The World of The Gunny

The Wasted World of Gunnery Sergeant DeShane
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 Post subject: The Siliconate War: Damnatio et Memoriae
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2007 14:25 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
This story takes place during the Siliconate War and is from the point of view of Roman Manipularii, Roman Marines. It proceeded the Arachnid War by 22 years. :D



Prologue



Technician Principale Iulius Vilanus parked his motorcycle behind a hedgerow and waited to see if his arrival had been noticed. When no shouts of recognition came forth he crouched and moved carefully towards the small farmhouse. The light from the red moon in the darkening night sky gave the whole area a sickly hue that reminded Vilanus of blood.

This is for the final payoff Iulius my boy, after this one you can retire to Epsilon Eridani and spend the rest of your life drinking Rum Runners, he thought with a sense of satisfaction.

The thought of beaches, booze and broads brought a smile to his face and he straightened up as he got to the door. He knocked softly waiting patiently for someone to answer the door. He glanced up at the stars and saw the yellow giant of 82 Eridani sinking below the horizon. “I'm comin girls, so have the hot tub warmed up.” He said softly.

The door opened up and Vilanus entered, which Demanus quickly closed behind him. They moved to the kitchen where Vilanus was startled to find the presence of someone else, who was unknown to him, at this meeting. He turned angrily to Demanus, "What in the name of Hades is going on Demanus, this was supposed to be a private meeting? And what's your friend all dressed up for, Autumn Festival?"

Demanus moved between Vilanus and the large, hooded and cloaked figure seated at the kitchen table. "This is my... employer Iulius, he wanted to talk to you to make sure everything was done properly before he made the final payment."

The bulky figure behind Demanus made no movement but the rasp of his breath filled the room. A labored breath preceded each sentence. "You must answer... I must ensure... that it was done... before I can give... you your reward... tell me everything... that you did."

Vilanus rolled his eyes and pointed at the figure. "Look Demanus hired me because I am good at what I do. I put the virus in the Orbital Command scanner system like you paid me to do. The long-range scanners will be out of commission for at least 3 hours starting at midnight just like you wanted. Hey, I don't care what you smugglers want to bring in and out of here. I just want my money!" Vilanus looked over at the kitchens wall chrono. "As a matter of fact, the system should have been offline for 15 minutes now."

At a strange chirp from something on the table Vilanus saw the figure reach out with a cadaverous looking arm and pick up a strange object. The figure lifted the device and looked at some sort of viewscreen. The head nodded and a tired voice rasped out.

"You have done... as you have said... The Plan is on... schedule." A long shudder went through the figures body. "And now it... is time to find... a new home."

Vilanus got a bad feeling as he saw the fear in Demanus's eyes.

Demanus's voice whined out. "But not me, you promised. Not me!"

Vilanus watched the figure stand up and start towards him and felt a grip of fear when the withered arm pointed at him and the voice croaked out. "That one... will do... "

Vilanus turned and ran down the hallway towards the front door. He clawed the door open and saw over his shoulder Demanus aiming a strange weapon at him. He dove out the doorway but he heard a <pfftt> and felt a sharp pain in his back. He felt his limbs grow heavy as he stumbled towards his motorcycle. He crashed to the ground and rolled on his back looking up at the stars.

Vilanus rolled his head to the side and saw Demanus and his friend move to stand over him. The large figure shrugged off his cloak and Vilanus looked in horror at what lay beneath.

The gaunt body looked as if it was human once but in the moon's light it resembled a cadaver dipped in blood. But the rock looking thing, which was pulsing, that had wrapped itself around the torso was anything but human. It seemed to unwrap itself and scuttle down the legs of the once human figure.

As it finally detached Vilanus saw the hollow, horror filled eyes meet his and read the barely moving lips whispering, "Oh, thank the Gods," before the body toppled backward.

Vilanus couldn't move his arms or legs, but when he felt the rocky, scaled tentacle of the thing wrap itself around his leg and pull itself up his body he started to scream. The weight of the thing slowly moving across his chest made it more difficult to breathe.

He saw sharp diamond tipped tentacles wrap around him and start probing his back and neck. The pain of the tentacles spearing his flesh was terrible but he began to feel a cloud fall over his thoughts. He saw flashes in the night sky and realized that their/our ships were destroying the orbital castra. The other flashes were probably the system defense ships being engaged by our/their ships. Vilanus's last conscious act was to turn his head towards the stars, "Gonna be a little late girls."

The figure got to its feet briskly and turned towards Demanus. Its strong voice boomed out. "Ensure the landing beacons are all activated so the ships of the Assembly may land safely."

The Siliconate watched the weak human run into the building to check the transmitters. It reveled in the strong body it now had. "The Assembly will want to reap this world with most haste." He looked over his new body and said, "Ahhh, it is good to have a strong host able to process the calcium and manganese we need. These humans make such nice hosts."
A long roar and a bright glow to the south marked the first landing of ships from the Assembly coming to reap the humans of Nova Tarentum I.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


Last edited by Þórgrímr on 01 Nov 2007 07:29, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 27 Sep 2007 23:11 
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Chapter One


Navarchus Quintus Helvius looked at his Legatus Classis and spoke. “Permission to speak freely sir.”

Legatus Gnaeus Labienus looked him in the eyes and nodded.

Helvius chose his next words carefully. “Sir, I want to stress my objection to this mission for the record. Anything strong enough to stop all communications from Nova Tarentum and Scylla is going to eat my two squadrons for lunch, not to mention the troop transports I am going to have to nursemaid all the way there.”

The Legatus picked up his quill and started stabbing the air as he made his points. “First thing Helvius is we don’t know that it was a hostile force that had anything to do with the loss of contact.” He held up his hand to forestall the Navarchus’s next comments. “I know the outer arm has never been fully explored but it has not been confirmed that any outside forces had anything to do with it. Intelligence thinks it is a local ‘rebellion’ that has spread to a few local systems, and THAT is why you are escorting those troops. If it is a local rebellion, you are to land and take Control as the Military Governor until order is restored.”

"You know that with the Medes making all the noise on the border that this was all the ships Classis Command could spare. Be happy, I had to call in a favor to get you as many ships as I did. So Navarchus, can I count on you for this mission or do I have to brevet Trierarchus Corinus up to Navarchus and take the mission?”

The name of the one man in the Republic that Helvius despised had the proper effect. Navarchus Helvius straightened up and saluted. “Orders received and understood Sir. I will carry out the mission.” Under his breath he whispered, “If only to keep that glory hound from commanding anything bigger than a garbage scow.”

Labienus smirked at that last bit. “Was there something else Navarchus? I didn’t catch the last bit.”

Helvius straightened up just a hair more and said, “We will be coming home with our shields or on them sir.” He did a perfect about face and left the Legatus’ office. He had the terrible feeling that he would never see home again.

***

Manipularii Suetonius Scaevola was assembling his rifle when he heard a low snore from off to his right. He picked up a cleaning rag, knotted it and pegged Legionarii Cassius Varus right in the forehead. Varus jumped and pieces of his rifle scattered all over the deck. He looked around and when he saw Scaevola staring at him he dropped his eyes. Scaevola normally would have let it go, but not right before they were going to be dropped in the garum.

He cleared his throat. “Varus, if Metellus catches you racking out like that, you ain’t never gonna wake up. He is just gonna slit your throat with things this serious.”

Varus looked up at him, hesitated and then spoke. “You really think it’s E.T’s or you think its just some kind of rebellion like the scuttlebutt says Optio?” Scaevola didn’t get a chance to answer when a rough voice caught the whole Contubernium’s attention.

“It don’t matter to Manipularii what they are facing, Animals, E.T’s or Rebels, we kill ‘em all and let Imperial Command sort ‘em out before burial.” Principale Metellus looked at the men of his Contubernium. His eyes halted on Varus and his lip rose in a snarl. “Varus, you have 30 seconds to find all the pieces of your weapon and assemble it or you are Numero Uno on my garum list starting NOW!”

Varus scrabbled to grab the scattered pieces of his rifle and started snapping them together. Metellus barely looked at him as he took out a pouch of tobacco. He pinched a large wad of it and packed it in this right cheek.

Without looking at his chrono Metellus just said “Time!” He held out his hand and Varus placed his gauss rifle in it.

The whole Contubernium watched as Metellus did a quick inspection of the weapon. He flicked the power switch on and quickly threw the weapon to his shoulder aiming it at Varus. The Contubernium hit the deck as they heard the sound of discharge. Varus looked over himself searching for a wound. He looked at his Principale in shock.

Metellus just stared at him. “Next time don’t forget the power transfer conduit or I am gonna stuff you in the recycler.” Metellus spit a stream of tobacco juice near Varus’s foot and threw the weapon to Scaevola. “Make sure he gets it right, I gotta talk to the Centurio.” The Contubernium stared at Varus as the Principale walked out.

Legionarii Macer laughed for a moment before speaking, “I thought for sure you were dead my friend. Good thing you are such a screw up, understand?”

Scaevola threw the weapon to Varus. Varus disassembled his rifle down to the guts and saw the vacant space where the conduit should have been. He looked over at Optio Scaevola and whispered. “How did he know it was missing without pulling it apart?”

Scaevola shook his head. “Do you think he cared?”

Macer leaned over and touched Varus on the shoulder. “The Principale is crazy but not that crazy.” He pointed at the deck. Varus looked down and saw a power conduit lying there covered in tobacco juice.

Scaevola shook his head and just pointed at the power conduit, “Get that cleaned up and get squared away, quickly.” Varus was picking the power conduit up when the general quarters alarm went off.

***

Navarchus Helvius quickly recorded a message for the message pod. “Legatus Labienus, following course from Nova Cartago>> Nova Londinium >> Nova Tarentum en route to Scylla. Entered Nova Tarentum system and detected 7 unidentified ships. Ships were of an unknown configuration. Three of Quinquireme size and 4 of Trireme size. Fifth Pila Squadron engaged at maximum range and scored numerous hits.”

He paused momentarily before continuing, “Initial analysis shows enemy shields 33% more effective than ours and hull strength at least 25% higher. All seven ships destroyed at the cost of 3 of my Mons (P) Class Sexiremes. Enemy Pilas also much more powerful than ours.”

“We have detected signs of combat on the surface of the planet. Have ordered the deployment of the IV Manipularii Legio and the XI Mechanized Legio to assist local forces.”

Helvius paused a moment and hit the record button again. “Legatus, I am concerned that whoever they were that we passed them in the Apollonian Gate passage. I think they dropped troops here and left these to guard Nova Tarentum while their Main Body moved on towards Nova Londinium.”

“You may relieve me but I am heading back to Nova Londinium to check it out then I will return to Nova Tarentum if everything there is ok. This doesn’t look good Legatus; you had better scrape all the ships you can get together to guard Nova Cartago. If we lose our only Imperial Communications Center in the whole outer arm I think it will be very bad. Navarchus Helvius out.” He turned to his Comm Officer. “Get that sent out now!”

Helvius checked the board and saw the transports were landing on Nova Tarentum. “Helm, once the transports have offloaded set course to Nova Londinium maximum speed.”

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 28 Sep 2007 08:20 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Two



The cargo bay shook as the ship entered the atmosphere. Metellus moved from man to man of his contubernium doing a final check of them and their equipment.

He stopped before Optio Scaevola, “Keep your section spread out Scaevola, and keep a close eye on Varus. If he screws up bad just get rid of him, you get me?” Scaevola met his eyes and just nodded. Metellus gave his Optio a grin, “I told the Centurio that you should be made a Principale and he is gonna put in the paperwork after this landing.”

Scaevola smiled briefly. “I won't let you down Principale.”

Metellus put his hand on Suetonius’s shoulder. “I know you won’t Scaevola, you just keep your head screwed on straight and stay alert.”

Metellus moved to Optio Sertorius Dentatus. The Principale looked him straight in the eyes. “Hows the leg Dentatus, and don’t lie to me. That was a bad break and I gotta know if you are one hundred percent.”

Dentatus just gave him a huge grin. “It’s fine Principale, it aches a bit but the Medicus gave me some ‘candy’ to knock the pain back if it gets too bad.”

Metellus poked him with his finger. “Don’t take too many of those painkillers, they dull your senses and I need everyone frosty on this op.”

Dentatus just shook his head. “Don’t worry Principale, I can take the ache. I’ll suck it up and work around it.” Metellus nodded to him and moved on.

Legionarii Aelius Regulus was adjusting the straps on his pack and body armor when Metellus stepped in front of him. Metellus watched for a moment before speaking. “New armor still giving you trouble Regulus?”

The young Legionarii looked up at him. “Principale, I got the straps adjusted in the same notches as my old set but it just feels wrong and it’s rubbing my shoulder raw.”

Metellus turned him around and started adjusting a few clips and straps; he lifted the pack and slammed his fist down on the right shoulder plate of the Legionarii’s armor. After dropping the pack back in place he watched Regulus checking his movement.

“It’s perfect Principale, feels just like the old set now. How did you do that?”

Metellus gave a rough chuckle. “It’s a Principale thing Regulus, if I told you, everyone could do it.” Metellus was still laughing as he moved on down the line.

Metellus stopped briefly in front of Legionarii Licinus Volusus. From the top of his helmet to the soles of his boots, every piece of Volusus’ equipment was in perfect place. Every item attached to his web gear was painted and there was not a glint of bare metal anywhere on his person. Metellus had been unsure of the young Manipularii when he first came to the contubernium but Volusus couldn’t help that his people had been cut off from the rest of Humanity for all those decades.

Still thought Metellus, Religious fanatics are bad enough, but military religious fanatics are just creepy. But if they can produce Legionarii like Volusus, it can't be that bad. He nodded quickly to Volusus. “You ready for this Volusus? This is gonna be your first time under fire with us?”

The Manipularii clicked his heels. “This Manipularii is ready for duty in all respects Principale. I will do the contubernium proud, Praise Marius, and Mars willing, we will prevail.” Metellus just nodded as he moved off.

The squat soldier next in line was checking the power cable attached to his weapon as Metellus stepped before him. Manipularii Ursa’s squat build and massive muscles marked him as a Heavy G worlder. “You keep playing with that weapon Ursus and your gonna go blind.”

Manipularii Fabius Ursa, ‘Ursus’ to the whole contubernium, just grinned up at his Principale. “I don’t like these new Gatling Lasers Principale, any chance we can get ahold of an old Heavy Plasma Enveloper?”

Metellus just shook his head at his Heavy Weapons man. “No chance Ursus. They’ve all been sent to the scrap heap. What’s the matter, don’t like the ‘weapon of the future’?”

Ursa frowned. “I like the rate of fire, its just the round is too weak to do much to anything other than lightly armored troops, at least with the old Mk 5 H.P.E. I could knock out buildings and light armor.”

Metellus smiled and slapped Ursa’s helmet. “If we see any armor, you just throw a rock at them. With your arm that should penetrate a foot of Tritanium.” Metellus walked away from a now laughing Legionarii.

Manipularii Macer had been watching the Principale move down the line and was memorizing all the things Metellus did to put each man at ease. He put them in his mental ‘When I am a Principale’ file.

Metellus placed his hand on Macer’s shoulder. “You ready for this Macer?”

Macer nodded, “I’m ready Principale, I even managed to sweet talk the Ordinance Principale out of a couple of extra rockets for my launcher.”

Metellus turned him around and checked his pack and launcher. “You gonna be able to handle this kind of load Macer? I need you able to keep up with me.”

