Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
Sunday, March 19, 2006

After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position


Disclaimer – Everything either does belong to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind.

* * *

“The main foundations which all states must have, whether new, or old, or mixed, are good laws and good armies.”

The Prince – Nicolo Machiavelli

* * *

Independent Transport INS Serenity – Landing – 2522AD

‘Everyone tooled up and ready?’ Mal asked trotting down the stairway onto the cargo deck. ‘Remember if we do enough of a convincing show of force we won’t get any trouble’ he said.

Hughes passed Mal a GR-21 which he slung on his back then looked around. ‘Jayne grab yourself another couple of grenades’ he ordered.

‘Thought I was intimidating enough already’ Jayne replied reaching for the crate of concussion grenades on the deck. He was already carrying half a dozen along with Vera, a large calibre handgun and a bowie knife.

Wash’s voice boomed over the intercom. ‘We’ve got a pair of Angels running a CAP over this area. They say if we start taking any Anti-Aircraft fire they’ll tag the thing with a missile. But so far we’re good.’

‘Never thought I’d get another chance’ Jayne said happily ‘must have at least another sixty thousand just waiting to be picked up.’

Zoe growled. ‘Jayne we’re here to occupy the place not to rob it’ she said coldly.

‘LZ in thirty seconds’ Wash declared over the intercom.

Serenity flew low over the town and landed just on the outskirts, the ramp lowering as she set down kicking up plenty of dirt with her variable geometry engines. Wash had deliberately made sure to get everyone’s attention by barely clearing the roofs of the taller structures.

Mal marched purposefully down the ramp flanked followed by the Rangers who spread out behind him forming a shallow V of troops following him as he stomped towards the town. Several locals looked up from their labours with more than a few jaws dropping.

An official of some kind ran up wearing a furious expression. ‘Firearms are banned here and…’ his voice trailed off as he recognised the person in front of him and he just stood there and gaped as the townsfolk became to stream towards them.

Mal groaned quietly. ‘Okay Jayne you wanted to do it and they’ll listen to you’ he hissed to the big mercenary to his left ‘but if you balls this up you’re on dish duty for a month.’

Jayne threw Mal a slightly hurt look and then cast his gaze about before taking a deep breath. ‘Citizens’ he began loudly. ‘By order of the provisional military government Higgin’s Moon is now formally annexed into the Commonwealth of Independent Colonies’ he stated in his most authoritative tone, which was loud if nothing else.

For the most part the populace were more stunned at his appearance than his words but there were a few mutterings in the back of the crowd. ‘Furthermore’ he continued, ‘the Martial Law Decree of 2521 has ruled that slavery and indentured servitude are illegal, and unlike the Alliance we’re going to enforce it, so all residents of Canton are now free to leave to seek employment elsewhere or demand fair recompense for their labours.’

Mal narrowed his eyes. This speech had the ring of a certain cavalryman about it Jayne must have learned it by rote.

One of the Mudders stepped forward. ‘Free?’ he asked. ‘We’re free? But what about the Magistrate and his men?’

Mal unslung his gauss-rifle and held it in one hand resting the stock on his hip ‘The Magistrate’s authority comes from the barrel of a gun and the backing of the Alliance and the gorram Purplebellies don’t mean shit out here any more’ he declared. ‘My name is Captain Malcolm Reynolds and any man who tries to make any of you a slave from now on answers to me, my rifle and the entire Independent Armed Forces’ he vowed. ‘We’ve got troops on the ground, Aerospace Fighters in the sky and a warship in orbit.’

The company official, the foreman’s deputy as it happened, finally shook off the bizarreness of the situation ‘These people are company property’ he stated.

‘Ain’t nobody anybodies “property”’ Mal snarled. ‘If you feel like disagreeing I got a platoon of soldiers, a handy looking tree and a rope’ he continued menacingly. ‘Now go tell the gorram Magistrate if he wants to fight arm his men and we’ll come calling but if he’s got any sense he’ll just surrender before I come knocking on the door of that fancy homestead of his’ Mal paused. ‘And make sure to tell him I’ll be knocking with a rutting mortar’ he declared pointing back at one of his men who was carrying such a weapon across his shoulders.

