Page 1 of 1

STIL: Forced Double Take

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:31 am
by AZKAMAT
Further setting the stage for my HH entry, today we get introduced to a few more major characters while we get a look at the Federalist military.

Image

Chronologically concurrent with the introduction of Agent Plex, troops of the Federalist Star Union patrol and watch over the newly built Fort Ridgeway on the front line of their war against the Berliniscow Naturalist Party.

Fort Ridgeway is built on freshly conquered ground situated on the extreme northern end of the frontier with the BNP, a few miles away from a mountain pass that still lies in BNP hands. It's a simple artillery fort built to house infantry and act as a fortified strongpoint.

Image

At the front gate, as at near everywhere else at Fort Ridgeway, Tithe Infantry provide security against any potential BNP retaliation.

Tithe Infantry are the FSU's elite, premier infantry force who serve in the organization Options Military Prime. They are created by giving Soldier Production Orders (SPO's) to married couples on a raffle system each year. Each couple selected has 2 years to produce a male offspring and can only be selected once, no exceptions. The infants are separated from their biological parents and raised in facilities that are combinations of nurseries and barracks. They're trained to use the light exoskeletons known as Tithe Infantryman's Combat Suite (or TICS) from childhood.

In their middle to late teens, a Tithe will be judged 'Matured' at the discretion of their combat instructors and socializers. They are then assigned to an officer, who is a specially trained, university-educated infantry officer recruited from the regular population. Each officer will normally be assigned 'FIVE PLUS ONE' subordinate soldiers.

Image

Looking rather out of place from the hard-suited soldiers elsewhere in Fort Ridgeway, two old-school looking bodyguards watch the door to the commander's quarters.

Image

What could two ornate looking guards in this high tech base be here to protect?

Image

They are here to guard Lady Saxxon, an Elutherian Proselyte of Options Diplomatic.

Proselytes are women entrusted with spreading Federalist ideology to outsiders and with reassuring citizens and soldiers of its soundness. They are experts in Federalist doctrines about right government, proper behavior for men and ladies, history relevant to the formation of Federalist ideology, and other political and philosophical topics.

However, Proselytes are also required to be beautiful, meaning they are made up mostly of women in their prime. To reinforce an image of purity, they are also expected to be celibate...

Image

...Which calls into question why she has gone, alone, into a room behind closed doors with one of the most powerful men in the Union.

"Why, General Ecklen," begins Lady Saxxon in her predictably feminine voice, "it is so pleasing to see you again. It hasn't quite been a year since we met aboard the Midnight Zephyr on the flight to this planet, just before the war, but it feels like it's been an eon."

Still in his TICS battlesuit, Ecklen's response sounds like that of a trained soldier awkwardly attempting to resurrect his civilian mode of talking while still on a radio. "Indeed, Ms. Saxxon, I...quite enjoyed making your acquaintance back aboard the Zephyr. It was...er...pleasant in the extreme to find out you had been assigned, indeed requested, to be sent here, to provide reassurance of the Federalist cause my men and I."

She smiles and, tilting her head to one side, says, "Indeed. I have much to discuss with you of great import, General Ecklen. The guards above us...could we perhaps be afforded yet more solitude?"

"Uhhhof course, miss."

Image

On the walls of Fort Ridgeway on the opposite end from the front gate, a full squad of Tithe Infantry patrol the battlements alert for danger.

Image

A moment after Lady Saxxon's request, the squad leader in charge of the guards on the back wall calls out to his men.

"Ears up, men, word from jin'rul Ecklen is to clear the walls and hit the mess. Says we've earned it!"

The captain's words are met with some quiet yet sincere cheers as the soldiers anticipate an early round of meals. They quickly leave their previous post for new ones at the dinner table, eager to thwart the fried chicken and beer's devious plots to make it into the cooler tonight.

Image

The two stand quietly as the hungry soldiers quickly depart the battlements above them.

As the sounds of their boots are about to fade away entirely, Ecklen reaches up and begins to remove his helmet as Saxxon stares at him intently.

