Tagged: nerd

Self-Publishing

I have decided to self-publish my book “PETR: A STAR FOLK SAGA” through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service.

My book didn’t find traction with agents or publishers after four months of querying. Dozens of rejection emails later I decided the traditional publishing route wasn’t fot me. I have nothing against the traditional publishing route – it’s clearly worked for many people, and it may work for me in the future with another title.

So I’ve dived in working on perfecting the ms for kindle publishing. It’s been frustrating at times. I think I’m done and after another review I find a host of tiny mistakes and I have to go back and correct them before I upload the ms to KDP again.

I’ve seen this screen about a dozen times now…
Draft cover for the paperback. The paperback book will be 5” x 8” and will go for $8.99

I don’t have a release date yet, but I’ll be posting regular updates and freebies throughout the next month, and a release date will follow soon.

Geekery – Eisenhorn: Xenos Video Game by Pixel Hero Games

I don’t get to play a lot of video games these days. We have one TV in our home, and we work very hard to keep the kids’ screen time below 1 hour per day. In fact, that’s why we are moving our youngest to a new daycare that does zero screen time, while the current daycare has them watching movies 2+ hours per day. No 1 or 2 year old needs that much screen time.

But I digress.

Every now and again I will log in to my Steam account on my desktop (gaming computer) in order to play a quick game of Running With Rifles or Terreria, or hop on the Xbox One and knock out 30-45 minutes of Far Cry: Primal or Destiny.

Recently I was introduced to the most amazing game ever! (Well maybe not ever. But it’s pretty darn cool.) Pixel Hero Games has debuted Eisenhorn: Xenos, based off the best selling Warhammer 40K trilogy by Dan Abnett.

Eisenhorn

To really kick off this post, Abnett was the author that got me stuck in to Warhammer 40k, and the Eisenhorn Omnibus was the first Warhammer 40K book I purchased. I was immediately drawn into the world with Xeno, Malleus, Hereticus. And Abnett’s writing took me on a wild adventure with Gregor Eisenhorn and his Inquisitorial retinue. Every page had me on the edge of my seat, and I wrapped up the Eisenhorn Omnibus in just under two weeks. (Which reminds me I need to read it again.)

eisenhorn-01

The video game Eisenhorn: Xenos is true to the book. The story in the game follows right along with the book, with battle scenes and sneaking around. And Pixel Hero Games delivered on the Grimdark goodness of the Warhammer 40k universe. The environments are well built, and there are even times when one can look into the far distance.

05

Gameplay is very linear. You are playing the story of Gregor Eisenhorn and his team straight out of the books. Some on the internet have complained about this. I won’t because I love it. In a world full of sandbox gaming, Eisenhorn: Xenos is refreshingly thematic.

There are also the complaints of last-generation graphics. Apparently it was also made to be played on the iPad? Again, not a big deal for me. Is it not the latest and greatest realistic graphics of newer games? It isn’t. I don’t care. It plays very well and is fun. That’s right, it’s fun without the latest graphics. Shocking, I know. I honestly don’t need the latest graphics for all my games. If I wanted Eisenhorn: Xenos to be super realistic and HD, I would demand they just make the movie/HBO series. The graphics in the video game work great for me.

The third-person-shooter set-up works well. I just got an additional person in my party, and the AI is pretty good. As you work through the game you gather gold which you can use to buy better weapons and such. Combat is real time, and you can use Gregor’s sword or gun/bolt pistol/etc. Of course, Eisenhorn is a psyker, and you are able to use some of his psychic abilities as you play and fight.

So far I am about 5% into the game. (I bought it last week. This should signal just how much time I actually have to play video games between work and family commitments.) I cannot wait to play further into the game, and see what else Pixel Hero Games has done with the universe of Warhammer 40k and with Gregor Eisenhorn’s story!

Have you played through the whole game yet? What are your thoughts on it?

Until next time!…

Geekery – My First Game of Dungeons and Dragons

Before last Wednesday (February 17th) I had never played a Tabletop RPG.

I had played plenty of video game RPGs. The Final Fantasy series. Skyrim. Balder’s Gate. World of Warcraft. Warhammer Online. Just to name a few.

And of course I’m a tabletop game player. Battletech, Warmachine, and Infinity are just some of my favorites. I’ve played Star Trek: Attack Wing, and the Star Wars fighter game. And I love board games like Takenoko.

But tabletop RPGs never attracted my attention. Maybe some of this was the stigma of the people who played tabletop RPGs – then again that same stigma is attached (or at least used to be) those who play miniature war-games.  For whatever reason I was just never interested in getting into tabletop RPGs.

That changed recently – and by recently I mean GenCon 2014. I decided I’d try to get RPG’ing a shot and went to a Shadowrun character creation seminar at GenCon ’14. It was interesting but I really should have gone to a RPG session seminar. While waiting to start the seminar I was talking to three guys that had just wrapped up playing some D&D 5th edition. At that time 5th edition was relatively new and they were ecstatic about it. On top of that, they broke the tabletop-RPG’er-mold. They looked like normal bros doing bro stuff. And if they were down for D&D, then I could be down, too.

