Beshu marched into Jagatai's tent, forgetting his almost instinctual habit of stealth. He was quite enraged. He had just received the order to halt all offensive actions from Marshal Jagatai himself.
Beshu had come, needless to say, to complain.
"Marshal," he barked, without observing any of the proper protocols, without even so much as reporting, "Why has my commando squad been called back? We've been doing exceptionally well against the Allies, and there is no logical reason for us to stop now."
"Oh, yes, you're the Chigol," said Jagatai, utterly without scorn, in fact he seemed very downtrodden.
"Yes," said Beshu suspiciously, "If my loyalties to the empire are in question because of my descent, let me reassure you. There was once a Chinese man named Wei Sung, but he died and become a pure Mongolian, myself."
"No, I'm certain you are a patriotic and loyal Mongolian. At least, you commandos are harshly trained to be," said Jagatai, bleakly.
Jagatai gently flung a piece of paper into the air. It settled at Beshu's feet. He picked it up and read it. There were six words written on it in capital letters:
ALL TROOPS: STOP FIGHTING
Beshu stood aghast. The Emperor had ordered a cease-fire? Why? They were winning, weren't they? Well, weren't they?
"I can't disobey the emperor," said the marshal wanly, "The emperor is the empire, and the empire is Mongolia."
The commando was suddenly overcome by rage. He crushed the piece of paper in his hand. He pointed with his free hand behind Jagatai, where, on the wall, the flag of the Mongolian Empire was hanging. It was a green circle, meant to represent the Earth, and from the center of the circle came four golden arrows. A fire burned in the background.
"Perhaps it is just my harsh patriotic training, but I honor that flag above all other things. That flag is the symbol of the very essence of the Mongolian people. Look at it, marshal. The very world is in our flag, for that world is our destiny. And yet, we will not stop there. Four golden arrows point in each of the cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west. And yet, they extend beyond the circle of the earth. The Mongolian people will not be confined, not even to this earth.
"Do you remember what the emperor once said? He said that the army would never stop until Mongolia was an island; until there was no other country but Mongolia. Those arrows represent our progress, not just forward, but in all directions, and forever! Look at the colors of the flag! Those arrows are golden! They signify that Mongolia is divine, perfect, and invincible! And look, even outside the planet, there are flames. That is to symbolize that Mongolia has the ability to make worlds burn! It is our destiny to wreak destruction, and to rule over everything! Everything!
"Nothing can stop us, marshal. It doesn't matter what Mongolia is, whether it's an empire, or a democracy, or a bunch of tribes, or an anarchy for that matter! The Emperor is not Mongolia, for Mongolia is far greater than the emperor. I may be only a Chinese migrant to you and everyone else, but I am a Mongolian because I know what it means to be Mongolian in spirit as well as blood!
"Is that flag just a piece of fabric to be flown? Or does it actually mean something? Will we sacrifice the very essence of our natures, because we have given our loyalty to an emperor? The emperor is not a god! He is a man! And he has grown cowardly! It is time for us to take our own initiative! What say you, marshal? I say that we must continue fighting! We must rule this world! It is our destiny!"
By the end, Beshu's eyes were burning with an inner fire and he looked as though he was about to lash out and destroy something. Jagatai had been staring woefully at the Mongolian flag on his wall. He now turned to Beshu. He seemed to be in inner turmoil, and complete confusion. His eyes looked like those of a lost child. Suddenly his face hardened in decision.
"Commander," he said, not certain what the commando's official rank was, only that he was the leader of a special forces squad, "Return to your mission."
Beshu smiled gravely.
"Thank you, marshal. You won't regret this."
"That remains to be seen. In all likelihood, I will. But I can not betray what I am, even if that means defying the emperor. I have no choice."
"None of us do."
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)