Armageddon protocol stor.., p.1
Armageddon Protocol (Stormtrooper 13), p.1William King
Stormtrooper 13 Book One
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“Stormtrooper 13? Stormtrooper 13? What is your status?”
The words burst through the static as Orbital made contact from geostationary. It could just have been one of the radiation storms over Faith. It could also be the locals jamming our communications. When in doubt always assume enemy action, as my old drill sergeant used to say.
A chaingun ricochet overloaded the kinetic exchanger of my armor. I pulled out the splinter of ceramic and slammed a flesh-patch on my upper left arm to stop the bleeding. It hurt like hell.
Bullets chewed into the shattered wall in front of me. The double moons hung daylight-visible in the green-tinged sky. Snow blanketed the remnants of the concrete bunkers all around. I called up an insert on my helmet HUD to show the video feed from the drone circling overhead. Things looked exactly as bad as I expected.
A carpet of white covered the ruined city. New flakes were burying the corpses of the ambushed local Enforcers. A column of sooty smoke spiraled into the sky from the wreckage of our white painted transport flitter.
I had already jumped out and got inside the ruins when the rocket hit. Guess I moved faster than the attackers expected. It looked like I was the only survivor. Lucky me.
Several hundred militiamen, armed with good old fashioned assault rifles, circled what was left of the building. The black and gray urban DPM colors of the Aryan Jihad looked just spiffy on them. They had taken the day off from terrorizing the enemies of white humanity to stick it to us Feds.
A swastika-emblazoned gunship strafed me with more chaingun bullets. Three locals wheeled a pulse cannon into an enfilading position on a roof across the street. Soon they would have a clear field of fire down to my current position.
I saw myself, a big man in ceramic armor crouched behind a shattered wall. A hologram of a red cross showed inside my mirrored faceplate. I gave a one-digit wave for the cameras. Some sharpshooter almost took off my finger. It was a good job that my gauntlets were there to protect my delicate hands.
“Orbital, this is One Three,” I said. “We seem to be experiencing a breakdown of the ceasefire. Request you engage personal weapon systems.”
It was a foregone conclusion that the ceasefire was dead but there are rules about these things. The Federal Government is big on rules.
A hiss of static and then Orbital came online again. “We have detected drone deployment, Stormtrooper 13. Please explain.”
Great. I was being shot at by a few hundred angry militiamen, and some Accord Observer was upset because I might offend the locals’ sensibilities by deploying an unarmed drone. I hate peacekeeping missions.
“This is One Three. I am under fire, Orbital. Repeat, under fire. Request you engage personal weapon systems.”
What bureaucrat had thought that it was a good idea to lock down our weapons before sending us out into the streets of Sternheim? Probably the same genius who had thought of making our armor white and putting large red crosses on our helmets.
The Observers claimed that it showed the Federal Republic’s peaceful intent. My theory was different. Making us walking headshot targets gave the locals somebody other than their neighbors to snipe at. A burning cross would have been more suitable for making friends with these guys.
“Status update . . .” More static. Something large exploded nearby. An anti-mech rocket? Damn. The Jihad had the big stuff now. For days rumors had abounded. They had supposedly acquired some new doomsday device from the Weapon Ship. It was the reason I was down here sweeping Sternheim. Why else would a Federal Stormtrooper be in this hellhole?
And, what a surprise, it had turned out to be a trap. It certainly looked like someone had been arming these bad boys with hardware above their pay grade. I had a suspicion I knew who.
“Die, xeno loving scum!” The threat had the flat tones you get from instantaneous machine translation. I didn’t speak this local dialect. The locals wouldn’t speak mine. Old Terra was a couple of hundred light years away. These were the boys who taught themselves Old Deutsch in order to be able to read Mein Kampf in the original.
Chaingun bullets carved another chunk out of the wall as the gunship targeted me. I heard a few catcalls as it whizzed by overhead. Somebody was enjoying himself.
I looked down at the useless reaper in my hands. Theoretically, the pulse carbine was the most powerful man-portable weapon on the planet. Unfortunately, its system electronics were locked down by the peacekeeping protocols. It did not look like Orbital was going to give me the override code anytime soon.
Some wit in Ordinance had stenciled Your Tax Dollars at Work along the barrel of the weapon. The joke was on us. Most of the locals did not pay Federal taxes. They paid deductible tithes to their churches instead. Said churches just happened to also be their militias.
Orbital’s communications were a barrage of static and random words now. Definitely a jammer. This had been planned. It looked like the locals were determined to bag themselves a stormtrooper.
I wriggled to a new position as bullets tore chunks out of the brickwork. Any individual round had only a low percentage chance of breaching my armor but the Jihad were throwing thousands in my direction. A single one might cause me some serious health problems if the kinetic exchange mechanisms failed again.
