Disclaimer

Characters and events depicted herein are fictitious and similarity to actual persons living or dead is coincidental

Prologue pt 1

The girl stood in front of the two massive oak doors leading to the Great Hall, alone in the long stone hallway. She had been at parade rest for the last twenty minutes, her breath clouding in the cool air as she waited for the doors to open. Fiercely the girl suppressed a shiver, exerting tight control over her body. It was something she had taught herself to do early on during the long months of basic training in the icy regions of northern Sweden, her father's homeland. Her instructors had been merciless with anyone who had shown what they considered to be a sign of weakness.

Today is the day, she thought to herself. Today the life that I have chosen for myself will begin in earnest. Today I will become a warrior.

Barely had she completed the thought when the doors before her unlocked with an audible click, and as they swung open on well-greased hinges the girl snapped to attention. Taking a deep breath, she strode forward into the Great Hall, her clipped steps echoing in the huge room. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, scattering the sunlight that streamed in through tall stained glass windows into brilliant showers of blue, red, and green. Her five instructors stood at attention in a line facing her at the far end of the hall. Behind them were the six men on the Board of Elders, three on each side of an all-black ceremonial throne on which sat the Counsellor, resplendent in long crimson robes, his right hand grasping a wooden staff.

The girl stopped six feet in front of her teachers in accordance with her earlier instructions. The tallest of the five stepped forward, turning smartly as he came to stand beside her. The other four instructors did an abrupt about-turn, stepping to either side as the girl and her escort moved to approach the throne. She fell to one knee, head bowed, while the man beside her remained standing and addressed the Counsellor. "May I present to my lord the one we call the Lynx. Since we began basic training two years ago she has maintained consistently high scores in every class she has taken. Her list of achievements is considerable, and includes the winning of both academic and physical competitions. She is our top student in Mathematics, Language, and Science. Against her kin she is as yet unbeaten in hand-to-hand combat, and is remarkably capable with the knife. Indeed, in the annual close quarter battle tournament the Lynx placed fifth overall, defeating opponents several years above her. Rarely do we ever see such a high level of ability so early on in life. She has asked to be inducted into the Air Wing and we her instructors are pleased to support her request. We have the utmost confidence that she will prove to be a supreme asset to the Front." His speech concluded, the instructor bowed deeply and took his place with the other teachers.

The Counsellor nodded and touched his staff to the girl's head. "Rise, young one," he said, his deep voice reverberating through the hall. She stood up, her eyes meeting the cool blue-eyed gaze directed at her from the throne.

"Today you begin your sixteenth year of life," intoned the Counsellor. "Thus far you have had little influence in deciding your future; your potential was identified at an early age and two years ago you were placed into basic training. Now, however, the time has come for you to determine this stage of your Lifepath; will you swear allegiance to the Krigsmakten, or will you serve with honour in the civilian sector? Make your decision wisely, young one. Your request to enter the Air Wing has been considered and approved. I must, however, remind you that betrayal of the Oath of Allegiance will be met with the punishment decreed by the Masters. On every occasion of such treachery in the history of the glorious Lunar Front thus far, this has been terminal. Do you understand?"

"Yes."

"Do you still wish to enter the Krigsmakten?" There was no hesitation in the response.

"I do."

"Very well. Do you solemnly swear to follow the Vision, devote yourself to the Great Cause, and serve the Masters who direct our every step?"

"With all my heart," replied the girl, her voice strong. The question was repeated.

"With all my soul." The question was repeated again.

"With all my strength," was the final, heartfelt reply.

"Then upon your Oath of Allegiance I welcome you, the Lynx, to the Front. Prepare to receive your Mark." The Counsellor turned to the Elder immediately to his left, in whose hand was a small tube-like device the end of which tapered to a thick needle-like projection. "Proceed." The Elder stepped forward, firmly placing the device against the top of the girl's right hand and pressing a button. There was a hiss and she felt a sharp pinprick as a tiny microchip was injected under her skin. When activated by a suitable signal the chip would broadcast her identity as a member of the Lunar Front's armed forces. Impossible to forge and utterly reliable, the system was used for security and as a means of corporate identity; those who had the mark were part of the Krigsmakten. Those who didn't, weren't.

Inwardly burning with exhilaration over her new status, the girl maintained her calm discipline. She knew that the ceremony was not yet over. Now comes the really interesting part.

"In a short while, young one, you will undergo the Rite of Meeting," said the Counsellor. "You will be visited by one or more of the Masters in a vision. They are wiser than wise, and you would do well to heed their counsel. We will view and record what you see so that the guidance that you receive can be incorporated into your future training. Follow us." He rose from his throne, the Elders accompanying him out of the Great Hall.