Author : Andrew Bale
“Five minutes, General.”
“Thank you, Gunner.”
Anywhere else in the fleet she would be an impossible escort. Her dull-black skinsuit was topped with a spiked leather jacket, her hair gelled into liberty spikes, her face painted like a skull. She still showed her rank and rate, but the only name was the one tattooed on her forehead. Her child perhaps, a lover, a sibling. All that mattered was that anyone she killed would be able to see why she was doing it.
He followed her down to the assault bay, to the raised platform at the edge of the deck. His command was waiting for him, ten thousand variations of the Gunner, uniformity thrown aside in favor of anything that would scare the enemy, or give voice and strength to the rage they all held inside. All had names tattooed on their forehead and elsewhere, even him — ten years of war, a hundred names, a hundred strikes to his soul etched in his skin. These were his brothers. Time to get them ready.
“You know why we’re here. PUD’s, all of us — Psychologically Unfit for Duty. Pulled from the line because we could not follow the rules of command, of war. Because none of us could see past our need to immediately kill as many of the fuckers as we possibly could. We didn’t want to leave — they made us. Today we’re back. Today is our day.”
“HOO!” The sound rang through the chamber.
“A few minutes ago, you all felt a bang, felt the ship veer onto a new heading. That bang was simulating a malfunction, and since we have not taken any fire it appears the bastards think we are out of control and falling into atmosphere to burn up. In another minute or so a big chunk will do just that, but this lander, this big stealthy armored rock, will drop right down in the middle of their field command. While the main strike force sets the beachhead in Switzerland, we will occupy and destroy as much of their command as possible. We will today kill as many of the fuckers as we possibly can.”
“We’re coming in hard, no jets until absolutely necessary, so even with the dampers this is going to be a hard ride. We hit hard, the shocks raise the ship, and this deck is left on the ground. The gunners take out the hard targets from above…”
He paused to nod at his escort.
“…while we go after the soft targets below. We have no meaningful intel on their actual deployment. There is no plan, other than mayhem, destruction, and death. Give it to them.”
“They are not like us. They are clinical. Detached. To them, this is a business, our oppression their right. They can handle the Fleet, the Army. They can’t handle us.”
“Our own people called us flawed, called us broken. When we planned this mission, they called us ‘The Legion of the Dead’. They knew us better than they thought. We are dead. And we are legion.”
“We will kill a hundred of them for each name we bear, and we will break their spirits so that the Living can break their backs!”
“No mercy. No surrender. Only RAGE! From each of us, they have taken something. From them, we take EVERYTHING!”
“HOO! HOO! HOO!”
The General stepped down, walked to the number ‘1’ blazoned at the edge of the deck. Ten thousand knelt down as one, grasped the handholds, and waited.
It was going to be a good day.
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