The company man started running as Mal looked back to the townsfolk. ‘Now I ain’t going to give you any orders myself, you’re free to do what you like, but the Independent Navy needs ceramic for ship parts and the Army needs volunteers’ he said. ‘We can make you free for now but if you want to stay free you’ll have to work and fight for it.’

Jayne held his Callahan aloft ‘Who’s with us’ he yelled. This would make a much better pose for a statue he though. Vera would look good immortalised in clay.

Watching from Serenity’s Cargo ramp Simon couldn’t help but be disturbed by the thought that Jayne Cobb was possibly going to be remembered as not only some kind of latter-day Robin Hood but also the reincarnation of some Earth-That-Was freedom fighter or another, whereas he himself was at best going to be mentioned in the history books as being River Tams older brother.

If I’m ever going to be remembered I need to discover some fatal disease they can name after me Simon considered. Although chances are most people would still think “Tams Disease” was discovered by my sister.

The Doctor then wondered if he should get ready to pump some stomachs for when the Rangers returned later with a bellyful of Mudders Milk. It’s all glamour being a highly skilled trauma surgeon out on the Rim.

Oh well at least Kaylee appreciates me he thought with a smile which disappeared rapidly as the still astonishing to his ears strains of “The Hero of Canton” started up among the locals.

‘Son-of-a-bitch’ he exclaimed loudly and walked back up the ramp to kick some boxes.

* * *

Temporary Independent Military Headquarters – Toulouse – 2522AD

‘I can’t say I like the fact that our taxpayers paid for all this but I’ve got to admit the former Alliance Governor had great taste in furniture and objet d’art’ Brigadier d’Esperay noted as he made himself comfortable in one of the chairs surrounding the huge oak table in the main hall of the Governors Mansion. The former occupant was currently being held, along with several thousand other Alliance prisoners, in a temporary camp outside of the Capital. A dozen or so military personnel plus a single civilian were taking a light lunch around the table.

Admiral van der Heijden nodded. ‘The wine cellar is excellent too, but I must confess that my choices have been somewhat limited over the last few years. You just don’t get the same results trying to produce “wine” using recycled engine parts and biochemistry’ he said.

Major Brown entered the room followed by River Tam wearing her Lieutenants uniform and they took seats across from the Admiral. Van der Heijden tried to keep these conferences over lunch reasonably informal but he couldn’t help but make a disproving sound when River reached across and snatched a biscuit from Colonel Taylor’s plate. For his own part the Marine just looked amused but Major Brown, technically River’s direct superior, winced.

River actually had impeccable table manners, and she’d memorised all the works on military etiquette she’d been given, she just sometimes liked to yank the Admirals chain a little bit for laughs.

Besides which the biscuits were very tasty.

‘Well Major, how goes the war today?’ van der Heijden asked pouring himself a glass of fresh orange juice from one of the jugs laid out on the table.

Major Brown looked down at his notes and then began to answer. ‘We’re still running slightly ahead of our timetable Sir despite the heavier than expected resistance from the Alliance Regiment on Regina’ he began. ‘Our Commerce Raiders are continuing to cause serious disruption to enemy trade routes and there are signs that several are being abandoned as the Alliance Navy consolidates its deployment in favour of heavily escorted convoys to the more strategically, and economically, important worlds’

‘Current projections on Alliance interplanetary trade?’ the Admiral asked.

‘At least a seventy-five percent drop’ Major Brown replied. ‘Although much of that is down to the fact that industrial production on the worlds we struck with EMP weapons basically stopped dead and ships that were formally shipping manufactured goods out are now shipping emergency supplies in.’

Van der Heijden sipped his orange juice ‘Economic effects?’ he asked.

