"Aye, I was there lad. I was there that day in the Valley of Tears on Rai Thule Doom. Twelve hundred of us went in, but only three hundred made it out. BUT!"

The old man punctuates his words by quaffing the rest of his Numerian Brandy. The young historian leans closer to the old soldier and turns up the gain on his recorder.

"BUT, it was the first time anyone got out. Up till then Morlock's demon hoardes were rolling across the galaxy like a dirty nova. No one had been able to stand up to his dark magics and vile servants. Lord Noc showed him he did. He got some intel from Lord Angle's recon units. The demon general Grimbrow was be very methodical about taking systems and Rai Thule Doom was obviously next on the list".

The crafty old veteran taps the side of his empty glass and smiles at the young man before him, "Nothing like Numerian Brandy to lubricate the memory is there?"

Niles cracks a grin and motions to a waiterbot. The machine hovers away to fetch the old man some more refreshment. "I can see this story is going to cost me a small fortune."

"Money well spent, says I", the serverbot buzzes back over to the old man's glass and delicately fills it with the cool blue alcohol.

"Ahhhhh, now that's more like it. Now the thing about Rai Thule Doom was it was only inhabited by a few thousand palladium miners and they was well dug in. Always had a soft spot in my heart for miners. Me granddad was a sulfer miner on Talos IV and these boys was no different. They were waiting for a fight and weren't scared of nothing, demon or human. So Lord Noc figured since he didn't have to worry about no civilians than this was the place to send Grimbrow and his troops back to the hell from which they came."

"The Steller Wind delivered us to the solar system and we went planetside in four troop transports. We dug in in the far south end of the Valley of Tears and put a distress beacon in the very center. Old Grimbrow went right for it like a maggot to dead meat."

"Lord Noc had the plan figured out real pretty, except the bit about General Grimbrow showing up with five times more troops than expected. By the time we realized it was too late. The battle went on for a whole day. We cut 'em in half during the first three hours. Old Grimbrow got quite a surprise when Lord Noc's Technomagic made meat of his demon kin."

Niles leaned closer at the hesitancy in the old man's voice, "Was that the first time you saw Technomagic?"

The veteran spits in disgust and leans back, "It was the first time I saw magic, true magic of any kind. It was weird, all them lights and energy and what not playing about everything. Damned vile stuff I'll tell you. Not like a blaster. A blaster's got heat and energy from a power cell. Who know's where all that arcane shit comes from."

"Anyway, like I was saying old Grimbrow got quite a shock. His dark mages were up in his shadow vessels trying to conjure up a fear storm, but Lord Noc had it check mated with a scatter orb. When Grimbrow didn't see his enemy running for the hills like babes I bet he experienced some fear himself."

"He was killed wasn't he?"

The old man smiles like he's remembering an old love, "It was a beautiful thing. It was right at the end. Lord Noc finally called in air support. We finally outnumbered our enemy... that's how many we killed that day. Our Retribution fighter squads decimated their shadow vessels and old General Grimbrow was left standing on that pinnacle all by his lonesome. I could see Lord Noc from down in the valley. He was pretty spent looking, but he pulled something out from way down deep and..."

Niles eyes go wide, "And? And what?"

The old veteren breaks out into basso guffaws, "He blew that old Grimbrow into a thousand bits from his technomagical arm. God it was beautiful."

"And that was it?"

"And that was it. We won Rai Tule Doom and the republic rallied around Lord Noc. You're a historian, you know the rest."

The two men look at each other with knowing smiles and raise their glasses. "Here's to you old man, thank you."

"Me pleasure lad, me pleasure"