Macer nodded his head. “Can do Principale, I may not be as strong as Ursus but I will keep up no matter what.”

Metellus smiled at him. “I know you will, you just stay near me and you’ll be ok. By the way, how did you get extra ammo out of that asshole of an Ordinance Principale?”

Macer gave a sly grin. “It’s a Hispanian thing Principale, if I told you, everyone could do it.”

Metellus looked at Macer a moment then burst out in a hearty laugh. “You’ll do Macer, you’ll do.”

Metellus laughing came to a halt when he came to the last member of his contubernium. He didn’t say a word; he simply stared at Manipularii Varus. Almost a full minute ticked by as Metellus remained silent just staring at him. Varus began fidgeting and opened his mouth to speak but stopped as the Principale held up his finger.

Metellus's voice was cold and clear, “Clean slate Varus, all your fuck ups to this date don’t matter. But you fuck up one time during this op. I am gonna stuff a grenade down your throat and have Ursus throw you at the enemy. You get me Manipularii? Varus nodded and was about to say something when Metellus held his finger up again. “Don’t speak, just listen and understand. You got a fresh start and that’s the last one you’re gonna get.”

Metellus turned and looked back along the lined up contubernium. “Listen up First Contubernium, we are the best contubernium of the best damn Century in the Legio. As usual we are gonna get picked for every garum flavored mission Command can come up with. We will probably be in the thickest part of every firefight and told to ‘volunteer’ for every suicide mission that the Legati Legionius can think up. So you better stay awake ‘cause we still don’t know whom the enemy is. The Century’s job is gonna be to hit a small farming village and gather Intel on what we are facing and who. Stay alert, stay alive. You got me Manipularii?”

A chorus of voices came back. “Yes Principale!”

Metellus tapped his ear. “Is this Third Contubernium I'm looking at? I said YOU GOT ME MANIPULARII?”

A louder chorus shouted out, “YES PRINCIPALE!!”

The shout was drowned out by the sound of the landing rockets firing and a loud thump as the troopship landed on the surface of Nova Tarentum I.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 29 Sep 2007 20:29 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Three


Landing (L+ 10 mins)


Principale Metellus packed a wad of tobacco into his right cheek as he waited for the bay to open up. The cargo doors made a shrill whine when they finally rolled up. Cold rain began blowing into the bay. Of course it would be raining, Metellus thought, Why is it every planet I land on it's either snowing or raining?

He saw Centurio Gallius turn towards his ten Contubernium’s. "First Century lets move out!"

Metellus spat a stream of tobacco juice on the cargo deck before he ran down the landing ramp. He watched as the Centurio checked his compass and pointed off towards a set of low hills. Metellus checked his own compass and nodded to himself. The Centurio had the right bearing so First Century wouldn't be getting lost today. A large splash behind him caught his attention. He turned to see Varus getting up from the large puddle he had fallen into.

Metellus just shook his head. He called out to his Contubernium, "Spread out and follow me! We've got miles to cover and not much time to do it! The Contubernium followed Metellus as he started jogging towards the hills.

***

The Century had been in a slow jog for an hour to get clear of the landing zone. The Centurio had First Contubernium on point with Second on the left the Third on the right and the Command Section along with the rest of the Century bringing up tail end Charlie.

Metellus had seen only a few buildings in the distance and all showed signs of having been burned down. He thought to himself, What ever went on here looks like it was nasty. Anything that could burn buildings to the ground in this kind of rain must have been bad. Sorry we missed the fun.

The Centurio's voice crackled over his comm, "First Century according to my map, there is a crossroads over the next hill and what looks like some large buildings. The main body of the Century and the Command Section will take position on the hill as overwatch. First and Second Contuberniums will head to the bottom of the hill. Second will cover from the base of the hill while First checks out the surroundings. First Contubernium, this is just to check things in the area. If you encounter any real resistance you are to pull back to Second Contubernium."

Metellus keyed his comm, "Understood Centurio, are we looking for prisoners?"

There was a pause. "If possible Metellus, but no one gets killed trying. Watch for civilians, but no hero crap from anyone."

Metellus smiled, the Centurio had more common sense than any other Centurio he had served with. He keyed his comm again. "Understood Centurio, we will attempt capture only if circumstances allow."

The Century paused for a moment at the crest of the hill. Everyone was peering through their image enhancers to check the buildings and road below. The rain obscured most of the details but the cluster of a dozen buildings appeared intact. Unfortunately the buildings clustered below concealed some views of the road. When no movement could be seen anywhere the Centurio motioned First and Second Contuberniums to proceed.

The grass on the hillside was slick as the men cautiously made their way down and Metellus fully expected to hear Varus crash down the hill any moment. When they reached the base of the hill safely, Second Contubernium spread out and set themselves up.

Principale Clodius came up to Metellus and spoke quietly. "I don't like this one bit Met. This place is way too quiet. I saw two doghouses behind those buildings. The wind is blowing our scent straight towards that place and I haven't heard one bark. I have a real bad feeling about this."

Metellus nodded after a second and spit into the grass. "I agree with you Marcus but it's gotta be done. You just be ready to come support us if things get ugly." At Principale Clodius's nod, Metellus motioned for his Contubernium to move out.

The squad began moving up towards the nearest building. Metellus saw a child's swing set in the yard, the wind blowing the swings made a metallic jingling as the chains slowly rocked back and forth in the breeze. The back door appeared to be open and Metellus motioned for Optio Scaevola to have his section cover them while he checked inside. Metellus signaled Volusus and Dentatus forward and when they entered he motioned for Macer to follow him inside.

He entered the back door into the kitchen and saw the remains of what looked like a half eaten breakfast on the table. He saw Dentatus come out of a doorway on the left side of a small hallway ahead. He looked at Metellus and just shook his head in a 'no'. He and Volusus then entered the front room while Metellus and Macer entered another room to the right. Everything appeared to be in place but there was no sign of anyone. A partially folded basket of laundry was sitting on a fresh made bed. He heard a creaking floor board coming from the front room when he heard his comm pop, "Principale, Dentatus. Front room clear. Heading upstairs."

Metellus motioned for Macer to follow him into the front room. He looked out the front windows and looked at the nearby buildings. He saw no sign of anyone moving around anywhere in the small village. A few gravcars sat parked in driveways. A large three-story building further on, across the street caught his eye. The large red letters read 'LUCULLUS'S Grain and Feed'. Metellus did a double take as he thought he had seen some movement near the large loading bays.

He activated his comm, "Scaevola, move to the front of the house till you can see a three story building down the south road. Dentatus, see if you can observe anything from the upper windows. I thought I saw some movement in the Feed and Grain loading bays." Metellus motioned for Macer to follow him out the back door and around to the front of the house.

He moved behind a small group of shrubs and keyed his comm, "You see anything from up there Dentatus?"

He heard some slight breathing and then Dentatus's voice. "No movement Principale, but the big loading doors are wide open."

Metellus checked the ground for a moment. "First Contubernium, we are going to move towards the Feed and Grain loading bays. Dentatus, you and Volusus stay up there and keep a watch on that house across the way. If the Feed and Grain store is clear we will scout outward from there."

Metellus motioned to Scaevola who then moved across the street with Regulus a second behind him. Metellus signaled for Ursus to cover them as he and Macer moved to the corner of the building. Metellus then motioned for Scaevola and Regulus to move up towards the open bay doors. He watched as Scaevola covered the door from behind a parked gravcar. He watched Regulus run up beside the closest door and peer in. A moment later Regulus threw himself backwards and rolled behind a light post. Before he could ask what the problem was Metellus heard the sound of electronic interference blocking his comm signal. He heard a strange high-pitched whine emanating from the building. A large vehicle came floating through the open doorway.

Metellus didn’t recognize the design, but the large turret and stubby gun barrel told him its purpose. He motioned to Macer. "Grav vehicle, Papilio or Lorica, I can't tell which." Macer unlimbered and loaded his launcher. Metellus looked back around the corner just in time to see Scaevola and the gravcar he was behind engulfed in a wash of what looked like plasma.

He ducked back and motioned for Macer to fire. The rocket fired straight up and made an abrupt turn and plunged straight down on the other side of the building. A massive flash and explosion rocked the area. Metellus glanced around to see wreckage, a huge glassy crater and no sign of Scaevola or Regulus. The comm jamming ceased with the destruction of the vehicle and he heard the voice of the Centurio.

"What’s going on Metellus? Do you need assistance or fire support? Do you...

A sound like ripping linen came from overhead; Metellus hit the deck and yelled. "*INCOMING!!!*" He noticed smoke from a massive series of simultaneous impacts that tore off the top of the hill where the rest of the Century had been, the Centurio's voice had been cut off mid sentence.
Damn, he thought, You just get an officer trained and he gets vaped like that. He set the comm to the Maniple frequency just in time to hear mass confusion about a major attack on the landing zone area. A powerful signal came over the all units’ frequency.

"All Units... All Units... This is Command... LZ being overrun... Massive chemical attack... Take precautions against bio/chem warfare... All Units will follow plan '89 Polar Sunshine'... Repeat, all Units will enact '89 Polar Sunshine... Good Luck and may Iuppiter be with you... Legati Litor..." The Command net went silent.

Metellus checked his wrist comp and found the plan list. He read down till he found it, '89 Polar Sunshine': All units to execute guerilla operations. Units will not gather in groups larger than Century size. Make contact with local Cohors Urbanae units and assist. Units will fight at commander’s discretion until relieved by Imperial Command authority.

Clodius must have read it at the same time because he came on the comm, "Are you there Met? Did you get that last transmission?"

Metellus answered him immediately. "Yeah Marcus, we better head towards those woods to the north. Once we find someplace to hole up we can try and find some locals and find out what's going on."

Clodius replied quickly. "Well, you are senior, so it looks like you are in charge of what's left of the Century."

Metellus assembled his two Contuberniums and set off towards the north. Without orders, First Contubernium took point.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 22 Oct 2007 10:21 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Four


Landing (L + 12 hours)

The rain fell steadily among the tall pine trees. A small group of men clustered in a makeshift shelter consisting of a large group of boulders that were a deposit from a long ago Ice Age. Further out from the gathered men, other individuals kept watch. The sentries seemed alert as they peered out into the dark forest. The falling rain muffled any sound beyond a few yards as the group of men spoke among themselves in low voices.

Clodius’s voice showed the fatigue from the multi hour run to these woods. “The map shows a larger town to our northwest Metellus. If we are gonna find any locals still around, that’s gonna be the place. The data crystal is showing 6000 people there and I don’t see how someone could move that many people without leaving some evidence. Unless you want to head towards this planets capital, but that’s where the bulk of the XI Mechanized Legio was headed and only the Gods know what happened down that way.”

He watched Metellus pack his cheek with that disgusting weed and then spit on the wet ground. “Well we ain’t heading towards the capital if that’s where the Army is, those Papilio’s draw more fire than shit draws flies. I say we wait out the night here. Then head for...” He checked his wrist comp. “...Ducorum and see if we can find out who the hell we are fighting. So everyone not on watch, check your weapons and try to get some shut eye.”

***

Metellus was just beginning to disassemble his rifle when a voice on the comm hissed out. “Contact! I have movement to the south!”

Metellus snapped his rifle back together and motioned for the men to spread out. He took position behind a large rock and keyed his comm, “Who had contact? Give me a bearing and numbers.”

The voice was from a Legionarii in Second Contubernium. “Indus here, I can see four figures moving right at us Principale. They are big Principale, I mean like Ursus if he was seven feet tall kind of big. They are spread out and I don’t think I could pop more than one by surprise.”

Metellus stole the feed from Indus’ image amplifier and looked at in his eyepiece. Yup, Metellus thought, he wasn’t lying, those are some BIG nasties. He signaled Macer to ready his rocket launcher. The Legionarii motioned to all the trees around. Metellus just pointed up. Macer nodded, loaded his launcher and aimed it skyward.

Metellus watched the figures through Indus’s transmission and then saw them begin to spread out even more. “They know we are here folks, everyone stay put. Indus do not fire at them, just stay down and keep track of them.”

The gout of plasma that ended Indus’s transmission lit up the night. Metellus heard a crashing in the woods as something large headed his way. He saw the first figure at about 100 meters heading straight towards the boulders. “They got us pegged, OPEN FIRE OPEN FIRE!”

The sounds of Laser and Gauss rifles firing shattered the night. He watched a shimmer as rounds were deflected by a shield of some sort and others struck the surface of the things body armor with minimal effect. The arm raised and plasma washed over a pair of men to his left. Metellus set his Gauss rifle to max penetration and aimed around the boulder. The figure stopped for a minute as it was struck by a series of impacts. Metellus spit and fired a single round that hammered through the shield and made a perfect hole in the things armored faceplate.

The sound of a rocket firing was followed a moment later by a huge explosion to the left. He saw Macer reloading behind him and gave him a thumbs up.

“And then there were two.” Metellus thought. A dull thump hammered overhead and a strange dark mist drifted down from above. “GAS! GAS! GAS!” He threw on his protective mask and looked around for the other two nasties. He saw one on top of the largest boulder firing a strange weapon down on the men. A moment later its chest armor ruptured as Ursus, firing from the hip, blew it apart.

He looked around as he heard the voice of Volusus cut in. “Principale, this Manipularii begs to report that the last enemy is destroyed.”

Metellus stood up and began to check the area. He keyed the comm, “Volusus, take perimeter where Indus was while we figure out the situation.”

The reply sounded weak. “This Manipularii regrets that he is unable to comply with the Principale’s orders at this time.”

He pointed to Macer, “Get on the perimeter Macer while I sort this out.”

He moved among the rocks. He came on Varus bandaging Ursus’s arm and nodded. At least he is doing something useful he thought.

He found Volusus a moment later. The huge armored form had its fingers buried in the Legionarii’s chest. Blood was leaking from beneath Volusus’s shattered body armor. The head of the nasty was completely gone and Metellus smiled down on the dying Manipularii. “Breaching charge?” he asked.

Volusus nodded and spoke weakly “Yes Principale, this Manipularii believed that if the charge could breach armored doors it could destroy one of these. This Manipularii regrets that he will be unable to continue the mission Principale. The Contubernium has my apologies.” Volusus’s eyes slowly closed.

Metellus leaned down and checked for a pulse. He nodded down at the dead trooper. “No apologies needed Manipularii.”

Metellus stood up and saw Optio Domitius looking at him. “How many?” Metellus asked.

“Indus, Clodius and Rufius from Second Contubernium and Volusus from First. We also have two that are alive but we can’t wake up.”

Metellus walked over to where the two motionless bodies were laying. He knelt down and checked the pulse of Legionarii Matius. It was incredibly slow and his color wasn’t good. He saw the other casualty was Optio Dentatus. “We are moving out in five mikes, and we are not leaving them behind.” He looked over his shoulder. “Ursus, you ok enough to carry Matius? He looks about 180 pounds.”

Ursus walked over with Varus still tying off the bandage on his arm. “No problem Principale, I won’t even notice him.” Metellus nodded.

He heard a cough from Ursus’s left. “You got something to say Varus?” he snapped.

“I can carry Dentatus Principale. You are gonna need all the good rifles on the line if we get hit again.”

Metellus stared at him for a moment. “Fine, divide his and Matius’s gear for the others to carry and get ready. We move out in 2 mikes, I don’t want to bet that they didn’t call in our position.” In a brief period of time the remnants of the Century gathered together and moved to the northwest.

