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|Author||Jimmy the Tulip|
Saving Eden is set during Operation: Klondike and recounts the experiences of a Clan Hell’s Horses Infantryman.
Churchill Military Base
24 November 2801
General John Fletcher stood before the assembled men and women of the Star Leagues 35th Infantry Division. He knew that the news he was about to deliver would cause despair among the troops and despair ate away at morale. He also knew that these were men and women of the Star League Defense Force and that they would do their duty.
General Fletcher spoke into the microphone that would amplify his voice around the parade grounds.
“Men and women of the 35th. Your division has a long and proud history with the Star League, both in the Inner Sphere and here, in exile. The news I am about to deliver is not good but I know that you will continue to do your duty to the Star League, to Nicholas and to the memory of Alexsandr Kerensky.”
General Fletcher paused for breath and to allow his words to sink in.
“We traveled far and endured much to make our new homes here but we must take to the stars once again. Uprising and outright rebellion is breaking out on the Pentagon worlds and we do not have the numbers to stop it. Nicholas has a plan, however, and he assures us all that we will return. We will throw down the oppressors who are befouling our new homes and we shall make these five worlds glorious once again.”
Again General Fletcher paused, though more to gauge the reaction of the troops. Confident, he continued his speech.
“We are counting on you all to hold on to our Star League ideals during this tumultuous time. Be strong in your faith. Be resolute in your honor and above all else be true to the cause that led us far from the Inner Sphere to these worlds that we call home.”
General Fletcher could feel the pride swelling within the ranks of the assembled soldiers. He raised his voice into the microphone.
The 35th will guide the way for all others! FOR THE STAR LEAGUE!”
A great roar went up from the assembled force and they took up the chant. It had soon changed into a roaring chant of support for Nicholas Kerensky. John Fletcher looked proudly out at the men and women assembled on the parade grounds, his command, and smiled. They would guide the way, he thought, they would be the benchmark against which all others would be measured.
Private Densen Morris stood amongst his squad enraptured with the General’s speech. He stood silent for a moment as the chanting of the crowd started up but within a matter of seconds he had been caught up in the wave of pride and loyalty that swept across the Division and he too joined in the chant.
When the crowd began to disperse to make preparations for their departure Private Morris held Yulton back.
“I can’t believe we’re leaving again.” he commented.
Yulton shrugged off Morris’ hold. “So what? We’re mobile infantry. It’s our job to be on the move anyway.”
Private Morris was surprised by Yulton’s attitude. This wasn’t just maneuvers they were leaving the Pentagon worlds, perhaps for good. He couldn’t help but think that they wouldn’t be coming back, that this second exodus would spell the end for the loyal Star League Defence Force that remained.
Private Densen Morris shook off the gloomy thoughts. He had to focus. They were moving out in a matter of weeks, perhaps days, and there was a hell of a lot to do before then. He strode off towards his barracks.
Lola III Class Destroyer Red Knight
14 March 2821
Khan John Fletcher strode past the assembled Gamma Binary of the 71st Mechanized Cluster. His face was an impassive mask and he inspected the troops but inside he swelled with pride. His newly dubbed Clan, the Hell’s Horses, embodied everything he hoped they would. Loyalty to him, loyalty to the ideals of the Star League and, above all, loyalty to Nicholas.
He stopped at the end of the assembled soldiers and faced the commanding officer with a stern expression.
“Star Captain Densen, your men look to be in good order. I congratulate you.”
Densen was unable to conceal his pride. “Thank you, Khan Fletcher.”
John Fletcher nodded once in acknowledgment. “Your men may fall out, Star Captain. Report to your births and stow your belongings. We will be making the jump to Eden in two hours.”
“Yes, Sir!” Densen snapped a salute and his binary immediately followed suit. Densen then took a step forward and turned to look down the lines of assembled Clan troops. “Gamma Binary report to your stations. Dismissed!”
As one the troops fell out and began moving off to attend to their duties. Khan Fletcher stepped beside Star Captain Densen.
“You have done well, Star Captain. When this is all over I intend to nominate you for the Trial of Bloodright.”
Star Captain Densen was shocked by the honor just bestowed upon him. “Thank you, Khan Fletcher. You honor me greatly.”
John Fletcher smiled knowingly. “As I am sure you will honor me on the battlefield.”
