Chapter 85: The Whip
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A line of Leopard APCs came to a stop in front of what used to be the Capital. Men and women in full body armor jumped out of their vehicles and marched into the city. 

The Capital used to be the throne of the United Human Confederation. The keyword was used to. Now, it was no more than a city of wreckage no different than New Sara or any other former UEC city that was overrun by the Mutants. 

It has been ten days since the deadly betrayal. Ten days ago, after the crushing defeat at the front, the Ant horde slaughtered their way to the Capital, which was still leagues away from recovering from the Phasewalker assault. Most of its defenses were gone. Its garrison troops were exhausted. Its ammunition were ignited. What was left of the 6th Armored Division barely left their artillery shelters when the Ants poured into the city.

For days, countless Mutated Ants hunted down and ripped apart the survivors in the city. Screams became background music. Every day, there could be gunshots heard. Some of these were cornered survivors making a desperate last stand, but more often or not, they came from those who have given up altogether and turned their weapons on themselves. 

These people have been broken by all the horror. The UHC used to be the one safe haven from the nightmares outside. Now, that safe haven has fallen. Now, the only escape was death. 

When everything was over, bones littered the streets. Some of them belonged to nobodies. Others used to be a part of officials or wealthy elites. In living, they couldn’t be more different. Yet in death, they were all the same. 

The Ants then proceeded to spread out and massacre their way through every settlement in UHC territory. Finally, when it was all over, before they could turn their attention to the Phasewalker territories, Arbiter X gunships with the specially designed hormones led them away North. 

To where? No one knew. The Phasewalker pilots turned on stealth mode and returned once they made sure the Ants were too far away to accidentally wander back onto Phasewalker land. 

With the UHC gone, the only real faction in the region was the Phasewalker Corps. They were the ones that sent the APCs to the Capital. 

Major Chelsea Adams, the newly made commander of the 4th Motorized Battalion, stepped down from the passenger seat of an APC. She quietly stood there as the Assault Troopers under her command advanced into the city. 

Behind her, a familiar figure walked up. Alex, Generation I Phasewalker, Commander of the 42nd Battalion, and more importantly, Chelsea’s lover. When Chelsea first joined the Corps as a recruit and a medic, Alex was already a Lieutenant. But now, with sheer brutality and zealotry, Chelsea has climbed her way on top of Alex. 

Chelsea’s gaze softened as she saw her girlfriend, but Alex didn't see that. Rather, the Captain looked hesitant. 

Alex was one of the first Phasewalkers. She has fought through almost all the major conflicts the Phasewalker Corps was involved in and lived to tell the tale. What could make someone like her hesitant?

Assault Troopers started walking out of the Capital. Along with them were several locals. These were true survivors. They lived when the wave of Mutations first hit. They lived when the Capital fell, and they grasped onto life when the Ants were feasting on human flesh. They were the few in the city that outlasted the Ants. 

Seeing the Phasewalkers, these people were almost in tears. The days of nightmares made them awfully in need of protection. The sight of a human faction with weapons and armored made these people shake in excitement. Right now, they would do anything the Phasewalkers told them to do. 

The problem was that the Phasewalkers didn't want anything from them. Actually, correction. They did want something. 

They wanted their lives.

This was never a rescue mission. Not at all. This was an extermination mission. 

More and more survivors were discovered and brought outside the city, where the Phasewalker convoy sat. Soon, hundreds of survivors were already rounded up. At this point, the survivors have realized something was off. These soldiers might not be the saviors they were expecting. But as some of them walked up to the soldiers and wanted to talk to them, their only answer was the business end of a rifle. 

“Stand back.” An Assault Trooper declared coldly. His face was unseen under the dark face shield. At this point, he looked identical to the other hundreds of Assault Troopers standing around. 

Finally, when enough survivors were present, Major Adam recalled all the Assault Troopers to the open field. There, 600 Assault Troopers of the 4th Motorized Battalion faced nearly 900 UHC survivors.  

Chelsea waved her hand. Two Assault Troopers dragged a man out into the open and forced him onto his knees. Chelsea walked up to him. 

“Look at me.” She said quietly.  

The man froze in fear. It took a second order from Chelsea to finally get him to look up. As soon as he did, Chelsea reached into her holster and drew her Defender-C handgun. 

The man shook violently before he inevitably started begging. “Please! I didn't do anything! Why? Why do you want to do this to me?”

Chelsea smirked. “Why not?” 

With that being said, looking into the desperate eyes of the man, Chelsea shot him in the head. Point blank. 

The body hit the ground. Countless survivors gasped in fear. A few tried to break out, only to be shoved right back into place. 

Chelsea turned to the Assault Troopers, most of whom were shocked. Before the mission, they were simply told to go to the UHC and round up the survivors. Most of them assumed it was to warn them not to say anything about what the Phasewalkers did to the UHC and then send them to New Sara or Camp York. 

They didn't quite expect mass execution. Not against non-combatants who didn't pose any threat. 

Only the Captains and Commissars were made aware of this before the trip. Chelsea looked through the lines. Some of the Assault Troopers had their expressions hidden by their face shields. Others could be seen either expressionless or conflicted. 

“These locals have seen what we did to the United Human Confederacy!” She declared loudly. “They pose a threat to our authority among the locals of New Sara and Camp York! For the survival of the Phasewalker Corps, in the name of Earth, I sentence them to death!”

Turning back, Chelsea nodded at the pair of Assault Troopers, who walked into the crowd of survivors and dragged out another man. This time, he wasn’t alone. A woman swore and cried and grabbed onto his husband’s arm, trying to get him back from the very grasp of death itself. 

They have survived the apocalypse. They have survived the Ants. But they wouldn’t survive the 4th Phasewalker Motorized Battalion. 

Despite her attempt, the man was taken away. She screamed and resisted, only to be punched in the face by another Assault Trooper on the side. 

More than a few Phasewalkers on the side turned away, but none of them stepped in and stopped this atrocity. 

The man was forced onto his knees, right beside the man Chelsea killed. 

“Please…” The man started begging, but not for himself. “please, kill me if you want! Let my wife go! I’ll let you do whatever you want to me! some mercy!”

Chelsea barely paused at his words. Instead, she turned to an Assault Trooper beside her. He was a trooper from the 41st Company. Chelsea recognized him from the times when she was the Captain of the Company. 

“Joseph. Do it.” 

She stepped to the side and left the room for the Assault Trooper.

Phasewalker Joseph walked up and slowly raised his Defender-I Rifle to the man’s head. He has pulled the trigger to the weapon countless times before. As a Generation II Phasewalker, he has slain Mutated Animals and humans alike. But this time, the trigger felt a million times heavier.

Killing someone who wanted to kill you was fully justified. He had no choice. But an unarmed man kneeling on the ground was hardly a deadly threat.  

“What the matter?” Chelsea asked. 

Joseph bit his lips. “I can’t. It’s not right.” 

Chelsea didn't bother to hide her view. 

“You are feeling troubled because the man kneeling before you is one of your kind, or so you think.” Chelsea walked up behind Joseph and faced the entire battalion. “But aside from the physical features, what exactly do we have in common?”

She turned back and pointed at the man on the ground. 

“They are locals of a world filled with weakness and corruption! When they had entire planets at their disposal, a single virus brought them to their knees! Yet even on the brink of obliteration, these people still refuse to unite and make a stand! Instead, they choose to hide in their own settlements, clutching onto their lives like that’s the only thing that matters! This level of weakness is beyond comprehension!”

“In this world, only the strongest deserve to live. Such is the cruel truth. But these people…they are cowards. They are fools. They are the very definition of corruption itself, and they damn well don’t deserve to live on this planet!” 

“And who are we? We are Phasewalkers! When our world called for our service, we answered! For our world, for our people, we left our homes and our lives behind and willingly marched into this world of death and decay, knowing that we may never return again! Against the Mutant Animals, we stood as one, and we emerged the victors! Against the locals, we stood as one, and we emerged the victors!”

“Those of us that fell did not die in vain, for they died to serve a cause greater than themselves! Even in death, they will live forever in the Hall of Martyrs! Their deeds shall be remembered by all to come!”

“So you see, the locals are not our kind! They are filthy, pathetic vermins and rats while we Phasewalkers are Conquerors!” 

It was worth noting that as soon as she screamed out those words, the locals the Phasewalkers rounded up were dead men walking. The Phasewalkers would never let their greatest secret get out. 

Chelsea snapped back to Joseph. 

“The man in front of you may look like one of us, but he’s not. He is a pathetic soul whose very existence in this world is a waste of food, water, oxygen, and space itself. Now, do your duty and end his life the same way you end the life of a rabid dog.” 

The Assault Trooper slowly turned back to the man once again. This time, his trigger felt a lot lighter. 

The gunshot was followed by the sound of a body hitting the ground. 

Chelsea watched in satisfaction as the executions continued. For every UHC survivor that had to be executed, a new Assault Trooper was chosen for the task. Yes. Chelsea was doing this on purpose. No one doubted the combat capabilities of the 4th Motorized Battalion, but to be the Whip of the Phasewalker Corps, skills weren’t the only requirement. 

