25km off the Mesa cost
Tharkad, Donegal Province
Lyran Alliance

"To the eternal sea from which life first came, we commit the body's of our departed comrades. There to be turned into corruption, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection, and the life of the world to come. Amen." Cairo stood on the deck of a hastily converted barge as it bobbed up and down in the gentle swell.

The remaining members of the Solaris Irregulars stood around him, facing the line of 40 caskets, each draped in a flag. Most where covered in the ComStar insignia, but others displayed the crests of the Federated Suns, the Lyran Alliance, Draconis Combine, Free Rasalhague Republic, as well as Clans Ghost Bear and Smoke Jaguar.

"Company, present!" A Militia sergeant in full dress uniform stood at the end of a lien of soldiers carrying simple bolt-action rifles, "Company aim!" The soldiers aimed the weapons into the air, "FIRE!" The weapons discharged a single volley, "FIRE!" A second volley echoed across the water, "FIRE!" A third and finally volley echoed, the sound fading away to silence. A Militia bugler stepped forward, and raising her instrument with almost mechanical position, started to play the Last Post.

Cairo carefully pressed the single button on the transmitter in his pocket, and the hydraulic ram under the line of caskets started to extend, slowly lifting them to the point where they slipped into the sea. A squadron of Aerospace Fighters passed by in arrowhead formation, one of them peeling up and rolling to the side as they passed the barge.

One by one, the Irregulars stepped forward to the edge of the barge and dropped a single flower into the water after the coffins. Cairo felt tires start to run down from his remaining eye as Rebecca Wolf was pushed forward in wheelchair, her right leg ending in a stump just above where her knee should have been.

"Steven." The gentle touch of his wife's hand on his arm brought Cairo back to reality, "It's time to head back."

Costa Mesa
Tharkad, Donegal Province
Lyran Alliance

The open-topped 4-X-4 slowly made its way through the rubble-strewn streets. The last remnants of the Blakist garrison had deliberately hidden themselves in a residential area, forcing the Ghost Bears to hunt them out one by one, doing incredible damage to people's homes.

They passed a platoon of grim faced Militia that stood guard on an open pit as a forensics team from the local police force examined the remains of people executed by Word of Blake death squads. Cairo had seen the lists of the dead: it was mainly Militia and those who fought back against occupation, but also doctors, technicians, teachers, scientist. It seemed like anyone with any technical or scientific training had been rounded up and killed.

"Sir, we're getting reports of a flight of VTOL's heading this way." Bradley sat in the back, trying to concentrate on the radio rather than the carnage around them, "IFF reads as Lyran Military."

"Must be the reinforcements we where promised." Cairo looked round the street, "We'd better head back and get ready to explain what happened."

Militia HQ, Costa Mesa
Tharkad, Donegal Province
Lyran Alliance

A pair of Karnov UR Transports approached the Militia compound under the guns of a Star Ghost Bear OmniMech's; their escort of Warrior and Cavalry attack VTOL's circling around the outer perimeter as instructed. Cairo stood waiting in the shadow of a Gabriel light hover tank, watching as its turret mounted Medium Laser tracked the incoming transport: the local Militia was understandable nervous afterGrissum's betrayal.

The transports landed, their rotors kicking up clouds of dust as they continued to spin. The side door opened, allowing a man in LAFF uniform to step out. He looked around until he saw Cairo, and then strode over, followed by a squad of troops.

"Colonel Steven Cairo?" He shouted over the din of the Transports engine.

"That's me." Cairo nodded.

"Sir, I have a warrant for your arrest under charges of High treason against the Lyran people." The officer drew his side arm, "Please sir; don't make this any harder than it already is."

End of Book 3