Chapter II: Martyrdom
"The true heroes are the ones who don't come back from the war."
Meanwhile, on the Panzerfaust, Admiral Lawrence Day was talking to the Kaiser. The Kaiser flipped through a thick report from the Admiral, sometimes pretending to read some of the pages. Day saluted, and the Admiral looked at him. "At ease, Admiral. How's the battle?"
The Admiral saluted and began to speak. "Sir, we hade just docked with Xanadu. The Colonials had several small craft left. While our losses were small compared to theirs, their kamikaze attacks destroyed the Charles du Gaulle and Kim Sung-il, while the Hillary Clinton and Richard Cheney III were critically damaged-"
"Spare me the losses, Admiral! Have they found Locke yet?" the Kaiser asked.
The irritated Admiral tried to hide his discontent. "There is sporadic fighting in some parts of the colony, but we believe Locke to be located in the Presidential Palace."
"Excellent!" A sadistic sneer crossed the leader's bloated face. "Ready my personal guard, Admiral! I trust my tools have been sharpened, then?"
The Admiral nodded, and shuddered when he thought how they would be used. He was glad, however, he was not Jon Locke. The Kaiser laughed to himself, and made another demand.
"Tell me, Admiral. We have more than enough room on the slave ships, correct?" the Kaiser sneered. "They'll be very useful for my postwar plan."
The Admiral shuddered while thinking about the concept. The Kaiser was certainly beyond reason, but not beneath it. Certainly he had to realize enslavement was a concept that always failed historically. Especially enslaving any survivors from the colony, which the Admiral thought there would be few of when the Kaiser was through looting.
"Yes, Admiral. Several older support ships have been converted to slave haulers," the Admiral replied. "With all due respect, sir, I believe slavery is a concept best left in history's graveyard. Occupation and martial law should be more than enough to cow any unrest in-"
The Kaiser's face turned beet red as he turned to face his top officer. "Admiral, you have gone from annoying me with needless concerns to borderline sedition: questioning your Kaiser. I believe we have had this talk before?" the Kaiser snarled.
Day could almost feel beads of sweet form on his face. Quickly, he bowed down. "I-I apologize, your Highness," he groveled.
"I'm glad you remember your place," the Kaiser grumbled. "Before I go, Admiral, fetch me Leria. I wish to escape."
The Admiral reached for the drug off a self of several others. The obese Kaiser greedily snatched the drug from Day's hand and started to consume it. He began to think.
This drug addiction is causing the Kaiser to drive our nation into the ground, Day thought. Perhaps one day, I shall see he will not return from his drug trips. But no, not today. Not today.
The Kaiser continued smoking for what seemed like an eternity, and rambled incoherently afterwards. The preparations were made, and the Kaiser and his elite bodyguards went to personally arrest the former President of the Allied Colonies. Day sighed a sigh of relief as the tyrant left the Panzerfaust.
Oh, the things I do for this country, he thought. And all the Kaiser does is drive it into the ground!
The Admiral shifted his mind away from such treacherous thoughts to more mundane matters. The Imperial Solarian fleet had lost several capital ships. The Colonials, lacking any more anti-shipping missiles, had taken to a tried and true tactic: kamikaze runs.
Their assault spheres, originally converted from mass-driver cargo shipping containers, had smashed into the exposed bridges of several Imperial capital ships. In the early part of the war, the Colonials had converted some freighters into mid-sized capitol ships of their own. The Colonials had shown an important innovation the Kaiser had refused to copy: the internal command bridge.
The internal command bridge was just that. Instead of a protruding, vulnerable command post, the Colonials had put their bridge in the center of the ship, and inside. Data was fed onto the bridge by sensors on each side of their vessel, allowing them vision in all directions. It was also much harder to destroy or hit. Instead of a direct hit or kamikaze, armor piercing weapons were required.
While this allowed the Colonial ships a power disproportioned to their size and firepower, the overwhelming Solarian firepower had still won the day. Most Solarian ships were built around two massive rail guns, and were designed to take the recoil from each. Of course, the Colonials had filled many of their makeshift capital ships to launch assault spheres. Sometimes, Solarian ships could be reconfigured to launcher Angler space-planes, but a dedicated carrier was not something the Kaiser would approve of.
He never was one to listen to new ideas, the Admiral mused. Unless it involves sex or drugs.
The Colonials had fought hard. They had even bloodied the nose of the Imperial fleet in their defense of New Seoul, and almost repelled the invasions of Shenzhou and Morgenstern. However, overwhelming firepower and numbers were sufficient for when masterful tactics weren't. Day had privately respected the Colonial Admiral Lu Chien, but he should realize that tactics alone were not enough to break apart humanity. While Day detested the Kaiser's methods many times, humanity required unity. The Solarian Imperium was the best hope of human unity. After all, it was a mean universe out there.
Strange things could still happen. Like the fact that ships on both sides of the conflict had more or less frozen in space for ten whole minutes. That would be worthy of investigation, to say the least. The Admiral doubted the Kaiser would care too much, but the ability to freeze ships' guidance in space was very much worthy of a full Imperial investigation.
By the time the Kaiser arrived in Xanadu, most of the fighting was over. There was still some sporadic resistance in some isolated parts of the colony, but it was obvious the Solarians were now in control of most of the colony. Down the center of blasted and body strewn avenue, the Kaiser and his escort marched in full battle armor. Their goal was the Presidential Palace, where President Jon Locke had recently surrendered. He was under watch by the Solarian elite, so there was no chance of him escaping.
The Kaiser strolled carelessly over the bodies of dead Colonials, and into Locke's office. The President had officially surrendered, was handcuffed and forced to kneel, was flanked on all sides by enemy guards, but still stared at the Kaiser defiantly. The Kaiser locked eyes with the man, and circled him like a predator sizing up a meal. The Kaiser knelt down in front of his prisoner, and began to taunt him.
"So, this is the mighty President Locke?" the Kaiser sneered. "If you bow to me now, I shall ensure you have a swift and painless death."
The President said nothing. Instead, he looked his captor in the eyes, and spit in his face.
The Kaiser's face turned red, and he leaned forward, and bit off part of Locke's lip. As he swallowed the flesh, even the most loyal guards in the room felt a slight chill worm down their spines. The Kaiser then kicked the prisoner in the head, forcing him on his side. "I could kill you now, but that would ruin the effect!" the Kaiser yelled. "Guards, set up the broadcasting equipment! This fool's death shall be broadcast on every television, holovision projector, radio, and any communications device on the Solnet!"
The Kaiser left to retrieve his tools. It would be relaxing to finally execute the bastard.
The man once known as Admiral Lu Chien sat inside windowless steerage onboard the merchant ship Liberty, converted to an evacuation transport. The Liberty had barely escaped the colony as it has been taken. Onboard were several other refugees, saved by the actions of volunteer assault sphere pilots they would never meet.
The Liberty had barely escaped being destroyed itself. An Angler was about to blast it with its missiles when the combat ships locked up for ten minutes. The evacuation transports, however, kept working like normal. Due to the ship's fast engines, it was easy to escape unseen for ten minutes. Most of the colonists on the Liberty were lower level Colonial officials.
At least some of them survived, Lu Chien thought.
Just then, there was a massive metal clank followed by several gunshots. An announcement came over the Liberty's speaking system. "This is your new Captain speaking. This ship, and all the people onboard, are now the property of Kaiser Ulrich!" came a gruff order over the speakers.
It was quite obvious to the Admiral that a Solarian boarding party must've been captured the ship. It was also a bit of a relief. If they wanted to kill the refugees, they simply would have blasted the escape transport and been done with it.
No, they've got something worse in store for us, the former Admiral thought.
"By the mercy of His Highness, your lives have been spared," the new Captain explained. "But you shall now, you are his personal slaves. He has ordered all slaves to be taken to the nearest asteroid mines, where you shall be put to work mining materials for His Majesty."
So it was slavery. He had lost his best friend, his home and property, the war, and now what little of his freedom was left. For a moment, Lu considered simply throwing himself out the nearest airlock, but quickly dispelled it from his head.
I've come to far for that, he reasoned.
The Sol System was a large place. Perhaps someday, he would escape, and rally some sympathizers together. The Allied Colonies were not the only part of the Sol System the Kaiser had difficulty controlling. Mars and Luna, and hell, even some parts of Earth were not friendly to the Kaiser's forces. A regime like Urlich's could not survive forever.
One of the flaws of the first revolt was the Colonials essentially remained on the defense around the Asteroid Belt, rather than rallying resistance groups further in-system. The supply lines from Earth, then to Luna, then to Mars, then to the Solarian fleet should have been very vulnerable, but the Colonies did not have the industrial or technical capacity to strike efficiently that far from friendly space. The Solarian forces were mainly Earthling soldiers on ships made from Lunar minerals and launched from Martian outposts. Chien knew he would have to change it for the next revolt.
Who am I kidding? There's not going to be another revolt, Chien realized.
Just then, the new Captain yelled a new order through the ship's speaker system. "Well, well. Looks like the Kaiser's got a special live show for all of you. We've got a monitor with Solnet-vision on the upper deck. If you'll come on up, we'll show you," the voice said in a surprisingly calm tone.
It was more curiosity that drove Chien and the other passengers in steerage upstairs than a desire to see whatever warped program the Kaiser was planning. Chien strived the blend in with the crowd, since any Solarian guards would probably be looking for Locke's inner circle.
He looked upwards at the monitor. An image of the Kaiser appeared. Behind him, there was burnt out rubble that was once the unmistakable main street of Xanadu. The camera started to pan out, revealing several soldiers forming a rectangle around their Kaiser, a rack of various barbed and sharp objects, and the bound, bloodied form of President Locke.
The camera focused back on the Kaiser as he started to speak. "Let it be known that this pitiful rebellion dies with Jon Locke!" the Kaiser exclaimed as he pulled a long, curved kukri blade off the rack. He removed the President's gag, revealing a bloodied chunk of missing flesh. "Does the 'President' have any last wounds?" he taunted as he looked Locke in the eyes.
Locke stared up at the Kaiser and said nothing. Using the remainder of his energy, Locke spat in the Kaiser's face. "You have just made your death twice as long and twice as painful!" the Kaiser thundered.
Locke simply spat again in reply. The Kaiser raised his blade, and Chien closed his eyes. The last thing he heard before retreated to the hold was Locke's scream. The former Admiral retreated to a seldom-cleaned bathroom in the ship, vomited, and began to cry.
Someone knocked on the door. "Everything alright in there?" he asked. Quickly realizing he would draw attention by sobbing, he tried to lie as best he could. "Everything's fine!"
"Just checking," said the speaker before he left.
The Admiral silenced himself and began to think. He would have to find some way out of captivity. Of course, once he arrived at the mine, he would be able to make a full assessment. Chien fell asleep while sitting on the overflowing toilet. Something told him it would be the last sleep he would get for a long time.