A Technocrat

I promise I WILL have a Dragon*Con post up tonight. I don’t have access to my pictures at work (and I was totally slacking this weekend).

With PRIMO VICTORIA out, I have been jonesing to finish up the next book in what I’m (tentatively) calling the post-Earth series. This will consist of the following major novels: Der Sternvolker (soon to be retitled as The Star Folk), The Technocrat, The Elysian, and The Martin.

THE TECHNOCRAT has been in the works for some time now. Ultimately I write a few pages, even a few chapters, but hate the way it looks, sounds, and feels. It doesn’t convey the characters, story, or message I am filling the story with.

Recently I read Know No Fear by Dan Abnett, a Warhammer 40k Horus Heresy novel (and wrote a review on it HERE). My eyes were opened to a different way to write. Know No Fear is written present tense, as if everything is happening as the reader reads the book. Know No Fear was so well written, and conveyed the feelings and ideas of over half a dozen different characters so well that I thought I’d try writing it this way (given, part of that is Dan Abnett’s amazing writing ability).

So, to tantalize you (and distract you from the fact I haven’t posted anything on Dragon*Con), I give you a brief excerpt from the rough-rough draft of THE TECHNOCRAT.

—–

The Democratic Republic of Haven Butte

Titan, Saturn

31 January 2306

 

It’s “day time” in Haven Butte. Though Saturn’s moon, Titan, is on the dark side of its parent planet, every clock in the city reads daylight hours. Lights all around Haven Butte swat the darkness away in an attempt to regulate the population’s sleeping patterns and create the illusion of an Earth-like day.

Haven Butte is home to roughly twenty-thousand people. It’s large for a city-state on Titan—the fifth largest on Titan to be exact. For over a century the La Rochenoire family had ruled the twenty thousand citizens of Haven Butte. Though they were little more than thugs, the La Rochenoire family did help the former Central European Pact colony expand. Titan’s thick, ancient ice was cut back, and there was a reinvigorated movement to continue terraforming. New structures were built where there was solid ground. Massive plates were built to extend the city over Titan’s oceans where the ice was slowly receding.

Though the La Rochenoire family were bullies at the best of times, the people of Haven Butte tended to look the other way in favor of the slow advancement they were making. The standard of living had risen. The city wasn’t as cramped. With increased area to live came increased area to create businesses and, as long as no one messed with their power, the La Rochenoire family allowed those businesses to flourish. Everything seemed as if it was getting better.

Then the revolution happened. For a decade a growing resistance had smuggled weapons and equipment into Haven Butte. In December of 2305 they launched their coup, killing King Harold La Rochenoire and his family and many of the bureaucrats and soldiery loyal to him.

Now the Revolutionary Council rules the Democratic Republic of Haven Butte—every last one of them hardline communists. Curfews are in place. Private companies and interests are now nationalized.

This nationalization includes two mines owned by House d’Helion of the Olympus Mons Technocracy.

Judd Wooller, president of the d’Helion mining operations on Titan, sits in a jail cell with his small staff. There are eight of them in the cell. The rest of the labor force had been Haven Butte locals. Many of the locals had left to fight for the revolutionaries, only to return to imprison their former bosses and take over the mining operations. Now Judd tries to keep his people alive. He shivers and pulls a thread-bare blanket tighter around himself as if he can squeeze another ounce of warmth out of it. He tried to send a message to Olympus Mons before the rebel soldiers came for him. He still has no clue if it reached its destination.

One of Judd’s staff, a woman by the name of Ayana, stirs in her sleep. Her ebony skin is cut and bruised, and she whimpers as she slumbers. The revolutionaries are especially rough with her. There aren’t many people of color in Haven Butte, and none as dark as Ayana. Ayana is a novelty to male and female urges alike.

These bastards will pay, Judd promises himself.

Judd is a former soldier. He served eight years in the d’Helion House Guards. While Judd’s staff sleeps he is awake and on the lookout for the possibility of escape.

Suddenly there’s a screech of hinges as the door to the small jail opens. Two revolutionary soldiers trudge inside, each encumbered by ragged, mismatched extreme cold weather gear. They speak to one another in a strange dialect, a mixture of Western and Central European languages from dead Earth. One of the soldiers closes the door, and they both remove their hoods. It’s a man and a woman, both at least half Judd’s age. Children playing at war.

The two soldiers stride up to the jail cell and peer in. Judd stares back, a look of defiance on his face.

“Olympians,” the woman says, pointing at Judd. “Stupid.”

The man and woman laugh. The man steps forward and punches a code into the cell door. The woman hefts her assault rifle to cover her comrade. As the door opens Judd’s personnel awake, bleary eyed and confused. Some of them hope that the past few months were just one long nightmare. As their vision clears they realize this is very real.

The man points at Ayana. “You. Come.”

Ayana cringes back and shakes her head.

The woman soldier barks something in her harsh tongue. The man sneers and lunges at Ayana. Ayana screams and tries to scrabble further back into the cell.

There is a noise outside. The female soldier lowers her rifle just a hair and looks towards the door.

It’s the opening Judd has been waiting for.

Judd pounces on the male soldier and tackles him to the ground. Realizing what’s happening, the other members of Judd’s staff join in bludgeoning the soldier with their fists and feet.

The woman is screaming now. Two of Judd’s staff members dart through the cell door and lunge at the female soldier. She gets one shot off, winging the first man through the door: Karl, Judd’s chief financial officer. Karl drops with a yelp of pain. The second man, Bradley, Judd’s purchasing agent, slams into the female soldier and knocks her to the ground. Bradley pins her with his greater mass and stronger muscles, and wrests the rifle from her hands.

