by Max Barry

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by Uvoan. . 5 reads.

Admiral Calder

"You know..." The old admiral shifted. A long exhale of smoke from his cigarette dancing in the light. The pale, amber light of a swinging lantern illuminated the train car. Its opulent interior looked like a rolling palace on wheels- Walls lined with silk, and an interior fit for kings. An extravagant balcony on the end of the car, where two swaying red lamps glared angrily into the night, the final silent sentinels. The smooth glide of metals wheels over welded rail, swaying the car lightly from side to side. The gentle rocking motion like so many ships, the admiral had once crewed. The train was somewhere within the rolling hills- Not on the thundering Racetrack, but on older, local lines.

"Someone once told me Uvoan was a peaceful country." He continued, tapping the ashes from the end of the cigarette into the ash tray. "I laughed in their face- And they were confused. They asked me why Uvoan was not a peaceful country." The aging admiral shifted, bones creaking as he turned to look out one of the many windows. The train flashed by a small town, illuminated in the dying light of the day, slowly bleeding into twilight. The admiralís eyes looking over a train as it thundered by. Boxcars, flat-cars, hoppers, all swaying...

"We might act in the interests of peace, but we are not a peaceful country... We were the first ones to put Rods from God into orbit- The tools of peace which now hang over all our heads. And what did we do with the first set? We dropped them on Japan, and if our targeting had been even a bit more off? Far, far, far more would have died." The admiral took a deep drag of the cigarette, exhaling into the open air. "Before that? We lead our ships around the world, with terrifying creations of metal, steam, and gunpowder. We fought toe to toe with the Japanese. Italians. German. Hell, we almost fought toe-to-toe with the United Kingdom- We almost sunk our teeth into that vital Atlantic supply line... We fought every step of the way."

He coughed into his elbow, suddenly. Turning about and pacing from one side of the car to the other. "And then when the rest of the world was giving what seemed like a dying gasp- We breathed life. We expanded. Four merchant republics, which had been our neighbors for as long as any had been alive- We engulfed them whole in mere months, adding them to our empire. And then we turned to the seas, to the skies, and to the earth. For a decade, we set the pace. Our ships were the envy of the world- Our army was a terrifying force, with enough artillery to level cities. Our air-force were the Sentinels, and the Ravagers. We spoke, and the world listened... But was it ever a message of peace? No."

He sighed and returned to his chair. Sitting down, bones creaking with signs of age... "And even before that- We fought wars. The Great War. The Rebellion. The First Civil War. None of these conflicts were peaceful- Indeed, all of them fed one another. Driving the fires higher, and higher. The drums of war. We fought the Rebellion, first. We turned these new weapons of war on one another- Gas. Artillery. Airplanes. The earliest of earliest tanks- And then we turned them onto Europe, and onto Germany. We perfected our military- Steel sharpened steel, and new men and minds that had come out of the Rebellion were still blood-lusting. They were howling for blood- And Europe provided it. All of us bade for blood of us then... And really, what did it change? A few million more dead? Heh... " He took another drag on his cigarette. Lungs filling with smoke, as his eyes went out of focus for a split second... Then re-focused. "And then eleven years passed- And we turned on one another again. It was an almost bloodless conflict, yes... But it still was a sign. Uvoan was not a peaceful country." Admiral Calder snubbed his cigarette. "And I have been with Zkto' since that fateful day, in 1914... As someone who has seen it all?"

He turned back to the reporter, who had been writing his entire speech down with rapt attention.

"Uvoan is not a peaceful country. We were forged in the fires of war- We have been perfected in the fires of war. And we breath in the soot and ash left behind by the fire, and lust for another one. 'Peace' is but a fallacy of man. And Uvoan... Uvoan knows that well."