2607 A.D. 1. Aliens
“FORWARD, MEN!! YOU ARE SOLDIERS OF MOTHER RUSSIA!! EVEN ON THIS PLANET, WE FIGHT FOR THE KREMLIN ON EARTH!!” General Vladimir Nevsky screamed into the satellite uplink from the capital ship, the VVS Katarina Velikaya, in orbit around the planet Eve, the first…and only, habitable planet found by humankind. Ever since overpopulation on Earth caused the human population to crash in 2304, groups of enormous, wormhole-traversable “Space Arks” were built by the most powerful, wealthiest nations to carry people in search of new planets to colonize. Eve, the first such planet, was almost identical to Earth, with gorgeous, pristine forests, deep, blue seas and snowy mountains, all now absent on Earth, the dying planet had begun to recover; as industrial production rates had rebuilt the Earth’s greatest nations to their pre-crash levels; therefore the Arks had found a new place for humans to occupy. The only issue, however, was that…it was already occupied by another, very powerful society. The Meshika Empire, as it was known, was a glorious, but very warlike society with a very valiant history, it consisted of 10 different species, and some of their cities were far grander than any on Earth, with architecture so brilliantly designed that even Frank Lloyd Wright would be dumbstruck. There was one city that had, as its centerpiece, a massive building on an island in the center of a huge lake, filled with massive, elaborate floating gardens, far more beautiful than anything seen on Earth in living memory. The building was nearly a kilometer high with massive, Niagara-sized waterfalls falling from it; the building looked like a pyramid of wine glasses. The main city was surrounding the lake, and was always cloaked in mist. When humans first laid eyes on these structures nearly 20 years prior, they were absolutely dumbstruck; as were the Meshikas when they saw the enormous Space Ark arrive over their planet. It quickly occurred to the Meshikas that humans had not come in peace, however. After a harsh debate between Meshika priests and politicians about the intentions of the newcomers, who had simply appeared out of nowhere without warning, the humans made their move. The first human soldiers to land on the planet did so about a month later; they were U.S. Marines, carrying their state of the art M-XX assault rifles and other, strange, foreign firearms, at least from the Meshikas’ point of view. However, the native population was by no means defenseless. They had a capital in the North, but cities and trading outposts on the periphery of the main trade routes, as well as a huge army. The weapons they used were quite primitive compared to those used by humans, but they had serious biological advantages over the human race. The Evolii, a 9-foot tall owl-like species, were truly terrifying; they were able to turn invisible at will; their feathers refracted light in such a way that sunlight reflected off of them, turning them completely invisible; making them superb assassins and grenadiers with a type of incendiary mixture that burned so hot that it incinerated entire platoons with just 1 grenade. Most of the other species were also stronger, faster, tougher or more numerous than humans, so it was an even fight on the ground. All of Nevsky’s men realized this as they moved through the dense taiga of the Northern Lands of Eve; the Russian colonists had set up a base of operations called “New Novgorod,” controlled directly by the Russian President on Earth and administered by his Presidium Council. The idea was not to create an entirely new nation, but as a projection of Russian power into space, a colony, by definition. However, New Novgorod had been a huge target for raids of Meshikas, with occasional mounted platoons of Vook, as they called themselves, Knights. “They walk like men, but hunt like spooks, Oh, please go away, you silly Vooks…” was a common rhyme amongst the growing human population, which couldn’t expand outwards until the “alien menace” was crushed. The platoon from the Russian warship was reporting back to New Novgorod about their progress, so far, they had been having a very tough slog, between the knee-deep snow, the huge, 200-ton Orel tanks getting fouled up in the thick forest even with plows attached, and having been engaged by Meshika forces in what seemed to be every few steps was depleting their ammunition. They would soon have to turn back, or risk getting caught in sub-zero temperatures for the 8th night in a row-with no ammo. In that platoon was Pvt. First Class Oleg Molotov, a young man of only 20 years old, he had come to Eve looking for adventure, and so far, he had gotten what he came for, perhaps too much. He was now genuinely exhausted and food supplies were running low, but his CO was an absolute, gung-ho military man that demanded the 38-man platoon and 3 tanks to keep marching through snow that was only getting deeper and deeper as the platoon advanced further into enemy territory. However, Molotov could feel it in his bones. Something was very wrong, as all the birds had stopped singing-a bad sign. “Rifles up! We’re…AGHHHHHHHH!!!” the soldier said as a bizarre, armored flying mantis-like creature landed on his head, ripping it clean off with its serrated front legs. Blood stained the snow red. The clattering of assault rifles and the screeching of multiple Kataphractoi soldiers, the airborne insect infantry used by the Meshika, shattered the eerie silence of the snowy mountains. Oleg’s aim was amazing; he had made the top 10 sharpshooters at the Academy in St. Petersburg on Earth, and he was quickly and cleanly taking down these “Buzzers,” as they were known by the human forces, his fiancée back at home on Earth, where he’d be returning to in the next few weeks, would be proud. There was another perk to Oleg, as well. He was a prince. Literally, not by blood, but by marriage. His mother was the Czarina, and had only allowed him to serve in the Eve divisions at his father, Peter III’s, insistence, those alien monsters were absolutely murderous, as Oleg’s platoon was learning firsthand in the desolate snowy mountains of Eve. As the Kataphractoi “buzzers” continued to come in wave after wave, Oleg was looked on by envious eyes. One of his squad mates, a diabolically clever young man named Lex Kulakov, was firing his AK-779-H, a descendent of the centuries-old AK-47 design, wildly at the insect-like aliens, he was neither a good marksman nor popular with women, but the one thing Lex did have was supreme intelligence. He was always scheming and planning; the other soldiers in the squad called him “Cranium,” and his squad tactics were some of the best in the entire garrison stationed in New Novgorod. However, this plan was the most diabolical, clever and downright underhanded ploy ever concocted in his head. He would wait until the platoon linked up with the rest of the tank brigade at Field Station Bravo, another settlement that was having trouble getting off the ground because of constant Vook Knight Raids. Then, the plot would take hold…
“Well, here we are; get comfortable comrades, comfortable being used very loosely.” The CO was right. The barracks at Station Bravo were old, musty, often frozen and brutally cold, as the internal heater was constantly breaking down; even though it was the beginning of the 27th century, it felt like a Siberian GULAG camp in the 1930’s and 40’s. Quite often, soldiers stationed here slept in their combat fatigues and coats, it was just that cold. In addition, you had the alien knights to worry about, so the soldiers slept on eggshells, they never knew when the motion trackers would sound the proximity alarm; the huge, full-body armored, blade-carrying, dinosaur-like Vook soldiers were faster, tougher, and stronger than humans by far, and their mounts, gigantic reptilian animals called “blade-lizards;” the size of a tyrannosaurus rex, were no joke. It was a far cry from what Prince Oleg was used to on Earth, that’s for sure. Just then, when no one was looking, Lex approached Oleg. “So, Prince Oleg, how do you enjoy Eve so far? A bit more than you bargained for?” he taunted. “Can’t complain, I signed up for this in the first place, and this is where they put me.” “Yes, the Eve divisions are a lot unto themselves…” Suddenly, Oleg noticed a slight change in Lex’s voice, his Russian accent cracked. Sensing that something wasn’t right, Oleg had his hands on his rifle. Lex noticed this, and quickly broke his façade, pulling a combat knife. Oleg, however, was faster; quicker than Lex could even blink, he put two rounds into “Lex’s” gut. Hearing the gunshots, the CO ran over and saw the unfolding assassination attempt. “He was a German spy!” Oleg yelled, holding up a telltale Deutsch Raumkorps badge.” The spy was still alive, and Oleg wasted no time in interrogating the bleeding, slowly dying German. “Where did you get this uniform!!?” Oleg yelled. “Off of a dead Russian soldier…” the German sputtered. “Who sent you here?!!” “The…” That was all the Russians managed to get out of the spy before he succumbed to his wounds, the cold and blood loss taking its toll. “We know nothing…Great.” Oleg groaned, his breath forming a large cloud of mist in the frosty air. It was starting to snow, so the campfires and the mess halls would soon open for business. The CO had decided that it was best to be evacuated in the morning, the scouting mission that New Novgorod had sent Oleg’s platoon on had come up empty of new resources. The only things that they found were a swarm of Buzzers and a German spy; which brought even more disturbing news; the resurgent German Reich, the only power in Europe with an Army even close to as large as Russia’s, had been building colonies on Eve as well as on Earth; the political map of Earth in 2607 looked almost identical to the map in 1900, with huge Empires dominating the globe, and now, on other planets. The collapse of the Old Order, prior to the population crash, also meant the collapse of global democracy; save the United States, most of the other Great Powers reverted back to monarchies, Empires, and Fascist states, out of a need to maintain order at first, but had reached an Imperial peak at the start of the 27th century, a carbon-copy of the start of the 20th. Despite Russia’s status as “The Colossus of the North” on Earth and its colonial holdings on Eve, Germany, under the Fourth Reich, was in most ways superior to Russia in terms of technology and industry; the double European threat of the neo-British Empire and the resurgent Germany, who, at the moment, wasn’t as aggressive as Hitler’s Germany was, had far greater holdings on Eve and had colonized far more favorable areas of the planet than the Northern Horn Mountain Range, where New Novgorod sat. The fact that Germany was embedding spies in Russian Army platoons and trying to assassinate the Crown Prince of the Russian Empire was extraordinarily bold…, and dangerous. The Germans not only had the world’s second largest Navy on Earth, but their starship inventory was also the largest, though neck and neck with Britain and the U.S. Space warships were enormous, armed with conventional missiles, Gauss guns, rail guns and nuclear missiles, the ship design varied from country to country, but each vessel was designed to project a nation’s power into space, on Eve and into the unexplored. The VVS Katarina Velikaya was a medium-sized cruiser, not a huge ship like a heavy cruiser or carrier, but armed with huge missile pods and Gauss cannons, as well as nuclear weapons nonetheless. As Oleg knew quite well, Germany and Russia were never exactly good neighbors, both historically and contemporarily. The German Emperor, named Otto Rommel, descendant of the legendary Desert Fox of WWII fame, had prided himself on building the nation with the highest standard of living on Earth; the Principality of Lichtenstein, one of the territories held by the Reich, had a $300,000 per capita income rate, however, beneath that polished exterior, Germany was, and always had been, a nation built on blood and iron. Following the Crash of 2303, Germany reverted back to something similar to the medieval Holy Roman Empire, until the re-unification of the German provinces and the ascension of the Rommel dynasty in 2546. “The German Reich may die, but its ideals burn brightly regardless.” This was the calling card of the Rommel Dynasty, which, over the centuries, had waited quietly, in the back of people’s minds; therefore it was never thought possible to Germans that their nation would ever be ruled by an Empire again. Times had changed. Oleg and his squad wrapped the body of the dead German spy in a blanket and buried it in the snow. “Damn Huns…” Oleg cursed. It was getting dark, and it was beginning to snow, it was getting heavier by the second. Blizzards were very common in the Northern Horn Mountains, and the variable winds that ripped the night skies often plunged the range into howling blizzards and wind chills that averaged -50 degrees Centigrade with 100-mph winds, it was not a good idea to remain out in the open. The soldiers went back into their freezing-cold barracks, and put fires into the “heat crates,” these were portable, mini-fireplaces that were placed at the foot of the bed, generating heat on par with an electric space heater in a normal house. With the combined warmth of 30 or so of these in the barracks, it was at least moderately warm in the barracks. Prince Oleg decided to sleep in his uniform, as it basically acted as a sleeping bag. He lay down on the springy, old and uncomfortable barracks bed, and fell asleep, he was exhausted from slogging through the snow. Hopefully, the Vook Knights wouldn’t show up.
The sun rose early, too early, as Eve rotated on its axis a faster pace, and a day was only 15 hours long. However, Oleg had a strange, almost bizarre hangover-like feeling. He wasn’t drunk, but he felt as if he should remember something. He always had this feeling after he experienced a certain dream, one that he had been having for more than 15 years, since his 5th birthday. It was a dream about a little girl and a little boy in a sandbox, building a huge “monument.” Neither the girl’s nor the boy’s faces were clear, and there was never any dialogue in the dream, just an old song called “I Promise You.” in the background. The dream always left him with a drunken feeling in the morning; any other person would have investigated this at a medical inquiry, but Oleg always paid no attention to it. He knew that every dream had some meaning to an individual’s psyche, as brainwave scans and nanobots had proven this, but he didn’t care. Dreams were dreams; whatever this meant probably had no bearing on practicality and his life as the future Czar of Russia. He shook the “dream hangover” off and stood up, out of his bed. His 3 month tour of duty on Eve was over in about 8 hours, as his company was being relieved by a fresh batch of troops from St. Petersburg’s Neva Spaceport. He awoke well before reveille, as he always did. Since infantry weren’t allowed to be out of their barracks until reveille was called, Oleg sat down on his bed and tried to visualize his past three months; the “adventure” that he had been seeking since his departure from St. Petersburg was not all it was cracked up to be. It was no more entertaining than a routine deer hunt in the forests of Russia near Murmansk. Sure, he did shoot a few aliens, but nothing spectacular like the Russian recruitment posters showed. However, the one thing that he missed the most was the St. Petersburg nightlife, being a Crown Prince had its perks with the ladies, to say the least. There were several girls that would be waiting for him, one of which, his main “it” girl was Alexandra Betulova, a gorgeous, St. Petersburg socialite that was wealthier than the next 10 business tycoons, she lived in a huge house on the banks of the Neva River, far enough away from the center city so that noise wasn’t an issue, but with a brilliant view of the river. Alexandra was 6 feet tall, had a very pretty face, beautiful blue eyes, long, wavy blonde hair and a perfect figure, she often wore a very pretty black dress. As Oleg thought about this, the trumpet sounded reveille, and everyone slogged out of their beds and threw on their uniforms. “Up early as usual…” one of Oleg’s squad mates groaned as they walked out of the barracks, as Oleg had slept in his uniform.