Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by HeySeuss
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The inoculations were after they packed all their belongings and loaded them onto transport in French Guyana. It was strange, since vaccines usually took time to work, and the time to do it was weeks earlier, instead of the day before they were set to fly out to Nigeria. New tropical diseases in Africa was not an unknown thing, so a last minute inoculation was not unwarranted.

All the same, Centurion's contractors lined up for the shots. It was not an unknown phenomenon in service, and the whole three months in Guyana was a refresher course for the people hired for this job. There was a line leading to a room, and people went through the door. They exited out another door. Orderly, that.

Jake Robson woke from the shot in an unfamiliar setting, but surrounded by familiar faces, all coming awake in a combination of cot and crib, some sort of high-walled bed. The room around them was sterile white with equipment all around, which made him think of any number of sci-fi movies where the thing burst out of your fucking chest and started killing willy-nilly.

Then they found out that they were being offered an even better gig than fucking Nigeria. A few bowed out at this point and took the cooler home. The rest got on with the job.

Talra station was a mega-structure on the outskirts of the solar system of Qadah, the star around which Saina, their employers' planet, orbited. This station was the gateway to the system, and the enemy will be trying to take it intact as a staging point for their supplies and troops. With Talra, they had a strategic advantage for staging operations in the system. Without it, all they could do was slip in fast craft to land small groups of raiders, too fast for defenses designed to handle the large scale spacecraft that did the real fighting in this part of space. Talra was designed to defend against those and was fine while the Grathik were fighting the Plashi, who were not adept on the ground.

But they started losing other stations like it when the Salvesh came on, to the brink where they took the risk of uplifting parts of Humanity as their Janissaries.

There was a lot of training and familiarization on new gear; they'd woken up on Talra, and inside it was like a large, continual city with a few nice, very manicured, but alien, parks. It had buildings which were more like warrens for the Pilavians and designed largely for the convenience of the Grathik and client races, none of whom were combatants. Because they were in a ring on a space station, the altitude only went so high, and so there were not skyscrapers, though those existed in other places.

They watched the humans undergo exercises in their urbanized rings, which rotated around a core for gravity, with apprehension, but also with speculation. The station was on security blackout, only certain lines of communication in and out for security, but everyone expected that word of some sort of Grathik force would be ready to defend the interior of the station, in gravity, as infantry. Robson studied the history here, of attempts to turn the Pilavians into guerrilla fighters, except they evolved from prey animals and were not fighters by nature. There were the attempts to create sophisticated AI to augment the drone equipment currently modified for human use, and that was a disaster as the killbots turned on their owners.

It was down to some Grathik brain's idea to use a violent tool-user species, some tentacle beast studying humanity since World War II. The other tentacle horrors finally signed on with the idea, despite the perceived risks.

There was familiarization with the antigrav and propulsion systems built into the Universal Combat Pattern-colored suits, with pixelated grey-green blobs for urban warfare, they were issued as a base layer, uniforms with systems for emergency situations in space, such as loss of gravity, pressure, of biological or chemical contamination. The ability to magnetize parts of the suit and latch onto surfaces, an emergency fall-protection protocol that was immediately used by human forces for tactical reasons, such as egressing from an elevated position quickly.

They were armed with human designed, Grathik-improved weaponry, with a variety of different modifications that expanded upon human tactical concepts. All sorts of infantry support weapons were mounted on smaller drones that could be converted, on command, into emplaced weapons like a transformer, allowing a human to fire the weapon in manual mode, and smaller drones were used for recon, counter-drone warfare, and to purge nanites that were sprayed into the air. They fought in a literal cloud of nanites designed to deliver the troops safely to the fight so they could kill other troops, though the nanites themselves were trying to, ultimately, find the right combination of countermeasures that would allow them to break through and kill live infantry troops, the main combatants.

Luckily, the Grathik capabilities here were well-honed. They had good nano-tech and nanite-control protocols. They had sophisticated Virtual Interfaces. They had drones and other information sources providing them with an Augmented Reality overlay goggles for their human troops that was seamless and very useful for identifying targets even when behind cover or at a distance -- when the nanites or drones could break through countermeasures and acquire the targets. In a real combat situation, this would be rival sides, swarms of nanites, drones and fixed systems adapted to defender use vying to establish sensor superiority and relaying what telemetry they could back to the killers in the field, the infantry. \

And, Robson noted, in a real combat situation, these nanites were felt like the occasional spray of mist on a breeze as enemy and friendly nanites fought their war. It wasn't just the mist; they were smeared in nanite gel on their exposed body parts, and the stuff was sprayed onto their equipment. The effect was that it felt like a misty drizzle in the orbital habitat.

Practice with the system, guided by the Grathik and then adopted wholly by human officers, a number of them Air Force types with drone warfare experience, was a relevation. They simulated the total superiority scenario where they could track the enemy and then varying degrees of successful interference, which helped train everyone on how to compensate. In the end, if the enemy was good enough, they'd be down to the old standard of eyesight and field craft.

Luckily, that's what Humanity was used to. Technology was great, but it did not replace good training and effective doctrine.

Squad Park, with its special operators/airborne/ranger/marine types, moved into place atop a designated over watch position in the Gala neighborhood, near the spaceport, when the sensors fired off an impact warning that was different from the others that had been rocking the station. For several days, they'd endured a duel of large-scale weaponry as the enemy's naval forces tried to soften up the station with fire as a first gambit, but then settled for firing off small, agile landers with bore-drills that held enemy infantry, others that were nanite/drone-delivery platforms and some that were total decoys, designed to ensure the survival of the others by drawing fire. One could hear the hum of the weaponry as the power systems worked overtime for their various needs and, toward the end, the crashing and rumbling of things hitting the hull of the station and boring into it. Breachers.

The waiting was over, and they were on a roof spotting for the rest of the company as it started to make its way through the streets in response to information coming in on potential enemy presence, a blob of action that slowly started to shrink as time wore on and the Grathik systems took the upper hand. But then the blob, in their visors' field of vision, expanded again as the Salvesh gained advantage. Robson noted to Park, "So much for the easy way."

They were already on watch. In a MOUT setting Earthside, they'd perhaps go with anti-materiel rifles, GPMG's and bring some LAWS'. Here, they brought their gear, requested resupply by drones and emplaced a couple more drones to provide grenade launching capability and a pair of Ma Deuces at their position, giving their nine men significantly more firepower than a SEAL overwatch element in Ramadi, Iraq, in the efforts to screen. For now, it was the two snipers, Robson and Simmons, a former US Marine Scout-Sniper, providing anti-drone overwatch with Grathik-modified light fifties. Doctrine took hold early in specifying that they did not rely upon the drones for spotting or for security, but to augment. So they were on watch for anything they could report or engage, even if it was redundant. No one trusted a drone that wasn't under manual control, but were happy when they worked.

The Chief Operations Officer of Centurion, an American General named Guy Strafford with significant armor, cavalry and doctrine development experience was the commander, and he wanted squads out there making the contact, not the drones.

"Visual contact, 10 o'clock. Not one of ours," ("noot one-a oors.") Robson muttered into his commo gear with that distinctive Geordie accent. That report would generate a VI-assist report into the data systems, though there were provisions for manual override if it were hacked or corrupted, that then could focus more assets in the area on a pre-determined sweep, subject to override. There were an awful lot of cyber-warfare types, sharp Air Force lads, on top of that side of the fight, monitoring the equipment and ready to step in if the AI decided to kill all organics rather than just the organics it was supposed to.

