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What has gone before (5,000,000 BC through Anno Condita (AC) 472):

Long ago, long before the appearance of man, came to Earth the aliens known to us only as the “Noahs.” About them, as a species, nothing is known. Their very existence can only be surmised by the project they left behind. Somewhat like the biblical Noah, these aliens transported from Earth to another planet samples of virtually every species existing in the time period approximately five hundred thousand to five million years ago. There is considerable controversy about these dates as species are found that are believed to have appeared on Old Earth less than half a million years ago, as well as some believed to have gone extinct more than five million years ago. The common explanation for these anomalies is that the species believed to have been extinct were, in fact, not, while other species evolved from those brought by the Noahs.

Whatever the case, having transported these species, and having left behind various other, typically genengineered species, some of them apparently to inhibit the development of intelligent life on the new world, the Noahs disappeared, leaving no other trace beyond a few incomprehensible and inert artifacts, and possibly the rift through which they moved between Earth and the new world.

In the Old Earth year 2037 AD a robotic interstellar probe, the Cristobal Colon, driven by lightsail, disappeared en route to Alpha Centauri. Three years later it returned, under automated guidance, through the same rift in space into which it had disappeared. The Colon brought with it wonderful news of another Earthlike planet, orbiting another star. (Note, here, that not only is the other star not Alpha Centauri, it’s not so far been proved that it is even in the same galaxy, or universe for that matter, as ours.) Moreover, implicit in its disappearance and return was the news that here, finally, was a relatively cheap means to colonize another planet.

The first colonization effort was an utter disaster, with the ship, the Cheng Ho, breaking down into ethnic and religious strife that annihilated almost every crewman and colonist aboard her. Thereafter, rather than risk further bloodshed by mixing colonies, the colonization effort would be run by regional supranationals such as NAFTA, the European Union, the Organization of African Unity, MERCOSUR, the Russian Empire and the Chinese Hegemony. Each of these groups were given colonization rights to specific areas on the new world, which was named—with a stunning lack of originality—“Terra Nova,” or something in another tongue that meant the same thing. Most groups elected to establish national colonies within their respective mandates, some of them under United Nations’ “guidance.”

With the removal from Earth of substantial numbers of the most difficult and intransigent portions of the populations of Earth’s various nations, the power and influence of trans- and supranational organizations such as the UN and EU increased dramatically. With the increase of transnational power, often enough expressed in corruption, even more of Earth’s more difficult, ethnocentric, and traditionalist population volunteered to leave. Still others were deported forcibly. Within not much more than a century and a quarter, and much less in many cases, nations had ceased to have much meaning or importance on Earth. On the other hand, and over about the same time scale, nations had become preeminent on Terra Nova. Moreover, because of the way the surface of the new world had been divided, these nations tended to reflect—if only generally—the nations of Old Earth.

Warfare was endemic, beginning with the wars of liberation by many of the weaker colonies to throw off the yoke of Earth’s Uni ted Nations and continuing, most recently, with a terrorist and counterterrorist war between the Salafi Ikhwan, an Islamic terrorist group, various states that supported them, and—surreptitiously—the United Earth Peace Fleet, on the one hand, and a coalition led by the Federated States of Columbia, on the other.

This eleven year bloodletting began in earnest with the destruction of several buildings in the Federated States of Columbia and ended in fire with the nuclear destruction of the city of Hajar in the unofficially terrorist-sponsoring state of Yithrab.

Prominent in that war, and single-handedly responsible for the destruction of Hajar, was Patrick Hennessey, more commonly known as Patricio Carrera, and the rather large and effective force of Spanish-speaking mercenaries he personally raised, the Legion del Cid, based in and recruiting largely from la Republica de Balboa, a small nation straddling the isthmus between Southern Columbia and Colombia del Norte.

Balboa’s geographic position, well-suited not only to dominate trade north and south but also, because of the Balboa Transitway, an above-sea-level canal linking Terra Nova’s Shimmering Sea and Mar Furioso, key to commerce across the globe, was in many ways ideal. It should have been a happy state, peaceful and prosperous.

It was also, unfortunately, ideal as a conduit for Terra Nova’s international drug trade. Worse, its political history, barring only a short stint as a truly representative republic following the war of liberation against United Earth some centuries prior, was one of unmixed oligarchy, said oligarchy being venal, lawless, and competent only in corruption. Perhaps still worse, during the war against the terrorists, the security needs of the country had been filled by the introduction of troops from the Tauran Union to secure the Transitway and its immediate surrounds.

Carrera had learned well from the Salafi Ikhwan, however. The drug trade through Balboa was ended by war and terroristic reprisal to a degree that left the surviving drug lords quaking in their beds at night. The oligarchy was beaten through the electoral process and the final nails driven into its coffin—and into the heels of the oligarchs—when it attempted to stage a comeback in the form of a coup against the elected government and Carrera, its firm supporter. Carrera’s second wife, Lourdes—Balboan as had been his first, Linda, murdered with her children by the Salafi Ikhwan—figured prominently in the suppression of the coup.

The problem of the Tauran Union’s control of the Transitway remains, as does the problem of the nuclear armed United Earth Peace Fleet, orbiting above the planet. The Taurans will not leave, and the Balboans—a proud people, with much recent success in war—will not tolerate that they should remain.

And yet, with one hundred times the population and three or four hundred times the wealth, the Tauran Union outclasses little Balboa in almost every way, even without the support of Old Earth. Sadly, they have that support. Everything, everyone, will have to be used to finish the job of freeing the country and, if possible, the planet. The children must fight. The old must serve, too. And the women?

This is their story, the story of Balboa’s Tercio Amazona, the Amazon Regiment.

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Framed