The rain fell steadily among the burned and shattered pine trees.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 23 Oct 2007 09:24 
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Five


Landing (L + 66 Hours)


Rain pattered off the shingled roof seeking every hole to pour into the interior. The building may have been a cozy barn at one time, but time and weather had turned it into a ruin. The farm it had once served was long overgrown and there was no sign as to why it had been abandoned. The building still held a faint smell of hay and cow, but now newer stronger smells overlaid them. The smell of gun oil, ozone, and sweat now took residence. One other smell filled the building, it was a scent none of the occupants wanted to speak of, a smell as old as Man himself... Fear.

Principale Metellus growled in anger. “I have no fucking idea HOW they keep finding us, but if we don’t figure it out soon we are gonna be whittled down to nothing before too long.”

The troops not on watch looked towards their Principale. They were scared and angry. They had been running for two days and the enemy kept finding them. First the long run from the crossroads; then the air attack that cost them Second Contuberniums Heavy Weapons man. Legionarii Bessus had made the pair of attack craft pay heavily for his death. He killed both of them before a seeker missile homed in on him. Then the pair of armored figures that killed Legionarii Kim and a still unconcious Legionarii Dentatus as they crossed a freezing river. They had stumbled on this barn late in the night and took cover from the endless rain.

Optio Domitus looked up from the pack he was laying on. “You know what I think Principale, I think they are homing in on our electronics. No way infrared would work in this rain and we aren’t making enough noise to be detected that way. That’s the only thing I can figure.”

Metellus spit on the ground and shook his head. “All our electronics are supposed to be shielded from detection.”

Domitus nodded before replying. “Sure Principale, they are shielded well enough from OUR detectors, but these nasties look like their tech is more advanced than ours in a lot of ways.”

Metellus thought about it for a while and slowly nodded his head. “That makes sense. But if we shut down everything, that’s gonna put all our weapons and detectors offline.” He sighed. “But it beats getting attacked every few hours.” His voice filled the barn. “Everyone listen up, turn off EVERYTHING electronic, detectors, sensors, weapons, everything. If you got a wrist chrono, pull the battery. We are going electronic neutral.”

Legionarii Macer on watch in the loft whispered down. “What do we fight with if we get attacked Principale?”

Metellus looked up at him and grinned. “You are a Manipularii aren’t you? Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.”

As Macer shut down the last of his electronic gear he checked his bayonet’s edge first. He then dug into his pack and pulled a cloth wrapped package that was the parting gift from his Grandfather. The cloth fell away revealing a sheathed Gladius Hispanicus. The hand guard was polished smooth from use and age. Macer remembered it hanging on his Grandfather’s wall for many years and couldn’t believe his luck when he found it in his suitcase on his way to boot camp.

There was a brief scrawled note written by an arthritic hand. He remembered reading it and not understanding at the time. All it said was, ‘This has been in our family since the time of Caesar and the first of the Civil Wars. I had a dream you might need it out there in the stars. Carry it proudly’. He drew it from the sheath, the wicked double edged blade was as sharp as a razor. He looked down at his Principale as he fastened the short sword to his belt.

Sure Principale, he thought with a wicked smile. I will improvise.

Optio Domitus watched the Principale leaning against the wall nearby. Although he had never been in First Contubernium, he had heard all the stories about Metellus. Domitus knew that the Principale had been busted down from Primus Pilus twice. He was a legend in the Corps. A man that had the stones to tell a Legati Legionis during a formal retirement ceremony that he was probably saving the lives of thousands of Manipularii by retiring early. Domitus laughed to himself, Only the fact that you held the Golden Laurel of Terra and the Manipularii Cross saved your ass that time. If anyone can get us through this, you can.

He noticed a strange look on the Principale’s face, then a very scary look appeared. Metellus looked him in the eyes and Domitus felt a chill run through him. “What are you thinking Principale? Whatever it is it seems evil.”

Metellus moved close to him and knelt down. “I have a plan to get a little payback on the nasties. Let me tell you what I have in mind and let me know if you have any suggestions.”

As Metellus sketched out his plan, an evil smile slowly appeared on Domitus’s face.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2007 08:36 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Six


(L + 72 hours)

The cold rain blew in gusts across the overgrown field. A dilapidated barn stood to one side while a seldom-used road led up to the farm from the north. A low whine could be heard in the distance as three vehicles glided down the road. Two were fat bellied with a top mounted missile launcher. One was low slung and sloped with a heavy turret on top.

They stopped a moment where the road opened up onto the fields. The turreted monstrosity grounded itself at the forests edge and the turret rotated to bear on the barn. The two other vehicles split left and right to flank and come at the barn from separate sides. They passed old farming equipment and some old rotting piles of straw before they grounded. Clamshell doors opened in the back of each of the vehicles like a grotesque mouth. Four armored figures exited each and moved towards the barn. Four of them remained outside and two went to each end of the barn.

Metellus smiled as he saw them moving towards the barn. Someone is gonna be surprised, he thought with a wicked smile on his face. He laughed to himself when he remembered the look on Ursus’s face when he told him what he wanted.

“You feelin’ alright Principale?” Ursus had asked.

When he explained the plan to what was left of the Century they fell into the work with a will. About an hour later, a dirty disheveled Ursus had returned with what he had asked for. Metellus watched as the four nasties entered the barn.

Trapped you with your own tech, he thought with a wicked smile playing across his face. And right about... NOW! he thought as the explosion of the trigger mines went off in the barn.

He hit the power switch on his gauss rifle and started the coils charging. He saw Ursus sit up from the pile of straw he had been laying under and make a beautiful 50-yard throw of a plasma grenade into the back door of the left hand APC. He heard a crack and explosion and saw the tank explode as Macer’s launcher went into action. Regulus and Varus ran up to the rear of the other APC and tossed grenades in. The left hand APC started lifting as Ursus’s plasma grenade detonated and it grounded hard. Regulus was hit several times by the four nasties in the open just as the other APC tore itself apart.

Metellus looked over at the remaining nasties. One must have been caught by the APC debris and was down. The other three were firing bursts of plasma at random. He knew if he stuck his head up they would turn him to slag.

We need a distraction, he thought.

A moment later there was a high-pitched squeal from the barn. A wounded pig with a set of image intensifiers tied to it ran away from the barn. All three figures spun and began firing at it. There was a beep from his rifle showing the coils were charged. He grabbed it and fired a quick round through the back of one helmet. The other two were too intent on their squealing target to notice until Metellus dropped another one. The remaining one fired at every bit of cover in the area. Raw plasma set fire to everything it touched. Metellus heard a single crack and the last one fell. Metellus then looked around and saw Varus in a textbook-firing stance pointing at the downed nasty.

Metellus stood up, packed his cheek and headed towards the downed figures.

He moved carefully forward. “Ursus, make sure that other Papilio is out of action. If it looks like it can move, use another grenade.”

Metellus walked over to the nasties as Varus covered him. He saw holes in the helmets of the two he had shot; saw that one had taken massive shrapnel to the chest. He rolled over the last and saw a perfect hit in the center of its helmet. “Good shot Varus, where did you get the gauss?”

Varus answered without lowering his weapon. “It was Regulus’s, I didn’t think my laser rifle could penetrate the armor.”

Metellus looked at him a moment and spit. “You made a good call, I think these things armor have made the laser rifle obsolete. Now cover me while we check the others in the barn.” They moved to the remains of the barn and saw nothing but shattered bodies and ruptured armor.

He exited the barn and shouted, “First Century, shut it all down. We need to get electronic neutral again and get the Hades out of here.”

He saw Macer come running in from the wood line, he had an ear-to-ear grin. “You were right Principale, I didn’t need all that electronic garum to get a hit. The rocket just flew nice and straight into the side. How did you know where they were gonna stop so I could get a clear shot?”

Metellus laughed. “Macer, the one thing experience will teach you is that a track toad is a track toad. All those Lorica riders think alike, I don’t care if they are Human or E.T. They are all brain damaged. The terrain will always tell you where they are gonna come from and what they are gonna do.”

Macer looked over the area and nodded. “I see that now Principale, it makes perfect sense.”

Metellus patted his shoulder and smiled at him. “Manipularii always do Macer. Now let’s check these nasties out and then get a move on.”

Metellus knelt down next to one of the downed figures and found the catches on the helmet. When he removed it a gaunt bald face that was distinctly human stared back at him.

Metellus growled as he released the massive breastplate. He heard an electrical crackle and threw himself backwards. “HIT THE DECK!” he shouted as the armor detonated. He got to his feet cursing and dusting himself off. “I guess they don’t want anyone salvaging that armor. Alright Manipularii, lets move out, double time!” The Manipularii jogged off to the northwest.

The pig hadn’t been eating well lately and being tied up in the barn with no food had made it ravenous. The smell of that much meat brought the pig back to the farm. It was too busy rooting pieces of flesh in the field to notice the breastplate of a fallen soldier unhinge and rise up. The tentacled figure seemed wounded as it moved up behind the pig. Several tentacles lashed out and wrapped around the pigs torso and held it tight. The pig thrashed around as a pair of tentacles dug into its neck but slowly began to calm down. A few moments later the creature had pulled itself on top of the stubby legged animal.

The pig looked around a few moments to gather its bearings and set off in a trot to the northwest.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 25 Oct 2007 09:33 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Seven


(L + 6 days)

The rain blew cold against the windows, but the Manipularii were dry for the first time in almost a week. They were only a few miles from Ducorum but Metellus had decided to rest the men for a day. They had found a house on a hilltop with excellent visibility of the surrounding area.

Matius was still unconscious and was slipping away a bit at a time. Metellus also wanted his men well rested before scouting out the town so he decided to take a calculated risk in letting them rest indoors. The men found plenty of food, but he only allowed them to eat out of cans until he found out what was going on.

The discovery of humans under the armor had shaken Metellus more than his men knew. Better, he thought dismally, that it had been E.T.s. I thought we had outgrown fighting among ourselves long ago. Heck even Volusus’s people welcomed us in brotherhood when we found them, even though we had nothing in common except being Human. He absently spit into a trash can next to the couch he sat on.

Ursus stuck his head in the living room. “Principale, it’s Matius, I don’t think he is gonna be with us much longer. His breathing has gotten real bad and his color sucks.”

Metellus sighed as he levered himself off of the couch. He went into the bedroom and took a look at Matius. Ursus was right; the kid was not long for this world. His skin was as pale as the sheets he lay on and his breath came in ragged gasps.

“Better get Domitus in here and take care of that other thing we talked about.” Metellus watched Matius until Domitus came running in. Both men stood by the bed unspeaking as the breathing came slower and slower and finally stopped.

Domitus looked over at him. “How are we gonna bury him Principale?”

Metellus shook his head. “No way we can do that. I don’t want any fresh turned soil giving us away. I had Ursus clean out that big freezer in the basement. We can put him there until graves registration can catch up to us.” He could tell that Domitus didn’t like the idea. “Best we can do Dom, most of us won’t get even that nice a box by the end of this.”

They both gently lifted the young Manipularii’s body and moved down the stairs into a finished basement. Ursus had lined the large rectangular freezer with blankets. He took Matius’s body from them and effortlessly lowered him inside. He folded the blankets around him and closed the lid.

He moved towards the stairs when Domitus’s voice stopped him. “Ursus,” he said pointing at the freezer, “Thanks for that.”

Ursus looked back at him and just nodded before heading up the stairs. Metellus and Domitus stood looking at the freezer for a time.

“He was a good Manipularii, he never gave any backtalk and he was the best shot in the Contubernium.”

Metellus put a hand on his shoulder. “The first twenty of your men that you bury are the hardest, they get easy after that.”

Domitus read the lie in Metellus’s eyes as he headed towards the stairs. Metellus followed him a moment later. The freezer stood in the basement windows light, its gleaming white surface now marred by hand painted words on the side.

Manipularii Legionarii Iulius Matius
6245-5312-1787
Roman Manipularii Corps
Per Mare Per Terram Per Astra
II Cont. I Cent. VI Maniple X Cohors
Best contubernium in the IV Manipularii Legio

The Manipularii gathered in the living room around a paper map sitting on the coffee table. Metellus wanted his men to know every hill and house on the way towards the town’s center.

“Our main mission is to see if any military or civilians are left. If there is any Urbanae left, we organize them and fight back. If there are none left, we train some then strike back. We keep hitting them and hitting them until we get reinforced. Anyone have any problems with that?” After getting nothing but nods of acceptance he traced the route they would travel and all the rally points if contact was lost.

“OK, Me and Varus are on watch. Everyone try to get some sack time. We may not get another chance for quite a while.” He motioned Varus to watch the front as he moved to the back of the house and kept a lookout from the kitchen.

He stared out the window as cold rain ran down the glass.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 26 Oct 2007 08:39 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Joined: 23 May 2005 16:49
Posts: 5244
Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Eight


(L + 8 days)

The early morning rain muffled the noise of the Contubernium’s movement as they headed deeper into the town. They passed house after empty house. For the first time since landing they had seen signs of battle. There had been several makeshift barricades on the town’s edge that showed signs of a fierce fight.

The Marines had twice taken cover as grav-tanks had cruised by. They were headed to the north edge of town where most of the noises they heard had came from. The paper map they had found in a nearby house showed a small star/airport in that area.

The Contubernium moved towards an eight-story hotel that overlooked the starport. They picked their way through its lobby and double-timed it up the stairs. They found a room on the top floor facing the right way. Metellus and Domitus inched their way onto the room’s balcony and used their optical binoculars to scan the area.

Metellus whispered to Domitus, “at least we know where everyone went. Looks like seven or eight thousand people packed in there.”

Domitus grunted in agreement. “Would be hard pulling a rescue with the whole Cohors, let alone the five of us.”

The field to the east of the starport had been turned into a huge prison camp. A double-tiered razor wire topped fence surrounded the area. Several armored figures patrolled the perimeter and every so often a pair of grav-tanks made a slow circle of the fence. There were tents everywhere, from small nylon domes to huge military types. Several temporary buildings looked to have been set up as bathing and toilet facilities. A long line of people stood outside a huge set of tents that looked like a military mess unit. The compound looked to be crowded, but not to an unhealthy level. They even saw several children playing a game of soccer in an open area.

Metellus saw a child kick a ball and it sailed over both sets of fences to land near a pair of nasties. The children froze as they watched one of the nasties stop by the ball and execute a perfect kick to send the ball back to the children. The kids went back to their game, a few of the braver ones even waved to the figures.

Domitus snorted, “We could use him on the Cohortal team.”

Metellus looked over at him. “It’s gonna be hard to rally support to fight them if they look like nice guys. I guess we should be grateful that they aren’t killing the civvies. We gotta try an… what’s going on over there?”

They both watched a group of white-garbed figures gathering at the large gate area. An armored nasty appeared to speak to one of the people and the gates opened up. The group boarded several buses and the vehicles headed into town. They watched until they disappeared behind some tall buildings.

Both Manipularii backed into the room. Metellus opened up his map and pointed to a set of buildings. “What do you want to bet they are headed to the Valetudinarium? Well if we are gonna be able to make contact with anyone in the camp, we should talk with someone who comes and goes. We need to find out if there are any of our Manipularii or those useless Army pukes in there.”

The men looked at the map and Varus pointed at a building near the hospital. “Umm Principale... maybe we should be careful, that shows an Urbanae Armory. They might be guarding it.”

Metellus looked at him and rapped him on the helmet. “Now you’re starting to think knucklehead. I already planned to detour around it, but just keep using your head like that and we’ll make a Manipularii out of you yet.” The troops headed out of the hotel and carefully moved down the street.

