JOE WALSH, New Conglomerate Master Sergeant, Searhus. June 21, 2845.
Walsh watched helplessly as Privates Ken Edmund, Jr. and Adira Sullivan, both doing their best to hold Lavastorm’s south ridge, fell dead to the ground, Terran Republic bullets penetrating their chest armor then exploding inside them. Although he didn’t know Sullivan, Walsh had been friends with Ben’s father from their Academy days. These kids were good. Walsh would make certain the T.R. murderers paid.
“Miller. Cohen. Move into their positions. You see any T.R. scum, take them out.” The two scrambled over the crusted lava field and filled the empty spaces. “In place, Sarge,” Miller shouted, “and ready.”
The Terran Republic had been the single political force on Earth since the Armistice and the formation of the new Government. They had set up an open and transparent Government that kept the peace for nearly two hundred years. Walsh had no problem with them, but he certainly did with the current crazies who used their name to rule over Auraxis, not as a democracy but as a harsh and cruel dictatorship. Strict curfews, which had been put into place during their travels when discipline needed to be maintained, were not rescinded after they landed on Auraxis. In fact, they were made more harsh.
“Don’t worry,” the T.R. council told the people, “we have a planet to reshape, cities to build, and we don’t know what the hell might be out there. As soon as we can, all restrictions will be lifted, but for the safety of our 60 thousand citizens, we have to keep all rules and laws in place."
But what really clawed Walsh’s ass was that the people voted with the T.R.; they voted down their own freedoms.
In a move directly planned to keep the New Conglomerate from resisting Terran Republic control, all political gatherings were banned. Groups of more than three, unless they were a family, were not permitted the right of assembly. Refusal to follow T.R. laws were punishable by imprisonment, and in some cases death. N.C. officers were rounded up and imprisoned without proof of wrongdoing or even a trial. The N.C. pleaded for the return of all personal freedoms, but the T.R. refused. They were trying to work a compromise when both sides walked from the table and war broke out.
So much for Thomas Connery’s belief that men could work together in peace.
Walsh and his unit grabbed their heavy gauss rifles, tri-barreled “jackhammer” shotguns and carbines and carefully moved down Lavastorm. Walsh knew the T.R.’s tactics. They hid behind realistic 3D holo-boulders, lying in wait until N.C. soldiers passed. Walsh held his jackhammer close and fired it in a wide arc as they passed all possible hiding places. But when he heard gunfire erupt just behind him he knew he screwed up. The T.R. were hiding in a real crevice, large enough for a half dozen men. When Walsh’s unit moved past they leaped from their spots and opened fire. Nine of his boys died. Three were wounded and captured. Return fire only killed four of their ambushers.
Walsh and his men scrambled for safety behind an outgrowth of rock. They had high ground; they’d be safe, if only for a few minutes. He gave the signal and Miller, Cohen and the Dorsey twins revealed the seven Phoenix missile launchers they had hidden along the volcano’s rim.
“Now!” Walsh screamed. Jimmy Dorsey fired launcher one. His brother set off Launcher two. Walsh and the others set off the rest. Rockets careened down alongside Lavastorm’s wall and exploded. Four T.R.s, broken and lifeless, were thrown from cubby holes. Through his binocs Walsh could see two of the T.R. bastards. One, a kid, probably 19. “Screw you, moron for picking the wrong side,” Walsh shouted. The other looked like a girl, a little older, with flaming red hair.