Politically Expedient

From the Story Arc: Scholar, Soldier, Superhero

Previous Story in the Arc: Disequilibrium by Crimson Tao (Wednesday, January 04, 2006)

(posted Monday, January 29, 2007)

Beijing, China - May, 2002
Temporary Headquarters, People's Liberation Army Alien Response Force


Shanghai was overrun. Hong Kong in flames. Everywhere, carnage and conflagration. The burned out husks of tanks lay smoldering along the corpses of the citizens they had been trying to protect.

Beijing, the home of the 2nd Superpowered Regiment, had resisted the invaders up to this point and a dead calm covered the city. Makeshift runways were hastily thrown together to get the surviving Air Force skyward as survivors sought the safest shelter available. They had taken the city, the whole country, in the dead of night. Communication networks were the first to go, followed by the power grid. Three Gorges was devastated, and countless villagers drowned in the ensuing floodwaters. National treasures received no mercy either, evidenced by the flames from the Forbidden City that had illuminated the Chinese counterassault.

Tiananmen Square, a national stage for rallies and protests for the past century, was now a tent city populated by soldiers desperate for a miracle. A bivouacked army slept under the clouds that had watched everything from the proclamation of the People’s Republic to the June Fourth student massacre to today’s army on the brink of alien annihilation.

The last time Sun Kai had stood on this square, it had been to order his soldiers to stand down. Before the gunpowder of June Fourth had been cleared away, judgment for his disobedience came with a swift vengeance.

“Senior Colonel Sun Kai,” the commission had begun, “on the count of failure to obey direct orders from the Central Military Commission in regard to the suppression of the June Fourth Movement, this court-martial finds you guilty.”

It was a decision he had questioned, but never regretted.

“On the count of insubordinate conduct, this court-martial finds you guilty.”

The Revolution was over. There was no need for Chinese to kill Chinese.

“On the count of sedition, this court-martial finds you guilty.”

To serve the People. Did that not also mean to protect the People? All the People?

“It is the judgment of this court-martial that the accused, Senior Colonel Sun Kai, be broken to the rank of private, discharged from the People's Liberation Army, and serve five years imprisonment at Foshan Prison in Guangdong province…”

He would pay for the Party's fears. If metahumans, especially those in the army, could act of their own volition, there would be utter chaos. The Party had to set an example. They needed a sacrifice to appease the Secretariat.

After his incarceration and parole, Sun had wandered through the countryside, picking up odd jobs as he came across them, eventually returning to Shanghai. The day the invaders came, a sergeant stood at the door with a captain's uniform draped over his arm and an extra rifle slung across his back. “China needs you,” he'd said. “The Chinese people need you.”

At the headquarters, Major Kung barely looked up from his files when the sergeant brought Sun inside. “Private Sun Kai!” he shouted, seemingly at the files.

“Sir!”

“According to your records, you were broken from the rank of colonel to private and discharged from the Army after refusing to order 2nd Supers to quell domestic unrest.”

“It seems your paperwork is in order then.”

The major’s right eye twitched slightly, but he still applied his signature to the battlefield commission that had been authorized due to the National Mobilization. “There we are, Captain Sun. Don’t let China down this time.”

Sun reached out and snatched the commission from the major. As he turned to leave and join the troops in the Square, Sun quietly replied, “I never have.”