It took two hours of careful travel to get to the Hospital Complex. They watched a few ambulances come and go from the emergency bays. They didn’t see any nasties anywhere near the Hospital. They made a slow circle of the main building looking for an entry point. A heavy looking door that was screened by some shrubs looked like the best choice.

Ursus splashed across the empty parking lot and stopped for a few moments. A metallic creaking was heard for a moment and he waved the rest across one at a time. They found themselves in a stairwell. Ursus looked at Metellus. “Up or down Principale?”

Metellus pointed up the stairs. “If we go down and get found we got nowhere to go, if we stay on the second or third floor, we can still dive out the windows if we need to.”

Domitus saw understanding in the other Manipularii's eyes. You do it without even thinking don't you Metellus? he thought to himself. You turn every situation into lesson time to help them survive.

The Manipularii carefully made their way up the second floor access door. Metellus slowly opened it and peered inside. He saw a few Medicus’ and Capsarius’ moving around and what appeared to be some offices nearby.

Sunlight shone through a window and Metellus saw a shadow moving around inside. He whispered to his men, “There is an office to the left, Macer you come with me. Domitus you be ready to back me up if I yell for you. If someone comes down the stairs, join up with me and we will get out of here.”

Metellus checked the door again and rushed through with Macer right on his heels. They rushed into an office and Macer closed the door enough to just peer out into the hall.

The white-coated man looked up from his desk with fear and confusion in his eyes. “What? What? Who are you? What are you doing in my office? What do you want?”

Metellus looked at a diploma hanging on the wall. “Medicus Romanus, I am a Principale in the Manipularii. We were sent here to assist local forces in fighting the invaders.”

The Doctor gave a shrill laugh. “Local forces? Well I am afraid that you are far too late for that. The Cohors Urbanae were all killed or captured in two days. They never stood a chance against the Siliconates.” At Metellus’s look of puzzlement the Doctor continued. “The invaders call themselves The Assembly. They come from another arm of the galaxy.” Before Metellus could ask he said. “No I don’t know how they got to this arm, I just know what I heard.”

Metellus thought a moment before asking. “Have they said what they want?”

The Medicus looked askance at him. “That’s the question that everyone has been asking since they got here. I mean on one hand, they came in and slaughtered everyone bearing arms against them. But on the other hand, they were careful not to kill any civilians and have been especially protective of the young people and children. They are very strict about sanitation, cleanliness and medicine. They had the valtudinarium back on line the day after they took over here. Their... medical people have been talking about all the cures that they have for diseases and illnesses that we haven’t defeated yet. They are going to be instituting some new health programs among our people. They have been bringing plenty of food and supplies to the camp and they genuinely seem to care about the welfare of the people. They listen to any recommendations we make for the good of everyone’s health. I believe, as occupations in history have been this one has been remarkably civilized. They have told us that once they catch the last of the Legionarii, we will all be allowed to go back to our homes.”

“Legionarii?” Metellus asked. “There are still troops around? Were they Urbanae or were they Legionarii? Where are they at Medicus?”

The Medicus had a look of distaste on his face. “Yes Principale, we have heard that most of the survivors of the Urbanae and some other Legionarii headed west to the Mons Scythian. But they won’t last long Principale; the technology of the Assembly is decades ahead of ours. It would be better for everyone if they just surrendered and spared everyone the pain and grief.”

Metellus smiled at him. “The problem with that Medicus is that in my 34 years as a Manipularii, I was never taught how to surrender. I think any instructors we had that taught that class were sent to the Army years ago. Thanks for the tip Medicus; I think we have got to head out until we can link up with some friends. You take care of the civvies until we can come back.” Metellus turned for the door.

***

Macer, standing by the door heard a strange <pfftt>. He turned in time to see Metellus slump to the floor. He saw the Medicus with a strange weapon in his hand moving it to point at him.

Macer dove to the floor and rolled as he drew his Gladius. He heard another <pfftt> and felt something glance off his shoulder armor. He thrust the blade as he came to his feet next to the desk and cut the weapon in half. In a moment he had the blade against the Medicus’s throat. “Do not yell Medicus, my blade is sharper than one of your scalpels. For killing my Principale though I am going to make you pay.”

Medicus Romanus looked at the long blade pressing against his throat and croaked out “Not dead.”

Macer leaned in on the Medicus. “You shot him in the back Medicus.”

Macer saw fear in the Medicus’s eyes as he answered. “It was just a tranquilizer dart, don’t you see, this is best for everyone to...”

His voice trailed off as he saw the look on Macer’s face. Macer spoke clearly, his Hispanian accent barely showing in his anger. “Medicus, you have 5 minutes to revive my Principale or I am going to do things to you that this valetudinarium will never be able to fix.”

Medicus Romanus looked into his eyes. “I have to call someone to bring the antidote. I don’t have it here.”

Macer pointed at the comm, “Call who you have to Medicus, but you will die well before I will if you call the enemy.”

The Medicus’s hands were trembling as he dialed the comm code, “Sylvius, this is Medicus Romanus, I need a gurney brought to my office... yes another one... no just one... oh and please bring a dose of antidote... no I had to dart him twice and he is having a bad reaction to that much of the drug... yes make it quick.”

Macer smiled at him. “Very smart Medicus. I hope for your sake that you are not being too smart.”

A few minutes later Macer heard a squeaking from the hallway. He pulled a grenade from his pouch, pulled the pin and moved behind the door. The look on the face of the Manipularii with a sword in one hand and a live grenade in the other made the Medicus’s bowels go weak.

A burly Capsarius opened the door and rolled a gurney inside. “Hey Medicus, man you look like Pluto himself, I can see why you darted him twice, looks like a Manipularii, they are bad news. You want to hit him with this?” he asked as he held up a pressure injector.

Seeing the Doctor’s shake of ‘no’ he leaned down and injected Metellus in the buttocks. He removed the pack and lifted the Principale to place him on the gurney when Metellus’s hand shot out and clamped onto his throat. The sound of cartilage crunching filled the office. The Capsarius’s body began thrashing but ended in a moment when Metellus’s Pugio slid into his heart.

The Medicus reaching for his comm ended when Macer’s Gladius took his hand off. Then a quick thrust and the Medicus’s throat began to spurt his life out onto the desk to join his hand. The look in the Medicus’s eyes was of hatred for his own species and it did not take long for that light fade.

***

Metellus shouldered his pack as Macer replaced his grenades pin.

Macer's voice called him to the window. “Principale, you better come and take a look at this.”

Metellus saw four APC’s heading down the road towards the Hospital. “Lets roll Macer. We got a lotta miles to hump to get clear of here. Good job by the way on handling the Medicus. You had him pissin' his pants.” At the look on Macer’s face Metellus smiled. “I could hear, I just couldn’t move, and I didn’t want to say anything to distract you, you were handling it perfectly. When we get out of here I’ll put you in for Optio.”

Metellus checked out the door and ran for the stairwell. He cut short the others questions and they ran down the stairs into the rain. The Contubernium headed to the nearest building across the way. They weren’t spotted near the Hospital but over the next few hours they had to take cover from aircraft and grav vehicles. It took them 12 hours of hiding and moving to reach the edge of town. Metellus checked his compass and led the Contubernium into the woods.

The evening rain muffled the noise of the Manipularii’s movement as they headed west toward the mountains, and safety.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 27 Oct 2007 09:28 
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Chapter Nine


(L + 16 days)

When Navarchus Helvius’s message arrived at Nova Cartago several days ago the effect was akin to a kicked over anthill. Legatus Labienus had ordered a full analysis of the holo crystal's download to evaluate the enemy’s tactics and capabilities. The message he sent to Classis Command was brief but he knew the right words to say to get the ships he wanted. Every ship in the Classis reserve had been released to his command with more promised to him as soon as they were available.
Legatus Labienus stared at the star map projection as his Intelligence Officer delivered his briefing to the assembled staff.

“If the computer estimations of enemy speeds are correct, the Enemy forces will be hitting Nova Londinium in two days plus or minus one day. Now, if they land as they did on Nova Tarentum and depart prior to the invasions completion Intel Section has gamed out four possible scenarios from that point:”

“One, the Enemy classis heads down the dead end Apollonian Gate line to the colony at Nova Olbia and then heads back to Nova Londinium before heading here. If they choose to head that way, it will buy us at least a couple of months to prepare before they can attack Nova Cartago. We estimate only a 5% chance of this scenario happening.”

“Two, The Enemy classis holds position at Nova Londinium and fortifies their position and forces our classis to remove them from there, taking Nova Olbia at its leisure. One of our analysts believes that the Enemy is only interested in taking systems that are lightly defended and will not attack here as long as we have a strong fleet presence. But we can only place the likelihood of that at 7%.”

“Three, the Enemy classis splits and sends a small unit towards Nova Olbia while the majority of their fleet heads here. This scenario is most likely if the Enemy's main fleet is overwhelmingly large and has sufficient ships to guard Nova Londinium from a counterattack while attacking our base here. We estimate a 34% chance of this.”

“Four, and the most likely scenario says that the Enemy will leave a small squadron behind to guard the landings on Nova Londinium. They will then push on to strike us here. If this scenario plays out we should expect them to hit us here within 30 days. This scenario plays out at a 53% likelihood.”

Labienus nodded. “Thank you Navarchus, I expect your section to keep the battle scenarios updated if we get any new information.” He turned to his staff. “Navarchus Helvius should be entering the Nova Londinium system in 9 days. If the Enemy's main fleet is there, he should be able to retreat to either Nova Tarentum or back here. If they only left behind a small squadron, we can hope that he has enough power to defeat it and send us back more data. Either way, we have to prepare for the defense of Nova Cartago.”

He looked down to the end of the table and pointed at the lone Army officer in the briefing. “Pro-Consul, how prepared is Nova Londinium for an attack? We have deployed only a small squadron there to gather information on Enemy numbers, and the orbital castra are relics. Is there any chance that they will be able to hold against a ground invasion?”

Pro-Consul Hindenburg looked uncomfortable. “We have deployed the I and II Legionarii Consular Armies there plus the V Ala Consular Army to reinforce the Cohors Urbanae. Imperial Command wants to hold the rest of the reserves to defend the Inner Worlds.”

“The Nova Londinium forces have sufficient munitions to fight for months and they should be able to hold the line for quite a while. The Enemy has only ever fought Urbanae, on Nova Londinium they will be facing Legionarii for the first time.”

Labienus looked at him hard. “You are incorrect Pro-Consul, the enemy fought Legionarii for the first time on Nova Tarentum. We have heard nothing from those forces which could mean they are already all dead. We have to assume that the forces on Nova Londinium will be defeated and start planning on holding here at Nova Cartago at all costs.”

***

The mountains were barely visible in the falling rain as the Contubernium moved forward. The Manipularii had bypassed artillery and supply units that they could have destroyed on their way to the mountains. They started seeing more and more combat troops as they got into the foothills. They moved past what appeared to be the ‘front line’ of the Assembly forces facing the mountains. “Good sign” Metellus had said. “Shows that there are still holdouts in the mountains.”

They were moving slowly when they came to a large stretch of open ground that they had to cross to get back to the forest at the base of a mountain. “Alright Manipularii, if we get on that mountain their grav stuff won't be able to follow us up anything that steep. I am gonna cross first then Ursus, Varus, Macer and then Domitus. Stay alert and stay frosty.”

Metellus packed his cheek, tightened his pack straps and spit. He ran in a low crouch across the open ground. He was halfway across when motion to the right caught his eye. He cursed as he saw four grav-APC’s moving right at him. So close, he thought. We almost made it.

The firing of missiles from the APC’s lit up the night. The explosions went off on either side of Metellus deafening him and knocking him to the ground. He slapped the power switch on his gauss rifle. 60 seconds to charge, gonna be like 30 seconds too late even if it could penetrate their armor.

He took cover in the missile crater as a quad of rockets flew out from the APC at him. He was hammered into the ground by the pressure. He peered out over the edge and saw the Papilio’s moving quickly towards him. He heard his rifle beep and shouldered it. He watched a rocket leap from the woodline and destroy a Papilio.

“Thanks Macer.” he whispered. He watched as the remaining three vehicles fired a salvo of rockets that flayed the treeline where his contubernium was seeking shelter.

He began firing at max penetration to draw their fire back towards him. His gauss cracked round after round when he saw one of the Assembly vehicles detonate. The remaining two turned and a moment later another blew up. The last one fired a rocket behind Metellus before it too exploded.

Metellus ran back to the woods to rally his men. He found Varus and Ursus tying a tourniquet around Domitus's arm. Macer saw him and pointed across the field. Metellus saw a large vehicle heading for them sending up a rooster tail of dirt behind it. “Hold fire Macer.” He said.

With a clatter of tracks a Legati rolled up to them. The heavy gauss cannon aimed their way as the troop ramp lowered in the back. A small but powerfully built figure came down the ramp and waved them aboard. “Come on Manipularii, they’ll be sending Loricas soon and I am not sticking around to get blown to Hades.”

Metellus motioned his men aboard the vehicle; Ursus carried Domitus in and placed him on the vehicle’s armored deck. The ramp closed and Metellus felt the vehicle start to roll across the field. He looked at his men holding on to the straps in the crew compartment. When he was sure they were all ok he moved to the Commander’s station. He moved up and sat down in the gunners seat. “Thanks for the rescue Decurio. That coulda gotten messy.”

The Decurio laughed. “That’s our job Principale.” He held out his hand. “Decurio Marcus Sempronius Longinus, 2nd Equites Cohors. Rescuers of virgins, small children and sometimes of Manipularii.”

There was a huge bump and he hammered his comm, “Principale Saturninus, if you throw a track I am going to throw you off the side of this mountain.”

Decurio Longinus looked over as Metellus started groaning. “Saved by the Army. Not just the Army, but by a track toad. I am never gonna be able to show my face in civilized company again.”

Sempronius’s basso laugh filled the crew compartment as his Legati clawed its way up the mountain.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 28 Oct 2007 09:19 
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Ten


(L + 17 days)

Navarchus Catulus was livid, and he mumbled to himself as he walked to the bridge of his ship. “It’s a travesty, here the largest classis in the history of the Empire is gathering in the Asia system. I would have been guaranteed a Classis command and where am I? Stuck in a backwater nowhere with orders to report and run. If that idiot Helvius had done his job properly, I wouldn't have been stuck out here pretending to be a scout. Well I am going to show Classis Command what Navarchus Catulus is made of. When my plan works, I will be guaranteed at least a Quinquireme Squadron command.”

“Navarchus on the bridge!” his XO called as he entered the bridge of the Quinquireme Adrianople.

He saw his crew busy at their stations. “Any further message from that stubborn bastard in charge of the Orbital Castrum XO?”

Trierarchus Paratus shook his head. “No Sir, the Praefectus Castrorum says his orders stand. He will not support your plan.”

Catulus’s hand slammed down on his command chair's armrest. “The idiot, it’s situations like this that make you realize that the Orbital Castras should have been under Classis control. Well fine, let him and his collection of antiquated junk get blown to Hades for nothing. Have the other ships been notified?”

Paratus nodded. “The ships of the squadron are ready in all respects. Navarchus Allentus reports his four System Defense Quadremes will follow your orders to the best of their abilities. With all due respect Sir, I wish to point out that our orders state we are supposed to scout, evaluate, report and retire.”

Catulus poked him with his finger. “You will follow my orders Trierarchus, I need every man behind this plan. If you are not 100% with me, step down, now.”
They were interrupted by a shout from the sensor station. “NAVARCHUS, ENEMY VESSELS ENTERING THE SYSTEM!”

“Battle Stations!” Catulus yelled. “Have the System Defense Squadron close in with us and follow us in. Give me a scan on enemy numbers and try and pick out their transports.”

A few minutes ticked by and Catulus growled at the young nauta. “What’s the problem? Give me some data, nauta.”

An unsure voice came back. “Sir, there is some sort of jamming coming from the approaching ships. I’m having trouble holding on to the contacts. I’m trying to boost power enough to burn through their ecm. This group though sir has less interference and the computer evaluates at 87% surety of a Legionarii Transport Squadron.”

Catulus nodded. “Fine! All ships launch on that group. Try to get a better picture of the other ships, NOW!”

Triadmantanium armed Pilas launched from the Quinquireme and her two Trireme escorts. Fighters swarmed from the Carrier Aquilia towards the large group of lumbering troop transports. A few moments later the older System Defense ships fired their old fusion armed pilas along the same bearing. A few moments later the scanners burned through the jamming and the Enemy Classis was revealed.

“May the Gods protect us.” whispered Paratus. “Navarchus, we have to retreat! Navarchus... NAVARCHUS!” Paratus looked at his Commander’s glassy eyes and the wet stain spreading on his trousers. He turned to the bridge crew and shouted, “Update the message drone and launch it, helm get us out of here!” The crew was reaching for their controls when the undetected salvo of pilas obliterated the squadron.

***

Pro-Consul Renatus remained an island of calm in the middle of his headquarters. His staff had monitored the brief battle in the space above Nova Londinium. That fucking idiot of a Classis officer in getting his command shot to pieces has cost me dearly. He thought sourly.

When all the ships and orbital castrums had been destroyed and it was clear that there had been no message drone sent to the Imperial Communications Center on Nova Cartago, Renatus had to use the drone from his secondary Headquarters to pass the data on to Nova Cartago. Doing that had revealed the location of that base and doubled the workload on his staff when it was overrun. Not that it will probably matter in the long run. He thought as he looked at the situation board. They landed two Armies worth of troops, I had half again as many troops and I haven’t been able to slow them down with anything.

He watched as the situation board showed the second largest city, Nova Eburacum outlined in red. He turned to one of his Operations Officers and pointed at the mapboard. “Can we rally any of the units that were holding Eburacum and try a flanking attack?”

The Tribuni Angusticlavii looked at him in shock. “Sir, there is no one left to rally.”

The Pro-Consul looked at the map again. “We had two Mechanized Legios, an Ala Legio and an Urbanae Auxilla dug in around that city and you are telling me that there aren’t enough men left to regroup?”

The Tribuni looked at a printout. “Sir, they attacked with two Ala Legios and just rolled right over them. We only have a few units left that are responding but they are scattered and running.”

The Pro-Consul watched as more and more of the planet showed the red of enemy occupation. “We have to update Imperial Command about what went on here or else they are going to be dumping troops into the grinder when they decide to counterattack.”

His Tribuni looked at him. “But sir if we launch our message drone, they will know right where we are and attack the Headquarters.”

Pro-Consul Renatus pointed at the few broken units still on the mapboard. “Do you think we are commanding anything anymore? Update it and launch it Tribuni, then assemble the men and begin digging in around the HQ.”

A little while later, as the Pro-Consul and his staff were digging their fighting positions around the mountain they saw the communications drone launch skyward. Not long afterward the techs still inside the HQ watched the lines of red start moving towards the mountain.

***

Principale Metellus stood before the senior officer of the remaining troops on Nova Tarentum. The Tribuni Angusticlavii had questioned the Principale for almost three hours about everything that had happened to his unit. He had listened intently and asked questions to bring out information that Metellus didn’t even know he had. He in turn had discovered that the Tribuni was a Cohors commander who had gathered troops from the landing zone and fought his way to the mountains realizing that grav vehicles would have problems in terrain that his tracks could negotiate.

Metellus liked the look in the eye of the short swarthy officer. The Tribuni smiled and put his hand on the Principale’s shoulder. “You did well to get your men this far Principale. I need trained troopers to bolster the line. I am going to assign you to Decurio Longinus’s Legati, as his troops never made it out of the LZ.” He smiled at him. “Welcome to the XI Mechanized Legio Principale.”

Metellus’s face took on a deadpan expression and met the officer’s eye. “ With all due respect Sir, Manipularii are the senior service. I need to welcome your troops to the IV Manipularii Legio.” A moment of silence followed Metellus’s comment.

The Tribuni burst out laughing along with the Principale. “You’ll do Principale, you’ll do!” The sound of Principale Metellus and Tribuni Khitai’s laughter filled the tent.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 29 Oct 2007 12:47 
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Eleven


(L + 18 days)


Metellus pushed through the tent flap into the cold night air and breathed deep. He was surprised to see Decurio Longinus waiting for him outside the Tribuni’s tent. He raised an eyebrow at him. “Been waiting long?”

He shook his head “I figured that the Tribuni would keep you yapping for a few hours.” He grinned up at him. “And I don’t trust a Manipularii not to get lost on the way to the Legati.”

Metellus smiled at the small officer. “No problem there Decurio, we Manipularii can smell a track toad from 2 miles out, upwind. I guess with the limited memory space that Army issue brains have they had to delete ‘personal hygiene’ to upload ‘tool use’ huh?” They both laughed as they made their way across the hillside.

He hesitated a moment before speaking, “What do you think about fighting Romans Decurio? I mean E.T’s are one thing, but fighting our own kind just doesn’t sit right with me.” He had covered a few yards before he realized that Sempronius wasn’t alongside him anymore. He looked back to see him staring at him with a look of horror on his face.

“You mean you don't KNOW? Oh fuck! I figured with all the combat you had been in, you would have found out. Principale, we have got to get your men together and go to the prison area NOW!”

Medicus Tarquinius, the Cohort’s Surgeon, moved a pointer and highlighted a portion of the holographic projection. “So as we see the primary probe tentacles burrow their way into the spinal cord of the subject and secrete a chemical to shut down all of the brain’s functions except the autonomic nervous system. It then hijacks the rest of the central nervous system and gains control over locomotion, and all higher brain function is transmitted by the parasite’s brain. In this state the Siliconate parasite then has time to slowly insinuate tentacles into other systems and uses the host’s body for all other bodily functions such as sustenance and waste elimination.”

“These things slowly ‘use up’ the body of their host, as the human body was not designed to support two separate entities. Once these things get their tentacles in your men, there is no way we can remove them. If we were in the Imperial Memorial Hospital on Terra, we might have a chance to save you. But here in the field, if you see your buddy wearing one of these, do both of you a favor and kill him before he kills you. So Manipularii, any questions or can I get back to sleep?”

There was a shocked silence that was broken by Legionarius Varus retching.

Metellus stared at the holo one more time. “I guess if you just shoot the damned thing Medicus, it won't help?”

Tarquinius shook his head. “Principale, the parasite secretes chemicals into the bloodstream that increase the host’s strength, speed, stamina and help the host heal itself quickly. Without this set of chemicals running through the body, the host dies in a very short period without ever regaining consciousness. Anything else?” Seeing no further questions from the men, the Medicus headed over to a sleeping bag and was snoring in moments.

Metellus looked into the back of the cave where two figures huddled behind a makeshift armor-glass barricade. One of the prisoners was gaunt and pale, the dark circled eyes and hollow cheeks didn’t detract from the look of sheer hatred in its eyes.

The other figure was still dressed in a set of Manipularii camouflage utilities and Metellus recognized the face as a young Centurio from third century that he had spoken to just prior to landing. The one commonality between the two men was the rocky, pulsing creature attached to both figures chests.

The Centurio stepped forward, placed his hand on the glass and stared at Metellus. A rough voice filled the cave. “You should not fight us Human. Your worlds will be ours no matter what you do. Nothing but death awaits those that attempt to stop the Assembly. We bring you great gifts and we do not ask for much. Submit to the Assembly and your worlds will be spared destruction and your people will be protected eternally by the forces of the Assembly.”

Metellus looked at the figure standing before him for a moment. He then spit a large gob of tobacco juice on the glass between them. “The Manipularii have been protecting the Senate and People of Rome for thousands of years fuckhead, we don’t figure on giving up that job to anyone without a fight.”

The Principale turned around and moved towards the cave mouth. As his men followed him to the entrance, Metellus heard the voice follow him. “We will kill all your soldiers on any world we find them on and your people will be ours in the end!”

The men of First Contubernium were the only ones who heard Metellus growl as he pushed through the blackout blanket. “Not as long as there is one Manipularii left anywhere fuckhead.”

He looked around outside the cave and saw Decurio Longinus moving towards them. He saw the look on each face and smiled grimly. “So I see the horror show hasn’t gotten any better than when I saw it a week ago. Well Principale, what do you think?”

Metellus looked into the night sky a moment before he looked down at him. “Think? Not much to think about Decurio. Looks like we kill every last one of those things we can find until we eliminate them from the Galaxy. Cause as I see it, if we don’t, they are gonna do it to us.”

Metellus looked at the Contubernium. “Before we sack out tonight, I want a full weapons and equipment check. Ursus, you are off the watch schedule tonight, I want you to make the rounds of the nearby units and see what you can scrounge up to help us out.”

The Principale heard a snort of laughter from beside him and the Decurio rolled his eyes at the men of First Contubernium. “Lock up your daughters and other valuables people, the Manipularii are out looking for goodies. Principale, you know that what you Manipularii call ‘scrounging’ will get you 30 lashes and 10 to 15 years in jail for theft in the civilian world?”

Metellus adopted his most innocent look. “Just look at it this way Decurio, anything we do to improve the Contubernium’s fighting capacity will increase YOUR survivability in the long run.”

Sempronius gave a wry grin and nodded as they approached the Legati. “Good point Principale. Oh, Manipularii Ursus is it? In your ‘travels’ tonight, see if you can ‘locate’ some more night vision and a few sections of track anywhere. We may need more replacements with all this going up and down hills.” He lowered his head and sighed. “My father warned me when I joined the army that I might fall in with evil companions. It looks like he was right”

The laughter of the Decurio and the Contubernium echoed inside the Legati as they moved up the ramp.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 30 Oct 2007 11:36 
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Twelve

(L + 22 days)


Cohors Urbanae member Magnus dug another shovel-full of wet soil and turned towards his friend. “What I want to know is what in the name of Hades are we going to do if they send Loricas after us? Why aren’t those Legionarii sitting out here as bait? How come we get the shitty end of the sponge every time?”

Urbanae member Balearicus just shook his head. “Let me tell you one thing Magnus, I would rather be sitting in this hole than be the guys that have to get into close combat with the rockheads. At least we can fall back from this position into the mountains if it gets too hot. All we have to do is draw a little fire and then run. Besides, we are better armed these days than before. Can you believe that big Manipularii was stupid enough to trade us a brand new Gatling Laser for my piece of shit Mk.10 H.P.G.? Well if he wants to lug around that heavy mother all over the planet, he is welcome to it.” They looked around at the other six men of the contubernium digging in on the ridge above the road and laughed. “I guess that Manipularii are as dumb as they say.”

***

“The Urbanae are complete idiots.” Ursus laughed. “I can’t believe they were willing to trade away that H.P.G. Here we have these armored monsters crawling all over the planet, and they give up a weapon that has more penetration than anything this side of a vehicle mount.”

Metellus just chuckled. “I will bet one hundred sesterces they think they got the better end of the deal to Ursus.”

“Well they’ll figure it out when that gat starts bouncing rounds off the Rockhead’s body armor.”

“With a little luck they might even survive long enough to curse your name.” The Principale looked around at the terrain and spit on the grass. “I just hope that the Decurio shows up on time when we need him. I don’t want to be left hanging out here when they decide to call in reinforcements.”

Ursus looked down and grinned at his Principale. “Somehow I don’t think he is the type to leave us out here to get smacked around by the Rockheads.”

Metellus nodded. “He’s not too bad for an Army puke, even if his old man is the Emperor, though you don’t have to tell him I said that. Now get down in your hole and keep under cover.”

Metellus looked around to check his men’s concealment as he walked towards his designated position. He dropped into his fighting position and pulled the camo cover over himself and activated his jamming field. He had better show up on time. He thought. I would hate to have to kick his ass for being late.

The high-pitched whine of a grav effect filled the air. Metellus observed the road through his fiber optic scope. A pair of Siliconate Papilio’s was in the lead; a pair of Lorica’s trailed just behind them. Four human built cargo trucks followed close to the lead units. Another pair of Papilio’s brought up the rear.

Metellus keyed his secure comm. “FDC 8, Jarhead 28, Execute fire plan Echo.”

There was a brief pause. “Fire Direction Center 8, fire outgoing, out.”

Metellus switched to the Urbanae’s frequency. “Yokel 2, Jarhead 28, fire incoming. Execute ambush upon shot splash.”

The sound of ripping linen filled the air. Anti-Tormentum missiles fired skyward from the Papilio’s. The vehicles then began evasive maneuvers as the blossom of intercepted shells filled the sky.

A pair of light anti-armor missiles arced from the ridge as the Tormentum fire began impacting on the road; the barrage shattered one Papilio and a truck. Both light missiles impacted a Lorica with no visible effect. More shells of the next salvo made it through the interceptors. Another two trucks were destroyed and a Papilio was damaged.

The Urbanae began firing their small arms down from the ridge as the remaining Siliconate vehicles moved towards the ridge and began spraying the troops with fire. Power Armored troops poured out from the damaged Papilio and followed behind a Lorica using it for cover.

Metellus’ comm crackled. “Jarhead 28, FDC 8, final salvo outgoing, no further fire available at this time.”

A final salvo arced out of the mountains and impacted among the Siliconate vehicles. Thick white smoke began covering the area.
The Principale keyed his comm. “Yokel 2, Jarhead 28, displace to the fallback positions immediately.” He felt the rumble as the enemy vehicles moved past his position and keyed his comm. “First Contubernium execute ambush.”

Metellus threw off his IR suppression cover and climbed out of his fighting position. He ran towards the grav Lorica still moving towards the ridge. He leaped up and pulled himself onto its rear hull and took out a magnetic breaching charge. He attached it to the top hatch and ducked behind the rear of the turret. He pulled out and armed a plasma grenade and began counting. The shaped charge blew a hole in the hatch and Metellus dropped his grenade in and dove off the Lorica. A moment later a huge explosion blew the turret skyward.

***

Legionarii Macer popped out of his fighting position and aimed his launcher outward. He couldn’t see either of the Loricas in the smoke but he saw the outline of a Papilio close by. He locked his launcher on that target and fired. The rocket slammed into the side of the vehicle and a huge detonation blew the smoke away. Macer saw a few Siliconates pulling themselves out of the wreckage. Macer rolled out of the fighting position and drew his Gladius and Hastula. The smoke closed in around him as he advanced on the wounded soldiers.

***

Legionarii Ursa leapt out of his fighting position, aimed the bulky Mk.10 at a Papilio and pulled the trigger. The Plasma Gun burned a hole through the side of the vehicle and it grounded in a crash. Ursa saw figures through the gradually widening hole and watched them explode from the flash boiling of their bodily fluids as he played the fire along its flank.

