife, the fight already out of her eyes. She was the girl who had almost approached Rook in the bar, a scrawny thing but weathered, a survivor among the civilians. The rags she wore covered more than some of the other women's, but not much more. "Death," she replied. "The Revoles have no business with rebirth. He's gone."

"You will take me to Revole now you civy Ristnek farger, before I put you up for execution here and now." Rook threatened.

"rebirth is gone. My life is fulfilled if it saves rebirth from a Revole bastard. He's gone to you."

"I want to see Marco Soliley, grandmaster of the Revoles, who has forgotten why we started this war."

The girl's eyes went wide. "You shouldn't have said that," she gasped, "they're everywhere, you can't just give them an ident!"

The girl swallowed audibly. "I'll take you to the man you want, just shut that farg of yours." Rook let her lead him to the transpo, but he did not let go of her arm.

"I did not lie to you," the girl said, suddenly calm. "The rebirth you knew is gone. He's seen the Horizon"

When the other two pods returned to the ndrbase, the collective tracked them. Rook, Farset and the other psionics had waited at New Boston's gate, waited until the pulsar bolt had shot downwards. The Collective found the ndrbase hidden in the depths of Europa's icy seas. With one quick pulsar blast, the collective destroyed the base, the hundred men inside, and the ten men returning in the pods. The pulse itself, Rook knew, screened as it was by the ice, did not destroy the base. The light in the ever-dark depths of the ocean was just as fatal. Ristneks, the genetically altered constrictors that had taken over the ocean depths, saw the light from leagues away and converged on the base, battering it to death. Their long sinuous bodies coiled around the tubes of the base and compromised their integrity. Their long tails lashed out and punched holes in the air recyclers of the base. That deep in the ocean, the men did not just drown. When the integrity of the base was compromised, it imploded and crushed the men, perhaps leaving enough life in their bodies for them to drown. All of his men, killed, and the Revoles had known about it and done nothing. They could not risk compromising themselves.

The girl led Rook back to the transpo down the alley from the bar, but did not step into the closed chamber. Behind the seamless walls of the chamber, the girl suddenly found a seem. A section of the wall pealed away, and Rook followed the girl inside. She replaced the wall, and led him forward, through what seemed a small labyrinth until she came to a dark corner, opposite the entrance. Rook could hear people walking overhead, in the transpo. A man slouched in a chair in the very corner of the room. Light played down from an unseen opening and splashed across him, but did not touch his face. The man was very thin, Rook observed, very unlike the rebirth Rook remembered. Rook thought, for a moment, that he had made a mistake, that perhaps this was not rebirth, but he remembered the signals all too clearly.

The girl whispered in the man's ear, then moved back the way she entered. The man did not move or acknowledge anything she said. Rook had not seen the man move since he entered, even to breathe.

Rook could bear it no longer. The vitality in his blood compelled him into action, and the dead souls of his command called for their vengeance. "Who are you?" Rook demanded. "You are not rebirth, the squadkiller. rebirth would never hide in the shadows like an earthseal from a Ristnek."

"rebirth is dead," the man answered. "I killed him."

For a moment, the curt anseer sent Rook into a stunned silence. The moment ended quickly, however. "rebirth's death was mine to claim," he roared, as he grabbed the man by the neck. Rook flew backwards as his hand came into contact with the man's skin. Rook hit the opposite wall and slid downward. In a moment he was back on his feet, the vitality blocking any pain from his awareness. Rook eyed the man warily, muscles quivering.

"Who are you?" Rook shouted. Footsteps above stopped as Rook's raised voice, then continued faster than before. Rook dry washed his now burned hands.

"You do not change," The man answered, standing slowly. "You know me, although not as you thought. You may call me Suicide." Light played across the man's face as he stood, and recognition dawned on Rook's face. Rook gasped, speechless for a second time. A long moment passed, as Rook struggled for words. Footsteps passed swiftly overhead. Vitality thundered through Rook's veins like a pulsar bolt shooting out of orbit.

"Marco…" Rook finally managed to say. "rebirth."

"rebirth is dead," suicide answered. "I killed him. You are still the same man he knew, Wren. rebirth would be glad you survived." A panicked look came into Rook's eyes as Suicide spoke his true name.

"He couldn't face himself after he thought he killed you," Suicide continued. "You did not die, though. You always survived, even when everyone else died. You and Marco were the last of the original Revoles. The true Revoles, if being a Revole has any meaning that can be true, are gone now except for you. Marco would want you to stand for what the revolution was meant to stand for."

"What…what happened to you?" Rook stuttered.

