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New Troy Part 1

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March 26, 3744 A.D.
Sergeant John Robinson
“Battle for New Troy”
“It is not a question of what we are fighting for. It is a question of whom… Family. Friends. Sons. Daughters. Husbands. Wives. They are who we fight for. They are the reason we take up arms and march into battle day after day. Those we left behind are the reason we march forward. We fight for our lives and theirs every day! We fight and die so that they may live and enjoy the freedom we defend. Now on this day, we fight again! Again, neither for the first nor the last time, I send you into battle. I know from experience I will not see some of you again, and that I will be writing letter home to loved ones and parents whom you left behind. It is not for me to say whether your fight is necessary. All I know is that this fight has been given to us and us as a nation shall not quietly lie down and die. We shall not go quietly into the void, nor commit ourselves peacefully to some history book! We shall fight! We shall over come! WE SHALL WIN!” With those final words a cheer rose through the ranks and the men broke attention to raise helmets and fists in the air. The roar reverberated through the assembly area. He couldn’t tell if he was screaming too, his voice was drowned out by the roar. He felt his very existence consumed by the men around him. The men he served with and trusted with his very life every day. This day was no different. As General Anders walked off stage another man to the podium. “Alright marines! We are wheels up in one hour. Prep your gear and make peace with whomever it is you pray to. Now, Fall Out!” The LT. General saluted, which was returned by every man and woman in that age old tradition of every military.
As the Marines began to file out to their respective areas the first rumbling was heard. “It’s the ships, they’ve started,” one of the men whispered. High in orbit above the planet almost a dozen ships of the 5th United Nations Fleet sat in geo-synchronous orbit above the continent they currently occupied. It was the continent of Priam was home of the capital and namesake of the planet, New Troy. The team that discovered the system 36 years ago had some obsession with the Greek Mythology or something. All the planets were names after famous city states, and many of the continents and prominent geographic features bore the names of Greek Heroes and Heroines. Even the star was named Hyperion, after one of the Greek sun gods or something like that. John couldn’t remember everything that he had been taught during the flight from the Pluto Launch Station to New Troy.
“Sergeant, wheels up in 20.” “Yes sir,” John said, the familiar response rolling off his tongue without and thought of his own. The Lt. in charge of his platoon continued on his rounds. As John laced up his boots and donned his gear he looked around at his squad. They were all hardened men who had seen more death and done more killing than any human should do in a lifetime. He knew they trusted him and he felt the weight of that burden rest on his shoulders. It has a weight heavier than any he had ever carried in his life. As he picked up his rifle he whispered quietly to himself, “I will get them home…”
Ten minutes before wheels up John and the rest of the platoon were assembled outside the hangar that held the two ATC-10’s that would fly the platoon into combat. All along the rest of the runway the other elements of the 5th fleets Ground Assault Corp. assembled and readied for combat. “Stiener” TM-3 tanks rolled into the cargo bays of huge transport shuttles. Each tank could be offloaded on the ground or, if necessary dropped from low orbit and land using its own parachutes and descent thrusters. The massive tanks each had two 50 cal. Machine guns controlled remotely from inside, along with a 125mm main gun and two 75mm guns mounted on a second modular turret. There wasn’t much that could with stand the fire power the tanks provided. Along with the kinetic shields that helped to deflect or slow all but the largest of projectiles, the tanks could change the tide of a battle very quickly. Other than the massive tanks, smaller lightly armored troop transports where already in the bays of the smaller ACT-10’s. A fire team would ride in each vehicle, which had a machine gun or recoilless rifle mounted to a turret on the back bed of the vehicles. John shook his head slightly. He shouldn’t be running through all of this basic training crap. He needed to focus on getting his men in and out of this mission alive. He hadn’t even received a briefing yet. The Lt. was supposed to be giving it in flight. That way if someone was a traitor there was supposedly no way that they could find out the entire battle plan. Plans were on a need to know basis, if you weren’t high ranking you almost never knew the plan until it was already starting. The ACT-10’s ramp bays opened and the platoon filed in. Strapped down in the middle of the bay where the two L.E.O.s. The Light Engagement or Operation Vehicles, or LEO for short, encompassed the rear part of the bay, along with emergency equipment strapped to the walls of the bay. Walking through the narrow