Clariont Battle Ensign.
Clariont Battle Ensign
Flown By Militry Bases And Ships.
Assault On City (IbiLxikoNa-89db47).
Clariont Battle Ensign.
Clariont Battle Ensign
Flown By Militry Bases And Ships.
REF 63RD Marine Headquarters
Simon's Folly
Proxima Alpha
23 March 2488
Capt FREERAR studied the reports carefully; Four attempts made; 228TH Infantry's assault was an absolute debacle, and the bodies of the dead couldn't even be collected from the
City 3.
surface. Though not as bad a catastrophe, 49TH Armor's attempt was, never the less, and utter failure. Task Force Delta Zulu Niner's mix of VT's, VHT's, standard armor, and infantry, supported by intensive orbital fire support, had failed completely, though at least in Niner's case all the troops were accounted for at the end of the day. The last attempt, Special Project 993, landed over 10,000 automated drones in an attempt to breach the perimeter; One did get through and continued transmitting data as much as 26 minutes later before the data feed closed.
"It is believed the planetary defenses were built in response to one or more as yet-unidentified threat, probably the one REPULSE "As REPULSE penetrated the previously identified 40-mile kill line, one battery opened fire. This single blast blew away the shields, then subsequent shields before they could even fully form. By the time REPULSE had penetrated the 30-mile mark, she had been blasted away; Even her specially built bow had been disintegrated."
It's so obvious, Meehyck thought. Why didn't we realize this the first time? As Meehyck drafted his initial proposal, his worries continued. But his excitement grew as well; The opportunity to land on a new planet wasn't one to be ignored, especially a hotly contested, combat landing. And, Meehyck had his own alternative agenda- Especially for Part 4.
Joint Chief's Board of War
REF Militry High Command Headquarters
Council Station
Jove Anchorage #1 Sol
18 November 2488
A Perytonian.
A Perytonian.
"Capt. Let me see if I understand you correctly." General VIEERS was not amused. And it showed. "You are proposing we make a massed, stealth, attack. Is this- Cor-Rec- T?" she asked, unbelieving what she'd just heard.
But the captain didn't begin to rise to the bait. "Yes ma'am that is precisely what I propose" he answered confidently- Almost arrogantly.
Admiral MAKVITE, however, was intrigued. "Walk us through it like a press conference, Captain" she ordered, her arms crossed under her breasts- Which, despite her years over the captain, he couldn't help but notice.
"No, Admiral, I think we've heard enough nonsense. Captain, you are dismissed." With that, General VIEERS began to shut down her workstation.
But the admiral wouldn't have gotten her stars if she'd wilted to such little criticism as this- Nor would she have gotten them if she hadn't learned, long ago, how not to step on dicks when she could avoid it. "General, we have other business to discuss" was all Captain FREERAR heard as he walked out. Not that he really cared about it; His proposal had been rejected, but perhaps there was another way...
After the captain had left, VIEERS spoke. "Alright, Ahmanda, what's on your mind?"
"Gerty, we should hear him out. Fully. Meet me half-way on this; Give him one full hearing, no holds barred, hot seat, third degree and all. If he can hold what he's got, we at least allow preparations for a trial run."
VIEERS leaned back in her seat, hands clasped in her lap, and took a deep breath, then sighed it out. Her eyes wandered over the collection of generals and admirals around her. "Does anyone else have an idea about this?"
Of the twelve flag officers, the only male, only human (and half-T'sentraedi, at that), and only Aero-Spacer Forcer, General REIKEI spoke up. "It sounds like a suicide mission."
VIEERS shook her head. "He's or rather he was Thirty Second Marine."
"Well, be that as it may, he wouldn't even have been born by then. His parents may have been children still. Surely, they wouldn't have met. Admiral, with all due respect, I agree with the General. Captain FREERAR'S plan, while novel, simply isn't feasible. No plan is. City's simply an uncrackable nut." With that, General REIKEI fell silent.
It was that comment, that the fully industrialized city-planet IbiLxikoNa-89db47, commonly called "City." was "Uncrackable," that swung Gertrude VIEERS around; After a sort pause to consider, she continued. "Ok. Ahmanda, we will give him a shot. ONE, shot, to be sure. General REIKEI, I want you to take a 'personal' interest. Give him as much advice as you can to prepare for his next presentation. Play it that you are going behind our backs, though, I want to continue to play opposition. That is, unless one of you would like to volunteer?" 5 hands went up. "Good, the more opposition he can get through, the better. General, how much time do you think you would need?"
Marcus thought about it. "I'd need at least a week just to make contact. A month, probably more, to go whatever he already has. A few months to sort through it... I suppose, conservatively, I could have him presentation ready in six to eight months."
"Alright. We'll re-explore his proposition in a year." With that, the meeting adjourned.
Joint Chief's Board of War
REF MAF Headquarters
Council Station
Jove Anchorage #1 Sol
22 November 2488
To the General REIKEI'S surprise, and slight dismay, Captain FREERAR'S proposal was fully constructed, and required only presentational revision; With one exception. Part 4.
"Meehyck, I'm telling you, this will never fly. In fact, you'd be lucky if they didn't prefer charges against you for suggesting it."
"General, I understand, but I need to draw the recruits from somewhere. You remember last years solicitation for FBX volunteers?"
"No sir, not particularly. Please refresh my memory."
"Well, sir, they put out a solicitation for volunteers to FBX 21555320. 200,000 men were needed for a small-scale mission to rescue some pro-UGC civies on the planet. There was less than 100 volunteers. City makes FBX look like a Sunday Full Dress Brunch."
The general didn't respond at first, but rather thought for a long moment. "Very well," he finally replied very slowly, "we and I mean you would have to slip it in there. Hide it under all that other material. You have to figure out how."
The Captain mulled this for a moment, then answered, "Perhaps in the appendix. The first reference to 'volunteers' would reference to appropriate part of the appendix, where I could divide up the sections, like training, experience, rank, then just a line or two referencing legal status."
"Good, good. No sex crimes, and no unstables. No psych ward residents. And of course, when this gets out, I know nothing about it."
"General, you were never here. I wouldn't have a nightmare about throwing you under that bus."
"I appreciate that, Captain. How long to re-write the proposal?"
"A week or so, sir" Capt FREERAR answered quickly- Too quickly, the general noticed.
"You already had it written, didn't you?" the general replied, in a 'sly-dog' falsetto.
"I thought the issue would come up, so I had a second version in the works. But no, it's not quite ready. I need to proofread it a few times before I could consider presenting it. With your permission, sir, I'd like to dry-run my presentation past you."
"Yes, but I'm a little biased in this matter. I may not make a proper example to run against." General REIKEI wasn't lying- Despite the unprecedented nature of the captain's plan, the general had come to see the gem of possibility in it over time.
"Understood sir, but I'm sure you can rise to the occasion. That's why you have stars."
Cheeky bastard, Marcus amusedly observed. But he was right; The ability to do anything was how he'd gotten his stars.
Joint Chief's Board of War
REF MAF Headquarters
Council Station
Jove Anchorage #1 Sol
15 December, 2488
"Captain, I understand you are here to re-present you plan" General VIEERS began. "Did we, or did we not, go over this before?"
"We did ma'am," the Captain answered honestly.
"And then why are we here again?"
"Because, ma'am, I believe once you see this demonstration, you will approve this plan."
Gertrude actually still had reservations, but was keeping a more open mind that she originally had. City was a prime target, especially by the Council, which overcrowded the station. "Proceed."
Meehyck turned to the display screen, where a large, un-specific sip silhouette typically used to symbolize unknown opposition freighters in war planning exercises hung motionless in the center. The display ship, commonly referred to as the Hildebrandt-Class (for the artist who rendered it in 3D computer and hard model) now sported small bumps everywhere about her underside, broadsides, and bow. "Ladies, sir, this is a modified freighter ship. Note the blisters everywhere. Each one of these is a one-man pod, modeled to some degree on the M-2 land mine.
"Rather than throwing an explosive charge into the air, the pods will throw a one-man pod away from the ship. With enough of these pods, the planetry defenses will be overwhelmed just bringing down the ships, thus ignoring the relatively limited threat presented by what appears to be debris." As he continued on, the display screen played the animated assault for the board to track.
"As each pod lands, it will release a single infantryman, who will then make his way to the apparently undefended dome centers on the planet, penetrate them, then attempt to locate and disable the batteries in their area. If they can't find a battery control, they will work their way to the batteries themselves, set an explosive charge, and try to disable the gun itself. If we can disable 10 guns in a given cluster, we can create a big enough 'soft' area to land a bigger troopship, say a YOUNGER-Class, take out more batteries, and eventually have a large control area. This initial gap in the planet's defenses is all we really need."
With that, the Captain went silent, awaiting questions.
