War Toys - Pt 1: History Lessons

War Toys
Time for a little fiction..

Flexing the writing muscles a bit...

WAR TOYS

Part One: History Lessons

“Lesson one in our little red flag operation is basic fighter maneuvers or BFM.” Before the group of us stood an instructor. I believed this one man was the most ‘Crusty,’ ‘Hard Bitten’ man in the world, and that his only purpose was to teach us how to kill, and kill efficiently. Like all fresh new candidates, I believed to my very soul that I was being honored having been chosen to fly a combat fighter. I could not see beyond my little part in the grand design at that point. I knew only that I had made the cut, and had been chosen to represent my country and my family in the United States Marine Corps. My father had been a pilot and his before him. I was the product of the military engine, primed from the womb to live on adrenaline and to crave the almost narcotic effects of flying close to blackout in atmosphere. Father had borne a son who thrived on nothing but flying.

“Gentlemen. If there is one thing I can stress to you out there, it is that you can never trust the aircraft to do your work for you. It is the tool we use to defend ourselves, and defeat our enemies, and the ultimate responsibility for its actions fall upon you.” Instructors always stressed things like that, and I didn’t really grasp what he meant then.. By the time I understood, it was almost too late. I lived in the beginning of the age of space exploration; new technologies had enabled mankind’s first step towards exploring the far edges of the solar system. A permanent base on the moon was completed two years prior and the orbital manufacturing platforms allowed engineers to carry humanity’s legacy into space.

The popular fiction and tele-dramas I watched while growing up had primed me for the possibility that I would see inter-stellar travel in my lifetime. In so many ways it had fed me illusions, never really showing just how cold and black the vacuum of space truly was. The fictional stories and romanticized characters in those shows always presented an imagined world without factions. The reality, which was lost on me, was mankind never found that single unifying event to draw all our cultures together, never cemented in the human psyche that humanity in itself was a common thread. So as humankind we ventured into space and remained separate and somewhat civil principalities of a small world, mutual politics and greed our bond.



My father had seen action in at least four exercises the government didn’t have the balls to call a war, my grandfather had actually been in something they called a war, but he always told us it really wasn’t. I was foolish enough to crave war, to lie down every night and in my heart, offer prayers to some unseen guiding power. All so that I could prove what I knew in battle. I craved the chance to prove that I was the best.
On the eve of my twenty fourth birthday, I got my wish. The whole incident started as a minor disagreement, the press anxious for stories of space-related unrest and drama escalated the situation with their coverage. When the facts were made public we were told the engineers and scientists on one of the Chinese research Low Earth Orbit platforms had rebelled against the control of their earthbound Indo-Chinese masters. China called on it’s ally the United States to help settle the unrest. I don’t think until years later that I ever realized, or even cared what had caused a the orbital platforms intellectuals and engineers to revolt. Why had the United States eagerly volunteer it’s new created, unproven Marine Corps Expeditionary Space Forces the task of putting the insurrection down. I did not really care, I was a pilot, and as I said earlier, I foolishly dreamed of war.

Marine Corps Aviation was not the force it had been in my grandfather’s days. Tried and true amphibious doctrine couldn’t be applied easily in space, and the aerospace fighters we piloted were first generation death traps. I prided myself on being a Marine Corps Aviator, but I really didn’t have the experience to know just how little that title meant in space.

What I quickly realized though was I was an easy target for experienced spacers. The grim reality of the vacuum of space was a lesson you didn’t learn in a classroom. The slightest micro-meteorite could punch through an armored fighter hull. A single retro failure could send you careening off into space for eternity. If someone even noticed you were gone you might have gotten a posthumous award. With our untested fighters and our untested skills, we tried to put down the rebellion. The fight quickly turned against us as we employed our book taught untested strategies.

In an attempt to end the conflict swiftly we executed a combined strike. We pitted our first generation spacefighters against the EVA labor pods and science drones controlled by the spacers. Zero-Gee Marine Assault forces attempted to breech the platforms. We were no challenge to the scientists. By comparison our logged simulator hours were insignificant to the applied space experience the civilians had accumulated. In the end, we had taken greater losses than the researchers, much worse than anyone had predicted, and the scientists continued to hold the platform. The research station eventually fell, after a long siege and blockade of supplies from Earth. The retaking of the platform cost many of the researchers their life, and in the end the research they revolted over died with them. We heard only rumors of what they had been developing there, and by the time anyone cared to notice, China and the United States had quashed them.

For the first time in over one hundred years, the United States and namely the Marine Corps had openly failed in an appointed task. A task so visible and well dissected by the media circus that no one forgave the failure. It was only a matter of time. The Marine Corps was already losing respect in the space age. Most political groups considered us an archaic force, based on doctrines long since considered antiquated. The Joint Chiefs of Staff investigations were led by the Army and Air Force Generals who argued against the necessity of Marine involvement in the sphere of space. Each furthering the ideas that their respective service could outperform the Marine Corps in space based tasks, The Air Force contested that space had always been their responsibility, and though the ‘Navy’s Police force’ was necessary on terran ships, space bound security was their game alone. The Commandant, a grunt who spoke with a Marines’ general directness, found himself unable to counter the political assaults and attacks of a hostile Congress.

I saw the end coming. I was only twenty-four years old, and I watched the United States Marine Corps, and the legacy of honor it represented die. The tactics employed to stop the revolt outraged the people of the world. The media handled the situation by painting the Marines as the careless aggressors. Civilian Authorities and the world press called for war crime trials and summary dismissal of the top Marine Corps brass. It was ‘shown’ in the media and kangaroo world courts that the Marine Corps had employed ‘inhumane’ tactics during the fighting. Atrocities were alleged, ‘media observers’ described horrible acts. Marines were accused of spacing rebellious scientists and generally abusing the few nationalists we had managed to capture alive.

As the inquiry began, Congress released studies it had long held in check regarding the future usefulness of the Marine Corps as a separate military service. The public outrage was so great that the argument to absorb the Amphibious, Recon, and Air Wings into the US Air Force and Army finally had enough support to pass in Congress. The Marine Corps was once again merely ‘the Navy’s Police force’.

As a combat hardened Space Corps First Lieutenant I was subject to the inquiries and boards of conduct. Luckily I was too small a fish and as a member of the Space Corps, my direct actions were captured on cockpit recorders and gun cameras, I was found innocent of any infractions of the newly adopted Geneva Convention Article on space warfare. Unfortunately, the U.S. Marine Corps as a whole was not, and so I survived while the heritage of my father and grandfather faded into history. I felt that with the Marine Corps, died the entire honor and tradition left in the American military. But like a good Marine, I accepted the harsh reality and moved into the era of space. ‘Semper Gumby: Always Flexible’ had long been a Marine catch phrase, adapted from our most cherished motto: ’Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful’ Many of us now had to choose to live by it, and adapt to the situations we found ourselves in.

The United States and China fell under serious sanctions, and for the first time in history the possibility of a world ruled by the a truly global government began to emerge and a new global political body was formed. The United Nations was renamed the Confederation of Sol as if to stress a galactic scale and abandon the long history of political and military ineffectiveness.

The 1st Marine Space Expeditionary Force had been absorbed into the space-born arm of the United Nations Security Forces. Being an officer with an active presidential commission I was transferred over to the new Confederation Armed Forces, and my career went on without ties to American nationalism. The world in general had little interest in cocky fighter jocks anymore, and even less in veterans of the Space Corps, so I adapted, and found myself a kosher little assignment in the Confederation Intelligence Bureau. My new life had begun, as had the chain of events that would affect every generation of humanity thereafter. I however had an axe to bury and I hadn’t found the best chest to bury it in yet.

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