Image

As he begins to lower it from his head, she deftly snatches it away, still managing not to jerk his hands about in the process just like a real lady.

After she's gotten it, she starts to slowly lower it towards the ground. Staring at him, she eventually says, "Hello, Cherrie."

"Hello, Saxxi."

Image

Looking at each other for a few moments, Cherrie Ecklen eventually breaks the silence.

"Saxxi, I know why you asked to come here specifically. To resume our flare on the Zephyer, brilliantly fluorescent though it was, would be awfully unwise. It should be mightily scandalous to us both if it should be found out by any but our most trusted compatriots."

"So you only liked me, what, as some sweet treat to enjoy on your long, boring, boat ride?" She asks. Though she sounds indignant, there is a distinctly forced quality to her displeasure.

"No, I...my wife had just passed, Saxxi. Then you were there, and at the time seemed like deliverance from my inner pain. I never told you about her because I wanted so badly to move on. I should never have been an accomplice in your temptation away from the path of a Proselyte."

"I know about her, Cherrie. I researched you when I first truly started to pine for you, just after the shooting started." The comment didn't disturb the general; he was quite renowned, after all, and it wouldn't have taken much more than casual electronic research to find several contemporary biographies of himself. Still, he was somewhat impressed that she had taken the time to learn what she could about him when the war meant they could not possibly liaison with each other after their voyage.

"I desire you so terribly, General Cherrie Ecklen. Throughout the whole of our 'flare', you displayed all the qualities I've spent my adult life setting upon a pedestal, yet so rarely witnessing for myself. And within no other have I seen nearly all those manly, noble qualities congregate into one person as they do in you. For instance you always treated me as I ought to be, never once leveraging your high position against me to get more out of our relationship. Please do consider my affections."

"Saxxi, I..."

Image

Before the General can finish his sentence Lady Saxxon lunges at him. Her arms wrap around him at the shoulders and she presses her lips onto his. For his part, the arms of a man that have felled a score of blood-thirsty foes but tremble now with the tenderness of a true woman within reach.

Image

She breaks the kiss some moments later and then, stepping back, lifts herself up upon the chest and begins to slide wistfully back onto the bed it rests against.

Image

She waves to him, signalling for him to join her on the bed.

In an emphatic half-whisper she calls to him, "Come to me, General, take up your flare-gun and fire it into the sky once again!"

Image

Yet Ecklen does not dive onto the bed with her as she had hoped he would. He instead looks away toward the left side of the chest, just beside where his helmet lay, and slowly, deliberately walks toward it.

"Oh no!" Saxxi thinks to herself, "he's not interested in the slightest! He's going to meander over to his hat, dust it off and put it back on, say something corny to let me down softly and then be gone forever!"

Image

Saxxon isn't sure what to think, however, when Ecklen lifts the chest up...

Image

...And throws it aside!

Image

With the chest thrown aside and Ecklen now standing right at the foot of the bed and glaring at her, Saxxi lies silent in a state of shock.

Her head swims anxiously with doubts and questions. "Is he angry? Did I go too far? Is he going to hurt me?"

Image

All of Saxxon's nervous concerns evaporate, however, when Ecklen pounces upon her with a passionate kiss the likes of which she had not known since their last moment together on the Zephyer.

With her hands back around his shoulders and his upon her waist, the couple hold each other close as they makeup for lost time.

Image

They are reunited for but a brief moment, however. In what seems like an instant, Ecklen is torn away from this his latest and perhaps most glorious conquest by the chime, within his armor, of an inbound top-priority military communique. Quickly checking his display on his wrist, he sees it is from the same Captain he sent to lunch.

"It must truly be important," Ecklen thinks to himself, "otherwise he wouldn't have set it to such a high priority."

Their kiss and embrace broken, Ecklen begins to crawl backwards off the bed. Saxxon looks confused.

Image

As he picks up his helmet he pauses to look back at her as she sits up in the bed, still confused.

"Cherrie, what's the matter?" she nervously asks him as he stares silently at her.

Image

"My job," is all the General says as he turns away, his mask in hand.

Image

His helmet resealed, General Ecklen leaves his quarters to attend to professional affairs.

Behind him, Saxxon can be heard embarrassingly calling after him. "Cheh...General Ecklen, do let me know when we can next...meet!"

The General doesn't reply, but whether it's because he's decided to spurn her or is trying to maintain his professionalism she just doesn't know. After all, she can't see his face.

Image

General Ecklen walks through his base to see what could possibly have been so important as to warrant interrupting his meeting with Lady Saxxon.

Image

Finally, General Ecklen is met by the Captain who had sent him the top-priority alert.

"Captain Delingpole," begins Ecklen while trying to hide his frustration, "I hope we are under direct assault for you to have sent me such an urgent alert."

"No sir, thank his Majesty we are not."

"Well then, what is it?"

"General, Tragedy 1 is inbound to our position."

"Tragedy 1!?" blurts out Ecklen

"Yes sir, they requested permission to land and I gave it."

After a pause, Ecklen speaks again, "I'll handle this. Return to your Tithes in the mess hall, Captain Delingpole."

After Delingpole lets out the obligatory "Yes sir!" the two part ways.

Image

The guards remain at their post as General Ecklen nears the main door. Tragedy 1's flight path will take it right in front of the door, and Ecklen intends to be there to greet it.

Image

As Ecklen clears the gates, another Tithe squad leader approaches him. Behind them a full squad of Tithes doing an exercise run around the fort get near to disappearing behind the corner.

"Good morning, sir," greets the lieutenant.

"Ah, good morning to you as well, Lieutenant Scott."

"Sir, I hadn't expected to see you here this morning. I thought you were in a meeting or the like. Is there something my squad and I can help you with?"

"No; Tragedy 1 is on its way to the fort and will be here in a few minutes. I have come to greet it."

"Tragedy 1, sir? I'll double check that my squad looks their sharpest!"

"Very good, Lieutenant. Leave everyone at their posts, though; we're still on the edge of a war-zone."

Image

As Lieutenant Scott departs from him, General Ecklen begins to think to himself about the welcome he is about to give.

"Hm, my head will be on the chopping block if anything should happen to Tragedy 1...I'd best provide a lot of protection."

Activating his suit's comms system, Ecklen contacts two of his officers.

"Squads Seven and Ten, meet me out in front of the fort to provide security for an inbound transport craft. Squad Ten, setup on my right. Squad Seven, on my left. All of you, loaded for bear."

Image

As General Ecklen awaits the arrival of his extra men, Lieutenant Scott in the blue visor stands at the ready beside one of his men.

"Sir," begins the infantryman as he still stands guard, "what's going on? Why is General Ecklen standing in front of the fort?"

"Tragedy 1 is about to arrive and land here. Ecklen's there to greet them."

"Oh!"

"Right, so look alive!"

Image

Moments after Ecklen's orders are given, two full squads of Tithe Infantry come pouring out of the fort's gate.

(If this were a movie, something like this would play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA0jY2b_QpI

Image

Within seconds the squads take up defensive perimeter positions around Ecklen and the front of the fort.

As ordered, Squad Ten sets up its machine guns and rifles on Ecklen's right, while Squad Seven guards his left.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

As the group awaits the arrival of Tragedy 1, the Tithe Infantry train their weapons in all directions away from the fort in case of any threat.

Image

The leader of Squad Ten, with his red visor, sits among his men as he waits with the others for Tragedy 1 to arrive.

Image

At last, a large black shape appears in the sky headed for Fort Ridgeway.

Image

As it nears the fort, Tragedy 1 loses altitude and begins to fold its wings as part of its landing cycle.

Image

All the soldiers on the ground remain still and at the ready as Tragedy 1 comes just a moment away from touching down.

Image

General Ecklen looks on patiently as the shuttle idles for a moment after landing. The noise of its engines and other machines can be heard decreasing in volume as it powers down.

Image

Suddenly and with a startlingly loud 'WHUD,' Tragedy 1's passenger hatch swings open and crashes into the sand.

Image

Shortly after the hatch opens a figure sporting splashes of gold, red, black and white emerges from the shuttle.

Image

As the ornate figure walks forward cautiously, weapon in hand, more red and gold men emerge from the transport. They follow after the first one in a loose formation.

Image

Eventually a total of eight men follow after the first one.

Image

Eventually the little company comes to a halt. They stand at ease with their weapons in hand and not looking particularly orderly.

A moment later the apparent leader raises his free hand and yells to his subordinates.

"Red Guards, ah-ten..."

Image

"...Shun!"

Image

A heartbeat after their leader's command, the eight Red Guards snap to attention to face one another and form a soldierly corridor.

Image

Shortly after his men stand to attention, the commander joins them at the end of the left line.

Right after taking his place, the leader of the Red Guard announces the arrival of his charge.

"In-TRO-doo-SING, in his seventh of ten years in office, the President of our Federalist Star Union, Mr. Augustus Washington Caesar!"

Image

Seconds after the Red Guard commander's introductory shouting, a figure wearing an odd combination of exquisite and humble attire emerges from the hatch of Tragedy 1.

Image

The man approaching the lines of his bodyguards looks to be straddling the line between middle and old age, yet walks forward with the confidence and vigor one might imagine him having in his prime.

Image

The scene falls silent as the President marches towards General Ecklen. All the sounds of the base seem to stop as if put into stasis by the arrival of the soldiers' national leader.

The only sounds are those of the wind and of Mr. Caesar's sandals softly hitting the sand.

Image

As his President nears, General Ecklen's right hand hits the side of his face in salute. The other soldiers don't follow suit as they continue their vigil against danger.

Image

"General! So good to see you! It really is! It really is!" declares the President as he shakes his commander's hand.

"Mr. President, sir, it's good for me as well. I wasn't expect-"

Image

But before Ecklen can finish his sentence the President interrupts him.

"Yes, yes, so sorry for the surprise. I intended to catch you by surprise, you see, to see if you run things as sharply as the reports tell me you do. By this red carpet of rifles you've rolled out for me I can see that they're true! If you were slack you couldn't have rolled out this many readied men so quickly. Believed in you the whole time, my lad!"

Image

"Speaking of your protection, Mr. President, please excuse for me a moment," says General Ecklen before raising a hand to shout.

"Captain Hanson, Lieutenant Lennox, fan your squads out and expand the perimeter. Maximum alert!"

The sound of soldiers scrambling to advance follows as the soldiers get up and move out a little, still hunting with their eyes for any danger.

Image

As Ecklen's men move out to expand the safe zone the president speaks again.

"I have not come just to make a petty inspection of one of my most accomplished commanders, General. I've also come to discuss the war with you, man-to-man."

"Yes, Mr. President."

Image

"Come, General," says the president as he turns and walks toward the side of the fort, "I've been crammed inside that shuttle for over an hour and would like to stretch my legs, catch some fresh air."

"Of course, Mr. President."

"I'd like to congratulate you on seizing this territory, General. Your breakthrough was a masterful execution of combined arms, mechanized attack and I wish I had more men capable of such command."

"I appreciate that, sir."

"But now the war approaches a crossroads. Your breakthrough was across mostly open terrain. Smooth rolling hills, grassland, and agricultural territory. Just past this fort, though, where our forces would be pushing next, is mountain range. Your speeders and tanks would be easy targets for the guerilla-like tactics of the infantry that have been making up the bulk of BNP forces of late."

"But sir, the all-terrain walkers are supposed to be delivered to this position within the week. The plan I had formulated before the breakthrough offensive put them as the key element that would allow us to keep up a steady advance through the mountains."

"I know, General, and that's the problem; the engineers back home can't get their legs to work properly in the time frame we need to keep pressure on along this sector of the front."

"Well then how am I expected to advance into mountain ranges without walker support?"

"That's the bad news I have for you, General Ecklen: you won't be advancing past this point."

"What?"

