Sci Fi contest prompt Hiber-Mate
|"Six, seven, eight..." The shockwave from the first blast wrecked into Jacobs body armor like a raging bull. He felt the familliar nausea, his guts shifting slightly as the blast washed over him, trying to shred his body to pieces. The Katsu Corp armor was the best in the business, but it could only hold up to so much abuse before the dampeners gave out. This patrol was just getting warmed up.|
Scanning the skies, Commander Jacob Cohen attempted to guess the direction of the actual attack. The disrupters were usually deployed as a high power distraction, to get your head down while the ground troops made their entrance. He had squads positioned all around the mines entrance. Little more than an oversized hold in the side of the god forsaken hunk of rock. The miners were comfortably sealed inside, hardly aware of the carnage about to be employed several hundred meters above their heads.
Jacob activated the com and checked in with his forward observer.
"See anything yet Tom?"
"I don't know what Im seeing yet Jake, something aint right"
"This whole damn planet aint right, I need specifics"
"Jake, they only dropped 12 units, these GenCorp guys usually stack the odds better than this. They aint forming up for an advance, shit what the hell is, oh crap Jake, cover.. get cover!"
The radio went silent.
Jakes head raced. Far from a green recruit, Thomas didnt spook easily, Jacobs head raced through all his current intel on GenCorp. They were getting desperate he knew that. They didnt value life, didnt fight fair. That few ground troops was uncharacteristic. He tried to reach Tom once more, nothing.
Scanning the dark sky once more, he caught a slight glint, Jacob cycled the visors view filters rapidly, hoping he might catch something before it was too late. Suddenly the something popped into view, it was flying slow and low, little more then a wing with a reflector dish mounted to it. Jake turned on his heels, and ran towards the compound, he opened the com wide and began screaming into the reciever.
"Wave weapon detected, Take cover immediately... Run Damnit, Run!"....
Jacob Cohen awoke to the soft warmth of his wife’s mouth. His eyes opened to the sight of her raven hair piled on his firm abdomen like a discarded black kimono. Smiling, his thoughts finally finished their slow download from sleep to reality, he let his skull sink back into the down pillow. Jacob’s thoughts turned to a luxurious mixture of the attention he was receiving from his new bride and the staggering reality of his current situation.
His tour had finally ended. The contract that he had signed what seems like a lifetime ago had reached its term, and his life of planet hops and zero gravity was coming to an end. He could still taste the metallic bitterness of the surface air in his mouth despite the lightly perfumed atmosphere being pumped into his stateroom. Jacob let out a contented sigh as he considered never again be asked to sweat out a night patrol or endure days of bombardment from whatever jilted guild corp felt the need to renegotiate its territorial claims. His days of keeping the dust flowing for Katsu Corporation were over, and he was on his way back to the real world to collect his salary… a real life.
Every ground pounding Corp thug dreams of this moment. Jacob couldn’t keep from thinking about the names and faces of the crews he had served with over the past twenty years. He slowly adjusted his position on the large bed, looking down at the slim naked back of his young bride, he let his hands rest on the crest of her smooth tan hips. His thoughts drifted back and forth from her warmth to the guys who never made it this far. Seems like most of them cashed in early and made this trip packed away in a cargo hold. Iced and tagged and exercising their option for a home town burial.
The first installment of Jacob’s new life let out a small squeal as his grip tightened around her waist. Jacob's thoughts turned to the last few campaigns he had survived.
The deafening blasts of shock mortars and disrupter shells, the heat of pulse attacks as the brutal dish weapons attempted to cook ground pounders in their flack armor. The faces of friends and foe alike raced across his brain, memories of laughter and hard liquor mixed with the last glimpses of their mutilated, battle ravaged corpses. He could hear them all calling out to him, calling his name, screaming out in their distress, begging him to stop.
To stop? Jacob wondered for a second what he was supposed to stop, he looked down and saw the tan hips of his Corp bride limply affixed to his own. His thoughts snapped back to reality. Softly nudging her, he slid to his feet. The beautiful form of his new future remained unmoving on the bed. The hiss of the stateroom air exchangers pumped their perfumed air in the background. Jacob looked in horror at the young body now heaped, motionless on the silk sheets of their honeymoon stateroom. The distant hum of the light cruiser’s drive reactors vibrated through the floor. Jacob listened to the deafening sound of his own heartbeat as ice began to flood his veins. He sank to his knees, and in a whole new type of terror, he wept.
The stasis corpsman glanced nonchalantly at the station monitor in front of him. He watched as the indicator for Jacob Cohen changed from yellow to red. Taking a sip from his coffee mug, the medic bent over his keypad and entered a quick notation. Jacob was making strides, he had gone from minutes to almost an hour this cycle. Checking his watch, the technician clicked the reset button and Jacob’s indicator changed from red to grey. Given the length of time that the cycle had lasted, he set the sleep timer for forty eight hours. Queuing up the rehabilitation sequence, he initiated the sleep counter and Jacob’s indicator transitioned to white. At nearly the same moment three other names on the screen slipped from yellow to red. The technician took another pull from his mug, set it down, and began processing the veterans.
As the medical light cruiser Destiny’s Rampart continued its long journey back to home system, its warp drives hummed steadily. The Katsu Mining Corporation took great pride in their ingenious new rehab program. The darkened reputation of their combat veterans had been making recruitment extremely difficult. Twenty years of harsh combat in the extreme conditions of distant ore planets was difficult for the human psyche to overcome, and skepticism of Katsu Corporations's ability to fulfill the terms of their contracts had come under scrutiny. The honor and prestige that had once been associated with its career veterans had been shrouded in disgrace as the ravaged souls began returning to their home towns. Given every possible comfort, the warriors invariably found it difficult to transition off the battle field. Those that didn’t take their own lives, often ended up causing far greater tragedies. The quality of their recruits began to slip dangerously as the most intelligent candidates realized the unlikeliness of the futures that they were promised.
The new cognitive reconditioning arrays allowed them to utilize the sixth month transport time to rebuild their veteran’s souls. Their success rate was almost one hundred percent and the impact of the treatments had turned up a plethora of positive side effects. In the past few years, the quality of life amongst non-combatants had begun to pale in comparison to the lives and luxuries Katsu Corp warriors were living. Economic factors had shifted drastically as the populace flocked to associate its business and commerce with the passionate warmth of Katsu Corps returning soldiers. Recruitment had never been easier, and the brightest and best from all the academies placed Katsu at the top of their strike sheets.
Returning to his terminal, the corpsman gently sipped the steaming liquid form the lip of his mug. Satisfied that he had drained the cup sufficiently to avoid any accidental spillage, he returned it to the coffee stained circle that marked its home. The technician looked up just as the sleep timer for Jacob Cohen returned to zero. The indicator flickered from white to green and the medic made a quick notation on his keypad before reaching once more for his steaming beverage.
Stasis chambers stacked four high along bulkheads outlined the vast open space surrounding the technician’s rehabilitation terminals. In sleek grey columns encircling the massive interstellar coliseum, the returning contract veterans of Katsu Corporation slept, receiving the first installments of the compensation packages included in their twenty year service contracts. Through the clear plexi view panel of row 3-2146-G the battle scared Corp soldier known as Commander Jacob Cohen slept. The small white LED below the view panel flashed momentarily and turned from white to green.
Jacob Cohen awoke to the soft warmth of his wife’s mouth…