His finger inched toward the trigger, but did not take the slack up quite yet as he started to track it. Other eyes swept other sectors, because it was expected that one would lead to more. But Robson was disciplined, and knew how to regulate his breathing. It wasn't like killing ISIS types in Syria, or fighting Taliban in Afghanistan. They didn't even have a fucking live enemy out there...yet.

But maybe they'd be able to draw them in. Thankfully, Stafford, in deciding that squads would make contact, also dictated that squad leaders had the initiative in deciding how to engage, at least in most circumstances. "Unless Otherwise Directed" or UNODIR, was his favorite saying, to the point where his men were wearing tabs on velcro that said it.

"Waiting on you, Riddler."
("Waitin oonya")

@Gunther
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Gunther
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Gunther Captain, Infantry (Retired)

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Brian Park was not surprised when they were informed, they were heading to a distant planet. He was curious of the name, Saina and knowing this bit of information actually pleased him. He really did not want to go to Africa. He’d already been there. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Although he didn’t expect a trip to some distant world to be exactly pleasant, it had to be a hundred times better than Africa.

Park was given a squad in Team Bravo, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry, (Task Force Cox). The Battalion Task Force was named for its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Frances Cox, a Welsh officer who served as a Platoon Commander and Company Executive Officer in 3 Paras. He commanded an armoured infantry troop in 1 Royal Welsh Infantry and later served as the battalion’s quartermaster. After receiving special air service training, Alexander Cox served as Operations Officer in 22 SAS and later as its Executive Officer once promoted to Major. Alex Cox’ final unit of assignment was as the Division Operations Officer for the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division which coincided with his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.

Park inventoried his squad. He found their organization to be loose and informal, which suited his special operations mindset well. Most of his soldiers had served in an elite formation which helped with cohesion and professionalism of the squad. Dieter Vogel served in the German Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK), leaving at the rank of Feldwebel. Vogel served as Park’s number two. Vogel stood 6’1” with very short dark hair and steel gray eyes. He was a very serious soldier. Jeremiah Edwards served as Sergeant in the US Marine Special Operations in one of the Raider Battalions. Jeremiah came from Southern California and was more laid back and relaxed than your typical jarhead; currently serving as machine gunner for the squad. Jake Robson was an SAS trooper from Northeast England; Tyne and Wear. Robson may have served with the Battalion Commander, LTC Cox who saw action in some of the same units. Undoubtedly, when Cox was a Major in Operations for 22 SAS, it was at the same time Robson was with the teams. Preston Simmons was a US Marine Scout Sniper who served with the SAS sniper as riflemen. Their marksmanship skills were unparalleled, probably even to Sergeant Park’s who was an accomplished sniper as well. Diego Velez served with the 1st Ranger Battalion before leaving and finding work with a Private Military Corporation. Frans Madsen served with the Royal Danish Jaeger Corps. His experiences were quite similar to the British SAS or US Navy SEALs. Velez and Madsen served as the squad’s grenadiers. Robert Browne, hails from Providence, RI and served with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. The ninth and final member of the squad was a Canadian named Guy Fournier from the Montreal suburb of Boucherville. Corporal Fournier served with JTF2 and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) as a Combat Medic. He served a dual role in the squad as medic and as anti-armor specialist.

With the onset of alien invaders coming down on the squad and the entire motorized infantry brigade of humans currently defending the Grathik owned Talra station, Park’s squad was assigned an overwatch mission. They traded in their light machine guns for heavy .50 caliber machine guns. Fournier, Velez and Madsen would assist Edwards and Browne in keeping their oversized “pigs” fed. When they weren’t using their own weapons to try to shoot down the drones buzzing in their battalion’s Area of Operations (AO), they were assisting the machine gunners by providing them with ammunition and loading the guns when necessary. The large German was given primary responsibility for the two machine guns and their crews. Sergeant Park covered down with the snipers and communications with the Platoon Leader.

The squad was positioned on the roof of a multi-story building fortified with sandbags. Two M2 Browning Heavy barrel .50 caliber machine guns and assorted rifles oriented along a primary avenue of approach. Several hostile drones descended into the battalions AO, obviously intending to gather information on the friendly forces.

Lieutenant Colonel Alex Cox, Battalion Commander for Task Force Cox designated his B Company as the battalion’s main effort with three rifle platoons and one armor platoon. A Company provided flank security with two platoons. Third Platoon A Company was attached to D Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Armor. Team Bravo, C Company and Team Delta each had an engineer platoon attached for breaching obstacles as necessary. A Company covered the right flank while C Company covered the left. Third platoon, C Company performed the role of Task Force Reserve. Park’s 2nd Platoon was taking lead with Park and his squad covering their movement. A squad from 1st platoon was performing a similar mission on an adjacent high speed avenue of approach. The entire battalion was spread out with three battalions abreast and two battalions following in support. They intended to establish contact with the enemy and eliminate their ability to gain information on who they were and what they were doing.

“We need to take out their eyes. We cannot let them learn anything about us. Let them know we are bunch of bad ass mother fuckers who should not be fucked with. If you see any enemy drones, exercise extreme prejudice. Turn the fuckers into piles of broken metal upon this station’s soil.” Sergeant Park was ready to throw down. He held up his HK416 carbine and peered through the scope. He found an unfamiliar looking drone and squeezed off a round. Then he picked up the handset to report to higher. He felt it was necessary to put the first round down range in order to lead by example that the squad should be engaging the drones in their forward sixty degree field of view.

“BUTTERFIELD, BUTTERFIELD, this is RIDDLER, over,” Brian park called over his radio.

Lieutenant Jacob Butterfield hadn’t chosen a very creative callsign, using his own surname. “RIDDLER, this is BUTTERFIELD, go ahead over!”

“BUTTERFIELD, this is RIDDLER, we have established contact with at least fifteen drones. They are approximately 500 meters from your point team. Request Alpha Delta Alpha assistance, if available, over.”

“Roger that, fifteen drones in our Alpha Oscar. Pushing Alpha Delta Alpha request up the net, out.”

The Lieutenant clicked off as the squad continued to engage drones. Brian pulled out his binoculars and scanned the sky over Task Force Cox’ AO. He counted eighteen drones on this last view, fearing there could be more. Dropping the binos, he picked up his rifle and re-engaged drones. “Come on Robson! Let’s see how many of these fuckers you can drop!”
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by HeySeuss
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Eyes on the Prize


Robson was getting his first good shot in on a Plashi conglomerate-manufactured drone in the hands of the Salvesh. Intelligence doubted that the Salvesh had much patience for or reason to pilot drones the way Humans did, but acknowledged the possibility that other races might well be willing to do so. That was perhaps done for political reasons by the Plashi to keep their mercenaries from being too dangerous to their overseers.

But it was alien, unfamiliar tech. As he prepared to fire, he could feel the drizzle in the area, seconds after Park reported the contact, that heralded nanites being sprayed into the air. A couple of the drones melted as nanites hacked their way through their counterparts and fried some drones, but there were still some coming for them.

Simmons and Robson had worked out sectors ahead of time, and were able to communicate pretty well to call support to one another. Their light fifties were suppressed, which was a relative thing when it came to such large rounds, and they were covered in netting that would help disrupt their visual signatures and prevent detection by the drones. It wasn't perfect, nothing was. The point was to make it very hard for the enemy to figure out where the fire was coming from, to maintain concealment as long as possible and to keep them tied down to give other elements time to maneuver.

Also, their job was to neutralize the heavier stuff, which tended to be drone-mounted.

"Three eyes, six shooters left," Robson heard one of the others, Edwards, report.

"Roger that." Go for the eyes, Boo! was what Vogel, a total nerd, said in training and now it was a saying among them.

