Before reading up on the background for the Caprice faction I wasn’t sure if I would find them interesting – afterwards, I found their background appealed very much, as I am a huge fan of the mecha series Fang of the Sun Dougram.
The idea of being able to play either the collaborating forces of a colonised planet or the resistance working against them seemed very interesting, and as I worked on building this army I realised it would have to be a Militia or Resistance list all the way…
“Anything good today?” As the hangar doors finally creaked shut, the recovery crew were able to remove their face-masks, large suction fans spiriting the unpleasant red dust that had been brought in with the away team back outside so they could breathe.
“Not a lot. We checked two more map points but they were pretty much picked clean.”
“So that leaves, what, six left from the last survey?”
“Sounds right. And by that point we’re getting quite far out from this place, so it’s gonna take longer to get out and back. Meaning-”
“You’ll need more supplies to make the trip.”
“Yeah. We’ll need to crunch some numbers and see if it’s realistic to make the runs. Unless there’s a serious cache in one of those places we could just end up eating through our fuel trying to find more.”
“If we don’t make the run, how long can we last?”
There was a large whiteboard in the briefing-room, with handwritten warnings taped to its edges requesting that every expenditure be marked at the end of the day. It stated that there were, according to the supply department, 10,250 portions of food left. The complex had a staff of 150, meaning that they had about three weeks’ supplies remaining at three meals a day.
“I could put it to the staff that we could go to two meals one day and one meal the next, that would near enough double our time.”
“If we went to one meal a day we’d have over two months’ food.”
“If we went to one meal a day there’d be riots.”
“Things aren’t good.” There was a sentence being said far too much across Dalton Station, usually by the Council – the few people who had been happy to take some form of control. But this was the first time one of the rangers had said it. “When we found that ledger I really thought we’d be OK for the foreseeable, but there’s nothing out there.”
“Face it, Elvy, there aren’t going to be easy outs here. Nothing’s ever going to be simple.”
There was no reply from the ranger as she turned and left. What was there to report? A few pallets of tins that would need to be checked, and maybe add up to ten or twenty meals. More usefully a dozen barrels of fuel that would possibly make another supply run possible. Hardly worth the day each way it had taken to get to the factories, the fruitless poring through empty warehouses and stacks of spoiled goods just to find the few things that hadn’t been taken or sabotaged.
“Elvy! Come back here.”
“What’s the point?”
“You know the rules.”
“Check Lola’s footwell if you absolutely have to be an ass about this. And while you’re at it, take a minute to rethink your life decisions.”
The supply officer shrugged and noted down on his clipboard No luxury goods found. The rangers could keep whatever they’d dug out, this time.
Alcohol and any other recreational drugs had to be declared as salvaged luxuries, to be divided among the staff of the base evenly. Realistically, most finds wouldn’t stretch beyond two pilots over two hours’ drinking, and it was accepted without too much complaint that as long as there was enough of a stash for the standing staff to enjoy a drink after their shift, the odd bottle or carton of cigarettes magically disappearing from the supply runs could be forgiven. After all, the rangers kept Dalton Station safe and supplied.
Now, if it turned out they were hoarding food, there would be fierce judgments. But for the moment they were trusted not to do anything like that. Things weren’t good, but they were manageable and there was still hope. About a month ago, the Mendez Connection had taken up residence in Dalton Station on the tip-off that it contained corporate records – including a list of remote prospecting stations and pumping stations that had been abandoned at the time of the capitulation, and would probably still contain food and fuel meant for their now-gone staff. The ledger had contained twenty-five sets of co-ordinates. Nineteen had been searched, and of those eight had been destroyed. The others had been mostly stripped bare either by the occupying forces or other bands of wanderers, and so resource expenditure was rapidly outstripping income.
There had been arguments at the time the Connection had left its previous base. That place had been uncomfortable, for sure, but it had been a long-term deep core mining plant, which had meant it had had a hydroponics tube which could grow vast quantities of bad-tasting but highly nutritious vegetables. Dalton was a corporate landing-port, designed to hold a permanent staff of perhaps a dozen in some luxury, and the same number of guests in significantly greater luxury. The hundred and fifty members of the Connection had enjoyed its spacious corridors, plush waiting-room furniture and glamorous conference rooms for maybe a week before realising that most of the mod cons were broken and there was only a diminishing reserve of airplane food to live on. But still, the ledger had been hope – if each of the twenty-five outposts had had their full complement of supplies it would have been enough to keep them fed for the winter months and then, when the weather wasn’t actively trying to kill them, they could have headed elsewhere.
Instead they had less than a month’s supplies left unless they went to reduced rations, and it was highly likely the storms would only get worse over the next month and a half.
“I’ll tell you who has got everything they want.” The second-in-command of the rangers, Richard Kurz, had joined Elvy in staring aimlessly over the toxic plains outside. “The bastards who capitulated.”
“You know that isn’t true.” Every so often someone in one of the Connections or workers’ unions would have this stupid idea, that life would magically be easy if they just joined the Earth occupying government. “And you know you’d have to kill us in order to get your meals.”
“Someone‘s got to have all the stuff on this bloody planet. It can’t have just gone away.”
“You’ve given me an idea.”
“Absolutely not. No. No way. We don’t do that.” Dalmore, the head of Dalton’s Council looked like he was about to faint. “We don’t attack the occupation government. No. Not yet.”
There was an uneasy and unpopular truce between those who had not capitulated as fully as the occupation government would like and the authorities. The standing order to all resistance groups – hidden deeply beneath the exhortations to co-operate in every aspect – was to delay, inconvenience and sabotage but never to engage in open military operations.
Elvy had suggested engineering an accident for an Earth force supply shuttle.
“I’m not saying we attack the thing directly. I’m saying if we could force it to make an emergency landing somewhere, like perhaps this apparently abandoned and perfectly safe airfield, we could make sure it vanishes.”
“That is attacking it directly, Elvy.”
“If what I’ve heard on the underground is true that ship is carrying crate after crate of food. We could see out the winter.”
“It’s going to the polar mining bases. If we eat, the miners starve.”
“No. We don’t attack the government, and we don’t harm our countrymen.”
Elvy had nothing to say. Councillor Dalmore was right.
Six potential supply caches left.
Dalton Station Rangers: The Mendez Connection
Strider Unit: Ranger Unit 1
“Lola” Missile Support Ammon 30TV … Elvira “Elvy” Mendez
“Lucy” Missile Support Ammon 30TV … Richard Kurz
“Mei” Bashan 10TV … Lily Sing
Strider Unit: Ranger Unit 2
“Sally” Veteran Support Ammon 30TV … Gino Marconi
“Nico” Acco 6TV … Paul Morales
“Yuri” Acco 6TV … Sasha Cortes
Skirmisher Unit: Ranger Unit 3
“Suzy” Sniper Megiddo 20TV … Arnie Pasquale
“Rico” Stalker Acco 6TV … Rico Del Monte
“Johnny” Pyro Acco 6TV … Bert Carrick
“Bob” Pyro Acco 6TV … Kimiko Yoshida