"Captain, how many marines do you think you would need to make this mission a success?" General GREHAY, and old-school REF Army Infantry 'street fighter' asked.
Captain FREERAR was prepared for this; He was hoping nobody would ask, however. "About 10 million men to..."
But he never finished. "You're joking" one called out, another, "We can't sacrifice that man..." while another "Not in a million years." Sever whispered to one another.
"SILENCE!" General VIEERS called out, and with that the room fell deathly silent. "Captain, we could never approve that many men for an operation to secure a target that's not mobile, not being utilized by enemy forces, and generally not a threat to the UGC."
Captain FREERAR went silent for a moment, then, "I know were we might be able to find the troops, ma'am." With this, General REIKEI started; Please Gods, don't let him say it..., but the Captain continued on. "We may be able to recruit from pools of variously dishonorably discharged veterans." The deftness of where, exactly, those 'dishonorably discharged' veterans would come from allowed the General to relax. The longer the board didn't know, they less they'd be able to prevent it. Too bad I didn't think of that problem, the general mused.
But the rest of the board wasn't so enthused- They harrumphed, shook their heads, even mumbled. Admiral MAKVITE finally spoke up in a clear, unmistakable fashion; "Captain, why should they risk their lives on what we all agree, and even you should believe, is probably a suicide mission for no advantage?"
"Then, admiral, I should find some with nothing to loose." Though he hadn't come out and said it, Meehyck allowed it to hang in the air. Most of the flag officers around the table knew exactly what the captain was saying; All of them knew, the less actually said, the better.
After an eternal minute of silence, General VIEERS finally spoke. "Captain, if you could find 10 million DD's willing to volunteer, we might be willing to consider it. However, they would not be able to hold a command position, and we may even have to- To..."
"Ma'am, perhaps we could encourage them more by offering them settlement rights on the planet afterwards." With this, everyone knew exactly what the captain was saying; More so than before, they knew, the less said, the better.
"Yes, settlement rights. Now, captain, answer me this; Do you have enough confidence in this plan to personally command it?"
"10 million men, ma'am? Command? No. Lead the first attack wave, yes." It was the confidence with which he said this last part that swung 4 of the board members who had been on the fence over; With two already sided with him, and several more now on the fence (including General VIEERS), his chances were looking better- Even if he didn't know it yet.
"Captain, step outside for a moment." After he had left, Gertrude looked over the board, then asked the obvious. "Well?" the Dirse Fljyt intoned, in that rough, gravelly voice her kind were so known for.
The members of the board began placing the voting billets; There were still some reds (no votes), but with six greens ('yes') and four flats (sideways, or undecided/no opinion), there was enough for an override- If Getty had ever worked that way. "Alright, Admiral YENS, you'll go first. Why not?"
Over the course of the next hour, the group had worked it down to two undecideds, one no, and the rest in favor. However, there were some restrictions.
"Captain, come back in, sir" the Staff Sergeant standing sentry duty called out.
"Captain, we have come to a few conclusions. First, we agree to allow you to launch a limited-personnel study group. You will use an established militry base under similar or simulated conditions. Markhoahn III was proposed as one such site.
"Second, your fill recruits are to be screened to ensure no 'loose cannons' are included, and are not to hold command-level postings." The captain felt thee undertone of General REIKEI'S warning in that last condition, but couldn't agree more; Fortunately, he had no conflict with that condition.
"Lastly, they will be required to remain on-planet, unless otherwise directed. They were discharged for a reason, and probably belong in prison for the most part. Any questions?"
"No, ma'am, I understand perfectly. These conditions seem perfectly reasonable and appropriate. However, to clarify, you are approving, at this time only a research project."
"Yes. We expect reports every 6 months, with additional special reports as required."
"Yes ma'am. I can begin as soon as the orders are cut."
"They're already cut, and sitting in your in-box."
"Aye aye ma'am. Dismissed ma'am?"
"Dismissed. Good luck captain."
"Thank you ma'am." With that, Captain FREERAR about faced. His first business; Part 4.
UGC Kremlin Imperial Penitentiary
Sagaui'u Anchorage #8
Sagaui'u System
12 January 2489
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at Sagau'i Anchorage. We thank you for flying Galactic Transports. Please stand by for be-barking" intoned over the shuttle's PA system, carried on the sing-song voice of a Deever Flyjt, with, judging from her accent, a touch of T'sentraedi or Terran.
As he stepped off, Captain FREERAR thanked the stewardess for the flight, then headed for the newsstand. Threat Of War Looms Over Iron Deposits On Dxenion-7Q
Galactic Hearld-Gazette
read the headline. Dxenion-7Q was the designator of a largely forgotten planet where an previous empire, one predating even the Haydonites, had marooned some criminals, who built a genetically-enhanced mercenary army, much the same as the Tiresians had created the T'sentraedi. Their homeworld had been absorbed into the UGC with the final destruction of the last of their battlefleets, and the UCG wanted to exploit the mineral wealth of the otherwise inhospitable planet.
Musing over the story, Meehyck proceeded to the maglev to head to the stations Militry Command Center; Typically on Babylon-Class space stations, the MHQ was absolutely forward, if only the public information counter. However, having been to B-881 before, Meehyck started heading aft. Here, the MHQ was deep on-board, past even the Main Operations Center, due to an entrenched population of squatters who'd declared themselves "homesteaded" in the Yellow and Blue Sectors. The one major attempt to evict them had resulted in 200 dead RDF'ers and 500 dead Station Security Forces. After that, they were simply walled of and left to fend for themselves.
As an additional buffer against the squatters, the next five frames forward had been walled off as well, creating a void; The REF suggested using this as a prison since no one would really care if a bunch of convicts all died in a squatter raid.
For the interviews, Meehyck had selected the Attorney/Client Interview Room, with it's distorted double-paned, vacuum-sealed windows that allowed Correctional Staff, or "cans" as inmates referred to them, to see in, without them being able to listen in nor to read their lips of the attorneys and inmates. His first interviewee came in, inmate 2213839, Staff Sergeant David WHEEVHAVEN, Marine, had 18 years in the Marine, all infantry; He had been convicted of Drunk on Duty, Dereliction of Duty, and Manslaughter; The facts of the case was that he reported to watch while still drunk, then fired on a returning patrol, thinking they were enemy sappers. Two Marines and a Spacy Corpsman were killed as a result. Sentence: Life in Prison Without Possibility of Reprieve nor Parole.
"Marine, thank you for coming to see me today," Meehyck began; His tactic of ignoring the UGC Regulations Of Inmate Protocol (Martial) requirement to call him "Inmate" was calculated to impart into the convicted felon to feel a certain respect. His choice to wear civvies hopefully would put them at ease, and allowed him to interview as many inmates as he wished; Though militry personnel going in and out all day long was the rule, not the exception, one entering and interviewing practically each and every inmate, especially over the course of several weeks, would; A civilian, however, especially one thought by staff to be some bleeding-heart liberal trying to form a class action suit over "inhumane conditions" or some such crap, wouldn't draw a second lance- Unless, of course, said civilian had a weapon. Meehyck didn't have the haircut for a normal hippy traitor fuckwad, but that didn't matter too much; He had the clothes to fit the hair, a sharp business suit complete with cufflinks, and mirrored shades worn even inside the deepest part of the prison.
"I'm conducting a poll on behalf of certain interested parties into the possibility of raising up special purpose units of militry personnel on what amount to suicide missions. They would be assigned to take 'impossible' targets, places like FBX, Dxenion, Rouul, City. If they survive, they would then be assigned to a colony on-planet. Effectively an open penal colony. Now, would you ever consider volunteering for such a unit?"
2213839 became very quiet for a moment, then spoke slowly. "Such a mission doesn't sound too much fun. I mean, FBX, that's pretty bad. AS, those people rape their prisoners, you do know that, right?" Meehyck nodded his head. After a moment's reflection, 2213839 finally spoke. "Ya, ya, I suppose I would volunteer for something like that."
"You understand, you would be volunteering to participate in a suicide mission, when you could volunteer for a penal colony later on?"
2213839 looked Meehyck right square in the eye; "Where do I sign up?"
With this, Meehyck slipped the data pad over; 2213839 held his Inmate Identity Band over the reader, allowing it to read him; Then again, signing the document. "Anything else?"
"Be ready to move out tomorrow, Marine." By the time he was done, Meehyck had 18,000 of his recruits; More than enough for his initial research group.
UGC Kremlin Imperial Penitentiary
Sagaui'u Anchorage #8
Sagaui'u System
18 January 2489
"The following Inmates will report to Day Room 14 on the double: 2213839, 3562549, 4512257, 9981152, 5214510..." The PA system droned on as such for quite a while, as the inmates were being prepared to transfer to the Inmate Transport Vsl PLANET TUMPER, one of thousands of variously classed transports for moving inmates around the galaxy/ies. Rarely, though, except for a newly overhauled vsl, were they completely empty save crew.
Tumper Correctional Facility #3/Camp City "Temporary Training Center"
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
01 March, 2489
City 3.
The Converted Nomad-Class PLANET TUMPER Penal Transport.
On her escort are 04 visible Shark Fighters.
PLANET TUMPER then sailed for her namesake, the planet Tumper, the third planet of the Markhoahn System. Itself a former penal colony, the original settlers had died off many generations ago, and therefore Tumper was selected by Meehyck to build a full-scale, semi-working replica of City's southern plain. Ten batteries, shaped roughly like city's batteries, and four dome complexes were to serve both as their training objective and barracks. Officially, this whole site was a "Temporary Training Center," and all the inmates had been transferred to Tumper Correctional Facility #3. The one hand knew nothing of the other's, which Meehyck knew would buy him the time needed.
Because the weapons systems had been powered down to "training level" only, they could maintain a much higher cyclical rate than the actual batteries; A half dozen GARFISH-Class Frigates, rigged to a central control point, in other words cockpit, allowing the full ship to be controlled by just one person- Though at almost no combat effectiveness. They could go straight up, down, left, right, back and forward. Even then, the three dozen pilots had to practice for several days to perfect the movement, especially of moving together such heavy ships. On the third practice landing assault, Meehyck called all 18,000 recruits together. "Convicts, today you will see what you are really going up against." As the ships approached, the batteries opened fire, throwing up an almost box of pure energy blasting away at the ships. Unprimed, training-only mini-missiles were fired from the ships, as the ships themselves energized massive amounts of light to simulate exploding. "Well, there goes three ships" Meehyck called out. "And another. Oh, oh, what's this? One of them's trying to make a break into orbit. Ah, there she goes," he continued, as the one ship trying to escape the fire 'exploded,' firing off her mini-missiles.
"Well, there you have it. Our first training exercise and..." turning to a display read off "92.5% of you are dead before you even launch the attack itself. Impressive. I had expected 95.1% casualty rate. I'll have to go back and ensure that the computers properly calculated the rates.
"But you have seen now our attack plan. So who wants to leave?" No one stirred. "Very well. Each of those missiles you saw fired off- That's one of you. Those missiles simulated our one-man blister pods, which as the ship is destroyed will be fired away from the ship. Essentially, enough seemingly debris may well get past the defenses to allow at least one of you to penetrate the domes, like this one here, and shut down or disable the batteries. That is our plan, which you will execute. Tomorrow morning, you will be discharged by request."
The next morning, there were a few thousand requests from self-described "highly qualified candidates"- But not a single request for discharge. Calling the company together once again, Meehyck tried a different tactic. "Alright, this is a blister pack." Behind him, the normally clear dome section now showed the technical diagram of his 'blister pack.' "Observe how this works. Charges along the sides throws you clear of the ship. The pod then falls to earth. You are held inside by a new packing foam which, combined with impact balloons, should slow enough of you to the planet to allow some of you to effect the final stage of the assault- Penetration and hold.
"Penetration will be fairly simple; Place a line charge in a roughly door shape. This door shape can not be anymore than 3 feet across. 4 feet back from that, place a shield generator; Hit the green switch, and an overlay of where the shield will form will appear. Adjust the overlaid area to completely encompass the line charge. If there is any gap, that area will allow atmosphere to escape, decompressing the chambers and possibly causing it to implode. If nothing else, you will be forced to continue wearing your suit, and anyone already inside who has removed their suit will die. With that in mind, you would be well-cautioned to keep your suit intact until directed otherwise; Unfortunately, your suit only has about an hour's worth of oxygen inside, so you're very likely to die just from that.
"Once inside, you will either locate a control panel and attempt to de-activate the batteries, or simply disable the batteries themselves. This should be as simple as cutting any obvious cables leading to the battery. Eventually, one of them will be the power cable. We would prefer you to de-activate the battery; This will allow us to re-activate it when the time comes. Next."
"Sir, how will we know what a control panel looks like?"
"We will be practicing for exactly that, but realistically we don't know. Hopefully, there'll be some big red switch or something equally obvious. Next"
"Sir, how long do we hold sir?"
"You will be issued three days rations. You may be there for the rest of your lives. You will be on your own until we can re-supply, which is highly unlikely until we can land. The longer you take to disable the batteries, the long it will take us to re-supply you. That is assuming you aren't blown to pieces by the batteries before you even get to the ground, splattered all over the ground on impact, or stuck in the pod once it hits the ground and asphyxiate in the pod. You will only have three days rations, and you may be down there for a month or more without re-supply capability. We don't know what's inside the domes; There could be radiation leaking from reactors that scrammed, melted down, cracked, or rusted out long ago. Oh, and did I mention, we don't know what there are in terms of defenders. In fact, only God knows what's waiting for us down there. Next."
More questions were fielded for over an hour; How long was the training program, what exactly they were training for, what hardware they were going to use. No stupid questions, Meehyck thought, amused. Good.
Eventually, though, it wound down; Most of the convicts had answers, rarely the ones they wanted, though. They seemed satisfied, though to get the answers they did; "Captain," Convict 3522281 later announced during Evening Reports, "the convicts asked me to give you our collective thanks for being straight with us about the plan. 'Specially the bad parts, sir."
"I should think all of you would be trying to get out of this."
"Sir no sir. We appreciate the opportunity to be here, a lot of us would be dead probably by now if you hadn't come into our existence, sir."
"I see. The fact that all of you are gonna be dead by the end of this, that doesn't bother you?"
"Sir, no sir."
After a moments pause, Meehyck continued. "I see. Convict 5214510, how's he doing?"
3522281 fell silent for a moment, then "Sir, well enough. Happy to be out of the joint sir."
"Very well. Carry on." With that, 3522281 about faced, then marched out.
Tumper Correctional Facility #3/Camp City "Temporary Training Center"
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
21 November 2489
Penal Battalion Power Armor.
Penal Battalion Power Armor.
The next 8 months had been spent developing the plan; Each stage of the assault revealed new problems to be overcome; On this particular day, 5214510, opposing a dozen Knuckleheads playing defending forces, fired a random shot in the air, which hit the dome and caused an actual distortion. Captain FREERAR was not pleased.
All the convicts, other than 5214510, got down, doing 100 pushups. Standard punishment for failure- Under the circumstances of the battalion, as it was now designated, all failure results in death, and the closest to death he could get, without actually killing them, was to beat them stupid. "It's a shame floggings are illegal these days," he had raved only the day before, "that might get your heads out of your asses."
But the convicts by now were past hating the causer of their miseries; They understood that any of them could be the cause of these miseries, even after doing it right. Sometimes, it seemed, especially for doing it right.
The Battalion had adjusted well to the many various miseries that had been imposed upon them, above and far beyond the normal for convicts under any circumstances; Food deprivation, with every other day not receiving any food at all, then only two meals on the days they would be eating, both MRE's (though without the heater packs- cold MRE's made for another level of deprivation), every third day forced to go without any sleep, then the other days only 4½ solid hours, plus maybe a couple other hours here or there, perpetual cold, and the worst torture- Asphyxiation. Once a month, in groups of 10, they'd be herded into one of a series of chambers along the north perimeter and the air pressure sucked out to less than 1% of normal. Normally, they'd be held until they passed out, then the atmosphere re-pumped, and any in serious trouble given CPR, but a few Convicts had died as a result. Either way, most convicts believed, it was better than dying in prison.
After the beating, the Convicts began the drill again; This time, 4583367 botched the demolitions job, blowing away not only the plywood over the gap in the dome wall he was supposed to, but also part of the dome itself. Less than an inch, but that was enough to kill everyone. Another failure, another beating. Another painful day of training eventually ended.
Joint Chief's Board of War
REF MAF Headquarters
Council Station
Jove Anchorage #1 (Presidents Point)
14 January, 2490
The Joint Chief's were assembled, ready to hear Meehyck FREERAR'S presentation. "Well, Major, what have you got for us? Your little research project bear any fruit at all?" General VIEERS demanded.
"Yes, ma'am, it has. The Battalion has fully explored the mission, and further we have a full, working plan." Half-turning to a video display, the Hildebrandt-Class hung in orbit over City. "As the ships enter orbit, 3 staggered force fields activate," he narrated. "At about 40 miles, the planetry batteries will begin firing. As the first force field is stripped away, the topside thrusters will engage, forcing the ship down exponentially faster than would be possible under gravity.