“Dave, read them the Riot Act,” I said, ducking my head as the chaingun tore chunks out of the wall.
My drone said, “Are you sure that is appropriate, Stormtrooper 13? An aggressive verbal response might be construed as provocative.”
Dave was in advanced diplomatic mode, courtesy of the peacekeeping protocols.
“Just do it, Dave!”
“Affirmative, Stormtrooper 13.”
The drone’s amplified words boomed out across the town. Simultaneous machine translation allowed me to understand. “Citizens, you are in violation of section 4, paragraph 2, of Federal Security Act 931. Cease and desist from this anti-social behavior. Disperse and return to your homes or face due penalties of law. Thank you for your cooperation and have a nice day.”
That’s telling them, Dave, I thought. A burst of automatic weapon fire informed me that somebody had spotted Dave’s position.
Dave said, “Thank you for your feedback, Citizens.”
A blinking red icon on my heads-up display told me that my drone was under attack. I could probably have worked that out for myself. It looked like it was time to take mat
I thumbed the systems override and bellowed, “Stop shooting at me, you inbred halfwits!”
My amplified and translated words boomed out from Dave’s speakers. I got the retranslation. “Please stop shooting at me, Citizens.”
Small arms fire and shouts of die, Fed were the considered response. There was something about minion of the Devil Machines in there too. Then came a wave of obscenities that the speech filters turned to static. Apparently, the Federal Government did not want the bad language of my fellow citizens causing long term damage to my self-esteem.
“Stormtrooper 13. Stormtrooper 13. What is your situation? We have detected damage to drone Dee Vee Zero Zero One Three. Are you acting in a provocative manner toward the locals?”
“Good guess, Orbital.” My amplified words boomed out over the square courtesy of Dave’s sound system. That probably confused the militiamen. It was time to give them my full and undivided attention.
“Stop shooting at me, or I’ll hand you your heads!” I snarled.
Dave thundered his saccharine-toned mistranslation. “Citizens, if you don’t stop shooting at me I will be forced to respond with extreme violence. I’m sure none of us will enjoy that.”
Dave was wrong about the last bit. After days of abuse, thrown garbage, and the odd sniper shot, I was about ready for some payback. I got jeers and catcalls as well as another rocket impacting on the side of the bunker. The building shook. Plaster clattered off my helmet. The structure was not going to take much more of this.
“Citizens, cease fire! This is your last warning.”
Dave managed the translation exactly right. His tone of voice left something to be desired in the menace department. He sounded like a kindergarten teacher threatening to take away a child’s milk if they did not behave.
“Stormtrooper 13. Please report!”
I heard the distinctive hum of a battlefield generator starting up. I had a fair idea of what was going to happen next. It wasn’t going to be pretty. I checked the position of the pulse cannon on the video feed and moved out of the line of fire.
I unholstered my sidearm. It was an old-fashioned Magnum revolver. Standard issue to stormtroopers. For those rare times when viral overload or hardshock EMP take out the systems on a reaper.
You never know when you’re going to need good old fashioned bullets. They can’t be locked down by peacekeeper protocols. Of course, the Magnum was supposed to be empty. The Arbitrators had even searched me before I dropped from Orbital. We wouldn’t want to upset the locals by arming their Federal oppressors now, would we? I still had that one bullet all stormtroopers like to carry in case we fall into the tentacles of the Assimilators. You don’t want to know how I smuggled it down.
“Stormtrooper 13, you have unholstered your sidearm. What is your situation?”
“Orbital, I am under fire. I am about to take measures for self-preservation under code three one seven.”
“Noted, Stormtrooper 13. Under the terms of the Accord, I cannot authorize the use of lethal force. Those are Federal citizens down there.”
Somebody was certainly covering their ass today. “Thank you, Orbital. I’ll try and be gentle with the voters. It is election year after all.”
The hum of the power generator reached its highest pitch. I hoped I had got the angle right. The wall melted as a high intensity, narrow focus pulse beam flared through it. Snow sizzled into a cloud of steam. At the same time, a grenade rolled in through one of the gaps in the wall.
So there I was, alone, wounded, outnumbered, surrounded, gunship overhead, flanked by heavy ordinance and armed with a single bullet I had pulled out of my ass. Under the circumstances, a few well-chosen last words seemed called for. “Citizens, you were warned!”
I scooped up the grenade and lobbed it back in the direction from which it had come. My armor’s sensors tracked the shockwave as it detonated. That would pin down a few. I looked to my right and saw the pulse cannon on the roof of the closest tenement. Two men in militia uniforms hunkered down over it. Another fiddled with the generator. The telescopic insert on my HUD showed me the two-day stubble on his lined face.