Without another word Khan Fletcher turned and left the inspection bay.
11 April 2821
Star Captain Densen rode atop the hover APC that carried three points of his star, fifteen troops in total. The day was clear but grey clouds had begun to drift across the Eden sky forecasting rain.
The 71st Mechanized Cluster had performed superbly in the battle to retake Vesta from the rebels. The once proud city was badly scarred by the war by would be restored to its former glory now that it was in the hands of the Clans.
Half a kilometer to the east a stretch of woods formed a natural barrier to the wind that swept across the Vesta Plains further to the north but they had also provided ample cover for rebel guerillas, several of which had launched sneak raids against the 71st’s supply depots within the city.
Three APC’s, each containing elements of Densen’s Gamma Binary had been ordered to conduct a sweep of the plains. It was more as a show of force than a reliable recon mission, that would be carried out by other commands within the 71st. Gamma Binary was a distraction, something for the rebels to look at and worry over.
Densen’s APC turned towards the tree line and flew along at a brisk pace just a couple of hundred meters from the tall conifers. Without warning several shots rang out from the trees and plinked off the armor of the hover vehicle. Densen was glad of the upper hatch with its armored cowl, protecting any observers, in this case him, from enemy small arms fire.
The APC’s driver swung towards the shots and the two turret moutned machines guns, just forward of Densen’s position, raged their fury back into the trees. The driver brought the APC to a halt as the machine guns fell quiet.
An eerie silence surrounded them as they strained to listen for the sound of rebels in the woods. Densen quietly ordered his men to exit the APC and fan out from the vehicle.
Densen was the first of the APC and as his feet hit the ground the earth shook. He looked down at his boots in surprise for a moment, then turned to face the gargantuan shadow that had fallen over the APC.
A ragged, battle scarred Shadow Hawk stood just meters away after jumping from the trees. It raised its right arm and the muzzle of the medium laser mounted there glowed as it discharged it’s beam of destruction at the APC.
Star Captain Densen dived away from the APC, but could feel his left side burn and blister as the laser struck the vehicle so close to him. He began to crawl away from the vehicle in agony even as two short range missiles streaked in from the gigantic war machine to impact the already stricken carrier.
Densen felt a tremendous explosion shake the ground as the APC went up in a ball of flame. Scalding hot debris began falling all around him. An armor plate fell from the sky towards him and he lifted his arms in vain to ward off the blow. A sharp pain suddenly flared on the left side of his head and his vision swam.
Densen pushed his arms outwards but withdrew them sharply as they contacted hot metal. He dropped his limbs to the ground and lay still. His head swam, his ears rang and he fought to push back the darkness that was threatening to engulf him. It was a fight he could not win and Densen drifted off into unconsciousness.
When he awoke it was night. He could hear the distant sounds of sporadic fighting and he guessed that it was coming from Vesta. Star Captain Densen raised his head and instantly regretted it. His brain screamed at him to remain still and the fires of pain rippled down his entire body. He slumped his head back to the ground.
Then he heard them.
There didn’t sound to be many and they seemed to be rummaging through the remains of the APC. Foot falls drew closer to his concealed position so he closed his eyes and lay very still.
The bent and buckled armor plate that had landed over him and no doubt saved his life was pulled away and then he heard a woman’s voice.
“There’s one over here.” She whispered. Fingers pressed against his neck searching for a pulse. “He’s alive! Bring the litter over.”
The sound of more feet rustling and an object, no doubt the litter, being dropped on the grass beside him. Then rough hands grabbed him and hauled him off the ground and onto a hard plastic surface. He body protested at the treatment and he cried out as the cuts and burns covering him sent rivers of pain flowing through him.
The woman spoke again. “Easy boys. He may be one of them but he’s still hurt. Get him onto the jeep and let’s get out of here.”
The jolting ride sent waves of pain throughout Densen’s body every time they hit a bump. He must have cried out at one point as the woman leaned over him and made soothing noises.
“You’ll be alright. I’ll give you something for the pain but it’ll probably put you to sleep.”
Densen just gave a soft grunt in reply. There was a short sting as a needle was inserted into his arm. Five minutes later he passed out again.
