Band of the Red: Part 3

3.

THE EINHEIT

To those allowed to know of it, it was called the Einheit. There were only five of us as too many attempting sabotage or subterfuge is easy to discover. As a precaution, each of us was to join the Band of the Red through separate systems. We required the utmost secrecy, our role vital to the survival of Billions. It was a harsh thing for spirits, but there was little choice in the matter. Our only Commanders were the needs of the Federation. But we received orders through dozens of hidden channels, forced to decipher layers of code.

Only as a group could we decode a full message, but our messages were our own. It forced us to work in shadow, hone our evasion, and disregard the whole for the sake of our own progress. We were one men splinter-cells.

This is where the Einheit’s infamy was gained. Nobody, save a select few that cobbled together our orders, knew our identities. Everyone we met as individuals assumed we were green, draftees, inexperienced in combat. It was a dangerous ruse to uphold considering our skill.

When the first of the Einheit infiltrated the Band, he held himself well. Though never discovered, he was highly suspected of treason. Such was his skill that he could disappear and reappear with the wind, but even still the Band distrusted him.

The reason? From the start, we had one, crucial piece of information to be used against us; we were known, Federation draftees. Anyone could find our names in public records over Gal-net, see that we had once been pulled to the fray, but we each used it to our advantage. If questioned, the rebuke was simple; we had families we wished the best for, and were willing to do whatever it took to protect them and end this damnable war. It was clever, obvious, but enough to allay suspicion. There was no shortage of former-loyalists– defectors from the Federation and Mustela’s militaries– that begged ging for aid or surrendered en-mass. Only five of us however, were under orders.

Reluctant to bestow First his Acolyte status, The Band assigned him several tasks to prove his worth; sabotage shipments of D-335 and shipbuilding facilities, while reporting extensively on the movements of the Federation and Mustela’s militaries. The Gal-Net could not report the latter of these, it surely showed the vids of Federation facilities exploding from afar as they took possession of D-335 shipments from Mustela freighters. Ignorant to the greater scheme of things, the vids called the attacks “monstrous,” “atrocious,” all the while unaware that their own Council had ordered it.

I remember watching the approach to Mustela-Four on the Intranet during chow. Mustela-four is a simple moon of the systems home-planet, but with an ionosphere that regularly exudes nebulous, electrically charged gas. I smelled the hint of First’s leaks to the Band in that attack: the way the Federation’s cruisers approached Mustela only to be met with an entire fleet flanking them from the rear. Verbero ships had come from the far side of the moon, so close to its powerful ionosphere that they’d been cloaked to the Federation’s sensors. They never saw the Verbero coming.

When the Verbero fleet took position, they unleashed batteries of particle-beams that lit space with waves that no ship could avoid. The fighting was over in moments, every ship flanked, destroyed. It was the first time an entire, Federation squadron been eliminated en-route. And it was First that had done it– on orders from the Council.

The massacre proved First’s loyalty, and Sharok bestowed him the title of Acolyte. She trained him herself, sensing his promise. It was this personable nature that eventually led to a cataclysmic event, of which I will speak later, as well as the Band’s suspicion of First.

With First as an Acolyte, Second made her way to a recruiter in the Mustela system. Her ruse was the most clever of all, mired in a lore of the people whom did not directly know her, but rather stories that she took claim to. It was, therefore, easiest for her to infiltrate.

She was known as a defected draftee, but then came the lore: Many defectors had hidden themselves on the planets of the contested-zones, knowing that they would be secure until the Federation began its ground wars. Until then these defectors, were willing to sell information to the Band and the Verbero to remain out of harm’s way.

Second’s information was highly-valued, though none of us were aware of its contents. Her reward, and the only way she would hand over the intelligence, was to join the Band at Sharok’s side. She wished to strike against the order’s oppressors with a vengeance fueled by past sufferings of prejudice. Either this attitude struck a soft spot in Sharok, or Second’s information was so valuable as to warrant it, that she was recruited outright.

Now, both first and Second had joined Sharok’s ranks. And it seemed, were perfectly poised to decimate the Band. However their orders seemed, unequivocally, to be watch, learn, and wait.

It then came time for Third and Fourth to join, but they took a rather foolish approach. It was summarily rewarded with some of the greatest atrocities witnessed by the Einheit.

Third and Fourth allied themselves with the Verbero fleet, staying close to one another, but not so much as to garner suspicion. The Verbero fleet immediately engaged in attacks and raids on Federation planets the savagery of which we knew not could exist. Gal-net soon revealed what little civilian footage they could of countless bombardments, but the Intranet showed it all.

The Verbero fleet directly targeted defenseless planets for hit and runs, with no more aim then to decimate morale. I remember the distant flames of Vermeer-six as the particle-artillery rained like white-rain, only to meet the ground with immense explosions of black and red. Just before the civilian vid cut-out, deathly wails of mourning and pain stung our chests. The screen surged white, then went black. We all knew then what had happened.

But for Third and Fourth, the worst had yet to come. What became known as the Blackmane Massacre took place, and the Einheit simply sensed Third and Fourth’s involvement. It began with Verbero’s fleet positioning themselves upon the surface to seek out companies in need of assistance in gaining a foothold. Blackmane, once a mining colony, had been terra-formed to an industrial world with several metropolises once its mines ran dry.

As the Verbero landed, nearly the entire planet was immediately overwhelmed by sheer barbarism. In training, the Band of the Red neglected to pass over their style of honor to the Lord’s army, and the result was the literal rape of the planet’s settlements. The Verbero slayed any one they found, advanced a burning trail across the planet, and stood up the ruins to rape women and children. In the middle of it, Third and Fourth were forced to were forced to join, hoping in time they would find sanctuary in the Band.

Stories surfaced from the Einheit’s classified-files regarding Third and Fourth’s time in with the Verbero, but most are too horrific to repeat. But for the usual coded, exchanges I have had little contact with them, and as such, can neither confirm nor deny anything. Of Third and Fourth’s journey, I know only what I have told until their appointment within Sharok’s ranks. I do, however, know that no war before or after could damage a man as this one has undoubtedly damaged them.

Finally there is but one Einheit member whose introduction into the band I have yet to; my own. Elements of this story may appear plagued by embellishment. This is not true. I have no use for lies outside of the Einheit, and will impart the most detail admissible to the events of my recruitment in the Einheit, and training with the Band.

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