space on either side of the two L.E.O.’s John and his men made their way into the front half of the cargo bay. This area had been overhauled for passengers. Four rows of benches ran lengthways from the front of the L.E.O.’s to the doors to the cockpit. The rows faced each other in pairs. Each pair of rows had a gun and equipment rack bolted to the floor between them. John settled down into a seat and pushed his gun into the mount. As everyone else followed suit, one of the privates leaned over and whispered, “Where do you think we headed Sir?” John looked up and said, “Hell.” The private seemed a little concerned, since he sat eyes front in his chair and didn’t say another word. Once every one was settled in the ramp for the ACT-10 slowly rose up and the cargo bay went dark, save the dim illumination from the emergency lamps mounted to the floor and walls. “System check. Squad leaders sound off.” The Lt.’s voice cracked over John’s headset. “Squad One, good to go,” cracked over the comm. “Squad Two, right as rain L T,” came next “Squad Three, lets do this sir,” John said into his mic. There was a long pause as everyone waited for squad four to report in. Nothing came through the speakers. The Lt. repeated the order. “Squad four, check in.” “He can’t hear you sir, shall I give him a nudge?” one of the men said over the comm. “Please do soldier.” The Lt. said in a gruff tone. The leader of Squad four was the FNG of the group. Straight out of the academy, New Troy was his first assignment. John worried about him, and also about his squad. In-experienced leaders made mistakes. Mistakes lead to deaths on a battle field. As a yell was heard across the hold, John cracked a smile. The “nudge” worked. Soon after “Squad Four, reporting in” came through the headset and the Lt. Acknowledged. Then off comm. the Lt. muttered, “I’m gonna skin and boil the FNG if he gets one of our guys needlessly killed!” This produced a chuckle and some offers to help from many of the platoon within earshot, including John. The FNG should never be an officer he thought. Too much was at risk for that to ever be a good idea. Static cracked on the Comm. as the pilots started take off. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we thank you for flying straight into hell airlines. We hope you have an enjoyable flight. Our destination today is exactly where none of us want to go. We are expecting some turbulence and shrapnel so please stay seated with your hands in the upright praying position.” John felt the plane start to take off. Although it could do vertical landings and take offs, it was more fuel efficient for ACT-10’s to take off using a runway. “The weather in New Troy today is a balmy 87 F with a high chance of storms late this afternoon and into the evening. Looks like we may be stuck on the ground once we get there people so we hope you don’t have any plans back at base tonight.” Some of the marines cracked a smile and nudged one another with their elbows. “Ahh, one more thing. Our new tail gunner, Jackson, had his first time last night. Lets all give the guy a round of applause!” The entire bay burst into whistling cat-alls and laughter. “Wha- No! Why would you say that over the Comm.?” The voice of Jackson blared over the speakers in the bay. John grinned and said into the mic. “Don’t worry new guy. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. Don’t sweat it.” “Yes sir,” Jackson the reply. By now John could tell they were airborne. He never was fond of flying; he preferred his feet to stay firmly on the ground. He guessed this was why he could always tell when he was airborne or not. By now many of the marines had started to talk amongst themselves. A dull murmur drifted across the rows as the marines voices drifted together; adding another dull roar besides the wind and the engines. After what felt like half an hour in flight the Lt. told the squad commanders to switch to the command frequency. John tapped one of the buttons on his headset. “…mission objective.” The Lt. was explaining. “Sorry sir, could you repeat that for me?” John said. “I just said it’s about time I told you the mission objective. We are headed into hell boys. Ad I don’t mean our normal hell. We have been tasked to take the New Troy weapons development labs along with 5th and 6th platoon and the 18th armored unit.” The Lt. paused. “Are you serious Sir?” Squad two’s Sergeant O’Hare said. “Unfortunately. The good news is we will have mission priority fire support from the U.N.S. Armistice. I’m sure you know what that means.” The Lt. paused again to let the news sink in. The Armistice was one of the two dreadnaughts that were with the 5th U.N.F. The dreadnaught could have leveled everything on the continent if the word was given, and it was their fire support for the mission. It could destroy a target as close as 10 meters from the platoon safely; or level half the city with a massive round… John was almost more scared of that than the enemy soldiers. “Alright. We will be landing four clicks from the objective. We have been given the choice of routes as long as we don’t interfere with the other platoons or the armor. Now I know this may seem like a suicide mission, and without the Armistice I have no doubt it would be. But the General has given us permission to level half the city if we have to. We have to capture this objective.” “Sir, if I may. What makes this objective so important?” It was the FNG that spoke. “No clue. Suppose we will just have to take the objective and find out for ourselves.” The Lt. replied. John could tell that the Lt. was frustrated. The Brass must have kept the reason for taking the objective a secret from him. John pulled up a map of New Troy on his visor. The mission objective had been downloaded to the hard-link in his suit. The built in computer displayed a 3-d map of the city directly onto his retina. He could see past it if he had to so his vision was never truly obstructed. Over-laying the city map was the objective, highlighted in red against the blue projection. The LZ and the places to move through the city had been marked in green. John focused on the Objective and the computer automatically zoomed in on it. The labs were a walled compound with heavy security, which was probably being reinforced further out from the facility. The compound itself was not all that extensive. But the seismic scans of the labs showed massive underground chambers and tunnels that stretched deep underground and far out under pother parts of the city. “Sir, why don’t we just blast down into the underground chambers?” John asked the Lt. “Thought about it but Brass doesn’t want us to damage whatever is inside the facility. That also means no leveling the city with the Armistice once we are inside the boundaries of the underground area.” The Lt. didn’t continue so John layered on a perimeter around the underground sections using the interface strapped to his wrist. That was almost a full kilometer from the facility without the big guns of the Armistice. He doubted that they would need that kind of fire power, but it was comforting to know it was there. “Listen up marines. We are coming up on the outer ring of enemy defenses. They are currently throwing a welcoming party for our boys already on the ground so we shouldn’t have much of a problem but from here on we are in enemy skies boys.” The pilot’s voice cracked over the PA system. That also meant that radio silence was in effect. While voices and hardwired systems couldn’t be detected easily from the ground, the signals from their inter-platoon radio could be seen like a star in a clear night sky. John took a slight risk and sent his map and the mission brief to his squad. He knew it was against regs but he wanted his boys to know what they were getting themselves into. As the bay sank into silence the sounds of the battle below could be heard faintly over the roar of the engines and the howling wind. As the planes moved past the lines of battle that had been drawn far below a strange sense of emptiness overcame John. He thought back on General Anders speech. He had none of those things. He had enlisted straight out of school. He wanted to make a difference and serve the Human Race. Well he was certainly serving… He served by keeping a steady trail of bodies and a constant supply of letters sent home to the families of those he had killed. But where would his body go… Who would receive his letter… He had no family since his sister passed away from the Omega Virus four years ago. As John lost himself in his thoughts and sorrows he failed to notice that a new sound was coming into the cabin. He was snapped out of it by a sudden lurch of the plane that either sent men flying forward against their harnesses, or pinned them to their seats. “F***! Help me keep her up!” The comm. system crackled. The pilots seemed to have broken radio silence. “Engines 2 and 3 have been critically damaged and number 4 is leaking fuel!” A voice cracked over the Comm. “We won’t make it…” the pilot said with a certain amount of resignation. John felt his heart sink to his feet as the pilot uttered those damning words. The Lt. screamed over the Comm. system. “Every one into the LEO! NOW!” Everyone began to unbuckle and grab their gear as the plane tossed and bucked under them. John and many of the other marines had trouble staying on their feet as the scrambled to strap into the L.E.O.’s. “We will get you as close as we can boys,” the pilot said over the platoons’ frequency. “Thank you…” The Lt. said. As John and the last of the marines scrambled into the LEO the floor at the front of the cargo back rose upwards and exploded inwards. John was thrown to the floor and then as he scrambled to get up a second explosion rocked the aircraft. This one was inside the bay. As the explosion robbed him of sight and hearing the concussion threw him even further towards the back of the bay. As searing air and millions of pieces of shrapnel swept the bay, John could feel pieces embedding in his exposed arms and legs. One piece grazed his neck. John tried to shield himself with his arms, but it had little effect. As the ship started to tilt into a nose dive, John scrambled for a hand hold. His vision was slowly returning, thanks to his tinted visor which had kept out most of the blast. He looked towards the back of the plane just in-time to see a loose cargo crate plow into him. His world went black as the ACT-10 accelerated towards the ground.





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