I was attempting to rewrite (steal) the Watershed scene from The Tactics Of Mistake by Gordon R. Dickson but I wasn't happy with it:
For Colonel Thomas Kearney the operation had gone off without flaw and with no casualties for his men. The objective of this operation was a small mining town on one the minor outer colony worlds.
Vance was a barely habitable and tidally locked moon of a Jovian class gas giant that in turn orbited a red dwarf star. The initial settlement had served as a way station for the exploration and colonization of better worlds further out from Earth. But a more detailed survey of the world had found recoverable minerals in the platinum group and a rare earth element used in the manufacture of hyperdrives.
The world was named for Sir John Vance, an Australian astronaut employed by the Martian Relocation Project. Although the MRP had set up their own outpost on this world they also opened it to settlement dissident groups from Earth. What made the operation possible was the fact that not all of the settlements had joined the newly independent central government. But for Colonel Kearney this action was also a step forward in the recovery from two disasters. The minor and most recent was the defeat of the unit that left him with a bit less than three hundred effective soldiers out of was once a first class mercenary regiment. The more distant and most devastating to him was the loss of the home world and his family to what was in practical effect a band of invading savages.
The first part of operation was a night march through the forest bordering Federal Republic of Vance and the dissident colony of Vermillion. The march to the objective was illuminated by the reflected light of the gas giant planet that was permanently fixed on the southern horizon. The objective of the operation was the town of Runoff and the mining sites surrounding it. Which was a cluster of homes, small businesses, and offices. Very few of the people were awake at the time and once the mercenaries were in position their unit simply walked in and seized the town.
With the streets, the government buildings. and the local militia armory of the town secured Kearney ordered the transmission to the client of the code for the successful mission. But as Kearney waited for arrival of the sponsors there was unfinished business to be dealt with.
Kearney sat at the official desk as the Mayor of Runoff was dragged in. The Mayor was barefoot, unshaven, and hastily dressed. He looked around the room and shook his head before speaking to his captor.
“So you think you’re special?”
“We’re professional soldiers.”
“You’re only criminals.” The Mayor replied. “Did you kill anyone yet?”
“No.” Kearney replied.
There was no resistance from the police or any of the civilians that were awake.
So much for the sea of armed civilians. Kearney thought.
The Mayor looked directly at Kearney and spoke.
“Then if you leave right now and cross the border back into Vermillion you and your unit may yet get away.”
Kearney mentally dismissed the statement and placed a document on the desk before the Mayor.
“Sign it.” Said Kearney.
The Mayor briefly scanned it and then replied.
“No.” Said the Mayor. “You are nothing, you have no authority and thus no power over any of us.”
Kearney stared at the Mayor for a moment.
How can he say that? He thought.
“I can have you shot.” Kearney replied.
The Mayor looked Kearney straight in the eyes and then calmly replied.
“In that case you will actually become something, but it would only be a diseased animal that should be put down quickly and with mercy.”
Kearney could not believe what he had just heard.
Is he insane?
The Mayor spoke again.
“Now you should lay down your arms, go home, grow up, and get a life.”
For Kearney and his men this wasn’t possible--there was no place they could call a home. With
the refusal to sign the surrender document Kearney sent the Mayor downstairs to the town jail with the police officers that were on duty and other elected officials.
The local sun was beginning to rise as the gee-vee arrived with two well dressed civilians. The first man represented the sponsor of the operation, the Superior Mining Company, and the other was an official of the official central government. Superior Mining originated on the Iron Range of Minnesota in the late 19th Century and the firm had barely survived into the Interstellar Era. But under new management the firm would expand again by exploiting the resources found on the colony worlds and shipping them to Earth. Or it did until the extinction event that killed most of the population and the advanced civilization of Earth.