Release the Hounds: Part 1

Hideaway, Landing Starport (Which Was Normally an Empty Field)

Agent 957 watched as the last of the ships from the Annihilation landed in the empty field the colonists used as a starport. Their fiery exhaust lit up the night. Since they’d filled up the slope between Landing and the colonists’ next town with fighters, dropships and marines, they now had no choice but to use the field.

Ten shuttles left almost no room in the space within the shielded area. They’d considered landing outside, but they’d had seen footage of the planet’s native megafauna. Some of them were larger than a shuttle. It wasn’t worth the risk.

They’d considered landing in the colonists’ fields until the Annihilation’s Executive Officer noted they might need to harvest the crops themselves if no one came to rescue them. When the communications officer said that they’d already sent a distress signal, the Exec had reminded him that the Xiniti must have as well.

Everyone knew what that meant. When fleets clashed, rescue missions were diverted. Sometimes they couldn’t make it through until the end of the conflict.

If it wasn’t bad enough that they were on a planet covered with psychotic, killer animals, the soldiers and spacers would have to camp outside. The first house the Marines investigated had blown up, killing the fireteam that entered the house.

Knowing that the colony included many of the Human Ascendancy’s most notorious terrorists, the marines’ commander had ordered the marines to set up shelters and inventory the supplies and weapons. They needed to know how much time they had before they had no choice but live off whatever food they colonists could grow.

Commander Hesses’ personal shuttle landed last.

Agent 957 reflected on how unfortunate it was that the commander could not be persuaded to go down with his ship. He’d waited for every last soldier or spacer to leave but left before the self-destruct command activated.

Agent 957 knew that he’d have to handle this himself. Left to himself, the old man would pay more attention to keeping his people alive than catching the colony’s leadership and fulfilling the mission. The man was good to his people but wrong for this mission. It was time to take care of that problem.

Somewhere inside himself, Agent 957 raged against all of it. Damn that ship for reappearing. He didn’t know whose it was, but it was some government’s pet project. The ability to use blink and jump in a ship that small in combination with black shields, and a gun capable of damaging a warship?

Whether it was a new power, the Xiniti, or some Alliance race like the Hrrnnna, he didn’t like knowing that there were nations that were ahead of the Human Ascendancy. Whatever group it was, they’d supplied the Xiniti with new technology, making the creepy, little maniacs more dangerous if that were possible.

Agent 957 put that out of his mind as he stepped in front of Commander Hesses’ shuttle. Anticipating the moment, he’d sent all of the people up the slope toward the colony. It would be best to make it quick.

The shuttle door opened and two spacers stepped out, both of them in combat ready spacesuits—thick-skinned and layered for protection against kinetic weapons and covered with more than one shiny coating to protect against lasers and other energy weapons.

Even in the low glow of the force shields, he could see that the uniforms were poorly designed for ground combat. Once day came, the mirrored surface would be a beacon or at least hilariously inadequate for hiding in a forest.

Commander Hesses followed them out, a small, stocky man wearing the same sort of space suit as his guards. He looked at Agent 957, seeing, Agent 957 knew, a big man wearing layered armor that blended into its surroundings. It might not do as well against energy weapons, but it did have protection against them.

Hesses opened his helmet. “Your command over this mission is finished. With the destruction of my ship, our mission is no longer to assist the Genetic Management Office, but first of all to survive to be rescued. You’ll find that I’ve forwarded these orders to all of my people.”

Agent 957 gave him a shallow bow. “I’m sorry you feel that way. Capturing the resistance’s leadership is vitally important to the survival of the Human Ascendancy. Surviving is important, but not as important as removing the threat Jadzen Akri and her people pose our civilization. If you don’t believe that, your usefulness to our society has reached its end.”

Commander Hesses said, “Just like that, then? You’re going to kill me or have my people do it for you?”

Agent 957 said the word that when said with the correct modulation caused any military personnel hearing it to freeze and wait for orders.

Something near Commander Hesses hummed and he laughed. “That’s right. We’re prepared. Don’t think that you’re the first to try something like this.”

Ten more people followed Hesses out of the shuttle, all of them holding weapons.

“Motivators—“ Commander Hesses began, but then he stopped.

Agent 957 tried a different modulation of the word and Commander Hesses and all his people froze.

“Kill Commander Hesses,” he said.

And they did.

15 thoughts on “Release the Hounds: Part 1”

    1. More typos

      but use the field.
      but to use the field.

      making the creepy, little maniacs
      making the creepy little maniacs

  1. I can’t tell if Agent 957 is magnificent or a moron. Thousands or people, one commander wishes to keep your troops alive so they can fight again. And he puts him down because survival matters less than the mission. Yet he had planned to run if he lost the escapees. I know different military and all that. But Tell Hesses the mission is still on while you are here. Put Hesses to secure the villages and maybe see if the bombs can be located and defused. While patrols search for the rogue ship and the rebels. Because if you don’t get rescued you became colonists your selves.

    Huh. Angry and a fictional character. Nicely done.

  2. I’m not sure how the commanders name is spelled but it seems to change a few times in this chapter, although it looks like he didn’t stick around long enough for it to matter much.

  3. BTW, does anyone know of an easy way to find the link to the very beginning at chapter 1? It’s frustrating trying to recommend the story, because the chapter 1 link is so tricky to find. From the TOC I can never remember if I want Book 1 or Arc 1, and from there I have to page back to older posts…

    Jim, does wordpress make it possible to add a “new readers start here” link in the site menu or something? You could also completely reorganize the table of contents, but the first way is probably easier 🙂

    1. I don’t know how you view the page but if you view it on your phone, you won’t see the link. If you view it on anything else, you’ll find that on the top right of the page, it says “if you want to start reading, start here.” It also links to a chapter called “the beginning” near the top on the left side.

      Still though, neither of those appear when you open it on the phone.

      I may have to add another link to the menu.

      1. Ah, yeah I see if I request the desktop version it’s there on the right. But that’s the first time I’ve looked at that, it hadn’t occurred to me to try. If you could add that link to the menu I’m sure I’m not the only one who would appreciate it, but at least now I know a better way to find it.

        I haven’t owned a PC since I graduated college, seems like such an unnecessary waste. It’s frustrating that web developers remove so many features for mobile browsers, it’s not like smartphones are lacking in processing power or anything. I bet less than 10% of the population actually needs more than a smartphone.

  4. It really took me a while to get into this particular arc. Probably because Jaclyn, Marcus and Cassie (aside from her POV story) have never been this heavily featured and newer characters like Amy, Izzy and even Kayla have been taken away their screentime (which I loved by the way).

    Come to think of it, I’ve really become a fan of Kayla. The way she sees her position and the way other people react to how she fills that job (kind of complaining about how she’s taken for granted, yet coordinating the people way more equipped to handle the sticky situations and not crumbling when she’s forced to get directly involved) it is clear to me she is just as much a hero as the League.

    I’ll echo the poster from a previous comment during “A day in the life” that the “Good days/Bad days” line you put in her mouth is among the best things you have written.

    Now that I’ve caught up, I’ll say that I really like how Kals and especially Tikki gel with the team.

    I think (speculation) Kals will stay with the resistance at the end of this arc and Tikki (lacking relatives or any significant ties) will go with Marcus and become a member of the League.

    Speaking of Marcus…

    I liked him in his sporadic appearances and he has been fleshed out quite a bit since he first showed up, but I kind of expected more development in this arc since he is one of the main 4 League members here.

    It feels like this arc isn’t giving us any new insights into his character. He still like to draw, he still shapeshifts and he still spouts pop-culture references at the slightest provocation. Personally, I think there’s a missed opportunity here. For example, aside from Nick he is probably the closest to the jet/HAL, having operated it anytime Nick and Haley weren’t around. I’d love to see a POV story where the League is doing their stuff with Marcus and the jet coordinating and observing. While NOT munching on popcorn and simultaneously watching Pulp Fiction, but rather rather showing how intensely Marcus CAN an should be when the chips are down..

    Same goes for Jaclyn, but at least she got a new pet out of it.

    Never cared much for Cassie to be honest.

    I love what you did with Tikki, Kals, Plant and all the new characters you introduced in this arc. You have a way to make me care for them in a relatively short amount of words. But sometimes I think that way could be applied just a little better to pre-excisting characters.

    Also (speculation) the Waroo will end up fighting with Nick and the resistance because Nick picked up their medical bill (a literal blood debt)

    1. Well, I’m not going to say anything about the Waroo because I don’t want to say what’s going to happen there in either direction.

      That said, I agree with you that I haven’t been able to forward certain characters development as much as I wanted to. For me that’s been made clear by the third novel’s print/ebook editing process as well.

      I’m good at seeing the overall picture and it’s easy for me to do plot stuff with a loose plan. Character beats I have to have a first draft to look at (i.e. what you’re reading) to get things right (or at least more right).

      I’m going over the second draft of the third Legion of Nothing novel right now and it’s clear to me that I’m going to have to make another pass over the manuscript to highlight character interactions.

  5. Funny little typo: “Surviving is impotant” … important? I mean, they do need Marcus to help with the genetic pool… 🙂

    I was definitely curious about this side of things, good time for a switch over. Also, having not been sure of Agent 957, I’m now more chill with whatever happens to him. I see his logic, but that was pretty cold blooded. I wonder if he’ll have to force anyone else, given how the orders were forwarded on.

    1. Oops. Thanks for noticing. I’ve fixed it.

      As for Agent 957, there definitely had to be a point where I got to use motivators the way I think they might be used in a totalitarian society—well, use them in one of the ways. There will be more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *