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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 37

General Michaelis Pantermalis entered the office of his superior officer, the supreme commander of Eastern Bloc forces, General Dimitri Igoumensita. Pantermalis held in his arms a long wooden case, the contents of which were known only to a very few people. The case was covered with writing, both Egyptian and Greek.

"General Igoumensita?" called out Pantermalis.

Igoumensita came into view suddenly holding a bottle of ouzo. He had been bent over at his liquor cabinet searching for just the right vintage. Igoumensita seemed at first annoyed, and then pleased to see that the intruder was in fact his right hand, Pantermalis.

"Ah, Pantermalis. To what do I owe the honor?"

"Sir, I have a package which is to be delivered to your hands only."

The Greek scrunched up his face and scrutinized Pantermalis. He came to some sort of a conclusion and placed the bottle on his desk and held out his arm. Pantermalis held out a specialty scanner used for DNA testing. He confirmed almost instantaneously the identity of the man who was claiming to be Igoumensita. It was Igoumensita.

"Then here you are sir, the package delivered from Egypt. Unopened, as per your orders."

Pantermalis handed Igoumensita the wooden box. Igoumensita quickly ripped it open like a child opening a birthday present. He carefully, almost reverently lifted the sword out of the box. It was golden and encrusted with jewels of all sorts.

"The Sword of the Sun," he whispered under his breath, then turned to Pantermalis, "Or, for a more literal translation, The Sword of Rah. Rah could be considered both the god of the sun, and the sun itself. It's all very complicated. In the end it's actually the Sword of Apollo."

"Apollo? The...ancient Greek sun god?"

"That's right," confirmed the Greek commander-in-chief, "Forged by Athenians a few, hmmm, millennia ago. Stolen by the Carthaginians - well, at least, they think it was the Carthaginians, it could have been some other North African tribe - and given to the Egyptians by them as a gift. 'See how we beat the Greeks', you know, that sort of thing. And it's finally fallen back into the hands of it's rightful owner."

Pantermalis didn't think that being a Greek qualified Igoumensita to own a sword worth that much. If that was true, wouldn't being a Greek entitle Pantermalis to that sort of thing?

"It was just a treasure to the Egyptians, but to a Greek it is supposed to hold great powers. It is supposed to bring the luck of battle to a Greek with true fighting spirit. And many great, divine rewards."

"Are you a very superstitious man, general?"

Igoumensita glared at his underling.

"I'm the most superstitious man you will ever meet, Pantermalis. And don't forget it."

Michaelis Pantermalis just couldn't resist it.

"Look, sir, it's the boogey man!"

Igoumensita nearly clobbered Pantermalis with the butt of the sword. He regained his dignity a moment later.

"This sword will probably be the greatest weapon at my disposal throughout The Omega War, Panteramlis. Now, as for business," said Igoumensita.

"Ah, yes, business. Szczecin."

"How many troops have you diverted there?"

"A hell of a lot. At least five infantry divisions. Two armored divisions. One of Spartan IIs, one of Ares IVs."

Igoumensita nodded. Both the Spartan and the Ares were good tanks. He'd served in an Athena I back in his groundpounding days. The junkpiles weren't even considered fit for battle these days, but somehow they had always gotten along.

"Good. I'm going to fly there when I'm certain proper air support is in place. I'm going to lead this attack in person."

"Of course, sir."

"Leapers? What about leapers?"

"We have seventeen leapers, sir. It's all we could spare."

The Greek wondered at this. Of course, leapers were very sparse and very high in demand, but less than twenty?
"Ah, it'll do. I doubt the Germans have enough leapers to do us serious damage anyway."

Igoumensita hooked a belt around his waist and placed the Sword of the Sun into a specially crafted scabbard. He picked up the bottle again.

"Join me in a drink, Pantermalis?"

"Of course, sir."

Igoumensita poured two glasses.

"To the Eastern Bloc, and her victory in The Omega War" said Igoumensita.

"To the Eastern Bloc, and victory" concurred the other.

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