‘Total meltdown’ the intelligence officer replied. ‘Alliance Credits have dropped in the interplanetary exchanges from roughly two-and-a-half platinum apiece to barely parity as people exchange paper and electronic money for something tangible. The stock markets have crashed, and I’m certainly glad I don’t own property on Sihnon because you wouldn’t believe how little people are willing to sell for on the Cortex’ he continued grinning.

‘Glad I sold those shares I bought in Blue Sun when I did’ Captain Foreman said. ‘Of course it could be argued that I had insider knowledge so the Alliance Financial Authorities might be knocking on my door one day’ he joked. ‘My broker on Londinium thought I was crazy selling when I did, the share price was still going up’ he told everyone moving his hand through the air to draw an imaginary graph line rising steeply, ‘of course then it did this’ he continued and bought his hand down sharply slamming his palm loudly on the desk. ‘He was a friendly little guy I hope he didn’t throw himself from a tall building when the bottom fell out of the market.’

‘We hit ‘em where it hurts’ Colonel Taylor interjected, ‘right in the wallet.’

Everybody nodded. When you came right down to it the last war had pitted Alliance Credits against Independent Blood. The conversion rates there had favoured the Core too, this time they were playing it smarter and making sure they got a fairer rate of exchange. You can’t put a value on a human life but you can make it a great deal more expensive to end one.

Major Brown nodded. ‘We received notification from Scylla that as expected the Alliance self-destructed the shipyards orbiting Ares as soon as the taskforce arrived. Due to the restricted access to Ares we were unable to infiltrate agents or troops to prevent it. Pacification of the Federal Garrison on Ares, and the troops stationed on Boros is currently underway.’

‘Pacification?’ the only civilian present, Edouard Caillaux asked. He had just been installed as the civilian Governor of Toulouse until elections could be held. Having him about made the temporary government look slightly less like a military dictatorship, which for the most part of course under martial law it really was.

‘Perhaps obliteration would be a more accurate term’ Admiral van der Heijden replied. ‘We haven’t got the troops there to dig them out, and they haven’t got the Naval Forces there to contest our forces in orbit, so Scylla is systematically destroying any Alliance Military strongpoint from several hundred miles up.’

Governor pro-tem Caillaux looked horrified ‘Nuclear strikes?’ he asked aghast.

‘Oh no just Railgun strikes, although of course if you fire a four tonne hypersonic projectile into the ground the crater is pretty impressive anyway’ the Admiral replied. ‘Many of the volunteers we raised before the offensive have been deployed to Boros so we do have enough manpower present to take over when the garrison capitulates.’

‘What if they don’t capitulate?’ the civilian asked.

‘Captain Raine on Scylla would be more than happy to kill every single one of them if they don’t I’d imagine’ Major Brown commented. ‘They never built the level of fortifications and anti-ship defences needed to resist an opponent with orbital superiority so we can just sit back and pound the crap out of them just like they did to us last time. The difference is we’re not deliberately targeting civilian targets’ he added.

The Admiral turned to Jack Foreman. ‘So how goes the industrial front Captain?’ he asked.

Foreman meshed his fingers and rested his hands on the table. ‘My own factories are already running up to full capacity and other production lines are being established as fast as we can re-tool the facilities’ he answered. ‘We already had a large quantity of the necessary plant and machinery stockpiled for converting the existing Toulouse industrial sector to military use and the fact that a good proportion of the workforce worked in the production of arms and munitions in the last war means that we’re able to get things moving pretty quick. Actually we were swamped by volunteers, here’s one example’ he said, ‘I’ve got a group of retired women from a social club who used to work in a cloth mill twenty years ago making uniforms. They won’t even let us pay them.’

‘How are you finding Lieutenant Ryder?’ Colonel Taylor asked.

Jack Foreman chuckled. ‘He’s set himself up in one of the factories and stuck a sign on the outside that says “Ryder Railguns”’ he replied.

Taylor laughed. ‘He said he’d do that. Did you hear his idea for an advertising campaign? “Ryder Railguns: Reach out and Tag someone”’

Foreman grinned. ‘I liked “GR-21, when you absolutely, positively, have to kill every tāmāde in line of sight, accept no compromise”’ he quoted. ‘Anyhow we’ve got gauss-rifles coming off the line faster every day and heavier equipment coming on stream.’

‘What about the Dewdrop program?’ van der Heijden asked.

‘First one went operational yesterday. We’ll be putting them in service en-masse within a couple of weeks’ Foreman replied. ‘I already had plenty of boats ready for conversion, picked them up cheap and got my people to recondition them.’

‘There is a definite satisfaction in continuing to use Alliance equipment and technology against them’ Major Brown observed.

‘In the first Punic War’ River began to speak, ‘The Romans had markedly inferior ships to their Carthaginian enemy until they captured one that had been shipwrecked, copied it, then produced their own. It reversed their losses in the war at sea and gave them victory’ she said then looked around. ‘I’m sorry it just popped into my head’ she explained.

The Admiral frowned then raised his half-empty glass of orange juice in a toast. ‘I suppose we’re the closest thing that the Independents have to a Senate right now so let me just say Delenda est Alliance’.

‘Wrong Punic War’ River said correcting the Admiral, ‘and in Latin the closest to Alliance in meaning would probably be Societas.’

Major Brown watched the Admirals expression and winced again.

* * *

Alliance Military Headquarters – Londinium – 2522AD

‘Dewdrops they call them’ the intelligence analyst announced pointing to the rotating three-dimensional hologram being projected in the centre of the room with the top brass, or rather the surviving top brass, sitting around the edge of the room. ‘Take a cheap interplanetary ship, the cheapest are war surplus dropships which ended up on the Rim because we sold them off for little more than scrap value, and then fit a large Laser Cannon in the cargo hold’ she explained. ‘The powerplant on a ship that size can’t recharge the capacitors very fast but a single shot will disable most transport ships and even do considerable damage to something as large as one of our Patrol Boats. It would severely maul, or even destroy outright, an ASREV Gunship or other Aerospace fighter’ the analyst paused and she adopted a slight sardonic smile. ‘The name is cute don’t you agree? Directed-Energy-Weapon-Dropship - - “Dewdrops”.’

‘The gorram things are cropping up all over the place’ an Admiral moaned. ‘We’ve got ships hunting them down but if we put too many to doing that we can’t protect the shipping lanes properly’ he explained. ‘We’ve got Destroyers and Frigates having to protect convoys instead of taking the fight to the enemy, or guarding important locations, because anything smaller would get outgunned.’

‘But where are they getting the Lasers? How much of an armaments industry could they have established in a couple of months?’ a General asked.

‘How many Laser Cannon does a Unification Class Cruiser carry?’ the analyst asked rhetorically. ‘The last Dewdrop we knocked out was carrying one of the guns from the IAV Vasco de Gama. They’re taking the cannon from our Cruisers they knocked out at the battle of the Corsican Asteroids.’

‘Ships we originally built carrying weapons we originally built’ another Admiral said through gritted teeth ‘you’ve got to admire the symmetry at least’ he continued with a tone that indicated anything but admiration for their foe. Seething hatred perhaps.

‘And the advanced technology they’re using is ours too’ stated a new arrival. He was wearing a very expensive civilian suit but the ID badge on his jacket said he was attached to Military Intelligence. ‘I’ve been cleared by Parliament and the Joint Chiefs to fill you officers in on several disturbing revelations that have come to light’ he said and handed the analyst a data module which she plugged into the holographic display.

‘You are all aware from the attack on Sihnon that the Independent Naval forces had some kind of improved hull material that was extremely resistant to Laser Fire’ the newcomer began. ‘Well it seems that the material is a heat superconductor developed by the advanced aerospace division of the Blue Sun Corporation in cooperation with Alliance Special Projects R&D bureau.’