"Marco saw the Horizon. He's gone now. Only his memories remain. There is nothing left except Suicide.

"A handle doesn't change who you are rebirth!" Rook exclaimed.

"You did not hear. The one you called rebirth saw the Horizon. But the language is but a trickle, sustaining the misunderstanding of truth. Look at what happened, and see the truth. See the truth you want, for your purpose." Suicide gestured to a dataclip behind his chair.

"You took that damn mind scrambler rebirth!" Rook exclaimed. "You took the Event Horizon, that mind scrambler from hell." Suicide gestured to the dataclip again. Rook picked it up slowly, knowing what it digitally contained inside. The dataclip was the sole memorial to rebirth, to Marco Soliley, Rook's old companion, and friend, and new enemy, after he sentenced Rook's entire ndrbase to death rather than risk breaking his silence.

Hours after the pulsar bolt had summoned the Ristnek's, Rook finally deemed it safe to leave the gate. The collective knew where the ndrbase was now. Losing one ndrbase did not stop the Revoles as a whole, but the ndrbase, serving as Rook's center, had information on the other ndrbases. Rook was sure none of his men had been able to destruct the base. They had not had time. When a base was compromised, it had to destruct itself. If taken by surprise or undersea accident, the Grandmaster would know the base lost when its squads did not complete the next mission he dropped to them. The bases had no way to communicate with the Grandmaster besides failure. After two complete failures, the grandmaster dropped a destruct signal from the surface. Ndrbases were simply not destroyed without enough warning to destruct themselves, except by freak accident.

The collective knew where the base was however, and would take it and the information contained within before two complete failures could occur. For that reason, Rook and his five psionics made for the Ristneked ndrbase rather than a contact for reassignment. Also, although unlikely, some of the men may have made it out in damaged pods. Rook knew he had to go down, but that did not make the results of his submersion any easier.

When they reached the sea-bottom, Rook sent the others out to search for survivors and salvage the dat files from the ndrbase while he stayed in the pod to drive off Ristneks. After they rescued any unlikely survivors, and salvaged everything that could be salvaged, Rook would give the destruct code.

Farset was still so sick that he needed help getting into his skinsuit. Still, he insisted on fulfilling his mission. Rook thought he was still sick from the bad telling. Would that he had learned from Farset's first telling and realized he was having another telling. All five of those men, the best Revole psionics they had, died when the destruct code dropped without warning. Rook had not sent the destruct code.

Rook barely had enough time to stop his own pod from following the destruct code when the remnants of the ndrbase exploded in an undersea inferno. The pod flew away from the explosion as the Ristneks converged on the light again. 3 leagues away the pod hit the sand and buried itself, which was probably the only reason Rook survived. As it was, the blast left Rook dead to the world for the next orbit and barely able to keep himself alive for the next half year.

At first Rook could not understand how the ndrbase destructed on its own. Recovering from the explosion left him a lot of time to think however. Ndrbases did not just destruct on their own. He had seen the destruct code dropping from above. That meant a Revole surfaceside had dropped the command.

The Revoles could not have known that the ndrbase was destroyed. Not unless they knew the mission had been leaked from the first, but had let it proceed anyway, regardless of loss of life. The Revoles surfaceside must have decided to let over a hundred men die rather than risk exposing themselves by dropping a message to call the mission off.

Rook had helped start the revolution because the people were not being represented in the Collective. All that mattered was the voting blocks, and Earth always seemed to come out in the favor. Europa needed to govern Europa for Europa's good. Letting the ends justify the means was what the Revoles fought against in the Collective. The surfacesiders had forgotten the meaning of the revolution. When Rook recovered under the ocean, he had returned to the surface to right the revolution, and to avenge his men.

Rook took rebirth's dataclip, and twirled it in his hand, wondering how a good man such as rebirth could have gone so wrong. Finally, he plugged it into the sole VInterface in the room. Rook plugged himself into the output. The tapping of steps from above faded out of Rook's consciousness and he saw rebirth, saw Marco Soliley.

Rook saw the young man running on the first contra collective raid on Europa. He saw himself through Marco's eyes as they attacked the minetaxcenter that was bleeding Europa dry. He remembered when he first took the name rebirth for the coming change to Europa, and when his closest companion took the name Rook to serve as the tool of the revolution. He saw Rook quivering with anger as he VInterfaced the first civilian executions, and felt Marco's tears run down his remembered cheeks. He saw each of the original Revoles die through Marco's eyes, until finally Marco was the grandmaster and Rook the captain of the best of the Revoles, the only team where the psionics fought side by side with the norms.

Then Rook saw a man captured through his own carelessness. He heard the man confess to Marco of his capture. He heard Marco ask how the man had escaped. He heard how the traitor had exchanged the details of the next attack for his life and a clear ident. He saw rebirth, filled with the self-importance, hold the mere risk to his one life and those of the other masters above the certain deaths of the infantry housed on the seafloor. He saw rebirth wracked with guilt as the pulsar shot downwards through the ice. He saw rebirth, pursued by the ghosts of the Revoles he had betrayed, Rook not the least of them. He saw rebirth driven to the edge. rebirth could not abandon the cause he had fought all his life for, but neither could he live with himself anymore. So rebirth took the drug, a suicide of sorts. rebirth took the Event Horizon. rebirth died. Suicide was born.

A tear, unasked for, welled in the corner of Rook's eye. Rook wiped it away angrily. The dataclip was rebirth's memories, nothing more. The Marco Rook had known was gone, the dataclip solely recorded his moments, the moments of a man twisted by responsibility away from the ideals he once held.

Rook looked through the dataclip and saw more trivial memories, saw the ident of the man who had traded Rook's ndrbase for his life, saw what the surfaceside Revoles planned. Rook unplugged himself from the wall.

Suicide had returned to his seat in the shadows. "You see the fate of Marco Soliley."

"So what are you doing here now?" Rook asked angrily. "What does Suicide care for the revolution?"

"The endless nothing of truth leaves me nothing to myself," Suicide answered. "The Horizon robbed me of my illusions and now I subsist on the dreams of a failed man. Make no mistake, your friend Marco is gone, but he shared all he knew with me, and the Horizon saw fit to let me keep a purpose."

"The collective or Europans, it makes no difference who holds this nistek infested planet," Suicide continued softly. "Nobody really holds it; too much dissonance exists. In truth, the planet belongs to no group. The system of the Collective is hypocritical, however. It does not truly grant the equality it professes. I fight for truth."

Rook looked at his old friend, and at this new stranger, fighting for 'truth'. "I will avenge my men Marco. I will return the Revoles to their purpose. And…I will avenge you Marco."

"Marco is dead," Suicide answered.

"I know."

The girl escorted Rook out of the hidden room and back to the transpo. Rook stepped inside the metal box, and the girl followed him. "What are you doing girl," Rook asked.

"I heard what you said to him," the girl responded. "I know the values of the founders. I searched out Suicide, thinking he was the last of the founders. I will stand with you."

Rook shrugged, feeling the weardown as he came off the Vitality. The entrance to the transpo sealed and the antigravs hummed as the unit wirred across New Boston. The transpo opened in one of the better neighborhoods, mostly abandoned now.. The people living here had either been executed or were in hiding. The collectors had confiscated the best building and lived there, but better neighborhoods like this were mostly abandoned. The transpo had taken Rook midway up a domescraper, and he could see the walls extending above and below him. He stepped from the transpo into the building, wary of the drop to the ground if he mistepped. The girl followed him. Rook walked inside the building and down the corridor he had seen in rebirth's memories. He came to an access panel, and entered a code. A wall disappeared and Rook stepped to another access panel. He began a second code when the entire building shook. A virsteel block fell from the ceiling and barely missed the girl. Rook mistyped and suddenly an energy field appeared around him and the girl, hemming them in. Rook started over and got the code right this time. The field dropped and they passed through another wall. Rook quickly VInterfaced and passed the final level of access. He entered a large office. A man sat across from the entrance in an office chair at an oversize desk. The man was of average build with a precisely gelled plaque of brown hair on top of his head. He looked up with a ready grin.

"Suicide, did you hear? Its started, they're…they're…you're not Suicide."

Rook recognized the man in front of him from rebirth's memories. His name was Sluicegate. He was the true reason Rook's squad had been destroyed. He had leaked information on the attack in exchange for his life. Rook did not even bother with a Vitality. He did not need one.

Rook picked Sluicegate out of his reclining chair and tossed him against the shatterproof glass of his windows. Sluicegate left a trail of blood on the pane as he slid down.

The building shook again. The shatterproof glass windows all shattered simultaneously. The blast threw Rook and the girl to the ground. Rook bounced back on his feet in a second, advancing on the man who had killed his squad and, indirectly, his old friend. Sluicegate fumbled in his desk drawer for something, when Rook caught him by the neck. Although the skin on his palms was red and blistered, Rook still held Sluicegate by the throat one handed. Rook looked in the drawer and saw a mini pulsar. He picked it up.

"Very fitting, that you shall die by this weapon," Rook said, pressing the pulsar to Sluicegate's temple.

