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Federated Suns Reborn (Chapter Cover)

The Federated Suns Reborn
- Chapter 256

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April 3072
Interlude: Protests turn violent

Firebase Thunderhammer
(Just outside) Opal City
Thorin, Freedom Theater
Lyran Alliance

Senior Corporal Alec Yanakov tried not swear as he gripped the stock of the riot shotgun between his hands. He had been detached to lead a squad of rear echelon troops which were making up the ad hoc "2nd Squad, 4th (Provisional Platoon), 2nd Company, 16th Lyran Regular Infantry Battalion". Which meant he had a squad of number crunchers, paper shufflers and cooks to try and keep from doing anything stupid. Looking back at them he had to try harder not to swear. Their white faces and almost terror stricken eyes spoke volumes about how reliable they would be if anything went wrong. It had taken the whole morning to form up enough troops to follow the Colonels orders. 1st and 3rd Platoon of the 2nd Company made up the bulk of the troops assigned to what was being described as "riot control", but there had only been two squads of 1st Companies 3rd Platoon to make up the numbers. So the rest of the troops had been grabbed from off duty support echelon troopers. Most of whom probably hadn't held a rifle since basic training! They'd all been issued body armor and riot shotguns along with as many non-lethal rounds as could be found in the ammunition depot. Trying to console himself the Corporal went over the plan as it had been explained to him by his sergeant to try and reassure himself that this wasn't going to be a total disaster. In a few seconds the main gates would open and three APCs would lead the way. They would advance into the rioters "camp" and force them back and break up the bulk of them into smaller groups. Following right behind each APC would be a platoon of infantry who would then move in and arrest the ringleaders and force the others to disperse. What would happen if the protestors stood their ground or refused to be arrested or disperse didn't bear thinking about of course, neither did the fact that the infantry had no reserve at all if things went wrong...

Before he could depress himself further the roar of internal combustion engines announced the APCs firing up and the huge gates of the Firebase began to open. As soon as they did the chanting from the protestors grew in volume as they responded to the emerging APCs. Snapping his visor down the Corporal growled more with fear than anger at his odds and ends. "That's it. We're moving. Come on."

Falling in behind the left APC with the rest of the 4th (Provisional) Platoon, 2nd squad hefted their shotguns and began to double time to keep up with the advancing APC. While Yanakov couldn't see in front of the APC that he was following a quick glance to the right showed that the crowd was surging back from the center and right APCs, instinctively recoiling from the armored bulk advancing on them. Just like the plan said they would. The handful who were standing their ground were either being pulled back by their friends or shifting almost without thinking into the gaps between the APCs...

Just as he saw that a handful of youths wearing AFFS green tunics who had shifted into the gap between the APC he was following and the one in the middle began throwing rotting vegetables and fruit at the 4th (Provisional) Platoon. Most of the stinking refuse splattered across the body armor of the troopers - disgusting but hardly a threat. However a rotten tomato splattered across Lieutenant Vassali's faceplate. Reacting in fury the young not-quite officer pointed vaguely in the direction of the jeering youths. "Arrest whoever threw that! Arrest all of them!1st and 2nd Squad! NOW!"

Turning quickly and barking to his squad Yanakov ordered them to follow him as he rushed towards the youths who's more sensible members were now looking particularly worried at the sight of two squads of troopers carrying shotguns charging towards them. A handful however, braver or stupider than the others, surged forward to meet the troopers carrying whatever placards or clubs they had improvised. Yanakov took a glancing blow to his shoulder guard from a home made sign professing loyalty to Prince Victor and then doubled up the rioter with a shotgun butt to the stomach before stepping over him and crunching the same butt into the side of a rioter grappling with one off his troopers. For a few seconds the issue was in doubt but the body armor of the troopers and lack of any combat skills on the part of the youths was soon telling and the small skirmish was beginning to swing in the favor of the LAAF troops when more of the crowd, seeing their fellows attacked charged to help. Nearly three dozen more protestors charged in and joined the youths. Hammering into the flank of the advancing troops they swiftly smashed half of 1st squad to the ground and turned the tide back in favor of the protestors.

Trying to step back and praying that the Lieutenant was watching and sending the other squads to help Yanakov glanced left and riot to see how many of his own 2nd Squad were still on their feet. Which let him see Private Van Ryan (who in his day job was responsible for baking the unit's bread) level his shotgun in panic and fire point blank at the face of a youth with a bloody scalp and a broken bit of wood that the scraps of his pro-FedSuns banner still hung too who was taking a swing for his chest with his makeshift club. The shotgun was loaded with non-lethal rubber rounds but at point blank range that didn't really matter. The youth's face exploded in blood as he was flipped backwards screaming and clawing at where his left eye used to be. For a second there was almost an unnatural stillness in the air and then roars of fury and outrage erupted from the protestors... Almost instantly drowned out by the sounds of the rest of the embattled troopers firing their own shotguns into the infuriated crowd.

Stumbling back from the fray the Senior Corporal looked around and could see that it wasn't just his own troopers who were now firing. Shotgun blasts were echoing from all around the embattled APC he had been following and from the central APC's force as well. Most of the crowd were now running, panicking at the sounds of gunfire but more than a few who were still fighting and trying to resist. A few had even picked up riot shotguns from fallen troopers and were firing back! Watching in horror he saw one of the rioters fire the shotgun he had seized at Major Prestonfield where he was standing on top of the central APC, sending him falling backwards off the armored vehicle. With his body armor it was unlikely he had been hurt, but the operation's CO being dropped made matters worse as the firing intensified and the APCs began surging forward again into the fleeing crowds, while behind them a full lance of Assault and Heavy Battlemechs began to come through the door to support the infantry...

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