The following passage is an excerpt from the memoirs of Honorius Blackstone, Lessons from Experience. As they were published shortly before his first standing for election to Polemarch, they show significant bias and were intended largely to promote an image of him as a competent, capable diplomat. As such, they focus significantly on the second Eta Cassiopeiae crisis and his role in it. While they do have a bias, they are mostly factually accurate and paint the most complete picture we have of the early years of the second Eta Cassiopiae crisis. The footnotes were of his own devising; his writing style frequently used tangents and was generally prone to requiring them. This appears to be an attempt to appeal to a mass audience, as his personal correspondences do not show the same degree of divergence, and a tangential, omniscient writing style was the literary fashion at the time. Endnotes are added in order to clarify things that would have been general knowledge at the time of writing.
It was dark, and oh so cold. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, could barely hear I was shivering so bad. The insides of my bones hurt, but my extremities were numb. Suddenly, one felt warmth, but as a phantom. I was being dragged through the cold, dark water by something. I was afraid, so afraid I couldn’t move. It seemed like the longest time, and then came the light. So bright it broke me out of my torpor, throwing up one of my arms to shield my eyes. Then I heard shouting joyfully. He’s alive, he’s alive.
I awoke with a start. I’d only had that dream once before, and it was the night before the transition back to realspace that had given my uncle an aneurism. The memory brought tears to my eyes; his death was still raw.
I suddenly shuddered; as if on cue, there was booming in the distance, and crashing through me the vibrations woke everyone up. Dante was expected; he’d been following me along like a puppy recently. Rosecrant was also there, for some reason.
“I needed to sleep, and everywhere else was taken.” He explained. Walking over to the intercom panel, he continued “I’ll try to figure out what that was.”
“It was orbital bombardment.” Dante offered up.
“How can you tell?”
“I’ve been in a sim of it and it’s standard procedure before a planetary invasion.”
“The Eridanian embassy was hit. You’re ambassador now.” Rosecrant spoke up.
The silence that followed was shocked.
For the next several days, the bombardment continued. Any new data we got was sporadic, at best. Dante and I spent most of it sleeping, at least when we could. General Spottiswood had some lunatic scheme to use Dante as a hostage. Rosecrant was busy running around as his aid, directing fortifications and such. I was valuable because I spoke Azharati, but I had no illusions; I’d get a lasgun shot to the head if I didn’t help him carry out his Illiad fantasies.
The bombardment rested for a few days. Information streamed in from the hills: the few remaining observation posts tried to do a count, but lost track. There just weren’t enough of them. They estimated a hundred and twenty or so, and there were more jumping in every day. The rebels hadn’t slowed down their attacks in district nine. A few generals wanted to fire off the remaining orbital defenses, but everyone acknowledged it would have minimal effectiveness, if that. There weren’t enough observation posts to target them effectively. Spottiswood was always meeting someone, scheming, planning. Something, anything to let him win. He was definitely delusional at this point. He thought he could draw them into a land war, exhaust them with a guerrilla campaign while forcing them to focus on a series of grinding sieges. Rosecrant told me everyone knew it wouldn’t work, but were too afraid to say it. That’s fair; I was too.
The bombardment started back up again. We estimated they had a hundred fifty, a hundred sixty ships at that point. After a few days, it slacked off once more.
The dropships descended en masse. A few got shot down by anti-air defenses, but most of those had already been destroyed.
Reconnaissance reported tanks, eight-legged walking things, and thousands upon thousands of armored humanoids looking a bit like Dante. Not exactly; they had dark hair instead of blond. They advanced into the capital, ignoring all the checkpoints and minor forts except for enough troops to keep them bottled up. Those places reported that every man had a lasgun, that their crew served anti-personnel weapons were incredibly nasty, and that the walking things had bigger teeth than the tanks. By nightfall they were besieging the planetary CIC.
They just sat there. They didn’t even jam the radio. Looking back, that was probably intentional. They were attacking the checkpoints and outposts and minor fortifications all night. We kept hearing panicky reports over the radio to the backdrop of “Mneti”. I translated their warcry.
The next day, they cut off the radio. The jamming ended at nighfall, and they took some more outposts while we listened. I finally went to sleep at around midnight. Dante and Rosecrant had been put in a small room; Rosecrant was supposed to kill him if he got the order. Of course, we all know how that turned out.
I awoke at two in the morning to the sounds of laser fire. The explosions it causes in anything it hits is unmistakable. It’s like popcorn popping, directly against your eardrum. It really isn’t any quieter than a firearm.
At two forty five the shooting started dying down, and I was unceremoniously bundled out of bed, still in my boxer shorts, and into the hallway outside my bedroom by an eager young officer in full dress uniform.
“You’re going to go negotiate with them.” He said matter-of-factly. I looked down at my underwear, then up at him, somewhat puzzled.
He immediately realized what I was concerned about. “Oh. Here.” He handed me the tunic from his dress uniform. Another soldier stepped forwards, and strapped a semtex cumber bund around my waist. Then he let me put the jacket on. I must have looked ridiculous, but I had bigger problems. “The cumber bund is a bomb. If you attempt to defect, it will be detonated remotely. You are to attempt to negotiate them into withdrawing. Tell them we have Dante as a hostage.” I didn’t think expecting me to succeed was a particularly sane thing to do at this point, but I also noticed the soldier with a lasgun and the fact that there was a bomb strapped to me, so I just nodded.
I was frog-marched a long while, attracting funny stares the entire way, until I turned a corner and there was a barricade, soldiers manning it with everything up to crew served weapons. I walked forwards with my hands in the air. “I come to negotiate.” I called out in Azharati.
“Then come closer. Let us see each other.” Answered a voice.
The civility of the response shocked me. I decided on a more casual approach, so I stuck my hands in my pockets and found a hole in my left one. I quickly burrowed through it, and discovered that I could reach the detonator. I dedicated myself to disarming it; at the time, I didn’t know how stupid that was, but I knew that the only way to survive was to get away from the bomb and defect.
As I crossed the barricade, an enormous dog surged forwards, with a man riding on top of it. “Hello. I am Flta Marik deFlta deLinnane hetiti tand.”
“Are you perhaps related to Dante Marik deFlta d’Ampati hetiti sempad ie tand?” It was dark, but I could see the family resemblance.
“We are brothers- I the elder. Am I to take from your remark that you have Dante somewhere?”
“Yes. I do know where he is, but, before I tell you, I need assurances for my safety.”
“Reasonable. I’ll take you with us, and Dante will say what to do with you.”
“Reasonable.” I said. I’d managed to pry the detonator away from the semtex by now, but there was still a bit of explosive on it. I was scraping it off.
“Are you reaching for a gun?” Asked a soldier suddenly. I noticed that his lasgun was quite a bit more compact than anything we could produce.
“No. There’s a bomb strapped to me, and I’m trying to disarm it so they can’t blow me up.”
“Get it off him.” Flta said.
A soldier moved forwards, drawing a knife, and inserted it up my back, trying to cut through the ring of semtex. I heard a gunshot, and by some instinct jerked the detonator out to the side, and shouted “First door on the left. The commander thinks you won’t look there.”
The detonator blew. I collapsed. I felt my hand just disappear, my forearm and the left side of my face burn. I dimly heard laser fire and gunshots, but most of what I heard was screams I didn’t initially realize came from me.
The gunfire started dying down, and I heard an explosion in the distance. Dimly, I heard “He told the truth.”
Someone sprayed fire extinguisher over me, and I passed out.
 It was a memory of a time I’d gotten lost in a sea cave as a child. The thing that rescued me had been a local fisherman’s newfoundland. Afterwards, my parents gave him the dog’s weight in gold.
 Incidentally, this is when I first heard elf used as a slur.
 It means “kill”
 Well, at least in theory. The fact that the source of the noise is farther away from you if you’re firing it does make it quite a bit quieter. If you’re near where it hits, though, you’ll be too deaf to hear the snap of electrical contact the discharge makes.
 And nothing over them.
 It was easily the size of a bear.
 Obviously, I refer to the industries of the people from whence I come.