Along with the surveillance drones were the gun drones, but the surveillance drones were the eyes, the sophisticated emissions/heat/sound/pattern detection machines that flitted through. They moved a lot more than their heavier counterparts and were very capable when it came to directing fire and otherwise coordinating the fire support.

It was like shooting the observer, officer and radioman all in one. Robson took a shot, then Simmons took a shot. It took a second to catch the last eye, as it started to dart around defensively, at the expense of doing any observation at all. If the drones had a limitation, it was that they were not particularly adept at doing two jobs at once, and forcing one into evasive maneuvers meant that it was going to be less effective as a controller unit. All the same, while Simmons went to work on a "shooter" drone, Robson took a couple seconds of compensating for the movement of the drone and took his shot.

First one missed, but a fast followup second shot got the bastard.

Fire support came in the form of a missile fired from a friendly drone that broke up like an old chemical warhead from the 1960's, dispersing a payload of nanites and their aerosol solution, creating the feeling of a misty morning rain over a rather wide area. The nanites managed to find their way past enemy nanite countermeasures, like a weakened immune system with the death of their "eyes", and added power surges and other disruptions to critical systems. It felt cool on Robson's cheek, but the same stuff caused more enemy drones to melt in midair as they crashed down.

He got one more survivor along the way. Simmons had the lead in total drones, but Robson got two eyes.

It was the start of their war.
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Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Gunther
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Sergeant First Class Park watched the view from his vantage point. He could see the drones dropping in from above, right in front of the Brigade’s avenue of approach. ‘The Salvesh are probing us. They want to know who we are, what we are capable of, what our strengths and weaknesses are and more importantly, where they can land troops to fight us.’ He watched the battle begin to unfold in front of him. This was the Recon/counterrecon fight. It would dictate what would happen next.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Cox addressed Captain Otto, “Kevin, this is simply a movement to contact. Find out where they are and pin them down. Once we have located these Salvesh, General Strafford will push the armor forward to break them up.”

“Roger that, sir,” Captain Otto responded to his task force commander. “First platoon is leading in five mikes. I’ll follow Lieutenant Fischer’s platoon with Second platoon, the armor platoon and Third platoon in trail. Lieutenant Butterfield, second platoon will travel with me. His second squad, lead by Sergeant First Class Park is providing overwatch right now.”

“Sounds good, Captain, I’ll be right behind you until you make contact. I will remain in visual contact until we pass the battle on to one of the armor units.

Captain Otto mounted the Grathik construction Armored Personnel Carrier. The vehicle was constructed of a composite Aluminum hull with materials the Boston-born infantry officer had never seen before. He was assured it would stand up to anything created on earth as well as anything the Salvesh employed including armor main gun rounds or laser blasts. Once his track was loaded, he ordered his driver to elevate to one meter. The driver engaged the anti-gravity feature and the vehicle rose into the air.

The first platoon began slowly moving through the streets of the city. Lieutenant Fischer scanned the buildings from the second vehicle in the convoy. His was just over fifty meters behind his lead squad and the other two squads were equally spaced out behind his with the Company Commander and Company Executive officer trailing. The Battalion commander or Task Force Commander’s tactical command post followed the company commander’s vehicles. Then the rest of the Bravo Team vehicles.

Brian Park looked back in the direction of the battalion’s line of departure. He could see the first two vehicles, more than three miles away steadily making their way towards his position. Their progress was slow. They did not want to attract to much attention while providing themselves the opportunity to scan the buildings they were passing for a possible ambush. Brian used his binoculars to search the buildings the Team was moving along. He checked the buildings between the Bravo team’s location and his own; occasionally looking back to see how the squad was doing engaging the drones.

“Vogel, Robson, Simmons, the company is on its way. They are dragging their asses. Try to get as many of those things out of our AO as you can, got it!?” Brian was referring to the squad’s Area of Operations (AO) or the area around them, they were responsible for at the moment.
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Robson got one more before the drones got wise and started firing in their direction. Whatever these buildings were made of, they seemed resistant to some of the fire, but some of the heavier stuff penetrated and that caused Robson to get out of his firing position and into cover. He didn't need to yell things out or do anything but what was trained into him; get down, get out of the way and let the guys covering him do their jobs.

The volume of fire lasted for about three seconds as Vogel's gunners and the rest of the squad started to return fire defensively. Robson stayed out of that fight, providing overwatch for his own squad. The idea here was that someone should be watching, and the long rifles were it for the moment.

Shit, Robson thought to himself, we're in it now. But having the position compromised was a given once they started taking shots, and the plan involved bringing the Salvesh in deeper, luring them with the thought of easy bait and then catching the enemy with a movement to contact. It meant Park's squad felt exposed. It was calculated risk, but perhaps they were figuring that if the squads made contact first, then higher headquarters could pile on with the heavier stuff.

He scanned the misty atmosphere of the habitat with naked eyes rather than a scope, looking to catch movement and whatever else. The noise of the machineguns working was bound to draw further attention.

It was a momentary peek, but it had him on his scope and scanning intently; and with the movement detected by the VI assist, assets like friendly drones, freed up from the combat by the Squad's engagement, focused their searches on the area as well.

There were a couple basic designations for enemies. The enemy drone types were, on the augmented reality goggles, purple. Any enemy, such as the drones, engaged with them were red. Anything they couldn't see directly was a small diamond on the display, but anything directly exposed to them was outlined. Lost contacts went fainter in color and circular to indicate the last known area.

Overlaying all this was a haze of probable, but not definite, area of enemy activity, which was marked with lines to indicate where that area, probably, ended.

Organic enemies were orange. The little orange diamonds started to pop up as the drones did their work.

Of course then, the Salvesh, themselves familiar with drone capabilities, started popping those drones and the diamonds turned to dim circles.

But that one pesky Salvesh poked out again, readying some sort of weapon, and Robson reported, "Salvesh, 11 o'clock, down below. 800M. Heavy weapon."

He took his time lining up the shot, using all the data provided through the scope of his weapon and the attached accessories that helped determine, automatically, how to compensate and fed all that into the scope with indicators, both visual in the form of arrows, and haptics, in the form of a pulse on the grip of his weapon (like an Apple watch on navigation mode) that guided him right to where the enemy was, as he was lining up his shot. He even had a little marker to show him where to aim to achieve the best result. He'd told the VI some time ago that center mass was preferred, because heads were harder to hit, and Robson was pragmatic.

He barely heard his own shot, but he felt the recoil through the pseudo-musculature compensators in the Grathik-modified light fifty. Those clenched and absorbed the recoil, keeping him on target with a follow-on shot if he wanted one. He still did things in an old fashioned way with breathing control and trigger discipline. Robson could have jerked the trigger, breathed in when out was needed and otherwise thrown the shot. Or the Salvesh could have noticed a jerky, rather than smooth, trained movement by the sniper. All these variables. The Grathik learned, the hard way, that advanced weapons were nice, but you needed a killer to do the killing.

The Salvesh's upper body, armored as it was in a plated suit, still exploded into a mess of mangled flesh as Jake Robson scored the first organic kill of Humanity's first war in space.

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First Contact is First Contact


Park took a few shots at the drones, putting his sniper skills to good use. He was able to take one down, but he viewed his job more to watch what the squad was doing, insuring they were engaging the drones than actually providing fire alongside his men. Maybe make corrections or point out additional targets to engage or observe. These are traditional roles for a combat leader at the squad and platoon level. But with the high-tech gadgetry the Grathik have provided their human warriors, the job was made simpler with a device that allowed the leadership to highlight priority targets in bright red or orange. This could help the individual soldier focus on which targets needed to be engaged first. As squad leader, Park could designate targets for each person and for each weapon system. It aided in communicating intent and acquiring results into a more streamlined method. Even with the benefit of this technology, Brian Park still found himself going from position to position reassuring the men that they were doing a fantastic job! This aspect of leadership was lost on the Grathik, a race of lumbering intellects who shared not one clue with the humans on how to fight a war. Brian Park wondered how much advice or suggestions their overlords took from Brigadier General Guy Strafford, the US Army Ranger from Virginia and his staff.