"As the ship approaches, it is assumed the planetry batteries will continue to fire, based on precedent. Eventually, their batteries will burn through the second level of shielding. This will hopefully get us down as far as 20,000 feet. The batteries will then continue to fire. Once the third layer of shielding detects it has been hit; it will start the detonation cycle. The pod's launchers will fire, throwing the pods roughly 10 to 25 feet from the ships, then the ship's own scuttling charges will detonate, masking the pod's launch." With this portion of the narration, the video looped several times, variously focusing and wide panning, to show the Joint Chiefs the details of the mission. "Hopefully, the shear weight of such a large amount of material falling from the sky will overwhelm the batteries; With the most extreme luck or divine intervention, they may assume it's all just junk, and ignore it outright.
"The pods will then crash to the planet, each one holding one trooper. Once it impacts, the trooper will open the pod, escape, then get to the dome itself. Line charges will be used to force an entry if no door presents itself. Portable maglock generators will hold atmosphere in. However, the troopers will not be removing their suits until so directed.
"Ladies, sir, the troopers have consistently been told they only have three days of rations. This is not true, but it would be best they not find this out until later. They will actually have three months worth. The suits will hopefully be able to pull in oxygen from the domes, so the troopers can breathe. Either way, their suits will be equipped with scrubbers, allowing them to breathe for a few days, at very least. Again, it's best they not find out about this until it's too late for them to abuse the advantage.
"We've already gamed out this phase of the evolution, using full-scale models and limited-power laser batteries. The ship was able to get down to 10,000 feet before it sustained the amount of damage necessary to trigger the detonators. We lost one Porous-Class freighter in the process.
"Major, not to fuck up your plan, but... Have you considered having the pods open automatically, say about 100 or so feet above the surface, then using grav pods to slow the decent?" Admiral G'HANNON asked. That she even spoke at all drew attention from the rest of the Joint Chiefs; She rarely spoke at all, and usually only questions. That she submitted a suggestion, even if in the form of a question, was something most members of the JC's couldn't even admit to remembering. Must be a Perytonian thing, VIEERS thought. They generally do hate each other.
If so, Meehyck wasn't showing it; Instead, he considered the comment for a few minutes, then answered, "Ma'am, I hadn't considered that. It would relieve one of the dangers of this mission, that a pod finds a particularly soft piece of dirt, and digs in deep, trapping the trooper inside. There is, however, a danger that ground-based defenses, anti-aircraft types, might open up on them. It's an interesting idea ma'am, one I should play out." A very polite "fuck you, ma'am", Gertrude observed.
"Major," General REIKEI called out slowly. "I noticed you have a set platform for the pods. Isn't it probable the defenses will recognize a uniform model, even if it is easily enough dismissed as debris, as an inherent threat?"
Meehyck considered this for a long moment, then answered, "Sir, there is a risk in everything in life. I can't see an alternative."
"Consider, for a moment, that the pod itself was mounted fully inside the skin of the ship, then the whole area, including possibly sections of ribbing, were all ejected together," Marcus retorted, slightly miffed.
"General, with all due respect, I'd like to hold off on this idea until I've at least investigated Admiral G'HANNON'S comment. I'd rather have a chance for my people to get out, than worry about a possibly not-so overloaded computer."
That WAS a "fuck you, sir," and possibly even telling Pretice she's right about her idea Gerty mused. Nevertheless, she answer was "Major, you will investigate both issues."
"Ma'am," Meehyck answered quickly, but resignedly.
"General," Pretice offered, "perhaps we're both right; Major, consider this. What if the ejector charges, is that what they're called?"
"Just explosive bolts, they don't have specific technical term ma'am," Meehyck answered.
"Fine, we'll call them that for the time being. So the ejector charges are placed not under the pod, but around a chunk of the hull, to bust out the frame sections, then shove the box out. Inside the box, is your pods. When the box reaches the designated height, perhaps based on a radar system, explosive bolts around the pod crack the egg, throwing free the sections of the hull, allowing the trooper to fall to the planet under grav pods. With any luck, by the time your 'debris' is close and regular enough to be identified as a threat, the trooper is on the ground, and half way to the walls."
The major considered this for a moment, then, "Charges would still have to be placed behind to force the box away far enough to allow it to be safe from the exploding ship itself. Other than that, I think I should explore it. Much further indeed."
"Major," Admiral MAKVITE offered, "Perhaps you should consider another suggestion. Fill the ship with some sort of fuel. Something that would burn very bright, but not so hot. When the pods have ejected, the scuttling charges go off, this fuel, let's say plain old hydrocell for argument's sake, explodes. The fireball should engulf the pods, helping to cover the nature of their approach. Again, another layer of camouflage."
"Uh, yes, ma'am, one of the Convicts already suggested that, but we simulated it on the computer, and the potential to incinerate the pods themselves was simply too great."
"I see. Thank you."
But it was General VIEERS who asked the toughest question: "Major, I understand you haven't done a full fledged jump yet. Why should we expand your personnel without knowing what kind of risks we're actually approving?"
The Major cleared his thought; "Uh, general. Yes, well, we can't conduct a full-scale evaluation with troopers because, to be perfectly honest, that is the single most dangerous part of the plan. We calculated that any one thing that can go wrong will kill about 10% of our troopers. There are over 1,500 things that could go wrong."
"That's well over 100% Major," the general replied nastily.
"Yes, ma'am, it is. And I don't want to risk lives on a training mission unnecessarily; to be perfectly blunt, for most of my men, their first jump will be their only jump. It will be the very last thing they do their entire lives; I'd rather wait until it's time to actually do it, to execute that phase of the operation."
Again, it was Admiral G'HANNON to the rescue; "Major what about a space-drop?"
General REIKEI nodded enthusiastically. "Good idea, Admiral."
"I'm sorry, ma'am, I don't understand?"
"What the admiral is suggesting is set up a ship like it's to be used in an assault, but far from the nearest gravity well, you launch the pods. At least, that's what I understand, admiral?"
"Yes, essentially. I was thinking maybe a low-gravity object, like a spaceship or something of that nature, but basically, yes."
"Sounds like a great idea to me," General VIEERS remarked. "Objections?"
General SOHR'K spoke up. "There's a possibility, if not probability, of an escape attempt."
"I doubt that, ma'am, with all due respect. All of them need this program, a lot more than this program needs all of them combined. We could easily ship them back off to prison, leave them there to rot, and be done with it." Even as he said it, Meehyck realized his mistake; He hoped they would miss it.
They hadn't, of course, but they were studiously ignoring it, just as they had Sesitie's escape comment. The meeting adjourned shortly after that.
The Grecian Hotel
Yonkers, New York
Terra, Sol
14 January, 2490
The Grecian was, once, a five-star hotel. In it's heyday, Broadway Stars would routinely visit her then-magnificent main bar on the roof to escape rabid fans; Event the true entrance to the place was, in those days, a closely guarded secret. Though there was an opulent front door, all the rooms above the third floor were closed to anyone who didn't have enough money to hire someone specifically to handle travel arraignment money. The lobby bar was open to the public, and the stars and starlet's would make the obligatory once-a-season appearance there; Sam WATERSTON supposedly got into a fist fight in the bathroom at 90 years old, according to legend, with a 'patron' of the bar who was later charged with stalking, though who exactly was an issue everyone seemed to want to ignore.
The Rain of Death changed all that, of course, but the Rain changed everything, and nothing for the better; Now, the Grecian was in the part of town the cops had surrendered to prostitutes and drug dealers, until someone got shot and killed. The Grecian didn't allow drugs, and the owner/counterman was pretty strict about that; A junkie shot up once on the fourth floor, passed out, and died. It took two weeks to clear the smell of her rotten body out. Another time, a different junky set fire to two room on the eight, and the owner spent more money closing the room off that he'd gotten out of the bum. After that, no drugs. His silent partner was fully supportive of the move; When he called her on the phone, she practically screamed at him, demanding to know why he'd ever let that sort of riff-raff in to begin with.
The whores and johns coming in was nothing new to him; But this couple, coming in now, caught his eye; The Perytonian man was dressed perfectly for a low-level functionary on Wall Street (what was left of it), but those sort, they didn't come here. They went to the cheap, but clean hotels uptown. The woman, she was a piece of work. A T'sentraedi, she looked like she was in her forties, but then 'traedi's were all like that. Her clothes were all wrong though; The runs were in the perfect spots, her mini-skirt was just mini enough, her tube just tooby enough, and too tight, even for the working girls. Last, he paid, and with a card, for a full night. For legal reasons, the whores always paid for the rooms, and with cash- That way, if the cops busted them, the sluts wouldn't get their own cards jacked, and the guys could still pay. Also, if the cops paid, that left a paper trail they could use in court- Cash payment records were considered sacrosanct after the JANISON case. And whores never paid for a full night- Just the 30-minute "Nap Specials" for 20 cred. A full night was up to 300.
Jimmy didn't know what was up with these two- No real place to hide a piece, so they weren't cops- At least, not too likely to be cops. She could have been hiding one in her purse, he could have been hiding one in the coat he hung over his arm. But not likely. Either way, Jimmy made a note not to rent out the next rooms over. If the cops busted a pro at work here, they might hold him liable, might not. Best not to risk it.
