Roger Norman sat at his desk in his quarters, pondering as he looked out into the stars through the video membrane before him. He was focusing on a particular constellation that he knew well as a child on his home planet Mercedes. Of course from where he was now it looked vastly different, the only reason he could recognize it was because he had just spent forty minutes calculating its position respective to the Zerachiel. That constellation was always special to him, when he was a child all he wanted to do was look into the past. He was an amateur archeologist at a very young age and wished above all else to set foot on Earth. The constellation Faraheid held the one star system that was connected to Sol. “The Gate System” as it was called, held the only gate in the Perseus arm of the Milky Way Galaxy that led back to the cradle of humanity in the Orion arm. It was an ancient relic from the expansion of humanity and was fiercely guarded. Nevertheless the Ehud succeeded where the Lestoriate of the Protectorate wars failed centuries before. The Ehud knew that the one thing that could possibly buy them the smallest hope of winning the war was to cut the Tribunal from the Orion arm. It would have been any tacticians master plan, however it had been attempted nearly four hundred years ago and was a massive failure. The Lestoriates that fought against the Protectorate were hailed for centuries for having planned what should have been a complex and flawless attack on the Gate. Their perfect assault was destroyed when three major vessels defected to the Protectorate during the first weeks of battle. The Ehud mustered a much smaller assault and used a great deal of patience in their attack on the Gate. After years of infiltrating operatives into the staff of the Gate the Ehud attacked with no more than fifty thousand troops, most of which were infantry units that boarded the ring shaped gate from all sides. That was the deciding factor of the operation. Where the Lestoriates concentrated on a massive naval attack, the Ehud operated with hundreds of small troop transports that reached the ring largely intact due to the fact that the point defence weaponry on the Gate had been disabled by moles in the gates maintenance and command crew. Roger was on the Gate when the fighting started. After five years of military service for the Tribunal he was asked where he would like to be stationed next and naturally he chose the Gate. He reminisced at how his squadron was scrambled but couldn’t launch due to sabotaged hangar doors. It wasn’t long before they had acquired weaponry and where readily defending the only connection to the birthplace of Humanity. Roger had not seen much death in his lifetime up to then, but at The Battle of The Gate, he saw something far more fierce than death. When he fought the Ehud on the Gate, in melee combat, he saw in their eyes, in their faces, fearlessness. He saw the kind of fearlessness that can be bred only after all hope has been extinguished. The Ehud seemed like they had all been pushed into a corner so deep and so dark that they would sacrifice all, and fight to the very last man in any circumstance. Roger did not understand how such a large population could all share that same fearlessness, that same sense of lost hope. Roger was not fighting a war for his freedom, in this existence, freedom was where you made it, you had the Universe at your disposal. Roger was an opportunist, he was fighting a war for vengeance. Nevertheless he understood that because of his allegiance to the Tribunal, he was also fighting a war for money, and a war of secrets. Secrets that, if unraveled, could destroy the Empire. He did not know what these secrets were, but he knew “where” they were. They were in the minds of the Tribunal Chancellors, they were within the hull of the Metraton. He knew that because of this fact, the fleet was fighting a lost battle. Even if the Gate were still intact and the Tribunal had every resource at their disposal, they had lost this war. When one fights a war of secrets, ones enemy is only a half of the opponent. The Tribunal may defeat that opponent, they may decimate them, and vaporize every trace of Ehud existence, yet they will never defeat the other opponent. In a war of secrets, one fights truth, and truth always wins. They may bury it in lies, and shackle it to the bottom of the deepest sea of conjuration, yet in time, truth will have won. The Tribunal empire may crumble millennia before its victory, and the power of such a victory may be lost in time, nevertheless, truth will have won. Because of this, Roger’s “mighty fleet” had already lost. He was glad that his true allegiance was to the vengeance he sought. Yet even though the Tribunal had been a useful tool for him to dispense this vengeance, he had felt for a long time that its usefulness was waning. What troubled him more so was that he felt an uneasy guilt. Not for wrongfully joining the Tribunal, or for using its resources for personal interest. Roger felt a deeper guilt, one that stemmed from something he did not want to validate, because he too was fighting the futile war against truth.