One of the soldiers in the squad, the sniper named Robson called out, "Salvesh, 11 o'clock, down below. 800M. Heavy weapon." Park quickly checked his maps and identified the location on the map box. He then assumed that one Salvesh would not be alone; that he had several others following him. He wanted to give an update to his Platoon Commander, but also wanted to do something about the problem before reporting it. “Hotel Sierra Tree, this is Riddler, over.” Sergeant Park intended to call in some indirect fire on the target Robson called out. Hotel Sierra Tree stood for HS3 or the Fire Direction Center (FDC) for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery, employing 155mm High Explosive munitions. The FDC could then prioritize what level of Indirect Fire would be used to deal with the problem. The Forward Observer needed to provide the FDC with a description of the target in order to determine whether he should use 155mm artillery or 120mm mortar fire.

“Riddler, this is Hotel Sierra Tree, go ahead over.” The response was curt. To the point.

“Hotel Sierra Tree, Riddler, adjust fire grid, Victor Romeo two-fife-six-fower-zero-zero, over.” The FDC radio-telephone operator (RTO) repeated the call for fire. The grid coordinate was given as VR256400.

Once the FDC calculated the necessary data to communicate to the firing battery to be used for this mission, they would wait for the round to leave the barrel and then tell the Forward Observer (FO), “Shot, over.”

Park heard the call and quickly responded with, “Shot, out.”

The Fire Direction Computer referred to the chart on time of flight (TOF) and knew when the round would impact. At five seconds to impact, the FDC RTO called the FO, “Splash, over.”

Upon hearing the message from the FDC, he raised his binoculars to observe the impact. Five seconds after the message, a 155mm HE round landed within ten meters of the target British Corporal Jake Robson had eliminated only twenty seconds earlier. The corpse was tossed another fifty meters through the air. Sergeant Park called the FDC back immediately, “Oscar Tango Tree One Zero, fire for effect, infantry in built up area, over.”

The Fire Direction Center recorded the Observer-Target (OT) direction at 310 degrees. This let them know along what direction the Forward Observer was looking at the target. Technically, this was a Danger Close mission, but Brian had faith in the Grathik technology and his own skills as an FO, he would not miss. The impact of the base round confirmed those beliefs. The FDC also knew the FO would like all guns from the firing battery to contribute to the target; which Brian neglected to mention.

The FDC was not overly concerned and did not ask Sergeant Park, identified as Riddler to identify the target with a more detailed description. Essentially because this was their first fire mission and they had a vested interest in performing their job. Park waited for the incoming rounds. When the customary, splash over rang out, he watched in anticipation. “Incoming rounds!” Brian wanted the squad to know hell was incoming. The fact it was only 800 meters to their front would make it so they could feel the concussive blast and increased temperatures of the impacting rounds. Sort of like a burst from a hair dryer; warm air hitting them in the face like a slap.

A battery of six 155mm howitzers can deliver a swath of killing hot steel that is two hundred fifty meters long by fifty meters wide. Each gun would deliver five rounds and then cease fire. Today, the FDC employed two batteries for effect. Instead of thirty rounds impacting in the 250x50 meters swatch, it was sixty rounds creating a wall of shooting flames, smoke and flying debris. If there were other Salvesh warriors behind the first, no one will ever know. If the humans killed more than one Salvesh, again, no one knew. Maybe it was a waste of resources or maybe the human artillery eliminated the majority of a platoon of Salvesh infantry.

“Riddler, this is Hotel Sierra Tree, Bravo Delta Alpha, over.” The fire direction center was asking for a Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) to record how effective their cannon fire was for this mission.

Brian knew they were going to ask and had to tell them something. He had only seen one Salvesh soldier and his own soldier, Corporal Robson had killed the...what word could he use...thing? “Hotel Sierra Tree, this is Riddler, Bravo Delta Alpha as follows, seven enemy Tangos Kilo India Alpha and ten Whiskey India Alpha, over.”

The FDC repeated what Sergeant Park lied into the radio. He knew it didn’t matter how many he told the FDC. Why not let them think they did a good job? “That’s a good copy, Riddler, out.”

Brian exchanged looks with Jacob Robson as if to say, ‘what’d you want me to say?’ When they were able to advance, he wanted to take a look. But he had more work to do.

“Butterfield, this is Riddler, over.”

“Riddler, this is Butterfield, go ahead, over.”

“Butterfield, this is Riddler, engaged enemy Tangos at Victor Romeo two-fife-six-fower-zero-zero. Engaged same with India Foxtrot, over.”

“Roger that, Riddler. Butterfield, out.” Lieutenant Butterfield would then pass this contact up the chain of command to his Company Commander, Captain Otto and then the CO would pass the information on to the Battalion Commander, LTC Cox. His radio traffic was monitored by the Battalion Task Force’s Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and recorded in a diary there. The Battalion Intelligence Officer (S2) would then make a notation on the intelligence map displaying the first identified location for Salvesh units in the Brigade’s Area of Operations (AO).

Once the contact was reported, Brian moved to the south side of the building, raised his glasses and could see the point team of TF Cox slowly plodding along. They were now just over a mile and a half away. ‘Boy they don’t want to get here too damn quickly, do they?’ Brian thought to himself.

Feldwebel Vogel leaned in to Frans Madsen, “das meine freunde,” he looked back at Sergeant Park with a smile, “is standard American overkill.” During training, Vogel and Madsen realized their families had vacationed in Gilleleje, Denmark at a beach resort, Gilleleje Badehotel. They shared a common language; both spoke German and Danish as well as English. Neither the German nor the Dane were annoyed by the use of artillery to engage one dead Salvesh or hte potential platoon following it. In fact, they were utterly ecstatic to witness the use of force, such that it was.

Within seconds of the words being uttered, an explosion ripped through the sky above the facility, followed immediately by the staccato of gunfire. Several members of the squad looked south in the direction of the advancing human formations. Their elation immediately quelled.

Lieutenant Jürgen Fischer of Cologne, Germany became one of the first human soldiers to be killed in action. A Rocket fired from a Salvesh ambush ripped through the lead hover-craft fashioned as an armored personnel carrier. All up and down the advance line of troops, The Salvesh staged squad and platoon sized ambush engaging the humans in close combat. Each battalion task force in the brigade started reporting casualties in to the Brigade TOC. radio chatter was just as loud as the cannon fire and machine guns ripping up Talra Station.

But the drones were still pushing in and needed to be dealt with. “Focus on the drones!” Park yelled to his squad. “Do not let them pass us! Forget about this!” He yelled pointing at the lead elements of TF 3-1. "Take down those drones!"
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The typical pattern of invading a Grathik station was that the naval siege was protracted and dangerous, but the Grathik had no particular taste for or capability in ground combat of any sort. So while they were a very tough nut to crack, they didn't have much in the way of resistance once inside, except for sophisticated, but limited, automated systems. Still, they moved through with due caution, wary of the Grathik VI systems. They moved in to check out what seemed to be a duel between drone systems of some sort. The Plashi drone controllers had to receive the information, translate it from what the drones said and then direct it to their mercenaries.

Sahati wasn't prepared for the sudden escalation of directed firepower. Garil, the hunt pack leader, stood up to engage what seemed to be an automated system and caught some sort of projectile, single shot and it seemed to come out of nowhere. He immediately ordered the rest of the pack to find cover, estimating that the Grathik VI systems would deploy some sort of fire support now that they tripped whatever new perimeter system the mad scientists dreamed up.

