Planet Earth was a barren irradiated rock. The delicate ecosystems of
life which had developed over millions of years on its surface,
completely destroyed by the great nuclear holocaust that had occured centuries before. In current times, only
the Federation military inhabited Earth's steaming wastelands, for
mankind had long since fled to Mars and the rest of the solar system.
The planet's ozone layer was completely disintegrated, allowing ultra
violet rays to fry any life on the surface which dared to spawn. In
places, volcano's errupted angrily, bleeding rivers of hot magma which
burned glowing scars accross the landscape. Hail fell like bricks from
the dark swirling cloud cover, bludgeoning anything on the ground with
mercilles wrath. The furious barren seas lashed the swamped shorelines
relentlessly, agitated by the countless underwater earthquakes and
volcanic tremors. Hurricanes manifested without warning
and tore accross the land with vengefull force, bringing with them acid
rain that bubbled and steamed into the dead ground. In the skys, the
blanketing turbulant cloud masses flashed and crackled threateningly,
releasing enormous bolts of electricity that sometimes struck
concentrations of volatile elements trapped in the landform, creating
great billowing fireballs of toxic gas. To experience a ray of sunshine on
Earth was very rare, and breathing without proper equipment on the
planet was fatal. Moving about on the surface without protective attire
was extremely dangerous, as caustic pollutants harmfull to the flesh
were present in abundance.
Although the barren Earth was useless to the Federation, its periodical
orbital proximity to Mars and powerfull ancient defence system made its occupation a strategic necessity. For
this reason, the Federation established two
military bases on the planet, each packed with the mightiest of their
Hactrooper divisions. The southern base and the great northern base
formed the backbone of the Federation's limited prescence on the
planet. From these two military bases, many scientific research
establishments branched out accross the barren wastelands, searching
for a way to revive them on a planetary scale.
In addition to the Hactrooper prescence, Earth was also protected by
an ingenius self sustaining energy barrier which surrounded it. The
invisible barrier was present in the planet's lower ionosphere, and
denied any matter or force unauthorised passage beyond it. The
remarkable aspect of the energy barrier was that its generator was over
a thousand years old, the legacy of a great computer which had
designed it for unknown reasons during the dark years of the post
holocaust. Mars' own protective planetary shield was modelled off the
basis of this prototype mechanism, which still functioned to almost one
hundred percent potency.
Earth's energy barrier machine was comprised of a massive electrode
tower and subterrain generator complex, built in the northern
hemisphere. It fed off the eternal trapped geothermic energy in the core
of the planet, which constantly provided more then enough operating
power. The Federation's great northern base was built around the
mammoth technological creation, found abandoned and inactive
centuries earlier by their United Nations ancestors. The shield projector
even by current standards was powerfull, strong enough to
repell any conceivable bombardment. It was unfortunate that there was nothing left on the planet to protect.
The Federation troops on
the surface were more of a safety net, in case something went wrong.
The grey Federation air carrier roared low over the barren wasteland, its two wing mounted turbofan engines
dragging swirling vortexs of acid rain behind it. The craft's delta wings flexed and shook as the dark clouds
above it flashed angrily and rumbled with deafening thunder. Beneath the craft, the waterlogged landscape
was a hostile sculpture of black cavitated volcanic rock, forming long rolling
troughs and deep eccentric hollows. Grey boulders and mud covered
centuries ago by crawling molten lava, extruded in places through the
crumbling igneous blanket.
The bleak scenery whisked by the carrier as it closed on the dropsight. Knowing the dropsight was not
far off, the seven Hactroopers in its cargohold sat stiffly, like wound up toys ready to be released into action.
Their enormous sizes
made them look terrifying in their iscosamite combat armour. Each
armour suit's ash coloured segments mimicked the contours of the
bulging muscles beneath them, creating an impressive yet daunting
effect. The low brimmed helmets provided excellent panoramic vision
through their thin sight bands, set above the bulky grilled snouts.
Accross the forehead and left chest plate on each of the Troopers was
stamped their name in white letters. Beneath the plated outer suits of combat armour, the Troopers wore a
second insulative suit. This inner atmosphere suit was woven from a
tough damage resistant fabric and held a bubble of pressurised air
around the wearer. It was completely independant of the outer armour
suit and could be worn without it. The suit controlled the wearers
environment and breathing supply, allowing movement through areas
devoid of any sustainable atmosphere, including space. Its back
mounted regulator unit housed mini oxygen tanks, purifiers and kinetic
oscillators, which utilised the physical movements of the wearer to
maintain a power source.
The atmosphere suit's design was ingenious in that it automatically
replenished its oxygen tanks whenever possible and/or necessary. If an environment containing oxygen was
available, the regulator's air
processor would filter the oxygen out and pump it into the storage
tanks for later use. A small gauge in the helmet's internal display
updated the wearer on remaining oxygen supply and the charge rate of
the onboard tanks. The charge rate read positive if the suit could filter
and store more oxygen then the Trooper required to breath, thus
expanding its supply. Alternatively, it read negative if the wearer used
more then it could filter, effectively reducing the oxygen supply.
Negative charge rates occured in excessively dirty atmospheres, under
water or places with no oxygen present. Otherwise, the high volume
purification filters usually kept the supply rate in the positive yield.
An intricate capillary system was also embedded in the atmosphere
suit, laced with high tech reciprocator pumps and valves. The capillary
network absorbed the sweat and waste of the wearer, processing it into redigestable fresh water and
vitamins. Its produce supplemented the main onboard cartridge of concentrated sustanance, allowing the
Trooper to remain unaided in the field for weeks if necessary.
Unwanted waste in the form of dried powdery feacies, was expelled
through small expulsion valves on the heels of the combat boots during
The concept of eating ones own feacies, processed or not was quite
disturbing to most. Luckily, the method of consumption was not as
crude as oral ingestion. A complex medical-anyliser system in the suit
regulator monitored the bodies vital statistics through inbuilt suit
sensors. Depending on the readings gained, nutrients and water were
administered in specified volumes to the subject intravenously. The
auto locating, extending and retracting intravenous needle was
positioned in the suits left forearm assembly. A second auto locating
needle mechanism was positioned in the wearers groin area, to access
the main femoral artery. However, unlike the left forearms intravenous
needle mechanism, it was used solely for medicinal purposes. It
provided a means for the Hactrooper to auto inject the powerfull
onboard drugs also carried, when suit removal or proper treatment was not possible. Yet another important
aspect of the atmosphere suits design was its thick porous inner padding layer. The padding helped circulate
the suits internal atmosphere, absorb sweat and prevent the heavy outer armour suit from chafing the skin.
When combined, the two suits were a well refined life support mechanism, developed for universal combat in
any treacherous environment.
The striking female red headed pilot pulled the aircarrier back into a
decellerating squat as she engaged the noisy vertical thrust turbines.
Powerfull streams of thrashed wet atmosphere sprayed downward
from the four thrust ducts as the plump carrier slowed to a lazy hover.
"Attention Charlie two, drop point has been achieved. " She stated
through the shortwave comlink, notifying the Troopers in her cargo
hold that it was time for them to alight. She pressed a button on her
complex flight console which opened the two long rectangular hatches
on each side of the carriers fuselage, beneath the triangular wings.
Wind swept rain in through the upward scrolling hatches as the
Hactroopers prepared to disembark. One of them which was
approximately two metres tall, suddenly rose to his feet. The name
stamped on his helmet and chestplate was 'Bruiser', and the markings
on his shoulders indicated that he was a Major. "You heard her,
set your weapons to full auto half intensity and que for dispersal, now!." He bellowed as his squad of Troopers
hustled to assume their
positions. The Major fixed a dubious eye on the suit of armour that was stamped with the name Damage. At
two point one and a half metres tall with a burly physique to match, Max Damage was enormous. The forging
pits of the heavy gravity
planet Jupiter had swollen almost every muscle in his entire body. The
years of hammer wielding as a Striker had conditioned him into a
powerfull man. Yet despite all this, he was not the biggest in the squad. "Damage, that experimental helmet of
yours functioning?. " Max Damage dipped his helmet, indicating a nod. Just before the mission had commenced,
Max had been chosen by the technological advancement team to test an experimental device which they had
fitted to his helmet. The technicians had developed an inhelmet computer entity, hooked into all the
Hactrooper's existing suit hardware with the ability to control it. The tiny computer was programmed as a field
advisory unit, stocked with a vast database and powerfull tactical logic circuits. Its operational parameters
included advising on miscellanious problems and monitoring mission progress. It could brief the
Hactrooper on practically anything, simply by drawing from its
extensive database of detailed information. The possibilities of the helmet device if testing proved successfull
were enormous, with Hactrooper fitments only the beginning.
Grappling the rocking carriers roofmounted rungs for support, Max trudged over to the carrier's windy access
hatch, falling in behind his squad mates. It was time to drop down to the surface below. In addition to their
environmental/armour suits, each of the seven
Hactroopers also carried an assortment of standard field equipment.
These items included a landing backpack, which was simply a compact unidirectional thruster pack mounted
high on their backs. It was designed for rocketing up and down excessive drops or descending from airborn
transports, so rope or parachutes were not necessary. Although it was strictly a unidirectional vertical thruster
pack, minor directional ability could be achieved by utilising body contortions to alter weight distribution.
The Hactroopers' helmets possesed inbuilt multiband frequency
communicators. Although a range of frequencies were available, only
two channels were mostly used during operations. The first known as
shortwave was a special low intensity band which mimicked actual
range audibility between the Troopers. If one Trooper was far away
from another, he would have to yell to be heard as the communicators
distance calculator would restrict the volume, by considering frequency
strengh. Shortwave was used to prevent detection by the enemy as its
output gain was extremely weak, only receivable within a few metres
radius. It also prevented massive garbled conversations when a large
troop gathered in a base or similar area, where hundreds could occupy
the same generic communication band simultaneously. Alternatively,
the opposite longwave band made no volume modifications or output
restrictions. It was a conventional maximum range two way open
communicator. Using this frequency mode, the troops could
communicate over vast distances, when conducting searches or
unusual manouvres. A range of other bands were also available, but these were restricted, and only utilised in
The helmet's sight bands were the apex of enginuity. The sight glass
was cast from a thick and very tough resonite which had a layer of
transparent micro liquid crystals spread accross its inner facade. The
liquid crystal film acted as a tiny monitor, constantly displaying subject
attributes like 'oxygen reserve' around the sights inner border. The
monitor could also display direct input provided by the helmet's
miniature widelenze camera, built into the lower centre of the sight at the bridge of the wearers nose. The
camera's powerfull lenzes could be easily reconfigured to magnify images from either great distances or very
close up. If darkness or smoke restricted normal vision, the monitor acting in conjunction with the camera could
automatically enhance it with phantom outlining. The most interesting application the liquid crystal sight was
renouned for was its reality recreation mode. An interface jack which was attatched to an extendable wire
spool was positioned on the left side of the helmet, under the armoured brim. With it, one could interface an
audio visual data feed source easily. Once hard wired into the input;
schematics, pictures, video communications or visual data of any kind
could be scrolled up in front of the Hactroopers eyes. The hardware
could also recreate reality, by employing the helmet's sight monitor and
audios in conjunction with an artificial reality orchestration computer.
Virtual reality was the best method of briefing troops before a mission,
allowing them to appear at an objective to examine it for themselves. It
also served as a valuable recreation tool, used to reduce stress on
lengthy remote postings. An inbuilt data base in each of the helmets recorded all visual and audio input, to be
stored for later analysis. The
accumulated information was periodically fed into the Federation's
main data base for operations, to be reviewed at the discretion of
The noisy air carrier stabilized approximately twenty metres off the
ground, its vertical thrust turbines lashing acid rain against the mud
and rocks below. Inside, the Hactroopers formed two lines of three
along its opened hatches, waiting silently for the Major's order to jump.
They each stared out at the drenched flashing wasteland as the carrier
bucked erratically, upset by the current turbulant thunder storm and howling winds. Sulphuric acid rain blew
harmlessly over their well adapted armour suits and equipment, forming glistening beads that released faint
"Move out, move out, move out!. " Barked Major Bruiser as he strode
down the centre of the two parrallel lines. As he passed each opposing
pair of Troopers, he slapped them hard on the back humps prompting them to jump. With a bounding step,
each pair leapt out of the carrier whilst pressing their landing backpack buttons. As they began to freefall, two
fist sized thrusters locked out into position just beyond their shoulders on telescopic rails. They errupted
immediately, belching sheets of intense blue flame downward to effectively impede descent to a safe speed.
The ageing weapons that all but one of the Troopers carried were bulky Spitfire assault rifles, first comissioned
over fifteen years ago. Their short round stocky barrells protruded from a bloated firing mechanism that was
handled by two large grips. The shapely grip at
the rear of the weapon cradled the trigger provision whilst the other,
approximately two thirds down its lengh, provided the energy magazine
an insertion point. The second rectangular Blaster barrel and its pump
action energizing collar was not fitted to the squads weapons. Usually
the detatchable electro-explosive mechanisms were mounted beneath
the main barrel, but had been removed due to the mission's restriction of no explosives. The unfoldable
shoulder stocks built into
the weapons were rarely used and remained folded back over in the
stowed position. Accross the tops of the rifles, a sleek targeting scope
with an adjustable eyepiece was mounted. A sturdy segmented power
cord hung from the centre grips magazine provision, twisting round to
join with a back mounted energy bank. The disc shaped bank which
curled in on itself like a snail's shell, was mounted on the troopers lower back beneath the landing backpack
hump. Using cyclotronic double vortex magneto-void principles, it was capable of storing vast amounts of
weapon discharge for lenghy missions. The energy banks were standard issue for Hactroopers participating in
Max Damage leapt out of the carrier once the Major struck him on the back. He held his weapon upward with
his right arm and with his left, pressed the landingbacks pressure sensitive firing button beneath his
beltbuckle. His backpacks landing thrusters shot out of their recess's just beyond either of his shoulders and
blew powerfull flames downward, impeding his freefall. As he descended, he used his diminishing elevation to
quickly examine the hike ahead. The inhospitable terrain formed
by ancient volcanic deposits was irregular and treacherous. Jagged
extrusions rose like monoliths out of piles of crumbling slag and muddy
black sand. Deep chasms and long eccentric hollows riddled the
dimpled flats of rock, catching the corrosive drizzle in steaming pools of acid. The wet landscape glistened,
reflecting the bright blue
flashes of lightning above. Further northward where the squad was headed, larger more predominant boulders
of a different composition crowded the higher ground. At the base of the many rock formations grew patchy
matts of bluey green toxic moss.
About Max in the air were his fellow squad members, also descending. Once each of the Hacs landed on the
surface beneath the carrier, they immediately consolidated the drop point by forming a large defensive circle of
defence. Max watched his spiked boots get closer to the ground untill he knew that the landing backpack was
no longer necessary then bent his knees to prepare himself for the ensuing drop and released the backpack
button. He clutched his weapon tightly with both hands as his thrusters silenced and rapidly sprang back into
their protective recess's. He fell an approximate body lengh to Earth, landing with a splash on a soft sooty
puddle choked with mossy scum. He crouched and brought up his weapon, eyeing the sector ahead of him
suspiciously. Through the corner of his eye, he spotted Bruce Skallen land heavily and overbalance, stumbling
to the left whilst swearing loudly through the helmet comlinks. His spitefull curses were audible even over the
roaring turbines above as he corrected himself and stood solidly between two fissures of rock.
Bruce Skallen was one of the largest Hactroopers that had ever
existed. Many times he had been accused of being a hybrid, but
extensive genetic tests and the existance of his facial hair proved that
he was not. He stood a full two point two metres tall and weighed
approximately two hundred and thirty kilograms unladen. His body was
an enormous rounded hulk of armour and weapon. Beneath the
crammed helmet was a bald head with cold blue eyes. A flowing red
beard framed the mans mouth which contained a set of broken and
misshapen teeth. The Trooper was a simple minded war hungry lunatic who held great loyalty for those he
respected. He was the only Trooper in the squad without a Spitfire assault rifle, instead carrying a
man mounted anti aircraft cannon. He swung the weapon's huge barrel
left to right on its swivel arm, securing the sector ahead of him. The cannon was one of the largest weapons
ever built for footsoldier use. Essentially, the weapon was relatively simple in design. Unlike the Spitfire energy
projectile rifle, it utilised shell projectiles which was technology literally thousands of years old. The ammo it
fired was an impressive two hundred millimetre long shell projectile, otherwise known as an M1100 bullet.
The massive weapon was suspended by the Hacs right side on a flexible pressure sensitive servo arm that
held its weight. The servo arm in turn was attached to the weapon's backpack
ammunition supply, which effectively transferred all weight to the
shoulders. The thick black ventilated barrel stretched one point two
metres in front of the trooper and a third of that behind him. The rear of the weapon ended in a bulky firing
mechanism, capable of accommodating the abnormally large ammunition. A large handle extended upward near
the rear of the weapon and mushroomed out, providing the user with a reversed control grip. The inverse
handle contained the weapons main trigger, ammo counter display and a control mechanism to set the weapon
to semi or fully automatic discharge. A second handle extruded from the weapons left side in front of the
operator, providing an
excellent grip to control the long barrel. A hefty ammunition rail twisted
round from the rear of the weapon to the backpack ammo supply,
clipped against the servo arm.
The weapon was designed during a time when rocket pack
warefare dominated landbattle. The deadly backpack swoop
troops as they were known, had became extinct by the invention of the mammoth piece. It had simply
overmatched their armour and
weaponry, which was limited by load weight. Coupled with an interface scope on its barrel and the Hactrooper
helmet sight, it was highly accurate at extreme range. It was a formidable weapon, but in reality was large,
unforgivingly heavy and cumbersome.
Nobody short of a Hactrooper could fire or even carry it for long periods of time.
The Hactrooper squad having all landed successfully, stood
ready in the drizzling rain awaiting Major Bruiser's arrival. Automatic
sight squeegee units prevented the wet from obscuring their vision,
extending and retracting from their overhanging forehead castings
quickly. "This landform don't look natural!. " Croaked Frank Bricker
over the noise of the aircarrier above. The shortest member of the squad was most distinguishable by his
grinding voice and tattoos which
covered the majority of his bare skin. Even his shaved head was
marked extensively. His comment was
absorbed by the others silently as the Major stepped out of the
aircarrier and descended into the eye of the defensive circle. He landed skillfully and then looked up at the
aircarrier above. He reached up under his helmet's mandible accessing the recessed controls there. He altered
helmet's frequency band to longwave with the push of a button and
yelled up at the carrier, although he didn't have to yell. "Charlie two to
carrier, deployment complete, commencing mission. "
"Affirmative Charlie two, returning to base, carrier out. " Crackled back
over Bruiser's comlink shortly afterward. At that the aircarrier slowly
moved off untill clear of the squads position and then fired up its main
forward thrust turbines, accelerating off with a screaming howl.
Max watched the carrier climb as the Major switched back to
shortwave. He could just make out the carrier's side hatches closing as the shrinking vessel disappeared into the dark flashing clouds. With its departure, the true weather conditions could be properly distinguished. There was a strong wind whipping the squad with corrosive rain. Rumbling thunder drummed the air again and again as lightning flashed and pulsated accross the cloudy dark sky.
"Bloody rain, again;. " Scowled Dan Svenson, the punk. Svenson was
generally an obnocious, irritating fool. His most predominant feature
was the one that earned him his nick name, a streak of bristly red hair
running down the lengh of his pale blad head.
"Acid rain. " Corrected Joan Jackson, the squads only female member.
Her supplementary duty was as the squads field medic. Joan Jackson
was a tough short haired female who rarely spoke. She was not an attractive woman in the eyes of most, her solid build and her plain face was rounded and hard.
As Max waited for the order to start northward, he gesticulated over
the mission details the squad had been briefed on. A small surface research outstation not far from this site
had reported attacks on its expeditions by large insectoid creatures, which they had named Gladiator beetles.
strange life forms were apparently wildly mutated, possibly the product
of toxic adaptation or genetic tampering. During the dark years,
humans were not the only subjects the millitary genetic scientists of the old order had attempted to artificially
evolve. It was the squad's objective to traverse
approximately ten kilometres of terrain during which time they where to
locate and terminate as many Gladiator beetles as possible. Of
course, sending a Hactrooper foot squad to erradicate an infestation of mutant beetles was neither the most
efficient nor affective way of
completing the task. A combat drone or even a single controlled missile strike could do it quickly, efficiently and
with much less risk. These types of field missions were used as training, to help Troopers perfect deploying and
combat technique under real situations.
Major Bruiser looked round at his troops and then the northward haul.
"Right you pack of losers, lateral formation twenty pace spread. Call
contact first and then open fire, move out. " He barked, driving
enthusiasm into his squad. The troops panned out into a line with
twenty pace spreads between them and moved off. Garry Strainer, the
last of the seven Hactroopers was on the left wing of the deployment.
He was a tall orange haired thinman, renowned for the fact that his
body was devoid of any tattoos whatsoever. This was impressive,
considering what division of the Federation military he had chosen to
serve under. To his right twenty paces away was his opposite, the
human tattoo Frank Bricker. Beside Bricker was the giant Bruce
Skallen who in turn was beside the Major. To the Major's right was
Joan Jackson the female medic followed by Dan Svenson the punk.
Max Damage was positioned on the right wing as usual. He always
preferred a lot of room in formation.
As the troops marched forward, they leapt accross creased wet rock
faces and stamped through deep muddy puddles. Max carried his
Spitfire loosely, ready to cut anything down ahead of him that moved.
He also used it as a balance weight as he stepped from rock to rock,
picking the high ground so he would not have to trudge through the
deposits of sticky black mud. Major Bruiser, the bald headed
commander, did not push his troops too hard but kept up a respectable pace. There was a fair hike
ahead and he did not want to wear them out prematurely with a strong start.
© Copyright 2016 Joe Sabre. All rights reserved.
Book / Science Fiction
Short Story / Religion and Spirituality
Poem / Romance
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