Insurrection - Part 1 Carl took a moment to compose himself. They had been traveling for days through this dead land. And the inside of the command vehicle was getting damp and musty. He had regretted not having it cleaned before his departure. When he stepped out, it hit him immediately. It reeked like death here. Heavy and sweet in a kind of nauseating way. A familiar smell by now. The stale miasma of centuries of conflict tainted his nostrils. A vast expanse of mud and decaying vegetation laying before him. It was quite, eerily so. The occasional whoosh of wind through deceased twigs sounded like muffled whispers. Warning calls of the dead. He had expected it to be colder. In fact, it wasn't that warm, but the humidity had made breathing nearly unbearable and his chest felt tight. Troops and superiors alike had been sweating profusely, and the inability to use the water for personal hygiene hadn't helped morale either. As a captain he'd taken an extra uniform with him. But that proved to be far from sufficient. Cadet Christina trailed behind him. Keenly observing her surroundings. This was her first tour. But the harsh conditions didn't seem to concern her like most and she happily went to answer her call of nature, disappearing behind some dead foliage. Jessica remained in the back seat to read intel reports. An insurrection had been brewing a long time among local Jekotian nationalists, and encouraged by the successes of their comrades in the north it had finally come to a boil. Now that the Glycen airlift had been forced to divert due to anti-air attacks in this region, the 5th Cavalry were tasked with flushing them out. No easy task for sure. There wasn't much here in the way of civilization. Only a few major towns spread out over 1 million Km² of thick jungle intermingled with the central basin. Even the glycen plains had a higher population density. What it did have however were arms caches. Lot's of them. And abandoned Imperial strongholds. The failure of previous governments to tear down the latter had finally come to haunt them. And it was those that were reportedly the source of the SAM attacks. They would encounter only infantry though, at least so they had been told. While the Imperial half-tracks were duly outclassed in the open, it had been the Northern vehicles that had frequently gotten stuck in the mud. And thus knowing how it had gone many times before they had reasoned enemy armour wouldn't need to be accounted for. Carl could only hope they were proven right again. It was a public secret that high command had effectively been blind since the early days of uprising. With no orbital surveillance they had been forced to rely on traditional methods. And suffice to say, intel gathering wasn't the Empire's strongest point. There was no telling what the Faction was up to around here. The marshes were treacherous ground. For millennia they had acted as a bulwark against northern invaders, devouring their forces. Not surprisingly the marshes had long been worshiped in it self as a sort of supernatural entity. And its legends had frequently been incorporated in the mythologies of surrounding lands. Its soil mummified the fallen and rotting tank hulls were strewn across across the landscape. Trophies to its appetite. Together these former war relics had formed another palisade of obstacles on top of ancient branches and a carpet of thick grass. The bane of every tank commander that had dared to traverse the wetland. According to the map the nearest outpost was less than 20 kilometers or so away. But traversing all the gorges during some of the heaviest rainfall in years had caused days of delay. Not very long ago torrential monsoons and difficult terrain had bogged down another offensive. It was here that the Jekotian southern thrust first begun to grind to a halt. Their heavy tanks sunk through the topsoil, while mines and demolition squads inflicted heavy casualties on their logistics. Malaria and indigenous parasites had taken care of the rest. What was planned as a risky but potentially rewarding push for the Brenodi industrial heartland, had turned into an unmitigated disaster. The Jekotians had tried to gas them out, bomb them with incendiaries. They had tried to poison and drain the marshes. To no avail. Though their effects are evident still to this day. Their troops. Used to the dry plains of Ronan and frozen wastes were ill equipped for the dense mangrove forests and its climate. And more troops had probably died on the Jekotian side due to epidemics than the fighting it self. Which was ferocious and brutal whenever either side met. Even when the tactical nukes were brought out into the open, the hardened Brenodi defenders had continued to hold their own. It is often said that aside from the excavations, it is here where the Empire was saved. With the spectacular - and literal - collapse of their republic, were too buried their expansive military records. And so there was no telling how many had perished. Estimates point to millions. Carl didn't find that hard to believe. Christina had returned, yawning on her way to the command vehicle, her hair fuzzy from days of neglect. It had been cramped the last few days as soldiers had taken refuge in the remaining half-tracks and APCs after their own vehicles broke down. The command vehicle, while bigger, was only slightly more spacious than an APC, and that was when it was devoid of any equipment. In-between all the panels, cables and supply crates there was barely enough room to squeeze in three people. Himself and cadets Jessica and Christina. Thinking about it, it had felt a bit like his first car, only with more gadgets and better seats. He'd come here to enforce his family's honour, and as a way to guarantee himself political influence later in life. Participation, at least in the form of recruitment was strictly voluntarily. Not surprisingly when taking into account all the androids around. Yet there was this pervasive social pressure to "do the right thing". A mission to civilize. They couldn't help it they said. What a load of bollocks. Why couldn't they just nuke them all just like the Jekotians had tried? But the queen and her senators would have it no other way. Even his father had agreed. All they talked about was the moral high ground, world peace. And now he was here. In the middle of nowhere, trying to stave off that rancid stench. He returned to his vehicle. The only mitigating factor so far had been a bottle of fine brandy that his father had passed him upon his graduation. "For celebrating" he had said. He'd heed his words.