No sooner had the couple cleared the lobby, than the phone rang- It was his silent partner. "Jimmy, I need a couple rooms tonight. What have you got open?"
"Funny you should ask. I got a situation that I had to shut a couple rooms down for the night."
"Thanx, Jimmy. You're a doll." With that, she hung up.
Up on the second floor, Meehyck turned to Ahmanda. "So he bought it?"
"That idiot would buy ice in the artic. That's why I bought in. Wouldn't do, someone in my position acting like this."
After drinking the whole bottle of cheap liquor they'd bought just for this occasion and smuggled up in Meehyck's jacket, and he'd snuck out to get another, they got down to "bizness"; it was their kink.
Hours later, after they were done with the first round, they had a little small talk. Only, it wasn't so small. "Mikey, there's something I been meaning to tell you. I don't think you're gonna like it."
"You pregnant?" he asked, hopefully.
"No, I know how you'd take that" she answered sadly. "No, it's about City. There was a reporter snooping around, asking about unusual inmate transfers. We gave him a song and dance about infections and transfers to quarantine them, but that's only gonna carry us so far."
Meehyck didn't reply to that. Then, he waded up a towel he'd been using and threw it across the room into the so-called bathroom. "Ƒuck. God fucken damn it." Meehyck said nothing for a few moments; Then, "How much does he think he knows?"
"Not much. You moving them to the correctional unit at Jhock helped, but only bought some time. If he starts snooping around there and finds out they got transferred again, all-so-suddenly, without explanation, he'll start asking more questions."
"Well, it's a good think I arranged a private charter. I think."
"Yes, that will delay him. For a while."
But Ahmanda's fully exposed breasts now held Meehyck's attention again. "Well, enough of that. I paid for the full night, so come here."
Smiling, Ahmanda did exactly as told- Like a the good little 'whore' she was.
Tumper Correctional Facility #3/Camp City "Temporary Training Center"
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
14 January, 2490
Penal Battalion Dress Uniform.
A Special Battalion 41 Trooper in Dress Uniform. It was different enough to recognize as non-militry standard, but militry enough to impart the impression this wasn't someone to ignore.
Back on Tumper, Meehyck got down to business again. "Look at them, Sergeant," he slipped and referred to a Convict by his former rank. "They look like a bunch of fucking animals."
"Sir, I suppose we do look a little rough, sir," 8825125 answered.
"There's a catalogue on my desk. I book marked a few pages of interest. Circled a few things. I'll need measurements for all the men. Order a power armor suit for ever man, plus two sets of BDU's each."
"Sir, yes sir. I can get the paperwork to you by this afternoon, sir."
"Carry on. And don't forget boots." Turning back to his desk, Meehyck began reviewing training reports. Most troopers were doing very well indeed, but 5214510 had been having trouble keeping up with other Convicts in the physical conditioning; His 100 pushups took longer, his 20-mile runs took much longer, his cross-terrain assault sprints were always slower and his up-and-downs were a little behind everyone else's, especially after a few ups. Not good, Meehyck mused. He'd better pick it up before I have to scrap this outright.
The next piece of business was planning for the demanded training exercise; Equipment, a ship, who would go and who wouldn't, levels of actuality... And how to choose the dead. They want me to execute these men for nothing, Meehyck fumed. Why bother even proceeding forward at all, if they're so convinced it can't succeed? Nevertheless, choices would have to be made. But it gave him an opportunity to test a new theory; That the men had to learn he fickleness of Fate.
"Convict, come back inside for a moment," he called out.
"Sir," 8825125 responded dutifully.
"Convict, I'm not going to lie to you. I need honesty right now.
"Sir count on me for that, sir."
"Very well. The battalion's big- Far too big for the actual nature of the operation we're planning. Further, we have no way, none at all, of knowing who will survive. I intend to institute a new program, to teach the men the hateful nature of fate. Random lotteries. Winners get special privileges, ease of assignments for the day, while losers must pick up the winner's slack. All of it. The losers are punished, the winners rewarded. What's your thoughts?"
"Sir still beats prison, sir."
Meehyck looked directly at the convict. "Yes? That's it?"
"Sir, yes sir."
"Is that so. What if I were to tell you the winners would get extreme privileges, such as possibly even a night with a woman, and a day essentially doing not a damned thing?"
"Sir, they'd have to turn around and do it the next day, sir, so it's not like it's that big a deal, sir."
"Well, that doesn't work, then does it."
"Sir, I don't understand sir."
"You wouldn't learn randomness, wouldn't learn that sometimes good luck happens and everyone else gets screwed." 8825125 began to speak, then stopped, stuttered again, then gave up entirely. "Something on your mind, convict?"
"Sir, trying to think of a way to make it work, sir."
"Something's rattled around in there. Go ahead, let's hear what it was."
"Sir, maybe... Maybe a two-part lottery. Say 10% of the battalion get pulled in the lottery. Then half get like you say, special privileges, the other half get special punishment, meals taken away, extra watches, that sort. Once you win a lottery, you can't ever win it again, but you can loose it as many times as fates have it. Sir."
Meehyck mulled that over a moment. "You realize you've just thrown the rest of the command under the bus?"
"Sir, yes sir," 8825125 answered honestly.
Meehyck nodded his head, then replied "Very well. Your name will never be part of this, of course, but I think you're onto something. Dismissed." After 8825125 had stepped out, the major sat down and began drafting the lottery. "For one day, you will live a life of absolute luxury, or absolute pain; You each have just as much opportunity for the one, as the other." it read. But rather than simply circulate it, Meehyck took an extreme gamble; He called for a rally of all the troops the next morning where he announced it personally; To his minor surprise, the troops congratulated it; Using hidden listening devices, he even heard some remark that they hoped they'd get the punishment, at least once, just to see what it would be like.
Tumper Correctional Facility #3/Camp City "Temporary Training Center"
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
18 January, 2490
Lottery Girl.
"Lottery Girl" Herraca REVIRO (Firse Fljyt): Convicted of felony DUII (resulting in the death of 04 people).
The first winners of the lottery were reporting, as ordered, to the Commandant's Office. "Gentlemen, come in. These are your rooms," Meehyck announced, showing each what amounted to an opulent penthouse- Though one with shatter-proof, bullet-proof, and alarmed windows. "Your companions will arrive within moments."
"Sir, companions, sir?" one Convict asked.
Meehyck started at this; "Voris, isn't it?"
Now it was the Convict's turn to startle; "Sir, yes, sir."
"Say Meehyck," the major ordered.
Confused, but obedient, Convict 175825, JAMPINSH, Voris R, PSCM, Patrol, who had been convicted of Treason after making an unauthorized statement to the press over a faulty design for the SPAES newest class of cutter and sentenced to Life without Possibility of Parole, responded, "Sir, Meehyck, sir."
"Good. That's my name, you know. And for the next 24 hours, none of you shall address me as anything except my name. You're not 'Convict this, Convict that', you're Voris," then turning to another winner, "Hanmden," another, "Grinter, so on. When you walk out that door again, you're Convict 175825, Convict 9284462, Convict 1087730, so on. But not for the next 24-hours.
"Now, for the next 24 hours, you are my personal guests. My friends. And I treat my friends well. So, gentlemen, please walk up to the bar. I've arranged a special party for you." With that, Meehyck clapped his hands, and a door opened behind him; The convicts walked in, seeing tables piled high with some of the finest foods of the known galaxies. "Gentlemen, have your fill." As he spoke, the women began to waltz in, topless and barely covered below the waist. As the troopers sat, the women began serving them, then kneeled at the feet. "When you're full, you may retire to your rooms. Be sure to try the Ballouch, it's a '22," he intoned, referring to the wine he'd selected. Though they couldn't know it, the wine was actually a Bevare, a light-alcohol beverage created specifically for Avairian religious festivals- It would cloud their minds a bit, but not nearly enough to cause trouble. As to the women, he had no problems; They were the other half of his project, convicted of various crimes- Though, since there was no specific assignment on female convicts, he could select those with sexual convictions, and besides, 90% of the convicted females around the galaxies were either murder or sex related, and most were both. They were all too willing- A little too 'willing' in some cases. But Meehyck had a firm lock on the situation. Either way, they were the winners of their lottery; They wouldn't be available again for a few weeks.
By the end of the night, the troopers were thoroughly inebriated, and probably screwing to save their lives; Each female had an emergency call switch around her wrist, but not a stir was heard. For both groups, for the night, life was very good, indeed.
Tumper Correctional Facility #3/Camp City "Temporary Training Center"
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
19 January, 2490
Late Evening
Tumper Correctional Facility #3/Camp City
Tumper Correctional Facility #3/Camp City "Temporary Training Center" Complex."
"No, actually, you don't want to know what I went through," 5214510 snarled. "It sucks to loose. That simple. Screw it." Now, brightening, he rolled over. "But tell us what it was like. For you."
7730221 was misty eyed. "Food. Two women, and they wanted it. I mean, REALLY wanted it. Liquor. I'm telling you, it was beautiful."
"Ya, how'd they take it?" 5214510 pushed.
"All three, and each other," 7730221 marveled.
"Gods... I hope I do win the next one," 5214510 breathed.
"Ya, I hope you do, too. I do. Really, dude, I mean that."
'Hey, you know Sergeant SEVECK? 8825125? The major's little monkey?" 5214510 asked.
"Ya, what about him?"
"He lost the lottery- Big. Ended up have a heart attack."
"He gonna make it?"
"Dunno, man. He was bad, though, real bad."
"Damn. He was the only one lookin' out for us."
"You know, you could."
"No. I can't," 8825125 growled, rolling over again.
"Why not, man? He'd listen to you."
"That's exactly the problem. He even talks to me, they find out, they shut this down. You? You go back to prison. Me? I go back to prison. Him? He joins us. As is, he's done all he can for me. Nothing doing, done."
"Man. Sucks to be you" 7730221 mumbled.
Very quietly, 8825125 replied, "Ya."
Exercise Epsilon.
Transport 221
In orbit.
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
31 May, 2490
The Ill-Fated Transport 221 During Exersize Epsilon.
The Battalion was used to the lottery by now; And, by lottery, a hundred Special Battalion 41 troopers were being loaded onto Transport 221 in preparation for Exercise Epsilon, a training exercise to test the basic premise. "Alright, Convicts, man your pods," Major FREERAR called out. As they approached the designated launch point, though, a fuse blew; A cheap, .2credit fuse literally exploded, causing a chain reaction of exploding pod ejector charges, blowing out almost the entire starboard quarter. 15 troopers were killed before their pods had even fully disconnected from the hull.
"SOUND GENERAL QUARTERS! DAMAGE CONTROL TEAMS, EXPLOSIVE DECOMPRESSION, FIRE, FRAMES 21 AFT, STARBOARD SIDE!" the major barked out smartly. After a few tense moments, the first reports of fires sputtering out and hatches sealing, preventing the loss of even more precious air, started rolling in.
"Engineering reports #2 main thruster array off line, sir," the QMOW called out.
"Very well. Status on #1."
"No information yet sir, they're working on it."
"Tell them to get me that fucking report."
"Shield array one sir," the BMOW called out.
"Very well. Shut down all weaps arrays."
"Aye aye."
"Reports of casualties forming on the Messdeck, sir," QMOW called out.
"Roger that, what's the story on the #1?"
"Engineering reports #1 has sustained massive damage. They say they gotta shut her down."
"Auxiliary thrusters. Bring us around, push us away from the planet."
"Come about and engage thrusters, aye" the helmsman called out. As they came about, the helmsman called the bearings; "220- 210- 200- 190- 180- 170- 160-"
"Steady on 140, belay passings."
"Stead on 140, range 22,107" the helmsman called out.
"Very well. Take us out until I say to stop."
"Aye aye"
"Fires out, teams ready to enter the spaces, sir," the BMOW called out.
"Very well, tell them to standby."
"Team 2 reports damage to ventilation system on starboard side, sir," the BMOW called out.
"Very well. Tell the teams to standby." With that order, the major knew he may have ordered several of the convicts to their deaths; The ventilation system was what was passing air to the pods, meaning that without the ventilation system intact, the inmates would likely asphyxiate. By now, everyone knew about 5214510; The JC's had even made a particular issue out of it.
Worse, everyone knew 5214510 was in the pod closest to the last reported epicenter of the explosion; 5214510 was probably killed in the initial explosion. That man must not be human, if he's gonna let that one die, several thought. That he was a Perytonian really didn't matter; He still had to be inhuman.
After a few very long seconds, Meehyck suddenly called out, "Bring us all stop. Petty Officer HAYES, attack teams may enter the spaces." Several aye ayes and repeated orders were around him; The reports started flowing in again.
"Sir, attack team 1 reports they're in the space, shoring up the hull sections that ruptured," BM2 HAYES called back.
"Very well."
"Sir, survivors are being evacuated to the messdeck," the QMOW called out.
"Very well. What's the story on the engines?"
"#1 is back on line at 50% power for a short burst; Snipes say if they can take her down an hour, they can have up to 75% for an extended period."
"Take it down. Anyone around here can take us in tow?" the major asked. The crew's shock at his call for a tow caught them off guard for a moment; No ship's captain in their living memory had actually asked to be towed. When no one answered, Meehyck got slightly 'miffed.' "Well?"
"Uh, sir, I can make a Mayday right away" the QMOW answered.
"We're hurt, Q, not dead. A marb should do." A Mariner's Assistance Request Broadcast, or MARB, was a simple, low-level request for assistance; Any self-respecting ship's captain would at least acknowledge the call, and pass it to someone who could help. Either way, it was not like lives were on the line. The mayday call would have brought the whole fucking world. Anyone who didn't at least try to help then would be chargeable.
As the "Q" called out for any available ship in the area, the reports continued coming. "Messdeck reporting overflow, request to move less-critical to wardroom."
"Permission granted. Non-criticals may be directed to the berthing areas."
"Aye sir," PO HAYES responded, then repeated the message.
"Sir, I got a ship reporting they can take us in tow," the QMOW announced.
"Very well, Q. Express our appreciation, and ask them to come alongside."
"Sir, they say they can take us in stern tow" "Q" reported.
"Petty Officer MOHRGAIN, can we risk being in the baffles with our damage?" Meehyck asked.
"Sir, the damage is to our aft compartments, we should be fine," the QMOW answered.
"Very well. Express our appreciation, and be sure to ask if they need us to do anything to prepare."
"Aye sir," PO MOHRGAIN answered, then added, "They're asking we shut down our thrusters while they hook up sir."
"Helmsman, kill the thrusters."
"Aye sir. Thrusters at standby."
"Very well. Petty Officer HAYES, how's the hull breech going?"
"Hull's closed sir, but it won't hold long."
"Doesn't have to. Evacuate all living troopers to the Messdeck or berthing or wherever they gotta go."
"Aye sir."
"Tell the attack teams they can cede those compartments as soon as they are evacuated."
"Aye sir." The crew were amazed; Any ship's captain, any normal one, wouldn't have cared if men died to re-claim those spaces, they didn't 'cede' anything. This major, he's something different the Chief of Boat, Master Chief SAXET, thought. Maybe it's that he's a Marine, not a ship's officer...
"Master Chief, alert me if there are any other problems. I'm gonna to see what's left of my men."
"Very good, sir," she replied.
As the major toured the injured, he started with the most critically injured, addressing each by name, rather than identification number, and asking each if there was any last requests. Most asked him to relieve their pain, which was universally granted; One, though, made a highly unusual last request; "Sir, I'd like one last bloɯjob, sir."
Can't fault him for asking Meehyck thought, but answered, "I don't think that's within my power, Tommy. If it were though, I'd make it happen."
"Sir, I understand sir."
The nurse came up behind him. "Sir, I recommend you step out now."
"Yes ma'am." The major took a deep breath, then let it out. It was then that he noticed the nurse hadn't come out with him; When he turned back to the door to find her, he noticed the door was locked. "What the-?" then it hit him. The Terran nurse was a little on the fat and older side, but then Why not? If that's even what was happening, that is. His ruminations were confirmed a few minutes later when she came back out, her uniform 'a little' disheveled, her lipstick fresh and new. Meehyck stared at her for a moment.
As if to cover, the nurse explained, "He had to have his flow tube adjusted."
"Well, I hope he's better now."
"He is, sir. Much better." To that, Meehyck smiled slyly, then turned to see the rest of his battered command. Fortunately for the major, Convict 5214510 was none the worse for wear in reality; A little smoke inhalation and asphyxiation, but the worst it got was a little red-faced; Not even blue.
Several hours later, Transport 221 limped back into port- Under tow. From a Toxic Waste transfer ship.
Joint Chief's Board of War
REF MAF Headquarters
Council Station
Jove Anchorage #1 (Presidents Point)
14 June, 2490
"While his style of command was what could generously be called unorthodox, Major FREERAR'S actions, his decisions, and orders were correct, based on all the facts that he had when he had them. Every member of the board stated that under the same circumstances, they would have done several things differently; Almost unanimously, they agreed to the methods they would have taken.
"That notwithstanding, we couldn't fault his actions. We are not only clearing him of all charges, but commending his actions. We are putting him back in command of his Special Battalion 41."
With that, the proceedings were closed. There had been comments on his decision to allow the critically injured troopers extra sedatives, but even the most vicious inquiry couldn't really fault him much; All of them died not as a result of overdose, but of injuries. No comment was made on the final requests.
The Grecian Hotel
Yonkers, New York
Terra, Sol
15 June, 2490
"Did she really give him a blowjob?" Ahmanda MAKVITE asked, incredulous.
"Like I said, she locked the door behind me. I don't know what she did in there for those few minutes. But I think so."
"Wow. Well, as long as nothing comes of it, I suppose it's all for the best."
"You mean like this?" Meehyck asked, waiving vaguely around him.
"Yes, exactly like this," Ahmanda laughed. More seriously, but not by much, she added, "That idiot partner of mine thinks these rooms were closed for technical reasons. What an idiot. I wish I could give him to you, maybe make a man of him."
"All I can make of him is a corpse," Meehyck answered dispersedly.
"Fine, so much the better."
"No, it really wouldn't do for an admiral in the Public Health to be seen at a prostitute's hotel," Meehyck answered, partly serious, partly joking.
"I suppose you're right," Ahmanda answered dejectedly. "It'd be nice, though."
"Ya" the major replied, just as depressed as before.
"Anyways, back to it. Now, slaaaaaaaaaaaave," Ahmanda intoned. "Come. Knee before your Mistress."
"Yes, mistress..." Meehyck obeyed, trying hard not to laugh.
Camp City
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
21 July, 2490
"As you are all aware, many of your comrades died last month. It was an unfortunate accident.
"Whether it pleases you or not, I have been cleared of all charges. The Board Of Inquiry found no fault in my command. The good news for you is that in so doing, they found no fault in our program. Therefore, we will return to training as if nothing happened. Keep in mind, that yes, this happened, and it will happen again. When we finally take City, it will be much worse; There will be no way to back off. We will be committed to battle outright.
"Keep in mind, we're going into battle in win or die circumstances. Even the Battle of Haydon IV was nothing compared to what we're facing. FBX 21555320 wasn't this bad; At least in those cases, there was a chance to pull out. We were lucky that our first blood was under circumstances where we could pull out, in orbit.
"This was also a learning experience; We know more what all can kill us.
"Finally, a discharge offer is being made for any requesting it. That is all." The next day, more requests to join had arrive, some of them marked "Urgent." Not a single request for discharge had arrived, but a half-dozen suicides were reported. Not a single attempt, but several success.
Camp City
Planet Tumper
Gamienge System
July, 2490 through November, 2491
One Of Millions Of Pods Around Teh Surface Of City; Exact use unknown.
The next year and a half was spent in training; Finally, the secrets of the assault were revealed, at a cost of only another 150 Convicts dead or permanently injured.
The time to load up for the mission had finally come; The troopers were well-versed in lottery, just about every trooper had had one night of bliss. Tonight, the major had an announcement.
"Gentlemen, today is a special day. Every man here, for tonight, has won the lottery." The cheers sounded for over an hour. When they'd finally calmed down, the major continued. "I expect you all to remain silent until ordered otherwise. Now, we go into battle next week. Therefore, the Joints Chiefs of Staff, your only backers outside this dome, have authorized one night of lottery for you all. You will be required to make one contribution; A genetic sample for posterity. Those of you who survive, your samples may be destroyed; Otherwise, it will be the property of the UGC.
"Alright, you can get crazy now." And with that, the men did. For 48 hours, they partied like there was no tomorrow, for to many of them, there wouldn't be- And they knew it.
The day after the party, the lottery was held again- This time, to determine the order of battle; Who'd go in first, and almost assuredly die, who'd go in last, and maybe survive if the assault was called off or the batteries silenced, and the 1% stay behind force, who'd not even load up into the transports- Because they weren't going.
Squad Delta-551 received their orders; "Stay behind." 5214510 was not amused. "Sir, I need to switch with somebody sir" he reported to his Tier Officer.
"Are you kiddin'? You won the lottery. You get everything, and do nothing," Mr. CAINNE remarked, flabbergasted.
"Sir, I have to go, sir." 5214510 wouldn't elaborate beyond that.
"Alright, I'll ask the major. But he's gonna say no," Mr CAINNE promised.
To his surprise, though, the major called 5214510 to his office. "Convict, I understand you want to trade with someone in the assault force."
"Sir yes sir."
After a moments reflection, Meehyck decided. "Alright. If you can find a volunteer to trade with, I'll authorize it."
"Sir, thank you sir." With that, 5214510 began asking around. Most companies refused to even let him in their door, once they found out about why he was asking. Finally, though, 38TH Company allowed him to ask. "I'm looking for someone willing to trade with me for the assault force. I'll take anyone's place."
After no one spoke up for a few minutes, the Company Sergeant spoke up. "Danny, you just got sick."
"Hell no. I'm not going back to prison."
"No. You caught the flu. I'll square it with the major. It's done."
True to his word, the sergeant squared it with the major; Danny stayed behind, SIQ for three months. 5214510 was going to City.
Stargrid: CEB7**901Z/8(5)m434m
12 November, 2491
The fleet formed up at the edge of the CEB7**901Z/8(5)m434m System. On hand was a full-fledged Ultra-Dimensional Fortress, the SANDHURST. On board, the Joint Chiefs of Staff stood at attention, awaiting word of Special Battalion 41's launch. Not a word was said among them; They were watching men march into death; None of them wished to diminish the moment.
In Orbit
IbiLxikoNa-89db47, commonly called "City"
Stargrid: CEB7**901Z/8(5)m434m
12 November, 2491
Cutaway Of One Of City's Defensive Laser Batteries; This was actually speculative, but turned out to be correct in almost every detail.
Major FREERAR addressed his command; "The Spartans of Terra had and expression: 'Itan Itas,' literally 'Come Back With Your Shield, Or On Your Shield.' It was meant to come home a victor or come back a corpse- Very literally, as it was the custom of the time that an honored dead would be carried home on his shield to be buried. Gentlemen, we have no shields, and into the jaws of death such as we are facing, we will either come back victors- Or we will not come back at all. For many of us, it will be both. Therefore, our motto shall be 'Vici O Morte'; 'Victory Or Death.'
"With this in mind, I also have named our little command- 'The Lost Battalion.'
"I can not tell you what fate awaits those of us who do survive this battle we face; You will be interned on City, IAW the terms of your service. Whether the Lost Battalion concept will continue or not, I can not say for sure, but I would expect not. In all probability, you will be the only Inmates to ever receive this opportunity; Cherish it. The possibility of the program continuing may even hinge on your ability to perform this mission.
"Some of you have heard the rumor that I 'may' be going on the mission itself; You heard right. In point of fact, whatever ship makes the first sub-orbital transition, the Zulu-Zero-One man will receive a once in a lifetime chance; I will be taking your place. All of you are familiar with the effects of random chance by now. I am the one fixed quality here. I am the only thing you can know for sure; I will be the point of the tip of our spear.
"You are in a unique position in history; Whether anything like this is ever done again rests on your shoulders. Show courage, skill and most importantly of all, victory, and you will prove you can; But that's only the first half of the battle. Some of you might think to keep your arms and rise up against the UGC afterwards; Do not give into the temptation. How history, and more importantly, the fucking reporters, judge you will only be determined by your actions today, and the least, most insignificant, absolutely pointless little 'slight' to their delicate sensibilities and they will bury you. All this will be for nothing.
"When the time comes, do not speak to the reporters; Let your leaders talk to them. Do not say, 'I have no comment,' say 'Sir, apologies, but I am under orders not to speak.'
"Today is our day, Gentlemen; Vici O Morte. Standby your pods."
The lottery played; Transport 32 would be the first ship to land. Major FREERAR immediately boarded a shuttle and transferred over. Enroute to T-32, however, an urgent call from Transport 49 came over the tactical net. "Major, I have a Convict here requesting to transfer over to Tango Three Two."
"Yes, and why is that?"
"He says he has to be on her sir."
"And who is this suicidal individual?" Meehyck asked sardonically, though he knew the answer.
"Convict 5214510," the answer came.
Meehyck had hoped this call wouldn't come through; However, it had, and that was it. "Very well. Have him standing by docking collar #1."
"Yes sir."
"Pilot, swing us by Tango Four Niner," Meehyck ordered.
"Diverting, sir," the pilot answered. After a few minutes, the pilot announced, "Coupling to Tango Four Niner, sir."
"Very well." A few minutes later, the airlocks hissed open. 5214510 stood at position of attention on the other side, suited up and ready to go.
"Sir, permission to come aboard?"
"Granted, but hurry up. We're already behind schedule."
"Thank you, sir." 5214510 came onboard right away.
Very quietly, Meehyck whispered, "Jamie, I'm proud of you. I had hoped I'd catch Transport 49."
"Sir," 5214510 answered. He appeared ready to cry.
