So as part of the back story to my book, I’ve been jotting a lot of ideas down. One of them is a major turning point for the war that was effectively “First Contact” for humanity. Red Mist refers to what happened to the enemies of mankind when fighting the guardsmen. The following is an excerpt from a work in progress and, while it’s feeling and sense of style probably aren’t going to change, the exact wording will. It should be taken with a grain of salt in terms of progress.
“And today, we have one of our best and brightest, Colonel Bradley Lucius, hero of the Red Mist! Please help me in welcoming him!”
The host waited for applause to die away while Lucius walked, slowly and with the assistance of his cane, across the stage to his seat. He’d been offered automated help, but declined.
Lucius sat gracefully in the oversized recliner, but refrained from pushing back into a more comfortable position. He sat up, showing off the untarnished uniform of his prized rank: a repairman jumpsuit, one he’d received days before Red Mist Day, a bomber jacket with a few medals sprinkled about and two sets of rank pins: Corporal and Colonel, denoting his ascension from one rank to the other without intervening ranks.
He himself was a dignified, aging man. Wrinkles coated his angular face, but his body moved where he wanted it, albeit slowly. He stared out into the crowd, smiling slightly and waving softly.
“Colonel, welcome to the Daily. How are you today?”
Lucius was somewhat slow to answer. Taking his time, “Well today. Yourself?”
“Pleased as pudding to have you with us. As you know, today marks the sixtieth year since the turning point in the Omega Conflict.”
“Of course. It was when I earned this.” He pointed at his Colonel’s stripes.
“Yes. I was wondering, along with all our guests, if you’d tell us a little about your involvement.”
“Well… Nothing you wouldn’t see in this history books, but I suppose it’s more interesting if I give you the nitty-gritty, eh?”
“Of course! Anyone can read about it, but you can bring it to life for us.”
“I won’t go that far,” Lucius said. “How about this. I’ll tell you how we got the defensed back on. It’s boring thought. Fair warning.”
“How about it,” Dean looked out on the audience. “Do we want to hear it?”
The reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
“You heard the people.”
“Indeed I did,” Lucius said, picking at his left ear. “Started early December 2119. I’d just joined the Method—the Defense Force—that November and they’d put me to work as a general specialist at the lowest rank. I was already pretty good with electrics, so I was repairing energy weapons and running power all over the city before I knew what I’d signed on for.”
“Brad,” one of the other low-ranked specialists called. “You have a minute? Spec-ops grabbed some laser gun or something this morning and they want us to pick it apart for use.”
Bradley Lucius, barely out of his teens, looked up from his work recharging an early human attempt at a directed energy weapon in astonishment. “We get to pick at something like that? I thought they leave the cool shit to the Generals.”
“Generals are busy. We’re the highest rank that isn’t doing anything useful.”
“Useful my ass. I’ve been fixing these things all day.”
The weapons Lucius had been repairing and charging fired, at best, five shot before melting the barrels and depleting the batteries. There weren’t strong enough metals or powerful enough batteries to make them worthwhile in anything less than mass quantity.
“Well drop it and come over here. We might get something nice out of it.”
Of examination of the captured weapon, it was quickly evident that this so-called laser gun was nothing of the sort. It fired super-compressed bursts of plasma from a fuel cell that attached like a rifle’s magazine. While inoperable, they could pick apart how it worked by comparison only.
It fired projectiles out of a barrel, used something resembling a trigger assembly and seemed to have a stock made for a slightly differently shaped shoulder than a human shoulder. All that aside, it was as alien at the creatures carrying them though the streets.
“What do you make of it,” the younger specialist asked.
“I have no idea,” Lucius said. “It looks like a gun. If the videos are anything to go by, it fires like a gun.”
“But it doesn’t make sense! What the hell is this,” he exclaimed holding up the fuel cell. “What makes it go?”
“Not this again.”
“Because your best reference for that idea is a video game that is was antiquated when its principle event came and went twenty years early.”
“World War Five wasn’t nuclear.”
“I was talking about Three and Four.”
“Bite me. Got a better reason?”
“It’s like arguing with a brick wall.”
“As God is my witness,” the younger tech said, “I am red and held by concrete.”
Lucius turned back to the weapon. “Lets tape it up and see if we can get it firing on our batteries.”
Some hours of tinkering and trying everything from duct tape to cybernetic enhancements, they settled on a relatively basic adaptor to get a current to flow from their batteries to the weapon through it’s fuel cell compartment. The result was a single shot per battery. It wasn’t much, but it made the weapon work using Terran tech to power it.
Lucius took in a deep breath before continuing. His face stretched upwards when he told Dean, “You know what happened next, don’t you? That was a major boon to the tech division’s morale. We figured out alien guns! How strange. You-know-who came down to the catacombs next and all hell broke loose around us. The Supreme Commander said, “Kids, you just made Corporal. You’re in charge of Tech now.” And we were.”