The First Snippet of this book will also be posted today.
Days of Burning, Days of Wrath – What has gone before
Days of Burning, Days of Wrath
Thomas P. Kratman
For: Leo F. Casey, English Teacher Par Excellence, Boston
(My errors are mine, not his.)
What has gone before:
Long ago, long before the appearance of man, there came to Earth the aliens known to us only as the “Noahs.” About them, as a species, nothing is known, least of all what they called themselves. Their existence is surmised by the project they left behind. Somewhat like the biblical Noah, these aliens transported from Earth to another planet samples of virtually every species existing in the time period approximately five hundred thousand to five million years ago. They also appear to have modified the surface of the planet to create a weather pattern and general ecology suitable to the life forms they brought there.
Having transported these species, and having left behind various other, genengineered species, apparently to inhibit the development of intelligent life on the new world, the Noahs disappeared, leaving no other trace beyond a few incomprehensible and inert artifacts, and possibly the rift through which they moved from the Earth to the new world. No other such rift has ever been found, suggesting, though not proving, that the Noahs can create and eliminate them at need.
It was through that rift that, in the year 2037 AD, a robotic interstellar probe, the Cristobal Colon, disappeared en route to Alpha Centauri. Three years later it returned, under automated guidance, through the same rift. The Colon brought with it wonderful news of another Earth-like planet, orbiting another star. (Note, here, that not only is the other star not Alpha Centauri, it’s not so far been proved that it is even in the same galaxy, or universe for that matter, as ours.) Here, finally, was a relatively cheap means to colonize another planet.
The first colonization effort failed to ethnic and religious strife. Thereafter, rather than risk further bloodshed by mixing colonies, the colonization effort would be run by regional supranationals such as NAFTA, the European Union, the Organization of African Unity, MERCOSUR, the Russian Empire and the Chinese Hegemony. Each of these groups were given colonization rights to specific areas on the new world, which was named – with a stunning lack of originality – “Terra Nova” or something in another tongue that meant the same thing. Most groups elected to establish national colonies within their respective mandates, some of them under United Nations’ “guidance.”
With the removal from Earth of substantial numbers of the most difficult and unprogressive people, the power and influence of supranational organizations such as the UN and EU increased dramatically. With the increase of supranational power, often enough expressed in corruption, even more of Earth’s more ethnocentric and traditionalist population volunteered to leave. Still others were deported forcibly. Within not much more than a century and a quarter, and much less in many cases, nations had ceased to have much meaning or importance on Earth. On the other hand, and over about the same time scale, nations had become pre-eminent on Terra Nova. Moreover, because of the way the surface of the new world had been created by the Noah’s and divided by the supranationals, these nations tended to reflect – if only generally – the nations of Old Earth.
Warfare was endemic, beginning with the wars of liberation by many of the weaker colonies to throw off the yoke of Earth’s United Nations.
In this environment Patrick Hennessey was born, grew to manhood, and was a soldier for many years. Some years after leaving service, Hennessey’s wife, Linda, a native of the Republic of Balboa, along with their three children were killed in a massive terrorist attack on Hennessey’s native land, the Federated States of Columbia, said attack having been aided by the United Earth Peace Fleet, or UEPF, in orbit over Terra Nova. The same attack likewise killed Hennessey’s uncle, the head of his extended and rather wealthy family. As his dying testament, Uncle Bob changed his will to leave Hennessey with control over the entire corpus of his estate.
Half mad with grief, Hennessey, living in Balboa, ruthlessly provoked and then mercilessly gunned down six local supporters of the terrorists. One, who survived being gut shot, Hennessey pistol-whipped to death. In retaliation, and with astonishing bad judgment, the terrorist organization, the Salafi Ikhwan, attacked Balboa, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including many children.
With Balboa now enraged, and money from his uncle’s rather impressive estate, Hennessey built a small army within the Republic. For reasons of internal politics, Hennessey assumed his late wife’s maiden name, Carrera. It was as Carrera that he became well known to the world of Terra Nova.
Against some expectations, the Legion del Cid performed quite well as auxiliaries of the Federated States. Equally against expectations, its greatest battle in the campaign was against a Sumeri infantry brigade led by a first-rate officer, Adnan Sada, who not only fought well but stayed within the customs, rules, and laws of war.
Impressed with the Legion’s performance (even while loathing the openly brutal ways it had of enforcing the laws of war), and needing foreign troops badly, the War Department of the Federated States offered Carrera a long-term employment contract. Carrera, in turn, likewise offered to not only hire, but substantially increase, Sada’s military force. Accepting the offer, and loyal to his salt, Sada revealed seven nuclear weapons to Carrera, three of which were functional and the rest restorable. These Carrera quietly had removed, telling no one except a very few, very close subordinates.
Insurgency blossomed across Sumer. In Carrera’s area of responsibility, this insurgency, while bloody, was contained through the help of Sada’s men and Carrera’s ruthlessness. In the rest of the country it grew to nearly unmanageable levels. Eventually, Carrera’s area of responsibility was changed and he was forced to undertake a difficult campaign against a city, Pumbadeta, held by the rebels. He surrounded and starved the city, letting none leave it until he was certain that every dog, cat and rat had been eaten. Only then did he let the women and children out.
After the departure of the noncombatants, Carrera’s Legion continued the blockade until the civilians within the town rebelled against the rebels. Having a rare change of heart, Carrera aided those rebels to liberate their town. Thereafter nearly every insurgent found within Pumbadeta was executed, along with several members of the press sympathetic to the rebels. The few insurgents he – temporarily – spared were sent to a surface ship for rigorous interrogation.
With the war in Sumer winding down, Carrera and his legions were – as it turned out, unwisely – let go. When the Federated states needed them again, Carrera exacted an exorbitant price before agreeing to commit to the war in Pashtia. That price being paid, however, and in gold, he didn’t stint but waged a major – and typically ruthless – campaign to restore the situation, which had deteriorated badly under Tauran Union interference and faint support.
Ultimately, Carrera’s intelligence service got wind of a major meeting taking place across the nearby border with Kashmir between the chief of the United Earth Peace Fleet and the Emir of the terrorists, the Salafi Ikhwan. Carrera attacked killing thousands, captured hundreds, and seizing a dozen more nuclear weapons, intended gifts of the UEPF to their terrorist allies. One he used against the capital of the major terrorist-supporting state of Yithrab. When detonated, this weapon not only killed the entire clan of the chief of the Salafi Ikhwan, but also at least a million citizens of that city. In the process, he framed the Salafis for the detonation. This ended the anti-terrorist war…at least for the nonce.
Among the captures were High Admiral Robinson, of the United Earth Peace Fleet. His position was taken over by Marguerite Wallenstein, who had actually helped Carrera to remove her former chief from the playing board.
The price to Carrera was also heavy; he collapsed, physically, mentally, and emotionally, going into seclusion until persuaded back to active duty by Legate Jimenez and Sergeant Major McNamara. There followed a vicious no holds barred and little quarter given war with the quasi-sovereign drug cartels of Santander, along with an attempted coup d’état, by the treacherous Legate Pigna. In the same coup, the rump of the old, oligarchic Balboan state was reabsorbed into the rest of the country, the oligarchs and their lackeys being driven from the country or killed. The Transitway, however, the canal linking the Shimmering Sea and Mar Furioso, remained in Tauran hands.
An easily winnable war against Balboa on the part of the Tauran Union was precisely what High Admiral Wallenstein wanted, on the not indefensible theory that such a war would serve as a catalyst to turn the Tauran Union into a real country and a great power, which would serve to stymie the other great powers of Terra Nova. That war came to pass, though not by the High Admiral’s doing and not to the result she wanted. Instead of defeating Balboa and changing its regime, the Tauran forces went for high value targets that turned out to be bait for a country-wide ambush. When the smoke had cleared, thousands were dead, and almost twenty thousand Tauran troops were prisoners of the Balboans.
All was not obviously well for Balboa, however. In the course of the battle one of its double handful of stealthy coastal defense submarines managed to sink an aircraft carrier of the Navy of Xing Zhong Guo, New Middle Kingdom. This would have been fine, had the carrier actually been involved in the attack on Balboa. Unfortunately, it was not; it was evacuating Zhong non-combatants from the fighting. No one knew how many thousands of innocents – men, women, and children – burned or drowned in the attack. Interestingly, Carrera didn’t appear to care about rising Zhong anger. One might almost have thought he wanted them to join a continued war.
Whatever he wanted, though, Carrera needed time. He’d been preparing for war for about a decade but, of necessity, many of those preparations were out of sight or not quite complete or both. He bought time for that completion by returning a trickle of TU prisoners.
There had to be a peace conference, of course, and so there was. Carrera and the President of Balboa, Raul Parilla, sent to the peace conference Carrera’s second wife, Lourdes, with a small contingent. It was an unusual peace conference insofar as almost no one present had any particular interest in peace. Still, a false peace prevailed while the conference wore on. In that false peace, all the more desperately clutched for its very fragility, Carrera and his legions completed their final preparations. From all over the world, contingents of troops from allies and well-wishers, large and small, poured in to help defend Balboa. Next door, with the introduction of Tauran troops to defend a neighbor from Carrera, an insurgency sprang up, which insurgency Carrera fed. In the Tauran Union, the very lists of dead and captured were perverted and twisted to undermine the governments. Best of all was the thing Carrera had never anticipated or planned for; he acquired a spy well placed in the highest enemy camp. It was a very nice compliment to a lesser, localized spy.
Conversely, Carrera’s fleet, the classis, first engaged a Zhong submarine flotilla, then sailed under orders, to Santa Josefina, to the east, and voluntarily interned itself. This gave a much-needed shot in the arm to both the morale and the various propaganda ministries of Carrera’s and Balboa’s enemies. Interned, the classis was able to catch up on quite a bit of deferred maintenance.
With Carrera’s naval power thus disposed of, the Zhong made a forced landing against the island fortress dominating the northern terminus of the Balboa Transitway. It was a move as obvious as it was necessary; without the island, the Transitway could not be cleared; without the island, no landing near the capital, Ciudad Balboa, could be supported. Because it was so obvious, the defenses were immense. Between those and a few secrets, the Zhong were unable to do more than seize a part of the island, and that the most easily contained and least useful part. A substantial portion – some claimed a majority – of the Zhong fleet was sunk in the attempt. What remained, with the troops not committed to the island, bounced off but then effected a landing along the essentially undefended coast east of the capital.
Meanwhile, in the city of First Landing, in the Federated States of Columbia, before the World League, Carrera’s wife, Lourdes, has thrown down the gauntlet to the Tauran Union and the United Earth Peace fleet, her speech ending with the words:
“Come on, then, you fat and lazy tyrants. Come on, then, you tools of terror and of a murderous alien whore. Come on you political harlots. Cowards. Filth. Swine. We, the free people of Balboa, are waiting for you, side by side with our faithful and gallant allies and under the just God who stands above us all, but who stands on our side, not yours!”
To support their landing on the mainland, the Zhong, under their excellent – courageous and imaginative, both – admiral, Wanyan Liang, managed to create a limited port capability far from the impossibly dense defenses of the Isla Real, and to force a landing on the mainland, away from the Bahia de Balboa. The Tauran Union, stung by their previous humiliation and Balboan bombardment-by-drone, invaded from the Shimmering Sea side of Balboa, the territory of which was under frequent aerial attack.
With the Shimmering Sea side of Balboa’s Transitway area fallen to the combined forces of the Tauran Union, the country’s second city, Cristobal, was cut off and besieged. Legate Xavier Jimenez’s Fourth Corps defended the city and its environs stoutly, hanging on sometimes by the skin of their teeth.
Meanwhile, barring only a number of deliberate, well-hidden stay-behinds, the scattered forces in the area under Tauran attack headed for the presumed safety of the Parilla Line. Some of them made it; others were killed or captured.
Gallic General Bertrand Janier, already humiliated by the Balboans several times, suspecting that every gain he made was a trap, was almost persuaded by his own staff and the High Admiral of the United Earth Peace Fleet, Marguerite Wallenstein, that this time he really had outwitted his enemy. Still doubting, however, Janier launches a bloody, but necessary, reconnaissance in force against the Parilla line, determining that, after all, it is facing the wrong way, that he really did outwit Carrera, and that, hence, no trap was possible.
Meanwhile, Khalid, Fernandez’s tame Druze, is one of several agents funneling arms and equipment to disgruntled Moslems within the Tauran Union, even while clandestine drone launches vault high explosives into Tauran cities.
In the other local theater of war, Santa Josefina, where a guerrilla war already raged, a second Balboan regiment, made up of Santa Josefinans and masquerading as another local regiment of guerillas, has assaulted the Tuscan populated town of San Jaba, removing its airstrip from play and executing most of the town’s governing body as collaborators with the Tauran occupation and enemies of the people. A similar assault saw the bulk of the United Earth embassy staff likewise stood against a wall and shot. The local fortunes of war wax and wane with whoever has sent or withdrawn reinforcements lately, as well as with which silly injunctions from the Global Court of Justice are in force, and how willing the Tauran military is to ignore them. Still, for Claudio Marciano, the Tauran Commander in Santa Josefina, those fortunes mostly wane until he finds himself in retreat to a corner of the country where he and his small force have a chance to defend themselves.
Esmeralda Miranda, who serves as High Admiral Wallenstein’s aide, her liaison officer to Marciano, and Fernandez’s most prized intelligence asset, after losing a friend to the Santa Josefinan guerillas, began to doubt the morality of her aiding Balboa. Even a clandestine visit by Carrera to try to persuade her was not quite enough to keep that aid – spying – going. Later, Esma discovers that murder in revenge or self-defense isn’t as hard as all that. Where that understanding may lead her even she, herself, doesn’t know.
Under guard, deposed former Earther High Admiral Robinson and the Marchioness of Amnesty, Lucretia Arbeit, languish in durance vile, kept out of the sun, exercised just enough to keep them from going completely to fat, and threatened with crucifixion for any failure to cooperate fully. They’re still not quite sure why they’ve been spared, nor if they’ll continue to be spared if their usefulness ever ends.
Beyond the aerial front, and the Santa Josefinan Front, past the intelligence effort and beyond even the bombardment of the Tauran Union, Carrera has opened up yet another front. Indeed, he has hired a Tauran human rights-oriented law firm and, through them, started a campaign of Lawfare, the waging of war by judicial means. He did this more to demoralize the enemy forces than to gain any advantage over them. As it turned out, though, he achieved both effects, along with the higher and more important effect of delegitimizing lawfare, even as lawfare sought to delegitimize warfare.
A penultimate front remains to be opened; Carrera’s son, Hamilcar, a key player in the operation for which Robinson is earmarked, has been afloat on the converted freighter, the MV ALTA, which has also picked up over a thousand more cadets from the refugee camps in Valdivia. Hamilcar’s target is unannounced, but he knows what it is.
Finally, with the Tauran Union’s forces well emplaced, deep into Balboan national territory, the beginning of the end played out. Starting with a bombardment using approximately three thousand guns, mortars, and rocket launchers, supplemented by enormously powerful fuel-air-explosive mines, Carrera launched his counter-attack. Faced with near nuclear levels of bombardment, and that intense enough to crush moral and even send Tauran soldiers into catatonia or suicide, his infantry divisions lunged forward from the Parilla Line which was, after all, facing in the wrong direction to defend against the Tauran Union, but in a perfect direction to provide sheltered assembly areas for the initial elements of a multi-corps assault.
Though the Tauran
commander, Bertrand Janier, has ordered a surrender, mopping up continues…