Orbital had not given me an override, so no targeting reticules appeared around his head. I was going to have to do this the old-fashioned way. I pointed the Magnum. I squeezed the trigger. The gunner’s head exploded. A telescopic lens close-up from Dave showed me the other two staring at each other. They had that oh shit look people get when somebody well-known to them has just died suddenly and violently.
I sprinted through the still glowing hole the plasma cannon had left and across the open ground between the buildings. Bullets trailed me all the way. Some of them pinged off my armor. The militiamen caught a flash of white as I broke their world’s record for the thirty-meter lurch and stagger. Some days I am grateful for having been pumped full of illegal super-soldier drugs in my misspent youth. Some days.
I dove through the doorway. It was dark on the ground floor. According to the induction briefing, the Aryan Jihad had blown up the generators to cut power to the Temperance Legion. The Temperance Legion had destroyed the sanitation because the Radical Orthodox were using the processing plant as a headquarters. The Radical Orthodox took out the water systems in reprisal. Once these civil strife situations get out of hand things get messy. Smelly too.
My helmet’s nightsight amplification cut in. The ground floor of the shop became a ghostly wash of gray. Packages of food lay scattered all over a broken counter. There were some cans of beer as well. I thought about picking one up for later but decided against it. The way my day was going, I’d probably be charged with shoplifting.
The stairs loomed ahead of me, and I went up them double time. The two militiamen were still on the roof. One of them crouched over the corpse I had left. The other was staring over the wall, trying to get a glimpse of me.
“Tata? Tata?” The teenager slumped over the corpse. His voice sounded grief-stricken. Man up, kid. Your dad shouldn’t have been shooting at me with military grade hardware. I tapped him on the head with my gauntleted fist.
He flopped backward, just a skinny boy in a Jihad for Jesus tee shirt. An Ishtar blaster pistol lay near his hand. Not so menacing anymore. The sound got the other man turning. He had an assault rifle. There was a low percentage chance that it might damage my kinetic armor at this range. I pointed the empty Magnum at his head and said, “Don’t even think about it.”
My helmet provided the translation this time. In the two seconds he spent considering it, I crossed the roof and knocked him out too.
The kid’s blaster would have been my first choice but like all advanced Weapon Ship products it would be bio-locked to its user. I grabbed one of the locally produced assault rifles instead, and as many bandoleers of ammunition as I could. I found a couple more sidearms and a six pack of AP grenades. The drone feed showed me looking like a bandit warlord. I checked the charge on the pulse cannon. Thirty seconds and it would be at peak again. Good.
A faint flicker of guilt about the kid’s dad passed through my mind. I decided I’d give the redneck Nazis another chance. “Citizens, go home. Or it will be tears before bedtime.”
Dave’s synthesized voice roared my words overhead. Retranslation informed me that Dave had told the locals that we should end things peaceably or there would be much grieving and lamentation before they laid their heads upon their pillows once more.
Maybe he was just screwing with their heads. Or mine. He likes to do that.
Onboard threat assessment systems shifted the drone to a new position. A chimney near him disintegrated under the hail of bullets as the militia responded to my offer of peace or possible lamentation.
“Thank you for your feedback, Citizens,” Dave said. Passive aggressive little bastard.
I swung the pulse cannon around so that it was pointing at the open square. I turned the settings to wide-beam. Dave showed me the largest concentration of milit
I lined up the shot, and when the red light flashed on the pulse cannon, I pulled the trigger.
The HUD informed me that thirty-two militiamen died as white-hot plasma washed over them. Somebody was left lying there, cut in two. It would take them a while to die. In the meantime, they were filling in their companions on exactly how painful it was.
The gunship cruised by overhead. The red reverse swastika told me it was an air ambulance repurposed for paramilitary use. The chaingun jutted from the gap where the side doors had been removed.
The gunship swept closer and turned sideways on so that the boys in the open door could bring the chaingun to bear. Not even kinetic exchange armor could hold up for long under a burst from it. It would take another thirty seconds for the pulse cannon to hit full power. They were probably counting on that.
Of course, pulse cannons don’t need to fire at max charge. I hit the override, focused the beam and pulled the trigger. The shot did little more than scorch the paintwork, frazzle the electronics, and blind the pilot. It was enough. The gunship swayed from side to side. It did not form a good shooting platform. That didn’t stop the militiamen from trying. Give them that. They were determined, those white boys.
I armed a grenade and lobbed it. Wasn’t a bad throw. The grenade exploded before it reached the door. Men toppled to earth like rag dolls, blown out through the far side by the detonation.
The gunship tipped and spiraled down. Beneath it people scattered, not knowing quite where it was going to land, fearing the explosion. I sprayed a few of them with assault rifle fire. The body count went up to forty-four. It didn’t look like I was going to win any medals for my peacekeeping skills today.
Armageddon Protocol (Stormtrooper 13) by William King / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes