The Captain emerged quickly from the satellite-camouflaged bunker.
Moving cautiously, he slid under the edge of the suspended cloth-print--quietly
trudging towards the com-post. The painted scrim rippled above him as he passed
under it, shuddering with a chill breeze. Coming off the ridgeline behind him,
the icy wind sliced through camp before sliding down towards the Front below.
He moved on, carefully leaning back under the cover of the trembling paths of
cloth each time the wind gusted. Looking up through the silky screen to the brown
sky beyond, he absently wondered how many electronic eyes were trying in vain to look
back. The fictional mind-control satellites have become a reality, he mused.
But they don't decide our minds, oh no--they decide our enemies'. The sats see us move,
and they are compelled to act upon it.
Far above, in a geo-synchronous orbit above the Flats, an ancient spy-sat was indeed
peering through the chemical broth that the Captain referred to as an atmosphere. As if
acting on the his challenge, it blinked--switching from vis-light to radar to infra-red
in its endless routine. Satisfied at what it saw, the antique device began to speak to
its masters once again.
Oblivious to the activity taking place so many cold miles above him, the Captain
pounded onward. A dull rumble emanated from the direction of the Front--if it could
really be called such a thing. The Captain looked to his right as he shuffled between
the shrapnel-riddled pine trees and down the slush-clogged path, awaiting the fog that
always followed a strike. He was once again not disappointed as a haze of greenish-white
mist rose from the smoking hit line. The cloud of neuro-toxin death wafted into the air,
mixing with the poisons already present above the ruins once known as Boulder, Colorado.
The name was poignantly apt, for now all that was left of the city after almost two years
of constant fighting was rubble. Most of it no bigger than the average boulder, some of
it entombing his friends. As he made the last turn towards the com-post and headed up the
path, he caught a glimpse of destroyed towers through the trees. By the Gods, what have
The two guards at the com-post, vigilant through a constant testing of war's version
of Natural Selection, lowered their dissimilar rifles at him as the Captain approached them.
The wind paused, as if to make up its mind on some mystical subject, just before gusting to
double its previous strength. It whistled past them, blowing tendrils of ever-present cloud
out of the valley and off towards the east. Away from us, and right back towards them. He
grimaced as the wave broke over the artillery positions east of them on Davidson's mesa.
Serves the assholes right for not testing the prevailing winds before a gas attack. Gas.
Who'd have thought that we'd step so low yet again? Well, in all honesty, the Komstellar
Foundation set the stakes pretty high when they started this whole party with a nuclear
bang. What did we expect them to do? Roll over and take it?
He glanced once more at the city-ruins and the mesa beyond, memorizing troop placements in
an instant. We never expected this, he admitted to himself. This is the Civil War, both world
wars, and nuclear proliferation all rolled into one. Mutually Assured Destruction indeed.
He stepped up to the alert guards, cracking a semi-demonic grin to himself at his own little
Cold War joke. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after the original, we started the
"Revolution version 2.0"--what the hell were we thinking?
The Captain nodded to the freezing guards, noting their spray-paint-stenciled names in
tiny silver letters on the front of their stolen outfits. They straightened in their stiff
NBC gear, breaths puffing in the crisp, dry air. Holding their rifles at their left, they
sharply saluted their commander. Beginning with right hand clenched over the heart, then
sweeping down and out 45 degrees off the body before snapping up to the corner of the
right eye as per a standard salute. The Captain grinned, returning the motions slowly,
addressing them by name as he did so. They wearily smiled in return, pulling back the tarp
doorway for him as he entered painfully--it had been a long night. That evening he had buried
a friend in the hard Colorado earth, and today it was time for revenge. He passed the
Komstellar Foundation militia-troops without another word and entered the small
canvas tent to plot it.
"Captain Dorman Sir," his XO stated as he entered, "we've been expecting you."
* * *
The Captain sat comfortably in his semi-padded chair, calmly scanning the satellite
imagery as it came filtering through the series of dishes, encryptors, and routers linking
him back to The Mountain. He paused the data-feed from the line he had been monitoring and
leaned back stiffly in his issue NBC-gear, staring at the blurry IR image on the screen
before him. The watch officer respectfully tapped him on the shoulder, indicating that the
hull integrity was stable. The Captain nodded, removing the bulky helmet and face-gear from
his buzz-cut head. For the first time he could hear the hiss of the bio-chem gas as it
wrapped itself around the Army Mobile HQ. Fools, he thought, You should always measure
the prevailing winds before launching a gas attack. I give them a simple order... His
thoughts were cut short as a National Guard lieutenant stepped through the airlock,
ripping the mask from his face and thankfully gasping at the stale air of the small command
trailer. He looked to the watch officer, who pointed him at the Captain. Approaching,
he saluted as sharply as he could manage in his protective gear.
"Captain Green sir?" he asked. Amateur, I'm left with amateurs.
"Identify yourself soldier."
"Lieutenant Jordan, Wyoming National Guard, SIR!"
"What is it that you want with me Lieutenant?"
"Unit transfer SIR!" he shouted, handing the Captain a sealed document
and waited. Without any comment from his new commanding officer, he continued hesitantly,
"We've been re-stationed under your command to replace... your losses sir." Losses, he calls
them my losses.
The Captain had "lost" his entire command when the revolutionaries blew the Flats.
Only a lucky forced-vacation had saved him personally from the carnage. With his command
gone and his post obliterated into radioactive scrap, he had taken the remaining State
and National Guard units on a personal campaign to stop the revolution cold. But even
now he was taking losses from casualties and desertions--the last six months having seen a
third of his command staff go off to join the rebels. Losses... if this goes on much longer
we'll all be losses.
"Very good Lieutenant," the Captain said, "Report to Sergeant Major Frisch
for supplies and bunking. I expect that we'll put you and your men up at one of the local
"Yes sir, thank you sir," he said as he grimly replaced his helmet and
turned to plod into the airlock. The Captain looked up as the dull thumping of artillery
"The forward fire positions report a renewed offensive on the city sir,"
the watch officer relayed through his headphones, "It seems that the winds have changed."
The Captain sat before his bank of monitors, simultaneously noting the movements of
his new reinforcements and the enhanced IR scan from his satellite network. He grinned
despite himself. It was not a normal smile of cheer, nor even of hopeless desperation,
but the grin of a predator that had found its prey. He signaled the watch officer to
call a senior staff meeting. The Captain stood, heading for the airlock, it was finally
time to plot his revenge.
"You are right Mr. Berardi, the winds have changed."