‘It’s ours?’ a Commodore said loudly. ‘How in the Nine Hells have they got it and if it is ours why aren’t we using it?’

‘The material is, or rather was a proprietary product of the Blue Sun Corporation and was not yet released for either public or military use’ the newcomer explained. ‘How they got it is because a prototype warship that utilised the material in its own hull was apparently captured by renegades and dissidents who later ran across hold-out elements of the old Independent Military who back-engineered the material, plus other advanced design features from the ship it seems’ the man replied. ‘The vessel concerned is almost certainly the one that neutralised our orbital defences around Sihnon and opened the way for the enemy taskforce to attack.’

‘Exactly how advanced is this vessel’ an Admiral asked in a tone of voice that indicated rising fury.

‘At least a generation ahead of currently fielded Alliance Navy sensors, ECM, ECCM, directed-energy weapons, mass driver weaponry, engine design, powerplant design, armour strength and durability and stealth technology. Some of those features likely closer to two generations ahead in fact’ the newcomer replied. ‘It’s also an uncrewed AI controlled vessel giving it a massive edge in manoeuvrability and reaction times.’

The latter piece of news really stirred up the various senior officers and they began to shout and make extremely unflattering comments regarding Blue Sun and Special Projects some of which involved invoking charges of treason against the responsible parties.

‘Unfortunately the production facility that produced the AI Ship was destroyed during the attack on Sihnon’ the newcomer went on, ‘and although we have the plans for it and all its systems we will not be able to build any more until we construct a new facility which may take a while given existing priorities set by Parliament.’

‘This is a time for guns not butter’ an Admiral stated, ‘we should be rebuilding the fleet and training troops not wiping the ass of damn civilians who are crying because their cortex consoles don’t work any more.’

‘I’m sure many here would agree Admiral but the military serves the Government not the other way around’ a General chided. This started a major argument amongst the services and various viewpoints as to where priorities should lay in time of war.

‘Your attention please’ the civilian attached to the intelligence branch said loudly trying to get the meeting back into order. ‘There’s more you need to hear.’

The officers quieted down but considerable dark muttering continued around the room.

‘Thanks to interrogations we have carried out on various former senior elements in the Independent Military who we bought in for, let us say “robust” questioning, we have now established a great deal more information on who we are up against’ the man in the expensive civilian suit announced.

The image of a man appeared in the projection. ‘This is Admiral Marc van der Heijden, the character who declared war on us shortly before making war on us. An unusually skilled, resourceful and extremely determined officer, he was thought to have been killed at the Battle of Sturges but instead his announced demise was a front to allow him to take command of a large taskforce the Independents were assembling at the end of the war. This included the two battlecruisers we met at the Corsicans, plus a large number of smaller vessels, and was a top secret known only to a very limited number of personnel.’

‘What was it for?’ a General asked. ‘I would have thought they would have thrown everything they had left at us over Hera?’

‘Believe it or not the mission of the fleet was to launch a strike on the Central Planets if Hera looked like it would fall and deploy nuclear weapons against our civilian population hoping to force an armistice’ the newcomer answered. ‘In short Admiral van der Heijden was charged with committing mass murder on a scale that dwarves anything in history. Moreover it seems he had actually embarked on the mission when he was ordered to stand down. He did stand down obviously, since this building is still here, and Londinium is not a cratered landscape of radioactive glass, but he disobeyed his other order to surrender and instead took his entire fleet into exile.’

Wode tìan’ an Admiral exclaimed in shock. ‘And we never heard of this?’

The newcomer with the Intelligence ID shook his head. ‘The people who knew decided it would be better for them if they didn’t tell us that a fleet of genocidal Browncoats armed with battlecruisers and gigatonne yield thermonuclear weapons was lurking out beyond the Rim’ the Intelligence man replied. ‘They quite reasonably judged we might be a touch perturbed by the news and take it out on them in some fashion.’

‘I’d have spaced them personally’ a Marine Officer commented to the sounds of agreement from various others.

