A Simple Training Exercise

Esmes Solar System – YC117

The burst of Cherenkov radiation in the void of space heralded the arrival of Commander Adams’ Cormorant-class destroyer, as it exited its warp tunnel above Esmes III. Once it had fully slowed from warp, the Commander directed his camera drones to focus upon the first part of his assignment for the day: the district satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the planet. He had been tasked by command to undertake an exercise in orbital bombardment in preparation to support State Protectorate and 24th Imperial Crusade ground troops, even though the Commander had already partaken in several bombardments prior. Something about ‘surgical strikes’ and the need to hit targets accurately without collateral damage, as if that was avoidable at the best of times. Nonetheless, orders are orders, and Adams complied with little protest.

What a bore, he thought to himself as he willed his ship to approach and connect to the digital network that would allow him to receive information and targeting data from the surface. With little effort, the connection was open and contact was initiated with the squad on the ground that would designate several targets in a simulated exercise to eliminate targets entrenched in urban areas, but minimising damage to surrounding infrastructure. Adams then proceeded to reload his seven 150mm Railgun weapon systems with the specialised ammunition required to strike ground targets, finished up some final system checks, and awaited his first target.

Esmes III – Derelict City, Ground Team

The ground team assigned to support Commander Adams exercise established themselves upon a hill that held a commanding position of one of the former population centres, surveying the desolate, marred wasteland that was once a prospering colony. A backwater planet lacking adequate defences, it stood little chance to repel the sudden Sansha raid that obliterated its cities and abducted the majority of its population. Of the lucky few that were fortunate enough to be spared abduction, a minimal amount returned once evacuated, leaving the planet virtually deserted aside from a few scavengers and isolated settlements far from the remnants of the cities. Aside from the standard urban decay and degeneration incurred from lack of maintenance, much of the urban structures remained intact, thus making it appealing for its use by paramilitary groups as proving grounds for weapons testing and training in tactics utilised in such environments.

The Lieutenant charged with designating areas for bombardment had picked several promising targets, his binoculars equipped with a laser system that would pinpoint a specific location and transmit it to the satellite above them, whereby Commander Adams would receive it and respond with raining fire down from the skies. The first target for the day would be a small office block, situated next to a crossroads and several other buildings. Activating the designator and establishing a video feed for the capsuleer above him, he awaited the awe-inspiring response.

Esmes III – Satellite, Planetary orbit, Commander Adams

The information sent by the ground team was delivered, interpreted and processed into a firing solution. The seven 150mm railguns adorning his vessels gunmetal-grey hull adjusted to lock onto the designator’s beam, with success achieved moments later. Without hesitation, Adams fired a salvo down upon the planet, grey streaks slicing through space into the atmosphere, the ship reverberating from the report of the armament. Diverting his attention to the camera feed of the ground team, he witnessed the sky darken as seven grey lances fell from the heavens, all impacting the target with great efficiency and impressive effect. Naught much was left standing, exposed structural supports, twisted girders and debris, a mushroom cloud slowly rising from the site. A message was received from the ground team to the Commander’s Neocom: “Target destroyed, all shots landed on target, minimal collateral damage. Sterling effort Commander, the exercise was a complete success.”

Allowing himself some satisfaction, Adams surveyed the damage wrought by his vessel for a few more minutes, closing the feed after thanking the ground team for their work. Altering the weapons system to his standard armament, he departed the satellite, entered into warp and headed for home.

Just another training exercise, he concluded.


One hand on the ground. Two. One knee and the other. A foot - push. There. Standing. The world vibrates, but the shaking slows. The steps to the Semes city hall have a new hole in them. The ringing fades too.

The throbbing in her thigh continues. Her legs give out from under her. She crumbles. A rod of rebar clangs against the ground; the vibration rings through where it has pierced her flesh, and she convulses. There’s no thought of her first aid training from those long months ago. Her shaking hands grasp the metal and yank it out. The steel threading rips through her soft tissue.

Warmth and wetness pool in her slacks and drain into her uniform coat. Her chest aches. She pushes her hand against the hole. The blood doesn’t stop flowing. Then she hears it: whimpering. Had someone else been hurt too?

She tries to sit up, but her muscles are locked. Her vision darkens. No, she realises. She only hears herself.


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