She was of course the most beautiful woman in the entire universe. I had stopped counting the number of times they had dangled her in front of my longing eyes. Alas, like a total fool I always took the bait. I could plainly see the hook with it’s immense barb. Disregarding all logic and caution I bit in deeply. Love they say is foolishness for fools. I am of course the King Jester of the crowd. Always, time after time, the joke is on me.
Why the fates keep resurrecting my sorry soul I cannot fathom. They say there is no rest for the wicked. If that be the case then put me down as the devil. Indeed in the eyes of many I am the most hideous and evil creature that has ever existed. Point of view is what determines a villain or a hero. To be honest I only care about how she sees me.
Memories keep flooding through my brain like flipping pages through a book. Except each one is a story. A grand tale of adventure, war, and of course love. The events are always different but the story is the same. There is a cruel dominating oppressor and I am the hero summoned to liberate the masses. Thrown in the mix is a woman of mysterious beauty, of whom my heart cannot simply deny.
I was Sampson and she Delilah. I was Anthony and she Cleopatra. I was Romeo and she Juliet. I think you get the idea by now. What frustrated me was how many times I was on the verge of getting it all. To win the grand victory and to be swept away with my true love into eternal bliss and happiness. Unfortunately the outcome was always defeat and heartbreak. I swore by the gods that this time it would be different. Somehow I would beat the odds.
“I’m so afraid,” spoke the woman of unfathomable loveliness, “but in your arms I feel safe.”
My muscular arms held her frail trembling body. I saw the agony of thousands of generations inside her eyes slowly bleeding to death. I needed to dispel all trepidation and fear. With the utmost tenderness I pressed my lips upon her lovely pair. Her arms wrapped around my body caressing it in excited pleasure. We once more became one united in heart.
“The Vorxen are set to invade your kingdom, your majesty,” I informed my true love. “For your safety Queen Veesha you must go underground in the bunkers.”
“No,” she spoke defiantly, “I will not abandon you Coltan.” Her words were strong and vibrant. “My place is by your side and none other. I shall not cower in some dismal dungeon. I am the leader of my people and if need be I shall die defending my kingdom.”
“Truly thou art one full of nobility,” I responded. “However I am a gladiator a son of a slave. The nobles still show me no respect whatsoever. The aristocrats only follow me now because of necessity. I need your iron hand to keep them in order. If we are to have a chance at victory all my orders must be obeyed. Chaos would only benefit the enemy.”
I turned to one of the soldiers. “You there,” I spoke with all the authority of the wind. “Take the queen to the bunkers and make sure that she is both secure and taken care of.”
The uniformed man paused for a moment and stared at me questioningly. Then he rushed to the side of my beloved. “I will only obey your command if you promise that I can return to fight by your side at the landing sight.”
I smiled grandly. Here was a man of grit and courage such as myself. “It shall be as you please,” I answered. The soldier gently took Queen Veesha’s hand and began to lead her away. I watched her perfect body flow in her silky gown as she walked away.
My true love turned, her straight brown hair falling over her shoulders. Concern radiated over her face like a harvest moon. Her soft brown eyes intensely cut into my soul. “Promise me you will return to me,” came a voice scarcely a whisper.
“Only death shall prevent me,” I vowed. Somehow I knew full well that death would once more conquer me. That I would descend once more into the torturous fires of Gehenna. There I would brood in the darkness until it was once more time to be summoned for my role. But ah, I was getting ahead of myself. Perhaps as Coltan I would finally break the impossible and achieve the success of victory.
I turned towards one of the generals. He was one of the nobility and that meant his person was both pampered and spoiled. “Now how many men can we get into those highlands by the Plains of Wanock?”
The man looked at me. His elegant uniform and meticulous hair showed me that he had far more heart in appearance than in fighting. “I am not accustomed in taking orders from a gladiator.”
I allowed my hand to slip to the handle of my cutlass which hung at my side upon a scabbard. I grinned like a jack o lantern in the fullest of evil. “But I am very well accustomed to slitting throats,” I explained. “I am sure the next in rank can give me a satisfactory answer.” My reputation as a gladiator was worldwide. In fact I was a celebrity of great fame excelling in that gruesome occupation.
“We can get ten thousand perhaps, if we act with all urgency,” the man blurted out. His trembling lips betrayed the nervousness that consumed his soul.
“Then we shall commit five thousand,” I ordered.
The host of the elite commanders looked at me with questioning eyes. As if suddenly they had been transformed into a pack of lost puppies. “You do know that is our best defensible place. If we are to stem the tide of the Vorxen invasion it is crucial not to give them a foot hold.” I turned to the one and looked deep and hard into his face. In return he met my gaze with a stone face. “What is your name?” I ventured.
“My name is Quart,” he said, “I am a senior general in the command of Queen Veesha.” Then with great sorrow he added. “Or at least I was until your lot took power.”
“I know that is the best point of defense. You know it as well as does everyone of your associates. Why even the neophyte soldiers who learned how to shoot yesterday knows it. Don’t you think the Vorxen know it?”
“Well I am sure they do,” answered Quart.
“I am going to put five thousand men up there. I am sending them to certain death. Would you care to lead them?”
“No,” answered the general most humble fashion.
“Then I will take that honor upon myself. I request half to be of your elite and half to be the best of my gladiator kin.” I let my words sink in. The generals of Queen Veesha were excellent at giving orders. But they lacked nerve and courage. My words cut into their timid souls causing them shame. A good leader’s most powerful tool is example.
I motioned to another of the generals. This one seemed to be of higher rank by having more regalia upon his uniform. “You, with all haste get those five thousand men transported.” The man bowed his head acknowledging my authority and disappeared. All the others of the ilk opened their eyes wide as a chorus of whispers burst out.
“Now you Quart and anyone who still cares for this world,” I continued, “come with me and we shall discuss our strategy of how we shall defeat the Vorxen after they land.”
After discussing the matter with a combination of my fellow gladiators and Queen Veesha’s vanquished generals I was satisfied. I do not think that one single solitary soul at that meeting actually believed that my plan would succeed. However I let them rip into me. I allowed them to ask questions and to express their dark doubts. But in my convincing conclusion I threw the doors wide open. “If any person here comes up with a plan that the majority feels is better I will both step down from being in charge and heartily follow that man.” Moments of silence slipped into minutes. “Now then let’s quit wasting precious time and try to make this thing work!” My gladiators rose with jubilant cries of enthusiasm. The generals of Veesha slunk away solemnly. It was for good reason that the rebellion I led was successful.
I was personally heading towards the transport to the highlands to the Plains of Wanock when I caught eye of the soldier who zealously followed my orders. “How fair the queen?” I asked him.
“She is vastly disappointed on having to leave your side,” spoke the warrior, “but she is a slave to her duty.”
I couldn’t help but smile. My mind traveled focusing on Queen Veesha. Truly she was a shining jewel amongst dead shale stones. Her true ‘nobleness’ was demonstrated in the manner she lent her hand to the revolution. More than an encouraging bystander her role was crucial. I can attribute that to nothing less than our falling in love. And of course her kind, gentle heart.
It was awkward at best as the Queen of the planet Morgan met me chief gladiator Coltan. She was a person of luxury and I a master in brutality. It was like darkness meeting light. But somehow we blended into a pleasant grey. Truly two worlds merged into something better. It resulted in the liberation of the masses and the undermining of the power of those in control. Now after that glorious transformation the welfare of the whole was in dire circumstances. The marauding Vorxen Empire and had demanded an outrageous ransom or we were to face the threats of conquest through war.
As the unknown soldier and I raced towards the transport getting ready to take off I began to wonder if I would ever see V again. Our time had been so short but so pleasant. I found her outstanding in every way. What cut my heart was the reality of this Vorxen invasion. I had deep suspicions of the ruling hierarchy. It was my theory that one of the royalty was guilty of the most wicked form of treason. Perhaps some deal was cut to subjugate the people and return the power to the ruling class. As a military commander I had to consider all possibilities. There is nothing worse in battle than being stabbed in the back. It always proved fatal.
As I leapt aboard the transport I found myself to be in the company of Queen Veesha’s personal guard. The silver rose and golden crown emblems upon their uniform was a tell tale sign. At first the commander rose to rebuke my presence. Then after a moment when recognition set in he stifled his tongue.
“Go ahead and say it,” I challenged him, “I’m a big boy, I can take it.”
“I simply wanted to say,” began the officer, “it is a pleasure to serve with such a fine commander as you.” A rousing cheer arose from the special forces. There was a jerk in the vessel as it lurched into the air. The ship shook violently as we headed to the battlefield with most urgent speed. If we didn’t land by the time the Vorxen started the invasion we would be an easy target for their advance attack ships.
“So Coltan, how are we going to defeat the Vorxen invasion?” let out one of the troops. He was grinning with a wicked smile.
“I have a plan,” I said softly, “we’re going to lead them into an ambush.” I then elaborated on the exact details. I was fully persuaded to maintain my egalitarian ideals. After all one of these men might just happen to have some better plan in their mind. After my explanation I was met with silence. Another of the troops commented, “It’s crazy enough where it just might work.” Then he added, “better to be dead than to be a slave.”
I know not if he was referring to the recent revolution. It mattered not as the statement struck me as ludicrous. Myself having just being released from the iron chains of bondage. I let out a long laugh. I would not have minded dying except for the fact that I would be leaving Veesha. No, I had the best reason of all to live.
The Vorxen landed exactly where we expected them to. As we suspected they bombarded the highlands of the Plains of Wanock with artillery and bombs. We promptly retreated. The enemy sensing an advantage followed with all blood lust. Than at the edge of the highlands we stopped our withdrawal. It was a prearranged point. Our troops in that vicinity had time to properly dig in. We had created a thin line of our best troops. The Vorxen for the first time were meeting fierce resistance. Many of their soldiers had died in the intense combat.
As I hoped for the Vorxen advance force had overextended their supply line. In fact I doubt that their generals had even considered that aspect of the invasion. I believe the Vorxen in their arrogance expected a slaughter. Well one was delivered. Much to the enemy’s horror it was their own soldiers. With all their supplies of ammunition spent and none coming in they were at an extreme disadvantage. When the foe began to surrender in mass numbers my heart was elated to the point where I thought that victory was indeed possible.
It was with utter delight that I witnessed the Vorxen soldiers coming to our lines with their hands raised high in the air. These were fierce warriors, with a reputation through the whole galaxy as being deadly. But no matter how tough a warrior is, if he lacks ammunition he cannot conduct combat. Our forces had retreated while they pursued with blood lust. In the process they had exhausted their ammo. Necessary supply lines were not maintained in the zealous haste. Like cattle in stalls we imprisoned our foes. Then came the heartbreaking news!! Then came the betrayal!!
Wars are not always won by the best army. In fact sometimes words count more than casualties. Truly what had happened on the battlefield was a startling surprise. After the first day of battle we had not been removed from our position on the highlands. Rather we were securely dug in with the first wave of forces of the Vorxen either dead or our captives. Most significant was that these were the enemy’s elite troops. Without any doubt the day was grandly ours.
Though far from our thoughts on the battlefield the diplomats were busy as well. It is easy for me to count them as sellouts but I cannot. Military victory was precarious at best. Despite the initial phases of the war going better than I could have ever hoped for, victory was still far away. The Vorxen was a mighty empire and we were at a great disadvantage.
The surprise victory of my troops had ramifications well beyond the highlands. In fact the shock waves permeated far from the planet Morgan. News headlines through out the galaxy screamed, “Primitive Troops Humiliate Vorxen Army”. The proud race had to do something to save face. What had happened was devastating.
So the second day of battle began with an announcement that the war was over. The Vorxen had ceased hostilities. The bells rang out across the lands in excited elation. My position as military leader had been consolidated to a position where none would dare to question me. For once I had won and I was reeling like a drunk man in ecstasy. Until I heard the grave news.
According to the terms of the cease fire Queen Veesha was to wed a member of the Vorxen nobility. Technically that would make the planet Morgan as a protectorate. We would have our autonomy and the support of the Vorxen Empire in case of any trouble from our galactic foes. By all accounts we were far better off then even before the hostilities began. My heart of course was not broken but rather shattered to a million shards. How could she betray me? Then I considered her great sacrifice. If she had loved me just a fraction of how I loved her. Why she was truly in despair.
We had a formal celebration. It was the last time I would see the true love of my heart. Her presence was fabulous. Dressed as a queen in the excellence of all her royalty she was a spectacle worthy of infinite praise. If ever I had a dream, if ever I had a fantasy she excelled it in massive proportions.
I saw her only from across the crowded assembly hall. We both thought it best that we have no close contact. I know for certain the temptation to hold her in my arms and kiss her one last time was too much to chance. It would embarrass the soon to be Vorxen groom to no end. In fact it would create a galactic scandal which most likely would have led us back into the throngs of war.
So here I sit victorious for the first time. Oh the empty joy of triumph. I possess a world but the one that possesses me is not on it. I sit in my gloom and drown myself in the affairs of state. It helps kill the pain. Indeed both Queen Veesha and I are two of a kind. I am certain that if I was in her place that I would have done exactly the same thing that she had done. What kind of ruler would sit idly by and allow the wholesale slaughter of her people without doing all they could to intervene?
But I had the last laugh though it was scarcely more than a chuckle. Still it pleased me to no end. Queen Veesha was taken by her Vorxen mate to the home planet of the empire. There the happy couple settled in. After much anticipation and exhausting failure the couple finally managed to have a child. It was a boy. His name was of all things Coltan. Truly love hurts.