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Coup De Main - Chapter One

classifications: Science-Fiction / Space Opera / Heroic / Action

I decided to re-post this chapter by chapter. I really want you guys to be rough. I know this thing has holes everywhere, but give advice to fix them.

I want to know what you think, yes, but also what's wrong, and what's right.

More like this / More by this author

Looking down from the rocky cliff onto the compound 150 meters below, Commander Myth Ran'dyr grimaced. The compound was a low-lying, hexagonal structure, obviously heavily armored, with obelisks on each corner of the hexagon. It had square depression in the exact middle, from which extended another, much larger, obelisk with a faceted sphere on its point.

"Sir, this place seems pretty heavily defended," he said into his communicator. "It looks like they have some Sonic Disruptors, and I think that ball-like protrusion on the top of the Obelisk is an Ion-Pulse Shield. I think we might have to call for some heavier firepower, Sir."

"I don't know..." Admiral Mykincha said, "are you absolutely sure about the IPS?"

"No, Sir," Ran'dyr admitted, "I have not seen it in action yet. The amount of power it's drawing, however, seems to point in that direction. If it is an IPS, sir, we will never get through with the small assault units we have."

"Didn't you say that they had Sonic Disruptors?" retorted the Admiral, "Those are useless against Infantry. Unless they have something more suited to smaller units we should have no problem, Commander."

"Yes, sir." Ran'dyr sighed angrily. Why did the brass always have to be so obstinate, he asked himself. Sighing again, he shook his head and crawled backwards through the undergrowth into the small clearing that he had come from.

Once safely behind the wall of trees and bushes, he stood up and took a closer look at the area, noting the similarities between the flora of Skeff and Terra. The primary plant was a tree similar to the Blue Spruce, except that the needles were a deep navy blue, and that its trunk was about 2 meters in diameter.

He looked up, trying to see the tops of the trees, but failed. Considering, he said to himself, that the average height of the trees was a kilometer, it wasn't surprising. The undergrowth was made up primarily of dark green anemone-like bushes about a meter high, with some shrubbery that could easily fit in back home scattered around. Instead of grass, there were little rubbery creepers lacing the ground, with masses of soft, 4 to 5 centimeter spikes growing from them.

He especially liked the ground cover, because combined with the low gravity it was nearly impossible to hear anything moving around on it. Sitting down with his back against a tree, he began to wait the arrival of the rest of his party.


Meanwhile, high in orbit above Skeff on the Dreadnaught Argonaut, orders are being given to start the assault.

"I want 5 Centuries of Shock Troopers put into three rings around the compound, with one Nova for every five Troopers" ordered Admiral Mykincha; "Put the 6 Shrikes out on a 2 klick perimeter, with 10 Meson Cannon. 15 minutes before invasion, I want the Meson Cannon to start a bombardment, with the meson packets set for maximum disruption. 10 minutes later, I want the Shrikes to lift off and do a brief bombing run, during the middle of which I wan the assault forces to storm the compound. Is all that clear? Good. Now get to work."

Exactly 1 hour later, the battle was over. The Meson Cannon had started the bombardment right on schedule, and the attack began. The packets were misty green blobs of energy, and looked very like a living water balloon arcing through the atmosphere, leaving a bright yellow trail.

As they reached about 100 meters above the compound, suddenly a sizzling bolt of aquamarine electricity spat straight up from the center Obelisk as smaller bolts arced off the outer ones to an invisible perimeter, where they began to spread out like tree roots, forming a barely visible dome-shaped barrier. When the meson packets hit the barrier, energy was split off the main bolt, and, reinforced by added energy from the smaller bolts, made a small ovoid pad under the packet.

The meson packets appeared to have no effect, and the bombs that the Shrikes dropped got a similar treatment. When the ground forces started their run, the shield stayed up, and the units moved through it without harm. However, once inside, the Shock Troopers went crazy, attacking each other and the Novas.

The Nova pilots seemed immune to whatever had affected the Shock Troopers, and with their superior armor and firepower, they soon made short work of the Troopers. Of the 500 Troopers and 100 Novas, all Troopers had been killed, and only 60 Novas were able to move. When some of the pilots got out to help their damaged comrades, they too went crazy.

Another battle ensued, the end result of which was that 6 pilots survived, and only two Novas. The battle had taken them outside the shield, and they were not affected by the strange madness.

The result of this conflict was a call for a massive ground assault, which meant a call for more units. The support units were scheduled to arrive in 5 days. But meanwhile...