Image

As the General and President speak, the squad of tithes on an exercise run from earlier come back around the other side of the fort on a direct path for the two leaders.

Image

The stern-faced Lieutenant leads his squad of Tithe Infantry around the corner of Fort Ridgeway.

Image

Seeing one of the nearest men start to lose steam, the Lieutenant calls out to him.

"Specimen 7767, keep up the pace and don't lag!"

The man lets out a raspy, "yessir!" as he breathes heavily and sweats profusely.

Image

The Lieutenant's eyes widen as he realizes who he's passing by. Before he can call his men to a stop and attention, though, Ecklen barks out an order of, "Carry on, Lieutenant Chadwick!"

Meanwhile the over-exerted man from the last shot begins to loudly rasp his breathing while red in the face.

Image

As the team of runners pass by where Ecklen and Caesar have stood to the side, the tiring one collapses in front of them and vomits from over exertion.

Image

The sick man collapses just outside the mass of his own vomit. The rest of the team stumbles to a halt as the squad leader flies into a rage.

"OH my KING!" he yells as he slows to a stop and thrusts his fists skyward.

Image

As the exhausted man lay face down, retching, his leader begins to holler at him.

"7767, you are a disgrace to this outfit and all of Options Military! Do you not see who you're making a fool of yourself in front of? Get the HELL up!"

"Lieutenant," says the president calmly, "do you mind if I have a few words with your soldier?"

"Wah?" starts the Lieutenant as he is taken out of his tirade, "no, of course not Mr. President. Do as you will with him.

Image

Stepping forward a little, the President speaks to the collapsed soldier.

"Son, everyone falls down sometime or other in their life. What counts is that you get back up."

Image

Immediately after Caesar finishes speaking the boy begins to push himself up.

As he does so a garbled yet still intelligible "Shir, yesh shir!" can be heard.

Image

In seconds the young soldier is back on his feet and stands at attention. Without a prompt he throws up a salute at his president and forces out a "Zshank you...Shir!" but in his depleted state it's just a loud wheeze.

Image

The president returns the soldier's salute. On instinct, the rest of his squad and General Ecklen follow suit and a moment of silence ensues in the mutual display of respect.

Image

Eventually President Caesar drops the salute, followed by everyone else.

Lieutenant Chadwick and General Ecklen exchange an understanding nod and the junior commander continues the jog.

"Alright," he yells to his men, "touching moment over! We got enemies to crush, and asses to get in shape!"

With that the squad sets off again.

Image

As Squad Thirteen runs past them, President Caesar turns his attention back to the man he'd come to see.

"Anyways, General Ecklen, where were we?"

"You had just told me I wouldn't be advancing past Fort Ridgeway's position, sir."

"Ah yes, yes, about that..."

Image

The two come to a stop at the corner of the fort and set about resolving their discussion.

"You see General," begins the president, "my staff and I have been doing a lot of risk calculation behind closed doors. The historical pattern analysts tell me that this is the moment, as the major thrust of our advance shifts from open to very dense terrain, where the BNP has the potential to turn the tables on us. I cannot allow that! Even with your acknowledged superb leadership, I must redirect our efforts to where I believe the BNP is more vulnerable."

"But sir," begins Ecklen, "all my men are here, now! Let us push on, even without the walkers, before the BNP can recover their strength. Damn the mountains! I command Tithe Infantry, men trained to overcome any obstacle. We could do it; launch a major continuation of the offensive within days!"

"No, Ecklen. I sympathize with your position, but must stand firm. To push on into the mountains would be to hit the BNP at their strongest point along the battle line. Remember the ancient Asiatic author from Origin you no doubt read the writings of? We ought to avoid their greatest strengths. Run over them like water over rock, and all that."

Frustrated but composed, Ecklen asks of his president, "What, then, do you want we should do, sir? You cannot be ordering me to just sit idle." Yet to himself Ecklen thinks, "Could he?"

