Finding Space – Chapter 1

Welcome to an experimental story I’ve been working on of what war in the future might look like. It will be serialized until it is complete.

It was hot. Then again it always seemed hot these days. In fact, the more Ian thought about it, the more he realized that space exploration had one common denominator. Yes, it was often exciting, sometimes terrifying, usually full of logistics nightmares. But it was always hot. Always.

“Where,” he mused to himself, as he felt a bead of sweat roll under his helmet and down his forehead, lightly misting up his face shield, “where in the hell are the planets of ice and snow? Where is Hoth, from the mythos of Star Wars? My childhood lied to me.”

Thus philosophically stimulated, he hefted his battle rifle and rose up off a knee, feeling the exoskeleton of his protective armored suit click into gear, aiding his rise. Which was good, as the pack he carried weighed in around 150 pounds. Not to mention his helmet, basic load of ammunition, twelve rounds for the scout platoon’s mortar, and – he couldn’t explain this to anyone – two actual hardbound paper books. Hard copy books were a thing that disappeared in the 2060s. Here in 2089, books were anathema. And yet…he’d carried them since basic training.

And now here he was, with the scout platoon doing what they always did: walking for miles and miles, looking for…what were they looking for? Well, just about anything, as it turned out. Usually, they found nothing. Deserted and seared planets and moons, blasted by the heat of so many suns. This was the problem with the planet hopping campaign that was going on. The Fifteenth Army (Space) had the responsibility for screening the new colonies being developed – from what, Ian had yet to find out. Screening, he discovered, was more akin to reconnaissance than anything else. Thus far, they’d yet to meet what he’d consider an alien. What they’d had plenty of in spades were…well, humans. But, very odd humans.

When space travel became normalized in 2049 because of the discovery of a new type of renewable fuel. With this fuel, literally anyone could get into space. It was the Conestoga wagon of the 21st century. And so there were frontiers again. And frontiers needed securing. Which is how Ian Tollinger found himself strolling into a very Earth-like field out of the landing zone, sweat collecting in the small of his back.

And then the shooting started.