A Sci-Fi Story by Tyler Golec
28 Spatio Annus,
“For years, we have mined Jupiter’s Moons, sending more than half back to the UNE,” Raina Pavlov’s voice echoed across 3rd Street in Ganymede 1’s downtown.
“In exchange, they send us outdated equipment and insufficient resupply,” Dr. Pavlov’s voice continued. She had used the attention she gained after salvaging Europa’s remaining colonies and saving the lives of thousands. The Europa Tragedy was five years ago.
Carol was here to find her brother. She suspected she would find Jack in the Moons Gambit, the largest casino in downtown Ganymede.
“If we reinvest what we send back to the UNE, into the Lunar Colonies, we will be able to double our number of farming stations and triple the mining efforts across Jupiter’s moons.” Carol had her issues with the UNE, what colonists didn’t?
She was outside the casino.
“ID?” security asked her.
She flashed her card. The glasses the security wore saw it even if they didn’t. They received their confirmation and let her in.
How annoying, several of the screens inside the casino were still displaying the doctor’s speech. “It will be us, the Lunar Union, who sends colonists to Titan. It will be the Lunar Union that settles Saturn. Together, we will have the stars!”
A cheer went up in the casino. The doctor’s rhetoric enjoyed a great deal of popular support. Honestly, Carol liked a lot of what the doctor said. She just didn’t really care one way or another about settling Saturn and the doctor’s popular, “we will have the stars,” line. She just wanted to get out of Ganymede 1. She knew that Ganymede 4 had forested parks. The first and oldest on Ganymede.
Ganymede 1 was a smog fest. The first and largest colony on Ganymede’s surface. It needed to tear some shit down and plant a few more trees, to say the least. She saw her brother. He was running the card table. Well, technically the dealer was running the operation, but the table was her brothers. He had a rather handsome-looking stack of chips going. He would have to buy her something nice.
“Jack,” Carol said. “Let’s go.”
“C’mon,” Jack said. “I’m hot right now.”
“Dealer,” Carol said. “He’s cashing out.” She flashed him her ID card. She wasn’t working tonight, but she had enough sway to cut off a patron.
“Big sister says you’re done, Jack,” the dealer smiled. Carol rolled her eyes. “It was nice to meet you this evening.”
Jack gave the dealer his best smile and she gave him hers.
Carol had Jack and his chips away from the table before he could do more damage.
“What are you doing?” She asked. “I work here!”
“It was the last casino for me to hit,” Jask said. “Clean sweep, never caught once.”
She delivered her brother to the teller who exchanged his chips for a cash transfer to the account he gave her. Once they were outside of the casino, Carol gave the back of her brother’s head a solid smack.
“Don’t ever risk my job again.”
“Sis, I just got us half of what we need to buy a place in Ganymede 4.”
“And now, you’re done. Let me collect my salary while you commit petty crimes that won’t get me fired.”
“You don’t like the job anyway.”
“I like the salary!”
“So, I would like to get off this rock. What you just scammed for yourself today is half, just half. I appreciate that you want to help, but scam another F@$%ING casino!”
“Got it.” said her brother, conceding.
“Hey,” he said a little bit later. “What do you think about Dr. Pavlov’s Lunar Union?”
“It’s an idea,” Carol said. “For other people to deal with. It’s not a concern for Jack and Carol Rose.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I guess you’re right.”
Spatio Annus 30,
Ganymede 4 was much as advertised. They had saved up enough to buy themselves a unit in a condominium project next to McGregor Park. His sister had found work at a meat development factory. Lab-grown meat had grown immensely in popularity as a replacement for expensive meat transported from the Marsian ranches.
He had sworn off crime while in Ganymede 4. So, he was rather at a loss for how to spend his days. He had been watching the public newscast as he wandered around Ganymede 4.
“If we declare independence, the peacekeepers will just retake control of Ganymede.”
“Are you sure the peacekeepers are more loyal to the UNE than the moons?” Chancellor Pavlov questioned her dissenter. “We already pay their salaries. We would turn the peacekeepers into a real military.”
“How will we build it?”
“It is 342 million miles from here to Mars, 532.49 million miles to earth, and the asteroid belt. We will have years to prepare for any significant military response. They will have to come to us.”
Jack was on his way to the independence rally in Ganymede 4. He was going to march with the others who wanted independence for Jupiter’s moons. They met at the park across from the capital building. From there, they marched through Ganymede 4’s main streets. The peacekeepers stopped traffic for them and saluted them as they marched by.
Spatio Annus 31,
In July of Earth year Spatio Annus 30, the Lunar Union declared independence from the UNE. Even with the support of the Peacekeepers, there was violence after the voting. The remaining UNE loyalists claimed Ganymede 3 and held for a year.
Jack jumped over the cement barricade under a hail of ammunition raining into the LU’s infantry force that was charging the last remaining bunker. He planted his Peacekeeper’s shield in the ground in time for it to anchor and deflect incoming fire. They were armed with whatever extra gear the Peacekeepers had in their armories.
Another soldier hopped over the barrier and connected his shield to Jack’s. Dozens more were following them. Jack never turned around, as the UNE did heavy damage to the changing Infantry behind him.
Jack aimed his rifle over his shield and returned fire at the fortified position. Six others had now linked their infantry shields to Jack’s.
“March!” Jack commanded. The seven of them lifted their linked shields and slowly made their way closer to the UNE position as they returned fire. They were one of many shield-lined infantry units marching across the battlefield that had once been a park that was maintained around the bunker.
