I knew it was coming, all males were conscripted at the age of eighteen. Only this year there were not as many males so they had lowered the age. In our system men were conscripted into the military for five years. If they survived the men received grants for a family and land. Only they not only conscripted me they took my only sister.
She committed suicide after she was gang raped by the cadets that were to train her. Training for conscriptees was mostly just teaching us how to point and shoot weapons that were old and normally surplus. I was lucky because I already knew how to shoot and was a natural. Four weeks and a regiment was crowded into a transport for the trip to War.
That was a planet many races, systems and governments used to train or settle disputes. Empires, kingdoms, federations, republics as well as other types of governments had made laws and rules for everyone that came here. All bombs not exploded had to be removed when the armies or fighting parties left.
Any and all mines had to be removed or exploded. Anything brought in had to be taken away. There were other laws and rules too. The officers were arrogant and thought they knew everything. The non commissioned officers were different, they were cruel and brutal sadists. My system government came here to wager on how we did each day and not over all.
With poor training and weapons we had little chance. The starport city of Assembly was neutral territory and any fighting was looked at closely with fines and expulsion from the planet. The area around the port city had thousands of buildings. They were made to house or support different types of military.
We did not stay there long before we were sent north and across the continent. A race of insectoids needed opponents and paid to fight us. Our first encounter came three days later while our company was leading. The first platoon was engulfed by the huge insects that seemed to just come out of the ground.
Unlike our weapons that fired five millimeter plasma rounds, they were using a weapon that fired a sonic lance. One squad dropped before we reacted and began shooting. I knelt and aimed and fired and that was when we found out about spider mines. They were a third of a meter across with ten legs like the insectoids.
They moved in a straight line until they reached a tree and they would move around it. If they reached a person they would leap up and implode. The fighting was intense and the enemy spread out to engage us. Men panicked as the officers yelled commands no one understood and the sergeants hit and kicked soldiers to get us moving.
When it was over the insectoids had pulled back. The sergeants went to any man wounded and gave them grace as they called it. I searched the fallen and dead insectoids and picked up a wand like weapon which was their sonic lance. I also took a couple of dozen charges that went into the butt of the wand.
We pulled back and the sergeants began putting us in a perimeter. That was when I saw the spider mine moving through the forest towards us, "Sergeant!"
He cursed as he started walking towards me, "damn script, what now!"
I looked at him as the spider reached the perimeter and leaped. It imploded and the entire upper half of the sergeant vanished. I looked around and shrugged, "there is a spider mine."
A few of the other soldiers looked at me and one started laughing. They grinned and started telling the others what had happened. Soon others were letting spider mines through or calling for a sergeant and ignoring the mines until they killed an officer or sergeant. Each day we had encounters with the insectoids and more of us died.
We got little sleep and slop to eat with water that gave us diarrhea. The officers always made sure we stopped in the mid afternoon. All the officers and most of the sergeants would go into a huge tent for dinner. The conscripts had the privilege to serve them like we were nothing more than a slave.
One week and the whole thing came to a head. We had found out if we used a radio for more than five seconds the insectoids would send spider mines or fire mortars. I was on the perimeter dreaming of real food while the officers and sergeants ate. I looked up at the sound of incoming mortar rounds, "someone is going to die."
The men around me nodded and then there was the impact. It was a couple of hundred meters behind the lines and I frowned before more incoming mortar rounds began to land. I looked at the other men, "I think that is where the officer mess is."
They grinned and I stood before looking for the sergeant. I stayed low and moved back until I could see the regiment officer and sergeant mess tent. It was shredded and a private was moving through it giving the officers and sergeants grace. I turned at a yell and ran towards my position as the insectoids began to attack.
They had never attacked during the dinner hour. I dropped into the shallow hole that was my position and began aiming and firing. It was not long before men started to run out of ammo. The insectoids were inside our perimeter when I ran out and pulled the sonic lance. I could not aim it as well as the insectoids but at close range I did not need to.
I went through several charges before I had an idea. I moved out of my position and started moving forward of our lines. I thought that if they were like other insects they would be controlled by a leader. I was right, a kilometer in front of our position I killed several soldiers acting like sentries.
I moved to look towards their vehicles and saw four insectoids with long colorful antennae. Another richly decorated one was behind them and I started aiming and firing. Once they were killed the insectoid soldiers began wandering around aimlessly. I moved out into the open and crossed to the richly decorated one.
I looked at his sonic lance, it was covered in gems so I took it as well as a fancy knife. I got fresh charges for the lance from the others before heading back. What I found was devastation, almost everyone was dead. There were only a handful of us left alive with insectoid soldiers wondering around.
One of the others said they sent a message back but did not get an answer. I went to look at the officers and sergeants and they were shredded. I had been hoping one would be alive to get us out. I found their equipment where the entrance of the tent had been. I took the regiment commander's weapon, a large twelve millimeter plasma pistol.
I took half the weapon harness of another officer and his pistol, a slim ten millimeter. It was a few hours before large drone carriers arrived and began collecting equipment. The insectoids straightened and marched away as if nothing had happened. That was when we found out the nobles had abandoned us.
That was also when we found out about our rights. Because we had been abandoned we could claim anything from our government. I jumped on that and pointed to the regiment commander's mobile quarters, "I claim that."
That began my new life, by the time we returned to the port the nobles had packed and left. I parked the mobile quarters in a quiet part of the port and started looking for work. I was surprised at the number of jobs and jumped on one. It was as a cargo loader using a giant bio loader that unloaded or loaded cargo from cargo ships or freighters.
The only schedule I had to follow was the one from the port cargo master. We were paid by them and they were paid by the government that needed the cargo loaded or unloaded. I stepped forward and the huge machine copied me as I reached for the huge crate. I caught the sides and lifted as I stepped back and turned.
I took the dozen steps to set the crate down on the grav tram that would take the crates out of the port. That was the last of the cargo for this ship and I straightened before entering commands into the loader. I undid the bio feed back net on my head and the straps on my arms and legs.
When I was finally free I climbed out the open back and paused to hit the enter key. The loader turned and walked to the yellow painted lines before it began the long walk back to the maintenance shed. I turned as a dozen officers that had cut under the ship almost ran into me. One reached out to shove me and my hand moved in a reaction.
I caught his hand and bent it as I turned and twisted it. He screamed and went down and the officers reached for the weapons on their hips and I yelled, "security!"
Six port guard drones flew towards me as the officers realized I was not alone. I pointed to them, "these men are trespassing and one attacked me."
The first drone to reach me turned and shifted and I had to step back as it slid between us. A holograph appeared over it of the area and played back the area surveillance quickly before it shut off, "you are guilty of trespassing and assault of a port worker. You are fined one thousand credits and a level two notice is placed on your governments admittance permit."
They stirred and one spoke, "we appeal."
The one I had put down stood, "that ... peasant laid hands on me."
The drone hummed as I smiled and waited, this was not the first time I had witnessed this. Another holograph appeared, this time of an alien in robes, "cause for appeal?"
The officers looked at each other and the one I had put down straightened, "this peasant laid hands on an officer of..."
The alien stirred, "appeal denied. You are guilty of trespass and assault of a port worker. You are not authorized to be in this area. The assault took place while you were breaking the law. You will leave the area immediately."
The holograph vanished and the drone hummed, "move along."
.... There is more of this story ...