tagNovels and NovellasBattle for the Known Unknown Ch. 05

Battle for the Known Unknown Ch. 05

bybradley_stoke©

Mars - 3752 C.E.


The gust of wind that blew over the red soil picked up a fistful of red dust and brushed it against Colonel Vashti's visor. Through the scattered grains, she was able to admire a landscape that was both splendidly barren and untidily littered with the detritus of war. A tank that had sunk inside a crater was weathered by wind rather than rusted by oxygen, even though it was many centuries since it had been attacked. The burnt out hulks of space craft were scattered about the cliff edges above her. They were splattered by ice that had been thrown up from the permafrost by their ancient impact. Fragments of metal and plastic were further evidence of the many battles, often fought with crazed ferocity, to claim possession of Martian soil that had never been surrendered and never securely taken.

"Oh shit!" yelled the colonel as her visor was suddenly caked with red earth that came not from the wind but from a nearby ground explosion. It was followed by another that was much closer. In fact, too close!

The world around the colonel disintegrated into fragments and a cloud of evaporated Martian soil rose in a mushroom shape directly above her head.

"Colonel! Colonel!" yelled her fellow soldiers when the pounding of missiles from over the horizon finally abated, leaving the spot where she'd been standing nothing more than a fresh crater on the scarred planet's surface. Vashti's patrol expected to find nothing more than a shattered limb or the fragments of a molten space suit.

A figure emerged from behind the shadow of the centuries-old mangled tank. It was Colonel Vashti, her suit intact and her communications systems functioning perfectly well.

"That was close!" she said with a smile that wasn't at all visible through the red dust that coated her visor. She strode towards her companions who were still shaken by their proximity to the carnage. "The Polar cunts must be stationed nearer than we thought."

"The fuckers!" said Corporal Krishnamarti bitterly as he brushed the dust off his visor. "If I ever get one of those cunts within range of my phasar then there'll be a shitload of fucking Polar corpuscles pasting the soil."

"It couldn't make it any more red than it already is," Grenadier Khadija joked as she cocked her massive missile-launcher over her shoulder. "Anyway, I reckon this planet's a lot more fucking red now than it was when the first colony was founded. We've been spreading this fucking hole with enough Polar corpuscles to give those Martian microbes a real feast of iron."

Colonel Vashti strode across the Martian plain—if such a word correctly described the bounce that accompanied her step on the low gravity highlands. She held her laser rifle nozzle-downwards while crystals of Martian ice clung to her boots. Although the soldier's space suits were as thin as modern textiles allowed, the volume of nano-particles that filled the inside shell made her seem almost obese, as it did the other soldiers. A single microscopic rip through the fabric, however tough and self-mending it was, would spell instant death for any one of them. If the low temperature wasn't enough to kill you then the poisonous carbon dioxide atmosphere most certainly was.

"We thought you were a real goner, sir," said Grenadier Khadija when the colonel had caught up with her patrol. "It looked like that fucking missile had done it for you."

"It was fucking close, grenadier," admitted the colonel. "But Mariner military training is second to none. No bastard missile can fucking beat that."

"Fuck yes, sir!" agreed the sergeant. "Those Polar cunts should be shitting themselves. In fact, I bet the fuckers already are."

The three soldiers bounced their way back across the plain, mindful that they were not yet by no means in the clear. They kept as much as they could to the shadows of the billion-year old crater edges that were still rather grander than anything thrown up by conventional weaponry. They were relieved to discover that their space shuttle was still intact. Its chameleon-like exterior had camouflaged it well against the red planet's soil, but it was still wise to be prudent. Polar scouts would still be on the lookout for the distinctive plume of a rising space craft. Once the company was inside, Space Pilot Sadiq elevated the shuttle above the surface slowly enough to raise minimal dust disturbance.

"So much for a routine patrol!" remarked the pilot as the crew slid open their visors. "The fuckers did have to wait for today to do firing practise."

"We really thought we were one man down," remarked the corporal. "You were fucking lucky there, sir."

"I guess I've got a charmed life, soldier," Colonel Vashti agreed.

"You can say that again, sir," agreed Grenadier Khadija. "I heard you were the only one who survived the Sinus Meridiani Massacre. There wasn't a fucking scratch on you!"

"As I said, corporal, I was just lucky."

The soldiers eventually arrived back at the welcoming protection of the Tithonium IV Dome in the Agathadaemon Colony. Here they could at last remove their space suits in the quarantine area before entering the mandatory chemical showers. They were all naked under their space suits and this was the first time that Pilot Sadiq had seen or even known of Colonel Vashti's unusual assets.

"Fucking hell, sir!" he exclaimed. "That's one big fucking cock you've got there."

Colonel Vashti held up her penis that was still slightly tumescent after the excitement of her near-death encounter. It was a splendid enough asset on a man, but especially prominent on a body that showed no other obvious sign of masculinity.

"It was a foolish mistake," she said with uncharacteristic honesty. "A long, long time ago."

"You never felt like doing something to change it, sir?" the pilot asked. "You know, return to... return to whatever you used to be?"

"I've got kind of fond of it, corporal," Colonel Vashti replied. "It's become a part of me. And, anyway," she continued with a sly smile, "it's been a damned good friend."

"I guess, sir," said the pilot who suddenly felt shy. It was clear to the colonel that his interest in her penis was unlikely to get much greater.

The colonel and the other soldiers zipped themselves into their standard military fatigues and strode back to their separate quarters. Whether enlisted or officer class, their red-brown uniforms were much the same. Rank was only indicated by the epaulettes on the shoulders and the stripes across the chest. However, as commanding officer, Colonel Vashti had the duty of dictating a report on their patrol.

The path to her quarters was a tree-lined avenue under the missile-proof silos where the soldiers were quartered. Above her head was the last line of defence from incoming attack. It was a massively thick dome that only a nuclear warhead could penetrate but which also kept out all natural light from a Sun that was two thirds of its apparent size as seen from Earth.

The doors to her dome-shaped quarters slid open as she approached and the lights came on automatically. Her room was spartan. There were no holographs of family or friends to humanise it. There were none of the sentimental reminders of a civilian life that most soldiers, especially female ones, gathered about them. When the colonel had finished dictating her account of her company's patrol, which she did with extraordinary precision and detail, she didn't choose to listen to music or watch a holographic movie. Instead, she promptly began studying news stories and academic articles on a wide range of subjects, of which few were of even a remotely military nature.

What attracted Vashti most were the accounts being reported by many news agencies of the bizarre apparitions across the Solar System. These were usually classified as entertaining stories of only humorous interest. There was an account of a huge cloud of blue butterflies that appeared on, of all places, the surface of the moon Umbriel around Uranus. It was recorded on surveillance cameras but disappeared within seconds of being sighted. There was an account of a mysterious space craft observed during a routine scan of the Oort Cloud that again disappeared within moments. There was the amusing news story from Earth of a mysterious reptile, possibly an elasmosaurus, seen in an African lake which was attributed to ancient superstition and the affects of too much alcohol. These were the stories over which Vashti paused the longest, before she followed rather less sensational stories about temperature anomalies in the Asteroid Belt, the discovery of yet another interstellar planetoid, and holographic images taken by robotic probes around the Proxima Centauri stellar system.

Vashti's concentration was suddenly broken and she dragged her eyes away from the holoscreen. A moment later, the security camera for her quarters displayed the holographic image of the woman standing outside her door. It was Vashti's current lover, Mia. She was a civilian who worked as a virtual landscape designer for the Tithonium Broadcasting Corporation.

"Hiya, Vash!" the woman exclaimed with a huge grin on her face. "I know you're in there. Open up!"

"Come in. Come in," Vashti said as she let the door to her quarters slide open.

Mia was a black-skinned woman with short hair who wore a flowing white skirt that trailed behind her and which was lifted off the ground by a hovering cloud of nano-particles. Her outfit was designed to emphasise her waist and the perfect proportions of her relatively small bosom. She wore a luminescent blue collar around her neck that held all the holographic communication devices and entertainment consoles she needed to keep in touch or to be entertained.

Mia noticed that Vashti was still wearing her military fatigues. "You're not still on duty are you? Khadija told me you'd finished for the day."

"Well, I've finished active duty anyway," said Vashti. "I'm still on call, you know, but it's not often that I actually have to do anything."

"Right," said Mia with relief, who without any more prompting let her clothes slip off her to reveal a slim charcoal-black body and an ornate holographic tattoo of a white rose on her shoulder. "Then I guess we can do nothing together. If that's what you want...?"

"Don't be foolish, sweetheart," said Vashti who disrobed herself rather more slowly. When she tugged off her trousers her penis was revealed in all its erect splendour: the foreskin pulled back by the engorged glans.

"If I didn't already know you were a soldier," said Mia with a smile as she kneeled in front of Vashti's crotch, "I'd have guessed it from how you're always standing to attention and ready for action."

Although Mia was a woman who generally preferred other women, she had an especial fascination for Vashti's cock. She greedily enveloped it in her full purple lips and with mouthfuls of spit she was soon pumping it in and out of her eager mouth. All the while Vashti gasped with animal grunts from the physical pleasure of her lover's oral ministrations.

Vashti also knew how to please Mia and she knew what gave her the most pleasure. So she let forth a splurge of semen over Mia's face, onto her small puffy-nippled breasts and into her eager face. Mia had developed a taste for semen. She'd never tasted it from a man's penis but she relished what she'd sampled from Vashti's.

"Does a man's sperm taste as good as a woman's?" Mia asked as she let the semen trickle down her throat and licked off as much as she could from her chin.

"I've only tasted men's," admitted Vashti. "But I imagine it tastes exactly as good. You ought to try some time."

"Uuughh!" Mia exclaimed. "I would if there were only more men who looked like you. But how could they be unless they'd had a sex change and then they wouldn't really be men any more. Were you ever a man, Vash?"

This was a question like many others of a similar nature that Vashti felt obliged to evade. "Not really, sweetheart. I'm as much a woman now as I've ever been."

"Well, the surgery was a fucking miracle, that's all I can say," said Mia who stood up but whose face was still only level to Vashti's bosom. "I just wish there were more people in the world like you."

"And more like you, sweetheart," said Vashti. She gripped the back of Mia's head and peppered her face with kisses which built up to a crescendo where her tongue plunged as deep inside her lover's mouth as it was possible for it to go without choking her. The two fell together onto the thick carpeted floor and were soon coupling groin to groin, Vashti's penis alternating between the wet embrace of Mia's slippery vagina and the tighter but still accommodating anus that was functionally similar to, but materially different from, the many male anuses Vashti had enjoyed.

Vashti had skills beyond those of the average lover. She knew how to continue her lovemaking for an inhuman length of time. She could bring Mia to orgasm after orgasm whilst ensuring that the next one was stronger and more intense than the one before. Their mutual perspiration lubricated the passion of their grappling bodies. Mia raised her torso above Vashti and thrust her groin back and forth on her lover's prick while she supported her weight on her long slim arms. Her holographic tattoo shimmered against the images projected from Vashti's holoscreen.

The two lovers were still locked in carnal embrace, Vashti above her lover and her buttocks still in steady rhythm, when there was a sudden break in the ambient landscape of gentle Martian hills that Vashti had chosen to accompany their sport. This relaxing vision was replaced by the full length avatar of General Xian-Ping with his shaved head and markedly penetrating blue eyes.

"Colonel, please stop whatever you are doing. I would like you to come to my office immediately."

"Yes sir!" said Colonel Vashti, who immediately stood to attention with her penis erect and with Mia's vaginal juice still dripping from its tip.

The general's avatar evaporated and to Mia's evident disappointment the colonel's penis swiftly shrank to less impressive proportions.

"Duty calls," said Vashti sadly.

"Oh shit!" said Mia even more regretfully. "Does it have to?"

It was unusual for a soldier to be summoned to meet his or her commanding officer in person. The communications systems were secure enough that it would normally be sufficient for Colonel Vashti simply to request Mia to leave while she spoke to her superior officer. This was clearly not a routine call, but for Vashti it wasn't totally unexpected.

General Xian-Ping wasn't the only one waiting for the colonel in his office. He was accompanied by two other officers of similar rank.

"Your services have been requested by the Interplanetary Union, colonel," the general announced. "I needn't remind you that this is not a normal request or one that is made often. You will have command of several hundred combat soldiers on a mission that is of the utmost sensitivity and about which you must not tell anyone."

"Yes, sir," said Colonel Vashti, who stood rigidly to attention.

"I haven't been given many details about the mission, but I have been given the duty of telling you as much as I know. You will be in command of military forces that have been gathered together from all corners of the Solar System. The soldiers you will command come not only from the Mariner colonies but as far afield as Mercury, Uranus and the Kuiper Belt. Given the nature of this expeditionary force, it is likely to include soldiers from the Polar colonies. You are under strict instructions from the Interplanetary Union to treat these bastards with equal preferment as all other military personnel. This is an international force and for the purposes of this mission—however difficult this must be—you must pretend to be impartial to the nationality of the soldiers in your command. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that if you should by any means receive classified information about Polar military activity—and it is not for me to dictate how that should happen—then that information must be passed by secure channels to Mariner Intelligence. This aspect of your mission is not part of your duties as an officer serving the Interplanetary Union, but it is expected of you as a loyal servant of the Mariner Federation."

"Yes sir."

"You will not receive a more complete briefing than this of the service that the Federation expects of you and I expect you to exercise discretion at all times. I trust you understand this and will not fail your people and your President."

"I understand, sir, and will comply."

"Your mission will take place on a space ship that has yet to be commissioned and may even be a civilian vessel. I have not been told exactly what the destination might be, but I believe it could well be beyond the Heliopause. It may even be beyond the Solar System's magnetosphere. There will be other officers of similar rank to you, but day-to-day command of the operation will be with the ship's captain. This hasn't been confirmed, but I believe that the captain is likely to be from either the Saturn or Earth systems as these are the two pre-eminent powers in the Interplanetary Union."

"Yes sir."

"I don't know why you've been chosen, but the request to enlist you on this mission has come from the very highest level. There are many other officers of equal rank to you in the Mariner Federation with equally distinguished service—although none with your peculiar anatomy—but you are the one that has been selected. Naturally, the Mariner Federation is gratified that no Polar officer has been given the same distinction. That'll give those Polar bastards pause for thought, don't you think?"

"Yes sir. Without a doubt."

"Good. Good."

"Yes sir."

"We don't know for sure what this mission's purpose is. I've been told that this information will not be declassified until the space ship returns from its mission. However, we do have some hypotheses. The principal one is that the mission is related to the discovery of an alien extrasolar civilisation. It has long been suspected that such civilisations exist and there is evidence that appears to indirectly confirm this. I'm not surprised that our intelligence agencies would speculate that a journey to such an absurdly remote part of the solar system is connected with the possibility of making such a first encounter. Furthermore, this is consistent with the growing evidence in recent decades of unusual events and apparitions for which there is as yet no agreed explanation."

"Yes sir."

"There are countless conjectures as to how an alien civilisation might manifest itself. Of course, we don't know whether such a civilisation is hostile or friendly. If it happens to be hostile, I expect you to immediately provide this information through secure channels so that the Federation has a good chance of defending itself. That is understood, colonel?"

"Yes sir. Absolutely."

"There are other hypotheses other than the one relating to alien intelligence, of course, but currently that's by far the most convincing. It's possible that this civilisation might not even be organic. It might be mechanical, nano-particulate, ethereal or organised in some mysterious way that even now no scientist has anticipated. It may even be an extinct civilisation that is sending emissaries beyond its own time. We must be prepared for anything."

"Yes sir."

"Of course it may not be an alien threat at all. You could be working on a mission to combat terrorism. There are vicious elements amongst the rogue states that stubbornly refuse to acknowledge interplanetary law. It could be that religious fundamentalists or extreme ideologues are plotting mischief on a massive scale. It could, of course, be something entirely different. Whatever it is, we expect you to observe your duty to the Federation above all other imperatives. Is that understood, colonel?"

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