Authors: Jonathan P. Brazee
THE UNITED FEDERATION MARINE CORPS
Colonel Jonathan P. Brazee
Copyright © 201
4 Jonathan Brazee
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
I want to thank all those who took the time to pre-read this book, catching my mistakes in both content and typing.
A special shout out goes to my comrades at VFW Post 9951 in Bangkok for their help and to Dr Alan Whiting, CDR, USN (Ret), my old Naval Academy roommate and physicist and astronomer extraordinaire, for his assistance in astrophysics.. And once again, thanks to my editor, Anne
i for making me a better writer. All remaining typos and inaccuracies are solely my fault.
Original Cover Art by
Tizzard! Keep your team up,” Sergeant Ryck Lysander sent to Cpl Rey, his First Team leader.
Ryck knew that was easier said than done. The squad was moving down a wide boulevard to the Tylarian government house, but with
thirteen Marines in the squad, all in Personal Integrated Combat Units, or PICS, they easily filled the road. Add in the civilians lining the edge of the road and it was a pretty tight fit.
Those civilians were none too happy, and they didn’t hesitate to let the Marines know that. The
locals didn’t appreciate “foreign mercs” in their country, which seemed ironic to Ryck as the Marines themselves were not mercenaries, but they were there to get mercenaries out of a jamb.
The Foreign Legion might be semi-official, but in this case, they
had been hired on as mercenaries no matter how it was cut. A negotiating team from the Legion had arrived to work out a contract with the Tylarian government, evidently without the support of the people.
A flash on his visor
grabbed Ryck’s attention. After four years in a PICS, the electronic displays on the visor were second nature to him, but this signal was different. He swung his head and looked past the images to the real world beyond. Something trailing smoke had arched up and was coming back down. Ryck spun around, weapon ready , as the Molotov cocktail registered in his mind. It hit LCpl Teung in the back with a burst of flames as a blanket fire spread over him.
Keep it steady, keep moving!” Ryck sent over the squad circuit, anxious to avoid a violent reaction.
Marines were not good at inaction. They were trained to react and react with extreme prejudice. However, a
Molotov cocktail wasn’t going to do anything to a Marine in a PICS, and their ROEs
were very clear. No action against the locals unless it was life or death. A few flames did not fit the bill. Teung didn’t even falter. He just kept marching as the flames burnt themselves out.
Ryck wondered what the people would do if they knew that
, Teung, their first target, was actually a native of Tylaria. Would they have held back, or would that have inflamed them even more?
intel officer had laid out the political situation on the planet during their briefing aboard the
. Tylaria was one of three countries on the planet Soreau. The nation shared a 1,650km-long border with New Guangzhou, a border where skirmishes had broken out over the last several months as New Guangzhou was making noises about a “reunification” of the two countries that comprised the planet’s main land mass. With only a small militia, the Tylarian government called upon the Legion for help. The arrival of the negotiating team was widely broadcast in both countries, probably to both bolster the Tylarian public resolve and lessen the resolve of the New Guangzhou people.
That might have made sense, but the government was obviously out of touch with public opinion. If the masses around Ryck’s squad w
ere any indication, the people of Tylaria wanted reunification, and they didn’t want anyone from off-planet there to force their hand one way or the other.
Ryck watched his
visor display. Each Marine was identified as a blue avatar. He wanted to see a nice, even pattern. What he saw was a bunched-up group, almost a gaggle. With a blink, he zoomed out, and Second Squad’s avatars appeared, displayed on the next street over where they moved parallel to his Third Squad. They were even more bunched, given they had a much narrower avenue of approach. The lieutenant was with them, too, and the Marines in the squad looked like they were forming around him almost as bodyguards even if it wouldn’t be obvious to someone outside of the platoon to identify him as anything other than a Marine in a PICS.
“Grubbing Legion,” Ryck muttered under his breath.
Ryck actually had nothing against the Legion. Sure there was the Marine-Legion rivalry, but on the whole, they were good guys. They might have had better equipment, and they certainly were paid better than the Marines, but a grunt was a grunt. He just didn’t understand why a Marine company was being sent in to rescue a Legion negotiating team.
From a practical standpoint, it
made sense. Golf Company had been going through routine jungle training on Ho`oku`i on the other side of the globe. When things started getting dicey for the Legion team, the Legion brass on Camerone made a request to the Federation Council for assistance, and here they were. Ryck didn’t object to breaking from training and he didn’t object to an operational mission. What he did object to was the principle of the thing, which was, using government assets for the Legion’s benefit. More than that, the ROEs were not only limiting, but also downright dangerous. The aggressiveness that gave the Marines their effectiveness was taken away.
If a government organization had to react, it should have been the Federation Civil Development Corps. The FCDC handled civilians, not the Marines. Marines were trained to close with and destroy the enemy, not to play riot police.
As if to buttress his thoughts, a woman rushed out in front of the squad point man, LCpl “Lips” Holleran. Lips was a busted-down corporal, but one of the steadiest Marines in the squad. Ryck wasn’t sure what the 5o kg woman thought she was going to do against the 945 kg PICS, but it looked like she was going to try and latch herself onto Lips’ left leg.
The Marines had been briefed to keep movement slow and steady and not to stop. Lips didn’t stop. The woman was flung to the ground as he walked
his suit forward.
“Uh, I think I squished one,”
Lips sent to Cpl Beady, his team leader.
Ryck, as squad leader, had ears on all the circuits.
“One-six, this is one-three. We’ve got a civilian woman down. She looks pretty bad, over,” Ryck passed to the lieutenant.
If one of his Marines had gone down, the lieutenant, in his PICS-C, would have known immediately, but the civvies were not in
the system other than as featureless grey avatars, and the PICS’ sensors couldn’t even determine an accurate count when they were bunched up so closely. Ryck knew the platoon commander had to pass the up the incident immediately so the JAG
could get involved as soon as the situation was secured. If she were still alive, she would be in for a pretty hefty payment. All for being a grubbing idiot! What did she expect?
A hail of rocks came over the edge of a roof to shower the Marines. One rock bounced off Ryck’s helmet. He blinked to
an infrared scan and saw several signatures. If any of them had something more powerful than a rock, they were in a pretty good position in which to employ it. Ryck ached to call in a Wasp strike. He had been trained to take out potential threats instead of waiting for them to strike.
He couldn’t call in a Wasp, though, even if they were under a real attack. The initial plan cobbled together was for the two Marine Wasps that were part of the
combined unit going through the jungle package at the Mona Loa National Park training area to come in hot and heavy, leading the way for the PICS Marines. A Navy Experion fighter would have been better, but to civilians, the Wasp would still be pretty intimidating. The powers that be, though, nixed that. “Too aggressive.”
Instead, the company’s two heavy platoons were walking
to the government building uncovered, or at least as uncovered as a Marine in the Corps’ most modern fighting suit could be.
“Uh, Sergeant Lysander, do you see what I see?” Lips passed over the squad circuit.
Technically, LCpl Holleran should have used standard radio procedure, but with the circuit’s frequency jumping and scrambling, and with the displays indicating who was sending, communications tended to slide to a more normal speech pattern at the squad level.
In front of Lips,
beyond the people lining the road and the scattering of people milling about in front of them, approximately 50 or 60 civilians were shuffling to block the Marines way to the square in front of the government building. Lips, closely followed by his team, was closing fast. Their orders were to keep moving, but not to hurt anyone. As far as Ryck could tell, the two orders were diametrically opposed to each other. He had to make a decision.
“Third Team, halt!
Form in a line, but do not push into them yet. First and Second, get on line with Third. It’s going to be tight, so squeeze it in.”
Ryck took a second to blink up the larger picture. To the south of the building, but still 500 meters away, the three squads from Second Platoon were making their way forward. To his left,
Second Squad was stopped, and beyond them, First Squad was still moving forward.
“Push it forward
, Stillwell,” he sent to the PFC in Second Fire Team. “Don’t hit anyone, but use your bulk to get in line with Peretti.
“OK, now, elbow-to-elbow, slowly, and I mean
, shuffle forward. Do not raise your feet. We don’t need to be making pancakes out of any of them,” he said to the rest of squad as they came online.
The squad had managed to fill the entire street.
About 20 meters ahead of them was the square in front of the government building. Between the square and the squad, though, were 60 or so shouting civilians. Ryck had a sudden urge to sound a charge and scatter them, but orders were orders.
“Form on Holleran. I don’t want any space between us. Cpl
Beady, give us a cadence, slow and steady.”
Ryck was standing one pace behind Lips, and with
Beady giving a cadence, he could focus on what was happening.
“One, two, one, two, one two . . .
“ the team leader intoned as the Marines did a shuffle step forward.
PICS were not made for elbow-to-elbow formations, nor were they designed for shuffling. The Marines were clanging against each other as the line lumbered forward.
“Cpl Rey, what do I do with this negat?” PFC Hartono asked his team leader over his comms.
Ryck switched to put Hartono’s visor view on his own visor. A young man with a red bandana across his face had taken a few steps into Hartono’s path, then launched himself up with a spinning kick to the Marine’s chest. What he expected that to accomplish other than maybe breaking his foot, Ryck didn’t know. What happened was that the man bounced off Hartono’s carapace, not even budging the Marine.
“Ignore him. He’s going to fall flat on his
arse,” Rey replied.
The man tried to take a few steps back
for another go at Hartono, but the mass of people kept him from getting too far. He ran up to level another kick, but just as Rey had predicted, he slipped and fell to the ground. Hartono switched from a shuffle to lift his feet and carefully step over the stunned man.
Ryck switched off
Hartono’s viewpoint. They were only 10 meters now from the square. The press of people was such that the first rank of civilians was right up against the Marines. They were being pushed back by the advancing Marines, but more Tylarians back of them were pushing forward. Some were trying to turn around and get out of the way, but that was not going to be happening.
An obese man
in what looked like old-fashioned lederhosen tried to lower his shoulders to stop Lips as if he were a rugger joining a scrum, but as he put his legs back to push, they buckled. He went face first down on the pavement. Lips shuffled over him, the man’s big body bouncing between Lips and LCpl Martin off Lips’ right side. He was dragged forward a meter or so, his body too big to easily slide between them, but like toothpaste in a tube, the man finally squeezed past to lie motionless on the road.
To Ryck’s right, a body came flying forward. It was
Hartono’s bandanaed nemesis. Now in back of the line of Marines, he had a cleared area in which to run, and he had built up a head of steam before launching himself once again, kicking out against the PFC’s weapons pack.
Despite himself, Ryck was pretty impressed. The guy really had no chance to rock a Marine
in a PICS. The gyros kept the PICS upright, and it would take more than a 70 kg martial arts wannabe to overcome that. But the guy had sure jumped up pretty high to slam his kick on the Marine’s weapons pack.
Ryck was tempted to slap some sense into the guy, but as
the civilian wasn’t armed, Ryck decided that ignoring him was the best option given their ROE.
Ryck quickly toggled to a wider view. Second Squad had been delayed in their movement: they were still a good 50 meters from the square. First Squad, on the other hand, had already entered the square and looked to be forming to advance on the government building itself.
“Squad, listen up,” Ryck began. “We’re going to push out into the square two meters and halt. Keiji, you’re going to refuse our right flank. Peretti, you’ve got our left. Between you and Stillwell, don’t let anyone get in our way on the left. We need to look like the crowd has stopped us, let them relax even just a bit. When I give the order, we’re going to give it a military left face and move our asses, and I mean
, in a column to join up with First Squad. We need to surprises these people, then leave them in the dust. Peretti, that means you’re going to be leading us. Get us past these rock-apes, but steer clear of the civvies who are holding up Second Squad. We need to get past them before they realize we’re coming. All of us, keep it tight! Assholes to belly buttons! Got it?”