Authors: Michael G Thomas
Tags: #Fiction, #Science Fiction, #Military, #Space Opera, #High Tech
Tears of Kerberos
By Michael G. Thomas
Tears of Kerberos
Copyright © 2011 by Michael G. Thomas
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
The first victory for the Centauri Confederacy was the bloody and costly Siege of Titan. Though the Zealots and their supporters had been pushed out, the revolt on the planet below had taken a violent and terrifying turn for the worse. Throughout the Confederacy the ships and people of the Confederate Military mobilised and prepared for the coming storm, the war that would move from an insurgency to the bloodiest conflict since the Great War.
Reports of the Proxima Emergency
Spartan should have been resting. It was four days since the events on board the Titan Naval Station and his wounds had barely healed. He was still covered in bruises and the stitches on his arm could do with another week of healing. Since returning to the Fleet he had been suffering from recurring headaches, apparently a common symptom of prolonged combat in close environments. It didn’t matter though, events had changed and taking a break was for somebody else right now. The insurgency down on the planet of Prime had taken over most of the Northern colony of Avagana and the other six colonies were experiencing a variety of suicide attacks and hijackings. What had started as a violent insurgency against the state was quickly starting to look like the first stages of civil war. Spartan wasn’t a career soldier by any means. His life just a year ago had been completely different. He was a well-built man but unfortunately a series of poor decisions had resulted in him fighting in the underground pit fighter circuit. The fights were illegal in the Confederacy but the money was good and he needed the cash to pay of his substantial debts. A bungled police raid had left him with a dead police officer at his feet and a choice between the military or prison. With the insurgency moving fast he was already starting to think he had made another bad decision.
The briefing room was packed on board the CCS Santa Cruz with Marine Corps officers and intelligence staff, as well as officers from other ships in the Fleet. Due to his recent experiences fighting the enemy shock troops he had been asked to attend, though from what he could see he was the lowest ranked person in the room. The ship was the sister of the vessel Spartan had served on board for many months but this was his new home. Unlike the other transports in the Fleet this one was dedicated to the transportation, support and supply of the elite commando companies. Every member of the commandos was selected from combat veterans with experience in the harshest of conditions. Spartan may have seen action in the bloodiest operation for the last fifty years but he had still only seen one action. Most of the marines sat there had a whole ten-year stint in the marines and a good half of them were back for another ten years.
General Rivers, an imposing figure dressed in his finest regalia, approached the front of the room. He was flanked by two marine guards, both in full armour and carrying L48 carbines in front of them on three point slings. Their armour covered them from head to toe and was completely sealed to allow them to move and fight in regions without atmosphere or pressure. Behind him marched Lieutenant Colonel Blake, leader of the commando company on board the ship and conspicuous by his camouflaged fatigues that he always wore. After the actions of the last weeks they were taking no chances with security and the armoured bodyguards were stationed all over the ship. He was an experienced warrior and had played an important part in the operations to remove the Zealot threat from the Titan Naval Station and transit stations in orbit around Proxima Prime.
“Please be seated,” said General Rivers.
The room quietened as he stepped to the side and brought up a large display of the Proxima Centauri System, one of the three star systems in the Confederacy, the other two being Alpha Centauri and Sol, the old world that included the original capital of Earth. In the centre of the screen was the star, around it tracked the eleven planets of the system. Prime was the largest inhabited planet in the Proxima System and her naval station was the most significant outside of Alpha Centauri. The industrial planet of Kerberos was a close second in size to Prime and featured over a dozen inhabited moons and mining stations. The display focused in on Prime and stayed there as the General approached the microphone.
“This crisis has transformed from an insurgency on a small number of colonies to a general uprising that could threaten the very Confederacy. I have received word from Terra Nova that an assassination attempt on the President and key members of the Council was averted. We have only just heard, but due to the delay between Terra Nova and Proxima this took place two months ago. Since then we are receiving only sporadic transmissions, so for now we are on our own,” he said seriously.
A hush spread through the hall at the news. The General lifted his hand for quiet. He continued.
“The good news is that there is no general support for the Zealots throughout the Confederacy. Their support base appears limited and if we act hard and fast we should be able to resolve this situation before it spirals. Our colonies are stable and the Fleet is under our control, but things can change and it is our job to protect the men and women of the Confederacy against any threat, from outside or within. Do not underestimate them though. They have been able to strike at ships in the Fleet and political figures on the ground. All Confed units have been activated and the reserves are being mobilised for a long campaign. Right now we need to stabilise the front lines, protect civilians and stop the attacks before the uprising spreads further. I will leave you in the hands of Lieutenant Colonel Blake who will explain the current tactical situation and outline your next operations. Good luck, I wish you well.”
Lieutenant Colonel Blake took his place and saluted the General who marched off, still escorted by his personal guard.
“The operation to clear the satellites around Prime was a resounding success and the moon of Kronus and the Naval Station is under our control. Our losses were high but the objective was completed quickly and effectively. Starting today the engineering team is already clearing the damage on the Station and we expect it will be capable of receiving ships in less than a week.”
Several of the marines cheered before spotting the stern look on the officer’s face.
“That is the good part, I’m afraid the situation down on Prime is much worse. We have important and very difficult work to do. As you are aware, most of the battlegroup that took part in ground operations on Kronus is undergoing resupply and medical attention. These forces are at the shipyard and medical station at Kerberos where they are expected to rejoin the battle if needed within two weeks. The last reinforcements from Alpha Centauri arrived two days ago and are already on the ground on Prime and are continuing the fight. The 3
Marine Regiments have taken positions alongside those on Avagana. With the problem of communications with Terra Nova we can’t expect any more help. As most of you know, the journey is forty-five weeks, so unless they are already on the way we are now without reinforcements. We have other problems, real problems,” he said in a serious tone.
The officer zoomed in onto the continent where it showed the key mines, settlements, cities and transportation hubs. On the left side of the display was a large complex that was cantered around a huge city and surrounded by settlements, tower blocks and industrial sites. He zoomed out slightly so that the site of the Metallurgical Research & Mining Company showed along the side.
“Avagana, the Northern continent of Prime and home of its largest colony. As most of you are aware this is also the location of the Bone Mill.”
He paused for a moment as those watching immediately recognised the most feared warzone in the System. In the last year a secretive religious group known as the Zealots had overrun the underground facility. Since then the Confederacy had been fighting to retake it. Several days before a force of genetically altered shock troopers had smashed out of the site and launched a lightning offensive against the marine and infantry units that encircled it. In hours hundreds of marines were dead and the enemy was advancing on the towns and settlements in the region. The name Bone Mill had come from the bitter underground combat between marine units and the insurgents. It signified the savage attrition that had seen few gains and hundreds of lives lost on both sides.
“You are all aware of the genetic threat the enemy pose since they unleashed what may only be described as their shock troops. We can only assume they have been developing this technology for some time, or that they have help from a third party, as until now their numbers have been small and their mode of operation discreet. These new shock troopers are something completely different and with them has arrived a new chapter in this struggle,” he said as he waved over to Spartan.
Spartan felt a lump in his throat as he noticed everybody else in the room looking towards him. He had expected to be asked questions but the direct signal from the officer had still caught him by surprise.
“Private?” He beckoned to the front of the room where he was standing.
Spartan stood and made his way to the front, he could hear muttering and whispers from those present as he walked past. Although his combat experience on Kronus was undisputed, there was always jealously, and the fact that a mere private was being given the floor would do little to ingratiate him with them. He walked past the last row of officers and up to the Lieutenant Colonel. He stopped and saluted smartly.
“If you could provide us with your observations of the enemy,” he said quietly.
The officer then took a step back so that Spartan stood alone. He moved to the mic and started to speak but his voice had gone completely dry. One of the marines stood nearby tilted his head, indicating for him to look to his right. He turned quickly and spotted the tray and the glasses of water, two sips and he felt much better. He cleared his throat and started again.
“Following the actions on Kronus, my team was tasked with boarding a small vessel escaping the scene of the battle. After boarding and securing the outer sections these creatures attacked us. They definitely look human, though I’m not sure how or what has changed them. Their muscles are thicker and the jaws and bones have expanded and strengthened. The ones we faced were able to break through armour and also absorb heavy trauma from our weapons’ fire.”
Spartan turned back and took another sip of water. Before he could continue, two of the officers in the room stood up.
“Yes?” Spartan asked.
“Captain MacArthur, Bravo Company. From your encounter would you not describe them as animals, or are you saying they are a modified or mutated form of human?”
“I couldn’t say where they are from, it is clear that they are capable of using weapons and working as a group. I didn’t hear them speak or communicate, but I was kind of busy,” he said with a grin.