‘Indeed but regardless we now find ourselves facing a very dangerous opponent with considerable existing military resources, access to advanced weapons technology and expanding industrial depth.’

‘Do we have any data on their production capabilities?’ someone asked addressing the question to the female Analyst.

The Analyst nodded. ‘Unfortunately they are in a much better position than in the last war, not only relative to ourselves after the disruption to our own industries, but also in absolute terms’ she said. ‘Several of the outer planets are more industrialised today than they were a decade ago and investigations have shown that they have been very clever in purchasing plant and machinery in the run up to hostilities. Certainly we can expect to encounter an increasingly large percentage of their ground forces using their new rifles which give them a qualitative edge on our own infantry’ she continued. ‘The weapon is proving to be an extremely effective force-multiplier and even in skirmishes where our troops have been successful the casualty exchange still favours the enemy by a large margin.’

‘Do we know anything more in detail about the rifles?’ a Colonel asked. ‘Reports I’ve seen from Regina say they’re kicking our asses’ he said. The officer had commanded an Infantry Battalion in the last war and still considered himself a fighting soldier not one of the desk-bound heroes that made up the bulk of those present.

The analyst didn’t know and looked to the man in the suit who nodded. ‘As we theorised captured examples demonstrate that it is more akin to electromagnetically based mass-driver weaponry rather than a more conventional chemical propellant or directed-energy weapon like our own basic infantry rifle, or man-portable lasers’ he said. ‘The design does however also seem to borrow heavily from several technological fields developed by both the Alliance Military and the Blue Sun Corporation with the power-pack for example being an enlarged copy of the one used in our latest issue laser pistols.’

‘What about its capabilities?’ the Colonel wanted to know.

‘Variable muzzle velocity up to a level which would make the recoil dangerous to the user, but it will apparently penetrate our standard-issue body armour at long range even at a safe to use, though still shoulder-jarring, setting. Rate of Fire is fairly low compared to conventional arms, due to the time needed to charge the capacitors our technical staff say, but it is still in the hundreds of rounds per minute if used at the lowest muzzle velocity. The weapon, the enemy call it a GR-21, seems to be well-suited to fire charges they call rifle-grenades which although apparently made of tin cans are not to be easily dismissed since they give the infantryman carrying the weapon a considerable high-explosive punch when required.’

‘Heavy battlefield weapons?’ the Colonel asked.

‘Nothing not seen before yet, although the appearance of one of their old Hovertanks in itself caught our Garrison on Toulouse badly off-guard it seems, but we can be sure that their other more effective designs of the last war, plus copies of our own armaments, will be joining their new rifles on the production lines.’

‘You mentioned purchases of new plant and machinery they made before the attack’ an Engineering Officer asked, ‘where from?’

‘Blue Sun Manufacturing… Cortex records show that the individual concerned in making the purchases sent their corporate headquarters a thank-you wave for being such assistance shortly before the first EMP device detonated over Osiris.’

After explaining in detail the man in the civilian suit didn’t even bother to try to quiet them down this time, they were quite simply apoplectic with rage.

As a rule he was given tasks that were more suited to his training than giving lectures, but Parliament only trusted people with top level clearance with the information he knew and those were rare. Actually as it happened he couldn’t help but quietly agree in his own mind with one assertion made by a furious Federal that if the current Deputy Prime Minister wasn’t the former CEO of Blue Sun there was no way a private company would have been able to survive this sort of thing without major gaol time, or perhaps even a string of clandestine summary executions which was the mans usual forte in ordinary times.

And I wasn’t even allowed to tell them about the telepath they let get away who is probably the cause of this entire thing the Operative thought. That might be a mistake but Parliament was convinced that keeping the Academy program a secret was in the best interests of the state.

The Operative was an intelligent, educated man. The current crisis was a blip in the grand scheme of things. Eventually the demographic and industrial preponderance of the Core would win out over guts and enthusiasm just like in the last war. Military genius, new tactics and some flashy high-tech might swing fortune against you in the short term but in the end economics and industry decides wars, like it always has.