“You not escape,” the woman says. “More coming.”

It’s silent in the jail except for Karl’s moans of pain.

Now Judd can hear the sound the female soldier heard. A low moan cuts through the air. It starts silent and distant, then grows in volume.

Warning sirens. They are blaring all over Haven Butte. There are exclamations of surprise and fear, and yells of urgency. The heavy tromp of dozens of boots pass the jail.

“What is it?” Ayana asks.

Judd picks himself up off the male soldier and walks out of the cell and out the door of the prison. The arctic cold of Titan cuts past the layers of clothes he wears, through his skin, and down to his bones. His breath catches in his throat from the frozen air. All around Judd the city is in a state of panic. People dart down the street in an attempt to flee. Fear fills their eyes. Soldiers rush the other way, oblivious to Judd or the jail.

Some of the people in the street look up in horror and point at the sky. They babble in their bastardized language. Judd can’t understand. He turns and looks up.

“Dear God,” Judd says.

The sky is falling.

 # 

The first troops on the ground were thirty pathfinders in Ranger-pattern power armor. They had set beacons for the rest of the force, and scouted the edges of Haven Butte. Now, four hours later, the assault force arrives.

Hundreds of drop pods erupt inside Titan’s thin atmosphere to expel their deadly cargo. Infantry clad in two ton Titan-pattern power armor cut their chutes several meters above Titan’s icy surface and hit the ground running. The mechanical joints and artificial musculature of the power armor propels the troopers forward at over twenty-five kilometers per hour.

Defending infantry begin to open up at the oncoming armored soldiers. Bullets whiz through the air. Some strike home into metal alloy chests and limbs with no effect.

The attackers respond with man-pack lasers. The angry, ruby beams screech from the barrel arm guns of the Titan suits and punch into the defenders’ lines. A laser strikes a man and his upper torso ceases to exist. Another laser cuts into a light vehicle, touching off an ammunition magazine. The vehicle explodes, sending fire and shrapnel in all directions. Soldiers surrounding the vehicle are thrown like rag dolls. The Titan troopers fire volleys of missiles from the back-mounted missile racks. The warheads slam into checkpoints and barricades.

Titan and Ranger power armor troopers smash into the defenders. The revolutionaries of Haven Butte put up a brave fight. They die miserable deaths. Haven Butte soldiers are gutted, torn limb from limb, and are crushed. This isn’t a battle. This is slaughter. None of the defenders are left alive.

Finally the Haven Butte forces deploy a few medium tanks. These are relics of a bygone era, barely kept in running condition for over two centuries. Their armor is more welded on scrap metal and paint than anything else. But these tanks have working guns. One tank rakes the attackers with heavy machine gun fire as it rolls down the street and checks their advance. Another tank fires a round from its large bore cannon. It doesn’t hit—a testament to how often the crews have had actual practice—but it forces the attackers to pause for a brief moment.

Suddenly there’s a screech and a roar as if the world is about to end. Planet shattering explosions follow. New craters form just outside of the city as ice and rock is hurled into the air.

There are three of them. Each one is larger than most buildings in Haven Butte. Each one looks like a creature from hell.

They trudge forward through the haze.

They are Colossi, the epitome of land warfare technology in the solar system. Two are twins—Krakens, each weighing ninety tons and armed with a rail gun and a laser in each arm, dozens of missiles in either side of their barrel torsos, and an anti-missile system on top.

The two Krakens unleash a barrage of nickel ferrous rounds and lasers at the defenders and the surrounding buildings. Skin, meat, and bone disintegrate. Buildings explode and then collapse. One of Haven Butte’s precious tanks erupts in a cascading ball of flame. Another tank has a hole punched in it from a rail gun round and crawls to a halt, smoke billowing from its innards. The crew doesn’t get out.

Leading the Colossus advance is an Oracle. It’s lighter than the Krakens at seventy-five tons. Each arm ends in a heavy and medium laser, and an anti-missile system guards its top. The Oracle is more armor and communications equipment than weaponry. It’s a command unit. All of the attacking troopers wear the crest of Olympus Mons and their noble house, but the Oracle sports long, ceremonial banners of crimson from either side of its bullet-like torso. The House crest flutters in the wind; twin dragons flanking a cog.

Technocrat Lord Rickard d’Helion wades into the fray. He fires his lasers as fast as they can cycle. The Oracle is running hot due to the high rate of fire, but Rickard doesn’t care. Tank armor melts under the onslaught, and the crew inside is fried. An anti-armor team ceases to exist. Squads of infantry in extreme cold weather gear are reduced to burnt meat. Those that survive Rickard’s attacks only live a few more painful moments.

Reports begin to flood over the radio in Rickard’s helmet.

“Zeus, this is Alpha Six, we’ve secured entrance into the city. Squads are advancing on the left flank.” Rickard’s Alpha Company commander, Captain Renner.

“Zeus, this is Beta Six, engaging enemy infantry on the right flank.” Beta Company commander, Captain Watkins.

“Delta Six to Zeus, blocking position set up on the North side of the city. We have captured roughly twenty enemy fleeing the city. Your orders?”

Rickard doesn’t hesitate. “Zeus to Delta Six: no prisoners.”

“Zeus, Delta Six acknowledges.”

There’s the sound of laser discharge and men screaming before Rickard’ s Delta Company commander, Captain Grimes, cuts the transmission.

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