"No, of course not! No; this is a great chance to roll up the BNP and blow them back into the stars once and for all from this world. After nearly a year at war, with all the accompanying death and expenditure I'll accept nothing less than that result as long as I hold this office.

No, I want you to gather your army group together, all of it, and swing south, far south, where more open terrain presents itself. There, you will simply do your magic trick a second time and give the Union the same results you've delivered in the past."

"What of the delay, Mr. President, in shifting all my men and materiel that far away? Won't that disrupt our momentum of advance just as much as awaiting the walkers' readiness?"

"No; you underestimate the delay in troubleshooting the issues with prepping them for mountain action. Shifting your avenue of attack, even at the army group level, will be faster."

With a sigh, General Ecklen asks yet another question, "Yes sir. Who, may I ask, will be taking my place here at Fort Ridgeway? I am sure the Star Union isn't just abandoning her..."

"Indeed. She'll be entrusted to the Militia Command army group being formed under Field Marshall Mannerheim of the Arctic States. They'll hold Ridgeway against any counter attack, and advance after your continued offensive has rendered the mountain defenses isolated and vulnerable."

"Militia troops, sir? But sir, this war has been entrusted almost entirely to the skill at arms of Tithes, and now you're telling me a whole army group of militia troops is being formed to protect this vital portion of the front? What if the BNP counter attacks?"

"We have thought of that, General, my staff and I. Eyes other than your own have been considering the war, you know. Besides, Mannerheim is the most decorated militia commander alive. Indeed, ever! He's more than capable of safeguarding Ridgeway and the surrounding territory."

"Sir!...I mean, Mr. President, an army group of militia is something never been done before, and though Mannerheim displayed valor and skill above and beyond the norm while defending his home protectorate from BNP assault, that does not mean he is qualified to lead so many men. Why not just entrust this place to one of my Tithe commanding colleagues?"

"These are extraordinary times, General. In case you've not noticed, the war has been sending your men back in body bags by the star ship load. There simply haven't been enough married couples in the Union to supply so many Tithe Infantry. So on quieter fronts the war planners and myself have decided to deploy state and protectorate militia forces while Tithes and the occasional marines carry the crucial battles. Fort Ridgeway is to be such a quieter front."

Image

As their meeting ends, Ecklen makes one final objection, "I must confess, Mr. President, to sitting ill at ease with this change of strategy."

"You opinion is noted, General. Begin readying your forces for relocation by tomorrow morning," is all the president says as he turns and heads back for Tragedy 1.

Cherrie Ecklen stands and ponders the new information. "I hope, for the sake of everyone in the Union, that this new scheme does not backfire. For if it does, and the BNP take Ridgeway, they'll have miles of open, unfortified country to ransack in front of them."

After thinking for a few minutes longer, Ecklen's mind shifts to other implications of his new orders. "I shall have to leave Saxxi behind, as well," he laments to himself. "She was assigned to this fort, not to me and my army group. Oh, and we had just gotten together again! I hate suppressing my feelings so much but duty compels me! Someday...Someday I'll twine my heart 'round with hers and never separate again!"

Re: STIL: Forced Double Take

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:56 pm
by Archduke
Is this one of those snazzy People's-Fascist-States I've been hearing so much about?

Re: STIL: Forced Double Take

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:21 pm
by AZKAMAT
Archduke wrote:Is this one of those snazzy People's-Fascist-States I've been hearing so much about?


Huh?

Re: STIL: Forced Double Take

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:15 pm
by Omega Prime
Why've they got both swastikas and Hammers and Sickles on their helmets?

Re: STIL: Forced Double Take

PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:36 am
by AZKAMAT
Omega Prime wrote:Why've they got both swastikas and Hammers and Sickles on their helmets?


They're a Brikwarsified version of a grimdark sci-fi setting I created a few years back and have been developing since. They are obsessed with dismembering everything left of totalitarian collectivism, whether it's big or small. The Hakenkreuz and S&H are up there because by combining the two, they believe they've created a new symbol altogether that they've named "The Duality."

Re: STIL: Forced Double Take

PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:59 pm
by Omega Prime
... ok