What Chelsea was trying to do was free the Phasewalkers in the Battalion from their mental shackles so they could do what had to be done for the Corps. Mental shackles like compassion and empathy. Make no mistake, Chelsea respected those emotions. In fact, she enjoyed them. But she wanted to teach her troops that these feelings had to be earned. It was only right to have compassion for fellow Phasewalkers, but for locals...they didn't deserve any of that. 

If it was up to Chelsea, the only thing these selfish, spineless weaklings deserved was death.

Survival of the strongest. The only thing the weak deserved was being wiped off the plate.

The Major’s gaze turned to Alex. She could tell her lover was hesitant. In front of Alex, knelt a boy, no more than 9 years old. His mother was already reduced to a body right beside him, courtesy of a quick shot in the head by an Assault Trooper from the 42nd Company. 

Alex bit her lips and rubbed her thumb along her Defender-C’s handle. Chelsea could see Alex was conflicted, even struggling, but she didn't step in. Alex had to make this choice, this understanding, herself. 

All the Assault Troopers did. 

Tears flowed out of the boy’s eyes. He was old enough to know the basics of what was happening. Alex bit her lips. The boy reminded her of her brother, who was 8. Suddenly, the Captain turned back and glanced at Chelsea, who was looking at her with encouragement in her eyes. 

Alex turned back to Chelsea. Her eyes were cold and fierce. 

“You are not one of us.” Alex whispered to herself before pulling the trigger.

Another one bit the dust. 

Chelsea grinned in satisfaction, but that satisfaction was quickly interrupted. Beside her, Eric walked over, followed by a squad of Stasis Troopers. 

Stasis Troopers were specially designed Assault Troopers. While sometimes they had different missions, they were still a part of the 4th Motorized Battalion. They were taken along with this mission, but Eric wasn’t notified of the true intentions of the trip. 

“Lieutenant.” Chelsea said quietly. Her tone was sickeningly light given what was happening all around her. “Have you done your duty?”

Eric’s face was reddened with fury. “Duty? Is that what you call executing innocent human beings?”

“Innocent human beings?” Chelsea smirked. “They are locals of this world. They have committed the sin of being weak.” 

“And since when is being weak a sin?” Eric demanded. “Once upon a time, you and I were just defenseless children too! Have we committed sins then?”

“Of course, but we have proven ourselves when we joined the Corps. When we chose to risk our lives for a greater cause than ourselves, we have ascended. We have gained strength.” Chelsea didn't flinch at the challenge. 

As many Phasewalkers turned their attention to what was happening here, Chelsea raised her voice. 

“Tell me, Lieutenant Hemingway. Are you willing to risk the lives of your brothers and sisters to protect these...vermin?” She smirked. “Because if they are allowed to live, they will threaten everything the Corps stands for. Or do you simply lack the strength to do what must be done?” 

“Nope. That is not how it works!” Eric snapped. He refused to give in to Chelsea's tricks. “This is not about strength or weakness! This is about basic human decency! I don’t give a damn if I have to kill a hundred people on the battlefield! But I don’t care what you preach! I will not kill women and children like they are animals! That’s just not right!”

He looked around the crowd before threatening. “Colonel Hunter will hear about this!”

“Colonel Hunter already has. In fact, she basically issued the order.” Chelsea replied. “But by all means, talk to her if you will. But if you leave here, you will no longer be a member of the 4th Battalion. You don’t have what it takes.” 

Eric turned and left without another word. Chelsea turned to the Stasis Troopers behind him. She knew many of them, and she was wondering what their choices would be. 

“He saved my life.” One of them sighed. “In a sense, I agree with you, but I can’t turn against him now.” 

Chelsea nodded. She wasn’t the least offended. “In that case, I wish you good luck in the battles to come.” 

Her words couldn’t be more sincere. Like she told everyone, she respected the other Phasewalkers and their choices.  

A few other Stasis Troopers followed Eric and left. Others didn't. 

Among one of those that remained was Lieutenant Austin Zarkin. He has been Eric’s friend for a while, but when Eric refused Ryan’s orders to collect the Ant hormones, he gladly accepted those orders. Despite their comradeship, their opinions differed, and what Eric refused to do, Austin gladly complied. 

All around them, gunshots and screams continued. Assault Trooper after Assault Trooper looked into the eyes of innocent human beings and executed them. No, exterminated them. 

Like rats. 

This massacre would be remembered in the years to come. The casualties here weren’t the highest, and the methods of the execution weren’t the most brutal, but this massacre outside of the Capital in World Alpha marked the beginning of a legion that would spread death and fear across a thousand worlds. 

A legion whose very presence could put decades of rebellion to an end.

A legion that was known for its reluctance to take prisoners. 

A legion that served as the home to countless cutthroats, murderers, and psychopaths.  

A legion that would be forged in the blood of an empire.

This massacre marked the beginning of Battlegroup Scarlet Whip.