"I can not believe what I just saw!" Commander Ran'dyr said incredulously, turning to his small group of observers, "those units were not even fired upon by the compound, and they just turned on each other and wiped each other out. There must have been a biological agent involved."

They were standing in the same clearing, but now there were shelters and equipment strewn around. The annoying sound of computers beeping and twittering as they signaled alarms and the availability of results filled the air. Lieutenant Khri'cht, a Ka'chin Shadow Legionnaire known for his sniping ability and knack for camouflage, asked,

"[Why do that? The compound has more than enough firepower to stop an attack of much greater size.]"

"Perhaps the person in charge down there is much shrewder than we think. He has already shown his skill at tactics in the targets he has attacked with his fleets. Those targets were attacked with perfect timing, and they were always the ones ripest for defeat." Advisor Kalyn D'arfei said.

She was an astute young woman who, although fresh from the Imperial Battle Academy, had already proved herself many times. She was highly regarded as someone who had a cool head and could quickly assess a situation and give sound advice. "He might have thought that the biological agent could take out any of us, as well."

"Well, whatever the reason, this is a dangerous enemy, and I don't think any amount of firepower will get us into that compound." decided Commander Ran'dyr.

He looked around at his group, the hand-picked few that he had grown to love like family, Advisor Kalyn D'arfei, advisor and psychologist for the group; Lieutenant Khri'cht, highly trained warrior; Lieutenant Vertas Roman, well-rounded soldier with medical experience; Advanced Pilot Kchi'tin, seat-of-the-pants fighter pilot who could make anything fly if it had an engine; and The Keyboard Caper, known as simply "Caper", hacker extraordinaire.

This strange soul was thought to be human, but with all the cybernetic implants and accessories he had wired into him, no one knew for sure, and he had never told anyone. He thought about little besides computers, and because of his direct neural computer linkups, could get through any security measures in a matter of minutes.

It was he who spoke up next, his voice strangely modulated: "Do you think hi should thry to geth intho thath systhem? Hi could puth a backdoor in, so thath we could listhen in on any thransmissions he makes."

"Caper," said Kalyn, gently, "we don't even know if he has a computer system installed. Even if he did, he does not use it to contact his units. Whatever method he uses, it is beyond our ability to track or intercept."

"Kalyn, I think that Caper needs to look for a computer linkup." Said Ran'dyr, "If there is a computer in the compound, it is probably linked to the defenses, and Caper could shut them down. But first, I am going to call Admiral Mykincha and tell him the news, and when he gives me his ideas, we can decide on our next course of action."

A Good Step Forward

Angelas (June 27th, 2002, 3:27 am)

Hello there! interesting piece you have here. IT reminds me a bit of Battletech, I think it's what it's called? The game with the figurines and the special groups of soldiers and whatnot. Anyways. You have a very good start here! The groundwork for character development was laid effectively with the way your characters interacted with one another, especially with Kalyn and Myth's interactions with the group. You included much about their personalities, but i am left wondering what these individuals look like. When setting a scene and story like this first chapter, it's important to introduce the characters personality and visual-wise so a reader like myself can have an image in their head to go by for the rest of the story.

The battle scenes seems a little bit glosses over though. You describe them much too objectively, like the way you described your scenery in measurements and generalizations. You began to throw in metaphors to help your descriptions, but then the scenes were cut short. I think you should try to add a visual element to the battle. Put the reader INSIDE the battlefeild. Make the reader feel like they were there with the infantry thundering as they marched down the obelisk, they were there to witness the madness spreading through the troops when the self-massacre began. Put us in the battles. Add details about what's happening tot he soldiers, it will add to the environment of your story, as well as keep the action interesting and not just a list of statistics and metaphors.

Grammar wise, I didn't notice too much other than the absence of a few words such as 'of', just minor typoes and such. This could definitely use a once-over to add details and descriptions. I think it's worth it, you got a great foundation here^_~

cool, but patchy in parts

Narainsbrain (June 27th, 2002, 6:13 am)

yep, i thought the battle scene went by too quick, too.

um.. the sentence "Exactly one hour later, the battle was over" threw me off a bit: i expected a description of the aftermath to come next instead of being shunted back to the beginning of the battle.

and like angelas said, the battle description really needs more elaboration. the shocktroopers-going-mad scenario could have been a powerful, scary part, but it only gets two quick sentences about it while the plant life got three paragraphs in the beginning. odd.


cruise (June 27th, 2002, 11:08 am)

Definately too short, and too...clinical.

More feeling, emotion, etc. Have two of the troopers (say, man and wife, or something similar), chatting before the battle, show how close they are, then when you describe them shooting each other in the face...

ouch :P

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