The Butcher of Del Mar Rae

 

By the time the Phibs were strafing the buildings at Del Mar Rae, I had fallen back to the Government complex.A one-story hallway connected the Government Building with the Resident Hall.Both of them were half-open towers.

 

A half-open tower?

 

Yeah Ė half open.Itís a military description.It means that the back wall was reinforced concrete, curving around about two hundred degrees of the towerís circumference, but the front was windows and balconies. Sure, it could have been designed more strategically, but it was hard enough luring government lackeys out there with theÖ

 

Do not mock those who fell at Del Mar Rae.

 

Iím sorry I didnít mean lackeys; they were good people, but they werenít soldiers.And it is hard being out so far.

 

So you were alone when you fell back to the Government Complex?

 

No, not alone - I was one of three mobile units.The rest of our company was either killed or pinned down somewhere, but I wasnít alone until after we gained the Clerking Tower.

 

Please donít call it the clerking tower.Thatís not its name.

 

OK, OK, the Government Building.The two units who were with me went off-line just outside the main doors.A private fresh out from Europa caught a blast and my captain was cut through with chunks of the privateís cranium.When she fell, I was technically in charge.

 

If you were alone at that point, how could you really be ďin chargeĒ?

 

I didnít know at the time whether there was anyone to be in charge of, I only brought it up because I know its one of those things officials worry about.Letís just say that for the record, I knew at the time that I was the ranking unit.†††

 

Please go on.††

 

There was so little resistance by that point, the Phibs were bringing up sixty-fours within two hundred meters of the buildings, the more daring even hovering for a few seconds while they fired into the offices. About sixty-four clerks screaming and running around pell-mell.There was smoke inside, and a few small fires.It seemed the director and her girl Friday were the only level heads there, and I caught up with them as they closed the Vera shield around the residence tower.From the third floor of the Government Building, we could see Phibian ground troops thrown back as the misty gray cocooned the residence.She saved at least half the population of the outpost was that way, mostly families of soldiers and government clerks.

 

Our own Vera shield was out of action and the Phibs already had the ground floor, so it was looking pretty bleak.The clerks were being armed and the director was organizing them the best she could, but they were untrained and in a half-open tower like I said.

 

I have to pause here.I think if Iím going to explain my actions, I have to say how I viewed the whole Ferran System, because thatís really what I made my decision on.See, Del Mar Rae had a long range ion cannon, even though that system had only two small colonies.Both of them were primarily research bases, on two different inner planets.

 

There was another settlement on the north continent.

 

Yes, thatís right Ė there was a religious utopian settlement.Iím not really sure what religion.I was only assigned there a couple of months before the Phibs came.Anyway, there were only about three million people in the Ferran System all together, which is my point.

 

If thatís your point, I donít get it.

 

The cannon at Del Mar Rae could hit anything inside Ferran Oort, which is about the same diameter as Solís.So itís obvious that battery wasnít for the protection of the natives.††

 

Are you saying the locals didnít benefit from the battery?

 

Sure, the locals benefited from it, and probably some came out who wouldnít have otherwise, but there are several planets with large cities that donít have a canon like that.Expensive.The way I figured it, Del Mar Rae had a long range ion cannon because Ferra held a strategic place to the Republic.Ferra was like one of those tiny islands during World War Two, where they had to fight over them not because of their intrinsic worth, but they were such strategic points for resupply and otherÖ

 

World War What?

 

World War TwoÖit was a big war back on Earth, the first nuclear war we had Ė in 1945.

 

The Earth wasnít scorched until 2082.I know that for a fact.

 

There wasnít a scorching.In the first nuclear war, there were only two bombs total.

 

[Interviewer makes face.]

 

Hey, you can look it up if you donít believe me.There were only two nuclear bombs in the whole war.It doesnít matter.You can write it for the record: I believed that if Ferra fell, the Phibs try for more; maybe trillions would die.

 

Go on, please.

 

As I looked over the lip of the tower, I saw that the Phibs were ready to storm the building.I was looking down because there was this arm of water connected to the bay.It was ornamental really, a fountain and deep pool between the two towers, but I was wondering if it could be used somehow.The section of the building connecting the towers was only one story, and the Phibs had it already.I was wondering if the clerks would jump into the pool en masse, maybe some of them could make it to the residence tower and be saved, or maybe swim out to the bay, escape, and go guerilla.It was a long shot, but if a Phib battalion was going to storm the building, all of those clerks were going to die.Two of the clerks were watching me and got the same idea.They jumped and were shot, ruining any chance of an en masse surprise.That was when I noticed the rack.On the open side of the tower, the third floor and those above were wider than first and second floors, and underneath the third floor balcony was this rack.I admit by that point I was looking at survival, a place to hide out the mopping up job and go guerilla.

 

Sounds like you came up with an excuse to save your own skin.

 

No Ė thatís not some piece of cowardice I made up on the spot.Itís in our manual.In bad situations, the military wants a few to survive, and this looked bad.

 

The rack was made of heavy steel rods and stuffed with any odds and ends that they hadnít used in years.There was just enough space between the junk and the floor above for a man to hide.Once I was secured in the rack, I saw two things immediately.One, there was no battalion.There wasnít even a company.Our soldiers had done a good job somewhere, really cut them down.Those sixty-four clerks with rifles and side arms could do well against what was left.

 

There were a hundred and six Amphibians.

 

Huh?A hundred and six?Well, that may be so, but we had the superior position.We held the building and obviously they wanted it intact.And I was in an excellent spot to snipe a bunch as they began the attack, dividing their attention front and rear.

 

You are not here because you shot amphibians.

 

Yes, I understand Iím not in here because I sniped amphibians.I know what I did.I know what theyíre calling me in the media.But thatís the other thing I saw.I saw they had rounded up civilians who had picked a bad day to be out of the building.They were going to use them as shields when they stormed the Government Tower.†† Those poor clerks up there, they didnít have the kind of training it takes to overcome any sort of emotionalÖthe Phibs would have killed them all in the end, donít you see?That shaky old man with the beard and the little boy he was holding ontoÖ the clerks were working up their courage to shoot at big bad aliens, but they would have been totally unprepared to face their own.And after the Phibs were done with the clerks, if any of those human shields were alive, they would have been used against the people in the residence tower.The Phibs had no way to get through the Vera shield directly, but youíd be surprised to see what folks will do when they have to watch their own peopleÖI was the only one there with the military training, the hardness to do it, donít you see?And the clerks won, didnít they?Doesnít that count for anything?