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Author Topic: Show of Force  (Read 2907 times)

XaosGorilla

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #120 on: 14 April 2019, 03:37:00 »
np

Daryk

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #121 on: 14 April 2019, 08:18:19 »
Ah, I thought you were wrapping it up there in post 118... glad to hear there will be more here.  :thumbsup:

cklammer

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #122 on: 14 April 2019, 09:15:28 »
Hello dubble_g,

 I am actually still here  8).

 But I am reading this offline on an e-book reader and so am only posting when I scrape an e-book with the latest updates for reading on the train which happens once or twice a week.

 Still entranced with this one, though.

Best Regards,
Christian

shadowdancer

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #123 on: 14 April 2019, 10:35:42 »
Still here and will be waiting.
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cpip

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #124 on: 14 April 2019, 13:37:47 »
Just caught up with this. Hope you come back to it; I love your writing style and the way you get inside a given character's head.

mikecj

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #125 on: 14 April 2019, 15:37:08 »
Hum, distracted by other things at the moment. New writing on my blog. Will finish this when I get back on my desktop. If anyone's still reading...

Now you're just trolling for compliments :)
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.

Dubble_g

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #126 on: 16 April 2019, 20:42:54 »
Now you're just trolling for compliments :)
Oh no, no, no, no, no, no ... Well, yeah. A bit. I mean, is there any reason for publishing fan fiction other than community feedback? Semi-serious question. I know I've mentioned this before in another thread, and people have said they like reading without feeling the need to comment, but as a writer complete silence can be unnerving.  And thanks to everyone who chimed in to say they're still here.

Anyway, my schedule's kind of all over the place at least until mid-May, so for those that prefer to read offline I've put the whole thing up on ye olde blogge: https://one-way-mirror.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

***

TWENTY-THREE
Park Place, January 3015


There were no brave words when the loyalists arrived, tirelessly hounding them, remorseless as the ancient Greek furies. They could all count the number of drive flares filling the sky, and knew how many of their enemies were coming for them.

More than enough.

They were down to about a single battalion now, from the three they’d started with. The Fourth Guards were in a similar state. Against what looked like almost three full regiments: The enemy roster read like a roll call of grudges—the Fifteenth again, their old nemesis, the Head Hunters, no doubt hungering for revenge for Sophie’s World, and the Home Guard, the regiment that had killed his father. A force at least four times their size.

In Tivoli, the capital of Park Place, the Third was digging trenches, knocking down buildings to create better fields of fire, and piling up the rubble into barricades and strongpoints. At Fort Irwin on Bernardo, the League had turned a fortress into a park. Now, they were turning Park Place into a fortress.

Destiny or fate or providence or whatever god ruled the galaxy was not without a sense of humor, it seemed.
What they were doing was a crime, Sebastian felt, albeit a small one that probably wouldn’t even make his own personal top 10 list. But still, a crime nonetheless.

Park Place was a garden world, one of those handful of planets seemingly tailor-made for humanity, an Eden of pleasant grasslands and sparkling rivers, shady forests and perfumed gardens. A garden world that humanity had, in a rare display of restraint, managed not to immediately screw up or irreparably damage in the centuries since. Well, the Third was here to correct that oversight.

It was summer on Park Place, whatever the Terran calendar claimed, and they’d turned the pleasant, tawny summer days into a bleak and gritty winter of the soul. They’d trodden flat the multicolored flower beds that bloomed along the sides of green and lazy canals, bulldozed the trees in the city’s hundred leafy parks to make space for artillery emplacements, supply dumps or rallying points. Even the air, once so clean and fresh, now stank of oil and lubricant, or of smoke from burning buildings.

Sebastian worked alone and ate alone and slept alone. His lance was gone. Delavigne and Demir gone, lost on Bernardo, dead or captured he didn’t know which. The other MechWarriors avoided him. He was a marked man, a sure target for the avenging Fifteenth, and nobody wanted to be around when they caught up to him.

Sebastian stood before a rustic two-story stone house in the suburbs of Tivoli, situated at the base of a T-junction and facing a wide, divided boulevard that had once been lined with trees. The house was probably something that had stood for a hundred years or more. Abandoned, of course—the population had either fled or were hiding in the many hastily-built shelters further towards the city center.

