Tagged: warhammer 40000

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!…

Advertisements

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!…

3D Printing Extravaganza!

As many of you may know I love miniature war-games. Not that I play many of them these days – work, my Master’s program, and running around and creating havoc in Omaha and the Continental United States take up most of my time. I wanted to go to a local shop, Orcs 4 Hire, and play a rousing game of Warhammer 40k…may not happen.

But I digress.

In my love for tabletop wargames I have the desire to create my own. This is no easy feat. Rules must be created, play tested, rewritten, play tested again, re-rewritten. Miniatures must be sculpted and then mass produced, they have to be packaged, and then a distribution system, paired with a marketing strategy, must be created.

But most of that is down the line. Right now working on the game is that “miniatures sculpted” section. Hiring a sculptor is expensive. Currently the quote is $400 PER MINI. $8000 is where we’re sitting if we pay a guy. And for a small start-up that can be debilitating.

There’s another option that has become more and more viable over the past few years: 3D printing.

3D printing has really taken off in the last decade. Instead of companies using giant machinery one can now purchase a desktop 3D printer for $3000 or less, and the plastic material is $50 or so a spool.

I give you MakerBot. MakerBot manufactures some excellent, affordable 3D printers for companies, or for the average user. The MakerBot Replicator is a rather affordable $1,749. http://store.makerbot.com/replicator-404.html

It’s upgraded sibling, the MakerBot Replicator 2, is a bit pricier at $2,199. http://store.makerbot.com/replicator2.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whichever model, they are a much cheaper alternative to paying a sculptor.

But there ARE drawbacks. Instead of having a sculptor do all the work, one (namely me) would have to learn to use CAD or the MakerBot program, MakerWare. This is time consuming, and not prefferable if working to meet a certain deadline, whether that be a shopping holiday season or pre-convention.

Still a bit expensive though? There are some great Kickstarter Campaigns pushing small, very affordable desktop 3D Printers. Like this one here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/25111729/hyrel-3d-printer?ref=live

For a backing of $1,395 you can get a very nice, all metal 3D printer.

Creating your own miniatures, toys, or parts is more affordable than ever, and the entrepreneur-on-the-cheap that needs one for their operations can find a list of affordable 3D printers on the internet. It’s something I’m looking into, for sure.

Until next time . . .

Dragon*Con!

Okay, so this is late, but I’ve been busy (read: drunk).

Over the Labor Day weekend I headed to Atlanta for 48 hours of insanity at Dragon*Con. There I met my friend Lesley, and met some new friends, and we proceeded to romp around downtown Atlanta. Here are images from that weekend.

This man fights for the Emperor! 40K Imperial zealot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome 40K Party 🙂

 

Full Space Marine armor. AWESOME!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Stig (our friend) and Disco Stig 😛

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So great weekend. Wish I had stayed longer. Next year I shall! Will I cosplay?…eeehh probably not. But I’ll party harder, fo sho. 🙂

Until next time . . .

 

 

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.