Lieutenant Daniel Wong
Location: Launcher Alpha, Yangon System, Eastern Block of Nations
It all started as the best day of his life. He got a good night’s sleep after a successful shift. Nothing out of the ordinary had occurred on the Launcher since his platoon’s arrival six months ago. A few drunken cargo jockeys needed to be thrown in the station’s brig and fines levied, but other than that business ran smoothly. His fitness report from his superior detailed his excellent performance, which helped make everything possible.
His military-issued holographic communicator (holocom) was blinking beside his bed in his spartan quarters. The yellow light flashing told him it wasn’t urgent, but he’d been waiting for this message for weeks. He took several deep breaths and to mentally prepared himself for both outcomes before accepting the read-request.
It was detailed in the hybrid Slavic-Mandarin that had developed as the primary language over hundreds of years in the Eastern Block of Nations.
<We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted…> He didn’t need to read the rest.
He pumped his fist repeatedly in the air. Energy and renewed purpose flowed through him. If he hadn’t been accepted he wasn’t sure what we would do.
Daniel was the leader of an infantry platoon of forty men. He was detached from his company by choice to reinforce the Launchers in Yangon. It was by choice because he had volunteered his unit for the assignment. His Battalion was stationed in the sector capitol, New Petersburg. It was hard to distinguish yourself and your unit when you were constantly competing against thousands of other platoons for the most minor details. So, for the betterment of his small command, he volunteered for them to come out into the frontier. If he hadn’t been leading them well for over three years, they might have turned on him.
Everything had turned out just as he predicted. There was limited competition in the up-and-coming system. His unit got the opportunity to show their skills in plenty of details. The Major in charge of Launcher Alpha had taken notice and personally requested Dragon Platoon as a police and quick reaction force for his Launcher.
Daniel looked back at the holographic writing hovering in the air, and took a last breath to savor the moment. It was bitter and sweet. Everything would change now. He’d been accepted to the Politburo Academy back on New Petersburg. He had several tough years of study ahead of him, but at the end he would graduate a political officer with the rank of Captain. He would be attached the a battalion staff and begin to liaise between the military and local party leaders.
The acceptance was a high honor, especially from someone of Daniel’s background. His father was a miner and his mother was a European who he’d met while she was on a religious mission to the system he was toiling in. They’d fallen in love, she’d immigrated to live with him, and then Daniel was born.
Daniel had been fighting an uphill battle all his life. His skin was a little to light and his eyes a little too round. It betrayed his European genes, and that earned him punches and kicks in school, but it also taught him how to fight. He was also bigger than most of his classmates, and he was smart. He knew the only way he would ever be accepted by the people around him was winning honor and glory in battle. He did the mandatory two years of university to become and officer and joined the Grand People’s Army Ground Force the next day. His acceptance to the Politburo now was an affirmation that his insight at eighteen had been correct.
Graduation from the Politburo christened him a military political officer, but more importantly, it made him eligible for proxy status. Proxies were the voice of the People. They were dedicated, vetted, honorable party members who’d been deemed worthy of the authority to represent the People. Proxies attended the Proxy Councils, which were the ruling political bodies in towns, cities, systems, and the entire Block. His platoon had already pledged their votes to him. That was forty votes he was sworn to wield for the good of the People. He figured he could pick up some more votes before leaving for the Academy, and then his Battalion’s when he returned. It was tradition that the military command would make their political officer their voice in the councils. So, by the time Daniel sat at his first council meeting, he could have between one thousand and fifteen hundred votes to wield.
It still only made him a Minor Proxy by Yangon system statutes, but it was a start. With new citizens coming in as the system prospered, and the soldiers that protected them campaigning on his behalf, Daniel could hit the one hundred thousand votes needed to transition to Major Proxy in a few years. Who knew, he might even be able to attain the system Mega Proxy status in record time. That put him on the path to Giga Proxy, and eventually the lofted Party Proxies that presided over the People’s Proxy Council that governed the entire Block of Nations. Hell, he might even be Chairmen of the Council one day. He’d undergone low-level cellular rejuvenation as part of his enlistment, and he was determined to get the most out of his extra time in this galaxy.
All of that played through his mind as he dressed in his Battel Dress Uniform (BDUs) and pulled his armor over his head and secured it around his chest. A quick check of the schedule showed nothing out of the ordinary incoming to the Launcher, so he headed to the command post for the morning staff meeting with the Major.
He was halfway there when the lighting dropped to emergency red and the klaxons started blaring. His causal walk turned into a sprint and he made it to the command post just in time to see the enemy fleet transition into a system he thought was secure.
The Major didn’t hesitate. He was a veteran of several minor skirmishes with the Collies. He ordered an immediate hold on all inbound traffic, and pushed outbound traffic through as rapidly as possible. They needed to clear the area around the Launcher of civilians. He coordinated with the fortresses orbiting the trio of Launchers, and detailed the preparation of defense to the dozen lieutenants that commanded the garrison’s hodgepodge of platoons. As the senior Ground Force lieutenant present, Daniel took overall command.
They’d trained for this eventuality, but never to this degree. A look at the threat board showed nearly a hundred Collie battleships and multiple assault carriers at their center. Daniel wasn’t a fleet tactician, but he knew that was the biggest force of ships he’d ever seen. Even New Petersburg’s defensive fleet wasn’t that large.
He pushed those concerns aside. His duty was to secure this station from boarders, which was exactly what was going to happen. The Major already had the ships jumping away carrying distress calls to their destinations. If Daniel remembered the force allocation of the Sector correctly, New Petersburg was the largest force able to contend with the massive invasion fleet, but they were a ten hour Alcubierre ride away, with at least that much time to organize, and then a ten hours jumpo back. At the earliest, it would be thirty hours before a sizable contingent of friendly forces could join the fight. There were a few systems closer with respectable picket forces, but nothing above a battlecruiser.
That force even being able to make it to Yangon was predicated on them holding the Launchers. If the Launchers were taken, and the beacons deactivated, it would easily increase the time it took a relief fleet to jump system to system to the aid tenfold.
<Thirty hours.> Daniel told himself and his platoon. <We need to hold for thirty hours to survive.> It would take a fifth of that time for the Collie fleet to reach engagement range, but that still left an Earth-standard day of defensive actions.
There were five hundred Ground Force soldiers on the Launcher. One hundred and twenty were engineers and support personnel, but he put them to work. The engineers created booby traps at every turn. The Ground Force was divided into three main defensive positions: Command Post, Communications Control, and Power Core. Daniel station Dragon Platoon at the core, because that was where the game would be won or lost.
The corridors were longer and straighter leading to the core so the conduits that supplied power to the Launcher didn’t have to twist and turn all over the place. It gave extended lines of sight and allowed for easily overlapping fields of fire. Defensive positions were erected every hundred meters with a final defensive line at the entrance to the core control room.
The one hundred and sixty men protecting the core would make the invaders pay for each centimeter gained in blood. Daniel stood with his men and watched the command feed from the control room. He watched the Collie Fleet split into two smaller, but still impressive, forces. One moved toward the planets, while another moved toward them. He saw the opening salvos as the fortresses valiantly tried to stop the battleships.
He relayed the information to his men, and led the cheers when an enemy battleship was wounded. Each explosion on their hulls was one less Commonwealth imperialist his platoon would have to deal with.
As they waited and watched, he sent out roving patrols from his forward station squads. It was more to keep them busy as battle ragged all around him, but also allowed some of the units not familiar with this part of the Launcher to become more acquainted with it. If they knew the terrain better than the enemy they could use it against them.
Daniel knew the time was drawing near when one of the Collies giant assault carriers split from the rear of the main force and darted toward the Launchers. His used his control to zoom one of the external optical cameras. A thousand specks spun around the carrier and defended it against the fortress’ missiles. When the ship was close enough, the Launchers added their own feeble offensive firepower to the mix.
Only a handful of hits got through the carrier’s defenses, and it didn’t even slow the mighty ship down. Rail guns and point defense lasers started to flash when the carrier was still a ways off, but Daniel knew the imperialist’s tactics from the major’s briefing. They would fire stealth pods to secure landing zones around the launcher.