"Who are you? What do you want?" Sluicegate squeeled, blood dripping from his torn lip. Wind whipped through the destroyed windows and threw glass dust into the air. The glass glittered as it sliced into Rook's skin, drawing small lines of red down his skin.

"I am Rook you weasel," Rook replied. "You killed my squad in exchange for your life. I am collecting the debt you owe." Rook threw Sluicegate into his desk, and aimed the pulsar.

"No! You can't kill me now," Sluicegate begged. "We have finally won!" Another explosion rocked the building, and a virsteel block caught Rook in the shoulder as it fell. When he struggled back to his feet, Rook saw the girl standing over Sluicegate, and another trail of blood running from Sluicegate's forehead. Sluicegate's carefully arranged hair was in complete disarray, but he did not seem to notice.

"Can't you hear it," Sluicegate asked. "The collective is done with on Europa. We've taken the Binentin mines! They need to settle with us or their longevity supplies will run out. They will not see any more Binentin until they are off the planet. We need to get out of this building!"

"So you weaseled your way as Grandmaster after you weaseled out of collective custody?" Bishop asked. "You're deceit has corrupted the Revoles enough. It ends here." Bishop hit the charger on the mini-pulsar...

"No," Sluicegate pleaded. "This is finally Europa's chance. Don't you see? We can control the longevity. The entire system is ready for revolt. The internment damned votes have dropped since before Jovia fell. Europa, Ganymede, Titan…all of our interned Jupiter sector doesn't even vote 9 parsecs out of ten! Lunar is on a full out voting strike! The collective is casting the uncast votes to protect Earth's voting block, everyone knows it! With the leverage of Longevity on our side, we can finally prove it and rally the other planets behind us. We will liberate them all, and take our place at their head against the Collective. I did what I did for the good of us all." "You sentenced us to death to protect your measly life," Rook responded. "The Revoles stand for freedom. That is all. We never wanted to rule Lunar or the Jupiter Sector. We wanted to rule Europa, that is all."

"The founders are feeble minded fools!" Sluicegate cried, his desperation running out. "You never had the vision to do anything until my kind came along. We fought this revolution! The last founder to go didn't have what it took either, he took the Horizon rather than the hard truth. You are all old men kept in the game by a last second longevity!"

"No," Rook said, his anger drained from him. He knew what he had to do now. He knew what was wrong. "You have been longevity's mistake all along. Your perpetual youth has given you the excuse never to learn wisdom. We are Revoles because of how the Collective mistreats our people. Revoles do not sentence Revoles to die,"

Rook discharged the pulsar.

Rook called the transpo to the now open window and stepped inside.. Moments later, as the metal box wirred away, the ground rumbled again and the building toppled. Even the transpo antigravs could not compensate entirely as wreckage hit the transpo. The rumblings in the ground continued for a long time, until finally, they ceased. The silence that followed was almost as bad. Rook had the transpo put him down near his pod. He sat atop it and began searching through a dat file he had taken from Sluicegate's office before fleeing.

"What is it?" the girl asked.

"This is the personnel file of all the Revoles. They have not changed the encryption since rebirth created it all those cycles ago. With these files, I can bring the new Revoles back to the old cause. Back to the true cause."

As Rook spoke he tagged certain names in the personnel files.

"But you killed Sluicegate. Won't his cause die?" the girl asked.

"No," Rook said. "He made the cause too well known for that. Another Sluicegate will come to take his place, especially after a victory such as today's. They actually took the Binentin mine….. Yes, power is addicting, as rebirth learned. They will want to take as much as they can with the power of Binentin."

Rook jumped down from on top of his pod, and opened the side door. He motioned the girl inside, and then climbed in himself. "Haven't the Revoles finally won?" the girl continued.

"No," Rook answered with feeling. Touching a trigger within the pod, he snapped the skates down and activated the antigravs. The door from the dome began to open. "The Revoles have not won until Europa is independent, and not subjecting any other colonies to what the collective subjected us to. The Binentin must be freed, but the Collective cannot return. Vote as they may, and they will even cast our own votes against us, they cannot return as long as we hold the Binentin, and we will hold the Bininten until we know they will not return. Then we must let it go. The Sluicegates will not see that."

"And you will find the Sluicegates in those files, and those who agree with your views?"

Rook nodded. The doors out of New Boston opened, and the far -off sun shined through the window, just above the horizon. The girl could not tell whether the sun was rising, or setting. For a moment the girl was blinded in the sun's glare before the window tinted itself. "You want to start another Revolution," The girl asked, turning to Rook. The sunlight illuminated Rook's face, but also cast shadows across it.

"No," Rook answered. "I want to finish one."