Out on the ice-buried planet, Commander Red Stone led his Free Companions to almost certain death. They died for a dangerous dream that had only one chance in a thousand trillion to come true. Is there a better reason for dying?
n a battle it means surrender. There was no other way. And I had a pretty good idea that the Council itself was behind O'Hara on this job. If it was ionics involved, they wouldn't ransom us. The Council had waited a long time to catch Red Stone in an execution offense. They wouldn't miss.
But forty of our men were down already.
"Okay," I beamed over the circuit, "break silence. We've had it Rajay."
"Council offense, Red."
* * * * *
Well, I'd had a lot of good years. Maybe I'd been a soldier too long. I was thinking just like that when the sudden flank attack started. From the right. Heavy fire from the cover of the solitary mountain top. O'Hara's men were dropping. I stared through my viewer. On that mountain I counted the uniforms of twenty-two different Companies. That was very wrong. Whoever Saltario was fronting for could not have the power or the gold to hire twenty-four Companies including mine and Rajay-Ben's. And the fire was heavy but not that heavy.
The galaxy has outlawed war, but barely tolerates the Company men--groups of mercenaries who fight on behalf of worlds when disputes can't be settled any other way. They could also be hired for protection, as Red Stone's men were hired by the remnant of survivors of Nova-Maurania, whose sun had gone cold, and who had a highly illegal plan to rectify the problem.
Some nice tension and character development. As is often the case, no women in this story.
Potent short about a destroyed planet and the dream of its survivors.