Author : Roi R, Czechvala, Staff Writer

Charred bodies littered the streets. The blackened faces frozen in the horrible rictus of death. They had been men and women once. Children. Families who had laughed, lived and loved together, reduced to carbonized grotesques of human beings.

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Stouffer laid down his collider rifle and for the first time since he was a child ,he wept. His tears formed neat craters on the ash covered pavement. Pulling himself together, and in a voice perhaps too harsh to cover his shame, he barked his orders.

“Awright Marines, saddle up. This is our house, and we have some cleaning to do. We have a gift for the slopes that did this.” He picked up his rifle and held it aloft. He was answered with a deafening “OOORAHHH” as the men scrambled to the lifters and strapped in.

Seven drop ships lifted into the dim twilight of Europa’s sky and merged with the carrier in geosynch orbit above. Within minutes the ship held position over Chien Kai, the outer most settlement of the Asiatic Alliance.

The population of the outpost consisted primarily of scientists and their families, with a small military contingent mainly for internal security. Aside from the Tesla Field containing the colony’s atmosphere and providing protection from the lethal Jovian radiation, the complex was defenceless.

Seven sleek flat black drop ships descended like avenging angels around the dome of the T-field. The complex had been built years before the war began. For safety’s sake the field generator was outside the field. Directly beside the spot where the lead ship had grounded.

The entire population spilled out of the warren of buildings and bunkers. They watched as the ships disgorged 210 Marines. Collider rifles in hand, singularity grenades hanging from their web gear. Their small arms were incapable of harming the near impregnable T-field.

They didn’t have to.

The men and women watched in confusion at first, then in horror as the realization of the unfolding events became clear. The marines, clad in black armoured battle suits formed a semi-circle around the generator. Inside the protective shimmering barrier the inhabitants watched.

Stouffer swaggered up, barely a yard separating him from the citizens of Chien Kai. Citizens no more but prisoners awaiting execution. They watched him, a wide grin splitting his face. Some sobbed openly, pulling at their hair. The small group of soldiers screamed and waved their weapons in impotent rage, but most wept silently, clinging to loved ones, stoically awaiting their fate.

A marine broke ranks and grabbed Stouffer’s shoulder. Tears streaming down his face. “Gunny, do we really have to do this? So many have already died. We’re the only ones out here. What good will it do?”

Gunny Stouffer’s grin widened, then quickly broke and fell as he thought back to the discovery of his own family less than an hour before. “You’re right,” he keyed his helmet mike to the company freq, “Everybody back to your ships.” As one the men snapped to and beat a hasty retreat to their lifters. “Not you corporal, you stay here.”

Before he vaporized the generator and watched as the faintly glowing womb of the Tesla field failed; before he gloated as five hundred people suffocated, their eyes bulging from their sockets; he raised his rifle and burned down the young corporal where he stood.


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