The Praedian Records

J.G. Phoenix

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Fleeing Victory #5

by | Oct 26, 2021 | FV, Pinned, Short Stories

Sisters Sandoval

“Ah, you’ve come to.”

As Fran came to her senses, the first words she heard were in her mother tongue. She could remember running for her life; Fran apparently hadn’t gotten very far on her own. She heard aircraft engines and the whistling of large missiles getting louder and louder as she tried to get away. She could feel the enormous footfalls of the colossus Cordoba as it quickly caught up to her. Needless to say, Jinete Team’s leader had questions.

“What happened? How did I get here?” A quick scan of the room revealed that the scout leader was in an infirmary. It had been ages since Fran visited one in person. She wasn’t in the habit of getting injured, much less knocked cold.

The clinician standing at her bedside smiled as if he had an amusing joke ready and waiting for his confused patient. Fran actually recognized the man. It was Doctor Gil, a man responsible for more than just treating the wounded and handling medicine. “Something interesting happened according to the reports,” he told her.

“Interesting?” Fran cocked an eyebrow, wondering where he was going with this.

Gil nodded. “Yes. From what I read, the Cordoba didn’t retreat right away. It ran over and scooped you, first. Only then did it activate its displacement drive. The bombs were probably already exploding all around you both by the time the drive was activated. That would explain the damage the Cordoba suffered, as well as our finding you unconscious.”

“Cordoba saved me?” No one could tell Fran she wasn’t grateful, but why in the world would the colossus endanger itself to protect one doomed scout leader? She supposed that her death in particular would have severe knock-on effects for her family. It would also cripple the Jinete Team. Even so, the Cordaeans couldn’t be allowed to destroy the Cordoba, especially not during its final trials. That was just unthinkable.

“Doctor, was Cordoba programmed for rescue tactics?”

“I don’t know,” Gil shrugged, “I’m sure they’re looking into that as we speak.”

That was Fran’s cue to get back to work. She slid her legs off of the bed and braced herself, fully expecting to feel lightheaded once she was up. “I should look into it, too.” Sure enough, she had to hold still for a moment to keep her balance. “If that’s all, I’ll be going now.”

“Try to get some more rest, Captain Sandoval. You won’t be back on duty for some time yet. Oh and don’t forget to make your report. Yours is the only one they’re still waiting for.”


By the time Fran made it back to her quarters at Fort baldi, she had been greeted by no fewer than twenty people. Most were relieved she was alright. Others were celebrating some supposed victory, something Fran found perplexing. While the Cordaeans had retreated, it was obvious to her, and likely to her superiors, the Cordaeans had learned everything they needed to about Cordoba. That would drastically limit its effectiveness going forward. The only thing worth celebrating was Cordoba’s survival.

The door to Fran’s quarters opened to a barren, sterile room. All she found there was a bed, a chair and a desk. On a temporary assignment like hers, Fran hardly stood out in that regard. The only reason she wasn’t in a barracks was due to her rank in the Munican Army. Private quarters, however dull, were her due, and they were always inside the HQ buildings wherever officers were stationed.

First things first, Fran thought as she filled out a field report at her desk. She was as objective on matters as she could be, which led her to one gut wrenching conclusion near the end of her report. She had been careless with the Cordaean crewman. Even if Audaz, her personal draque, had the man pinned, she should have stopped him from relaying anything to his superiors. Commune specialists were everywhere on the battlefield. She should have knocked him out, maybe even shot him.

Poor Audaz. The draque she had ridden since her days in training leaped to mind as she wrapped up her report. Draques were practically immune to small arms fire, but a round from an arma of almost any size was potentially deadly. The last she saw of Audaz, he was sprawled out on the ground and helpless. Maybe he was the only one lost to the bombers. The others had plenty of time to fall back.

Fran stood up from her desk, report signed and folded for convenience. “Alright. I’ll hand this in and then see Cordoba and its handlers.”

Fort Baldi was situated just outside of officially recognized Munican territory, but it was well within their ability to defend from the Cordaeans and other foreign threats alike. This allowed massive expansions over the years, expansions that included deep underground facilities. One of these facilities was a hangar dedicated to the Munican Colossus Cordoba and its equipment. If that machine was anywhere on the base, it would be there, away from prying eyes. Fran suspected some of the higher ups would be there, learning what they could about Cordoba’s antics. Her sister, Lieutenant Colonel Valencia Sandoval, might be there as well.

As Fran entered the hangar, she saw Cordoba surrounded by scaffolding and sparks as repair teams raced to undo the damage inflicted by the Cordaean bombers. Overlooking the whole scene nearby was a group of officers, including Fran’s sister and the General of the Army. She was hesitant to approach. General Cruz being here was quite the shock, but eventually Fran found her nerve.

“Captain,” Valencia greeted her with a nod.