The feet of the Mjolnir sank into the soft earth of the wide, green lawn. He fitted his right hand into the haptic manipulator glove, raised the ’Mech’s right hand and brought it crashing down through one wall. Rock crumbled like sand beneath the titanic fingers. He grabbed one stone, and pulverized it to powder in the ’Mech’s grip, just to see if he could. Sebastian watched the white powder cascade though the fingers in little waterfalls of pointless destruction.

He grew restless. This was taking too long. He let the arm fall, nudged the throttle and stomped the Mjolnir forward, straight into the front of the house. The walls and roof exploded outwards under the impact, pulling the entire house down in an escalating cascade. Sebastian stood in the middle, twisted left and right to complete the destruction, and kicked aside the few fragments of wall still standing. Then he got the glove again, and began to scoop the rubble into a two-meter embankment across the front lawn, working like an automaton, barely seeing what he was doing. Thinking nothing.
BattleTech fiction and SciFi writing: https://one-way-mirror.blogspot.jp/

Dubble_g

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #127 on: 16 April 2019, 20:43:43 »
The Jabos began to probe the next day. First, a lance of Galleon light tanks that turned and fled the moment they detected him. Sebastian decided not to waste ammunition.

He waited. Six aerospace fighters streaked overhead and he suppressed a shudder, remembering Sophie’s World. They kept going, and he heard distant thunder from somewhere far to his left. A volcano stack of smoke and flame billowed over the city.

A few hours later, a recon lance came down the broad boulevard, a bat-eared Hermes II followed by a Cicada-3C sporting a PPC in one shoulder, and a pair of tiny 20-ton Stingers. Sebastian didn’t recognize the markings, but what difference did it make? Here were more enemies, and there would be plenty more when they were gone.

Sebastian fired off the last of his long- and short-range missiles, emptied his last autocannon rounds at them from the shelter of the low rubble wall. He might have damaged the Hermes, enough to make it limp—he wasn’t sure—but the lance was clearly not here to fight, and fell back with a few wild blasts of particle and autocannon fire that did nothing but rearrange the rubble slightly.

Sebastian thought of calling for support and giving pursuit, but why bother? They’d be back, soon enough.

Sure enough, towards evening a heavier force came, a fire support lance of an Archer, with a pair of Riflemen and a Griffin. Sebastian had nothing to match their long-range firepower now. He backed the Mjolnir up, turned it around, and ran, deeper into the city, where the roads were narrower, the buildings more clustered, and the engagement ranges would be shorter. The heavy lance did not pursue. They were in no rush.

The pattern repeated for the next 10 days, as the loyalist forces lapped higher and higher, like waves of an incoming tide, and the circle of the Third Militia’s defenses contracted, meter by inexorable meter.

Sebastian slept in the cockpit, in 15 or 30 minute bursts, wolfed down protein bars when he could, and began to forget what life was like outside the confines of a metal and ferroglass cube. He’d fallen asleep once, just out like the proverbial light, slumped forward in the harness with his hands still on the controls. Then suddenly jerked awake as a proximity alarm screamed in his ear and found a Quickdraw bearing down on him at full speed.

He’d shifted at the last minute, edging aside as the other ’Mech plowed past, right into the stone façade of a neo-Gothic bank. Sebastian had been too woozy to even fire. He just sort of stared at the Quickdraw dully, until its pilot picked it up out of the rubble and leaped away on its jump jets. Out of sheer embarrassment, perhaps. Belatedly, Sebastian fired a couple of laser blasts in its direction, but missed every shot.
BattleTech fiction and SciFi writing: https://one-way-mirror.blogspot.jp/

Dubble_g

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #128 on: 16 April 2019, 20:46:53 »
The regimental headquarters was now in the basement of the planetary parliament buildings. The holotable had been lost on Bernardo, along with all the battalion mobile headquarters units. They were back to using a two-dimensional, printed paper map. Like something out of a historical.

It had been a conference room, once. There was still a central table, now covered with a sprawling map of Tivoli City, and the executive chairs had been haphazardly jammed down the far end of the room. The lights were feeble and dim, and shook occasionally as artillery shells landed somewhere above. There had been paintings on the wall, pastoral scenes in keeping with the planet’s names, picnics and fields and sunlit green hills. Someone had torn most of them down and defaced the rest.

Sebastian looked around at the dozen other faces in the room, all of them dirty, disheveled, hollow-eyed with exhaustion. He must not look much better.