A stronger more vital Alliance would rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of the weak one that had been found so wanting recently and a better ‘Verse for all was merely a matter of time.

* * *

Toulouse Spaceport – Toulouse – 2522AD

The Ramp on the Freighter lowered and the volunteers found themselves facing a small group of people in different uniforms. Someone yelled at them to get moving and they headed down the ramp towards the soldiers waiting for them.

‘Any of you got any flight training on small ships in atmo?’ someone called out which resulted in three hands being tentatively raised. ‘Alright you three, you’ve just joined the Aerospace Force come with me’ the man continued and beckoned them to follow him to a small ground car.

‘Anyone good with a Rifle gets to join the infantry’ an Army NCO bellowed.

‘If you’re really good with a rifle you can come over here and join the Marines instead’ a Marine Corporal retorted.

Trooper Collins watched the ground-pounder and the Marine start to argue about who got to pick the choicest recruits for a while then started his own sales pitch. ‘Anyone who wants to ride into battle on a nuclear powered flying tank, safe behind armoured plate, instead of marching around and digging holes in the Infantry, or getting a bad haircut in the Marines, can sign up today for a life of adventure in the Independent Cavalry’ he said loudly. ‘The Death or Glory Boys are looking for a few good men and women to saddle-up and join us in the Twenty-First Lancers.’

‘Only midgets need apply’ the Infantry NCO hollered.

‘Yeah well, anyone more than average height won’t fit in an Excalibur’ Collins admitted. ‘But for the lucky ones that meet our height requirement I promise you honour, glory, thrilling heroics and the best unit badge in the ‘Verse’ the Lancer declared.

Collins smiled warmly as a large batch of recruits immediately headed his way. He wondered how happy they’d being once they found out they’d actually be spending much of the next couple of months marching up and down and digging holes in basic training just like the Poor Bloody Infantry anyway. For one thing the “Regiment” only had the one tank as yet but they were assured that a factory would be available to build more soon. Until then the remaining Lancer veterans who had been shipped in from the “Reunion” on Wiles Moon, would teach the new recruits what they could, taking turns to crew their lone Excalibur and trying to teach them the reality of what it meant to be a twenty-sixth century armoured cavalryman.

It wasn’t all bugle calls, regimental colours, railguns and cries of “Death or Glory” it was blood, fire and carnage, the trick was to make the last three apply more to the enemy than yourself.

The Lancers were good at tricks. And with time to build up the equipment and train the crews they were going to teach the Alliance some new ones, as well as take them back to school to re-teach the same old lessons of yesteryear.

Trooper Collins got the volunteers to form up into a line behind him and marched off towards the waiting schoolbus that had been commandeered to serve as transport for them. As he marched he started to whistle a tune eventually breaking out into song

So saddle up my comrades, the battle will come soon Maybe on a Core world’s shore, or some abandoned moon And when our people call us, the answer will be clear Lancers ride to Death or Glory. Yes, the Twenty-First is here



Sunday, March 19, 2006 7:15 AM


Loved Simon's reaction to thinking that Jayne was going to be remembered as a hero all over again while he would just be remembered (if at all) as River's brother. I liked the symetry of them going back to Higgins Moon and letting the mudders know they were finally free - had a kind of poetry to it. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, March 20, 2006 12:58 AM


Great stuff again Hotpoint!

Monday, March 20, 2006 9:52 AM


Nice touch, after all these chapters of resounding Independent successes, having the Operative confident that the Alliance will ultimately win.

Monday, March 20, 2006 10:24 AM


I know it's been said by others, but this set of writings is what drove me from being a lurker to signing onto the site. You should consider having some of this professionally edited and published, if it is possible to do it without F*X having a cow.

Thursday, March 23, 2006 4:45 AM


Excellent stuff, hotpoint! Its so hard to find decent hard SF on this site, and this is more than decent. Definitely one of the best stories here. Keep up the great work.


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Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits