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Title: A Hero's Tale
Author: skeddy_kat
Rating: G
Summary: In a distant future, a storyteller spins a tale. Listen carefully and you may recognize some of those she tells of.

So, you wish to hear a story? I will tell you one from before my grandmothers’ grandmother’s grandmother’s time, during the Great Wraith Awakening. It is the story of a hero, a warrior, a leader forced by fate to walk alone. He was ruthless, steadfast in loyalty, and he demanded the best from himself and those he led.

He wasn’t always alone. For a brief time he traveled with companions, some of whom have also passed into legend. His scientist was never far from the hero’s side. The scientist had the best mind of his generation and pledged himself to the hero’s cause. A beautiful female warrior accompanied them. Small of stature, yet mighty in skill, she fought to avenge wrongs done her people and her father’s death at the hands of the Wraith. The last of our hero’s inner circle was little more than a boy. His laughing eyes and easy smile masked the warrior within. In his tragically short life he fought many enemies, both human and Wraith. Ties of brotherhood and duty bound our hero’s companions to him, just as he was bound to them. They were family.

Our hero had a dark spot, a blemish on his record. A mission went badly, as he had warned them it would. Men died. His men. His leaders took pleasure in making him a scapegoat. He had always been a bit to self-assured, too cocky for their tastes. They welcomed his fall.

After his disgrace he entered a virtual exile. He wound up far from home with a small group of loyal soldiers. It was in exile that he allowed the darker side of his character, a side he had struggled to control, to run free. The stories from those times include dark deeds: mistreatment of prisoners of war, unsanctioned missions, and death.

Twice the hero tried to regain his lost status. Twice he came within touching distance of his lost honor. Twice he failed. His world was no longer home. The companions who had been his family were gone, one lost to the enemy, one to dreams of vengeance, and one to betrayal. He gave himself over to darkness and let his rage run free.

Finally, on a nothing of a planet, he faced his personal demon – the man who had cost him everything. The Lantean Sheppard. They tell stories of Sheppard and his team on a myriad of worlds; some paint him destroyer, some paint him savior. Perhaps he was neither, or both – it matters not to this tale.

The hero forced Sheppard’s surrender by cleverly entrapping his friends. The hero offered Sheppard the lives of his friends if he would only forfeit his own. Ever deceitful, Sheppard made the trade, but he cheated. Sheppard and his people had stolen and hoarded Ancestral magic from the rightful heirs. Sheppard cloaked himself in the magic and was rendered invulnerable. He charmed the people of the planet to overpower our hero and the pitiful remains of his once mighty fighters. Then, brazenly, in the afternoon sun, Sheppard shot the hero dead and left his body lying in the dusty street.

What became of our hero? Well, despite all he had lost, two remained loyal. They returned his body home to bury it in secret. They swore that one day, when our land was no longer ruled by betrayers, they would entomb him in state as he deserved.

It took three generations, but their descendants fulfilled their vow. Acastus Kolya was reburied in a place of honor. Yes, Acastus Kolya, the fabled commander whose statue we now sit beside.

Time has a way of altering stories or making the truth hard to sort. Official histories alternately beatify or vilify dependent on the whims of policy and politicians. Stories passed by word of mouth subtly morph until years render them unrecognizable. But fear not. My story, of course, is true.
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