Prologue

A Point of Honor Prologue
The Triocat Incident. (08-19-09)

Todd Malinowski was in his element; as Senior Regimental Command Sergeant Major of Ryman Recon he seldom got a chance to play in the field. But fate had put this directly into his hands and it was an opportunity he was not about to waste.

The operation felt like a typical training scenario. A small force sent to a ‘Class Three’ colony. One that by present standards was barely into the Industrial Age and was having Calp problems to boot. The first settlers had done well and were progressing rapidly. So of course the Calps put down a second settlement claiming equal rights of occupancy. And as their population increased the claim escalated first to primacy and now supremacy.

That of course was their standard procedure, tried and true, by which they used Earth’s overwhelming numbers, financial, and military power, to push and expand the Caliphate. The day might come when the Confederation and Indies could match them in the power and numbers department, but not now, and certainly not on Triocat.

So, Todd was out here earning credits for Ryman by trying to train the descendants of those non Calp colonists on this Class Three world about how to hold on to the half of a planet that was theirs by any reasonable take on the normal laws that should govern such things. The early settlers of Triocat had won the struggle with nature but this was a struggle against human nature.

The Calps had just weeks ago landed a fighting force, and tonight was going to go a long way in deciding whether this planet would be called Triocat or Saladin. The Ryman intelligence unit, inserted without the knowledge of Triocat’s government, had an easy time finding that the true damage was not being done by imported trainees but by a single company of Calp regulars. Tonight’s operation was designed to eliminate them ‘In Force Toto.’ So here he was, leading his Squads Three and Four while One and Two played the Kabuki Dance to draw the Calps into a killing zone.

He watched from the cliff top, clad in the gear no local had ever seen; the contents of sealed cases they had brought from Ryman. Sure enough, the locals had been equipped with the best that Ryman exported to any other planet, but no out-worlder ever saw—much less got a chance to handle ‘Standard Recon Issue.’

The area below the cliff might as well have been illuminated by full noontime Sun and Todd’s night-vision devices and the weapon slung over his shoulder black magic for all any of the locals knew.

His rifle (its caseless ammo left no trace of where it had been fired) and its advanced suppression system allowed no sound and precious little muzzle flash that could reveal its position. The cyclic rate made it simply a ‘Finger of Death’. Five Generations of Ryman engineering had gone into its design and no non-recon type was ever going to touch its lethal beauty.

Capitan Richards flashed the signal as the ‘Sucker Force’ moved past their own position. Todd waited until the Calp force moved by, intent on chasing their seemingly outclassed prey. Two clicks on his finger microphone and his team started to move in unison. First they removed the small rappelling ropes and then the sealed packs containing their pitons. Ryman designed they had only four hours of useful life after the packs were opened. They would then begin to degrade into the plant protein matter from which they had been formed

As soon as they were driven into the cliff top the troops began deploying their lines through the pad eyes. As the end of each line hit the ground below a light flashed in the line owner’s vision display he strapped both sides of the line through a figure 8 carabiners pulling the line around his body. Grasping the line with the off hand as a brake they jumped face first off of the cliff in an ‘Australian Rappel.’ Hands heating, even through the purpose built gloves, they hurtled down the cliff face with their feet touching maybe every thirty feet. Approaching the bottom they spun and slammed on the brakes setting down lightly.

Once safely on the ground each hit the belt switch that turned on the electrostatic field meant to stir up the dirt and remove any footprints. A few of the more sensitive felt a tingle in their lower legs but that was only a minor annoyance. Now, each soldier, taking hold of the bitter end of his line, pulled the remainder through the top, faking the line into a coil as it fell. That line along with the piton packaging went into their backpacks. Recon left no trace!

Moving quickly down the trail only a few hundred meters behind the Calp force they waited for the first signal from the Anvil Force in front of them. “Sergeant Major, we have set up one mile in front of you. Targets are exactly halfway between us. It’s killing time.”

“Roger Cap, we are cocked and locked. Your knee mortars start the party!”

“You don’t say Todd,” came the captain’s response. “Get yourselves ready. With their rate of advance I’d guess around ten minutes. You better be right up their ass by then.”

“10-4 Boss. You stop them and we will stomp them!”

Ten minutes later the thumping of Ryman knee mortars filled the night as the Calps dove for cover and found none as squads Three and Four ran up their backside and collapsed on them like a falling wall of death. Todd thought the Calp Lieutenant might have tried to surrender, but he had been cut down before the movement of his hands became clear.

Four hours later back at base the ‘Force Platoon,’ having stowed their issue gear, showered and changed, was trying to look alert while the ‘First Triocat Battalion’ marched in Graduation Parade. The troops from headquarters detachment looked suitably awake as well they should. They had spent the night in their beds while the Operational/Training Platoon had been out and about.

As the ceremony was ending Todd looked across the field and saw Rich Carpenter coming his way with a dispatch case in his hand and wearing Command Sergeant Major stripes. Last he had noticed Rich was a First Sergeant.

Closing the range he spoke first, “Hell Rich, good to see you and congratulations on the promotion.” He paused just a moment then said, “Now can I ask, what the hell you’re doing here?”

“Thanks Todd, at least I can bullshit with you until I hand over my reason. Got it right in this little case here.” And he passed over a small plain container. “Then you are my Boss again.”

“What the hell do you have in here Rich?”

“Your orders as Force CSM to replace CSM Davis!” Carpenter said as the lid was opened.

“Dear God! I thought he was indestructible! Who or what got Robbie?” Todd said in shock as the lid on his new insignia snapped shut.

“Oh—nothing like that!” Carpenter replied at once. Robbie resigned. . .Right after he caused Dear Leader’s nephew to look like a sack of cold shit and left him down for dead, though it was really ‘Medically Unable’ to serve.”

Todd had to stop and think on that one. That punk kid was being pushed up through the ranks as fast as the paperwork could be processed. The ultimate goal to gain the job title ‘Commander Recon;’ Robbie had clearly ended that threat. “Well then; how is Robbie?”

“Damned if I know! He ducked three assassination attempts on the way to the spaceport and rumor has it he has a Merc job out there somewhere.”

“How is Terry taking all that?”

“Well, if you get off of your dead ass fast enough you might get home in time to present him the Honor Sword at Graduation. That is part of the  Force CSM’s job. Not to mention it’s one I guess I know you never really wanted. Sorry Buddy, but it goes with the Turf.”

Todd’s face grew dark as he contemplated the load just fallen on his shoulders. “Plan logistics for ‘The Day’ and always assume that ‘The Day’ shall occur no more that fourteen days from now. “Yeah, I know the drill, but no one, especially me, will ever be as good at that as Robbie was.”

“Look on the bright side, some where and some when, some smart Merc Commander is going to catch Robbie some how; more than likely while he is relaxing some place in a hospital bed, and then BANG he gets Officers bars stuck on his ass!”

Todd had to take a couple on minutes to laugh and then suddenly sobered up, “What if that boy turns out to be as good as or better than Art Redmond?”

“Not likely, but then, we walk up to him slap our fists to our chest and shout ‘Shai Dorsai’.”

Todd who was as well read as his friend understood that part at gut level. Without another word he reached out and took the case, shook his friends hand and moved away smartly. Damn, ‘The Day’ would happen in this lifetime, and they both knew it!

Next