Frank Streicher had survived, of course. Sebastian should have recognized the rest of them, but names were so vague now. Captain so-and-so, Lieutenant blah-blah-blah, Sergeant one-foot-in-the-grave. Gerald’s usual retinue of guards were on hand, anonymous as ever behind their masked helmets, but even they seemed to slump a little, he thought.
Esposito was pointing at the map, sketching lines with one finger.

‘Sir, the Fifteenth Militia has secured the spaceport and is moving towards the city from the north,’ he said to Gerald Marik. The Colonel did not react. ‘The Home Guard heavy BattleMech regiment landed to the east and south, and the Head Hunters to the west. Spearheads of the Fifteenth and the Home Guard already threaten to break our final defense line. By tomorrow, they will be able to link up here, at Friendship Bridge, and cut our pocket in half.’ Esposito tapped the map again, at a long black line cast across a wide river in the city center.

Gerald waved him into silence, and then rubbed a finger along his scraggle-bearded chin in thought.

‘They’re attempting a double envelopment. Hah.’ Gerald snapped his fingers. He picked up a thick grease pencil, and began to scribble arcs of blue across the map. ‘We’ll feint towards the mercenaries, then hit the Fifteenth when they shift their reserves to meet our thrust. Once we’ve punched through the Fifteenth, we can sweep around and catch the Hunters in the rear.’

Sebastian stifled a laugh. Feint? With what forces? Punch through how? Fainting seemed a real possibility—but feinting? Not so much.

Esposito’s mouth set in a thin line. The normally unflappable aide was sweating. He reached up two fingers to loosen his collar, and swallowed hard before he spoke.

‘Colonel, perhaps it’s time to consider seeking terms. An offer to surrender—’ Esposito started to say.

Without changing expression, Gerald unbuttoned the holster at his hip, drew a small and elegantly decorated laser pistol, and shot Esposito just above the right eye. The man’s head jerked back, and he collapsed soundlessly. Gerald blinked, dropped the pistol to the ground, and looked back at the map. As though nothing had happened.

‘Where was I? Right, Force Commander Adeyemi’s battalion will hit them here, on Bountiful Boulevard. The buildings will conceal the movement of our two battalions, and we can break the Fifteenth in a surprise attack.’ Gerald nodded to himself in satisfaction.

Sebastian looked at the other officers. They did not make any comment, nor meet his eye, but instead looked stolidly down at the map. Streicher nodded to the guards, who silently took Esposito’s body by the armpits and dragged him away, leaving a thick trail of red across the carpet.

Fantasies don’t die easy, Sebastian thought. Funny how things that walked nowhere but in the mind could leave just deep footprints on the ground. Well, his dreams were dead. He didn’t see why Gerald Marik should be allowed to keep his.

‘Sir, we don’t have enough men,’ Sebastian began. ‘Even if we did, we’re cut off from our DropShips and supplies. There’s food, fuel and ammunition for maybe a day more of fighting, that’s all.’

Gerald continued to stare down at the map, giving no sign he had heard the comment. He tapped the map thoughtfully. ‘Wait, I have a better idea. Order Force Commander Adeyemi to punch through their lines. We’ll regroup at the port, then counterattack and—’

‘Adeyemi is dead, sir.’

Gerald stopped, his finger frozen over the map, quivering slightly. Slowly he looked up. His face hardened. ‘That was an order, Gordon,’ he said quietly. ‘Are you disobeying a direct order?’

‘He’s dead. Died on Berenson two months ago. Sir.’

Gerald’s head snapped up, eyes bulging in outrage. ‘DON’T LIE TO ME!’ he screamed, spittle flying. The finger that had pointed at the map was now leveled at Sebastian in accusation. ‘You’re all just trying to make excuses not to attack. You cowards. You filthy, idiot, traitorous cowards. I should shoot the lot of you!’

Gerald reached for his belt, scrabbled at it desperately, but his service holster was empty, the gun taken away with the body of his aide. Sebastian watched him, calm and unafraid. Death might come as a relief. ‘Someone get me a gun so I can shoot everybody!’ Gerald shouted.

The guards looked at one another. Then at Streicher. He shook his head slightly. The guards stood still.

‘Traitors! Cowards!’ The Colonel began to weep, great big heaving ugly sobs. ‘I’m betrayed by everyone. Everyone! Everybody hates me. I knew it. I knew it all along. Well, you can all go to hell!’

With that, he grabbed the map table under the rim and heaved it upwards, sending it crashing on its side. The Colonel collapsed to his knees on the floor beside it. Still weeping furiously.

