Street patrols had been cut back, leave had been cancelled and weapons checks had been ordered. It was obvious to all in the barracks that something major was due. The volunteers guessed, and had formed disgusted huddles to avoid the enthusiastic draftees. Killing civilians was not what they had signed up for.
Commander Janssen arrived late to the parade ground, his huge half track command vehicle misfiring on two cylinders and gouging up the surface. He made only a cursory inspection of the assembled troops before signalling the ranking officers on the base to mount up and join him around the map table.
Trikes mounted with autoguns formed up ahead of and behind the command vehicle. The on-duty troops formed up by squad behind the half track, ready to set out for the old town of Cora. The streets were narrow and the buildings mazes of small rooms. If they met opposition, the rumour went, they would simply raze the district rather than risk fighting on such fatal ground.
The gates opened. Manually adjusting the three banks of carburettors on the half track’s engine, the driver managed to stop the misfires. The vehicle jerked forward and headed out of the barracks. The troops followed behind, marching into the rising sun, ready to make the wrong kind of history.