Fast forward a little over 18 months later and my gaming group has been disbanded for a while. I was being a bad member myself and, though I paid my dues, I was not attending with any regularity. Other members were going regularly – but not paying dues. And overall the group had shrunk and money in the war chest wasn’t matching rent for the store front. The gaming group closed, and I was left flapping in the wind, tabletop game-wise.

Within the last two weeks I had begun to adamantly look for a new gaming venue. I need tabletop gaming like some people need to watch their favorite shows weekly. It’s both an escape, and a mental exercise that keeps my mentally sharp. Previewing the events at the local game shop (called The Game Shoppe) here in Bellevue, NE I saw there were D&D demo games every Wednesday. After about a year and a half, I was ready to try a tabletop RPG.

My wife lovingly gave me a lot of crap for it. 🙂

And so, February the 17th I ventured into the cold Nebraskan night to try Dungeons and Dragons.

Overall it was fun. I created a human barbarian named Lothar (of the Hill People) and played with two other people who had low-level characters. Our DM was asked by his group at the last minute to be the DM for the newer, lower level players, and so he was unprepared and had trouble reading the quest notes on the tablet he was using. But we killed some wild dogs and saved a tiefling adolescent, and killed some red-furred goats. I got 100XP out of the whole ordeal. The other players seemed like good guys and we quested decently together.

The group was very inviting and helpful. They offered assistance and resources (like miniatures and pencils) freely and made sure I generally felt welcomed.

I plan to go back this coming Wednesday in order to get more experience. Hopefully things are a little more organized and our DM a little more prepared, or at least ready to DM on the fly. If not, I can watch the group play and see how they play.

Next I may get into Battletech: A Time of War RPG. Who knows?

And if you’re in the Bellevue, NE area and want to game let me know!

Until next time!…

Geekery – My Love-Hate Relationship With Battletech

Battletech. It has been a pastime of mine since I was 13 years old. I remember many a night with my friends where we would start playing at 5PM Friday night and finally finish a game at 4AM the next morning. We didn’t care that we were tired. Battletech was fun, and a challenge. I would read Battletech novels during class – they were a lot more interesting and thought provoking than what I was being taught.

It’s been over a decade and a half since I started playing, and Battletech has gone through a lot of changes. Many have been good.

Recently, though, I feel Battletech has hit some bumps in the road. There are still amazing products coming out, but how they are structured and distributed has created consternation.

Herein is my Love/Hate relationship with Battletech, as well as my recommendations from a customer/supply chain standpoint.

What I Love
What don’t I love about Battletech!?

Oh Battletech, let me count the ways I love thee!

The concept of BattleMechs, and how they operate is one of the coolest parts of Battletech. Who doesn’t like giant robots striding across the battlefield? I know I do. But these aren’t Gundams or some crazy anime robots.

BattleMechs, and the rest of the technology in the Battletech universe, are generally based in actual theory. Things like myomer musculature and compact fusion engines are things that are being worked on today, in our era. Private interests and militaries around the world are working on robots for battle and suits to enhance our soldiers’ abilities. Much of Battletrch feels as if it is in the realm of possibility. The ‘Mechs themselves generally aren’t insane, modern art designs. ‘Mechs like the Atlas, Timberwolf, and Warhammer are utilitarian, and the writers of the universe ensure that the laws of physics dictate what these machines realistically can and cannot do.

The myriad ‘Mechs, battle armor, vehicles, troops, DropShips, JumpShips, etc., each with their own unique description, load outs, and backgrounds makes Battletech even more interesting. I have spent long hours reading TROs and Field Manuals because of such details.

And then there’s the depth and scope of the universe and storyline itself. Of course, much is based on the history of medieval Europe post-Western Roman Empire. But Battletech was made its own, and has evolved far from there. There is suspense, intigue, honor, love stories, heroism, and events that span entire planets or entire regions of the galaxy.

The warfare itself is at an epic level and covers everything from jumping into a solar system, to the fight to planets, the drop in, and all aspects of combat on the ground. Through all its iterations, the company managing Battletech has generally grouped together a clutch of great authors to flesh out and bring the universe of Battletech to life.

And kill our favorite characters. Like that House Lord or ‘Mech Jock for the past 20+ years of universe timeline?

Now they’re dead.

It was gruesome, and wholly unexpected.

Battletech was doing this long before George R. R. Martin ever put pen to paper to write A Game of Thrones.

And the factions! There are literally dozens. More if you count the very open endedness in which Battletech has created with Mercenary units, pirate bands, uncharted colonies, gangs, families, corporations, and the countless other interests in the galaxy. If you don’t like the canon factions, you can always make your own.

All of this translates to great gameplay. Something I have always loved about Battletech is that there are no set faction lists like in Warhammer or Warmachine. Want a 3025 Atlas to go to war alongside a 3085 Clan Lobo? Done! Want Purifier Battle Armor (Word of Blake) with a Saggitaire (House Davion)? Great! You can mix and match forces as much as you want. Sure, there are tables that show what factions have what equipment in certain eras if you want to play that way. But you’re free to take whichever units you like.

The quasi-realism is also translated to the tabletop. You have to track ammo, heat, you have to roll if your pilot gets hit or the gyroscope that stabilizes your ‘Mech is damaged. It can take a long time, but thats part of the fun!

