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The Bull and the Genie
- Chapter 10

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Man Plans. God Laughs[]

It’s a saying that should be put up on every government building in human space, but it’s still a lesson that needs to be learned again and again. Nobody can know for certain if Espinoza or Lady Arano had planned the Templeton Square Massacre. What is known is that the outcome, the thing that saw the Aurigan Confederation plunged into perhaps the greatest crisis of its short lifetime had nothing to do with the plans of Generals and Statesmen… But the fact that one of the security detachment member’s nieces had been among the dead in the square…

From: Chance and Mischance, a hundred cases where fate tossed a banana peel in front of the mighty.
New Avalon Press, 3101

New Situation[]

Coromodir, Aurigan Reach

“Really could use some fighters.” Thomas’ mech took a hit from some light rocket fire, and Mary snapped off a shot blowing the disposable launcher to hell. Not that it made any difference. The rebels were using remote firing systems, and had started withdrawing immediately after hitting the detention center, while Mary and her unit were being impressively useless guarding a power center.

Which they were required to do, in order to protect the Aurigan Confederation. The leadership seemed certain that any minute now, Lady Arano and her forces were going to shift from hitting political detention centers and police stations, to attacking orphanages and hospitals.

“We’ve penetrated the building—“ the ground forces commander told Mary through his link. “Most of the police boogied.”

Of course. “Status of the station?”

“Computers fried, records gone, ditto for the cells. Oh, and they have a printed statement about liberating the unjustly imprisoned.”

And we’ll hear that on the radio tonight.

Mary took a deep breath. We don’t have enough fighters or dropships to try and land on them, when they hit a place, and by the time we can get here… She’d try to yell at their fleet component, again, but nobody wanted to risk losing a dropship to rebels. And there was nothing—nothing on her requests to free up light units. If they could tie up the enemy long enough to bring her forces to bear…

But everyone was fixated on the eternal question of “how can they stand up to our mighty legions.” The general was focusing on it like it was a normal conflict, and it wasn’t. The rebels weren’t pirates, they were raiders and the unit just wasn’t set up for dealing with raiders.

And half the nobles are only with Espinoza because he’s threatening them or bribing them. The moment they thought he was done, they’d jump ship, just like so many of them had sworn allegiance to him before the bodies of the former leaders were cold.

Nobles. Sure, Taurus had them, but you had to do something first, and no Taurian noble had the kind of money these people did. No wonder they were willing to stick with whoever protected their swill trough. Not that Lady Arano is probably much better.

“Right I—“

“Brigadier Cheng?” The voice was unfamiliar.

“This is Cheng.”, she answered

“This is Captain Willis. You’re ordered to return to base immediately. We’re sending a VTOL out to get you.”

“What? I’m in the middle—“

“This is a Delta Green situation.”

Mary shut up. Vital, but cannot be transmitted. Delta Green was for if your comms were compromised or if you couldn’t even risk the chance you could be overheard. “Understood.”

Twenty minutes later, Mary was flying back to the city. The three VTOLS had included a backup pilot for Baby, but nobody was talking to Mary.

But the feeling was… Worry. A lot of worry.

Then they got back to the capitol district and Mary just stared. The building they’d taken over for liaison offices was nearly totally destroyed, fire pouring from its ruins. Mary didn’t even wait until the door was fully open before she was dashing through the crowded streets full of firefighters and troops trying to hold a perimeter.

“Brigadier! Please, we need to get you under cover!” Mary turned as an infantry captain grabbed her and pulled her into a tent. There were comms chattering away, men and women looking impressively useless as they verified that yes, fire burned.

“What happened?” Mary asked.

“There was a meeting between the general, his staff, the diplomatic staff…” The man’s face was pale, sweat gleaming on it. “One of the security detachment brought a bomb. He was able to pass through the cordon.”

“A single bomb didn’t do that.” Mary said.

“We believe he may have seeded some more.”

“How’s the general?”

“Dead, Ma’am.” Mary winced. “The XO?”

“Dead. So is the ambassador.”

“Fine, who do I report to?”

“Ah, Ma’am, I don’t think you understand. You’re the ranking officer, except for the naval contingent.”

“I…” Mary bit her lip, and remembered her training. The worst thing she could do would be to panic, especially now that she realized everyone else was quietly panicking. “Make certain all dropships and other facilities are on lockdown, with our troops, not locals.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Espinoza, was he there?”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Any sign of attacks from the rebels?”

“Nothing, Ma’am.”

Did they think they got Espinoza? An attack like this, losing most of their officers would be the time for an immediate attack, but they would be on a timer…

“Right. I want reports from the current commanders of all subunits on readiness in the next twenty minutes. I also want a briefing on what they were talking about. Find whoever is going to replace the ambassador. I want to talk to them. Right after that, get me a meeting with Espinoza.” Mary took a deep breath. “And I know that it’s a class B and they probably haven’t sacrificed a chicken to it today, but tell them we’ll pay what they want for an emergency message to Taurus.” Not that it can help us. Even presuming they had the ships ready, it’d be weeks before anything serious could be freed up for them. Which also meant… “Also, I am taking command of this unit. Log it please.”

“Yes, Ma’am. What else do we do?”

“Win this war.” Blake, I don’t think we’ve lost an entire staff like this since the Reunification War. What the hell are they going to do on Taurus when this news gets to them?

Not her problem. Mary sat down and starting giving more orders. Her problem was fixing this absolute ******, which was about as big as she could handle.

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