As the force began the assault cycle, Transport 32 waited for Decoys 1, 3, 5, and 8 fell first; Let the batteries fire up a few ships, hopefully they'd think they were being effective. In order to 'encourage' the batteries, which sometimes were confused by mere machines, golts, franze, and behavens were loaded onboard to ensure they'd detect life signs. True to form, they were blasted; Unfortunately, some pods got through, others failed to; The troops morale wasn't helped.
Then Transport 32 began her phase of the assault; She got as far as the 25-mile line, through the haze of the decoy's assaults, before the batteries opened fire.
Legend would hold that the major's own pod, at the bow of the transport, was hit square-on; Others, that it was hit just topside of the pod, the pod pulled free, and the major died from falling to earth.
Whatever the truth, he would die; More that 80% would. But with so many ships coming in so quick, the batteries finally were overloaded just blasting ships, and stopped targeting the pods- Exactly to plan. Eventually, the batteries themselves were overwhelming the local reactor, forcing the planet's defense network to re-route power form other sectors, but even this wasn't enough, and some of the guns at the periphery of the battlefield fell silent.
IbiLxikoNa-89db47 (City)
Northern Hemisphere
Dome D-21/31-C
Corridor #1
16 November, 2491
"Getting here's only half the fun," Sergeant MAKVIE remarked; After four days, the 100-odd surviving troopers had hunkered down in the corridor, awaiting the other
The Site Of Sergeant MAKVIE'S Final Charge That Secured
Victory For The UGC (now called Makvie Road).
transports to land; Unfortunately, they were waiting the other batteries to be deactivated or destroyed. Without Major FREERAR to countermand the order, they could not land.
"It's a simple concept," Sergeant Major FINTENSE was growling over the radio, "If you don't come down, we can't break out."
"It's a simple concept, we can't land until you get us a hole to come down in," the voice at the other end replied.
"The major would have ordered you down; Or are you cowards?" FINTENSE accused.
The radio went quiet; Then, "Be ready to supply covering fire against ground forces. A diversion would be helpful."
"You want a diversion? You got it. Make your assault on my mark." Turning to the rest of the survivors, he called out, "Alright, those of you able, get up. We're going on the offensive." Many of the men stood, but not all of them; All tried. "Alright, ready- Steady- CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE!" he called out, the 75 to 80 walking wounded able to attack all screamed as one, charging headlong at the defenders, mowed down for the most part, but some even breaking through the enemies formation. In the fury, the remaining 15 transports made their assaults, this time overriding the self-destruct commands, throwing the troopers about a mere 100 feet from the surface; 22,000 troopers died in this phase, but many times that many it inside, and crawling over their fallen comrades, many dying from trampling, as their sheer weight of numbers overwhelmed the robots.
They were only able to get through to 3 batteries, however, but those three created the hole; The survivors of 228TH Infantry, 49TH Armor, and Task Force Delta Zulu Niner, hungry for revenge, came charging in; Despite the odds against it from round-based fire, the three units managed to get in, with their fire support, the remaining drones were easily routed and the remaining 7 batteries that had to be shut down to allow the techs in were silenced, along with the other 13 in that dome's control area. With that, the battle was lost for the 'defenders' of the planet. The techs, having gained access to the planet, were able to shut down the planet's entire defense network.
That's when it got a little more weird; The planet wasn't abandoned, the inhabitants had just gone that much further underground.
IbiLxikoNa-89db47 (City)
Northern Hemisphere
Dome D-21/31-C
Confrence Room On Northern Overlook
22 November, 2491
An Angel; This one called himself as Ananiel.
"So, this is the way it is?" the Angel, calling herself Gabriel, demanded to know.
"Well, no, not so much. Really, it's all up to you. If you're really adamant, we can leave. We would only ask that you allow us to collect our dead," General VIEERS answered smoothly.
"We see. What is in it for us?" Michael asked.
"Not much you might want, it appears," Gerty answered honestly. "But we could learn a lot from you and your people. Hopefully, that can create a situation mutually profitable to everyone."
The Angels turned to one another, then to the General. "We will consider your offer. We make no promises" Gabriel answered.
"We thank you," Gerty replied. "If you'll excuse us, we will retire to our own quarters and leave you to deliberate."
Back in Dome D-21/31-C, VIEERS addressed Admiral MAKVITE; "Well, do you miss him?"
The admiral considered this for a moment. "Like I do a pet. I'm over it, but I can not forget him."
"Have you met Jamie?" Gerty asked.
"Yes, he thanked me for being a friend to his brother," Ahmanda answered.
"You buy the theory?"
"What that he did all this just to get is brother out of prison? No" she lied; "Meehyck wasn't that kind of man. Probably didn't even know what prison his brother was in."
"Hmmm. If these 'angels' don't accept our offer, we will have to decide what to do with the convicts."
"Meehyck was foolish to choose one female for each trooper," Ahmanda observed.
"No choice. At first, he wasn't going to do anything, but I made him."
"What? Why?" the Admiral asked.
"If even one trooper had survived, and not had a woman available, they could all have sued us. 'Deprivation of legal rights' is the legal term."
"I see. I guess that's why you're the lawyer." Though the words were harsh, the sly smile belied her amusement.
"You know damned well I'm a tanker," Gerty retorted.
Suddenly the general changed her tone; "So how far along are you?"
"12 weeks" Ahmanda answered.
"Boy or girl?"
"I'm hoping a boy. Mike wouldn't have cared."
This caught the general off-guard- "What, you mean he didn't know?"
"Nope. I never told him."
"Oh, Ahmanda, you really should have."
"Oh, now I shouldn't have. It would have distracted him from the mission. Jamie knows, though."
"I see. Well- good night Ahmanda."
"Good night Gertrude."
IbiLxikoNa-89db47 (City)
Northern Hemisphere
Dome D-21/31-C
Confrence Room On Northern Overlook
23 November, 2491
The Angels had re-convened. "We have come to a conclusion." The UGC representatives held their breath. "We agree to allow the men who fought for this meeting to remain, in the domes they did
A Shuttle, the Freerar (registration 2258799321487) Built Specifically For The IbiLxikoNa-89db47 (City) Colony. She is Not Armed.
A TAU'CHAR DIER-Class Dreadnaught (literally "Portent of Darkness"), Captured From The Comaih Empire.
enter. They will be the go betweens for our peoples. We are willing to share our spacecraft, medical, and computer database technologies, but not our weapons technologies." After a moments pause, the Angel corrected, "Our computer database technologies."
The UGC's Ambassador, Darwahl MIZAN of Garuda, stood. "On behalf of the UGC, I accept your offer. We are prepared to reciprocate with our own technologies except in terms of weapons, and I was authorized to offer our shielding technologies."
"That is acceptable. We will build a spacestation where you may coordinate with the settlers, and a shuttle to reach it."
"That is generous, but we've already provided for this. A Panam-Class shuttle and a decommissioned and modified Tau'Char Dier-Class ship have been appropriated to these duties."
The Angels were silent a moment; Then replied, "Tau'Chas Dier-Class? Does not that mean "Portent Of Darkness?"
"Uh, yes, it may.." the ambassador began when the Angels cut him off.
"You leave a TAU'CHAR DIER-Class DREADNAUGHT? You call this a gift? You defeated the Comaih Empire over a generation ago; If the leaving of a warship in our space is not bad enough, you leave a decrepit derelict to add to the insult!"
"I assure you, she is no 'decrepit derelict' but she has been modified. Her FTL drives were removed and her weapons converted to shorter-range, high damage and cyclic rate energy based weapons, as well as a solar sail installed for main power. She would normally be scrapped out, this is true, but they were highly effective in their own time, and should be more than adequate for your needs as a watch-and-ward and point of contact station. More importantly, they're free." With that Ambassador MIZAN sat down.
The Angels were silent for a moment; Then the spokesman answered. "Done. You will however be responsible to supply YOUR settlers with food, medical supplies, clothing, etc. Everything. We will supply to them nothing but shelter."
"Done." And With that, City became IbiLxikoNa-89db47, Member World of the UGC.
Clariont Flag.
Clariont Flag.
Anexation Of IbiLxikoNa-89db47 (City).
Clariont Flag.
Clariont Flag.
The entry of IbiLxikoNa-89db47 (aka "City") into the UGC was, unfortunately like many other "independent factions," forcible; After eons of isolationism, the UGC found the way to penetrate cities defenses, a trick no other empire had ever accomplished, some despite strenuous attempts by various empires; According to the natives, even the Haydonites did not succeed in such an effort.
After about 300 years, the descendants of the original colonists had spread throughout the planet, while the Angels remained deeply underground- Not seen by anyone off-planet and not many on-planet either.
The discovery that the Angels were in fact interred there caught some UGC representatives off-guard, but more suprising than this was the choice they made to continue their interment. No reason for this has yet been presented.