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Literature / Invasion of Kzarch

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Lieutenant Frank Harsmith and his marine platoon have been sent to an off-world planet to investigate a possible Invasion of Kzarch.

Before they even arrive, however, they get ambushed; and things only go downhill from there. Instead of scouting out a pirate ship sighting, the marines find themselves thrown headlong into a messy guerrilla war with a numerically superior foe, without air support, and their only help Kzarch's rather amatuerish army (To be fair, they're gaining experience fast.).
But they'll get the job done. They're Marines.

By E. G. Castle.

Invasion of Kzarch contains examples of:

  • Arm Cannon: Marine battlesuits have WEGs (Wrist Energy Guns) built into each arm.
  • Army Scout: Sergeant Javer and the s-squad serve as the marine platoon’s scouting force as well the the Kzarchians (Especially Sergeant Javer).
  • The Cavalry: After a mission goes disastrously wrong, the Kzarchians and marines are forced to fight a running battle back to their base. They almost make it, before the pirates behind them catch up, and they’re forced to make a last stand. Then the remaining guerrillas show up, having carefully slipped out of their base in order not to be detected. This allows them to surprise the pirates, drive them off and rescue the remnants of the mission group -wait for it- ...just in the nick of time.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: After everything is finished, the pirates defeated and the planet saved, the marine reinforcements finally show up, only a few days late.
  • Dead Man Switch: General Val’gor uses one of these to ensure the pirates don’t try to backstab him. It doesn’t help, however.
  • Delaying Action: During a mission which goes horrendously wrong, in order for the main part of the Kzarchian and marine force to escape, a group of the wounded perform a delaying action; all dying during its execution, particularly Platoon Sergeant McKain. Nonetheless, they succeed in their aim.
  • Deflector Shields: The Marines each have a personal deflector shield built into their battlesuit. The pirates’ gunboats and spaceships mount them as well.
  • Flashback: A flashback early on has Frank remembering the mission briefing.
  • Frictionless Reentry: The marine platoon throw themselves into a very ‘hot’ entry; but it’s justified, oddly enough. They’re taking the pressure and heat of the atmospheric friction in order to avoid getting shot at, which would be... sub-optimal.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: The marines’ battlesuits, which double as their basic uniform, are large, black (With a few color highlights) full body armor, and about as obvious as an elephant. On the other hand, they also kind of subvert the whole deal: The battlesuits have a camouflage function that is supposed to be maintained at all times in a combat zone.
  • Insistent Terminology: Bloody Jack is very insistent that he be referred to as Bloody Jack for whatever incomprehensible reason. Also, the Kzarchians, who have apostrophes in their last names, are all determined that their names should be pronounced properly; despite the fact that no-one else can tell the difference.
  • La Résistance:The Kzarchian guerrillas and the marines make up the resistance force against the pirates.
  • Letter Motif: All Kzarchians have an apostrophe in the middle of their last name. They can even hear when it’s not pronounced, despite off-worlders not being able to tell the difference in the slightest.
  • Mission Briefing: A flashback shows the briefing Frank was given before the mission. It was quick, not particularly informative and wrong in one or two critical details. Several guerrilla missions also have briefings (Mostly off-screen), particularly the one for the (disastrous) compound mission.
  • Out of the Inferno: Lieutenant Harsmith leads some of his men through a forest fire, straight into the enemy (Yes, deliberately.).
  • Overnight Conquest: Kzarch is captured by the pirates in just a day or so.
  • Powered Armor: The Marines’ battlesuits; with three variations; regular, scout, and heavy (Referring to heavy weaponry, not weight, although that’s also accurate.).
  • Rebel Leader: General Val’gor serves as the Kzarchian’s leader, until he betrays the marines and his own forces to the pirates in a bid to take over the planet, eventually leading to his own death at the hands of Bloody Jack.
  • Reveal: The Setup: Bloody Jack gets a call from someone, who wants to make a deal. Instead, the pirate gives a counter offer, which is accepted. Neither the offers or the caller are disclosed. A few misleading events happen, making the reader think the whole deal was about an assassination. Then, it’s revealed the deal was from the guerrillas’ general, who was betraying the marines and his own forces to the pirates in order to gain control of Kzarch once the pirates had left. Oh, and that the assassination attempt had been done by himself, strangely enough.
  • Shmuck Bait: Subverted and lampshaded rather beautifully. When launching a mission against a compound near the pirates’ main base, and after making it almost all the way there without any problems, Harsmith and McKain start getting worried, feeling that the pirates should have responded already. McKain suggests that they recommend to the officer in charge that they retreat. The lieutenant sarcastically responds:
    “And how do we do that, sergeant? ‘Sir, everything is nice and clear with no problems. We need to retreat at once!’”
  • Space Marine: The United Federation Marines is a group of soldiers who fight in space, on land, in air… well, basically anywhere.
  • Space Pirates: Bloody Jack and his crew of cutthroats are a bunch of pirates in space. Technically, anyway. (They, aside from one small sortie, stay completely planet-bound the entire book.)
  • To Absent Friends: At the very end of the story, Frank and Tom drink to absent friends, recalling all those who had died in the conflict. A lesser version happens earlier, when Frank drinks in memory of Sergeant McKain.
  • The War Room: The Kzarchians have a large room where the general meets with his officers and plans their missions; the pirates have a similarly functioning operations room.
  • You Are in Command Now: During a particularly disastrous mission, all senior Kzarchian officers are killed or otherwise out of commission, leaving Lieutenant Harsmith in command. However, as he was not technically in the Kzarchian military’s line of command, it was more ad-hoc than anything else (Although it’s also implied that despite being only a lieutenant, he actually held equivalent rank to a colonel. How ever that works.).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Bloody Jack decides he no longer needs the services of General Val’gor he gets rid of him. As the general was, at the time, sporting bombs and a deadman’s switch (The latest fashion!), Bloody Jack had him tossed out the gunboat’s front window using a indoor tractor beam, brought the gunboat’s shields up, and turned the general into a human firework.