It was his job to deny the enemy those squared LZs.
“Tiger Platoon, move forward to Rendezvous Point Alpha.” Daniel ordered his fellow lieutenant.
The lieutenant nodded, gave Daniel a crisp salute and marched his forty men forward. They would conduct movement to contact operations against the enemy boarders. They would isolate and destroy the small parties attempting to secure the LZs without venturing too far forward to be cut off.
“Ox Platoon, move two squads forward to Rendezvous Point Bravo.” Daniel could hear the hull ringing from impacts followed closely by terrible whining sounds.
Sensors on the hull were going dark as enemy electronic warfare jammed them, but it still gave the defenders an idea where the enemy was. Daniel counted four dark areas on his HUD’s map and he’d deployed his forces accordingly.
“Prepare to repel boarders!” He yelled over the all-hands channel.
His troops roared their rage, their passion, and their defiance at the imperialists coming their way. He knew they would defend their home against the invasion. Everyone would do their duty. They would die for their nation, or they would reap the rewards of glorious victory.
Location: Launcher A, Yangon System, Eastern Block
Their pod hit the launcher hard. Eve made sure her tongue was nowhere near her teeth or she’d end up biting it in half. Despite her enhanced physique, she felt bruised and broken by the ride over. The cradles they were secured in were good, but the G’s they pulled, coupled with the rapid jukes to avoid defensive ordinance, made her feel like she was an ingredient in James Bond’s martini.
“Power up, people!” GYSGT Cunningham announced as the ear-splitting whine of the diamond-nanite-tipped drills and cutting lasers went to work eating through the Launcher’s hull.
Eve’s V3 armor leapt to life and immediately deafened the irritating noise. She immediately ran a diagnostic. Despite the soreness radiating through her entire being, she was still medically green, and the scan showed nothing was broken. Not that the GYSGT would have cared. Powered armor let you do a lot even if your body was a crippled mess.
“Thirty seconds! Let’s kick this bitch!”
There were five people in the pod. Two soldiers from the 2511th in the front whose job it was to immediately secure the area. Behind them were Eve and the communication’s guy. Eve would reinforce the perimeter and the comms guy would get the mini-node he carried on his back up and running. Communications was going to be key to coordinating the attack. In the rear cradle was the GYSGT who would emerge and take charge of the situation.
That was the plan, but plans rarely survived contact with the enemy.
The high-pitched whining ceased. There was a flash of bright light as the lasers finished the job and created a smooth hole that a regular soldier could crouch through. The first to soldiers were already out of their cradle, crouched and ready to spring through the hole when it opened up.
The rotating flashes of light vanished, Eve heard a thump, and then red-tinged electric light flooded the pod. The two soldiers hopped out of the pod, and the space was immediately filled with gunfire.
“Shit!” Eve hit the release to her cradle and fell ass first onto the floor. She didn’t feel the impact, but she instinctively grabbed for her Buss in its port by her cradle.
She got it out of the port, but it caught on the comms guy’s cradle before she could bring it on target.
<Fucking piece of…> she dropped it and grabbed for her chest when red target icons started to populate around the hole.
The two soldiers sent to secure the area were reading dead-black statuses, but their STRATNET data was still transmitting. Most soldiers made due with their service issued weapons, but Rangers weren’t most soldiers. Eve was strapped down with half a dozen other instruments of dead: from nanite-tipped knives to pistols. She grabbed the nearest one, an energy pistol with a six round battery, and unleashed hell as a Blockie soldier pointed their weapon in the hole. She hit the guy in the shoulder, which was enough to make the guy stumble back and someone to start shouting. Her LACS’ translators informed her they were cursing and calling for backup. Eve didn’t have time for that shit.
She pulled a frag grenade from her belt and tossed it into the hall.
There was more translated cursing as the enemy scattered, but not before someone returned the favor. Eve’s grenade and a Blockie grenade passed each other in midair through the hole. Eve reached for it, tried to catch it and toss it back out, but she was out of position, and the cradle got in the way…again.
“ES…” was all she was able to yell before both grenade detonated with resounding BOOMS.