13 April 2821
Star Captain Densen’s eyes jolted open. He was in a building, pre-fab by the look of it. It was dim and the small amount of light creeping through the rooms window hinted at either pre-dawn or just after sunset.
He lifted his head and experienced some throbbing but nothing compared to the pain of previous efforts. Looking around him he surmised that he was in some sort of field hospital. A jug of water and a plastic cup sat on a small bedside table next to his cot. An IV drip descended into a lure in his hand and just below that the metal circlet of a handcuff wrapped around his wrist. He pulled on the handcuff and found it securely fastened to the metal safety bar of his cot.
“It’s good to see you awake.” He remembered the voice from that night on the plains. It was the woman.
“Where am I?” Densen croaked.
“You know I can’t risk telling you that. Why don’t you have some water Captain…?”
“STAR Captain.” Densen emphasized derisively.
“Oh, of course,” the woman continued, “you’re part of those new ‘Clans’. I’m sure Nicholas is very proud of this new military monster he’s created.”
Densen snarled. “Do not speak of the ilKhan in such disrespectful tones. You know nothing of Nicholas, nothing of us.”
“ilKhan now, is it?” The woman’s tome was mocking. “Well, that’s a pretty title. It still just translates to dictator. Enough of this. I’m not here to argue with you. It’s time for your meds.”
The woman walked over to Densen’s bed and pulled a small pill bottle from the pocket of her white coat.
“This one,” she held up a small white pill, “is an anti-biotic. We don’t want your burns getting infected.” Now she held up a larger brown pill. “This one is pain relief.”
She let the pills roll from her hand onto the palm of Densen’s free hand. He slipped them both into his mouth and took a long drink of water.
“Thank you.” He muttered. “What is your name?”
“You can call me Doctor Samuels. And you are?”
“I am Star Captain Densen.”
“Star Captain Densen….?”
“I am just Densen. Only those honored enough to carry a Bloodname may use a surname.”
Doctor Samuels frowned. “I don’t understand. Everyone has a surname.”
Densen relaxed back onto the bed, growing weary. “I do not expect you to understand. It is simply the way of the Clans.”
Doctor Samuels smiled to herself as if amused. “How very mysterious.” she intoned. “You look tired. Get some more rest. I’ll be back later.”
Densen watched her as she turned and headed for the door. She was an attractive woman. Slim of figure and with thick, wavy, long sandy brown hair. In another life he might have married her but he was Clan now and such things were unnecessary.
He turned back to his study of the ceiling and soon his eyes closed once more.
15 April 2821
Densen had been in the rebels hospital for four days now and the tedium of his prolonged bed rest was starting to show. He had grown fond of the visits from Doctor Samuels as they signaled a break in an otherwise boring day.
He had also learned a lot about these rebels. He realised that they were not so different from him, just a little less formal. He had even befriended a couple of the people from the camp. There was a young man, Steven, who always brought his food and one of the guards who stood vigil at his door. The guards name was Michael and he had many questions about these new Clans.
Earlier that morning they had allowed him out of his bed. He was shaky and unstable on his feet but the sense of freedom it gave him was well worth the effort. He had walked, aided by two orderlies and always under guard, out into the sunshine. The feeling of it on his face was beyond description.
All too soon he had been returned to his bed. That was two hours ago and he was waiting for his next visit from Doctor Samuels.
From out in the passage came the sound of running feet as a man in ill-fitting combat dress ran up to the guards at Densen’s door. There was a frantic exchange of whispered words and then the newcomer and the guards all took off towards the exit at a run.
Densen was still manacled to the bed so could not get up to see what was happening. He had resigned himself to waiting when suddenly Doctor Samuels ran into his room.
“We have to get out of here.” She was frantic.
“What is happening?” Densen enquired.
They’re coming.” was the only reply.
“Who?” Densen grabbed Doctor Samuels shoulders as the handcuffs fell free. “Who is coming?”
Doctor Samuels looked into Densen’s face, fear plainly written across hers. “You’re lot.”
Doctor Samuels and Densen ran out of the hospital towards a waiting jeep. She helped Densen into the back where an armed guard sat before jumping into the front passengers seat.
Densen leaned forward, breathing heavily after the short run to the jeep.
“Let me go.” He said. “I can stall them while you get away.”
Doctor Samuels didn’t even pause to consider his offer.
