Authors: T. S. Paul
Tags: #Space Opera, #Lgbt, #Science Fiction, #Empire, #Artificial intellegence, #War, #military science fiction, #space station, #clones, #Dystopian
Summer on Mars was supposed to be a fun time: it was festival season outside. The Old Earth traditions of Mardi gras survived here and were very popular. The lasciviousness of the locals only enhanced the allure of the event outside. The local Vid channel could not do the floats and parade justice. Unfortunately, I did not get to see any of it. No, I was stuck inside the Hong Kong Embassy until further notice at the direction of the ambassador.
The most recent courier ship from home had interesting news for me on board. Our home Assembly, worried about rumors of aliens or hidden enemies, were recalling the James Cook. They needed to leave anyway to take their prisoner home. I and my new protection team were staying on Mars. The Assembly had made me the new Ambassador to Mars. My great-grandmother being the leader of the whole planet came as somewhat of a shock to our Government. I was pretty sure that Dad must have known about it all. He must have. I still don’t completely trust him. He makes it sound like he cares, but Wilson showed me vid of him still crying over the loss of Han and bemoaning his family's future in Minerva’s hands. As Wilson says he's still a wanker. The current ambassador was not willing to leave me in charge and has me locked down in my quarters. For now, I am allowing it. There is a lot about this place that I don’t know. Wilson is running point for me hacking the system. My girlfriend Dar is on the outside planning something. That’s my next worry: not letting her get killed.
“Mr Ambassador... John. Are you sure we’re doing the right thing? I mean, she is Colonel Lee’s daughter.” The Marine Master at arms was getting along in years. Mars was supposed to be a retirement post. Active combat and arresting people was something new to him here.
“Master Chief, she’s too young for such an important position! Not to mention her political unreliability. She is already in cahoots with the Martian government. No, I’m right. Those orders have to be forgeries. I and my family have served our planet for over fifty years in this position through two government changes. Hell, we weren’t even recalled when the Empire took over. We just kept low profiles and kept doing our jobs. She stays under house arrest until I receive new orders.”
“If you say so, sir. You are the man in charge. However, there is at least one team of Marines assigned to her still unaccounted for. My boys have seen at least one Marine uniform outside the perimeter watching us.”
“Are you sure there’s a team out there?”
“Pretty sure. The James Cook landed two teams of Marines. The first were shipboard Marines that took possession of that Imperial Commodore. They returned to the ship. The other team was the Special Forces one that performed the actual snatch-and-grab. They were led by that big woman: Marine Lieutenant Dar. They’re still out there. That message we received placed them at the disposal of Commander Lee.”
“They have no support or supplies and are on a strange planet, how much trouble could they be?” The Ambassador looked rather smug. He was still in charge here! Not some thirty something Chicky that got the position because of who her daddy was.
“They are Marines. We need to be careful, Sir.” The Ambassador waved the older man away.
Master Chief Sam Kirkland was no fool. He, unlike the old ambassador, kept up with the news from home. Commander Athena Lee was a big deal in the Navy and on the planet. Now she had contacts here on Mars - the Primus herself if the vid was to be believed. He needed to pick a side and do it quickly.
The embassy was built like a fortress. Walls on all sides were topped with concertina wire and each corner contained a gun turret. The defenses dated back to just before the last interstellar war. Mars was never attacked but everything was build just-in-case. Inside the walls the main building was a hardened shell of titanium with steel belts over granite blocks. In theory it would survive a small tac-nuke explosion. There were three squads of Marines under Kirkland’s orders: one unit guarded the civilians, one manned the guns, and the third was the back-up force. Each man was armed with assault rifles and personal armored skin suits. If the Special Forces wanted in, they would have to shoot their way in.
Sergeant Vince Carter was watching the Mardi gras floats drift by with a huge smile on his face. They sure had nothing like this back home! He had one eye on the topless girls and one eye on the Hong Kong Embassy. He was so distracted that he failed to notice his commander directly behind him until she smacked him in the back of his head. In the Corps, that was called a Gibbs by most of the old timers.
“The girls are very nice-looking, sergeant, but that’s not what you’re here for! Later on you can chase them all you like. Eyes on the prize, please.”
Dar was very annoyed that the embassy had arrested Athena. The idiots even ignored a direct order from home, too. Stupid! Such a pain in the ass. All the galactic governments were up in arms over pictures of ships in Old Earth orbit. Only Mars wasn’t freaking out.
“Lieutenant Dar, should we be bunched up like this? Those other Marines inside the gates can see us out here.”
Dar looked up from her musings and glanced at Sergeant Carter. The Sergeant motioned with his head toward the embassy gates. Turning her head she saw the grizzled old Master at Arms Sergeant Kirkland watching them. She smiled and waved at the man before leading Carter off. “Carter tell Colman to take over the watch. I need to go see the Primus.”
“What do you mean she’s under house arrest?” Primus Amalie looked very upset.
“Ma’am, the old ambassador read through his new orders and then just locked her up.”
“That’s crazy! What are those fools thinking over there?” Amalie was now glaring at Dar.
“Here let me play something for you that Wilson sent me.” Dar handed her a data stick. She watched in silence as the ambassador and the Master-at-Arms discussed her granddaughter.
“OK, at least I understand now. Damn that Alexander for not informing these idiots more carefully! What are your plans, Lieutenant?”
“Ma’am, my team and I are going to break her out. They don’t know we have an inside man. He can turn off the security and provide us with anything that we need floor plan-wise. It should be fairly easy. Our biggest worry is what the Embassy Marines will do.”
“I can see that. If you should need anything, please feel free to call on Martian forces. I believe that you still have Gaston’s comm number?” At Dar’s nod she continued. “Excellent. Please try to limit the casualties if you can. And keep us informed, thank you Dar.”
After Dar left the room Amalie called Gaston, her aide. “Gaston were you monitoring?”
“Yes, Primus. The Lieutenant’s plan so far seems workable.”
“I agree. Monitor the situation and provide any assistance required.”
“Yes, Ma’am. It shall be done as you say.” The smaller man turned and left the room. Amalie stared after him in deep thought for a moment then returned to her console: it was time to put a few things into action.
With renewed purpose Dar and her team studied the diagrams and maps Wilson had sent them. She had to admit that having an inside man was a definite bonus. Wilson gave them all that they asked for and more. Her team knew the faces, schedule, and routine of every Marine assigned to the Embassy. The location of all the cameras and a detailed floor plan with access keys was also included in the data dump. As Dar had told Amalie, the biggest problem had been the Embassy Marines. Should they treat them as hostile if they returned fire? Even though they were following illegal orders in arresting Athena, they were still the legal orders of their commander.
“OK, boys I have made my decision. We will use non-lethals and stunners in the assault. Those are fellow Marines that we will be attacking not terrorists. However, if they cross the line, put them down! I will deal with any consequences. Our ‘man’ on the inside will cut power the moment we attack. That should seal the armory doors and disable most of the alarms. According to the information we have, there will still be internal power to most of the doors. We have the codes so use them quickly before they change them! We’ll hit them from three directions at once. Team one will begin sniping the guards on the tower and any visible in the courtyard. Team two will engage the gate and draw attention to themselves. Team three will be with me. The city clock tower has a direct line of sight on the embassy and is the tallest structure in this part of the city. We will use the gliders and land right in the middle of them. We’ll be depending on the rest of you to distract them. Team one make sure you get them all, especially the rooftop ones. Once inside we will neutralize the guards and open the gates. We’ll then assault the main building as a group.”
“Wilson, what is Dar planning? Do you know?” I’ve been trapped in this small cell for two days now. The ambassador and his minions locked me in here after reading the orders placing me in charge of the Embassy. They did not bother to try to block my link. The shielding in here prevented me from calling out but that did not stop Wilson from doing so.
“Athena, try to not show any emotion. Dar and her group are going to storm the embassy tonight just after shift change. Be careful not give anything away. They’re watching you through the security system.” I looked up at the light fixture.
“Yes, that is one of them. Ingenious really: they have passive sensors built into the walls. I can block most of them but they can read emotional surges, heartbeat, and brain wave activity. It makes me wonder why they even have systems like this in an embassy on the planet of an ally. I plan to strip the memory banks when we take over. They will have no secrets from me.”
I looked around me at the walls; looking carefully, the engineer in my could see the hidden sensor points. I shook my head at the fact that I was even in this situation at all. Just then I heard a noise by the door.
“Athena one of the guards and the Master-at-Arms are about to come in.”
The door opened and two Marines entered the cell. The younger of the two stood by the door his gun at the ready. Master Chief Kirkland stepped closer to me and then stopped. He peered at me as if I was some sort of bug to be examined. “Miss Lee, I need answers from you.”
A spurt of anger fueled my response. “That would be Commander, Master Chief.”
“My rank is Commander, not Miss. We’re both in the same military. You can call me Commander.”
He smiled at me. “Prisoners don’t have rank, Miss Lee.”
“Remember that at your court martial, Mr Kirkland. I intend to bring charges against every officer and non-com here.” I smiled back at him. “You too Private Hutchins.” The Marine looked startled that I knew his name.
“Now, Mr Kirkland. What is it that you want? Here to correct your illegal actions? Or are you here for a torture session? Beat the truth out of the rebellious officer?” I looked him in the eye coldly. “I’ve already been tortured by the best the Empire has to offer. Former Governor Buckley saw to that. Ever been water-boarded Mr Kirkland? So what’s it to be? Are you going to hold your hand over my mouth while Hutchins over there pours the water down my nose? When I start to choke and vomit make sure you step back, wouldn’t want to get it on you. I won’t be able to move, seeing as I will be strapped to the board. Will you enjoy my struggles as the water chokes me? When I start to feel as I if I’m drowning? When my lungs fill up and I flop around like a fish?”