Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Military Manoeuvres on Celestial Bodies

A fairly good outing today. Nothing spectacular, but a bit north of my budgeted word count, so that's good news. I'm on track to finish by the end of next week, maybe a bit sooner.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
62,958 / 90,000

Today's excerpt comes right at the opening of Part Three, just before the action begins, and is essentially just a little bit on the origins of the twenty-second century United Nations Orbital Patrol, in which RJ Stone served before joining UNSA and taking a twelve-thousand year long nap.

I was never military. But for a while I was a cop.

In her former life, before being reborn in the Human Entelechy, Amelia Apatari had been a soldier-flyer, a volunteer with the United Nation’s standing army, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As a Peacekeeper, she’d been trained to fight, trained to kill. Of course, all she really wanted to do was to fly, and to see new places, but she’d had the training, if needed. And she’d needed, on occasion.

Me, I’d signed on with the Orbital Patrol because I wanted to go into space, and it seemed to offer the best chances. A division of the Department of Outer Space Affairs, the Patrol had been chartered for emergency response and search-and-rescue operations under the original draft of the Outer Space Treaty, before it was revised and ratified in the early 22C. The 1967 draft of the OST was pretty down on the notion of any militarized use of space.

“The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden. The use of military personnel for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes shall not be prohibited. The use of any equipment or facility necessary for peaceful exploration of the moon and other celestial bodies shall also not be prohibited.”

Needless to say, that language got tweaked a bit once extraplanetary colonies started declaring themselves sovereign nations. To say nothing of the growing numbers of “pirate kingdoms” based in the asteroid belt, the Jovian moons, or wherever smugglers and thieves could lay their hands or equivalent cybernetic appendages on a bit of real estate. In short order, the idea that space was solely for peaceful purposes seemed quaint, like steam trains or poodle skirts.

The Peacekeepers, who to that point had been limited to strictly terrestrial operations, were given expanded operational authority to allow them to deal with brush wars and border skirmishes on the colonies, belts, and elsewhere. That just left crime to contend with.

So while the Orbital Patrol hadn’t been chartered for law enforcement, by the time I was a kid it’d been given limited jurisdictional authority. But there were still old guard in the General Assembly who weren’t crazy about the notion of an interplanetary police force, and so the UN only granted interdiction authority to a small subset of Orbital Patrol officers.

When I’d signed onboard Cutter 972, I’d been tapped as an Interdiction Detachment. As with most ID officers, I’d had secondary responsibilities as a crewmember, but when circumstances demanded, I was authorized to board other craft. Most every Patrolman got trained in Interdiction Negotiation, a multidisciplinary approach incorporating elements of psychology, military strategy, negotiation tactics, and martial arts, even if only ID officers ever used the training, just like all Patrolmen were trained marksmen, even if only ID officers were authorized to use energetic firearms in the field.

A few times, after boarding smugglers’ ships or pirate vessels, just me with no backup but my cap-gun and the jurisdictional authority of an Interdiction Detachment, I’d found myself taken prisoner—a crook had gotten the drop on me, or managed to disarm me, or whatever the case might have been—and a time or two, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it out alive. But I’d never been completely without hope, had never given up on the notion of escape.

It had taken twelve thousand years, and an exiled group of genetically-engineered religious fanatics, but I was coming close to breaking my streak.

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