Fifteen seconds after the leader went down, there was return fire in the form of some sort of indirect fire, high explosive weaponry. The Plashi controller, a strategist that established objectives on a limited level to their hired mercenary units, was indicating other anomalies in the area, but seemed to still think that it was a new variation of automated systems, some sort of leap forward in computing. The Grathik were unpredictable in their capabilities, and rapidly evolving their new weapons, but still never quite managed to establish best practices. The lag between the clicks and buzzes of the Plashi language the drones operated in and the Plashi report was maddening, but they made the best of that command situation. Pack leaders, and Sahati was a battlefield promotion now, had to make decisions in the interim periods on best judgment.

This felt like something different, Sahati grumbled to himself as the rounds hit. It was cruder than the typical Grathik technology, and his gut said that this was not the expected unexpected that they were reasonably prepared for.

Once the fire finished, seconds after the last rounds, he gave orders to his pack that were simple; stay hidden, keep your eyes out. Then he gestured to his sniffer -- Rysch.

Sniffers were a part of Salvesh culture, a traditional practice that were supplemented by the advent of drones used for recon in force and other duties, but Rysch was Sahati's litter mate and the odd story always popped up where the Plashi or other employers were in error, but the instincts of a sniffer, the subconscious training of the predator's hunting senses of sight and smell, and something never quite quantified, though the Grathik claimed "pheremonal detection," on their threat assessments, were accurate.

"There's something out there," he confided in Rysch, "and the Shells think it's more tin can soldiers," he sniffed derisively, "but I want to know what you think."

Three of Rysch's four eyes widened, for the last was ritually put out as part of the Sniffer's ritual of becoming. He'd watched the shot that took Garil, but did not string together the whole picture the way Sahati did, because they had drastically different roles.

"I'll be careful," he told his litter mate. He came into a crouch and started to move forward, cover to cover, trying to simply get one of his senses in range.

There was, to Rysch's nose, the overpowering smell of the nanites sprayed all over the place, as well as the smell of ozone and...some sort of chemical propellant. That was odd. The Grathik were highly advanced, and chemical propellant was not the most effective means of sending death down-range. He was careful to pick his way through the sculpted, though now blasted, alien underbrush of the station, even as his personal assistant set his nanite defenses to maximum stealth, potentially burning them off faster and requiring replenishment, in order to allow him to move now with more freedom than expected. After all, nanites, deprived of material and time to create themselves, needed to be replenished through traditional resupply. Burning through them meant less ammunition, medical care, countermeasures and any number of functions that a soldier on this battlefield required.

And like any good soldier, he used his sparingly and carried extras. It was as essential as batteries, ammunition and food, all three of which nanites could replenish/recharge if kept in stock.

From his vantage, he saw the drones being dispatched by the new enemy. Going by the comms chatter he could hear from other Salvesh units and the sound of much heavier weaponry from a distance, they were encountering problems of their own; they said 'large drones' were bypassing the ambush, suppressing them with a volume of fire and grenades, some of it from other drones in support, but then taking a turn and staying in motion.

And the Salvesh drones were being picked off by a separate source of fire. This he tried to locate, but it was difficult because the volume of fire they encountered initially slacked off. It was hard to detect the muffled sound of a shot from that distance, but it was a high, flat, crack that resulted in a scrapped drone. Single shots, and once he trained his eyes on the flash, he knew what he was looking at. The closer he got, the more he could smell; a wild and unknown presence. He could taste their discipline, their methodical approach and their utterly alien, even compared to the Grathik and Plashi, manner. It was a visceral impression of killers, pack-hunters, but something else -- this was no designed race. They fought according to a different experience and set of methods.

"Sahati, I am sending coordinates," Rysch radioed, "and I want you to engage the location with fire very carefully. I think I have located a new enemy. I want to see their reaction."

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Brian Park felt they were in a bad place. As a special operations soldier, he was always in a bad place, but this was alien; on so many levels. He felt something was going to go wrong quickly. The squad had dispatched many of the drones and felt if they had to leave, they had properly completed their mission. But he didn’t have to leave. They set up an alternate position roughly thee hundred yards to the west. They might have to fight their way through the streets, and they had some heavy weapons to carry, but the squad could displace if necessary using the Grathik anti-gravity technology.

As the sound of gunfire intensified behind them, he was still focused on what was in front of them. He went from man to man whispering, “be prepared to move to our alternate position.”

After telling Robson and Simmons about the be prepared order a loud sound that could best be described as a sonic boom struck their eardrums from the front. It was not alone, several additional sonic booms resonated through the concrete canyon of the Grathik base. There was no sound of projectiles being launched from what could be described as an electro-magnetic coil-based weapon system.

As Brian raised his binoculars to scan the area to his front, large heavy projectiles ripped through the buildings around them. The projectiles may have been smaller, impacting with intense kinetic energy. It was sufficient to rip walls off buildings. There were no explosions. It was like throwing a rock at a glass bottle, but a hundred times larger. One round struck low on the building they were standing on. It tore into the right front wall around the sixth floor and ripped the right side of the structure apart depositing debris into the street below.

“That’s it guys! We are out of here! Displace to the alternate position now! Break down that pig. Load up your Donkeys!” As their observation platform was being dismantled, the human soldiers had a similar version of the anti-gravity tech that allowed them to descend to ground level safely. Some described it to a parachute drop with or without the Parachute Landing Fall (PLF).

The movement to the alternate position was without event, but every man in the squad could feel the adrenaline coursing through their veins. They knew they escaped what could have been a very terrible situation. Within a half hour, the new Observation Post (OP) was set up. Brian Park contacted his higher headquarters which was closing in on his location after fighting through the Salvesh ambush sites.

“BUTTERFIELD, this is RIDDLER, over,” Brian spoke into the radio.

Lieutenant Jacob Butterfield was in an armored personnel carrier moving very close to his position when he heard the call. “RIDDLER, this is BUTTERFIELD, go ahead over,” he spoke with his thick Mississippi accent.

“BUTTERFIELD, this is RIDDLER, we have displaced to position Alpha Oscar Two, over.”

Lieutenant Butterfield checked his map and realized the squad was right in front of the lead elements of the company team. “RIDDLER, this is BUTTERFIELD, we will be at your location in ten mikes. Be prepared to mount your Alpha Papa Charlie. Join the company. You can push forward with the rest of the unit.

“Roger that, Riddler out.” Brian Park clicked off the radio and addressed the squad over squad comms, “I just spoke to the Lieutenant. I know we just got here, but the LT will be here in ten minutes. We are loading onto our APC and joining the company for the advance.”

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"Shit!" exclaimed Robson, from behind cover, as the suppressive fire came in from enemy positions. They were a squad of combat veterans, but the way the fire came in with hypersonic booms and tore forth chunks from their position was a new and unpleasant experience, even as the debris rained in on them in dangerous splinters and other hazards. They'd been prepared for the scenario of having the observation position compromised, but not quite prepared for the kinetic energy behind the enemy's attack.

Nonetheless, he quickly stowed his equipment, the light fifty, onto a grav platform that the Grathik designed to assist infantry by lessening their carried individual loads. It was derived from the concept of programs that were shelved by various militaries for lack of the technology base to follow through with a viable piece of equipment for battlefield use.

Just as the Grathik mounted heavy machineguns on drones that could be converted over to manned use by humans, they also equipped humans with these cargo units.

It made a difference; Robson was down to his rifle and the equipment necessary to fight for several hours, while leaving anti-material rifles, anti-tank weapons and the like to be carried by an autonomous vehicle that essentially was their pack animals...the first time they heard one talk, it was dubbed, "Donkey!"

And then some joker reprogrammed their squad's Donkey to sound like Eddie Murphy.

"Now I'm a FLYIN' donkey!" it sang out as the last gear was loaded on and it sailed down on counter-grav tech, the same exact tech that the squad's emergency escape equipment had. Once Robson had his carbine ready and saw others making their jumps, he made his; it felt like a parachute drop, something the Grathik added so as to psychologically reassure humans used to parachute drops. It was a gentle, rather than steep descent.

Donkey let them concentrate on setting up their perimeter, concentrate on their movement and freed up people that'd be humping heavier gear from even worrying. Indispensable, because, down on the ground level, they could focus on the rifleman's job.

That job was vital, because now they were on an alien street, on an alien station, with alien buildings blocking a lot of the line of sight, which provided alien soldiers concealment. The sounds of other fights off in the distance were present, but the silence of their position was overwhelming...
Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Gunther
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A native of Cardiff Wales, Leftenant Colonel Cox informed his Brigade commander that his battalion task force successfully bypassed the sporadic ambush sites occupied by enemy combatants. They may have intended to impede their progress, but the Grathik modified Armored Personnel Carriers moved gracefully over the artificial terrain.

Virginia born, Brigadier General Guy Strafford, 54 had previously served as an infantry officer in the US Army prior to joining the Grathik’s Foreign Legion spoke in a southern drawl. His ancestry was peppered with warriors like himself. A great great great grandfather served with the 5th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment for the Confederate States of America (CSA) during the War of Northern Aggression. His ancestor’s unit saw combat under General Thomas Jackson with the famed Stonewall Brigade at First Manassas, First Kernstown and in Jackson’s Valley Campaign. Later the Fightin’ Fifth served in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days’ Battles to Cold Harbor. They also saw action with Jubal Early during his Shenandoah Valley operations and around Appomattox. General Strafford’s ancestor survived the war to embark on a career with a southern railroad. The Commander of the 1st Earth Motorized Infantry Brigade never wanted to work for the railroad like the long line of men in his family had since 1865. He was fortunate to gain a commission through the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Upon completion of the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Ft. Benning, GA, Guy completed Airborne School, Ranger School and eventually the Infantry Officer Advanced Course. He served with the 75th Ranger Regiment seeing combat with the 2nd battalion in Grenada in 1983. He also saw action as a Company Commander in the 82nd Airborne Division in 1991 in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The southern gentleman claims to be descended from a Cherokee warrior, but no evidence supports those claims.

“Good job, COX!” Strafford informed the battalion commander over the radio. “FITZGERALD is rolling up behind you with tanks. They’ll clear out those varmints you left behind. Establish contact with the enemy and kill them! Out!”

Colonel Cox received the transmission and felt no reason to respond. He received his orders. He expected additional ambush sites to the front and briefed his company and team commanders of their existence before they started this operation. They were prepared for the ambush sites and ready to bypass rather than fight through them. Task Force FITZGERALD or 1st Battalion 10th Armor consisted of three company teams of armor and one company team of mechanized infantry. The anti-gravity tank could roll up on the Salvesh ambush sites and dispatch the oversized brutes with impunity. Colonel Cox’ task force also had a company team of anti grav tanks. It was one of his mech infantry companies that was attached to Fitzgerald’s battalion.

Alexander Cox thoroughly enjoyed listening to his American Commander with his Southern drawl. It was somehow entertaining and encouraging, albeit foreign from the many dialects spoken in his native United Kingdom. He had some hostility however toward Jessup Roy, the English born commander of the First Battalion currently located to his west pushing in the same direction as he. But enjoyed the company of the commander of the 2nd Battalion to his right. Charles McCusker hailed from Edinburgh, Scotland possessing a similar animosity towards the Englishman, from Manchester, England. Jessup Roy walked on eggshells around his Welsh and Scottish peers. The two armor commanders were both Americans; one from California and the other from Arkansas. It was the one from Arkansas who trailed Cox’ battalion now. He was looking forward to watching the new armor in combat against the Grathik. He did have a company of the beasts in his own battalion task force and hoped he would see something grand. But only if the Salvesh did not have vehicles to oppose them.

Lieutenant Colonel Cox called the Bravo Team Commander, Captain Otto. Kevin Otto was from the Boston, MA area and spoke with an entirely different American accent. Again, Alex Cox enjoyed listening to his American comrades. “Continue to push forward. Let me know if you meet stiff resistance and cannot move forward. Deploy and I will send support, over.”

“Roger that. Will deploy and inform you of same,” Captain Otto responded over the radio. “I have pulled in my OPs and am at full strength, over.” The acronym OP refers to the Observation Posts used by units to provide intelligence and surveillance on various key locations on a battlefield.

“Roger that, COX out.”

Captain Otto was frustrated about losing his first platoon commander, Lieutenant Fischer, but Hauptfeldwebel Lang had taken command of the platoon. Otto had confidence in the experienced NCO. He had referred to the first platoon as his German platoon with both the Platoon’s commander and senior NCO being from Germany. But the rest of the platoon was composed of soldiers all over Europe as well as Australians, Canadians and Americans.

Fifteen minutes into the run, the lead vehicle took a devastating shot to the engine in the front right of the vehicle. The anti-gravity system failed dropping the 15-ton vehicle into the concrete street. The beast slid in an agonizing screech of death. Two soldiers including the driver and one other dismount were killed during the impact.

“Contact one o’clock! One hundred meters! Infantry in buildings!” Sergeant Lang yelled over the radio on the company’s net. His platoon deployed forward with the four remaining vehicles on line pumping fire into the direction of the recent contact.

The third platoon, commanded by Lieutenant David Moore of Birmingham (UK) moved to the left of the first platoon attempting to bypass. A second anti-material round with its ensuing sonic boom impacted with the lead vehicle. “Contact ten o’clock, fifty meters, infantry in building!” Lieutenant Moore yelled over the company net.

“I think we have established contact with their main line of defense,” Brian Park calmly spoke over the squad net. “First and third platoons each lost a vehicle. They are deploying. We’re next.”

Over the platoon net, Lieutenant Butterfield called out, “We are pushing to the west to get around the left of third platoon. The lead two platoons have run into enemy contact and are deploying to clear the buildings. We will either establish contact on the left or roll up the enemy’s flank. Be prepared to deploy!”

“Here it comes,” Park calmly encouraged his soldiers as the occupants felt the vehicles turn to the left and then again to the right.

A loud explosion halted the lead vehicle in the platoon and dropped it to the concrete just as two similar vehicles had. “Remaining Second Platoon vehicles, move up on the left!” Warrant Officer 2 Milton Anderson of Melbourne, Australia yelled over the net.

“Driver! Follow the third squad and move to their left!” Park yelled over comms. “Pull up by that building and stop!” When the driver completed the move, “Drop Ramp! Drop Ramp!” As the driver dropped the ramp, the squad leader left the turret and yelled, “Deploy! Deploy!” The squad hurriedly moved out of the vehicle and sought cover behind concrete structures.

Once the dismounts were arrayed behind a stone wall, Sergeant Park informed the squad. “The platoon commander, Lieutenant Butterfield is dead. Warrant Anderson is now our platoon commander. The fire all across Team Bravo’s front was intense. Both the humans and the Salvesh were dispensing death as rapidly as they could. It was unknown how large of a force they were facing.

Captain Otto attempted to determine the size of the force he faced. He had lost two officers and nine soldiers in the first two minutes of this engagement. “COX, this is OTTO, SITREP follows,” the company commander issued a situation report to his higher headquarters. “Unknown quantity of enemy soldiers to our front; possibly company strength. We have deployed on line and are engaging the enemy at Grid xxxxxx. Their fire is intense and they are using the buildings to their advantage. Recommend probing to our left and right, over.”

As the Battalion commander began pushing infantry and armor units around the flanks of Team Bravo, Brian Park and his 2nd squad laid down intense fire in the direction of where the Salvesh were suspected to be. Edwards and Brown got their grav mounted .50 caliber up and were placing heavy fire on the enemy locations.
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Hover vehicles were a new sensation still; a layout done on the basis of human designs, and conforming to the role of an IFV, so that was familiar.

Rather, it was the way it moved, floating and bobbing, rather than rumbling and rattling. He muttered, "I guess it's a fucking Mercedes Benz war..." got a rueful chuckle by another squadmate that got the drift. His hands went over the equipment, his eyes visually checked on everyone else. He had a carbine in hand, a human-designed but Grathik manufactured weapon that essentially upgraded what they had into something that put them in a similar category of lethality to Salvesh weaponry. The limitations came from being chemically-propelled, but the Grathik and human commanders reckoned that the advantages of familiarity outweighed the limitations of the tech.

The weapons and uniforms were fairly familiar, but dropping down without a parachute or rope and then loading into a hover vehicle? That brought home how different it was, just as the impact of that alien weaponry did as well.

In the course of the ride, he quickly added a single shot rocket launcher, similar to a LAW, to his loadout, same as the others who were replenishing ammo and adding weaponry to their loadout; apparently, they'd felt the same way about the Salvesh fire when it came in as Robson did. When Park told them to get ready to move, he shifted slightly and got ready to hit the buckle that held him down. When the signal came, he was up on his feet and out the hatch fast; the first thing they'd drilled on as soon as the new vehicles came was getting out of them and into the fight quickly.

They had good cover to dig into, in the form of Grathik-built prefab cover as well as the boulevard's fixture itself. Other units were tasked with the clearing, and Squad Park's turn would surely come, but for the moment, they were providing fire support. As soon as the drones and various other cameras and sensors established contact, they would engage, but then the electronic target designation would fuzz as enemy countermeasures took effect. Then the Humans' equipment would gain the upper hand. It came down to eyes, ears, reflexes and instinct.

At least a couple of the enemy were laying down far, effective fire, and it seemed to be striking, as far as he could tell, from an elevated position; close enough for Robson, he didn't need a fucking shave from the enemy. He thought he saw some sort of origin of fire.

"Brown, shift the fire left onto the dildo tower," he was just trying to describe it accurately, "halfway up the shaft!"

Unsure of the enemy's combat dispositions beyond Grathik information sources, he told Park, "Unknown number of sniper quality riflemen, about 700m from us, elevated position," he reported to Park, even as he tried to get better eyes on the enemy, calling out adjustments to the fire...
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Sergeant Park looked up the tower that did indeed have a phallic appearance to it. He smiled at that dildo reference. He could see fire pouring out of the structure hitting the platoon’s vehicles and amongst the soldiers frantically trying to remain behind cover. “Roger that!” Park yelled. “Let’s keep up the fire on that location!”

Park reached for his radio intending to report to higher. Undoubtedly Warrant Anderson was well aware of the location. In fact, video feeds were beginning to come in from the drones hovering overhead. The track commanders starting urging their gunners to place fire on now known enemy locations. ‘Track commander,’ Park thought to himself. ‘Tough to call these guys track commanders anymore. There isn’t any track.’ He got a chuckle out of that notion.

The image of the battlefield in front of him began to unfold. The second and third platoons were facing what appeared to be an overstrength platoon of the enemy well emplaced scattered across their front. The first platoon on the right end of the line were facing another over strength platoon. There may have been well over a hundred Salvesh to Bravo Team’s front. Another two company’s worth of strength extended east and west of the company revealing that the infantry heavy task force was facing about a battalion strength of Salvesh entrenched in the buildings to their front.

Some high energy round impacted immediately to the front of Sergeant Brian Park, spraying dirt in all directions. A fragment of something bounced off Park’s helmet snapping his head back. Although it made his neck sore, he was fine. He pulled up his rifle and fired in the direction of the enemy. A second round glanced off the track to his right and impacted with the ground sending another shower of debris across the squad. This time, a small piece of metal fragment imbedded itself into his backside causing the Korean American to real over in pain. “Medic! Something hit me!” It was blisteringly painful. He focused on the pain forcing himself to remain still.

Meanwhile, Captain Otto communicated his observations to the Task Force Commander who then sent infantry companies left and right to fill in where the Salvesh defensive line was formed. He held his armor in reserve waiting for an opportunity to use them. One platoon pulled up behind TF Cox and provided supporting fires.

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Beckett, quiet as he was at the spectacle of engineering the place was, had failed to say anything the entire ride. His positions was furthest from the door, safe enough for a combat medic he had figured. His mind was constantly occupied as they rode in the vehicle which rolled and bobbed like a ship on the ocean - a feeling he was not unfamiliar with - yet it was still nauseating all the same. As it bobbed, he reflected back on his assignment. Fighting for aliens was one thing, but he was a combat medic amongst few Humans. What was he supposed to do if one of these squishy fuckers got hit? What then? Would morphine even work? Another time, perhaps, because there didn't seem to be any of them around here now.

Moreover, as medic, he was designated as the AT specialist as well. Who in their right mind- He ceased that thought, exhaling sharply, looking to the racks where his AT implement was lashed. A MAAWS, a Gustaf or 'Goose' as it's affectionately called, not to mention the ammo bag it came with. The thing felt nearly as heavy as the weapon itself, no matter how many spare rounds he'd tried to push off onto other squad mates with any extra space. He'd counted out what he thought he'd need for a MOUT scenario like this one. At least three HEDP (High Explosive Dual Purpose), the be-all end-all of most combat scenarios, able to shear through infantry formations, light vehicles, and civilian constructed buildings. Accompanied was two HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) warheads for any looming armor threat, with a superplastic jet of copper liquifying the crew and equipment inside most armored vehicles. Last but not least, considering the terrain, he'd placed in a single round of Area Denial Munition, a flat, cylindrical warhead packed with tiny copper balls which expanded outwards like a shotgun blast when fired. Perfect for wiping away a formation of infantry, even could be used through thin walls.

As much of a bitch it all was to carry, he had scammed a couple of the other squad members out of their pack space. Two HEDP were passed around, as was a single HEAT warhead. It left one of each for Beckett to carry and utilize in a pinch. He'd passed the field qualification with it, so who better? But that was musings which now were long past.

They were in the thick of it, to say the least, the stench of sulfur and gunpowder invading Beckett's nostrils and mouth, leaving a metallic taste on his tongue. He had the foresight to at the least uncover his SWD goggles, securing them down over his green eyes. He glanced around, hadn't even fired a shot. They were waiting as their friendlies were engaged left, right, and center. And not only that, they were being targeted, as evidenced by the spray of shrapnel and dust which first alerted the incoming rounds. He recovered as projectile dust pattered off his fatigues and scraped along his goggles and helmet. No metal in it, thank God.

Then the second round snapped, closer, a bigger shower of metal in with dust now, the small fragments losing most of their velocity before impacting around him. He heard someone cry out, not over net. He thumped his headset as he glanced about, keeping his head low and concealing himself entirely within cover. His eyes set on Sergeant Park, slumped over and a small pooling of blood forming at his derrière. His HK was dropped to hang by its sling at his side, as Beckett moved over at a low crouch, using his hands to speed his movements. Once arrived he affirmed to the SL. "I'm here, I'm here!" Beckett used gloved hands to bunch his sleeves up at the forearms, reaching quickly into a PALS loop on his carrier, pulling an olive green square packet with a red cross and black stenciled letters.