“Lieutenant Colonel,” Fran saluted her older sister and the other officers, “Generals.”

Although Fran was the younger of the two, she and Valencia might have passed for twins with a little effort. Even now, Fran’s facade, her raven black hair, was beginning to fade. If she left it alone, her hair would eventually go back to matching the Lieutenant Colonel’s vibrant silver hair.

Major General Cano took a step forward with open arms and a big smile. “So you’re the damsel the Cordoba decided to save. Well met.”

“We were going to send for you once you were awake,” Valencia said, glancing briefly at Cordoba.

“I already handed in my report, but I’ll answer any questions you have,” Fran said, straightening up. She didn’t know whether to expect easy questions, or an outright barrage.

“Hmph,” General Cruz turned fully to face Fran. “I figured you would be the one with questions, Captain. We have only one for you.”

“Just one?” Fran winced. She didn’t mean to say that out loud, but it was too late to hide her surprise.

“Indeed.” General Cruz stepped out in front of the other officers and approached the railing overlooking the Cordoba. Fran followed his gaze to the massive machine and the work being done on it. “It’s almost time. Once all systems are fully online, Operation: Enduring Fury will begin. Lieutenant Colonel Sandoval will be made second in command of the Cordoba and all supporting units. Command will go to Colonel Berti.”

Fran only had to wonder briefly what any of this had to do with her.

“How would you feel about the Jinete Team also being transferred to the new unit, Captain?”

“You want my opinion, sir?” This was unusual. Fran hadn’t known higher ranking officers in the army to consider anyone’s personal preferences. General Cruz, whom she had only just met, was different for whatever reason. “I certainly wouldn’t mind.”

“That matter is settled, then,” Cruz nodded at her.

Only a few officers looked put off by the idea, but they wouldn’t dare speak out about it now. Maybe that nod wasn’t just for her.

“Now Captain, did you have any questions about the Cordoba? Now that you’re in our new ‘Cordoba Corp,’ you’ll have a full briefing in the morning along with the rest of Jinete. Anything you have on your mind right now can be addressed right here.”

Fran supposed her main reason for coming here was to better understand the colossus. Before the Cordaeans made their push toward the Rojo Mountains, all she was told was that the Cordoba would be performing more tests in battle, using a dusk weaver storm for concealment. The Jinete Team was to wait until it was safe to move in, and survey the results. Everything was going fine until the third attack. The Cordaeans found the dusk weaver and blew it up, exposing the Cordoba in the process. Then … then something strange happened.

“Cordoba saved me from the attack,” Fran said, “I was wondering why.”

“Me too,” Cruz said, barely resisting a chuckle, “but if the Cordoba’s programmers aren’t just covering for each other, it’s not something as simple as a ‘rescue’ subroutine for high profile officers. No, this is apparently something in the prime program. It is a core part of the Cordoba’s runic brain. Of course, that means there’s no switch anywhere that we can flip on or off to control that type of behavior.”

“Cordoba spent valuable time trying to get me out of there. It endangered itself for one officer, General. I don’t even know if it’s because I’m an officer or if it was just trying to save one person. Are we sure that’s not going to be a problem in the future?”

“While I hesitate to call this quirk of the Cordoba’s a design flaw, it will greatly impact our ability to integrate the platform into our regular forces. Don’t let it bother you, Captain. We’ve always worked around our limitations. This is no different. We do need to run one additional test; we need to know what it will do when a direct order conflicts with this little ‘savior quirk.'”

Fran agreed. The Cordoba’s actions had been worth it, this time, but what if it tried to save someone else and got itself destroyed in the process?

“Was there anything else, Captain? If not I’ll let your sister handle the rest.”

[Intruder Alert]

[Intruder Alert]

[Intruder Alert]

Fran’s eyes went wide in shock.

“An intruder?” Cruz’s head tilted slightly.

“At Fort Baldi?” Major General Cano said, “How is that possible?”

Intruders at Fort Baldi was a terrible sign. The implications were too numerous to even deal with at the moment. They had to focus on getting a handle on the situation first. Most of the high ranking officers present were beside themselves.

Valencia remained stoic, and Fran noticed her sister pulling her gloves tighter and tighter, something she only did when she was gearing up for a fight.

“Fran, we’re going,” Valencia said, starting off ahead of her sister.

“Understood,” Fran fell in behind. It felt like nothing had changed since she joined the army. Even as teenagers, their roles were always the same: Fran would find what they were looking for and Valencia would handle the dirty work.

“Leave this to us, General. We’ll coordinate the defense and deal with the intrusion, whether it’s just one or one hundred.”

General Cruz seemed just fine with the idea. “Get it done, then. I’m looking forward to a favorable report.”





  1. Fleeing Victory #4 | The Praedian Records - […] To be continued […]
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