Personal Log, Lt. Joy Eleven, 9603.22
"The Lonely Bull". A song fragment - a fraction of a melody - written for a single valveless brass instrument. The humans wrote many such sequences when the straight horn was a primary means of conveying orders on the battlefield. Some sequences convey movement, some sadness, some glory, some death. For me, "The Lonely Bull" is unique in conveying them all.
The cry celebrates a human death ritual, a 'sport' where armed humans fight a beast. The beast is the faster, the stronger, the hardier, and can kill with a single thrust. The humans have the advantage. The bull has a single mode of attack, and poor vision. The humans can anticipate. The ritual of death is centered on the human knowing the beast's movements, on inflicting pain, exhaustion, anger, and in time death.
Gylan Kadar seems less a general, less a terrorist, but rather a matador. A cape is easier to see than a sword. Distract the beast with the cape. Let it associate it's pain with the cape. Step aside at the last moment. Use the sword.
I would have liked to have defeated him with vision, with intelligence. I wanted so much to guess his next move, to have anticipated, to have been ahead of him, just the once. I wanted to charge the man, not the cape, to have guessed from which direction pain was to have come, to have landed the one solid blow which is all that is necessary when you are the beast.
I failed in that. We all did. Yet we survived. Not on vision. Not on intelligence. We just put our heads down one more time, and charged when he planned on our having nothing left. Engineering restarted the warp core. The shuttle expedition did what we had to. Strength, stamina, and just plain stubbornness can be virtues too.
The matador taunts me still. The beast, bloodied, survives. A bugle cry echoes among the naked stars.