There was a sizzle and pop from the Mk.10 and an acrid smell of melting plastic drifted up to him as the weapon stopped firing. Ursa saw all four malfunction lights glowing red on the weapons readout. He threw the weapon to the ground. “May the Gods DAMN those fucking Urbanae bastards. I’m gonna kill them.”

Ursa noticed figures moving around inside the Papilio and ran up to the vehicle. An armored figure began crawling out of the hole when two massive hands grasped his helmet and twisted violently. Ursa felt the neck crack through the armor. He pulled a pair of plasma grenades off his harness and dropped them past the body clogging the hole. He dove back and hugged the ground as the Papilio blew itself into pieces.

***

A Lorica had passed right over Varus’s fighting position and partially caved in the side. He stuck a pair of breaching charges to the belly as it rolled over him. One of the six Siliconates following the Lorica had the bad luck of falling into the hole just as Varus threw off the camo cloth. The heavily armored form landed hard and Varus heard a bone break. He pulled his bayonet out and stabbed the huge form through the neck. He then grabbed his rifle, climbed out of his fighting position and began following the other Siliconates.

He carefully took aim and shot the armored soldiers one at a time. He started from back to front and killed four of them before the Lorica swung around in place and aimed its weapons at him. A moment later it went up in a massive explosion that engulfed the last Siliconate infantryman. Varus felt a sharp pain stab him in his left arm and saw blood beginning to stain his left sleeve. He checked his helmet’s heads up display and turned towards the damaged Lorica just in time to see it detonate from a rocket slamming into it. A figure loomed out of the smoke and Varus recognized his Principale’s silhouette.

***

Metellus looked at the dead Siliconate in the fighting position and the other dead infantry that were lit by the now burning Lorica with the main gun aimed right at Varus.

Varus noticed his Principale staring at him with an odd expression on his face. The Principale looked ready to speak twice before he pointed at his arm. “Get Ursus to look at that. No telling what the Decurio will do if you bleed all over the deck of his Legati.”

There was an explosion from the road as a gauss cannon took out the last fleeing truck. A Legati rolled up to them and stopped near Metellus. The ramp lowered and Varus saw Macer come running up and Ursus’s bulky form appear from out of the smoke. First Contubernium boarded and Varus sat down as Ursus started bandaging his arm.

Ursus shook his head. “You gotta be more careful Varus, the Principale might leave you behind.” Ursus’s voice trailed off as Metellus touched him on the arm and shook his head.

When Ursus had finished the Contubernium sat in silence as the Legati clawed its way up the hills and slopes. Varus noticed the Principale staring at him the whole time. They reached the bivouac area and the Decurio lowered the ramp. Macer and Ursus exited first, but before Varus could stand up the Principale loomed over him and leaned down.

He spoke in a low voice that didn’t carry beyond the two of them. “What you did out there couldn’t have been done any better by anyone, including me. They gave me my Golden Laurel for doing something like that, but I didn’t come out of it as healthy as you did.” He pointed to a large winding scar on his forearm. He grabbed Varus by the back of the neck and tapped helmets with him. “You done good Manipularii. Now go see the Medicus and get your arm fixed up. The Contubernium needs you healthy.” Stunned, Varus watched his Principale walk down the ramp and head for the river.

Varus shook his head, grabbed his gear and moved towards the Medical tents. The Army personnel that watched him pass saw the smiling face of the bleeding soldier humming the Manipularii verse. Each just rolled their eyes as he passed and muttered, “Manipularii.”

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 31 Oct 2007 12:24 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Thirteen


(L + 25 days)


The rain fell gently as Decurio Longinus looked across the clearing at Principale Metellus. “What do you think of the Tribuni’s plan Principale?”

A grunted laugh came from the poncho covered figure and Metellus spit onto the wet ground. “Well Decurio, I think your Tribuni has gone completely insane. Now I don’t mind taking a few risks from time to time, but this Op is going to redefine the term ‘hairy’. I don’t mind hurting the Rockheads, but I don’t understand why we are doing this. I mean we're holding real well in these mountains. Why are we looking to attack now? I just want to know why I am risking my Manipularii’s lives on this?”

A distant century of Ballista’s fired off several salvos. Sempronius pointed in the direction of the noise. “That’s what it’s all about Principale, supply and logistics. A few of us officers know, but we aren’t letting the troops in on just how low on everything we really are. We have lost more Papilio’s to maintenance issues than to enemy fire and the Ballista’s are critically low on shells. This rain is degrading our weapons recharge packs faster than we expected. If the computer projections are correct, all organized resistance will collapse within the next 14 days if we can’t get re-supplied. Our scout teams have told us that the original LZ has still got tons of our supplies sitting around. The Rocks hit the whole area with a nerve agent but all this rain seems to have diluted it to negligible strength. If we can get even a portion of those supplies, we should be able to hold for at least a few months more.”

Metellus spit another brown stream onto the ground. “And you think that they are just gonna let us walk into the LZ and go shopping? If I were them, I would have booby-trapped all that ordinance and had the whole area zeroed in with Tormenta’s.

Sempronius nodded. “Tribuni Khitai figures it that way to Principale, that’s why we are going to hit any Tormenta units we can find and guard the LZ while the support troops pick through the area and salvage all they can. We have concentrated everything we can scrape together for this push Principale. If it doesn’t work, we fall back to the mountains and go to ground until the Classis gets back.”

“CLASSIS!” Snorted Metellus. “What I want to know is where those lazy fucking bastards are. All those shiny billion sesterce tubs floating around in space. They must be afraid to get the hull paint scratched by fighting or something.

***

“Five minutes till the jump into the Nova Londinium System Sir.”

Navarchus Helvius looked at his young sensor officer. “We are going to need as much data as you can wring out of your sensors Centurio Hausser. We have to know as soon as possible if we have to jump out of here or if we are going to stay and fight.

The Navarchus looked at his Command Board at what remained of his fleet. His Triarii Squadron was down to one Sexireme and 3 Quadriremes after losing three of its Sexiremes over Nova Cartago. His Pila Squadron was still up to strength. The four Pila Sexiremes showed ready in all respects and the two Triremes maintained tight formation with his Flagship.

The men of the CV Octavianus began moving efficiently as they prepared for the Apollonian Gate entry. Helvius keyed his all ships comm frequency, “Navarchus Helvius to all units, the Senate and people of Rome expects each man to do his duty this day. No ship is to retreat without my direct order. If the Octavianus is disabled or destroyed, command will fall to Trierarchus Cursus on the Olympus Mons.

Helvius heard the sensor officer counting down. “Three... two... one... jump.” When they emerged from hyperspace the holo projection showed the beautiful green world of Nova Londinium in the center. “Sensors show wreckage from numerous ships scattered across the system Sir. Jamming is strong, trying to burn through and get a lock on the enemy.”

The communications officer spoke out, “No communications on any civilian or military channels. Picking up something on some odd channels but they are encrypted Sir, trying to establish contact with anyone left down there.”

The comm officer was interrupted by Centurio Haupt, “BURN THROUGH Sir. We are picking up only one enemy squadron. Appears to be composed of nine ships. Computer classifies it as a Principe Squadron. Enemy Classis is composed of four Quinquireme’s, two Quadremes and three Trireme’s.”

Helvius smiled for the first time in weeks. “All ships open fire on that Squadron. Triari Squadron, stay at maximum fire range and try to stay between them and us. All Pila armed ships, open fire, Octavianus, launch all fighters immediately. The Navarchus felt the vibration as his Carrier launched her brood of fighters. He saw vector tracks appear as the Pilas from his Velites squadron sped outward. The enemy Classis began closing range quickly.

What kind of engines must they have to close this fast? The Navarchus thought to himself. Just prior to the Pilas impact, beams lanced out and destroyed numerous incoming targets. Helvius grinned as explosions blossomed among the enemy ships. “Didn’t destroy enough of them you bastards. And now my fighters are going to tear you a new one before you can recharge your weapons.” He whispered to himself as he watched his fighters start swarming the three remaining ships. Beams from the Sexireme Vesuvius Mons started impacting the enemy and the Navarchus watched in pain as the enemy point defense began killing his fighters.

“NAVARCHUS, we have incoming fighters!” Helvius’s eyes snapped towards a highlighted point on the holo. He turned towards his First Officer.

“Can’t be a fighter garrison online this soon after they invaded.”

His sensor officer pointed at a ghostly image that appeared and disappeared just behind the bulk of the planet. “I think there is another enemy squadron hiding behind the planet. I’m sorry Sir; the planets size is blocking my sensors."

The Navarchus looked at the mass of enemy fighters heading towards his ships. “It’s alright Centurio, just get me enough of a signal to lock Pilas onto.” He watched as the last of the enemy Principe ships burst open under the fire of his fighters. “Vector those fighters to intercept the enemy and cover the Triari squadron. Sensors I don’t care how you get it done, but get me a clear picture on what’s hiding behind that planet. If we can’t get a lock on them, launch a salvo of anti fighter pilas to take those fighters out before they swarm us.”

Helvius watched as a salvo of Pilas headed out towards the enemy fighters and read the flight vectors. “Damn it, their fighters are faster than we thought, they are going to get to the Vesuvius Mons and her Trireme’s before the Pilas can intercept them.” The Navarchus watched as a massive group of fighters swarmed over his Triari squadron. The Triremes detonated one after another. The Vesuvius Mons’s shields buckled and the fighters gutted the ship in a few moments.

The enemy fighters then turned towards the Velites squadron but were obliterated by a massive salvo of anti fighter missiles. “Vector the fighters behind that planet and let’s try and get a picture of what we are dealing with!”

Time ticked by as the Navarchus maneuvered his remaining squadrons. His fighters were swinging around Nova Londinium’s moon when an enemy squadron maneuvered from behind the planet and was revealed for the first time.

“Sir, detecting a Carrier Squadron! I show eight Quinquireme’s, four Quadreme’s and six Trireme’s.”

Helvius pounded his comm key. “All ships, open fire! We are going to tear them up before they can get another strike wave of fighters spaceborne.” He turned to his Air Boss. “Your boys are going to get there before the Pilas Gregorius. I’m sorry but I need them to keep the enemy point defense busy until the Pilas get there.” His Fi-Com nodded to him and started issuing orders to his squadrons.

The four squadrons from the Octavianus closed from behind the enemy squadron and began strafing the ships. Beam after beam fired from the enemy and the Navarchus saw a yellow explosion as each young life was snuffed out. Allowing the huge wave of Pilas to home straight in on the enemy squadron. The enemy point defense weapons were so occupied with destroying his fighters that they didn’t intercept any of the missiles.

What kind of man am I, that I use the lives of all those young men to protect my Pilas? May the Gods forgive me and let it be worth it. He thought to himself. The wave of Triadmantanium armed Pilas impacted the ships and the holo screen washed out for a moment with the energy of detonation. When the screen cleared, the Navarchus saw fighters carving up the two remaining Quadremes of the enemy squadron. It was over in a few more minutes as the last enemy ship was turned into floating debris.

“No other enemy ships detected Sir. No jamming on any bands. I think that was all of them Navarchus.”

Helvius watched the holo as a small group of fighters made their way back towards the Octavianus. He walked over to his Fi-Com and leaned on his Command Board. “Gregorius, tell your boys thank you from me. Some of the enemy might have gotten away if it hadn’t been for their sacrifice.” His Fi-Com nodded and began speaking into his comm.

Helvius turned towards his communications officer. “Lets get a message drone ready, I want a complete upload of all data that we can stuff into it. The Legatus is going to need all the information he can get if the enemy main Classis is heading towards him. After that, lets see if there is anyone still fighting down there that we can provide some air support for.”

His First Officer turned to him. “We aren’t heading back to Nova Cartago Sir?”

The Navarchus shook his head. “We are sitting right across the enemies main line of support for his squadrons. If they send any reinforcements, they will have to pass through us first. We paid heavily for this system and we are going to hold it unless the Legatus orders otherwise. The troops on Nova Cartago are well equipped and supplied. They should have no problem holding out until we can mount a counteroffensive.”

***

Tribuni Khitai looked again at his battle plan. If this doesn't work, it’s the end for us. He thought to himself in the darkness of his tent. Without those supplies we will just degrade into a group of bandits roaming the hills. If I had been grading the planning of this attack at the Academy, I would have failed the student and had him shot for proposing an abortion like this. Morale and time are the big factors now. Two days to get all the troops in place, too long, just too long. He looked outside his tent and watched a young Manipularii walk past carrying some ammo boxes. The bandage on his arm didn’t detract from the pride in his step. His face had a smile of joy as he hummed his service’s Hymn. The Tribunii looked again at the battle plan on his computer and shook his head. “You poor Rockhead bastards.” He keyed into his computer ‘Plan Approved’.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 01 Nov 2007 07:30 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Joined: 23 May 2005 16:49
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Fourteen


(L + 27 days)


The chirping of the early morning insects filled the woods as the armored figure slowly walked the perimeter around the artillery unit he was assigned to guard. Patrols-Without-Tiring checked the status of its squad as they guarded the resting artillery troopers. The rain continued to patter down softly on the nearby tents and vehicles. As it stared towards the distant mountains that still held the remaining soldiers of the humans it shook its head and wondered why these humans fought the inevitable.

Its musings were interrupted by a strange signal in its helmet. Four of it’s eight soldiers on the perimeter were showing as incapacitated or killed. It tried to signal an alert, but a jamming field blocked the transmission. It moved towards the artillery troops to rouse them when it saw a pair of wraith-like forms moving from tent to tent. It raised its rifle when it felt a sharp pain in it’s back and a moment later across it’s neck. It tumbled to the ground and found itself looking up at a human figure looming above it. The human signaled more of it’s kind forward into the sleeping units perimeter.

Patrols-Without-Tiring felt its life slowly fading but made an attempt to grasp its rifle. The human above it leaned down and kicked the rifle into the brush and spit a brown liquid onto the helmet’s visor. The explosion of the artillery vehicles a few moments later lit up the night. It turned its head slightly to watch the humans moving off into the trees as quietly as they had come. Through the brown stain on its visor it saw flashes light up the distant mountains as the human artillery began raining down.

***

Metellus’s helmet banged against the hull of the Legati for the third time in as many minutes. He keyed his comm again “You trying to kill us Decurio? This ride is getting kind of rough.”

The exasperated voice of Decurio Longinus came back a moment later. “It looks like the Rocks have been busy in the past month. If you want to get out and walk through all these minefields that Saturninus is trying to bypass Principale, be my guest.”

The chuckle of the Contubernium filled the crew compartment. “No, that’s alright Decurio, with Ursus’s big feet, we would be setting off every mine between here and the mountains. So how long till we get to our next position, we are going to need some time to dig in before the Rocks start heading for us?”

The Decurio keyed his command board. “Well, if we can avoid a few more of these minefields, we should be to our new position in 10 minutes. The Tribuni needs us blocking that road junction ASAP.”

Several bumpy minutes later the Legati came to a halt. The Decurio’s voice came over the comm, “we’re here Manipularii, although it looks like this place has already been hit a few times. Deploy and we will be hull down on the hill for fire support if you need us.”

The ramp lowered and a soft rain blew into the troop compartment. Metellus saw his Manipularii run down the ramp and come to a halt. He exited the Legati and looked around. The nearby buildings showed damage and several craters marred the road. The large three-story building they were in front of was scorched; large holes marred the front surface. Still legible were the words ‘LU UL US’S Gr in nd F ed’. Metellus and his Manipularii looked at the large crater and the Lorica wreckage then towards the cratered hilltop overlooking the road.