“No. It’s too risky.” As the jeep started speeding away she looked back at Densen. “What happened to your patriotic Clan way?”
“It is still intact. There is no honor in allowing non-combatants to die.”
Samuels smiled. “How very reassuring.” She said not altogether seriously.
As the jeep dove between the trees on a narrow dirt track heavy machine gun fire stitched the ground behind them. Densen followed the pock marks as they overtook the jeep to the left.
“How ironic that, after all this time in captivity, it is quite possible that I will be shot by my own forces.” He commented.
Samuels laughed at that. It was the first sign of a sense of humor that Densen had shown.
More machine gun fire rang out then and the right side of the jeep was riddled with bullet holes. The driver and armed escort sprayed blood and gore as heavy caliber rounds tore their bodies apart. The jeep twisted under the impact and bounced off the side of a tree before flipping onto its side.
Densen and Samuels were thrown clear of the jeep. Densen’s military training kicked in automatically and he rolled to a stop two meters form the overturned vehicle. Samuels was not so lucky. She went down hard on one leg, a bone within snapping audibly. She cried out in pain and lay writhing on the ground.
Densen ran over to her. “You must be quiet.” he said to her. “They will hear you.”
He handed he a chunk of broken wood to bite down on while he quickly searched for something to splint her leg with. In less than a minute he had found suitable items and then began to make a field splint. Samuels cried out in pain a few times but it was muffled by her biting into the wood.
When he had finished Densen looked into her eyes. “Listen to me. I am going to have to carry you. It will hurt but you have to try to remain quiet. If they catch you they will kill you. Do you understand?”
Doctor Samuels nodded. Tears were already flowing down her face but she bit down harder on the wood and prepared for the pain. All the preparation in the worlds wouldn’t have mattered. The pain lanced through her leg like a hot knife and a scream tore its way from her throat. Densen couldn’t think of any other way to silence her so her looked her in the eyes once again.
“I am very sorry.”
She looked at him curiously then her eyes widened as his fist rapidly approached her head. There were stars then her world turned black.
15 April 2821
Doctor Samuels groggily sat up. Her leg ached with a dull throb but, curiously, it was tolerable. They were in a clearing near a stream. It was quite a beautiful spot she thought ludicrously. She looked up to see Densen standing nearby.
“How are you feeling?” He asked.
“Surprisingly well, all things considered.” Samuels replied.
Densen smiled. “Those pain meds you were giving me work well.” He winked at her and held up her med-kit bag. She realized he must have recovered it from the jeep before they left.
She suddenly remembered. “You hit me!”
Densen winced as if she had physically slapped him.
“I am sorry Doctor Samuels but I needed you to be quiet.” His expression was sheepish.
She smiled back at him. “Since you saved my life I can probably forgive you. Where are we?” She looked around at the tranquil setting.
“About three kilometers from the crash site. We lost our pursuers about two kilometers ago but I wanted to get well clear.”
Samuels looked impressed. “You carried me all that way?”
Densen smirked cheekily. “You are not exactly heavy. I think my full combat dress weighs more than you do.”
They both laughed.
Samuels expression turned serious. “Thank you, Densen.”
Densen looked away, not wanting her to see his expression. “Consider us even.”
There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment broken by Samuels.
“What do we do now?”
Densen walked over and sat beside her. “We wait. With the camp destroyed my Clan will move on. When they do we will return to Vesta by whatever means possible.”
Samuels looked alarmed at that. “But you said…”
Densen held a hand up to silence her fears. “I have…..friends in Vesta. With the story I tell them you will come to no harm. You may even receive praise.”
“A bath would suffice.” Doctor Samuels joked.
Densen laughed again. It was a pleasant laugh, one that Samuels was becoming fond of hearing.
Another silence occurred then and once again it was Samuels who broek it.
“Who are you Densen?”
Star Captain Densen stared off into space thinking back. “Once, a long time ago I was Densen Morris.” He looked into Samuels eyes and he noticed for the first time that they were blue. “Now, I don’t know who I am.”
Samuels leaned in to him. “You are the man who saved me, Densen.”
“And just who have I saved?”
“She feigned formality then. “I am Doctor Samuels,” then she lay her head on his shoulder. “But you can call me Eden.”
OMG! It’s a romance novel!!!
As always all constructive comments and critiques welcome.