1) a solemn usu. formal calling upon god/gods to witness to the truth of what one says or to witness that one sincerely intends to do what one says.
2) a solemn attestation of the truth or inviolability of one's words.
( Some Bonds... Are Stronger Than Others)
The first thing he felt was an extreme sense of disorientation, followed by the immediate command of his stomach to expel what little he had eaten on the ground in front of him. He was on his knees, heaving and retching into the dirt in front of him, the stench of vomit wafting up to his nostrils and making him gag even more. He lifted a hand up to wipe his mouth off, staggering back from the sight of his own sickness. The leather of his glove had the distinct flavor of dirt, not a pleasant taste in the least. He looked around, realizing for the first time that he knew this place. He lifted his head and could hear the faint sound of the waves breaking against the cliff.
"I know where I am, but where am I? Why is this place so familiar to me?" he thought.
He struggled to his feet, bracing himself against the weapon at his side. It was his; although how he knew this, he could not say. He scanned the area around him, looking for any signs of life. In the distance, he could barely make out a building. It wasn't fair to call it a building, it was more like a complex, huge and sprawling, with little tendrils reaching out to violate the land around it. It, too, was familiar. Fixing his gaze on the object looming against the mountains, he began to walk. It was a long and arduous journey, aggravated by the wounds of his body and vacancy of his mind.
Eventually, he reached a tall gate. It opened onto a meticulously groomed courtyard. Inside he could see people moving about, fixated on a destination and paying him little heed. Maybe one of them would stop and help him if he managed to get close enough. One hesitant step at a time he walked onto the stately grounds. At first, nobody noticed the lone figure making its way down the walkway and toward the main entrance.
A shriek pierced the air as a young woman looked at the man in horror. Instantly, uniformed men and women, many of who were pointing weapons at him, surrounded him. There was much confusion; yelling and screaming abounded. It made no sense to him; the words were formless, nonsensical. There was no denying the hatred in the tone, however.
"Drop your weapon! I said drop it!"
"Fucking scum! How dare you set foot here?"
"Someone call the Instructors!"
"Help! Someone help us!"Over and over, they screamed and yelled, throwing taunts and punches in equal measure. All he could do was drop to the ground, his weapon useless by his side, cowering like an animal. He drew his arms over his head to protect himself, curling up in a vain attempt to protect his chest and stomach from kicks.
Then, through the fray, he heard a voice, solid and commanding. He felt his attackers flung away by some superior force. At long last, there was only peace. He felt something like a warm wind pass over his body. He didn't move, fearful of re-igniting the pain that somehow subsided with each passing moment. Then he heard the whispers.
"Oh my, is it...?"
"I never thought..."
"Can he... infirmary?"
"... mission... Gone... three days."
"No choice. Do it."
Mercifully, he passed out the instant they attempted to lift him to his feet.
It was like a dream. One moment, on a routine mission, the next, sitting in front of a static-filled com screen, looking disbelievingly at his second in command. It was enough to justify leaving said mission and returning home, leaving two bewildered Field Commanders and a handful of troops wondering if he had lost his mind. As he pulled into the garage, he resisted the urge to bolt down the hallways to the infirmary. It wouldn't set a good example and the likelihood of the situation changing drastically in the additional two minutes it would take him to walk was highly improbable.
As he reached the hallway that led to the infirmary, a man stood, waiting. He nodded quickly in greeting, and they walked together, slowly, toward the doors, allowing time for conversation.
"Any change in status?" he asked.
"Not a bit, unfortunately. She's been in there with him since it happened. Sleeps on the cot in the office," the man replied.
"That's dedicated of her," he said wryly.
"Tch, it's not like that and you know it. Don't be such an ass when you go in there, or I'll thump you good," the man stated flatly.
"Whatever," he said as they reached the door.
Walking over to where a young, blonde, medical officer stood, he leaned over her shoulder, looking in at the patient who lay comatose on the bed.
"You've never been able to scare me like that," she remarked dryly. Flipping through various medical charts, she found what she was looking for and pulled it up to display it on the screen before her.
"Wasn't trying to," he said. "I suppose I just wanted to see it with my own eyes."
Pointing to the chart she had pulled, she resized it and displayed it next to a recently completed bioscan. "Well, we've run multiple scans and compared it with the last known medical records. They're an exact match," she said, frowning.
"Well, doesn't that just make it official then?" he asked.
"You're not listening. I said the records are an exact match," she reiterated.
"And? Come on, quit the intellectual game; spit it out already," he replied crossly, looking over at the sedated figure on the bed.
"Meaning," she said, sighing heavily, "that the last five years, for whatever reason, haven't existed for him. By all physical indications, he hasn't aged. There should have been cell deterioration, growth indicators, or drops in certain hormone levels. None of the markers indicate that he's older than nineteen."
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"I've been a licensed physician for two years now and you ask me this? I wouldn't have said it if I wasn't sure. I can't tell you what potential psychological ramifications we're looking at here, but speaking as a doctor, I will swear to you that he hasn't aged more than two months or so since the last time he was in here five years ago."
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