Sempronius seeing the troops still standing on the ramp, walked to the rear of the Legati. “Everything alright Principale?” He asked softly.

Metellus looked back at him. “The Gods have a shitty sense of humor Decurio, this is where we lost most of the Century on the first day.”

Metellus just shook his head. “Don’t worry about us Decurio, our Contubernium has already payed in blood for this ground. They won’t push us off it till we’re all dead.” Seeing the look in his eyes Sempronius just nodded.

“We’ll be covering the road from the hill, I see plenty of places we can hide up there. Just call us if you need us.” In a moment the ramp raised and the Legati headed down the road and then up the hill.

Metellus looked around at his Manipularii and spit off to the side. “Alright Manipularii, we know the ground, we know the enemy so let’s get it done. Varus, I want you on the top of this building keeping watch for anything coming. We are gonna let them come right in here before we hit them. Macer, you get in that red house, and be ready to slam any heavy armor you see. Ursus, you SURE that Mk.V H.P.G. is working now? We can’t afford to have it crap out in the middle of another firefight.”

Ursa just grinned at Metellus. “No problem Principale, I practically rebuilt it from scratch once I got the spares out of that Urbanae supply Principale.”

Metellus looked at him and smiled. “I’m not gonna ask how, just make sure whatever you did do it doesn’t get to back to the Tribuni, something makes me think he doesn’t have much of a sense of humor. Now get into that storefront and be ready to burn whatever rolls in here.” He hesitated a moment and put his hand on Ursa’s shoulder. “You watch yourself Ursus, this one is gonna be hairy.”

The big man just smiled at his Principale. “We’re ready for them this time Principale. They’re gonna pay for what they did to the Century.”

Metellus watched as each of his men ran to their assigned places. He walked over to the large crater in front of the feed store. The mangled wreckage from the Lorica was showing signs of rust on the exposed metal. He turned to move off when his foot struck something. He leaned down and picked up a charred object and rubbed the mud off of it. One of Optio Scaevola’s partially melted dogtags was revealed.

Metellus looked around his feet and saw a few shattered shards of bone. His knuckles turned white as his fist clenched around the mangled tag. “Sorry it took so long to get back to you Scaevola.” He whispered. “We are back though, don’t worry, we are gonna make the bastards pay in full for you and the rest. I promise.” He put the tag into his pocket, looked around the crossroads once more and moved towards a nearby building. Now all we have to do is hold off a bunch of Loricas with four Manipularii and a Legati command vehicle. How do we get stuck with all the Garum smelling jobs? He laughed to himself.

***

“How do we get stuck with all the garum jobs?” Urbanae Magnus snarled as he loaded another box of ammunition onto the truck." I mean, why is it always the Urbanae that gets treated like a bunch of pack mules and stevedores.”

Urbanae Balearicus grunted as he hefted another crate. “Well would you rather be out there on the line, holding off the Rocks or here loading crates?”

Magnus moved some debris and found another intact box. He checked the serial number against his wrist comp. “SUNSCREEN, what were these idiots thinking. They brought crates of sunscreen here.”

Balearicus laughed. “Well leave it, we have a lot of stuff to find and not much time to do it.” Balearicus looked across the vast area of the landing zone and saw scores of trucks and numerous troops moving across the area. He saw combat engineers clearing booby traps in a nearby area. As far as the eye could see was cargo containers, destroyed vehicles and thousands of bodies that were picked almost clean.

He saw a stack of crates and checked the numbers. He waved a truck over and shouted to Magnus. “C’mon Magnus, these are the drive train and fire control spares that they are looking for in the maintenance pool. We gotta get this garum loaded. The cleaner we pick this place, the more stuff we will have later and the less chance we will have to do this again.”

The truck backed up and the two soldiers began loading the boxes onboard. A steady trickle of loaded vehicles headed back towards the mountains. Across the ruined LZ, parties of soldiers picked through the wreckage and marked boxes for loading. Far off in the distance, they heard the sound of weapons firing.

***

The sound of Varus’s voice came over the comm, “I have movement coming down the east road. Numerous vehicles, looks like they are coming in fast.”

Metellus keyed in immediately. “I want them all in the firesack before we open up. Macer, you get the first guy in line, then the back guy. I want to nail the coffin shut in here so we can get them all. Decurio, we need you ready for support fire as soon as it starts.”

“Roger that Principale.” Came Sempronius’s reply.

A whining hum grew louder and louder. Metellus stole the feed from Varus’s helmet and saw a dozen vehicles moving down the road at high speed. “They’ll have to slow down with all the rubble in the road here. Wait for my order.” The Principale saw the lead Siliconate machines slow as they approached the crossroads. As they made the turn Metellus counted eight Loricas and four Papilio’s. When the last Lorica slowed he keyed his comm, “FIRE FIRE FIRE.”

Macer fired and the impact on the lead Lorica sounded like a bell. Ursus poked his Mk.V out of the store’s doorway and plasma washed over a pair of Papilio’s. He ducked back inside as they detonated. Varus leaned over the roof edge and aimed a light rocket at a Lorica. The rocket pierced the thin top armor and the detonation rocked the buildings. Another rocket from Macer arced overhead and slammed into the rearmost Lorica.

Fire from the two remaining Loricas struck the building that Varus was on. Concrete and brick glazed over and exploded. Metellus saw Varus’s marker moving to the rear of the building as it began collapsing in on itself.

Metellus noticed troops exiting the two remaining Papilio’s and began firing at them. He dropped two of them quickly and saw one of the Papilio’s turning towards his position. He keyed his comm, “Decurio we could use a little help here!” A moment later, a gauss shell slammed through the Papilio’s skin and it went up in flames. Metellus heard another rocket fire into the area.

Then Metellus saw four armored figures rush towards the building that Ursa was in. He dropped one before they made it through the doorway. “URSUS, you got three in your building! In the name of Hades get out of there!” He saw the building light up from within as plasma gouted out a shattered window. Metellus saw Varus run across the street, slap a magnetic mine on a Lorica and dive into the building where Ursa was. He heard the crack of the Legati’s gauss and saw the last Rock Papilio blow up. A moment later, Varus’s mine went off and another Lorica blew itself to slag.

Metellus sat quietly in his fighting position and popped the covers off his secret weapons. He looked out and saw another Lorica fall to Macer’s launcher. He saw the last pair of Loricas blow down a building to make a way out for themselves and start heading back down the road.

Metellus heard the noise he had been waiting for. “Everyone go ‘tronic neutral, NOW!” He shouldered the anti-air missile just as the first grav gunship popped over the horizon. The hypervelocity missile impacted the craft and detonated it. He grabbed another missile and locked onto the second gunship. The gunship couldn’t evade the HV and its wreckage joined its partner’s a moment later.

He keyed the comm, “Everyone alright? Looks like that’s all of them for now.”

A moment later he heard Varus’s voice. “Principale, you better come here quick.”

Metellus shouldered his last two HV missiles and ran down the stairs. He fired a round into a still moving Siliconate soldier and ran into the store. Parts of the inside of the building still burned and smoke filled the room. He saw Varus kneeling above a familiar form working frantically. Metellus squatted down and saw Varus stuffing bandages into the gaping hole in Ursa’s chest. Metellus felt for a pulse on Ursa’s wrist. He gently took hold of Varus’s hands that were still trying to pack the wound. “He’s gone Varus, let him be. There’s nothing you can do for him anymore.”

He saw Varus lean over and pick up the Mk.V off the ground. A row of red malfunction lights was lit up on the readout. He turned to Metellus. “I am gonna kill those Urbanae bastards! He would’ve had them if it hadn’t broken.” Varus stated as tears ran down his cheek.

Metellus just shook his head. “It’s not worth it Varus, if your time is up, your time is up. Nothing is gonna stop it. Now lets get into position, we may get some more company soon.”

He watched Varus leave the building before kneeling down again by Ursa’s side. He detached one of his dogtags and added it to the collection in his pocket. He closed the now sightless eyes. “Sleep well Ursus, may you hunt the enemies of Roma with Mars at your side.” He left the building without looking back.

He looked at the burning vehicles clogging the street. This had better be worth it Tribuni, or I am personally going to put a hole in your head. He thought as he moved to a nearby building.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 02 Nov 2007 08:37 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Fifteen


(L + 28 days)


Tribuni Khitai watched the chain of trucks being offloaded then moving out for another load. The men were grabbing and stacking boxes as fast as the cargo vehicles rolled up. The Tribuni had been worried about having enough personnel to handle all the unloading duty until a large group of wounded men had exited the valetudinarium to lend a hand. He watched a one armed Legionarii lugging a crate to the supply area. He shook his head in pride as a Manipularii on crutches dragged a cargo container that was tied to his waist.

Tribuni Khitai walked back to his Headquarters. He entered the concealed cave and checked the situation board. He saw that many of his units guarding the old LZ were in combat at the moment. “You know how bad it’s going to be for you if I get all those supplies, you bastards.” he muttered. He looked over the situation board and pulled up his casualty figures. The longer they hold, the more supplies I can grab. But if I leave them out there too long, I’m not going to have enough combat troops left to hold the mountains. He thought to himself. The Tribuni ran a few computer projections of enemy movements and casualty estimates. Six more hours he thought. I can’t afford any more time than that. He turned to his staff. “Last cargo hauler is to leave the LZ area in four hours. I want the southern most units to start leapfrogging back in five hours. All other units to begin pullback when the rearmost units reach them. I want the last of the combat units back inside the mountain defense perimeter within seven hours. All Tormenta units will use maximum supporting fire to cover the withdrawal. Lets get moving people!”

***

Urbanae Magnus looked at his chrono before lifting another container into the truck. “I SWEAR, once we are done with this detail, I am NEVER lifting another crate again. How much longer did the Centurio say before we pull out of here?”

Urbanae Balearicus looked over at him and smiled. “Sure Petronius, whatever you say. And its 10 minutes less than the last time you asked.” The pair of Urbanae grabbed a large box of anti-air missiles and staggered over to a nearby flatbed. They helped the trucks crew tie the crate down and headed over for another container.
“Never lifting another crate again.” Magnus muttered. The sound of Balericus’s laughter carried across the field.

***

Principale Metellus peered through his image intensifiers and scanned the distant woods. He saw a dozen Siliconate Papilio’s concealed inside the treeline. He checked his chrono and muttered to himself. “Just hold off attacking for a couple of hours more. Then you can attack all the empty buildings you want.”

He looked out over the empty ground and keyed in tormentum reference coordinates on his wrist comp. “Everyone stay frosty, we will be starting the pullback to the Legati in about two hours.”

“Lets hope the Rocks stand around a little longer. If they don’t get their heads out of their asses, they are gonna end up attacking nothing but air.”

Macer cut in on the comm. “Principale, you figure as much as these Rocks stand around before attacking, they must have Regular Army officers in charge eh?”

The sound of the Contubernium’s laughter was overridden by the Decurio’s comm signal. “That’s it, you are ALL walking home!” A moment later his laughter joined the rest of the Contubernium.


***

The Tribuni watched the situation board as his troops started pulling back. Some of the units still in contact were conducting a fighting withdrawal. The markers of his units started their slow crawl across the holo projection. Time rolled by and more of his perimeter units started reporting enemy contact. Khitai smiled grimly. So you figured it out did you? He thought to himself. Well lets hope you’re a little too late. He walked over to his fire support officer. “Decurio, I want any of those units that request fire to get it ASAP.”

He didn’t like the look on the Decurian’s face. “Sir... we currently have nine enemy attacks in progress and I only have twenty ballista pieces that have been re-supplied, sixteen Ballista and 12 Martiobarbulus heavy pieces do not have any shells. I just don’t have enough tubes re-supplied to provide fire support everywhere.”

The Tribuni glared at him a moment and then relented a bit. “I understand Decurio, but if you can’t provide enough support to those units, the whole perimeter is going to collapse. Try and get some supplies to the rest of your guns. We may need them to cover the rest of the withdrawal. Take whatever transport you need to get the shells to your unsupplied tubes.”

***

Magnus and Balearicus jumped off the back of the flatbed truck they had ridden back to headquarters. The long ride into the mountains while sitting on top of cargo containers had been a slice of pure agony. The two Cohors Urbanae members moved away from the vehicle as a group of men swarmed over the cargo.

Magnus smiled. “Well, if they want to unload it, more power to them. Lets go see if we can grab some chow.” The soldiers walked towards the mess tent. Magnus began chuckling. "Well, that’s it, no more loading for us. From now on, it’s gonna be smooth saili...”

His voice trailed off as a grizzled Primus Pilus put a hand on both of their shoulders. “Just what I’m looking for, a couple of strapping young lads to help me with a little job.” The Primus Pilus guided them over to an ammunition dump just as a pair of trucks pulled up. “Now Legionarii, we have to get all these tormentum shells loaded ASAP.” He looked at the pair strangely as one put his head in his hands and groaned and the other began giggling.

***

Metellus watched the Siliconate Papilio’s come out from under the trees and stop. He watched the nearly fifty power armored figures spread out in front of them. “Everyone pull back to the base of the hill NOW, I got a bad feeling about this.” As the he pulled back he heard a tearing sound fill the air. He dove into a nearby crater as rockets and tormentum fire fell all around the area. He keyed the Fire Support frequency. “FDC 1... Jarhead 13... Request fire support... Fire plan Omega 134.”

There was a pause. “Jarhead 13... FDC 1... Complete fire plan unavailable... shot out.” The explosions continued to hammer the area.

Metellus saw Varus running towards him and dive into the crater. “Getting a little hot out there Principale. We got tormenta fire coming?”

Metellus spit to the side. “Doesn’t look like much help is on the way. I think the redlegs are having lunch or something. You see Macer?”

A moment later Macer jumped into the crater. “Here Principale, we getting out of here? We have fifty or so infantry heading this way with the Papilio’s right behind them. I wasted the two Loricas they had supporting them, but I am out of rockets now.”

Metellus heard tormentum shells passing overhead and explosions hammering in the distance. “Looks like some of the RT boys are awake. FDC 1... Jarhead 13... On target... Fire for effect.” He switched frequencies. “Decurio, we gotta get the Hades out of here soon. The RT aren’t on the job and I don’t think we have the firepower to hold ‘em for much longer.”

The Legati crested over the hill and zig zagged down the slope. Several rockets exploded around it. In a few moments the ramp was down and the Contubernium piled in. They clawed their way around the hill and headed to the north. Decurio Longinus keyed in on the command frequency. “Command... Cataphract 11... position Gold East 4 overrun... Cataphract 11 and Jarhead 13 pulling back to Phase Line Silver.”

A moment later a reply came back. “Roger that Cataphract 11, hold at Phase line Silver until all units have passed through then pull back to Phase Line Bronze.”

***

Tribuni Khitai watched as the last of his units moved into the mountains. The Siliconates that had been pressing too close to the last units had been pounded by every tormenta tube he had. That had allowed the final unit to make it inside intact. He looked at his chrono. The pullout had taken seven hours and fifteen minutes. He pulled up the casualty figures and frowned. Gods, I hope it was worth it. Now that we have the supplies, we should be able to hold until the Classis gets off their Asses and comes to reinforce us. He looked at the depleted condition of some of his line units. Going to have to flesh out some of those units or they’ll be combat ineffective soon. The Tribuni typed up a reorganization plan and pulsed it to his unit commanders. “Well, some of them aren’t going to be happy, but I need solid units if we are going to hold.”

