The missile imploded against the shields but this time there was the scream of torn metal as the front of the armored command vehicle was ripped off. We were left exposed to heavy fire and a hive round followed. The dozen men at the stations died as I tackled the commander behind an armored console.
I screamed as both legs were crushed but twisted and yanked open the bottom escape hatch. I pulled the commander’s suit around as it shifted and shoved him through. My legs from the thighs down were nothing but paste. I shoved myself up into a sitting position and activated the medical response beacon.
The suit was injecting drugs as I grabbed a rifle on the floor and pointed it out the open front. Not that I could even see the enemy from this far away. Rounds were still tearing everything up around the command vehicle. I finally dropped the rifle and moved to the commander’s console. I had to pull myself up to flip switches and then hit a button.
Several things happened, one was the second hive round that exploded in front of the vehicle. Ten thousand rounds lanced out and several found me. I lost my left arm at the elbow, the right at the shoulder, my jaw and left ear as well as my right eye. Several also struck the body of my armor but only managed to break all my ribs.
The other thing to happen was the FLD (final line of defense) sats rotated and fired a thousand kinetic missiles. Moments before they struck the warheads broke apart and streaked away in a hundred directions. The area in front of our lines vanished in a plasma storm fifty kilometers wide and five hundred long.
What was left of my suit continued to send out the medical response request. It had dumped all the suit pain meds into me and sealed the arms and legs. I was out and it took awhile for a fleet medic to reach me. He shoved what was left of me into a stasis bag and sent it back. The enemy was shattered but everything was still in chaos.
We had thousands wounded or dead. When my stasis bag got to triage they shook their heads and moved me to a stasis tube. It was two weeks before the senior doctor looked at me. He determined that most of my body would either have to be regenerated or grown and surgically grafted.
It would take at least five years to recover. Instead he decided to do something experimental. He took my DNA and had it checked and engineered before he had a clone grown. I was in stasis the whole time and almost two years later my mind, thoughts and memories were transferred.
I woke in a bed in a white room with no one there. I lifted the sheet to look at my body and blinked. It was like I was sixteen all over again and I looked around the room. I tried the call button and a nurse walked in. The beginning of my trouble started that day. Because they had moved my mind and memories to this body the other died.
When that happened I was declared dead. Worse, the fleet and marines did not recognize clones or engineered bodies as being able to serve. Before I know what was happening I was on a ship headed to a system with no identity or retirement or connection to my old body. I did managed to get a fleet enlisted master chief to send my belongings.
They were all in a patient storage locker. For the week long trip I exercised and planned what I was going to do. I contacted a solicitor to file a suit and then added my name to the planet merc list. They did not care if the name was legal or not. I left the port with a float holding everything I owned.
First I checked in with the solicitor and then checked the merc hiring hall. I was surprised I had a offer and used the last of my credits to get there. The merc commander needed people to hunt down wanted men way out in the bush. He ignored my biological age and hired me and sent me to his senior sergeant.
Most of my things went into a large storage room in a barracks until I was passed. I kept a twelve millimeter pistol and a short Norman assault rifle that fired ten millimeters rounds. I also kept a few changes of utility uniforms and underclothes. We stayed in the large barracks while the commander recruited and I used the range to fire the pistol and rifle.
When I returned and walked through the main doors it was to see the storage door open. I looked in and saw another man going through my things. He already had several things he had taken out beside him. I set the rifle aside and walked in and up behind him. I grabbed his hair and yanked and he yelled as he was thrown down.
I moved back as he came to his feet with a knife out. He growled as he moved in and lunged. I turned and shifted as I caught the wrist and snapped it back. I kicked across and into his other knee and he screamed as it broke and he went down. I kicked the dropped knife away and bent to grab his hair again.
I pulled and dragged him out and into the bunk room while he kept yelling. I looked around and grabbed a climbing rope and tossed it over a beam. I tied the end to his feet and pulled him up and wedged a chair in a door to anchor it. I walked around him as he tried to beg and plead and snapped a kick up and around into his side.
For fifteen minutes I walked around him and hit and kicked. I was doing more than giving him bruises. The senior sergeant arrived and caught my shoulder, “what the hell are you doing!”
I looked at the sobbing man still hanging upside down, “I caught this bastard in the storage room stealing from me.”
His lips tightened and he shook his head, “let him down.”
I turned, “if he stays I will kill him.”
Several of the other men growled and agreed and the senior sergeant shook his head, “cut him down.”
I did and then yanked him around as I searched him and took the few things he had put into his pockets. I left him on the floor and went back to the storage room and began to put everything back. I came out to a medic working on the man and the commander watching. He glanced at me and frowned, “I should dock you.”
I walked straight to him and looked him in the face, “the bastard is a thief which means he can not be trusted. Do you really want to go after wanted men with him at your back? How do you know he has not already told those we are hunting that you are coming?”
He blinked and looked at the man and then at the men standing in the hall. He turned, “get that piece of shit out of my building.”
Three days and we had moved and were on a long range transport. We had packs and grav shrouds and were ready to kill anything that got in the way. The company was more like a large platoon with the commander leading and only the senior sergeant as an NCO. By the time we loaded all the other men were calling me sergeant major.
I moved to the door when the amber light came on. I checked myself and my pack and nodded to the commander. It was a minute before the door slid open and the transport slowed. I put my hand on the commander’s shoulder and felt the man behind me copy me. I watched the light and when it went green I pushed and followed.
I leaped and spread out as I activated the grav shroud and turned to follow the commander. The others lined up behind us with the senior sergeant at the rear. The commander turned and dropped between trees and I followed and moved a little to one side. When I landed beside him I moved out of the way quickly so the next man could land.
I rolled up the shroud while searching the thick forest as I shoved it into my pack. I checked my rifle and moved out and took a knee. A few minutes and the commander was moving with a point man leading the way. I fell into my spot a few spaces back and watched the left side. The wanted men we were after had kidnaped a very rich man and even gotten the ransom.
They had not let their captive go so either he was still being held or dead. We continued to move as it got dark. I slipped on my pair of thermal glasses and kept going. We took a few breaks for water and finally three hours before the sun rose we reached our rally point. We set up a perimeter and I left with three others to scout the objective.
The enemy were in a clearing with a few buildings in the center and a dozen tents to one side. I slipped in and checked each building before silently looking in the tents. I slipped out and waited for the scouts before we returned. After the commander heard our report the company moved forward and spread out as we entered the clearing.
I moved to one of the buildings with another man and waited for the signal. The sound of the whistle was loud and I kicked the door open and stepped in with my rifle up. The other man moved right and the four men in the building froze as they jerked up. I moved closer and gestured one out and the other man yanked him into a wall and tied his wrists behind his back.
One after another we secured the men and I relaxed and glanced at a metal lockbox. One of the men had been sleeping with it and I glanced at him, “what is in the box?”
He ignored me and I pulled my knife and spun him and yanked his shorts down. He yelled as he tried to pull away, “I do not know!”
I followed and he hit the wall, “what do you think is in it?”
He looked back and forth and almost whimpered, “the ransom for the imperial.”
I nodded and shoved the men together and towards the door. I moved and grabbed the box and followed them out. We pushed them to the group of other prisoners and I looked at the man being helped out of a building. Not one shot had been fired and we had all the wanted men and the kidnaped man which was a bonus.
The rule was anything else was ours to keep and I hung onto the lockbox. The sun was up and the commander was calling in our transport. Men were looking at weapons they had found or traded for. I looked at the lockbox and used a micro laser on four of the corners. I dumped the contents and looked at the pads of credits and everyone stopped and looked at me.
The senior sergeant cleared his throat, “that goes to the company.”
I snorted, “it was not in the briefing or seizure list so it is loot.”
I picked up a pad and thumbed through it before looking up. I ignored the red faced senior sergeant, “Allen?”
He cleared his throat, “yeah?”
I tossed the pad and he snatched it out of the air. I picked up another, “Nolen?”
He grinned, “here.”
I tossed it and the other men shifted and moved closer. One by one I called the names and tossed the credit pads. I slipped two into my shirt and looked at the senior sergeant, “senior sergeant?”
He grinned, “here.”
I tossed two pads and looked at the commander as I picked up the last four and held them out, “the rest are yours.”
He grinned and then chuckled, “thanks sergeant major.”
I nodded and stood, “how long before we get a ride home?”
He checked the time, “an hour.”
One of the men cleared his throat as I headed toward the building I had entered. Inside I looked around the room and then began to search and toss things towards the door. I found the loose earth five minutes later and brushed it away to see a trap door. I shifted as I pulled my pistol, “I have a trap door!”
That brought half the men and they pointed weapons as I yanked the trap door up. I stared down at crates and a large chest and finally dropped down and opened a crate. I looked up, “these are new assault rifles.”
When I opened the chest I stared at stack after stack of full and partial small denomination credit pads. I handed everything out and we spent the rest of the time waiting and splitting the credits. Each man took one of the new rifles and finally we yanked the prisoners up. The transport dropped into the clearing and landed and we loaded up.
A doctor and a medical team were waiting when we landed and took the ransom victim away. The authorities had an entire company waiting to take custody of our prisoners and gave the commander a receipt. Two hours and everyone was gone, probably to spend every credit they had made.
I checked with my solicitor and he was still fighting the red tape to get my name back and my military benefits. After that I went to deposit the credits into an account under my name but without my real ident record. I came back and found the commander with a teenage girl. He grinned and pushed her towards me, “she is from Cremia.”
I looked from the girl to him and he headed for the door, “she sold herself at a sex auction.”
I looked at the girl and she shifted. I sighed and touched my chest, “I am Edward.”
She looked at me, “Andrea.”
I unlocked my room and led her in, “let me guess. You were living on the street and this gave you a chance to live and eat.”
She followed me into the room and I looked back as the door was closed. She smiled as she looked around the empty and barren room, “and to have lots of sex.”
I blinked as I looked at her and she grinned, “so far only the auction master and the trainer have fucked me.”
I chuckled and began to strip, “I think I can help with that.”
She was quick to take her clothes off and move to the bed. I followed and reached out to turn her and knelt while pushing her legs open. She sat up as I leaned down, “what...”
I captured her clit and sucked and began to wiggle my tongue. She fell back and lifted her hips, “ooohhhh!”
I continued to lick her pussy and nibble and sucked and worked on her clit. Several minutes and she was shaking and bucking as she moaned. I finally turned her on the bed and moved up and over her. I pushed into her tight pussy and buried my cock and she groaned and put her arms around me.