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TT-61 Titan Titus

 

TT-61 Titan Titus

This is a work of fiction. All the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously.

Tribune Titus Trebonius

TT.61 Titan Titus

Copyright © 2014 by Frank b. Thompson, III

Rights reserved.

1st Edition

Published by Frank B. Thompson, III at Smashwords

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

About the Author

Other books by Author

Connect with Frank Thompson

Acknowledgements

Like many “baby boomers” born in the mid-fifties, WWII and the atomic bomb played in indelible part in shaping my life and interests. This was the golden age of Science Fiction with books like Starship Troopers and I Robot, movies like Forbidden Planet and War of the Worlds were the rage. It was also a time when former soldiers told electrifying stories of dreadful war machines they encountered on the battlefields of Europe sparking the imaginations of children like myself. Those events set in motion a lifetime of fascination with military history and technology.

My interest in writing began in eighth grade English and I now spend part of my time focused on science fiction with disregard for concepts like teleportation, light-speed space travel, intergalactic commuting, battleship- size spacecraft, time travel in favor of more realistic possibilities. I choose to write about ‘military scifi’ where conflicts invariably involve two, or more competing ideologies, one seeking to impose itself on the other(s). War is the means by which each faction grapples with disagreements and like all wars they are unromantic, horrible affairs with outcomes that often change the course of history.

The one thing utopianists would have many believe is that war will not exist in the future. They would be wrong because man does not learn from his past and “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The reasons wars will come and go remain the same reasons that have existed throughout human history; only a handful of variables change the way those wars will be waged which brings me to this novel.

Futurists of every generation long believed the human race would attain lofty ends, colonizing and creating for themselves heavenly, utopian worlds that would be the envy of the past. Their visions, however, came to a sudden dead end, a day when those dreams were shattered, disappearing forever under the oppression of totalitarian regimes.

Prologue

Futurists of every generation long believed the humanity would eventually attain lofty ends which would be the envy of the past. Their visions of the future became the dreams of the human race until the day arrived when those dreams were shattered, smashed to pieces by the shackles of a world dominated by totalitarian regimes, communist states and a Muslim empire.

The year is 4521, there is one last holdout, the one remaining bastion of freedom, the superpower Terra. Only through the ingenuity and technical superiority of the Terran military have the hordes of the tyrants been stopped. For over four centuries the armored legions have kept the beasts at bay, they were the only thing standing in the way of complete world domination.

What would happen if the dark powers succeeded? The world, like the nations they ruled, would enter a new Dark Age. That part of humanity already under their thumbs became a desperate struggle for existence. The power of the demigods was absolute, they came to power slowly, over the course of centuries with promises of Utopia. Only too late did humanity realize their promises had been nothing but lies. As the yoke of ‘the State’ tightened, ignorance became pervasive, history rewritten, free thinking liquidated, living conditions and way of life returned to far more primitive times. The gleaming glass and steel cities futurists’ envisioned existed, but only in the guise of Palaces and Temples the rulers had built to themselves.

The enemy have succeeded through treachery arriving off two different coastlines using underwater transport. One of them has brought with them a new weapon, a hexapod mounting an EPC of tremendous power, a siege weapon.

By the 46th Century, soldiers belonging to Terran mechanized legions wear armored combat suits to compliment the heavies, track tanks that roam the those future battlefields. Armored warriors are armed with electromagnetic-pulse canons (EPCs), their suits are powered by gas-turbine powerplants mounted out of the line of fire, on the backside of the suits of armor.

The scene opens up with Legionnaire, Octavia Trebonius, daughter of the Legate who is first to encounter the enemy hordes. After a battle lasting days, she and her legion are eventually overwhelmed by sheer numbers, she is severely wounded, then mercilessly murdered by her adversaries. It only takes less than a week for the two converging Muslim and Communist armies to reach the doorstep of the capitol. The only thing now standing in their way is the III Legion Ferrata.

The Ironclads are an elite, mechanized, unit and they are the last thing standing between an approaching Muslim-Communist army ten-times their size and all that remains of the nation, Terra.

The situation is hopeless, all is lost.

Chapter One

The armored legionnaire remained motionless scanning the horizon for the telltale signs of the approaching Muslim horde. The EPC-30 was unshouldered from the back-rack, cradled in metaled arms and trained in the expected direction of the assault. The turbine blades of the gas fueled powerpack could be heard, the whine a low growl in pitch meant the machine was in a combat-ready state. The Mark III combat suit had survived many deadly encounters, the metal skin of the warhorse was patched in spots, the smooth outer surface gouged and pitted from the many strikes of highspeed projectiles. A non-reflective, desert camouflage pattern of tan, brown and yellow covered the machine, canon and the cabling that connected the weapon to the powerpack.

Occasionally the machine adjusted position, each step of its five-ton weight causing the ground to slightly tremble. The visor of the helm was raised up out of place giving the occupant a true view the surroundings. Steely, blue eyes could just be seen moving back and forth from behind the thick glass of the vision slit. The legionnaire continued scanning the horizon.

Octavia Trebonius was a seasoned veteran, trained from early childhood in art of war, she had known no other way of life. The battle armor she wore had become an extension of herself and woe be any who might cross her path.

The enemy tanks were said to number in the hundreds. The dust clouds they would kick up on the desert floor would offer the first telltale signs of their approach. Octavia was prepared to die to protect her country; deep down she knew that death was a real possibility. The legionnaires fear, however, never got the better of her. She was hardened to the sight of death, to the horrors of war.

Throughout the week over a million Terrans had passed through city gates like the one she was guarding hoping to find safety behind the thick, metaled walls. Now, only a trickle of refugees, mostly the elderly and infirm, were making their way down the final section of causeway to hoped-for sanctuary.

“Octavia, fuel tender has arrived, point Tango, Charlie, Alpha,” crackled a man’s voice over the internal audio circuitry.

The humming of the spinning turbine blades could be heard increasing slightly from the rear side of the machine as power was added when the legionnaire began to move. Slight waves of heat shimmered through the starburst pattern of cooling vents cut into the powerpack metal. Given the weight and size of the machine the metal beast appeared surprisingly agile.

“Affirmative, Point Tango, Charlie, Alpha,” she responded turning to take one last look out onto the horizon to see nothing but a barren, dry landscape.

“Coming through,” she announced over the external loud speaker as she lifted the heavy cannon up, over her right shoulder where it locked precisely into position through two large magnetic contact points.

The more ambulatory of the civilians quickly stepped aside, clearing a path for the ten- foot, tall leviathan as she continued toward the main city gate. The older men and women struggled to clear the way leaving only one elderly man who refused to move out of her path. Instead, he continued to shuffle slowly to the gateway. She was forced to stop.

“Clear a path!” boomed her voice over the speaker.

His slow, walking movement suddenly came to a halt. He turned slowly to face Octavia, then looked straight into her eyes with an understanding gaze, a twinkle in his eye that told her he understood what she was thinking.

The old man smiled, then added, “Am I in your way legionnaire?”

Octavia paused for a moment before answering when she noticed his telltale scars of war. Zooming in on the old man’s face, it was marked with the disfigurement one would only experience when an armored suit was penetrated, spalling that both broke bone and burned flesh. She next recognized the faded, circular tattoo of a legionary on the man’s right cheek. Combat suits had been in the Terran arsenal for a century now, three generations of men and women had worn them in the war. Octavia zoomed in on the man’s face to see if she could make out the legionary marking, only full-fledge legionnaires wore the ‘grey’ symbol of metal.

“A hand if you will, Legionnaire.”

What’s this? she thought.

Again with a smile he said, “Well, come on you ‘Bull,’ we haven’t got all day.” The Bull was insignia of her legion, the Tenth.

Her question came back over the loud speaker, “You wore the grey, what legion were you with?”

Even though he was hearing the normal, mechanical voice of a armored legionnaire the old man could see through the clear vision port that Octavia had the features of a woman.

“I was with the III Legion, my dear…” He paused for a moment as if catching his breath, “and I was probably fighting the Muslims in one of those suits before you were born.”

She smiled to herself, her father’s legion, the III Legion, the “Ironclads.”

The Ironclads were an elite mechanized legion under the command of Terra’s greatest military commander, Legate (General) Gaius Trebonius.

If this man had served with the III Legion he deserved her respect.

“Do you still know how to hop on for a ride?” Octavia asked. “Lady, I remember everything.”

No surprise, she thought. This man had once been one of the best class of warriors this nation produced.

One armored clad Terran legionnaire was said to be worth a company of Communist or Muslim tanks, a dozen machines. A Terran Centurion (Staff Sergeant) similarly armored was said to be worth twice that number.

After taking several heavy-footed steps forward she bent down while extending her left, metaled hand down to ground level, palm up and open so it would act as a foot stop.

As she remained in place, the humming of the turbine blades of the power plant softened at bit.

“Climb aboard, Ironclad.”

It took a moment for the old man to work his way up onto the improvised footstool and to lock his arms around the upper arm for support.

Once seated somewhat safely he responded, “Just inside the wall and out of the way will be fine, legionnaire. I don’t want to miss the fireworks this one last time.”

The old man’s words were ominous. The approaching enemy army were made up of Muslims who had made landfall two weeks earlier using Indonesia as their stepping stone into the northern provinces. In that short period, the Muslim hordes had rolled over an entire Terran army and their progress into the interior of the country seemed

unstoppable. The enemy were, however, now be up against the armored legions and the Bull Legion was one of Terra’s best. The X Legion was there to stop the approaching hoard, the legionaries would be using a belt of fortified, frontier cities that marked the beginning of the habitable, lush lands of the eastern provinces.

Octavia was careful not to move too quickly. The old legionnaire had been one of the best, but that was during his prime. Now, he was like anyone else his age, tired, worn out and easily broken.

The two passed under the twenty-foot archway and under the meter-thick alloy blast- door that would fall into place and provide some measure of protection against ballistic attack once the enemy appeared. Octavia was met by the sight of twenty, or so tracked ‘Heavies,’ Panzers parked facing the main gate on either side of the thoroughfare, their long, protruding cannons trained at one o’clock and eleven o’clock respectively.

Octavia breathed a sigh of relief. The rest of the legion is finally beginning to arrive.

The Heavies were a new model of main battle tank; fifty-ton, tracked, land monitors mounting a single turret and sporting the new seventy-five millimeter, rapid-fire EMPs. Those panzers were manned by a crew of three: the driver, gunner and commander and really had not changed in general appearance for over a millennia. The Heavies were painted in a familiar, desert camouflage pattern and bore the small, black outline of the X Legion insignia “the Bull” on the right side of each turret. The gas turbine engines idled as they waited for orders. This same scene was occurring at every city gate facing west as elements of the legion arrived by highspeed rail.