What I Hate
But Battletech isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

I’m not talking about the spat with Harmony Gold all those years ago. Water under the bridge, and Battletech has survived better than Harmony Gold did. Even the whole WizKids thing was a hiccup (we called the click-tech game “Narc Age”).

I am talking about decisions made about Battletech that have decreased interest overall.

Most of these decisions are production/supply chain decisions.

A while back the venerable black Battletech rule book was updated. I still have that old black rule book, and its worn, well used pages served me well.

The new rulebook covered everything, from standard Battletech to what was once called Aerotech.

What it lacked was BattleMech and vehicle construction rules, and no Aerofighter/DropShip/JumpShip construction rules. It had details on equipment, but not on damage or special rules. For that, one had to buy the next book: Tech Manual. Therein were all of the construction rules. Then there’s Tactical Operations, where the advanced rules and more equipment can be found.

But not all of it.

To get more info on more rules, equipment, and weapons you had to buy Strategic Operations. Strategic Operations did have the higher level gaming rules, but burried within were the miniature rules – once part of the normal rulebook like unit construction and weapons details.

Buying all three books will run you $200, plus tax. $60 if you get all three PDFs.

The old rulebook? $20 if I remember right. Maybe $30?

And if you want to play a decent game of Battletech you better at least have the main rulebook and Tactical Operations. Wanna play in the latest era, and slap on Strategic Operations for sure.

The same occurs in the newer version of Battletech called Alpha Strike. You need both the main Alpha Strike rulebook and the Compendium in order to reference every ability that a ‘Mech may have.

Which brings me to Alpha Strike.

Now I’m sure the people at Catalyst Game Labs did their due diligence, conducted surveys and studies, and saw where the tabletop miniatures market was going and said, “We need to do something different.” That’s business. And a company like Catalyst would not still be in business if they weren’t making good decisons.

Alpha Strike essentially turns Battletech into a miniatures game like Warhammer 40k or Warmachine. There are basic armor and damage values, and each ‘Mech/vehicle/etc. has abilities that affect its actions and damage.

Yes I have played Alpha Strike. It is A LOT faster than normal Battletech, and it is kinda fun. But for someone who cut their teeth on Classic Battletech it’s missing something. And it feels like all you need is the better shooty ‘Mech to win, rather than managing weapons, ranges, damages, heat, armor locations, and the units themselves to maneuver tactically.

While a quicker game that is more in line with the direction many miniature wargames are going now, Alpha Strike feels empty to me.

Maybe I’m not with the times…

My next point of contention: miniatures. Not the minis themselves. I love the minis. But how they are distributed.

Currently I am completely unable to walk into a gaming store in the Greater Omaha Metropolitan Area and purchase Battletech miniatures, and many places even books. I thought this was odd when I first went looking this last year. When I was younger I could count half a dozen stores within reasonable driving distance that carried Battletech minis in droves. What happened?

Speaking with store owners brought out the answer. They would ask Iron Wind Metals, the producer of Battletech minis, for a list of standard miniatures they could stock their shelves with. IWM would provide said list, and the stores would order. But, when the stores went to refill their stock the very next month, they would be informed by IWM that some of those minis were no longer in production, and IWM would provide the stores with a new list of standard, in-production items. Apparently this happened to numerous stores in and around Omaha enough, month after month, that stores here stopped carrying their products. This happened at different stores, with different owners, in different parts of the Greater Omaha Metropolitan Area.

Now, IWM may have changed this and tightened up their shot group since then. Maybe there was a miscommunication somewhere along the line.

Unfortunately none of these stores want to do business with them, or have anything to do with Battletech anymore. Their past experiences have left a bad taste in their mouths, and they refuse to carry Battletech products, or at least Battletech miniatures.

It’s not Catalyst Game Labs on this one. Shadowrun: Crossfire and Encounters! Bravest Warriors are still on shelves.

Battletech: not so much.

And if it’s happening in Omaha, it’s happening in other cities in the US. Which means less exposure for Battletech, which means fewer people hear about it, which means fewer new players, and old players leave the game, which means Battletech begins to be a drain on Catalyst’s revenue…

And as much as diversity of units makes the Battletech universe cool, it is also a detriment to some extent. With so many new ‘Mechs, vehicles, Aerofighters, battle armor, and the like being introduced in such a short timespan, IWM hasn’t been able to keep up production. Not to mention over saturation in the universe itself.

I got it, that IS part of what makes Battletech cool. It is! It’s even part of why I love it!

But look at our militaries today. The venerable Abrams has been in service for 30+ years, with plans for at least another decade. Same with the Bradley. Now, major internal upgrades have occured, but the machines are essentially the same. Diversifyng variants may be a better option than having new ‘Mechs every 2-3 years (real time).

My Recommendations
Now I’m not just going to whine about what’s wrong. I’ve been taught that if I identify a problem, to provide a solution.

First: Rules.

Put everything you need to play a decent game into one book. That includes weapon stats and rules, and unit construction.

Honestly going the old Battletech-rulebook/Aerotech-rulebook route would have been a bit more effective.

Regardless, don’t spread it out over $200 worth of books.

Second: Minis.

