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Orphan Brigade: The Sim War, Book Two

Chapter One

From the Final Interrogation of Lieutenant Jander Mortas, Infantry, Human Defense Force:

INTERROGATOR: You keep referring to the others as your platoon. There were only three of them. A platoon has more than three members.
MORTAS: We were marooned together. We found water together. We stole food together, and we fought for our lives together. I was their lieutenant, and they were my platoon.
INTERROGATOR: Except for one of them.
MORTAS: No matter how many times you ask, I can only tell the truth one way. I had no idea Trent [Pause] the thing that was pretending to be Captain Amelia Trent [Pause] was an alien.
INTERROGATOR: That’s convenient, considering you brought it to a Corps headquarters.
MORTAS: You know, you talk pretty tough for a guy whose face I’ve never seen. How many times have you questioned me? How about sitting across from me just once?
INTERROGATOR: You brought a previously unencountered alien entity to the Twelfth Corps main headquarters, an alien that had assumed the form of Captain Amelia Trent and was carrying a deadly plague virus. You had spent several days and nights in close proximity to the alien, and you still maintain you had no idea it wasn’t human.
MORTAS: You people didn’t know either. Not until the two of us were locked inside those decon tubes. It took whatever scan you put us through before you figured out she wasn’t human, and you’re surprised I didn’t know she was a—what did you call her?—a previously unencountered alien entity.
INTERROGATOR: There were no indications of any kind that a member of your party was an infiltrator working for the enemy?
MORTAS: She saved me from a giant water snake that tried to eat me and Corporal Cranther. She took care of Gorman when his blisters were giving him holy hell, and after Cranther was killed she was my right hand the rest of the way. We wouldn’t have been able to steal the ship that got us off that planet without her, and she killed one of the Sim pilots herself. [Throat clearing] And when Gorman died, just after we took off, she convinced me it wasn’t my fault. [Pause] Not exactly the acts of an enemy.
INTERROGATOR: You still don’t seem to understand that this alien was deceiving you the entire way, Lieutenant.
MORTAS: She was more decent to me than anyone here has been. You kept me in that tube for hours, even though I was injured and starving. Asking the same questions over and over and threatening to kill me. Maybe I should wonder if you’re human. Any of you.
INTERROGATOR: We’ve given you food and medical attention. And we’re still trying to understand how it was that you brought an enemy to the main headquarters of the Glory Corps, a corps headquarters that was a closely kept secret until your arrival.
MORTAS: I already answered that. Several times. Corporal Cranther knew where Glory Main was. [Pause] Except he just called it Main.
INTERROGATOR: No Spartacan Scout would have been given that location.
MORTAS: According to Cranther, Command loses track of the Spartacans all the time. He said you headquarters types basically forget you dropped them somewhere, and that they have to find their own way back to safety. Knowing the location of the safe places helps, way out here.
INTERROGATOR: So the alien had nothing to do with finding the headquarters?
MORTAS: I already told you. Gorman was a mapmaker, a chartist. Cranther gave me the location of Glory Main and I gave it to Gorman. He plugged the coordinates into the ship’s system, we got off that awful planet [Pause] and then he died.
INTERROGATOR: Which left you and the alien.
MORTAS: Not for long. You incinerated her right in front of me.
INTERROGATOR: Am I detecting disapproval, Lieutenant?
MORTAS: There were four of us at the start, and I managed to get one of them to Glory Main alive. You have no idea what we went through, the hunger, the walking, the Sims hunting us, how four complete strangers became a unit. How they became my platoon. That means Trent was the last member of my platoon. And you killed her.
INTERROGATOR: She was an alien, and an enemy.
MORTAS: I didn’t know that. Don’t you get it? I thought she was Captain Amelia Trent, a Force psychoanalyst. I promised her I’d get her off that planet, that I’d get her to safety. I did it, too. And then I watched you pussies kill her by remote control, trapped in that tube. You killed the only remaining member of my platoon. You murdered my platoon.
INTERROGATOR: You make no sense at all, Mortas.
MORTAS: You murdered my platoon.
End of transcription