Right, so, this is a bit different to the stuff I usually write, and I feel some explanation may be in order. In my last post I mentioned the coming of the Protectorate, and how my next few stories would revolve around them as well as being sci-fi in nature. It’s looking increasingly likely that I will be writing my first novel in the universe of the Protectorate, and so I want to try and get a feel for how it will look when it’s done. This could be said to be part one of that project.
I’ve had the Protectorate in mind for almost a decade now, though their structure, goals and a number of other things have been altered significantly since then (many of the names I’ve decided to keep the same). Chief among them are the Decimators, the super-soldiers that the Protectorate uses in their army. For these I found inspiration in a particular piece of music that I will link below. When I listened to it I imagined ranks upon ranks of power-armoured warriors, normal men and women turned to the cause of war, marching in step with the Battlemaster at their head… oh, the Battlemaster? Sorry, that comes later.
In any case I hope you enjoy this short piece. It may seem a little incomplete, and I may end up writing more about these particular characters, indeed this particular scenario, should it prove that people enjoyed it thus far. I’d really love to know what people think about it, the good and the bad (though go easy on me!).
On the Protectorate:
Old Earth is dead. More than a thousand years have passed since the birthplace of humankind was extinguished from the stars. Those that survived the cataclysm formed the Protectorate, an authoritarian empire hellbent on reuniting the fractured colonies and star nations of their lost people. Led by the Prefects, an elite cadre of genetically modified post-humans, the Protectorate grows ever closer to bringing the galaxy under its command.
Within the ranks of the Protectorate war machine, the venerable warriors of the Decimators serve as both the front line and the final resort. Trained in the use of aegis armour and genetically augmented to extend their abilities far beyond what is normal for a human being, these men and women strike fear into the hearts of their enemies and embolden their allies. Their might is awesome, and their exploits legendary. Second only to the Viscerators and the Prefects, the Decimators act in two main capacities, as warriors of the Hand (tactical) or warriors of the Fist (deadly assault).
Thunder crashed in the distance as the first wave of hovercrafts burst from the sky. Like a shoal of silvery fish they dipped and wove in concert before landing with a triumphant splash upon the surface of the water.
‘Pristine landing, Wave Alpha,’ a distorted voice choked down the comms. ‘Waves Beta and Gamma en route. Commence operations in five.’
From his location deep in the bowel of the hovercraft, Preceptor Bhardus could not hear the giant waves crashing against the side of the ship, or see the long streaks of lightning that were now lighting up the skies of Argolyth in a beautiful mercurial haze, but he knew that they were there. He could feel them.
He had developed an intuition for these things in his long years of service that quite belied his natural senses. In his mind he could see it all, the light, the thunder, the action taking place beyond the metre thick bulkhead. He could almost taste the salty spray of the waves and feel the rush of air from the hovercraft’s thrusters blowing across his skin, but he knew that such a thing was impossible.
In truth, he had merely taken part in so many drops like this that it had become automatic. He had done this ninety-nine times already though admittedly on different worlds and arenas of war, some of which had even been hotter than this would be, but his confidence in what he knew kept him steady. This would be his one hundredth successful drop, but it would also be his last.
‘Preceptor,’ the voice belonged to Dhajin, Captain of the Hand and Bhardus’s immediate superior in this engagement. ‘Might I have a moment to discuss battle strategy?’
Bhardus smiled at the man, but spoke in a low and monotonous baritone, an unfortunate side-effect of a reconstructed larynx. ‘We are strapped in place and en route to an enemy stronghold,’ he stated without emotion, ‘I can think of no better moment, and I could scarcely deny you if I could.’ He paused and then added, ‘Captain.’
Captain Dhajin frowned. The man was newly risen to command, and though a little unsure on his feet had the makings of an excellent commander. Bhardus recalled with some amusement the skinny, small man that had barely fit into his decimator armour even with the aid of padding. Still, he had proven his worth in the pacification of a dozen worlds, and through rigorous bodybuilding and gene-augmentation had managed to fill in his armour and rise to the prestigious rank of Captain of the Hand. There was little doubt in Bhardus’s mind that the man would go far. After all, he had been gifted a brilliant teacher.
‘I am concerned about the enemy lines,’ said Dhajin. ‘I’ve looked over holo-sims run with every conceivable variable, but I’m still troubled. Something doesn’t quite add up.’
‘Indeed?’ Bhardus nodded with interest, the mechano-harness strapping his power armour in place prevented him from doing much else. ‘Is it the outcome that troubles you? Do you doubt your strategy?’
‘Not at all,’ said Dhajin with a confidence that was reassuring. ‘The strategy is sound, that much I am sure. I even ran it by the Prefect, and received written approval by return.’
‘Approval by the Prefect?’ Bhardus was impressed, though he resented the fact that his voice could no longer express that fact. Instead there was an unpleasant and almost sarcastic tinge to his words that irritated him greatly.
‘Yes,’ continued Dhajin, apparently unperturbed, ‘but still it is not the strategy that concerns me. It’s… well, if my estimations are correct there is no way that the enemy can win. There is nothing they can do to hold their position against us. They will fall, brutally and bloodily.’
‘Strong words, Captain. We will cleanse this planet of its rebellious nature and restore order to its people. No need for concern then.’
The Captain shifted in his harness, staring down at the grated floor for a long moment before turning back to face the Preceptor. There was something about his expression that told Bhardus there was a lot more to this than simple battle nerves.
‘That’s just it though,’ he said, his tone hushed so as not to carry to the twenty other decimators, lined across from them. ‘They stand no chance of winning by any means, yet still they will not back down. They will not consider surrender. They will stand against us even as we tear them to shreds. There is no other outcome for them, yet still they do not falter.’
‘That is what troubles you?’ Bhardus considered the Captain’s words for a moment as he contemplated an answer that would be both reassuring and instructive. He was ever the instructor, but on this occasion there was little that he could say to put his comrade’s mind at ease.
‘Men die,’ he said finally. ‘Some die for reasons we understand, others for reasons we cannot. In this case I think there are elements of both to consider. Remember, to these soldiers we are the invaders. We have come to their home planet and demanded that they rescind their ways and rejoin the greater empire of humanity. To them we are the aggressors, and they will fight us dearly to retain the life to which they have grown so attached.’
‘That does not reassure me,’ said Dhajin, stating the obvious. ‘You almost sound sympathetic to their plight.’
‘In a way,’ said Bhardus. ‘It is a noble thing, but misguided. In that respect we are not so different. They wish to fight and die to retain their independence, and we will fight and kill to save them from themselves. I may not agree with their cause but I can understand it and respect it in equal measure.’
Dhajin nodded. ‘That is well and good, but I have no intention of turning this battle into a massacre.’
The Preceptor smiled at him, a warm but weary expression on a face that had seen precious little than warfare in a very long time, then answered him with his cold emotionless voice. ‘You may not have that option.’