Catalyst and IWM should sit down and hammer out 50 ‘Mechs, 30 vehicles, and 30 Aerofighters and make them standard (if they haven’t already, probably those with highest sales). Always in production. Stores will 110% always be able to at least get these standard items. Then they can market everything else as extra. That’s just good supply chain management.

And then they need to win back stores like how an ex-meth-head that’s been clean for eight years tries to win back his family.

Third: Lower diversity.

Hate to say it (I really do), but new stuff shouldn’t burst out every 2-3 years real time, or every 10-20 years universe time. I know it’s just scifi, and it’s just a game, but the acquisitons corps of the Great Houses have to be pulling their hair out over the billions of parts they have to order. I love Battletech for its near-realism, and this is an element that should be introduced.

Forth: Focus on events.

You know what I haven’t seen in forever?

Organized campaign play. Somehow Privateer Press and other companies are somehow able to decentralize campaign play effectively. Catalyst can do the same. From the Succession Wars, to the Jihad, and up into the Dark Ages. There are so many eras in which campaigns can be run.

Given, there are great books for that already. But to have the campaigns connected and tracked would be awesome! Advertise it like Wizards of the Coast advertises new Magic: The Gathering editions.

In Conclusion
I’m sure someone at Catalyst will read this and go, “WTF mate?”

Or they may sigh heavily and say, “Yes, we know…”

Or perhaps they are saying, “Oh, if you only knew what was in store…”

I don’t know. I’m not in their offices everyday making the decisions they do, or seeing the numbers they pull and have to report.

I could even be wrong about a lot of the things I don’t like. Maybe Omaha is an anomoly, and other cities have shops selling Battletech minis like hot cakes. Maybe you, dear reader, are sitting at your computer asking what the hell I’m talking about as you and your friends get ready for a 12 hour bout of Battletech (in which case I hate you because I’m jealous and want to play, too).

My concerns are based on what I see from my level, and talking to others.

Am I going to stop buying or playing Battletech? No! My love for it outweighs the things I hate.

And who knows. Maybe there is something right around the corner that will bring Battletech back to the limelight.

Until next time!…

Geekery – My Obligatory Deadpool Review (Minor Spoilers)

Sunday, February 14th, was Valentine’s day. Like so many couples, my wife and I went out to celebrate our love for one another. Now, we love each other every day of the year, but Valentine’s is a great way to celebrate it and show our appreciation for one another.

And get away from the kids for five long hours. It was incredible. You don’t even know!

That night we went out and did the most romantic thing we could think of – go see the Deadpool movie.

Ryan Reynolds did not disappoint.

From the very beginning, blood-soaked hilarity ensued. Even the credits at the beginning of the movie were well crafted for Deadpool.

The humor is crude. There is nudity. At one point Wade celebrates “Women Empowerment Day” with his girlfriend, and she is the man, if you get my drift. The movie is definitely not for kids – and if you did take your kid, you are most likely going to have a week’s worth of conversations on the “birds and the bees” and why Wade, and not his girlfriend, was on all fours at one point.

There are also a slew of jokes pertaining to Ryan Reynolds’ previous role as a poorly done Deadpool in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, as well as other roles done by Reynolds, such as Green Lantern. There are even a few jokes at the expense of the studio, and their lack of support. There are probably some jokes I missed.

And, of course, the movie wraps up with a happy ending. The bad guy dies. Deadpool gets the girl. There’s a “pull out” joke.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stay until the credits are over. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Ryan Reynolds went on Facebook to thank the fans for supporting the creation of the Deadpool movie. Reynolds may be an actor, but he’s also a pretty cool human being. At one point, Reynolds went dressed up as Deadpool to see a kid with cancer who is a fan of his. Ryan knows that it was his fans, and the fans of Deadpool, that made the movie happen and he has been openly thankful and appreciative of that support. Say what you will about Ryan Reynolds, he’s one of the real life good guys in my book.

If you have seen Deadpool, I hope you enjoyed it at least as much as I did. If you haven’t, take your Mister/Misses/adult-aged-family and go see it. It will leave you with a warm, tingly feeling…or that may be you losing feeling in your stomach from laughing too hard.

Don’t pass out.

Until next time!…

And So I Return

After a year and a half hiatus I am back! It’s been a busy 18months, frought with a new baby, marriage, training, work, family, moving into a new house, and dogs.

In the coming days/weeks/months I will have a regular schedule of posts on several topics: Geek stuff (miniatures, movies, comics, video games, conventions); Exercise/Fit Life (supplemets, workouts, tips, recipes); Supply Management (procurement, contracts, vendors); Space Exploration

These topics may be increased, decreased, or modified.

Until next time!…

Gen Con Prep

So Gen Con is just around the corner and like most people I am stoked. Weather.com shows that the weather will be mostly sunny with temps in the upper 70s/lower 80s the whole time the convention is going on. It’s going to be an awesome four days of gaming, First Exposure Playtest Hall, and Designer & Publisher Speed Dating.

What I’m Excited To See
There’s going to be a ton to see at Gen Con, and I’m sure more than there is to see in just 4 days. Note that this is my very first Gen Con. But consulting the Gen Con Exhibit Hall map and checking on other events that are available, I’ve already got a lot I want to see:

– Catalyst Game Labs: I will be haunting them. 🙂 No this is not creepy. (This is creepy.) But I cannot wait to meet their team and see all the cool stuff they have coming out. Shadowrun: Crossfire looks fun and I’d love to see/play a demo game. And of course Battletech. Duh. When in doubt, Battletech.

– Iron Wind Metals: Co-located with Catalyst Game Labs. They will probably be taking the second half of my monies.

– Corvus Belli: I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of Infinity Operation: Icestorm. But I’d love to see the other goodues they have.

– Privateer Press: ’nuff said. But rather than looking forward to just the stuff they have at the convention, I’m also heading over to The Ram for the tapping ceremony of the Everblight Ale!

– Table Forged: These guys are cool, and have a great game called Iron And Ale where you drink beer and beat the crap out of your friends. Oh there are cards to do fantasy stuff, too. 😛 But they threw down an arm wrestling challenge, and I answered it!

– Hawk Wargames: Dropzone Commander looks like an amazing game and I cannot wait to play it. I’ll be stopping by to see what they have, and maybe try my hand at a game or two.

– Mantic: Love the games these guys are putting out. Huge Deadzone fan, and already pledged for their Dwarf King’s Quest Kickstarter.

– Fantasy Flight Games: These guys are game making machines. Love their Star Wars game and may pick up a pack or two.

– Gale Force Nine: Everything I’ve heard about Firefly the Game is great! And being an ardent browncoat I wanna try my hand at it.

– Welovefine.com: Because I need a Catbug T-shirt.

– The D6 Generation: Recently started listening to their podcast and I am a huge fan already. Who knew there were people who talked about all the cool stuff I love? Gonna try to squeeze into their recording Friday with the other mob of people trying to get in. But would just like to meet ’em in general.

– The Cardboard Republic: Another great site and podcast that I instantly got addicted to, and would like to meet their team if I get a chance.

These are just a few of the companies I’m looking forward to seeing. The list is long and I have only a rough plan on how I will navigate…perhaps even astrogate this convention.

May have to break out those Delta-V calculations…

First Exposure Playtest Hall
If you haven’t already heard/read, my game Ship Strike will be debuted in the First Exposure Playtest Hall, located in ICC 107-110. If you’re there stop by and get a game in!

Schedule is as follows:
Thursday, Aug. 14: 10AM-12PM, 1PM-3PM, 5PM-7PM
Friday, Aug. 15: 3PM-5PM

I will be running two games at once, so four people can get in per time slot.

Work on Ship Strike has come along great. I’ve gotten some awesome feedback from playtests from friends, family, and the gaming group I belong to.

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Work, work, work...

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Laminate ALL the stat cards!

Probably one of the smartest thing I did was laminate the stat cards. It’s a lot of mind numbing work, but the endstate of what this is, and what it could become, drives me onward!

And So It Begins…
The final countdown to Gen Con has begun! I look forward to meeting a lot of fellow gamers and have a blast!

My Plan for US Economic Recovery: Go To Space

So I’m jumping from one nerdish topic – bodybuilding to be a Warhammer 40k Space Marine – to another one: space exploration. My ADD is kicking in. Let’s ride this train! WOO!

Okay so hear me out.

The US is having a hell of a time getting back on its feet. Manufacturing inside the US is down, unemployment is high, we’re lagging the rest of the developed world in education.

That said, according to CNBC today, jobless claims are down and durable goods orders are up: http://www.cnbc.com/id/49549215

It’s my opinion that this slight drop in jobless claims and increase in durable goods orders will be short lived, especially if we trip off the fiscal cliff, cueing $1.2 Trillion worth of spending cuts over the next decade, and an increase in payroll taxes (http://www.cnbc.com/id/49464221/).

This is bad, m’kay?

So how do we beat this fiscal cliff? How do we cushion ourselves from our ultra-bipartisan government’s (Reactionary Right AND Radical Left all included) inability to come up with a budget?

Legalize and tax marijuana!

Wait, no, that’s not what this post is about . . . though I think, while I do not smoke weed, this would be an intelligent decision, and then the government and businesses could treat it like alcohol (don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or weapons when you’re high, no showing up to work high, etc.). Plus think of the money the government would make on taxing it!

But I digress.

Let’s go to space! Seriously!

Seriously . . .

Why space, though, you may ask? Well here is my five points of why encouraging space travel, exploration, and colonization would save the US, perhaps even the world. (But the US first. ‘Merica!)

1. Jobs

Want to create jobs? Going to space is the key! You need to design the space craft. You’ll need engineers and their staffs for that. Then you need to build the space ships. You’ll need laborers, welders, electricians, machinists, and other skilled and unskilled labor. Designing and assembling the engines for these things is a task in and of itself. You’ll need programmers and computer scientists to get the computers and systems in the ships working properly. You’ll need administrative staffs to manage all these people, their pay, and the contracts and purchases that support them. You’ll have to secure these manufacturing plants, so security personnel will need to be hired. You’re going to want to have a foothold in space, so you’ll need to build, launch, and assemble space stations – and you’ll need all the labor and support personnel for that, too.

Then you’ll need space ship and space station crews to man these ships and space stations you build. You’ll need pilots, technicians, mechanics, engineers, computer specialists, and scientists from several disciplines. They’ll need training, and you’ll need trainers to train them. They’ll need facilities to train at, and your daily operations will need facilities, which will require construction workers, facilities management personnel, IT personnel, and even janitors. If you want on-site catered meals you’ll have to hire those personnel, or contract those services out – either way, jobs are being made to fulfill this requirement.

Want to build moon habitats? Need personnel for that. Stuff to go to Mars? Even more people.

The list of positions and specialities is very broad and I’ve only barely touched on them. The point being: a lot of people are required to get all of this done. Jobs will be created.

And as people go to space, the amenities they love on Earth will be wanted in space, and so other companies will follow. I know I’d want my Starbucks in the morning before going to work on a space station or moon colony, and I’d want internet connectivity to stay up on my news (and LOLcats).

This leads me to my next point-

2. Increase in Wealth for the Middle Class

Here’s an economic plan we can truly believe in (I have zero trust in Obama and his administration; my political quip for this post).

The increase in specialized, high skill jobs will lead to greater wealth in the middle class. Going to be working around fuels and explosives? Or a nuclear power plant for the ship, station, or colony? There’s added pay for that. Just because people are in space doesn’t mean government regulations about work and pay go away.

This is where government SHOULD step in: ensure that workers are treated fairly and pay is equitable both on Earth and out in space.

And I’m sure the new space companies will pay hefty salaries and wages to those who train, certify, and qualify on all the areas these companies need to cover – certain welding certifications, training on certain equipment, experience in programming systems for air/space craft, etc.

Some companies may even pay applicants to learn a new skill and/or job. Of course, this may come with a five year contract with the company. But a five year contract, with benefits, and annual or semi-annual raises? Probably starting at or around $25 an hour? (That’s really good in Nebraska. If it’s not good where you’re from, think about an equivalent wage. $35/hour? $45/hour? More?) It sounds like a good deal to me.

I caveat this with: I don’t like unions, and the space industry should strive to keep them out of the industry, and to attract union members out of unions with better benefits, 401(K)’s, IRAs/Roth IRAs, and wages. Who needs a union or some government organization to tell us we need to take care of our people? Good sense, and maybe a single article from Harvard Business Review can do that a hundred times better.

3. Increase in STEM Education

All of these space companies are going to need well educated workers. We don’t need to go to India or China to get them. We can get them, right here, in the US. The drive to space will drive schools to make the shift to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines we need. Where the schools fail, the space companies could make up the short-fall with their own programs.

“Corporate funded schools are evil!” you say.

Not really, says I.

This is another place where the government could do a lot of good: tax credits to companies that run STEM-focused (though not exclusively STEM, gotta get history, government, and economics in there, and what about art?) schools that are low tuition or free, and if there is a tuition then give out scholarships to students in low income/impoverished parts of the United States. Amazing! Tapping into the untapped resources that reside in our low income neighborhoods/Section 8 housing. There ARE kids in those areas that want to excell! This would give them that chance! How can Democrats and Republicans NOT agree on this? (I’m sure there’s a way . . . unfortunately.)

Companies could also work together to set up classes and courses to give quality education and certification to high school and college level students to fulfill needs. It could be extended on the job training (OJT) with pay raises and bonuses based on milestones met, or number of job areas mastered both on paper and with experience.

Just ideas. Lots of ideas.

4. Taxes: Defeating That Fiscal Cliff

And now for an area the government can truly play its part: taxes.

We wouldn’t want to tax these companies too much. They’d just be starting out, just beginning to take man to space and help rebuild the economy. And I’m all for low taxes to stimulate the economy. But taxes must be levelled, none the less.

The increase in the number of people paying payroll tax would fill the US coffers, along with the corporate taxes the organizations themselves would have to pay.

There would also be licenses. The government would be right in validating the companies that are building these things. I’m sure there are already regulations in place that determine what Space X, Armadillo Aerospace, Planetary Resources, and Bigelow Aerospace can and cannot do. This is an excellent place for government to be to ensure the safety of the workers, the general public, and the State(s)/country.

This does NOT mean the government decides it needs an influx of government workers. We’re supposed to be fighting the deficit, and by extension the fiscal cliff, not making it worse. I admit, a few, A FEW, government employees will need to be hired. It’s the nature of the beast. But not on the level that the government probably would hire.

“We need a thousand GS 12 and 13 level employees to oversee space!” They would scream.

Really? I mean . . . really!? No, no you don’t. *Rolls up a newspaper and hits the government on the nose with it.* That’s a bad government!

So the government would have to get a clue and be frugal about its hires, and allow the taxes that flow from these space companies to pile up. They would actually have to save money. They would be on an actual budget . . .

Craziness, I know.

5. Because It’s Cool and the U. S. of A. Rocks

Yes, this is really one of my legitimate points.

Going into space is awesome. Did you see the Space Jump the other day? You did? That’s awesome. Wouldn’t you like to do that? I DO! Wouldn’t you want to go to the Moon and Mars and explore places humans have never seen with their own eyes. I DO! Wouldn’t you want to see the Moon and Mars explored, colonized, and perhaps even terraformed?

