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    DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, I'm not making a profit, blahblahblah.

    NOTE: This is another short scene ripped out of context from my still unwritten Deirdre/Santiago Saga. I hope you enjoy anyway.

    * * * * *


    Colonel Corazon Santiago was angry. It wasn't an emotion she was unfamiliar with, but now wasn't really the right time for it. After all, she'd won. Her Spartan forces had swooped into enemy territory and crushed all resistance in one long, glorious march. She should be elated.

    Instead, she was furious.

    And it was all the fault of the woman sitting on the other side of the desk. It was that damn infuriating smile. She should've been afraid or angry or trying to bargain or... or anything. Instead Sister Miriam Godwinson merely smiled serenely.

    It was enough to make Santiago scream. Nevertheless, she made certain not to have her emotions show when she first spoke.


    Godwinson blinked with brief surprise. "I'm sorry?"

    "Why were you there?" Santiago asked. "You knew New Jerusalem was about to fall. Why didn't you flee? Why wait for my soldiers to capture you?"

    "What would have been point of running?" Sister Miriam asked. "God has shown me the error of my ways."

    Santiago managed to suppress a mocking laugh. "Did he now? I thought your god wanted you to invade the University's territory?"

    "It is what I thought He wanted," Miriam admitted. "The Lord does not approve of such atheists."

    "So? How have you 'seen the error of your ways'?" Santiago asked, feeling strangely intrigued.

    "You may think that your decision to invade was based solely on the fear that, once I conquered the University and made their technology my own, my Believers would become too powerful even for your mighty Spartans. But in truth, it was God's hand who guided you."

    "No, I can assure you it really was because we didn't want you to grow too powerful," Santiago said.

    "It was the work of God," Miriam said. "Your campaign went far too smoothly for there to be any other explanation."

    "Careful planning, superior technology, superior numbers and superior training were what won the day," said Santiago.

    But, though she'd never admit it, Santiago felt Miriam did have something of a point. None of her general's best-case scenarios had envisioned such astounding success. Her forces had landed on the Uranium Flats, quickly overpowering several Believer outposts. After that, the army headed south in one unstoppable march towards New Jerusalem. A march made all the easier because the Believers had been unable to disentangle the bulk of their troops from their University front in the east. The war had been over much sooner than anyone had anticipated.

    If it really was over.

    "Believe what you will," said Sister Miriam. "It doesn't really matter. The future matters."

    "Yes," said Santiago. "Your unconditional surrender."

    "My surrender, indeed. But not entirely unconditional."

    "I have you at my mercy," Santiago said, trying not to snarl.

    "You have me at my mercy, but not my faction. My troops still fight both yours and Zakharov's and they will not stop until I say otherwise. And should you decide to kill me, far from demoralising my men, they will fight all the harder and the bases you have managed to take will rise up in blood. You must deal with me now or the violence will continue for a very long time. And Deirdre wouldn't much appreciate that, would she?"

    "You leave her out of this!" Santiago yelled. "She has nothing to do with this!"

    "No? I doubt your Lady was very happy with your pre-emptive strike and now that you've taken my headquarters and captured me you've halted your advance. Due to the influence of your Gaian allies perhaps?"

    Santiago said nothing. It was all true, of course, but she wasn't about to admit that. Not to someone like Miriam in any case.

    "You are Deirdre's hound, Spartan, and she knows how to wield your leash."

    Santiago's eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. "Tell me, do you want to die?"

    "You will not kill me," Miriam said. "I still have much work to do."

    "Yes," said Santiago. "All those conquered bases you still need to return to Zakharov and all those reparations you need to pay."

    "The University is not your ally," said Miriam. "Why would you care about restoring their ungodly glory?"

    Santiago managed a smile. "I'm just a dog obeying the will of her Mistress," she said, taking a perverse delight in the discomfort that flashed across Miriam's face. "There will be peace between the Believers and the University."

    "Zakharov may not want peace," Miriam said.

    "Probably not," said Santiago. "But he's no fool. He'll be returned everything he lost and more and I do not think he would want to go up against a faction protected by Mothers Sparta and Gaia."


    "There is no nevertheless," said Santiago.

    "As you say," said Miriam. "Though the Lord would not support me in war, perhaps He will support me in peace."

    "If that makes you feel better," Santiago muttered. "Now then, onto your new role in our alliance. You will not go against the wishes of either the Lady Skye or myself, you will not declare a Vendetta on anyone, but should we declare a Vendetta or if someone declares one on us your forces will be put under our command in battle."

    "But apart from that I take it I will be free to guide my people as I should?"

    "No," said Santiago. "Our Gaian sisters have some refined sensibilities. You will need to overhaul your economy as well as the way you treat your populace."

    The Colonel watched Miriam's face and could see a comment about the Spartan police state in her eyes. Santiago smiled faintly, daring the woman to put it into words.

    "Of course," said Miriam. "Some adjustements will have to be made."

    "Good," said Santiago. "The bases we conquered in the Uranium Flats will remain Spartan. The rest we'll cede back to you, except for New Jerusalem. I intend to present that base to the Gaians."

    "You can't," said Miriam.

    "I see no reason why not," said Santiago. "It's mine. In any case, you shouldn't worry. I'm certain Deirdre will transform your former headquarters into a true Paradise."

    Miriam's hands clenched into fists. "I have no doubt she will," she said, her voice still calm. "But I must insist that my followers will be allowed free passage through all allied territories."

    "Of course," said Santiago. "Though if you hope for many conversions, you will be disappointed."

    "We shall see. The Lord sadly needed to remind me that the dead cannot be converted, and in so doing He has given me a way to reach the many. I think you will be surprised, Colonel."

    "No, I will not," said Santiago. She pushed a button on her desk and waited patiently until she heard the door behind her slide open. "Captain Hyde, arrange an escort for Sister Godwinson. She is to return to Believer territory where she will announce and immediate cessation of hostilities. Won't you, Miriam."

    "I will."

    "Good," said Santiago. "Make certain she arrives safely and unharmed."


    Santiago watched Captain Hyde walk past her, help Godwinson out of her chair, then walk past her again as they left the room. She breathed out slowly once she was certain she was alone.

    She realised she'd better start arranging for a Council meeting to inform the other factions of the new state of affairs.

    After all, the war was over.

    The politics could begin.
    "I'm too young and too male to be the mother of a seventeen year old female me!"