Captain Kara Black
When I was promoted up the Vanguard line, it wasn’t something I thought I had wanted. At first I thought the promotion was SolCon’s way of decorating someone who made good PR. The Vanguard had been getting a bad rap what with losing Cpt. Gheried to the conscripts, and how we had handled the riots on Vassal and Feor. That hologram of me taking on the spider mammoth on Ashraf – colonist evac lifts in the background, and me piling rounds of hot fire into a ton of chitin and muscle. Valour, honour, and standing between the darkness and the peoples of the Solar Conglomerate. I guess that image alone was all they needed to kick the recruitment campaign into high gear.
While I recovered from my war wounds, they made a hero out of me. Overnight LT. Kara Black got promoted. I learned about the status upgrade while nanotech was still purging mammoth poison from my body in the tank. Some official from Vanguard High Command dropped into my dreamtime simulation and delivered the news. Newsfeeds into my sim-sleep fed me the details. I was a hero, the hologram splashed across media feeds throughout the core worlds. I was the pin-up recruiting banner for the Vanguard.
I’m not as pretty as the holo though, I suffered some battle damage. The medics had to replace my arm with a prosthetic – the toxins from the spider mammoth had gnawed away any viable nerve endings for a cloned replacement. It started as a scratch really, but the poison those things spit could kill a Chagrin blade-ox. I had been lucky, and stemmed up to the gills on Accel and a dozen other battle stimulants at the time.
By the time I spilled out of tank rehab the cyberlimb wasn’t the only change. My uniform had been changed out for a Captain’s tunic and battledress. Now I have a whole company under my command. Two personal squads, and a cadre of specialists. I'm just getting used to being saluted to all the time. And finally, I just found out we’re shipping to Alabaster.
The up side to this is that I don’t have to do a tour of home worlds and recruiting stations. Awesome.
The down side is the situation on Alabaster.
Some group called the Firebrand have taken over the Alabaster star port, the planetary defense grid, and a handful of lunar mass drivers. Over 80,000 organized conscripts in revolt, paralyzing an entire world. How the hell did they do that? The tech and logistics required to slip the control net for these guys is mind-boggling. Intel is saying outside help.
Some say the Firebrand are the equal of the Vanguard in many respects, they lack training but they make up for it in conviction. It doesn’t help that most of them are equipped with industry grade cybernetics or genetic augmentations. They are formidable in close quarters combat, I'm not sure anyone has tested their logistical and tactical limitations. Well, we're about too.
After two months in the tank I’m itching for a fight.