(None of this is canon. It's just a bit of my own take on what Earth might be like circa the time of the Expanse. And to help me practice finding a voice for my character. Any feedback or comments are welcome). The city was burning. Clouds of noxious black smoke rose into the sky, obscuring the flight of dropships as they made their final approach. Their passengers clutched onto their restraint harnesses while they took evasive action. The marine next to Krzysztof lost his lunch, vomiting all over his boots. The landing ramp was lowered and they could catch glimmers of blue ocean water through it and the viewports. “Thirty seconds”. The pilot’s voice sounded calm despite the strain he felt. They were swooping through the city now, flying over the wreckage. Burning vehicles and buildings, bodies strewn along the streets. Crashed aircraft and fire blackened corpses. Rio was a mass grave. The dropship came in hard, thrusters screeching as they braked. They’d barely touched the ground before sergeant Carpenter was barking “Go! Go! Go!”. They came out running, bent double as they scrambled for cover. Other units were already deployed to the landing zone. Regular army, they roared at the marines to get into cover. Krzy was puzzled until a sniper round kicked up the dirt a couple of feet away. He dived forward into cover, hitting the ground hard enough to wind him. The rest of the squad had beat him to it. They hunkered down in the dirt, some leaning against the building wall. Other soldiers were rushing to the dropships with stretchers, loading them with the wounded. A trio of infantry shared the wall with them. “Bienvenue en Rio” one commented, lighting a cigarette with shaking hands. They looked knackered, one of them had bandages covering most of his face, his helmet resting on his lap. Graffiti was scrawled on the wall behind them. ‘Why bother heading to Mars or the Belt? There’s plenty of action here!’ It closed with a smiley face. The dropzone itself was a mess. There were large craters from what looked like mortars decorating the square. There was a long line of bodies spread along one wall, most of them with their hands tied behind their back. Few were wearing uniform. “Who the fuck were they?” one marine breathed. “Separatists, gunmen, subversives, does it matter?” Ramirez was unsympathetic. One of the French speakers bit off a laugh. “The previous tenants” she explained, a half smile on her face. They were nonplussed at the horrified stares of the marines. They’d been in the city for days already, might have been part of the initial garrison when it started. Flies buzzed near another corpse, lying facedown in the dirt just a few feet from them. The roaring of turbines snatched their attention skyward. A flight of gunships cruised past, blasting off rocket salvos. A few moments later there were the thunderous sounds of explosions as they hit their target. Lieutenant Vallon ran towards them, bent double, he was panting by the time he reached them, squatting in the dirt near Carpenter. He pulled out a battered looking dataslate, wincing as more gunships flew overhead. “We’re to move to here” his finger jabbed down at a point on the map, “To link up with a platoon of armour. We’re to move with them to secure a thoroughfare to Dog company. Matthew’s squad will take the lead”. Carpenter’s voice was like flint when he spoke, “Expected resistance?” “We don’t know. They’ve been ghosting through the ruins between our positions. Could be a couple of companies, could be nothing”. Carpenter was silent. “I didn’t come up with this idea Sergeant” the lieutenant’s voice was softer. “I didn’t say a word sir”. Sergeant Carpenter didn’t waste time. “On your feet, move out, close to the wall”. The marines were reluctant but they obeyed, creeping along it in single file. “Bonne chance” one of the French piped up. Horvath gave him the finger as they passed.