"Right, Sarge, gonna need you to drop your trousers!"
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Vogel stepped right in, keeping everyone under direct control when Park went down. Veterans knew to stay in their lane and let the medics do their job. Robson shifted back to take over Lang's assistant role, putting eyes on the situation and firing as necessary. Madsen had the machinegun and Browne had a grenade launcher, so that meant that Robson was the assistant and the spotter, as necessary. As soon as it was reported that Park was hit, he was cut into Lang's old access privileges on the network; he had access to the fire support net and other resources, which created a different set of menus on his augmented reality HUD.

That also gave him insight to a location that looked like a definite danger area; Grathik specs revealed that the squat, rounded buildings, with holes gouged from stray fire and fragmentation, were part of a service access system that could be a potential means of reinforcement if the enemy were feeling crafty. There was no real way to process every bit of available network data on specific features, and so the sudden realization of that vulnerability in their line was a priority, as the maintenance shaft were rail lines, not powered, but definitely a way for infantry to move. It was sheltered, and probably would need to be cleared once higher command processed that info. If the Grathik were amenable, they could just demo the fucker, but do the tentacle monster overlords consider their infrastructure more important than their mercenaries?, the cynical part of his mind asked. It'd take a lot of explosives to collapse the tunnel properly, and it might not be structurally viable...but then again, it might be worth doing.

He flagged it for Vogel, even as he made a snap decision on how to cover it. "Dieter," he radio'ed Vogel, "I'm shifting my team to cover those maint buildings," referencing the indicated position.

"Browne," he panted a bit in the lull of firing that suddenly cropped up, "I want you to be ready to reposition left. Madsen, stay put and cover, that way," he gave a pointed direction on where to keep an eye, "And top off, frag, incendiary, smoke, electronic beacon, 2 more frag. We'll move once you are loaded, mate." The M32 allowed them a degree of utility in picking grenade loads, but it took time to reload. It was fine equipment so long as you paid attention to the load and made sure it was 'topped off' with the right mix. The beacon was to quickly provide a marker for fire support on everyone's augmented reality visors and the network, giving them a common point of reference once engaged. Rapid fire and magazine capacity meant they could dedicate one of five rounds to such a function.

He had a couple of LAW-type rockets, whatever the Grathik did to make them viable on this battlefield. They were higher velocity and considerably more potent, but still could do the same work -- good against vehicles, some armor and fixed positions. Those squat little maint buildings could become very dangerous little bunker systems with only a little bit of work. He was anticipating infiltration.

"Okay!" Madsen shouted, and that was when Robson made the first shift forward, with his gunner and his grenadier covering. He slid into place behind some broken-off structure, and leaned carefully in with his carbine, watching the corners, the doorways and the general area, eyes off the optic on his weapon, a holo sight and magnifier, but never far from it. Browne came behind him once he was in position and quickly set up his M240B without such close supervision needed -- the man was a professional and knew how best to set up his weapon for the job.

He was breathing heavily, but that was the normal. The tempo of the fighting had him already wearing out a bit, but in the lull, he was able to suck down lukewarm, tasteless hydration fluid, just as the others were able to. But he was wary, knowing that lulls could be deadly. In place, hydrated and waiting, he quickly switched out to a full magazine and checked everything else that he could think of, running a mental count of grenades and other essentials while waiting for the expected unexpected.
Hidden 16 days ago 16 days ago Post by Gunther
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Gunther Captain, Infantry (Retired)

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Brian Park was pissed. He knew his injury wasn’t serious, but it would not permit him to walk comfortably for a few days. With the help of the medic, he crawled behind the Armored Personnel Carrier for cover. Then Beckett uttered those words, “Right, Sarge, gonna need you to drop your trousers!”

“Fucking A,” Park spat out. “My luck. I get zapped in the fucking ass!” He attempted to push his assault vest out of the way and unbuckle his trousers. Then he wiggled them down to his thighs so the medic could access his southern posterior. “How bad is it doc?” The question hung out there and then Park, also known as the Riddler uttered, “you got my dick buried in the dirt here.”

While Kasey Beckett worked on Sergeant Brian Park, the exchange of fire along what was now known as Phase Line BOSTON continued with increased fervor. This fight would become known as the [i]Battle of Boston[/i. Dieter Vogel processed what was happening quickly. He served as a squad leader and platoon sergeant in the Bundeswehr. It was an easy transition to fall into the position of squad leader here on this distant station, wherever the hell they were. Vogel called the platoon commander, Warrant Anderson on the radio. “Anderson, this is Vogel, Park is Whiskey India Alpha, assuming command of second squad. Edwards is now assistant squad leader. Identified underground access ports in field of fire. Covering these locations in case the Salvesh use them. Also, pass up the chain. See if we can get a map of the underground rail system, Vogel, out.”

“Roger that, Vogel,” Anderson responded and relayed the information up to Captain Otto who then relayed to the Battalion Main Command Post. The Battalion Main then relayed it to Brigade Main which then relayed the information to General Strafford and the Grathik overlords. The Grathik were very accommodating. They uploaded a data packet to the 1EMIB main frame computers. The Brigade S2 section (Intelligence) then began disseminating the images to the Battalions and then down to company and platoons. The Brigade S3 (Operations) then issued orders to subordinate units regarding how they would handle this newly discovered access point.

While the exchange of information and ideas flowed up and down the chain of command, the medical evacuation crew were getting a workout in the Bravo Team sector or 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry. Two medics helped Sergeant First Class Brian Park move into the back of their hover ambulance, a standard medical evacuation variant of the same APC used by the platoons. There were four other soldiers, all Park recognized from the company. An American Special Forces NCO, he worked with in the Philippines several years ago. The man, he knew as Staff Sergeant Dwayne Hastings lost his left arm in an explosion about twenty seconds before he took shrapnel to the ass. The man was sedated and unable to speak. A second soldier was a former French SAS NCO and the other two were British; a Royal Marine commando and a Paratrooper from 1Para. Brian lay on a stretcher on his stomach watching Dwayne. He hoped the man would pull out, although he couldn’t imagine what the Grathik could do for a lost limb.

The ambulance moved about ten kilometers to the rear where the French soldier and the British Para were offloaded. The remaining three were then moved to an ambulance transfer point another five kilometers to the rear. They were then loaded onto another ambulance bound for the Brigade Support Area and a Field Hospital. The BSA was located about eighteen kilometers behind Phase Line BOSTON. The ambulance crew were a pair of Italian females from Bravo Company, 145th Forward Support Battalion (FSB). The FSB operated a field hospital for soldiers requiring surgery. The young women were very attractive to Sergeant Park. He felt embarrassed with his ass exposed for everyone to see. He would spend the next several days in the field hospital. First to have shrapnel removed from his butt and then to recover before sending him back into action.

“Vogel, this is Anderson, over,” the platoon commander called over the radio.

“Anderson, this is Vogel, go ahead, over,” Feldwebel Vogel responded.

“Continue observing the access points. Be prepared to lead a reconnaissance of the underground. Battalion has uploaded a PDF file with a map of the subway system. Upon order to move in, the panzer platoon behind the company will cover our position, over.”

“Roger that, be prepared to conduct reconnaissance of the subway. Vogel, out.” Feldwebel Vogel then let the squad know they should be prepared for a reconnaissance of the subway system. For now, keep up fires and watch the access point.

Vogel then turned to Kasey Beckett, “how is Sergeant Park? How was his injury? Will he be back anytime soon?”
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