Streicher moved forward, and put a hand on Gerald’s shoulder. Slowly, the sobs began to tail off into ugly, wet snuffles and wheezes. Streicher patted the Colonel a few times. ‘You’re under a lot of pressure sir,’ he said. ‘A lot of stress.’

‘I am.’ Gerald’s red eyes rose to meet Streicher’s. ‘It’s true. I am.’

‘Perhaps, sir, I might lighten your burden?’

Gerald patted the hand on his shoulder. ‘That’s kind of you, but I don’t see—’

‘You have hesitated sir, to make a decision on a solution to our problems. You are torn between your love of the League, and the harsh measures that must be taken to save it. Allow me to make the decision for you. Let the burden, the responsibility and the blame, fall to me, sir.’

Gerald sat for a moment. He drew up his knees, hugged them to his chest, and began to rock back and forth. No one in the room dared to breathe. ‘Must we?’ Gerald asked at last, in a tiny voice.

‘Yes sir,’ Streicher said firmly. ‘It’s the only way, sir.’

Back and forth, back and forth. Gerald stopped. ‘Very well, do it,’ he said, very quickly. ‘Take my BattleMaster. Go. Quickly.’
Streicher swelled with satisfaction. ‘Thank you, sir, I—’

‘Never speak of it to me!’ Gerald suddenly shrieked, tearing away from Streicher’s grasp. ‘Go! You got what you wanted. Now get out of my sight. Everyone, go. Leave me alone!’

Sebastian and the other officers backed away slowly at first, then in a burst turned and rushed from the room.

In the darkened corridor outside, Streicher called to him. ‘Gordon, with me. The rest of you, to your posts. No time for fancy strategy or cunning tactics. We’ve nowhere left to go. So fight. Just fight. Make the bastards pay.’ Streicher grinned savagely, seeming to find joy in that thought. He beckoned to Sebastian. ‘Gordon, this way,’ he said, and headed for a stairwell. ‘We’ve got another job to do.’

The stairwell was narrow and unlit, the walls bare concrete. Streicher headed down into darkness. Sebastian hesitated at the top of the steps. How did Streicher see? That eye of his maybe, his memento of the debacle on Solaris.

‘Come on, Gordon,’ Streicher’s voice floated up to him.

‘Thought you said there wasn’t time for strategy, sir,’ Sebastian said.

‘Not strategy, Gordon. More of a surprise. Now get down here, Gordon. That’s an order.’

‘Bit murky, sir.’

‘What? Oh yes, right.’ A small torchlight appeared, a tiny pinpoint of white. ‘Hurry up.’

The building shook from a nearby impact that shook loose a rain of dust from the ceiling and sent it swirling into the light.
Sebastian shrugged uncaringly, and began to descend by the dim, faint light. ‘Why me?’

‘It’s a job for two, and because you’re like me now, boy.’ Streicher’s voice was closer now, somewhere invisible behind the light. ‘Nothing left to lose. Now, this way.’ Streicher’s footsteps receded and echoed and the light began to move, bobbing and dwindling further into the gloom. Beckoning. ‘First, we pick up the package. Then, to Friendship Bridge.’
BattleTech fiction and SciFi writing: https://one-way-mirror.blogspot.jp/

snakespinner

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #129 on: 17 April 2019, 02:08:40 »
Talk about authors finding complete silence unnerving, I went to the comedy store and sat silently in the front row.
You should have seen the comedian's face go very bright red just trying to get a laugh out of me.
I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had a root canal done that morning and was in too much pain to laugh.

Looking forward to see how Sebastian get's out of this. :thumbsup:
I wish I could get a good grip on reality, then I would choke it.
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Growing up is optional.
Watching TrueToaster create evil genius, priceless...everything else is just sub-par.

smcwatt

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #130 on: 17 April 2019, 12:27:57 »
I like this take on a Civil War from the loser's side, although no one ever wins.

SMc.

cklammer

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #131 on: 17 April 2019, 12:41:59 »
Thank you so ver much for the pdf on the blog - more later.

Christian

mikecj

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Re: Show of Force
« Reply #132 on: 17 April 2019, 21:23:56 »
Poor old Gerald!
There are no fish in my pond.
"First, one brief announcement. I just want to mention, for those who have asked, that absolutely nothing what so ever happened today in sector 83x9x12. I repeat, nothing happened. Please remain calm." Susan Ivanova
"Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." - Belkar Bitterleaf
Romo Lampkin could have gotten Stefan Amaris off with a warning.