Omicron’s eyes opened automatically at 5:00 a.m. He heard the rustling of government issued pants outside and knew that the sergeants were in the first stages of waking soldiers up for the new day… for today there would be a full day’s work and then some. Omicron slipped on his pants and shoes, and checked his gun. He went to the supply center and was one of the first to fill his belt with bombs and receive a day’s rations. The rain was coming down full Force now. The men were soon up and platoon leaders were assembled at five-thirty. The enemy had retreated from the walls protecting the City to the various levels of the administrative command center.
The cannons situated around the periphery of the enemy’s citadel… that is, around the edge of the roof of the first level… were to be the first targets. Most of these would have to be taken, he was told, before penetration of enemy space within the complex could be made. The plan was for Companies A, B and C…of the Second Battalion to be in the vanguard…again…They were to group at one point around the walls to the first level….and then attack at that point… where only a few cannon would be able to aim downward….They would blast through the wall at that point…gain access to the inside of the first complex level where over 400 enemy were waiting…in half emergency-lighted darkness…The troopers would run inside to rails where lines of cars were filled…but transfixed mid-motion…run along these lines using cars for protection…then run up stairways to the roof as quickly as possible…storm onto the roof of the first level…The ones who could make it would then circle in both directions around the perimeter of the complex… destroying cannons until they met on the other side. Once the cannons around the perimeter of roof were disabled the rest of the troopers…over 1200 men on the ground…in front of the first level…would charge into the structure…and annihilate all enemy within….
The word spread that some of the men had found refrigerated warehouses still full of food, some of which had rotted during the hours it had been delayed in transit, but most of which was in almost prime condition. The enemy had not been able to take great quantities of food with them into the complex. It was probable that they were now limited to the rations they had with them, which could not be much.
It was now apparent more than ever that the enemy was doomed. Fortune had begun to change. Instead of flying high on the wings of surprise, aggression, and momentum, now the enemy huddled in the sanctuary of the complex waiting for the inevitable crush of opposition from without to inexorably press towards the quick… to the nerve center of their operation. It was now six o’clock and Omicron’s platoon was ready. The complex rose high before them, level after level, with the command headquarters at the very summit… with a commanding view over all the City.
At the sound of the order to move, the three companies were off…dozens of men were killed outright. Two dozen men made it to the wall of the complex directly below the enemy where the cannons could not reach. They cut into the metal wall with their laser guns and a hundred and fifty men ran along the tracks then climbed a stairway to the roof. They clambered out onto the roof ….split into two groups and began to circle the edge of the roof…in both directions…The began to attack gunners immediately…Omicron’s group found one of their men and one enemy gunner dead and another trooper struggling with a second gunner. Omicron dispatched the gunner instantly. They then threw the cannon down to the troops waiting below.
The group Omicron was with continued to circle clockwise around the perimeter… climbing over and around obstacles in the shape of giant blocks which jutted forth at random around the edge of the first level roof. Gunners stopped firing below and turned their cannon on the companies flowing towards them….Climbing over and around blocks on the roof…200 troopers annihilated close to 50 enemy gunners in twenty minutes of furious hand to hand fighting…As soon as the cannons on the perimeter were silenced…the remainder of the troopers rushed into the first level….causing enemy to race to the roof past the troop companies on the roof…on into the second level… Some troopers began to pursue enemy into the next level and were cut to pieces in seconds by machine gun lasers fired from hundreds of peep holes in the crevices and openings in the wall of the machinery structure that towered up to the second level roof. These gunners had not been able to contribute to the enemy effort before…as troopers were mixed with enemy as they ran amongst blocks of obstruction on the roof…Now the troopers were exposed to the full fury of the guinners above. It was apparent to Omicron that one level would have to be won at a time.
Omicron fell back, his lungs gasping for breath, his eyes closing for a moment of peaceful rest in the midst of the shower of flying fire raining down around him.
CASTLE was on the phone with the President. Scar Liege attempted to convey a personality of complete composure and confidence. This was a moment of the highest gravity for him and his men. Of all the rolls of the dice, this one was the roll of and for his life. Every ounce of deceit, charm, and fury was summoned to his command as he threatened the President of the United States.
‘It is twue, as you say, dat soldiers are now within da City walls. However, I cannot agree wit you dat we’re in twouble. Right now my men are cutting’ your soldiers to ribbons. Dey’ll all be on da run or slaughtered within twenty-four hours. However, none of dis gets t’ da heart of it. We have filled the headquarters complex with explosives, and a flick of my finger will blow da most important part of your City, and your soldiers, to Hell. This would shut off U.S. and international twade for at least a year, and you will lose billions of dollars. Also you will have t’ replace da machinery dat will be blown t’ bits. Dat will cost you trillions of dollars.
‘Now I tink dis would be a terrible shame. It would be a lot easier on everyone if you’d just give us a twillion dollars in cash and give us safe passage t’ an evacuated country…. every one has migrated to da future… to the da good times… just give us da money… an one of doze empty countries… and we’ll call it all fair an square You do that and da fighting will stop right now and you will never hear from us again. It should be easy to see…that we have Trumped you!’
The President furrowed his brow. The chiefs of Staff were at his side. The entire conversation was being sent live around the world. The President wanted to stall for time. His information was that the momentum of the crisis was changing. They were not certain if the soldiers were being cut to ribbons or not.
‘It is our information that you are surrounded and will be captured within hours. I am not prepared to bargain with you at this time,’ was the reply.
‘All of that is fake news, sir…But sir, for only a twillion dollars, dis waste in lives and destwuction can all be ended. And you will be rid of us.’
‘There is only one way we’ll ever be rid of you,’ the President spit into the microphone, ‘that is to kill you. If we ship you off, we’ll just have to deal with you at some later point in time. I will not negotiate with you until I have some indication that what you are saying is true,’ as he slammed the communication switch off.
The President, the military Chief of Staffs, and assistants returned from the press and confusion of the negotiation room to the tranquility of the adjoining conference room.
‘Well, Bob,’ he said to the tall white-haired bronzed-faced military man at his side, ‘What now?’
‘Well, Mr. President, I don’t think we should give in. We must fight for what we know is right. We must rid the earth of this vermin,’ scowled General Brice.
‘Yes, but what cost are we willing to accept. Those yellow bastards are in trouble now. I think we can bargain them down to a few billion.’
‘Sir,’ said another figure encrusted with stars, ‘I think we must stall them as long as possible. Troops are expected from the north any time…and the eastern troops are almost mobilized. We should have two or three more divisions assembled in the area…in less than a week.’
‘We need more facts , Pete. We need to know how our troops are doing for sure. No word from Goss yet?
‘We won’t talk to the rats again until tomorrow at the earliest.’
The troopers on the roof quickly joined the some 1,200 … now firmly in control of the first level below…It was time for all to rest now…in preparation for the vigorous and challenging next step ahead…
Omicron saw before him a ‘wheel suspended by its axle between two columns. It was the symbol of Cosmic step number 10… Fortune. On the right Hermanubis, the Spirit of God, strives to climb to the top of the Wheel. On the left Typhon, the Spirit of Evil, is cast down. A sphinx, balanced on top of this wheel, holds a sword in its lion’s paws. It personifies Destiny ever ready to strike left or right; according to the direction in which Destiny turns the wheel, the humblest man rises and the highest is cast down.’
On the physical level, this image personifies Good or evil Fortune, or the suzerainty of chance and random happenings upon a man’s Life. On the intellectual level, it means ruling Authority, as the success or failure of intelligence is always ruled by the knowledge held by a society at a certain time and at a certain place. On the Cosmic level, it denotes the ‘active principle that animates all beings.’
For such a man of fortune, the fiber of the universe is understood, and all which occurs, whether predicted or not, whether beneficial or not, can be explained in terms of the Laws and energies of the universe. ‘Remember, son of Earth, that ability depends on the Will; if your Will is to be accomplished, you must be daring, and to dare successfully you must be able to keep one’s plans secret until the moment comes for action. To possess Knowledge and Power, the Will must be patient; to remain on the heights of Life… if you succeed in attaining them… you must first have learned to plumb with steady gaze vast depths.’
The time for CASTLE had come. The wheel was turning. It was not just the product of bad luck or bad thinking. CASTLE was failing because they had operated in conflict with the rules of the universe. And now the time for payment and punishment was at hand.
Omicron felt a surge of energy and warmth within himself. Efforts made on behalf of the True and Just were exhilarating, and rewarding just because the cause was Good. He had come so far now, he felt for the first time that the goal was in sight. His body seemed to resonate faith that the goal would somehow, in someway, be grasped. For the first time he felt himself singing forth with the Forces of the universe. He had now gained control over his body. Now he must strive forth to expand his energies beyond that ever thought to be obtainable.
At first he had focused upon just moving his body… now he felt his Will expand its Powers beyond the body and begin to penetrate the space before him… extending his Power from the center of his forehead… outward slowly expanding into the spheres of the universe.
Beside him sat another of the troops, a lad approximately his own age from a different community. The boy looked about with frightened gaze. He had surged into the City with the rest of the troops. He had come up to the roof only at the end and had been pinned to the metal roof by the constant firing from the higher level. Omicron looked at the soldier and saw the boy he had been just a week before. The boy was of his tribe and had been instructed in the Theology of the Will, but he was a vivid example of the difference between what was heard and what was Lived.
Imploringly he spoke to Omicron,
‘When will this fighting be over? This is my first fight and I’m no good. I won’t do anybody any good here. Isn’t there someway I can get out of this?’
Omicron looked at him, first sympathetically, then sternly.
‘You are a member of the species, Homo sapiens. It is a species advanced far beyond all others. Now the species is in a Struggle for its Life. You must be a member of that species, take up your sword and fight. You must give your all to the cause.’
The boy shuddered,
‘But for what purpose? There are only a few enemy left in there. It’s not like they were a foreign enemy that threatens the survival of the nation or anything. They are actually one with us. They are Americans. Good or bad, they were a part of our society before the Change. Why are we turning the ground red with the blood of our youth to kill a few pathetic characters such as they?’
‘These men are not one with us,’ Omicron sternly replied. Foreigners are not inherently Good or bad. A person is known by what he does. The worth of his works can be judged only in terms of his contribution or his being detrimental to the True and Just.
‘Our way of Life is now being jeopardized. The evolution of man and the survival of the species are endangered, for if we give in at this point, eventually all will be lost. These criminals are determined to take away all that man and woman have fought to produce. But more important than what the enemy will do if they are not squashed now is what we shall be doing to ourselves if we let up. If we do not give our all for what we know is Right, for the way of Life which we are privileged to have, we shall lose the capability which we have and which we have worked to hard to develop to impact the world and create wondrous things.
‘If the True and Just are not always pursued, then our capability for pursuing them will diminish, the Powers which we have developed in the exaltation of the Will, and the energies we have reaped in the exaltation of man and woman…within the Laws of the universe will be eroded and eventually lost. And nothing is worth this.’
‘How may I gain the courage I shall need for the trials which I am sure to endure?’
‘Remember always to use your intelligence… expect not to succeed easily but only with hard work and labor. Be prepared to strike forth when the moment comes for action with audacity and with no fear of death. And lastly, keep your plans quiet and work without giving indication of your purpose. If you do these things and go forth with the comfort which comes from doing that which you know is Right, and that which is sanctified by the Love and support of all our True brothers and sisters… then all will be possible.’
‘I feel better now that I have talked with you,’ the soft brown eyes hardened a degree to show a glint of steel gray. ‘I’ll be ready to fight when we move again.’
General Goss was on the computer screen, which was surrounded by the colonels in their command headquarters in the City terminal.
‘Now, we’ve got work to do and we have got to do it fast. We can’t afford to wait until the other troops come from the East. We have to go right in and get those bastards before they force the President to make a deal or blow us all to Hell.’
‘We’ll be ready to charge full force tomorrow morning, sir,’ snapped Blue.
‘Gather your forces in one place and slam right into the second level. There are only so many pigeon holes in a given area in that wall, so overwhelm them and don’t mind the casualties.’