Author : John Eric Vona

I don’t listen to all that propaganda from Earth Authority. I’m not some mindless rocket rider, I can think for myself. Government announcements about the “barely human filth” living off-world are just filth themselves. They’re no less human; doesn’t matter what gravity you grow up in.

Of course, ten hours in a Gravely MDP-19 will change your mind about a lot of things. The 19s barely have enough room for a rockjock to climb inside, no wings or atmo ability, just a big pod. Engine on the back two feet from where you sit, guns mounted on the flanks and a thick glass dome that curves around the front from your feet to your head. Most new legs never get their wings because they can’t deal with the vertigo-inducing view.

Problem is, you’re only supposed to be in the thing for a few hours tops. Sure, they’ve got all the plumbing set up so you can empty your bladder out, but that’s it. Can’t eat, can’t shit, can’t scratch two thirds of your body. That’s what they get for outsourcing the production to Mars. You’re only supposed to be in there long enough for a close range fight, and I guess that’s what Com was expecting. I’ve got nothing against the Callys, but the EA had been drumming support up at home to put down any signs of rebellion that might stop ore shipments. I don’t think you can blame a person for wanting what they’re due but the authority had everyone on Earth hollering about the greedy, subhuman garbage living off world.

Long story short, we fly half way across the system to Callisto to find a small fleet of ships put together by a new coalition of Jupiter’s moons. Admiral calls all stop and deploys us rockjocks to protect the fleet but the colonists don’t do squat. They sit there in low orbit waiting for us to attack. With no rush to be in another fight, I’m fine with that for the first two hours. After ten, I’m a little pissed that they went through all the trouble to put together a fleet and then don’t attack us. Between being cramped and hungry, my wingman, Max, is worried the MDP-19’s dome doesn’t protect against heavy doses of radiation (Com chucked a few nukes at the rebels but they were so far away they had plenty of time to shoot them down so they detonated some between the fleets to try and scare the cowards).

“It’s just glass, Joe,” Max lamented.

“Bullet proof glass.”

“I can’t do it,” he said. “I can’t sit here any more.”

“Quit acting like a leg.”

“Why are we out here if the Colonists aren’t attacking?”

I didn’t have an answer for him. I didn’t blame the colonists for not wanting to fight over an ugly rock like Callisto, but they made us come all the way out here. “They’ll recall us soon.”

They did too. About forty minutes later Com recalled the MDPs and charged into low orbit. The colonists tore us up good as we tried to get past them, lost more than a few ships, but our gunners were cutting loose too and once we got through Com dropped a nuke on Callisto city and threatened to hit Keplersville (former second most populous city on the moon), if the rebels didn’t surrender immediately. They did. I watched the whole thing from the hanger deck and went to tell Max the good news but found that a missile had ripped into the dining hall where he was eating to settle his nerves.

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