Marcus of Duros Ch. 01byHawkeye802©
Author's Note - Hi everyone! This is my first attempt at writing erotic fiction, so I thought I would write some sci-fi for you guys. I hope you will all enjoy it. Comments, suggestions, or criticisms are appreciated. Fair warning; there is nothing remotely sexual until the third chapter. I will write more chapters as soon as I can.
In the final years of the 21st century, the world was plunged into nuclear war. Efforts of globalization and world peace that had looked so promising at the start of the century had rapidly dissolved. Organizations such as the UN and NATO were disbanded, and the major world powers began stockpiling their nuclear arsenals anew. Shortly after the dawn of the 22nd century the small country of North Korea launched ten nuclear warheads against the major powers, igniting worldwide aggression. So began The War of 2102.
Responding to the attacks, the major world powers deployed thousands of nuclear weapons against both North Korea, and each other. Those who could took shelter in the bunkers that had been build during the period that had commonly become known as The Second Cold War.
For nineteen hours, all those nations possessing nuclear weapons launched every warhead they had. By way of ICBMs, bomber squadrons, or nuclear attack submarines, the terrible weapons rained down, bathing the earth in nuclear firestorms. Those areas which were not hit directly by a warhead were most often destroyed by the uncontrolled fires which followed. Only the most remote areas were saved from total destruction.
Those areas spared by the firestorm might have appeared to be havens, but their salvation from the fires made very little difference as the temperatures of the northern hemisphere plummeted when the light of the sun was blocked by dense clouds of smoke and debris.
As the survivors began digging themselves out of their bunkers, the outlook was extremely grim. Ninety percent of the population of the northern hemisphere was dead, and many more would perish in the coming months from thirst, starvation, radiation, and violence.
The land was absolutely incapable of supporting even a small population, but word quickly spread that the southern hemisphere remained relatively intact.
Below the equator the situation was much less dire. Less than three hundred warheads had been detonated in the southern hemisphere, all on major metropolitan areas. While the death toll was catastrophic, vast areas of land remained untouched, and temperatures only dropped marginally. The global wind patterns, which were separated by hemisphere, kept most of the smoke and radioactive particles bottled up in the north.
A mass exodus from the northern hemisphere began, and those who were able fled from north to south in an effort to survive. As hundreds of thousands begin pouring into the unstable continents of South America, Africa, and Oceania, their fragile governments crumbled into hundreds of independent republics, confederations, city-states, and monarchies.
In the aftermath of The War of 2102, a significant number of refugees from the now desolate eastern seaboard of The United States managed to make the long journey to an area in the south east region of the country that was once the Federative Republic of Brazil. Almost 30,000 had lived to see the journey through to completion. Nearly two thirds were young men.
The men quickly seized a tract of land large enough to support the population, and secured it from any neighbors, benevolent or otherwise. As soon as possibly they formed a government, but perhaps too hastily and without a great abundance of wisdom on equality or history.
The state was an oppressive patriarchy where women were viewed as 2nd class citizens. In the eyes of the government their entire purpose in life would be to raise children for the state, and provide comfort and support to their husbands.
The state initially supported itself with token agriculture, and by stealing from neighboring nations. However as time progressed and technology was rediscovered it began to solidify as a mercenary state.
The men began to be raised solely for combat and warfare. Once they were trained, large units were contracted by a variety of customers for many different purposes: a city-state that needed a rebellion crushed, a navy in need of a detachment of marines, even squadron of pirates looking to bolster their numbers for a large assault. Any and all contacts were welcome, so long as the client could pay, and the task would take no longer than six months.
In this way Duros became a thriving and rich state, while many others had failed in the violent aftermath of the great war.
Commander Marcus Crassus stood alone in the stern of the old transport ship. The spray, caught by the sea breeze, gently peppered his face in the crisp evening air, as he watched the wake of the ship recede to the horizon where the African continent was quickly fading. After spending four months in the dry heat of the continent, he enjoyed the wet breeze which had begun shortly after casting off.
This last job had been a difficult undertaking. They had been tasked with protecting a valuable gold mine owned by The Mining Guild from a neighboring town of Goglatta, which was attempting to take over the mining operation.
The town, as it were, was actually a large tract of land controlled by Goglatta, the central shire town, with ample resources to participate in prolonged hostilities.
Despite the size of the undertaking, the money had been good, and the contract with his government was more than fair. As an added motivator, the contract stipulated that if they could eliminate the threat from the town within four months there would be an extra bonus. As always, looting was encouraged.
So, three months, and twenty two days later, they were on their way back to Duros, having completely destroyed the town and scattered the townspeople.
Their town of Goglatta had actually been a reinforced fort, with several 105mm cannon emplacements on the upper walls. The citadel at the center of the town had been protected by eight 50 caliber machine gun nests.
While the relatively small guns their enemies carried did not pose a serious risk to his men, who without exception wore the heavy armor of The Durosian Legion, a direct hit from the machine guns or the cannons would penetrate the armor without resistance.
Even more terrifying were the long bladed knives the townspeople carried, with which they seemed to take inhuman delight in using to decapitate his men; by sneaking the knives into the gap between the cuirass and helmet.
The occupants of the town were dirty, bloodthirsty, ferocious fighters, and mostly men. In the entire town of nearly 3,000 people, he had only seen several dozen women, a major disadvantage to the town, Marcus thought. In his mind women brought some semblance of peace, and civilization. Their absence would only encouraged blood lust and barbarity.
Unfortunately his battalion had taken significant casualties. Of the 529 men he had taken with him on the South African Campaign, he had lost 68 men: an entire platoon and others from various outfits. To him the losses were staggering.
He was a relatively young Commander: only 26 years old at the time of his promotion, and he had been Commander for two years, making him 28. In the two years he had been in command of the 5th Battalion, he had never lost so many men.
He chastised himself gently for wallowing in self pity for losses which had been comparatively light. Only ten years ago, another Commander of The Legion had been killed along with his entire battalion in a jungle campaign against an army of well armed revolutionaries.
"Commander Crassus, sir-" The Commander rolled his eyes slightly as one of his Captains appeared at his elbow.
His father had been nearly as successful in his career as Marcus had been himself. So hotheaded and egotistical that upon promotion to Battalion Commander, his father had legally changed his family name to Crassus. A throwback to the ancient Romans, who had once dominated the now inhospitable Mediterranean.
Ever pompous and conceited, his father had insisted that Marcus be given a fitting first name for such a noble last name, which meant a Roman one. Thus he was saddled, with what he felt, was the ridiculous name of Marcus Crassus.
Marcus wondered briefly how his mother stood it... not that she had a choice.
His mother had been selected by The Lords of Duros for marriage to his father, as a reward for his leadership in battle shortly after his promotion to Captain.
Typically, a man seeking a marriage needed to enlist the help of a retired patron, who would arrange one for him. The most beautiful women were sometimes reserved for marriage at the behest of The Lords themselves, as a reward for bravery, service, or loyalty.
"Commander? Sir?" His Captain repeated.
"Yes, sorry Jarrod, I'm just distracted tonight. What is it?"
"Nothing too pressing sir, it's just that the men are waiting to dine in the officers mess. Should I tell them to start without you?"
"Oh... no I'll be right there Captain. The time seems to have gotten away from me a bit. Let me just freshen up in my quarters and I'll be along shortly."
"I'll let them know to wait a moment Commander. No rush I assure you. Lieutenants Dodd and Braxus are still locked in a heated discussion on tactics, which none of us have had the energy to break up as of yet... but since you're coming, we'll just leave the honor to you." Jarrod said with a teasing smile.
"Thank you for your... consideration." Marcus said, putting as much sarcasm into the word 'consideration' as he possibly could.
A slight pang of guilt hit him as he watched his friend walk back towards the main structure of the ship. He had been so caught up in his own moroseness that he had delayed his officer's dinner.
The rivets under the Captain's feet squeaked as he walked, and rust from the welded seams flaked off onto his boots, leaving a trail of brown, slightly watery footprints behind Jarrod as he went.
"What a dumpy old ship." Marcus said to no one in particular.
He reasoned that the ship must be nearly 30 years old. His father had often talked about being ferried about on the same ship which Marcus now stood upon. It was certainly no beauty, and probably wasn't one when it was built. The general consensus of the state was that if it still worked, what was the point in replacing it for sake of ascetics?
Marcus shrugged as he turned from the rail and walked towards his quarters. It hadn't sunk yet, he reasoned, so why bother complaining.
His quarters were located not far from the bow, slightly below decks, underneath the main bridge and crew compartments. It was relatively comfortable, not to far below decks which were hot, and stank of fuel oil, but not too close to the main deck where there was the constant bustle of the crew, and the incessant noise of the sea.
His quarters were fairly sparse, which suited him just fine for such a short voyage. The crossing back to Duros would only take a week at the most, so for the time being the small cot, and accompanying water closet would be adequate.
He stripped his armor off and placed it in his travel chest. It would need to be cleaned before he could be seen in it again.
Bloodstained and grimy, it was more or less in acceptable condition so soon after combat, but now that they were on board, and lacking any other duties, there would be no excuse for dirty gear, especially on the commanding officer.
He took a moment to appreciate his kit.
Duros, he admitted, was not especially advanced, technologically speaking. After the great war, most nations had been thrown back centuries into the past. While Duros was only just barely reaching a level of technology comparable to times before the war, one thing Duros could be given high marks for however, was its weapons and armor technology.
The standard armor of The Legion covered nearly the entire body, with a combined chest and back cuirass, shoulder, bicep, forearm, and thigh protectors. Greaves, and heavy combat boots completed the suit, along with a helmet that covered the entire head, with the exception of the mouth, nose, and throat. The tinted polycarbonate, which protected and obscured the eyes, completed the intimidating, and aggressive appearance.
The specifics of making the armor were a tightly guarded secret. Only a select group of retired officers were chosen to work in the manufacturing plant. They labored in secret to build more suits for The Legion, and to sell abroad at an enormous profit for the state.
Marcus could easily understand its marketability. After all, the plastic alloy armor was quite light, and nearly impenetrable by standard weapons. Only 50 caliber weapons or larger could penetrate the thick plates, never mind a bladed weapon, which was still favored by some nations.
As he picked his weapons up off the bed where he had laid them while he was putting away his armor, he made a quick inspection to ensure they were still functional, and had not been gummed up by the ever present sand.
He pulled the narrow sword he carried on a scabbard, which was strapped to the back of his cuirass, out and checked it for grime. Finding none he pulled out his Officer's Pistols from their holsters.
Lieutenants and Captains were allowed to carry only one, to be complimented by the standard issue sword and rifle if they chose, but Commanders were expected to carry two, as another symbol of their rank.
The massive pistols were not easy weapons to carry. Fully loaded with eight 50 caliber bullets they weighed nearly five pounds, never mind all the additional rounds he carried in magazines on his belt. The recoil from the guns often surprised young officers when they first received their pistol. When the gun was fired it would buck in the hand of the shooter, doing its level best to fly free.
Still, Marcus thought to himself, he wouldn't trade his pistols for the world. They performed remarkably consistently, even in the worst of environments, and had never failed him in battle. The same could be said for his sword.
The sword's appearance was not impressive. Only and inch and a half wide, and about three feet in length, it served as an auxiliary weapon to a Legionary's rifle or pistol. Its size was deceptive however as the slight curve made it a nasty slashing weapon. Only the outer edge was sharpened, leaving the back to be manipulated in combat when necessary. Used properly it could cleave a man in half, provided he wasn't wearing armor. In addition, it was nearly impossible to break. Even repeated strikes against solid steel barely nicked it.
Finished with his inspection, Marcus placed his weapons in his chest alongside his armor, and donned his casual dress uniform: an all black affair consisting of trousers, and a high necked, double breasted tunic, that buttoned from the waist to his shoulder on the right side. Pinned to his right shoulder were the three gold bars that distinguished him as a Commander.
On his left shoulder, four shoulder cords hung: two gold and two silver. They were his battle honors, representing his confirmed kills throughout his career, in his case 120. To Marcus the practice of wearing a kill count on one's shoulder would always be barbaric. It encouraged the young troops to be overly aggressive and impulsive in their fervor to receive their first silver cord.
With a start Marcus looked at the chronometer on the wall. How long had he kept his men waiting for their dinner with his reflections? He had promised Captain Jarrod he would be right along.
Fifteen minutes had passed.
With an exasperated huff he bolted to the door, buttoning the upper portion of the tunic as he went. He was loosing his touch, he thought to himself as he hurried along the corridor to the officer's mess. In years past he would not have imagined taking fifteen minutes to change out of armor.
As he reached the door he took a moment to smooth the tunic he had rumpled in his jog. As with all things on the old ship, the handle squeaked as he twisted it. He ignored the sound, and walked sedately through the door.
"Commander on deck!" Captain Jarrod said firmly, as every man present jumped to his feet.
"At ease. I'm sorry I'm late gentlemen. I was lost in thought near the bow. Captain Jarrod had to come and find me." He said with an apologetic chuckle.
"No worries sir!" Lt. Braxus said excitedly from the far end of the table. "Lieutenant Dodds and I were just discussing the strategy used by Commander Windstrom of the 11th Battalion in his campaign last year. Would you like to hear about it sir? I could -"
"That's quite alright, Lieutenant." Captain Jarrod interrupted from the Marcus's end of the table. "I'm sure the Commander is eager to begin dinner."
"Quite right, let's eat gentlemen" Marcus said with an appreciative nod Jarrod. His second in command was always able to deflect any overeager lieutenants for him. This way he would not have to disappoint them by declining to comment when he was unable to carry on a thoughtful enough conversation as would befit a Commander.
Marcus took his seat, and once he was sitting his men followed suit, and conversation resumed.
As the food was served by the ship's cook and his mates, Marcus took a moment to survey the men around the table. Only fifteen Lieutenants sat at the far end of the long table, where there should have been sixteen.
Lieutenant Dillon had been the most senior lieutenant in the battalion, first in line for a captaincy of a company if a vacancy occurred within the battalion while on campaign. Unfortunately, his Platoon was the one that had been lost when an initial assault of the walled town had failed.
Never one to leave his men, Dillon had fought on until he too had been killed.
Consequently, the chair at the head of the far end of the table was left vacant. Lieutenant Paxton, being the most senior lieutenant now, was obliged to sit in it. Instead Paxton was seated in his usual spot, looking morosely at his plate as his food was served to him, as if unwilling to acknowledge the loss of one of his close companions.
"Lieutenant Paxton." Marcus said quietly, but firmly. "Let us not grieve for our friends, but honor their memory. Take your seat please."
The table went silent as Paxton looked up at him with tired eyes that were more than a little wet.
"Yes sir." Paxton said dejectedly.
The 20 year old looked on the verge of a complete breakdown as he took the seat which had until recently belonged to his friend. Marcus hoped Paxton would make it through dinner until he had a chance to speak with him about it in private, where Paxton could open up about the loss and feel no shame. Not that any man seated at the table would berate him for it, everyone there had lost innumerable friends to the constant fighting that the nature of their way of life.
Dinner continued without any further incidents, and for the most part Marcus was left to his thoughts as he picked at his dinner. Jarrod and the three other captains discussed the campaign and its successes, but never its failures. It would have been extremely rude to discuss any negative aspects of the Commander's tactics with their Commander seated right next to them.
As the last lieutenant was finishing up his fourth helping of beef and rice, Marcus cleared his throat as an indication that it was time to retire. As Marcus stood his officers were quick to follow suit, standing respectfully by their seats, some still with napkins at their necks.
"Gentlemen, I believe it is time to retire. I dare say the next week or so will be as uneventful and relaxing as we could hope for after a successful campaign, and I am sure you are all eager to return home, for obvious reasons..." Marcus trailed off as he eyed the young lieutenants at the far end of the table.