Along the parapet of the wall in both directions, engineering teams could now be seen with their cranes, lowering armored sentinels, automated copula, into place. Evenly spaced, some had already been hoisted into place and the high-speed, rotary canons were now moving, seeking out enemy targets using internal, high-gain radars. The copula were primarily designed for air defense and would engage aerial targets ranging from the “land skimmers” (cruise missiles) to attack, or surveillance drones to manned, jet aircraft. Before the Muslim hoard arrived many rooftops within the city would be topped with one of these automated sentinels, the titanium projectiles shredding any enemy target that happened to come within range.

Terra had survived centuries of war and stood as the one remaining beacon of liberty and freedom in the world. Through innovation the Terrans had remained technically superior; innovation had been a natural byproduct of a free and open society. The Terran Constitution had been modeled upon the founding document of the former democratic nation, the United States. Many of today’s Terrans’ ancestors had immigrated from that communist stronghold.

“This is good!” shouted the old man. “I want to see them coming.”

“Your father…your father isn’t Legate Trebonius is it?”

Octavia’s more mechanical sounding voice came over the external speaker. “You know, I can’t do that.”

“And, why not,” the old man demanded.

“This is going to be a war zone in a matter of hours, if not minutes.”

“Hell, so what.”

“Do you have some kind of death wish?”

“We’re, going…” he paused to catch his breath, “we’re going to die today anyway. I…” another pause, “I want to see them coming!”

Octavia could see the old legionnaire’s point, the request even seemed rational. If she were in his shoes, she would want the same thing…a warrior’s death.

“Don’t worry about me,” he stated during the pause. “I want to go the same way many of my fellow legionnaires have gone. I don’t want to die like some rat underground hiding. I want a soldier’s death.”

Yes, she thought, that would be the way I too would want to go, to die a warrior’s death.

Without saying a word, she made a quarter turn and slowly lowered the old man to the ground. Wriggling himself free the old man looked up into Octavia’s eyes behind the faceplate.

“Good luck, legionnaire,” she heard the man say.

Octavia did not envy what this poor soul was about to experience. At least death would come quickly for the old man, if not from shrapnel, then by the percussion waves of the blast. Hopefully, the old man would not be forced to suffer the agonizing death millions of Terrans had so far suffered. Word was, the Muslims were using phosgene gas to soften up civilian, population centers. No, she hoped the old man would not be tormented with that sort of heinous death.

“Farewell, legionnaire,” she replied.

“Wait! One more thing,” he shouted. “What’s your name?” “My name is Octavia Trebonius.”

Octavia smiled to herself, “They’re one in the same, legionnaire.”

The female warrior was proud of her family’s military tradition, five generations of men and women who had served in the legions of Terra. Her father was just one of several Legates to carry the name Trebonius in history. If this war turned out as she hoped, she too hoped to wear the purple of Legate, if this war turned out as she hoped.

Octavia, her ancestors, had been extraordinary people: statesmen, military commanders, one had even been risen to ‘co-leader’ of the Republic. Today, Gaius commanded the Terran legionary forces; fifteen hardcore, armored legions that numbered from III through XIV. Her brother Titus had become one of the youngest men to wear the gold of a Praetorian Guard and subsequently risen through the ranks to become ‘Primus’ (first Centurion) of the 1st Cohort. She herself had risen through the ranks on her own merits proving herself worthy of wearing the mantel of ‘the Bull.’

The searing noise of the turbine powerplants of the panzers increased in intensity. She turned to see the Heavies now belching flames just above the engine decking at the rear of each giant as more petrol was injected into the spinning vortices.

She turned back for one final glance to see the old man making slow strides towards a stairway leading up to the parapet of the city wall.

He is right, she thought, the Muslims had never gotten this far before. No matter, the situation is what it is. This has always been a fight to the death. No quarter will be given, no quarter is expected.

Octavia paused as the column of screaming, clattering machines advanced to a fate unknown.

There are going to be hundreds of enemy tanks those poor fellows will be expected to take on. I doubt if there will be many who survive these next few days.

As the last Heavy exited the gateway she could just make the old man yell to her, “Give ‘em hell Octavia Trebonius!”

As she stepped off in the direction of the fuel tender she heard him shout again, “I will see you again in the next…” his voice was drowned out by the tumult of more panzers as they moved past her in precise order, one followed by another, then another, until all had disappeared through the main gate in a cloud of sand.

Chapter Two

Octavia had wasted enough time and was now thundering down the main thoroughfare the causeway trembling under her weight with each crashing footfall.

Brundisium was like so many of those that bordered the barren interior of the continent, the buildings were short and squat by eastern standards with very few rising above the height of the defensive wall. The limits on height above ground were imposed by the forces of nature and war. Sand storms frequently arose in this part of the country during the summer months, the so-called “haboobs.” They were like sandblasting machines and could strip nearly one to three inches of stone or concrete from the outside of any building without metaled protection in time. To compensate for the loss in height, most inland cities had grown underground, up to four levels below the surface. These underground levels were connected by networks of tunnels that served the same purpose as the roadways above. The other reason half the city lay below the surface was a result of the threat of nuclear attack which had loomed in everyone’s minds for as long as anyone could remember.

The main causeway Octavia was using was like all other roadways within the city, intentionally built in a back-and-forth, zig-zag pattern to prevent the enemy from commanding entire thoroughfares with a straight line-of-sight, to dissipate the effect of a nuclear blast and limit the carnage the detonation created.

Palm trees lined the main street and added a little color to the otherwise disjointed, cubist collage of bland, sand-red buildings. Brundisium was built of local building materials, largely sandstone hued from local quarries. Openings would be cut into the thick, block walls and thick glass windows and entranceways were worked into place. All openings were protected by quarter-inch, metal shutters that were lowered into place during the sand storms, or occasions of nuclear threat. Every shutter was now lowered in place. The air raid sirens were whining with their characteristic oscillating, high-pitched wail throughout the city. Not a person could be seen above ground.

Centuries of war had changed the face of this nation and its people. The populace had become adapt at living subterranean lives, rivers had been diverted into underground estuaries which powered hydroelectric power stations. Cities were spread out geographically so as to minimize the threat of a direct hit wiping out all of the inhabitants. Sections of the underground city were cordoned off from one another, separated by miles of bedrock and connected to one another by tunnels with blast doors at either end. Destruction of one part of an underground city would not effect the other sections, disaster was compartmentalized. For four centuries, the people of Brundisium had been spared a direct attack, but that all seemed behind them now. The inhabitants

huddled among themselves, watching through the lenses of cameras arrayed above ground, watching for the telltale signs of the approaching Muslim hordes.

As Octavia made her way along the thoroughfare she was taking note of the choke points that lay along the route, potential killing zones she and her unit would use against the Schwerpunkt, focal point of attack, of the enemy armor.

The legionnaire spoke to the her machines artificial intelligence stating, “Dorothy, make note of these coordinates,” as she made her way through the intersection of Main Street and 63rd. “Reference as a possible ambush site.”

The heads up display at the far left of her viewport momentarily sprung to life with the words ‘Main,’ ‘63rd’ and ‘CP’ popping up in green indicating the location had been added to the combat computer.

Thud, thud, thud, the sound of each footstep thundered as Octavia continued making her way toward the city center and rendezvous point.

She was forced to step into one of the side streets on several occasions as armored personnel carriers, APCs, speeded from the train station to the city gate carrying their cargo of lightly, armored Terrans. They were part of the “regular army” that had been called in to assist in the defense of Brundisium.

Terrans of light armored units wore protective skins of ceramic plating from head to toe which made them near impervious to the standard, weapon carried by soft-skin enemy units, the SS15. The light armor added roughly fifty-pounds to a man or woman’s total weight, but put them at a distinct advantage over their counterparts who wore nothing but helmets and torso vests.

The ceramic suits carried field, replaceable battery packs to power a limited electronics package that included heads-up-display for the helmet, intercommunications and connection into the Command Center Network, CCN. The last item was critical in battles where enemy numbers often exceeded friendlies by a factor of twenty-to-one, the CCN provided the Terran soldier with realtime information on the course of a battle.

What prevented the enemy from gaining access to CCN when Terran suits inevitably fell into their hands? An implant inside every soldier’s brain, calibrated to a unique, electronics signature that matched up to a unique identifier wirelessly dispatched to each, individual suit before each battle. The implant would function only as long as the Terran carrying it was alive. Once a man or woman’s brainwaves nulled out, the device would self destruct.

CCN had nearly eliminated the tactical “fog of war” for the Terrans and was another example of the qualitative advances they had over the enemies of the state. Most things flying did not last long over the modern battlefield, either they were shredded by kinetic energy rounds, had their circuitry fry under a barrage of electromagnetic pulse waves, or fell prey to the multipurpose ground-to-ground, ground-to-air missiles each Terran carried. Things like enemy surveillance drones would make a quick appearance in the coming battle, but would very quickly disappear as they came within range of miscellany of defense hardware.

Octavia had started out in light-armor, she was fifteen when she and had one of those CNN chips surgically implanted in the left side of her head. What the legionnaire saw, what any Terran soldier saw, their conversations, their vital signs, all were transmitted back to Command in real time. At Command, the field commanders were able to assess the total picture through what the soldiers were unconsciously reporting. Likewise, vital communications got back to the individual soldier on both the micro and macro levels, improving their odds of survival, maximizing their odds of hitting the enemy where they least expected it. Just the same, the legionnaire did not envy her lightweight brethren in this upcoming battle. She knew what they would be up against, she had worn that light kit before she wore her heavy combat suit, after proving herself in the Battle of the Philippines.

Unlike the Philippines where lightweight equipment and mobility in the swamps and jungles of the region had offered a significant advantage against the overwhelming numbers, in this conflict the light infantry would be up against heavy armor. She understood the light infantry’s limitations: unpowered, comparatively slow, forced to use traditional weapons that relied upon chemical energy to defeat tanks. Just the same, light-armor units would still come out way ahead against the red-and-black, uniformed soft-skins. That did not eliminate the fact that the Terrans would have real difficulty defeating the treaded tanks and now the Walkers.

She spotted the tender as she took a righthand turn onto the appropriate, intersecting boulevard. The tanker was painted in the standard desert camouflage pattern, “the Bull” stenciled in black on the side of the driver-side door. She slowed from a trot to a walk while noticing one of two weapons engineers was already seated in the cockpit of the crane with a fuel cell tethered to his wench and ready to be lifted and put in place.

The second engineer began directing her with his hands, come closer, turn, stop. It would take less than a minute to exchange fuel cells and load the principle weapon, the EPC-30, with a combination of high-explosive tipped, or armor-piercing slugs. The fuel pack would be enough to run on for up to two days depending on her demands for power.

Octavia shut down the powerplant then had the rear, armored door on the lower half of the torso unlock and open by issuing the appropriate voice commands. Everything was controlled by verbal command save for the movement of the suit which responded to the pressure she exerted on the form-fitting, internal lining with her body movements. She barely noticed the slight tug on the rear of her suit as the near empty fuel-cell was pulled from its cradle. The internal electronics immediately registered a warning that she was now running on battery power. Once the batteries were gone, the machine was as good as an iron coffin, immovable as stone, a sitting target. Battery reserves would provide just enough time for the Mark III to power a one-half a kilometer distance at a full trot on a level surface.

“Confirmed, you’ve got a full weapons load,” came the voice of the weapons engineer over the internal audio.

“Roger that,” responded Octavia. After centuries of combat, the whole process was second nature.

Through her visor Octavia now saw armored suits approaching at a trot from the direction of the main causeway. They had just arrived by train, they carried their EPC canons cradled in their arms ready to go hot if the need arose. Her suit moved forward slightly as the new fuel cell was pushed in place.

The voice of the weapons engineer came through the audio circuitry again. “You’re good to go, Octavia.”

She issued the command to close up once the green light on the heads-up-display showed fuel and armament at one-hundred percent. Octavia then engaged the powerplant and the turbine began spinning to life with the characteristic humming sound. Octavia stepped forward several meters and turned away from the fueling trawler before juicing the power to full with the whine of the turbine blades rapidly escalating into a screaming banshee. Everything tested okay for battle conditions, the EPC registered as fully charged she cut the power to normal levels.

The X Legion used the Mark III combat suits with five-inches of ceramic-alloy as frontal armor, more than capable of fending off everything except for direct hits by main tank rounds. The EPC-30’s the legionnaires carried, were likewise, the best electromagnetic pulse canons in the Terran arsenal and thus the world. The projectiles travelled at over one-kilometer per second under a full charge and were more than enough to defeat a foot of the frontal armor of the enemy tanks.

There was a sudden blinding flash as a fireball filled the sky to the west followed. Almost instantly the ground beneath her shaking as the concussive shock wave of the nuclear detonation travelled through the bedrock. The blast was so brilliant it would have temporarily blinded Octavia had she not had her visor lowered.

Octavia looked up to see a vapor trail overhead created by the friction of a projectile that had punched its way through the atmosphere almost instantaneously.

One of our rail guns, she thought. The main force must be closing fast.

The detonation had come from a nuclear slug fired from one of the big Terran ‘space cannons,‘ so called because that’s what they did, dealt with threats up in orbit. Octavia knew to expect more of those searing fireballs in the late afternoon sky.

Space had long ago disappeared as any serious part of the Terran’s military strategy, it was a virtual ‘No Mans Land’ void of anything manmade, even for fractions of a second. There was simply no place to hide out there, no respite from discovery by the ground surveillance stations whose high-energy radars burned through the best of stealth technologies, but it was the rail guns that made space untenable. Some of those cannons packed one-terajoules of energy behind a projectile weighing up to one-hundred, fifty- pounds, putting them on target near instantaneously. In fact, the rail guns looked more like energy-beam weapons when fired largely because of the friction generated at such speeds.

The fireball Octavia just saw would have decimated any and everything in the portion of the skies. Long ago space had disappeared as any kind of real battlefield. All of those fleets of satellites, the space stations, the offensive launch platforms, they were all gone because of the kind of destruction Octavia just witnessed. It was even worse for any craft flying just above the folds of the terrain, sitting ducks. This had not stopped Terra’s enemies from attempting to gain a temporary tactical advantage, it was the same kind of ignorance and reason those belligerent nations were still using outdated intercontinental ballistic missiles; they were counting on shear numbers in the hope of overcoming Terran defenses.

There was another brilliant flash, this time off to the northwest, again followed by the concussive shock wave of another massive arial detonation. Octavia knew this meant the Muslims were getting closer, they were starting to throw everything they had at their disposal to sway the outcome of this upcoming battle.

Chapter Three

“There coming!” someone shouted from the wall. “Dust clouds on the horizon!”

From the parapet Octavia could see a line black dots highlighted against a building cloud of dust kicked up by tractor treads. The black dots extended the length of the horizon and were the lead enemy tanks. She magnified her view and saw tracked transports accompanying the tanks, larger than normal those machines would be bringing along what the Terrans called “Walkers.” Walkers were the equivalent of Terran armored combat suited soldiers, but they were expensive and took years to handle properly.

The Muslims relied primarily upon tracked tanks which were far less expensive and required little training when compared to the armor, suited warrior. It was why the ‘Camel Riders’ concentrated on building fleets of tanks, tens of thousands of them.

Octavia estimated this first wave to include at least a five-hundred machines all total, but probably more. Whatever the real number she knew the enemy would grossly outnumber her own force.

And what about those Walkers? she asked herself. They were there to protect the enemy armor. They were there to fulfill the role of clearing a path once for the tanks once the battle evolved into urban warfare.

There has to be at least one-hundred of those transports, they need to be the first targets eliminated.

“Brutus, I estimate enemy tanks at over five-hundred. I’m seeing transports for the enemy Walkers, one-hundred of them.”

The Centurion’s voice instantly responded, “So, they’re going to attempt again to overwhelm our defensives.”

“Yes, sir, looks like three, no make that four waves,” replied the legionnaire.

“Octavia, we’ve just now topped off and are headed to you. How much time do we have?”

“One moment.” Octavia now used her keyword to activate the suit’s artificial intelligence. “Dorothy, estimate time of arrival for the first wave of approaching armor.”

The time popped up to the far left of her heads up display (HUD), ten minutes.

“Brutus, we’ve got ten-minutes before the first wave hits.”

“Understood, maintain position. I will assess defensive measures with Command. Stay online and alert.”

“Affirmative.”

Octavia could now hear the Centurion communicating over the link with Command discussing the counter measures taken, so far.

She discovered as she listened and watched that the engineers had laid a field of ten- gram nukes along the route the enemy would be forced to take the night before. There was a portion of the plain where the enemy forces would be forced to bunch up, a chain of mountains on the Octavia’s right extended to the west for as far as the eye could see.

The mines were only to be detonated once the first wave of the enemy had reached the wall. The objective was to decimate the supply trains that always accompanied a mechanized army. Destroying the fuel and ammunition tenders would create a logistical nightmare for the Muslims.

Approval had been received from the capitol to use whatever means necessary to halt the approaching army. Back at the railway station the launch platforms for the land- skimming drones had already been deployed and armed. Octavia knew the Muslim commanders were aware of the danger that those defending the frontier city might use nukes. She also knew those cowards usually had no qualms sacrificing the lives of their men and women to achieve their aims.

If this battle were going to be lost the Terran people could expect to receive no mercy. Most would rather die than suffer the fate the befell those who had dared stand against their war machines.

Octavia’s AI warned her the enemy was now within range to use their cannon.

Octavia’s viewport suddenly began blinking in yellow, incoming projectiles had been detected by her onboard electronics. She had a matter of a few seconds to alert the others and seek cover behind the great wall.

Octavia transmitted, “Incoming! Incoming! Highspeed projectiles coming in!”

She had just hit the concrete of the compound when the first nuke impacted somewhere in front of the defensive wall. The force of the blast, the heat, the shockwave was directed up and over the ten-meter wall by the angled, thirty-degree, ceramic- alloy facing.

Octavia’s vision port instantly darkened to prevent her from being blinded by the intense flash of light. The insulation of her suit prevented her eardrums from exploding and the armor fended off the tremendous blast of radiation that enveloped everything within a one-kilometer radius. She was able to maintain her balanced, crouched position even while the world around her shook with the force of a massive earthquake. That was when the second nuke detonated, on her side of the wall.

She was knocked unconscious by the blast which threw her against the backside of the wall like a play doll. When she awoke she found she could not make out anything through her viewport. It was still functioning, but her vision was obscured by masonry that would turn out to be a debris field thrown up against the rearside of defensive perimeter. Octavia tried to move, but only heard the low power sound of the electromechanical servos attempting to follow the motion of her body movements.

“Dorothy, systems check,” she commanded.

The artificial intelligence responded, “Gas turbine offline, ports blocked. Currently on backup battery power.”

“Dorothy, divert all power to mechanical servos.”

“Diverting power to servos.”

The heads up display went dark, the air conditioning stopped, but the sound of the electromechanical servos sounded more powerful as she pushed moved against the surrounding weight. She knew she did not have much time. Soon, the enemy would be on top of her. Octavia saw light after she forced a large, pinning block of masonry aside and rose from the pile of debris then took a semi-standing position to gauge better her surroundings. The suit was responding slowly to her movements under battery power, she had to clear the venting and get the powerplant up and running immediately.

“Dorothy, return power to standard settings.” “Returning to standard settings.”

The heads up display lit up, the air conditioning returned circulating cool air through the pores of the suit lining.

“Dorothy, execute emergency procedure ‘Charlie One.’” “Executing emergency procedure ‘Charlie One,” came the response.

The sound of high-pressure air immediately cut in to clear the porting vents while she surveyed her immediate surroundings.

“Dorothy, power up the suit!”

“Powering on.”

Excellent,the venting ports were clear! The whine of the turbine meant it was spinning up to speed. The clear feeling of power immediately returned to her hands, arms and legs as she checked the movement of the beast.

“Dorothy, weapons check.” “EPC is working,. Recharging.”

Chapter Four

Titus watched as the live feed from the surveillance drone delivered footage of the Chinese transports emerging from the surf and out onto the Beaches of Wales. The turrets on top of the tracked machines swung back and forth as the cannons sent high explosive shells into the helpless seaside resort of Montenegro.

The force of the express, military train as it banked in a highspeed turn causing the Centurion to unconsciously lean into it as he stood there motionless.

Centurion Titus Trebonius had been fighting these bastards for over two decades, he had the scars to prove it. The traumatic gash that comes only from hypervelocity round penetrations were clearly discernible, both on his left arm and right side of his face. Plastic surgeons could work miracles in this day and time, his chiseled, aquiline features remained largely unmarred by those close shaves encountered on the field of battle. Of average height, his fine, dark hair was close cropped to his scalp, the creases of his sun- weathered features added five, if not ten years, to his otherwise youthful appearance.

Titus stood quietly watching the live video feed assessing the enemy’s strengths, strengths he and his cohort of armored legionnaires would soon face to eliminate.

The subsurface, water borne landing had gone undetected up to the moment the enemy craft began emerging from the normally calm, crystal blue waters. Now, the bay looked as if a typhoon were hitting the beaches with water spouts spraying up into the air from highspeed projectile strikes, waves created by the colossal metal machines as they pushed their way through the shallows crashing against the shore.

The troop train rocked back and forth while the Centurion continued watching the unraveling event with a chilling calmness, he had witnessed this kind of invasion before, in Manilla. That was where he and his cohort had pushed the communists back into the Pacific with a total loss of life.

The Centurion’s second standing beside him spoke gruffly, “The only way the enemy could have gotten this far is through treachery. It is the only way to explain why the undersea detection system did not work.”

“The Intelligence Service is looking for the traitor,” replied Titus in his deep, authoritative voice. “But, it’s probably too late, the coward has probably already escaped.”

“Wait till the bastard finds out what it’s like to live under their yoke,” replied the Junior Centurion, Marcus Paulus.

“Never know, it could have been a female,” scowled the Centurion in return.

“Man, woman, doesn’t matter, wait till they become part of hundreds of millions those tyrants have liquidated this century alone. Royals, why in the hell do we call them Royals anyway.”

“Because, Marcus, doesn’t matter which of the three communist states, or those camel riders from the Islamic Kingdom we’re up against, they’re all tyrants and after the same thing, our country.”

Titus could see the first wave of Chinese tanks beginning to descend the rear ramps of the transports. Ten machines, lined up one behind the other, rapidly racing out onto the beaches.

“That’s unusual, they’re using T-163s,” Marcus noted seeing the heavy tanks deploying on the beach, sixty-ton, tracked machines with turrets mounting EPC’s with the hitting power of ten-megajoules.

Titus knew the light infantry would be just behind these leviathans.

Marcus continued to elaborate, “Those tanks must be crammed with fuel and ammunition for this kind of operation given the remote nature of this landing. The friction from a brush with one of our hypervelocity rounds will probably set the whole thing off in one magnificent explosion.”

One of the enemy machines took a direct hit, short seconds later another, then another.

“Those look to be a HEAT round by the intensity of the flashes. The first wave of attack-drones must have arrived, I was wondering when those things were going to show.”

The Second Centurion took a look at the small readout of his wristband, officers’ link into the Terran military network. “Two-hundred drones are now in action.”

More and more exploding machines could be seen going up in fireballs.

“Those coastal, defense drones appear to be giving a good account of themselves.”

The Muslims retaliated by unleashing a rocket barrage from several of the transports onto the unprotected, resort town which disappeared in a sheet of flame and explosions.

Those bastards look to be taking it to our civilians with no compunction, thought Titus to himself. He remained quiet as he studied the enemy’s equipment up to the instant the video feed went dark. A brief moment later the unfolding drama came back to life, replaced by the camera of a second airborne, surveillance drone.

Same old playbook, never changes, thought the Senior Centurion as he watched the common foot soldiers leap from a second wave of transports scattering like mice behind the cover of the tanks.

“Those soft-skin soldiers look to be canon fodder,” remarked the Junior Centurion. “They’re still carrying those low-power, AK348s and wearing minimal body armor. Looks like torso protection only.”

“The investment is too high Marcus, besides they have a million more soldiers to feed into battle.”

The Terran attack drones continued to hit the enemy with HEAT rounds either missiles, or with cannons. Occasionally, one of the Terran drones would be seen falling into the beaches, exploding in one terrific fireball. With ordinance expended, Kamikaze-like attacks were programmed to hit the transports.

Marcus looked at his readout, “Fifty-six remaining in first wave. Fifty. Forty.” Titus turned to his lieutenant, “Now’s the time to call in the second strike.”

The Centurion saw Marcus nod in agreement then he noticed the Junior Centurion’s expression change.

“What, what is that?”

The Centurion turned back to the viewing screen to see the thing Marcus was reacting to now emerging under its own power from the ocean, a new sort of war machine, one he had never before seen, a six-legged, bug looking contraption and it was massive.

That must be four stories tall, thought Titus.

Suddenly the second feed failed. The two men waited for the battlefield to reappear, but

nothing.

“Where’s the damn feed! They can’t have knocked out all the SDs (surveillance drones).”

Titus’ wrist band began to suddenly vibrate with an incoming call. He looked at the readout to see it was from Terran Command. Pressing his earpiece he answered, “Centurion Titus Trebonius.”

The scratchy, encoded, but clearly discernible voice human came over the connection.

“Centurion Trebonius.” There was a short delay. “Transmissions for both the defensive and surveillance drones have gone dead. We picked up a sudden spike of a tremendous magnetic field from our manned ground surveillance teams.”

Titus thought for a quick moment, The only thing that could knock them all out at once is a nuke, or an EMP surge. The enemy’s not going to risk their foot soldiers, just yet.

The person on the encrypted link continued, “We’re recalling the attack drones. Send in a scout…”

The connection went dead.

“Repeat last transmission.” (Nothing) “Repeat last transmission.” (Still, nothing) “Marcus, see if you can get through to Terran Command.”

Titus watched as the Junior Centurion tapped his earpiece then made futile attempts to connect with Command back in Sydney.

“That’s enough Marcus, they’ve knocked out communications.”

This does not bode well, thought Titus, the fog of war has descended upon us far too

soon.

Chapter Five

Legate Gaius Trebonius studied the four-dimensional map surrounded by members of his staff. The map clearly showed the lines of approach for the two enemy armies, one coming up the coast from the south, the other approaching across the interior from west. The converging spearheads clearly showed the focal point was the Terran capitol, Sydney. It was to be the prized, the target of their pincer movement.

Terran Command had been taken completely by surprise. Never before had two of the four belligerents succeeded in landing such large armies on the shores of the continent.

“How could it come to this?” asked the President sitting dejectedly at the head of the Council Room table. Members of his cabinet sat with heads bowed, some shaking their heads in despondency, others simply looking off into oblivion pondering their own fates. No one responded.

“What about the Peace Accord? Didn’t we just sign it?” the President asked with anger in his voice.

A deep baritone voice of a man answered, “The diplomats were fools.”

All eyes shifted to the three dimensional, holographic image of an armor-suited Centurion who had suddenly appeared in their midst.

The military commander repeated his words, “They were fools to believe the word of the Communists.”

The figure of the Centurion was imposing, an armor suited warrior wearing a Mark V that added nearly a meter to his height, nearly a meter of armor plated machinery to his breadth.

The President responded in a hopeless fashion, “Today was never supposed to ever happen!”

“And, yet it has,” responded Centurion Titus Trebonius in a three-dimensional image of the Centurion. “We must take action now to make up for the mistakes, and we have very little time to act. I need the councils authorization to respond with the nuclear arsenal if it becomes necessary.”

The Consul was still thinking of the diplomatic mistakes and continued with his diatribe, “Goes to show how good the Muslims are at giving their word. Their word is worthless.” The Consul’s voice had nothing but indignation in it.

The Centurion had had enough of the Consul’s whining. “God damn it, Nero. Come to your senses! We’ve got to act and act now else all is lost.”

The enemy are tired of being beaten, thought Legate Trebonius. So tired they’ve set aside their hatred for one another in an attempt to finally finish us off.

Gaius held little hope that the the defensive response by local militias would do little to slow down the two approaching juggernauts. The Legate now listened to his Chief of Staff as he reported details on the latest sitings.

“Each army is fielding at least two-hundred thousand men apiece, but it could easily be double that figure.”

“What about their armor? What size of armored force are they using?” asked the Legate, concern etched on his face.

“Right now, we have no way of accurately accessing their armored strength, but we’re estimating at least a thousand machines, total.”

The Legate kept his eyes trained on the map, a three dimensional representation of the topography each army would need to overcome before reaching the capitol.

“I need some ideas gentlemen. One things certain, we cannot let the two armies to combine forces.”

One of the staff spoke up as the Legate kept studying the kiosk.

“The Chinese are coming up from the south.” The staffer used the wave of his hand to zoom in on the landing site, the Beaches of Wales. “I believe the Chinese can be kept bottled along the coastal road. I believe we can delay their advance, commander.”

“The Muslim force, on the other hand, is coming across the interior plains.”

The staff member now used a wave of his hand to move to and zoom into the region the Muslim army was moving through.

The Legate, scrutinizing the region of approaching Muslim army there appeared to be little in the way of natural obstacles that could be used for a solid defensive, just a series of frontier cities marking the beginning of the fertile greenbelt that lay along the Terran coastline.

Gaius remained deep in thought, listening to the advice as another staff member now spoke up.

“Sir, we can’t take the Muslim army head on.

“There,” said Gaius tapping the map with his index finger to zoom in on a set of coordinates along the path of the approaching Mus-Chi army. “Montenegro…we will make a show of force at Montenegro, tie them down then turn over the defense to the regular army.”

moving across the barren plain

delay the Mus-Chi’s with our legions at Montenegro.”

to a city on the frontier, “zoom in on that location.”

There, zoom in there.”

his assistant, a dour look etched on his face. “Lecititus, connect me with my son.

had become engaged, but did little to slow the juggernaut. There was something else. The communists had created something not seen on the battlefield before, the six-legged aberration Titus had seen on the video footage.

Military Intelligence called it the Hexapod because it looked like an insect from a distance. It was a monster, nearly two stories in height, the insect-like body over one- hundred meters in length. Nothing could be seen of the rail-gun inside the length of the body save for the bore-hole that became visible just before the weapon was fired. The purpose behind the machine was clear, it was a siege weapon of immense proportions, and it was intended to be used against the Capitol walls everyone believed to be impenetrable.

Intelligence said Titus was facing the equivalent of ten divisions, that meant the odds favored the enemy ten-to-one, and still, there had been no sign of the titanic siege weapon.

This battle was for the capitol of Terra, Sydney and no one with the III Legion knew this was going to their final battle. An Am-Com armada had arrived off the east coast of the continent, their land forces were just one-hundred kilometers from the capitol.

The Am-Com commanders had smelled blood, they wanted a share in the spoils, they wanted revenge for the many defeats their armies had suffered at the hands of the Jasserza. Jasserza, a belittling term the Am-Coms used to describe the Terran democracy. Was this to be the last stand? All else had been overrun or nearly all of the country had been overrun.

Titus and his legion arrived the week before and only with great difficulty. The rail network had been under constant aerial attack from space, the one theatre of war where the communists held all the cards, once a similar threat had been defeated in Brundisium. Before standing in a semi-crouched position then trundled down the ramp toward street level.

He had not seen the telltale exhaust plumes of diesel smoke of the tracked machines the Command Network showed were headed his way. The enemy showed up as red arrows on the terrain map in his heads-up-display. If he and his cohort were going to decimate the armored division, they would need time to lay traps by several avenues of approach.

Smoke was now rushing out of the thirty millimeter hole the electromagnetic, pulse cannon had punched.

Soon, the war machine would add more greasy, oily smoke to the atmosphere. Occasionally Titus adjusted his position, each move of the three-ton machine causing the loose masonry on the ground to tremble which each landing step.

Ezzz…bwee-ezz…zeee…ezz…bwee-ezz…ezeeek,

Suddenly, the sound of an angry banshee screamed for several seconds.

Titus stood for a moment from behind the wreck of an enemy panzer he destroyed several minutes earlier.

training its cannon in the direction of the main gate. The enemy tanks were passing the two, heavy-blast doors lay side-by-side on the tarmac, the huge hinges for each could be seen sheared apart by the prolonged attack of the kinetic, energy rounds.

There was a thunderclap! The air shook and a vapor trail momentarily appeared showing the path of the hypervelocity round. There was only a fraction of a second between the ear-splitting blast of the EMC-30 cannon and the sound of a screaming banshee that emanated from the back of the metal beast.

The Mark-II battle armor automatically cut in the gas turbine to full power. Waves of heat emanated from the starburst pattern of vents cut into the metal shroud of the power plant. It took just moments for the massive, electrical discharge to be replaced.

The site picture in the heads-up-display went green, momentarily flashing the number forty indicating the pulse cannon was at full charge: forty-five mega-joules.

The humming of the spinning turbine blades became barely audible as the power was lowered to conserve fuel.

from the rear side of the machine as power was added as the legionnaire began to move to the gateway.

Throughout the week over a quarter-million refugees had passed through the city gates hoping to find refuge behind the thick, alloy-reinforced walls. Only a trickle of men and women, mostly elderly and infirm, were now making their way down the final stretch of causeway toward the open city gate.

Octavia had been flown in two days earlier, aboard a low-flying hovercraft along with two other metaled legionnaires, part of the advanced guard sent to secure the city gates while her legion, the Tenth, approached by rail.

“Fuel change has arrived, Point Tango,” crackled a man’s voice over the internal audio circuitry.

The combat suit was covered in a non-reflective, desert camouflage pattern of tan, brown and yellow colors as was the electromagnetic, pulse canon and the cabling that connected it to the gas-turbine power pack. The weight of the powerpack, the fuel tank, the stowed cannon worked to balance out the added weight of armor carried on the front of the machine making it surprisingly agile for its size.

“Affirmative, Point Tango,” she responded turning to take one last look out onto the horizon to see nothing was moving on the barren, rocky landscape.

Thud. Thud. Thud.

The legionnaire quickly changed positions just as another thunderclap went off, this time from a second, two-legged beast hiding somewhere in the rubble of destroyed city; its camouflage skin making it impossible to detect.

Two turret-less, Muslim tanks gradually came to a grinding halt, their bulky bodies temporarily blocking the exit route for the retreating armored column.

The squad of ten Terran legionnaires were doing what they did best, taking the heavy, tracked armor out while the light troops mopped up the infantry.

Just as he knelt to a position behind fallen masonry the lead, audio of an encrypted Command Network transmission came buzzing in.

Ezzz, bwee-ezz, zeeek, ezzz, bwee-ezz, ezeeek

followed shortly by an update on the progress of the battle in his heads-up-display.

For over a millennia, the Democracies of the world had struggled to remain free from the tyranny of Communism. Today would be the final day of the last major Democratic society, Terra.

From within his armor the Centurion had the built-in, robotic intelligence go through a final systems check.

“Titus, status?”

‘Titus’ was the name Titus had given the robot intelligence embedded into his armored suit, it was his only son’s name, Centurion Titus Trebonius of the III Legion Ferrata, the “Ironclads.”

“All systems go,” came the combat computer response over Titus’ helmet audio.

The Centurion knew, after forty-years of combat, his second, Tribune Marcus Lusius would be taking the same measures to insure he was battle ready. Each knew this would be their final battle. Each had already come to terms with the outcome.

“Titus, give EPC-30 control to HUD (heads-up-display),” commanded Titus.

A green-lit sight picture looking much like what one sees when looking down the scope of a hunting rifle instantly snapped into his view-plate of the outside landscape.

The computer response came back immediately, “EPC-30 now paired to heads-up- display sighting.”

The Centurion could hear the servo-motors around him hum as the piston-driven arms of the Mark III moved the canon, as the internal electronics of the helmet tracked the movement of his predominate eye. The canon would now track on whatever the Centurion targeted. Titus tested the connection by sighting in on several objects he could see through the gaping hole that had been secured by the metal doors.

“Marcus, are you there?” he asked over the link to the Tribune. “I’m hear, Titus,” came the response.

“Let’s send them a clear message of what’s waiting for them.” There was a dry, chuckle over the audio connection.

“See those boulders in the distance?” asked the Tribune.

“A kilometer out?”

“Affirmative, I’ll take the big one on the right, you take the one on the left.”

“Affirmative,” came the response.

Titus noted the telemetry pegged the boulders at one-point-three kilometers distance. “Titus, zoom fifty,” he commanded.

The sight picture at first was a blur, then became clear as the telescopic sight focused through the thick, mirrored visor on to the stone boulder.

“Titus, go hot,” the Centurion commanded.

The sight picture immediately turned red, the cannon was ready to put forty-five mega- joules of energy behind the 30mm, titanium slug. Titus pulled the trigger and the large block disintegrated in a cloud of debris. He could not be certain but he thought he heard the telltale thunderclap of the EPC only after the boulder had been struck.

Titus now watched the second boulder for an instance, it too disintegrated, followed by a thunderclap a microsecond later.

Damn! Big bug or not, it won’t get through these.

Each man leapt from his crouched position and went into a full trot, thundering toward the defensive wall. Running faster, and faster, each Mechanized Warrior expertly leapt up the four-meter height and onto the parapet with a terrific thud, without overshooting, without coming in too high. Immediately they crouched behind the chest-high wall and remained in place for several moments to allow their power plants to cool down.

“Titus, how much time do I have on the fuel I’m carrying?” asked the Centurion. “Between one to four hours depending on burn rate,” came the automated response. “Titus, how long can your fuel carry you?”

There was only a slight delay. “One to four hours depending on burn rate.”

Titus now peered up over the parapet wall and out over the Lucien Plain; a barren emptiness that historically acted as a natural barrier against attack. The battlefield was bestrewed with dead bodies and broken, smoldering machines as far as the eye could see.

There must be at least fifty-thousand dead out there, he thought to himself.

It was easy to see the latest, massed attack had fallen apart not one-hundred meters away from the perimeter wall, that was where the tide of red-uniformed Communists stopped and the mottled green and tan camouflage of the Terrans began.

There were no wounded, only dead, one of the byproducts of today’s hypervelocity weapons. The trauma of the shockwaves alone could dispatch an unarmored soldier, and the Communists only saved those for the officers, all others appeared to be canon fodder.

The Terran positions were pitted with shallow, ten-meter craters, remnants of the arial attack the night before when warhead-tipped rockets from space-launch platforms descended upon the Terran positions and the Capitol. There was no place to hide above ground under such an attack because they were not simple free-fall weapons; they had a unified, robotic intelligence which worked to steer the individual payloads onto unique targets, both military and civilian.

They were terror weapons the soldiers called “Star Bitches” because they were invariably dropped at night. The rockets would come in vertically, initially looking like stars in the night sky, then suddenly, they became shooting stars, then fireballs just

before the impacted. They were devastating against unarmored civilians and soldiers, but had little effect on mechanized formations like the III Legion.

Charred, misshapen, forms surrounded the perimeters of the blackened craters from the incendiary rounds Terran artillery had sent into the attacking hordes. Several hundred smoldering war machines, some Terran, lay in pieces in front of the wall.

From the elevated battlement the two Terran officers could make out a few dozen Terran Heavies lying in wait beyond the security of the walls, their long snouts protruding just over the tops of the hastily erected sand berms. Two tank commanders could be seen half propped outside their turret hatches resting on their elbows and looking at the distant horizon through binoculars.

The first thing to pop in the Centurion’s mind upon seeing the tank commanders. Communications have been knocked out? Poor bastards are fighting blind.

Occasionally one of the turrets would rotate the cannon in a new direction as the gunner scanned the horizon for something to hit.

The Centurion told himself. He rapped his metal fist on the shoulder of his Tribune then thrust it in the direction of the enemy.

“Marcus, it’s time to go. Let’s make sure this is our finest hour.”

“A last glorious rampage of death and destruction,” replied Marcus.

The war machines rose from their crouched positions behind the parapet wall, turned and faced one another and with the right closed, armored fist pounded the chest-place once, with a resounding echo of metal against metal. A final salute.

“No mercy,” said the III Legion Commander.

“No mercy,” came the Optia’s reply.

Both armored suits now turned to face the onrushing hoard, the siren-like pitch of the turbines began to rapidly increase in pitch – screaming like banshees as the powerpacks began to glow red as the two Terran warriors toggled them to maximum power. This may have been the final day for Democracy on earth, but it would not go down without a fight!

They leaped into the onrushing hordes. They leaped into history.

Chapter Six

Inside his Mark III Battle Armor, Titus believed himself to be at a distinct advantage over just about anything he might come up against on the battlefield. From the added frontal armor to the new, high-speed, electro-mechanical pistons that provided the muscle power; it completely outclassed the early models used by his adversaries and the newly introduced EPC would rip through hardened, armored plating up to ten-inches thick within normal combat ranges. All said, he possessed more than enough power, protection and speed to tear up anything on land, only the sky presented him with any real danger.

Titus turned and began running down the battlement toward the north-facing section when his visor instantly dimmed in reaction to the bright flame of one of the interception darts. There was another, then another, each lighting up his surroundings like the midday sun. A moment later, he landed at the junction of the east and north walls just in time to make out five contrails before one of the half-gram warheads went off, obscuring from sight the approaching vehicles. His visor instantly darkened protecting his eyes from the blinding fireball.

He looked down the length of wall to see several Mark III’s directing their EPCs in the direction of the flying craft just as another blinding fireball went off. Witnessing one of the saucers disintegrate in the blast of kinetic energy of one of the

Titus saw the lance stripes on the arm of the nearest Legionnaire. “Brutus!

The suit remained stationary as the visor turned slightly in his direction. “Yes, commander Titus.”

“How many?”

“Is that them?” asked the Optio Marcus Aurelius over the communications link.

“That’s them,” replied the Centurion, Titus Trebonius.

Numerous, distant dust clouds kicked up by the oncoming war machines were now starting to appear on the horizon.

“Didn’t we lay anti-armor mines that far out?”

“No, Commander, not enough time.”

“Let’s hope they worked out the glitches this…” A distant ball of flame caused Titus to stop mid-sentence. There was another, followed by another.

“I guess that answers that, Commander.”

Titus’ communications link with the control center snapped to life.

“Bandits dropping in from the north. Repeat, bandits dropping in from the north.”

He turned to his left, looking up into the skies and saw them, contrails left by aircraft as they came through the atmosphere, he counted five. Turning back in the direction of the approaching enemy, they were still out of range. “Marcus, keep an eye on those tanks. Give the command to engage when they’re in range.”

“Yes, Centurion.”

There was a thunderclap followed instantly by a detonation…Boom! Another thunderclap…Boom! Another, and another.

“God damn idiots,” the Centurion muttered to himself as he watched the destruction from his elevated perch atop the downtown, parking garage. He had utter contempt for the fighting prowess of these self-anointed, super beings.

The lead, enemy tank had come to a sudden halt in a shower of sparks. In quick succession, the following three machines had met similar fates. The Centurion’s headset now picked up the screeching, banshee-like wail of four of the Mark III’s as the powerpacks went into high gear to replace the massive discharge of their canons.

There was something primeval about those screams. The psychs had said the high, pitch wailing did as much to demoralize the enemy as the penetrative power of their EMC’s. That was why the engineers had not sound dampened the the turbines.

Titus heard a coded transmission arrive from Command: Ezzz...bwee- ezz...zeee...ezz...bwee-ezz...ezeeek.

“2nd CAD now in full retreat. Destroy them.”

CAD stood for Communist Armored Division. The 2nd CAD was suppose to be one of the Muslim’s best.

Just at that moment, the lead tank disintegrated in a massive explosion which blew the turret into the sky. It landed with a ‘thud‘ four or five meters away.

The armored legionnaire ignored the destruction remaining motionless for a moment, crouched behind the cover of a masonry wall, scanning the distance for the telltale signs of the approaching main body – nothing yet.

To the south and southeast the Centurion could see palls of black, greasy smoke rising on the horizon marking the furthest extent reached by the 2nd CAD. Occasionally, the Terran warrior could see the flashes of explosions among the the high-rise buildings as more enemy armor met its deaths.

Two days before, the communists had entered the capitol with their machines lined up in perfect, parade-ground order as if the battle was already won.

The Centurion smiled, The communist commanders had not expected a Terran Legion in the sector, certainly not the III Legion. Command had once again proven its worth, the enemy had been outfoxed, misled into believing their own intelligence reports that put the nearest legion three-hundred kilometers to the south.

He pulled the EPC-30 from the back-rack and cradled it in his metaled hands. The armored visor of the headgear sprung open revealing the man’s steely, green eyes from behind the transparent, ceramic vision slit.

Those eyes…those eyes had seen the horrible things that resulted from war: bodies torn asunder; the dead, ravaged bodies of raped Terran, women; the decapitated corpses of the children who had fallen into the hands of the communists. The Chi-Coms, the American Communists, the Soviet, or the Muslims, it did not matter, they were all butchers and needed to be liquidated by the harshest possible means.

The problem the Terran military faced was one of sheer numbers; the Muslims alone could field an army of nearly forty times its size.

The sun suddenly broke through the overcast skies. Off to the southwest, the Centurion could discern the demarcation line between advancing cold front and and the warmer air of the north. The chemically treated exterior of his suit automatically became a lighter shade of camouflage to better blend in with the increased sunshine.

With the added sunlight, one could clearly make out the embossed symbol of Senior Centurion on the armored visor, the Gold Eagle and that he was part of the III Legion by the dark, stenciled outline of an Armored Fist stamped into the right side of his helm.

His name was Titus Trebonius, he was ‘Pilus Prior’ (Senior Centurion) of the 1st Cohort, III Legion Ferrata: Latin for Ironclads. He was in charge of twenty, heavy-armor legionnaires called Panzerjäger, tank killers who specialized in urban warfare.

Titus had seen war for two decades, first, against the Chi-Coms; now against a combined Chinese-Muslim army. All but ten of his forty-two years had been dedicated to a martial way of life. His acumen for armored combat was honed to the highest standard; he was the 37th Century’s highest form of Warrior Monk who knew no other way of life, a byproduct of nearly four centuries of constant war.

Another, encrypted, audio transmission came over CCN: Bezzz...wee- ezz...zeee...sezz...geewee-ezz...ezeeek.

“Enemy skimmers spotted approaching from the west.”

The Centurion knew the mobile, anti-air units would be near one-hundred percent. So far, they had not been called upon to enter this fray, being saved for this very event.

Titus saw the skimmers, black specs flying low among the buildings in an attempt to avoid detection. He had the builtin artificial intelligence of his suit begin flipping through the high-gain, frequency channels.; command was jamming the signal.

That should throw those drones off a bit…unless there was was someone driving.

Titus watched as the fireworks began. First, the armored copula that topped the taller buildings began to light up the sky with their rotary canons.

The year is 3.591; the place: the defensive perimeter outside the Terran Capitol, it is guarded by the elite, III Legion Ferrata, the Ironclads. The III Legion is all that remains of a once mighty military machine, it is all that stands between the nerve center of Terran society and the hordes of the four Communist nations.

Two Mark-2 Heavy, Combat Suits leaped in unison from the lift that had carried them up to ground level from the command bunker below. The ground shook when the two metal behemoths landed on the concrete pad. They immediately dropped into crouched, defensive positions as the heavy, blast-doors slammed shut behind them with a clang!

The armored warriors quickly scanned their surroundings as evidenced by the quick movement of the visors of their helmets. The parade grounds were strewn with destruction. Many of the massive oak trees that lined the highway leading to the Capitol were uprooted, felled by percussion waves or shattered by artillery. Charred, dismembered remains of Terran legionnaires still in the thinly-armored, exoskeleton combat-suits lay scattered about the crater scarred landscape, the fifty-caliber, automatic cannons lying on ground next to many of them. The wounded had been picked up by the medics and were safe for the time being down in the command bunker.

The wind from an approaching typhoon is gusting up to fifty-five kilometers per hour from the northeast, the sun has been hidden behind low-hanging, fast-moving clouds for much of the day. The sounds of battle have temporarily disappeared, one can hear the whistling wind as it passes over the non-contoured portions of the Mark-2 armor. Behind the armored warriors the skyline of the Terran Capitol, Sydney, can now be seen through the clearing fog of war.

The dark metal of the Mark-2 suits suddenly glistened from a shower of sparks that are falling around them as an invisible heat beam just misses the mark and strikes the heavy,

blast doors. The earth shakes as each three-ton monster swiftly reacts to the threat, thundering to the cover of a knocked out Heavy.

The Heavies were Panzers; fifty-ton, tracked land monitors mounting turrets, sporting 120mm rapid-fire cannons and manned by a crew of three: the driver, gunner and commander. This panzer appeared to have taken a direct hit from above, where the armor was the weakest. It had become a smoldering, metal funeral pyre for its crew as a result. The Panzer appears undamaged, but further investigation reveals the armored roof of the turret had been penetrated.

The sun temporarily breaks through the clouds for a moment and the Legionary Insignia, the Elephant, can be seen etched into the thick, front glacis plates. Above the thick, mirrored ceramic visor of one of the men is the embossed insignia of a Centurion, the Gold Eagle; on the other man, the Silver Medallion of a Tribune.

The man-like machines now wrenched up with their right arms and grabbed the stock of the EMPC-30 located in a back-rack just over the right shoulder. Each are then pulled the weapon up, over and into firing position, a broad, black conduit trailing from the butt of each weapon and providing power from the back-mounted gas-turbine power plants of the combat suit.

The left arms of the metal beasts assisted with the securing of the 30mm electromagnetic, pulse cannons to the forearms as the right, metaled hands inserted themselves into the weapon’s trigger grip. Metal latches were locked in place securing the cannons which now became an extension of the mechanical arms of each Mark-2.

One of the combat suits could now be seen standing from behind the wrecked panzer training its weapon in the direction of the main gate. Two heavy-blast doors lay side- by-side on the tarmac of the four-lane highway, the one-ton hinges for each door could be seen sheared in half by the prolonged attack of the invisible heat rays. The armored warriors would not be in the same place long enough for those same cutting torches to reach the men inside.

There was a thunderclap!

appeared of the path of the

second between the blast and a sound like an air-raid, siren being emitted from the Mark-2, starting with a low and getting progressively higher in pitch and volume as the turbine spun up to replace the electrical discharge.

The air shook and a vapor trail suddenly, momentarily hypervelocity projectile. There was only a fraction of a

There was another thunderclap!

The soldier inside the machine with embossed Gold Eagle was Centurion Titus Trebonius, the commander of Terra’s premier legion, III Legion Ferrata. His genius for war was a principal reason the Terrans had held out against the four rival nations for the last quarter-century, a war that had already gone on for over three centuries. For over a millennia, the Democracies of the world had struggled to remain free from the tyranny of communism. Today would be the final day of a Democratic society, Terra.

From within his armor the Centurion had the built-in, robotic intelligence go through a final systems check.

“Titus, status?”

‘Titus’ was the name Titus had given the robot intelligence embedded into his armored suit, it was his only son’s name, Centurion Titus Trebonius of the III Legion Ferrata, the “Ironclads.”

“All systems go,” came the combat computer response over Titus’ helmet audio.

The Centurion knew, after forty-years of combat, his second, Tribune Marcus Lusius would be taking the same measures to insure he was battle ready. Each knew this would be their final battle. Each had already come to terms with the outcome.

“Titus, give EMCP-30 control to HUD (heads-up-display),” commanded Titus.

A green-lit sight picture looking much like what one sees when looking down the scope of a hunting rifle instantly snapped into his view-plate of the outside landscape.

The computer response came back immediately, “EMCP-30 now paired to heads-up- display sighting.”

The Centurion could hear the servo-motors around him hum as the piston-driven arms of the Mark-2 moved the canon, as the internal electronics of the helmet tracked the movement of his predominate eye. The canon would now track on whatever the Centurion targeted. Titus tested the connection by sighting in on several objects he could see through the gaping hole that had been secured by the metal doors.

“Marcus, are you there?” he asked over the link to the Tribune. “I’m hear, Titus,” came the response.

“Let’s send them a clear message of what’s waiting for them.” There was a dry, chuckle over the audio connection.

“See those boulders in the distance?” asked the Tribune.

“A kilometer out?”

“Affirmative, I’ll take the big one on the right, you take the one on the left.” “Affirmative,” came the response.

Three days earlier, the Centurion had watched the video feed of the United Socialists (US) transports emerging from the surf onto the Beaches of Wales. The subsurface- borne landing had gone undetected and treachery was suspected. The first tanks to descend the rear ramps were robot-controlled, the dimensions being barely enough to squeeze in the powerplant, armament and electronics package let alone a man. Their small size, however, belied the striking power of the 120mm cannon each carried.

Next, to emerge were the red and black uniformed storm troopers, each carrying what appeared to be low-power, automatic weapons. The video had gone dead just as something big and six-legged was emerging, obscured by the fog of war.

The Coastal Defense Force had been taken completely by surprise and quickly brushed aside. After the initial, defensive response, regular forces had become engaged, but did little to slow the juggernaut. There was something else. The communists had created something not seen on the battlefield before, the six-legged aberration Titus had seen on the video footage.

Military Intelligence called it the Hexapod because it looked like an insect from a distance. It was a monster, nearly two stories in height, the insect-like body over one- hundred meters in length. Nothing could be seen of the railgun inside the length of the body save for the bore-hole that became visible just before the weapon was fired. The purpose behind the machine was clear, it was a siege weapon of immense proportions, and it was intended to be used against the Capitol walls everyone believed to be impenetrable.

Titus noted the telemetry pegged the boulders at one-point-three kilometers distance. “Titus, zoom fifty,” he commanded.

The sight picture at first was a blur, then became clear as the telescopic sight focused through the thick, mirrored visor on to the stone boulder.

“Titus, go hot,” the Centurion commanded.

The sight picture immediately turned red, the cannon was ready to put forty-five mega- joules of energy behind the 30mm, titanium slug. Titus pulled the trigger and the large block disintegrated in a cloud of debris. He could not be certain but he thought he heard the telltale thunderclap of the EMPC only after the boulder had been struck.

Titus now watched the second boulder for an instance, it too disintegrated, followed by a thunderclap a microsecond later.

Damn! Big bug or not, it won’t get through these.

Each man leapt from his crouched position and went into a full trot, thundering toward the defensive wall. Running faster, and faster, each Mechanized Warrior expertly leapt up the four-meter height and onto the parapet with a terrific thud, without overshooting, without coming in too high. Immediately they crouched behind the chest-high wall and remained in place for several moments to allow their power plants to cool down.

“Titus, how much time do I have on the fuel I’m carrying?” asked the Centurion. “Between one to four hours depending on burn rate,” came the automated response. “Titus, how long can your fuel carry you?”

There was only a slight delay. “One to four hours depending on burn rate.”

Titus now peered up over the parapet wall and out over the Lucien Plain; a barren emptiness that historically acted as a natural barrier against attack. The battlefield was bestrewed with dead bodies and broken, smoldering machines as far as the eye could see.

There must be at least fifty-thousand dead out there, he thought to himself.

It was easy to see the latest, massed attack had fallen apart not one-hundred meters away from the perimeter wall, that was where the tide of red-uniformed Communists stopped and the mottled green and tan camouflage of the Terrans began.

Intelligence said Titus was facing the equivalent of ten divisions, that meant the odds favored the enemy ten-to-one, and still, there had been no sign of the titanic siege weapon.

There were no wounded, only dead, one of the byproducts of today’s hypervelocity weapons. The trauma of the shockwaves alone could dispatch an unarmored soldier, and the Communists only saved those for the officers, all others appeared to be canon fodder.

The Terran positions were pitted with shallow, ten-meter craters, remnants of the arial attack the night before when warhead-tipped rockets from space-launch platforms descended upon the Terran positions and the Capitol. There was no place to hide above ground under such an attack because they were not simple free-fall weapons; they had a

unified, robotic intelligence which worked to steer the individual payloads onto unique targets, both military and civilian.

They were terror weapons the soldiers called “Star Bitches” because they were invariably dropped at night. The rockets would come in vertically, initially looking like stars in the night sky, then suddenly, they became shooting stars, then fireballs just before the impacted. They were devastating against unarmored civilians and soldiers, but had little effect on mechanized formations like the III Legion.

Charred, misshapen, forms surrounded the perimeters of the blackened craters from the incendiary rounds Terran artillery had sent into the attacking hordes. Several hundred smoldering war machines, some Terran, lay in pieces in front of the wall.

From the elevated battlement the two Terran officers could make out a few dozen Terran Heavies lying in wait beyond the security of the walls, their long snouts protruding just over the tops of the hastily erected sand berms. Two tank commanders could be seen half propped outside their turret hatches resting on their elbows and looking at the distant horizon through binoculars.

The first thing to pop in the Centurion’s mind upon seeing the tank commanders. Communications have been knocked out? Poor bastards are fighting blind.

Occasionally one of the turrets would rotate the cannon in a new direction as the gunner scanned the horizon for something to hit.

A day like today was not supposed to have happened! There had been, after all, a Peace

Accord signed between the politicians. communists was, meaningless.

How could it come to this?

That showed what good the word of the

Communism spread slowly across the planet like a cancer, first disguised as Liberalism, then followed by the call for unmitigated Socialism. Communism, would always follow. When the last major power, the United States, eventually succumbed to the communists only a handful of democratic nations remained. With time, even they began to disappear, swallowed up by the tyrants’ who needed a way to prop up their shattered economies. By the 30th Century, the last major holdout had become the continent of Australia, and would adopt the name Terra soon after the Wars began.

The history of modern-day Terra began decades before the communist takeover of the United States when hundreds of thousands of citizens, who saw what was coming, fled to the continent. Those early migrations paved the way for millions of Americans who would follow during the Communist takeover. Within a century, those former Americans would become the core of the continent’s society; their influence and energies would lead that nation into becoming the world’s economic superpower.

For years, the communists looked upon Australia (Terra) with greed in their eyes and hate in their hearts. Communism, socialism, liberalism were destined to fail, the promises of utopia were nothing but dreams and the end result of each had always been the same: tyrants would come to power to rein.

The first war occurred between the Terrans and the Chinese, a foe who proved to have remained backward in its tactics, relying upon massed, wave attacks first witnessed in Russia during WWII of the mid-20th Century. The Chinese mistakes would result in the deaths of over two-hundred million of the yellow-skins’ during the course of the four- year conflict. The Terrans had been put on notice, they responded by putting themselves on a permanent war footing that would keep them free for nearly a ten-centuries of constant war.

The second war broke out one-century later when a combined Soviet-American forces attempted to invade the Terran continent. They too, would be eventually defeated. The three things led to the Terran success: the innovation of its people; the knowledge of what lay ahead if the totalitarians took power; and the moat, the water barrier that surrounded the Terran continent.

Innovations came in the form of qualitative advancements in military hardware and tactics, things the communist nations had trouble producing with their closed, police- state societies.

How could it come to this? Treachery could be the only cause. Hell, it doesn’t matter now anymore, anyway! The Centurion told himself. He rapped his metal fist on the shoulder of his Tribune then thrust it in the direction of the enemy.

“Marcus, it’s time to go. Let’s make sure this is our finest hour.”

“A last glorious rampage of death and destruction,” replied Marcus.

The war machines rose from their crouched positions behind the parapet wall, turned and faced one another and with the right closed, armored fist pounded the chest-place once, with a resounding echo of metal against metal. A final salute.

“No mercy,” said the III Legion Commander. “No mercy,” came the Optia’s reply.

Both armored suits now turned to face the onrushing hoard, the siren-like pitch of the turbines began to rapidly increase in pitch – screaming like banshees as the powerpacks began to glow red as the two Terran warriors toggled them to maximum power. This may have been the final day for Democracy on earth, but it would not go down without a fight!

They leaped into the onrushing hordes. They leaped into history.

Chapter Seven

Centurion Titus Trebonius stepped from the lift and out onto the platform of the defensive barrier into the light of a full moon. The polished, mirror-like finish of of his Command Suit reflected the bright moonlight, the helm of machine was adorned by the longitudinal crest of artificial horsehair that harkened back to ancient Roman times. The meter, long EPC-50 was stowed in the back rack, just over the right shoulder. The sound of the powerplant hummed quietly as Titus stood stationary for a moment, then increased slightly as he stepped forward. The platform shook with each step as he approached the parapet wall.

The humming sound of the gas turbine diminished once Titus stood stationary for a moment, replaced by the burring action of finely, tuned servos as he scanned the surrounding landscape below. The Centurion saw nothing interesting save for the diesel- powered locomotives that were constantly coming and going. Those coming up the pass always pulled thirty to forty tarp-draped flatcars behind them, the components for the massive Launch Tubes being assembled in the caldera one-thousand-feet up. Those leaving, empty.

This was the nightly ritual of a Centurion in times of peace, checking to make sure his sentries were awake at their post, defending the realm from any surprises. No one could not tell from afar if a sentry were awake or asleep, even if there were some slight movement of the armored suit. You could sleep standing in one of them, snug as a bug in a rug, no matter what the conditions were outside, that is, as long as the powerpack was running.

Titus had heard of several men being frozen solid inside their suits when they fell asleep and the fuel ran out during a tour of duty in the subzero cold of the Arctic. On one rare occasion he had even seen one of the men in another outfit literally sleepwalk off a fifteen-meter high wall, and the guy survived! That was how good the Terran Combat Suits were and one of the primary reasons the Communists had been held at bay so many centuries. They were never able to compete in the field of weapons innovation, it was the reason the conquerors had adopted Terran technology wholesale and become the de facto standard for military.

Titus and his team had arrived six months earlier, since that time they had been on a Wartime Footing, only there was no war. Normally, leave would have been granted every several months in times of peace, but the best he could get for his men was an occasional romp to one of the beaches for a swim with a case of brewskis, some hamburgers and hotdogs; otherwise, they had been stuck on this godforsaken rock in the middle of nowhere.

He regularly looked in on the construction site while checking in on his men patrolling the lip of caldera. The operation was massive and the launch tubes were nothing less than engineering marvels. They had to be recently, free engineers to design such an apparatus, the communists lacked the talent and innovation to pull off such a feat what with the purge of intellects that always accompanied their rein.

The project was massive in scale and scope and had to be a logistical nightmare; everything from food, water, fuel, raw materials all had to come in from overseas ports as far away as the Europe. Titus had overheard several of the engineers talking, this launch facility was just one of six being built in remote parts of the world, when finished, would use railgun technology to propel parts into orbit for the new space station or space stations, he was not sure which. The secrecy and speed with which the work was being conducted belied everything he had been told by his superiors.

An Imperial Vacation Palace, really? Please, don’t insult my intelligence.

It did not make any sense, instead Titus believed the military was building a new kind of orbital platform, only for some reason, it was going to be big enough to house a small army.

Titus observed the heat signature of the two approaching locomotives, he could tell by the sensors readings in his suit that they had not yet reached the Tartan Pass which marked the beginning of the escarpment leading up to this plateau. Twin railway lines connected the space launch facility with two seaports.

Descending slowly in the near distance was one of the empty trains, its metal brakes aglow. It would be followed by another soon. The engineers were keeping to a strict timetable, the trains were coming and going at spaced intervals in each direction around the clock.

Marxia became the name of Titus’ country in honor of the Communist founder. The Terran defeat occurred a decade ago at the hand of Am-Com forces, putting the final nail into the coffin of Democracy. The world was now ruled by communist monarchies, families whose blood lines could be traced back to the time when the ideology came to dominate the four major powers.

All but one of the leaders from each communist nation now called themselves Emperors, and all fancied themselves as demigods. The King Conqueror of the USS had done away with most everything Terran save for titles, taking for himself the title Caesar, and recasting his bureaucrats with similar, Roman titles. For Titus, it was the only positive thing to come out of the Great War, that and his life.

The atrocities that followed saw over a hundred-million men, women and children murdered or put into the State Reindoctrination Camps. Titus had only been spared only because of who his father had been, Centurion Titus Trebonius, the last great General of Terra. With no more democracies to conquer, all that was left for the communist rulers were to fight amongst themselves. This was the reason Titus had been spared, Caesar needed soldiers and the Terrans had proved over the centuries to be the best in the world.

Another Mark-2 approached Titus from his left, coming out of the darkness along the battlement.

“Nothing to report, Junior,” came the Optia’s voice over Titus’ audio.

Titus was know as “Junior” by some of the officers, but only those, who like him, were originally Terrans. Military life for Titus had not been easy, some of the communist officers had fought against the 3rd Terran Mechanized and suffered tremendous losses at the hands of Titus’ father. Some even wanted revenge for his father’s success. More than once, Titus had escaped attempts on his life. It was the reason he practically lived in his suit of armor when amongst unknown troops.

“Is everyone awake?” responded Titus turning to face the junior officer. Optia, Marcus Lucius knew the Centurion well enough to know he was smiling when he asked.

“We had better check,” responded Marcus.

Optia Marcus Lucius had served under Titus’s father at the Battle of Sydney, and like the Centurion, had been wounded and taken to safety underground. Marcus owed Titus his life, it had been the Centurion’s gutsy words to the victors that saved him.

“Marcus Lucius goes where I go. I go where Marcus Lucius goes.”

Terrans warriors were a special breed of men who were trained from the outset of their lives for one single purpose, a purpose forced upon them by the centuries of wars. At the age of six, Titus had attended the local military academy where and the Spartan-like training began. The training regime was said to have been fashioned upon the same lines used by his ancestors, only they had been freemen, men with a choice.

Each Combat Suit packed the fifty-caliber, electromagnetic pulse cannon, the EPC-50, in a rack attachment just over the right shoulder for the two right-handed men. The EPC-50 was connected by a flexible, black conduit running from the butt of each weapon to the powerpack carried on the back of each suit.

About the Author

Conservative fiction writer of several novels, I also double as a husband, dad, chauffeuring service, family gofer whose remaining time is spent traveling, going to the gym, taking tennis lessons, or typing away on my Macbook Air. I’m a very typical Meyers Briggs ‘INTP’ with the usual dry sense of humor.

My sojourn into writing began many moons ago, in the 60s, before long hair, marijuana, surfing, driving and girls had come on the scene. The 60s was an era when the musical duo Simon and Garfunkel, the television show Kung Fu and the comedy hour of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In were in vogue for teens my age. It was before Woodstock, so you were either a jock, hoodlum, cool, uncool, popular, a wallflower, a nerd, or a brainier type who learned Latin, while the rest of us took Español.

I was sitting at a desk peeking out at freedom from a third-story window, so the tardy bell would have by that time sounded, followed by the English teacher closing the one and only doorway of escape. I was getting great grades at the time, so it was not like I hated school…just English.

The hour slowly ticked by as the red second hand of the wall-mounted Simplex chronograph advanced with that hesitating, analog motion. As the minute hand closed in on the end of the period, Mrs. Goldberg announced she would be reading a short story from one of her students, someone in one of her five classes who deserved meritorious mention.

Mrs. Goldberg started reading the paper and I still remember thinking, “Wow, that’s really kind of killer…I wonder which goody two shoes wrote it!” It was not until the second or third paragraph into her monologue that I realized the teacher was reading mein paper…an ephemeral account of the last thoughts of a man on death row, in the closing hour of his life. Macabre, I know, nevertheless that was what I assessed the homework assignment called for, and besides, as a preacher’s kid I probably believed I was a prisoner of sorts at that juncture, having to give up every Sunday for church activities, which invariably grabbed an entire day of just larking around similar to every other kid on the block. Anyway, being put in the spotlight for that moment had never happened before, and therefore resonated with me and became one of my notable memories.

I still call to mind the pride I felt as the classroom listened in stony, near-riveted silence, and what’s more, everyone in every one of Mrs. Goldberg’s classes was going to be forced to listen to my wonderful brilliance…Yea! My conclusion had to be something similar to, I will finally be recognized for something! Sadly, what notoriety I might have gained was gone before I realized it, but the instance led to an idea that I might have a knack for writing, a revelation I promptly deep sixed, a far flung memory that would resurface a half century later.

I have self-published two novels as of December 2014; WTF! This is a Liberal Utopia! and LIARS the News Industry; and am now working on my latest work of art: The Barbarian King.

WTF! This is a Liberal Utopia! addresses the question of what America might look similar to, say by the year 2050, if today’s liberal intelligentsia ultimately prevail. The satire pushes discourse down to the same high sounding, muddled thinking of the geniuses on ‘the Left’ through vapid, touchy-feely, non-erudite, irrational conclusions and illogical, logical-sounding arguments. It is a book the liberal-dominated publishing houses would probably never let see the light of day.

LIARS the News Industry is about three major news aristocrats who are bent on changing the nation with their control over the truth; their goal: nothing less than to radically change America to their benefit. The publishers, their pawns in politics have always believed themselves untouchable, but the day arrives when they are proven to be deathly wrong.

The Barbarian King is an ongoing story of a Barbarian whose name is BamaOay. Black-haired, sullen-eyed, diploma in hand; a thief, a plunderer, a slayer of all that was not Fair and Nice, with titanic voice and gigantic ears, he once tread the hallowed halls of his kingdom under the cleats of his black and white, tasseled, Oxford golf shoes; he now sets off on a journey that transits both Time and Space. Marvel at the worlds, people and places he comes across along the way: tribes of primitives, girls and cave women galore, swashbuckling his way through horrific terrors using an oversized women’s driver. It is all here…just think Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard.

Other books by this author

LIARS the News Industry

For the past century little had stood in the way of those running the news industry, a handful of socialists; men, women, dynasties. No real threat to their power and influence had ever surfaced in that time, nothing that could not be dispensed with by the overwhelming force of their news empires. These demigods believed themselves invincible…invincible up to one fateful day when catastrophe struck them down. It was a day like no other, the day when their long held monopoly slipped from their grasp and their control over the truth, forever lost. This is the telling of that tale, a tale of the events leading up to that single turning point for the nation…a day when truth was restored to the people…and the liars put out to pasture.

WTF! This is a Liberal Utopia!

What would America look like in 2050, if the liberals ultimately prevail? Pushing discourse down to the same high sounding, muddled thinking of the geniuses on ‘the Left’ through vapid, touchy-feely, non-erudite, irrational conclusions and illogical, logical sounding arguments. The book the publishing houses would never let see the light of day.

The Barbarian King

It all begins in a contemporary setting, a political retreat on the remote Cumberland Island in southeast Georgia. The president and the presidential candidate, find themselves lost and alone together, during a year when the planets are aligned in a rare ‘Cosmic Singularity’…within the newly relabeled Bermuda Quadrangle. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the two are whisked away unharmed by a tornado, to another place, to another dimension, to another existence where primitive cultures live. BamaOay is recognized by one faction of primitives as their leader. His mission: to unite and defeat the demons they call, “Demons,” the Tea Baggers.

Connect with Frank Thompson

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TT-61 Titan Titus

The year is 4521, there is one last holdout, the one remaining bastion of freedom, the superpower Terra. Only through the ingenuity and technical superiority of the Terran military have the hordes of the tyrants been stopped. For over four centuries the armored legions have kept the beasts at bay, they were the only thing standing in the way of complete world domination. What would happen if the dark powers succeeded? The world, like the nations they ruled, would enter a new Dark Age. That part of humanity already under their thumbs became a desperate struggle for existence. The power of the demigods was absolute, they came to power slowly, over the course of centuries with promises of Utopia. Only too late did humanity realize their promises had been nothing but lies. As the yoke of ‘the State’ tightened, ignorance became pervasive, history rewritten, free thinking liquidated, living conditions and way of life returned to far more primitive times. The gleaming glass and steel cities futurists’ envisioned existed, but only in the guise of Palaces and Temples the rulers had built to themselves.

  • Author: Frank B. Thompson III
  • Published: 2015-09-19 21:05:10
  • Words: 17122
TT-61 Titan Titus TT-61 Titan Titus