LU forces were closing in. The UNE bunker was a beast of fortified cement walls and steel barriers atop a steep artificial grass-covered hill at the center of the park. Turrets atop its four towers rained uranium rounds into the LU infantry.
They didn’t have tanks and only a few armored skidders the Peacekeepers would employ. For a space force, they had the Peacekeeper Gunships, but the goal was to take Ganymede 3 without destroying it.
There was a hum in the air as two skidders zipped above Jack and the other infantry. Peacekeepers on board fired rockets at the towers. The first rocket was intercepted by the tower’s defense system causing it to explode meters away from the tower. The system failed to catch the second rocket. It detonated as it punched into the tower’s fortifications.
Jack and the six others linked to his shield felt immediate relief as the tower crumbled. They picked up the pace. The rounds coming from the rest of the fortified positions weren’t nearly as severe. The skidders were now taking fire. They got two rockets off again at the next closest tower to Jack’s unit.
The skidders took more fire and veered away from the bunker. One crashlanded in a nearby pond while the other careened into a nearby city just outside the park. But, they had softened the bunker for the charging LU infantry.
Jack and his fellow infantry disconnected their shields and began sprinting up the hill to the cement walls of the bunker. Holding his shield in front of him, Jack was able to make it up untouched. His shield was at its limit though.
He and the other infantry cast their shields away and attached climbing claws to their hands to begin making their way up the cement barricade. The infantry assault was now focused on the gap opened by the two fallen towers.
Jack was over the wall. His rifle was in his hands as he fell to the platform below. He landed and fired at two UNE soldiers shooting at the approaching LU soldiers. They dropped. Other LU infantry had made it over the fortifications.
The fighting was now inside the bunker. Jack pinned himself against the side of the hallway as they fired at surprised UNE soldiers they caught fleeing deeper into the bunker. They were all wearing gas masks. The LU infantry wasn’t equipped with gas masks.
A strange odor began to fill the bunker, the colony. Unwillingly to let the LU have Ganymede 3, the UNE unleashed a toxin into both the bunker and the atmosphere of Ganymede 3. Carol would hear the reports on the news monitors on her way home on Ganymede 4.
Spatio Annus 34,
Carol sat at the navigation console on the Peacecraft 2, one of the four Frigate-Class warships that the LU had constructed in the four years since they declared their independence. They were laying in wait at the edge of the asteroid field. The entirety of the LU’s fleet was deployed here, including the supercarrier Lovecraft 1. It carried two thousand drones on board its large tentacle-like arms that would deploy them, the LU’s answer for their small numbers.
Carol had joined the military after her brother’s death. The tactics used by the UNE had not only killed most of the LU forces inside the Ganymede 3 but also most of those still living there. She recalled how passion had filled her while listening to Rain Pavlov’s address.
The UNE had sent a truly imposing force into space to reclaim the colonies. They had been tracking them since before they entered the asteroid field. Their passage through was loud as their defense systems kept asteroids away from them.
They had four carriers, eight frigates, and two war colonies in tow. Each colony housed 10,000 soldiers and had an escort of a dozen gunships. However, the entirety of the UNE force was unaware of the LU fleet sitting in an ambush.
It started when the UNE entered the minefield that the LU had set up in preparation for their arrival. The initial impacts were small, little flashes on the sensors. Then suddenly they lit up. A chain reaction as the large UNE craft impacted dozens at once. The three leading frigates took the brunt of the mines as they cut a path for the craft trailing them.
Damaged and distracted, the UNE’s lead frigates didn’t register Peacecraft 1 and 2 before they were in firing on them. It was a quick attack. Carol rapidly got her navigation recordings in before the craft cut to minimum power disappearing into the asteroid field again. The three leading frigates had taken crippling damage. One was even jettisoning escape pods as explosions could be seen around its engines. The reaming five frigates surrounded their crippled brethren and sent a hail of fire into the asteroid field. The carriers behind the frigates were deploying fighters. The whole of the UNE force began a desperate charge for the edge of the asteroid field.
The LU’s four Peacecraft frigates, would appear and disappear inside the asteroid field as they harassed the UNE. Pavlov 1 deployed its drones as the UNE fighters closed in on the LU’s frigates. Carol felt relief wash over her as a cloud of drones appeared on her scanners. Raina Pavlov was aboard Pavlov 1, it was her ship. The drones were hers.
Raina Pavlov floated in the sensory deprivation chamber at the center of Pavlov 1. There was no system controlling the drones as they shot from the great tendril arms of the carrier. There was only her. Seeing through the eyes of every one of her 200,000 drones her consciousness floated across the battlefield, an entity in its own right. Her will was felt by all that were there.
The drones held off the fighters. The Peacecraft frigates were doing heavy damage to the front of the UNE’s push. But, two special drones went unseen. They slipped all the way to the back of the UNE’s procession under the cover of their stealth systems. Scanning the engines of one of the war colonies, they found a weakness.
Raina Pavlov let her consciousness drift over all those belonging to her LU. The war colony failed critically and the air inside burned. For a moment, the colony was a beautiful ball of burning gas. My children, we will have the stars!
They were retreating, Carol could see the other LU craft doing the same. They had done enough damage to the UNE for now. There would be more battles to come. The First Solar System War had begun.
Experience Raina Pavlov’s discovery within Europa in 23SA…
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