I DO! I DO! I DO!

We all should. How cool would that be!? What an experience!

And we as Americans can do it. We have the ideas and innovation, the drive, and the vision to do it. We have the sheer number of people and resources to create these companies and put people into space. It is possible. It can be done. Just look at some of the companies out there: Space X, Armadillo Aerospace, Bigelow Aerospace, Planetary Resources, Virgin Galactic. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch.

People like John Carmack, Elon Musk, and Richard Bronson took the risk to go into space and succeeded. Sure, they could have failed, but they never would have known if they could or not if they didn’t try! (Yes, Sir Richard Bronson is British, but Virgin Galactics Space Port is here in the U.S. . . . ‘Mercia!)

Jersey Shore and Honey Boo Boo aside (WHY!?), the USofA is still great. We still have potential and we can still do amazing things. But we as Americans must stand up (off the couch) and take action.

Parting Thoughts

Writing this, I know I lack what I call for. I have no mechanical background. My STEM intelligence is low.

But I have the desire and drive to learn . . . and so far I’ve spent like $200 or more on rocketry books. Like one of my idols, John Carmack, I can teach myself. 🙂 And take some basic classes at the local community college.

My parting thought is that we are never too old to learn, and constant learning is part of constant self-improvement. And though I work hard to live by this principle purely for the sake of growing as an individual, in today’s world this is pretty much a requirement.

Until next time . . .

What Does a Technocrat Look Like?

So I’ve been slaving away at the next novel THE TECHNOCRAT. I’m forcing myself to stare at the screen and smash keys to create each chapter as I craft a story that people will love, hate, and obsess over (or so is the goal).

One of the things I’ve been dying to do is reveal as much about the Olympus Mons Technocracy, and the post-Earth universe, as possible. At the beginning of the novel there will be two entries: 1) The names of all current and former Technocrat Houses, and 2) the Military Table of Organization and Equipment for House d’Helion (which is also the basic structure of most Technocrat Houses, with some deviations).

Throughout the novel there will be asterics which will reference the glossary in the back. In addition to a glossary there will be black and white pictures of all of the equipment described in the book, from the Kraken Colossus to the Titan power armor.

The glossary and pictures are still in the works (VERY in the works). But I’ve completed the Technocrat House names (100% complete) and the d’Helion House Guards TO&E (about 75% complete, still tinkering with units/numbers). I’m posting them here for your viewing pleasure.

Aren’t you lucky? 🙂

You may notice that this military is rather small at around 8,000. In my post-Earth universe humanity has just started to recover from two centuries of warfare and the fact that when Earth died there were only about thirty-million people spread between Luna, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter (Ganymede and Callisto), Saturn (Titan), and the asteroid belt (this is roughly the U.S. population in the 1950s). In 2306 the d’Helion District is home to roughly 420,000 people spread over an area about the size of the State of Kentucky, and is the third most populous district in the Olympus Mons Technocracy (the first is House York, and the second is House d’Angers).

So, in the post-Earth universe, a state that can muster what we would consider a single brigade today is a force to be reckoned with.

That said, the Olympus Mons Technocracy can muster 41 such forces (each between 2-8k personnel, depending on the population size of the district, and the penchant of the district’s population to serve in the military). So The Olympus Mons Technocracy has a reason for being the dominant power in the solar system. Its only real rivals are Elysium on Mars (comprised of Elysium Mons, Hecatus Tholus, and Albor Tholus), and Lakshimi on Venus. Lakshimi tends to struggle to compete with the two Martian powers, though, despite its size and population.

Now, without further ado:

Technocrat Houses 

Founding Houses                                Earth state of descent

Cartwright                                           North American Federation (Great Britain)

D’Angers                                            North American Federation (Australia)

D’Helion                                             North American Federation (Australia)

Della-Moretta                                      North American Federation (U.S.A)

Drella                                                  North American Federation (U.S.A)

Tokugawa                                           Japan

York                                                    North American Federation (Great Britain)

 

Founding Houses no longer in            Earth state of descent

existence (Due to absorption/eradication)

Itagaki-Iwakura                                  Japan

(Eradicated, 2144; Warrior Clan Uprising)

Orrick                                                  North American Federation (Great Britain)

(Absorbed by marriage by House Carver, 2245; now House Carver-Orrick)

 

Other Houses

Adunts-Heruny                                   Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia)    

Bagabzade                                          Commonwealth of Independent States (Azerbaijan)

Bian-Goei                                            People’s Republic of China

Carver-Orrick                                      North American Federation (U.S.A./Great Britain)

Da Silva                                              Brazil

Emankumar                                         India

Glovatsky-Zavylov                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Kazakhstan)           

Himura                                                Japan

Hsieh                                                   People’s Republic of China

Jagr-Korbel                                         Central European Pact (Czech Republic)

Labat-Teixeira                                     Brazil

Lekimeju                                             Kenya

Khrapaty                                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Kazakhstan)           

Malyeshev                                           Russian Federation

Monteith                                             North American Federation (Scotland)

Nguyen                                               Vietnam

Nimeiri                                                Sudan

Ocalan                                                 Kurdistan

O’Faelechoin                                       North American Federation (Ireland)

Pruszkowski                                        Central European Pact (Poland)

Rashidov                                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Uzbekistan)           

Rheem                                                 Korea

Rostovtzeff                                         Russian Federation

Sathyanarayana                                   India

Sarybaev                                             Commonwealth of Independent States (Kyrgyzstan)

Satar Khan                                          Afghanistan

Tetradze                                              Commonwealth of Independent States (Georgia)

Teteriuk                                               Commonwealth of Independent States (Kazakhstan)

Ts’ong                                                 People’s Republic of China

Van Wovalaer                                     Scandanavian Alliance (Denmark)

Wolfert                                                Central European Pact (Germany)

Youj                                                    Korea

Zeimoto                                               Brazil

Zoidze                                                 Commonwealth of Independent States (Georgia)

 

Other Houses no longer in existence  Earth state of decent

(Due to absorption/eradication)

Chazov-Grachev                                 Russian Federation

(Eradicated, 2210; Russ Civil War)

Gergiev                                               Russian Federation

(Eradicated, 2210; Russ Civil War)

Goldhawk                                           North American Federation (Great Britain)

(Absorbed by marriage by House d’Helion, 2298)

Von Trotha                                          Central European Pact (Germany)

(Absorbed by marriage by House Wolfert, 2280)

House d’Helion Military Ranks and Organization

Ranks

House Technocrat Lord (Technocrat Lord Rickard Justinian d’Helion, as of 2306)

Commander

Captain

Chief

Trooper

Organization

Squad/Section – 10 troopers/2Vehicles                 Flight – 2 fighters

Company – 5 Squads/Sections + Support             Wing – 5 Flights + Support

Battalion – 4 Companies + HQ                             Fighter Battalion – 5 Wings + HQ Wing

D’Helion House Guards (appx. 8,000 personnel)

Note: This number includes base support personnel for training facilities, ammunition supply point, movement control yards, etc.

Note: Approximately 1.9% of the d’Helion District population serves in the military as of 2306. 

Headquarters (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi (Lord Rickard d’Helion), 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

1st Battalion (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi (Lady Celeste d’Helion), 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

2nd Battalion (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

 

3rd Battalion (207 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 4 Kraken Colossi, 2 Lynx Colossi

Alpha Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Beta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Delta Company – 5x Titan power armor squads

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Ranger power armor squads

 

1st Armored Battalion (155 combat personnel, 100 support personnel)

HQ – 1x Oracle Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Alpha Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Beta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Delta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

Gamma Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 5x Mars MBT sections

 

1st Cavalry Battalion (135 combat personnel, 100 support personnel)

HQ – 1x Oracle Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Alpha Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Beta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Delta Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

Gamma Company – 1x Kraken Colossus, 2x Mars MBT sections, 3x Apollo Light Tank sections

 

1st Reserve Battalion (221 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 2 Spartan Colossi

Alpha Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Beta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Delta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Scout squads

2nd Reserve Battalion (221 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 1 Oracle Colossi, 2 Spartan Colossi

Alpha Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Beta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 3x Auxilia IFV Sections

Delta Company – 3x Standard infantry squads, 2 Heavy weapon squads + 5x Auxilia IFV Sections

Gama Company (Scouts/Pathfinders) – 5x Scout squads

1st Reserve Armored Battalion (105 combat personnel, 80 support personnel)

HQ – 1x Oracle Colossus, 5x Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Alpha Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Beta Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Delta Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

Gamma Company – 1x Spartan Colossus, 5x Mars Hoplite Medium Tank sections

 

Navy

Leviathan Cronus (4,000 personnel)

Cronus Fighter Battalion

HQ – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Alpha Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Beta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Delta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Gama Wing – 5x Flights of Chimera shuttles

Olympian-class Cruiser OMTS Hydra (150 personnel)

2x Wings Lysander space/atmospheric fighters + 2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Olympian-class Cruiser OMTS Elizabeth Judith d’Helion (150 personnel)

2x Wings Lysander space/atmospheric fighters + 2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Hellspawn-class Cruiser OMTS Wrath of d’Helion (100 personnel)

1x Wing Lysander space/atmospheric fighters + 1 Flight Chimera shuttles

Ascraeus-class Destroyer OMTS Isaac d’Helion (75 personnel)

            2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Ascraeus-class Destroyer OMTS Pride of d’Helion (75 personnel)

2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Ascraeus-class Destroyer OMTS Red Rage (75 personnel)

2x Flights Chimera shuttles

Tiger Shark-class Frigate OMTS Crimson Death (25 personnel)

Tiger Shark-class Frigate OMTS Drake (25 personnel)

Tiger Shark-class Frigate OMTS Griffin (25 personnel)

Naval Reserve (60 combat personnel, 120 support personnel)

HQ – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Alpha Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Beta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Delta Wing – 5x Flights of Lysander space/atmospheric fighters

Gama Wing – 5x Flights of Chimera shuttles

1st Training Battalion (20 permanent training personnel)

HQ – Command/Administration

Alpha Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Beta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Delta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Gamma Company – 3 Drill Instructors

2nd Training Battalion (20 permanent training personnel)

HQ – Command/Administration

Alpha Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Beta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Delta Company – 3 Drill Instructors

Gamma Company – 3 Drill Instructors

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.