Previously, High Chancellor Hayes met privately with his Crusader Commanding Officer, Shappa Durant, to discuss ArcGeneral’s plea for justice. He sought a remedy for the heinous crimes committed against two Marines and civilian family members of the first Marine. The alternative would be an armed conflict between enraged Navy Marines and Crusader soldiers. It was deemed a no-win scenario. Hayes informed his Shappa that they would put the accused Crusaders on trial.
The following day, Commandant Kingsley and ArcLieutenant-General Romano led every unit of the Marine Corps, transported to the surface of Genesis, deep into the jungle. They arrived at a large clearing, beside a river bank, where the Marines were ordered to seat themselves on the ground facing the river. Kingsley, Romano, and a few other officers stood before them.
The Commandant takes two steps forward and makes eye contact with as many Marines as he can while he waits for them to settle. “We are the Genesis Navy Marine Corps! We are the men and women who took solemn oaths to defend our society, and now our new world, with all of our hearts, all of our intellects, all of our physical power, and with all of our loyalty! As your Commanding Officer, I need to commend you all on your exemplary service to date. As well, you men and women of the Navy Marine Corps, need to know that I am aware and appalled by the outrages committed against Sergeant Ames, some of his family members, and against Private Soares.”
Kingsley pauses as his eyes scan his audience. No one is moving, and all have their eyes riveted on him. He notes the grim facial expressions that greeted his last sentence.
“Your officers here before you, share your rage. Having said that, I want you to know that we are aware that there are growing numbers of you who wish to take the law into your own hands. Although your motives are noble, any acts of violence taken against Crusaders will likely escalate into a full-blown conflict. All of our people aboard Divine Scepter are about to create a new civilization upon this planet. A war between ourselves and the Crusader Army will likely destroy any chance for success here in Genesis. There has to be another way. We gathered you here among your peers, isolated in this jungle clearing, to speak your minds. I am giving you all permission to speak freely – without fear of repercussions.”
For the next two hours, many officers and non-coms rose to lend their voices to the quest for justice. Each speaker was heard with courtesy and respect. Many supported the use of violence against the offending Crusaders and were cheered enthusiastically for their efforts. Some rose to urge caution for the sake of the innocent civilians who would pay a hefty price in Crusader retaliation.
Without warning, a small group of Navy officers appear at the edge of the clearing and make their way in silence to the riverbank. The tallest among them is ArcGeneral Thomas Hastings in his dress green uniform. Murmurs of recognition and surprise can be heard among the ranks as the Navy CO makes his way to join Commandant Kingsley. Kingsley salutes and asks Hastings to address the Corps.
As Hastings turns to face the Corps, they are all standing at attention. He acknowledges them with a curt nod and indicates that they are to resume their seats. It is clear that he is upset, but his voice rings out clearly and calmly as he begins to speak.
“Men and women of the Genesis Navy Marine Corps, I come to you today with a heavy heart to report another tragedy. But my hope is that this sad news will help us to turn away from violent choices. I was summoned this morning to the chambers of the High Chancellor to meet with him and Shappa Durant. They wished me to know that Shaspa Hendricks and his gang of thugs are to be arrested and tried before a full court martial. There is to be a panel of four judges: myself, Commandant Kingsley, Shappa Durant, and High Chancellor Hayes.”
With that surprise disclosure, the silence is broken with exclamations of disbelief and relief as well. Hastings notes the faces of his audience register surprise and then, hope. Discussions break out spontaneously – and some are heated. The ArcGeneral raises both hands as a plea for silence. That was accompanied by the bellowed order of a drill sergeant, “Attention!” Silence ensues, and Hastings continues.
“I was taken by surprise as well. But before I could ask for more details, the Shappa was suddenly called from the room. When he returned a few moments later, he had dreadful news. Private Soares went to Hendrick’s quarters and shot him to death. Before his aide could apprehend her, she turned the gun on herself. The Shappa was shaken, but he requested that the High Chancellor allow him to carry out the arrest and trial of the other culprits. That was granted.”
The news hit the soldiers hard, and they bow their heads. One of their own – a victim in her own right – had taken her vengeance and then her own life. Those who knew her well were stricken, yet struggle for control as tears well in eyes, sometimes spilling over leaving watery tracks on faces set in stone. Hastings speaks once more.
“Marines, the Crusader and Church authorities assure us that justice will be done. There will be no repercussions on Soares’ family or friends. I am asking that we try to put these painful things in a safe place within ourselves and move on. Soares will be buried with full military honors since her emotional state rendered her not responsible for her actions. We must bury our anger with her and carry on.”