***

The Legati parked next to their tent and the ramp lowered. Metellus, Macer and Varus walked down and moved inside, and Metellus was surprised at who he saw. “Domitus! You cleared for duty, or did you break out of the valetudinarium?”

Optio Domitus smiled and rolled up his sleeve to show a large angry scar. “It’s a little stiff since they had to re-grow so much muscle. But the good news is that the Medicus thinks it will come back to 100% as long as I keep up on exercising it.” He looked towards the tent’s opening and looked back at Metellus. “Ursus?”

Metellus just shook his head then looked at the two figures in the shadows behind Domitus. “Who’s that?”

The Optio looked over his shoulder and grimaced. “Well Principale, they have to be classified in the category of ‘bad news’. The Tribuni figured to replace some of the line units combat losses,” he flipped a thumb over his shoulder, “and so we got these.”

The two soldiers stepped forward and the smaller of the two spoke. “Cohors Urbanae Legionarii Magnus and Balearicus reporting for duty Principale.”

All the heads turned as Decurio Longinus entered the tent and laughed, “There goes the neighborhood!”

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 03 Nov 2007 10:26 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Sixteen


(L + 33 days)


Metellus ran into the tent. “Everyone grab up anything that shoots and get onboard the Legati NOW!” There was a frantic scrambling as the men of the Contubernium pulled on boots and web gear and picked up their weapons. Metellus growled at his two newest troops, as they were moving slower than his Manipularii. His glare spurred their speed as he all but chased them onto the waiting Legati. They were moving before the troop ramp had even closed and the speed they were splashing through the Headquarters area told the men that something serious was happening.

Optio Domitus turned towards his Principale. “How bad is it Met? I thought we still had one more day of stand down before we went back on the line?”

Metellus frowned at him. “I don’t know D, all I heard was that the Urbanae unit holding Dogleg Pass was overrun and wiped out. We’ve gotta get on the line to push them back before they break into the valleys.”

Domitus looked at the two Urbanae Legionarii that were still trying to adjust parts of their gear as the Legati lurched across the terrain. “If the Pass was so important, why did they leave the Urbanae guarding it?”

Metellus pointed behind his shoulder with his thumb. “From what I heard, the troops the Tribuni put there were locals who knew the area and had a supposed ‘intimate knowledge’ of the terrain. So now, because they fucked up, we gotta spend OUR blood to fix another mistake.

We’re gonna deploy right on the line since jamming is makin’ it impossible for us to get in contact with the units in that area. So when we get there D, you take Varus and Balearicus to the right and I’ll spread left with Macer and Magnus. I don’t know what they’re hittin’ them with up there but we must stop them cold and then push ‘em back. If we don’t, things could get real ugly, real quick.”

The Legati rolled over something large and slammed back down just as Decurio Longinus came on the comm, “THIRTY SECONDS MANIPULARII! We have to drop you and get to cover, there are missiles flying everywhere.” The ramp began to lower and the sounds of battle echoed through the troop compartment. A pair of explosions rocked the Legati as the ramp hit ground. The Contubernium moved out and took cover as the Decurian’s Legati moved towards a woodline on the ridge.

The men took cover behind several large boulders that littered this section of the pass. Metellus motioned his men forward and they began moving up in a bounding overwatch formation. Metellus noticed several weaponless Urbanae soldiers moving away from the battle with glazed looks on their faces. “Everyone mask up and be ready for a chem attack.” He pulled the protective membrane and hood up over his face and took his gloves out of his pocket. Once his men were all covered, he began moving them up again.

The Contubernium came to the front line and saw some of the Urbanae Legionarii firing fitfully back down the pass. From what he saw, he realized that they must be the first reinforcements that had arrived. Looking around, he tried to try to locate the officer in charge of this cluster fuck of a defense but couldn’t see any in view.

Metellus motioned for his men to begin taking cover and dig in. He grabbed up his image intensifiers and looked down the pass as the enemy moved forward, firing as they advanced. When he saw what he was fighting he slammed his i.i.’s on the ground and screamed down the pass. “YOU VILE FUCKING BASTARDS!!!

Still wearing their school uniforms and a rocky, pulsing companion, the children of Ducorum advanced forward.

***

Tribuni Khitai held the crumpled message in his trembling fist. He turned towards his communications officer. “Message to all units heading towards the Pass. Message to read: “Enemy attacking through pass consists of Siliconate possessed children; these units have broken through the first defense line and must be stopped before they enter Valerian Valley. Any Legionarii unable to mount a defense against this attack must move to flank the follow on armored forces before they breakout into the valley.” He turned to his Executive Officer. “Tesserarius Yuan, take command of the Headquarters. I have to get up there before this all falls apart.”

He moved out of the cave into the rain with his aide and orderly behind him. He turned to them as they pulled on their gear and loaded their weapons. “I’m not going to ask you to follow me into this. I have to do this to show the men I’m not asking them to do something that I’m not willing to do myself.”

They looked at him and Principale Helveticus, his orderly spoke up first. “Well Tribuni, it’s this or die in place. I figure if we are all going to Hades anyway, you might need an orderly to get you your iced tea down there.”

Tribuni Khitai smiled at him and looked at his aide, Centurio Brutus. The young man just smiled grimly and nodded. The Tribuni’s Legati pulled up and they all piled in. The Tribuni motioned forward as he spoke to the driver. “To the Gates of Hades Optio Narses, and don’t spare the horsepower.”

***

Legatus Classis Labienus looked at the timer that was mounted on his wall. The numbers slowly counted down to the earliest possible time that the invasion fleet could be here based on the best guesses of the Curatores Fumis.

He looked at the mound of paperwork on his desk and tried to figure out how to weld the largest collection of ships in human history into a cohesive fighting unit in the time left to him. He sighed as he picked up paper after paper. “They are sending me every piece of shit that the Classis has. By the Gods, some of these ships are over 90 years old.”

He looked over another sheet. “Classis Command is going to lose their minds if they find out how I plan to stop them, not to mention any of those Praefectus Classis commanders who will be itching to take overall command if I stumble even a bit.” He looked again at the timer as it kept counting down. (7 days 14 hours 23 minutes) He looked towards the ceiling. You created it all didn't you Iuppiter, but you didn't have a dozen Praefectus Classis hanging over your shoulder criticizing your every move. He looked back at his desk and sighed as he grabbed another sheet. And I bet you didn't have to fill out any paperwork either.

***

The Legati halted in front of the Headquarters cave and the Tribuni stepped out. His aide and orderly grabbed the gear and followed him inside. All three men were dirty and disheveled. The Headquarters Staff fell silent as they entered.

Tesserarius Yuan moved to his Tribuni and motioned to the mapboard. “The original defensive positions have been retaken. That cut off the Loricas that were following the... 'Lead troops’, it was a pure slaughter in the narrow pass Tribuni. We really hurt them. Sir.”

Tribuni Khitai looked up as his orderly brought him a cup of tea. He sipped it and looked up at his XO. “Slaughter Tesserarius? Do you realize that we have several units that are going to be combat ineffective after today’s ‘slaughter’? I saw at least a dozen men commit suicide after the attack ended. I figure that we will lose at least another couple of dozen over the next week or so. I don’t think that lead Urbanae unit will be good for anything except rear area duties from now on.” Khitai sipped his tea again. “Any more ‘victories’ like this and we are going to be finished.”

Tribuni Khitai motioned for his aide and orderly to join him and the three men moved to a corner and sat down. The men sat quietly drinking tea as the Headquarters bustled around them.

***

The men of the Contubernium entered the tent silently and dropped their gear in their areas. Metellus looked at the numb looks on his men’s faces. He moved to where Macer was bunked and knelt down and touched him on the shoulder. “Wasn’t your fault Macer, it was you or them. If you hadn’t been there, thousands of others would be dead right now.”

Metellus saw the numbness slowly turn to anger. “Principale, I think Iuppiter will condemn me to Hades for what I did today. But I swear that I am going to see every one of those things dead before I go.”

Metellus straightened up. “Amen Macer, Amen.” He looked at Domitus and saw the Optio nod back to him.

Metellus turned to look at the rest of his troops and froze; Varus had his gauss pistol out and was sitting on the ground staring at the muzzle. When the rest of the Contubernium saw Metellus staring they all looked and a hush fell over the tent. Metellus spoke quietly. “Varus, give me the pistol.” Varus sat unmoving, still staring at the pistol. Metellus squatted down near the young Manipularii. “You gonna let them win Varus?”

Varus looked up at Metellus and whispered. “I don’t know Principale... I just don’t think I can live with what we did... I never knew anyone could be... I just... I...” The pistol dropped to the ground as tears formed in his eyes.

Metellus grabbed him in a hug as Varus began crying. Metellus motioned for Domitus to grab the pistol. Metellus held Varus until his sobs stopped and he fell asleep. He laid Varus down on his sleeping bag and covered him up. He motioned for Macer to watch him and stood up.

He looked to his two Urbanae Legionarii and motioned for them to follow him outside. The pair trailed Metellus to a large boulder. He looked them both over and spit on the ground. "You two doing ok?” At their silence he pressed on. “I know they were your people out there and I know that it must’ve hurt you to shoot at ‘em. But I’m gonna explain something more important to you. This Contubernium is a family. What happens in this family STAYS in this family. If any word gets out about what went on in that tent, Varus might get redlined by the Medicus. If that happens I’m gonna be out one Manipularii to a psych down check. And I can guarantee, within a day of that happening, I will have lost two Urbanae Legionarii to ‘sniper activity’. Do you both understand me?” Metellus saw the shock and fear turn to smoldering anger. He poked them both in the chest. “If you were Manipularii, I wouldn’t have to explain this to you. But since you are only one step above civilians, I’ll speak slowly and use small words... YOU SAY NOTHING!” They both nodded and moved off towards the tent.

Metellus watched them enter the tent and shook his head. He muttered to himself. “Sorry I had to do that to you boys. The only way to make you forget how upset about this you were was to make you so mad at me that you’d forget anything but that. He looked out into the dark night.

Off in the distance a single gauss pistol shot fired. Metellus looked in that direction. “They win another one.” He sighed.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 04 Nov 2007 09:05 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Joined: 23 May 2005 16:49
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Seventeen


(L + 39 days)


Legatus Classis Labienus glared at the Manipularii officer standing before his desk. ”Do you understand your orders Tribunus? This is a job I can’t trust to anyone other than the Manipularii.”

The grizzled Manipularii nodded. He hesitated a moment before speaking. “May I ask a question Legatus?” At a motion of assent from Labienus he continued. “Legatus, you know we have served together for a lot of years. I know I got my command based on your recommendation, but my first duty is to the Senate and People of Rome. I need to know why you need this done.”

There was an uncomfortable silence before the Legatus grunted. “I can’t fault you for your loyalty to Roma, Tribunus. The problem I have is that I believe that I am the only officer in the Classis that has a plan to defeat the enemy that games out at a greater than 50% chance of success. The problem is that if my plan is implemented, I believe that Classis Command will relieve me before it can be completed. If that happens, we will lose both Nova Cartago and probably the next 5 systems down the line before the Classis can stop them.”

The Legatus pointed to the countdown clock mounted on the wall. It showed (1 day 8 hours 11 minutes). “That’s how long the simulators think we have before the enemy ships get here. If we can’t stop them here, we are going to lose 30 billion Roman citizens. If I’m right Tribunus, we can stop them here and then move out to join up with Navarchus Helvius in re-taking Nova Londinium. Then we can push out to Nova Tarentum and see if your Manipularii are still out there."

"But along with all the ships that I asked for, Classis Command has sent me a pack of useless Praefectus Classis commanders who have nothing better to do than second guess my every move. They send a never-ending stream of messages back to Command about every decision I make and they are throwing unforeseen variables into my simulations. I need to regain control and I need the time to complete my war plan."

"At the end of it Tribunus, Classis Command may ask you to arrest me. But it will only be after I have beaten the enemy. After that, Command can hang me if they want, I won’t care. Now will you carry out my orders?”

The Tribunus Laticlavius was silent for a moment and them he came to a perfect position of attention. “Legatus, my Manipularii stand ready to serve Roma and are at your command.”

The Legatus gave a brief smile and handed a data crystal to the Manipularii. “Here are your orders, I need you to get it done in the next 12 hours.”

The Manipularii officer took the crystal and did a perfect about face and left the Legatus’ office. Legatus Labienus watched the Tribunus grab his aide as he entered the outer office and the two moved quickly into the corridor. “I wish I could tell you everything Marcus, but if you knew the whole plan you would probably arrest me here and now, and Roma can’t afford that until after I’m done.”

***

Manipularii Tribuni Angusticlavii Eborius looked at the Manipularii vexallatio ‘Caesar’ drawn up for inspection. Their Centurio was looking aghast at the contents of the data crystal as it scrolled across his reader. “Ssssir, I don’t understand… If I carry this out… Sir, with all due respect, Praefectus Classis Avidia will hit the bulkhead if she finds out I did this.”

The Tribuni looked down at the young Manipularii Centurio and pointed at the reader. “Read it again Centurio, all you are required to do is assist us, my Recon Vexallatio will carry out the orders. What I need you and your men to do is keep those Classis Nautas out of our way.”

The Centurio re-read the orders again and looked into the cold eyes of the Tribuni, and for a Manipularii there was only one correct answer and he gave it. “Aye aye Sir.”

***

GET YOUR FUCKING MANIPULARII AWAY FROM MY EQUIPMENT!” The Classis communications Principale screamed as the Manipularii crated up the last of his Hyperspace Communications Pods. The young Centurio in charge of his section seemed in shock as the armed and power-armored Manipularii kept all the men of his section against the bulkhead.

The Classis Principale halted his move forward when a Manipularii leveled his weapon at his gut. A toneless voice came from behind the full-face helmet. “Don’t make me have to shoot you Principale, I’m just following orders.”

The men of the comm section heard a familiar voice shouting from the corridor and smiled to each other. The Praefectus was here each thought; now these jarheads will get theirs.

Praefectus Avidia looked at the Manipularii rolling her Comm Pods down the passageway and let loose. “Who in the name of Hades gave you permission to take even a bolt off my Flagship without my orders!?!?” The closest Manipularii took a step back from the force of the Praefectus’s outburst.

Tribuni Eborius stepped between his Manipularii and the diminutive Praefectus Classis. He handed over a crystal to her and stood quiet until she had read most of the orders. He watched as her face turned redder and redder and a large vein bulged out from the side of her neck.

She looked up at Eborius and poked him in the center of his chest armor. “If you don’t put those pods back in the comm room right now Tribuni, I will have you shot!”

The Tribuni looked at her calmly and pointed at her reader. “If you will check paragraph 12 Praefectus, I am authorized to use deadly force if ANYONE attempts to interfere with the carrying out of Legatus Classis Labienus’s orders. Now please make way for my Manipularii Praefectus, we will be off your ship in a few minutes.”

Praefectus Avidia watched the Manipularii head down the passageway and turned to the Principale, “Principale, get me Praefectus Classis Megellus on the Ostia, we will see about this!” The Principale made the connection and stood by as the Praefectus talked to her friend. He watched, as she grew more and more animated. The whole section tried to crawl inside the walls as her voice hit what the crew liked to call the ‘paint-peeling screech’. ”You’re telling me that bastard took EVERY pod off EVERY SHIP IN THE SYSTEM!?” She turned back to the Chief. “Call the launch bay and have my shuttle prepped, I’m going down and give that arrogant prick a piece of my mind!”

***

Legatus Labienus’s aide, Centurio Maximus leaned into his office. “Message from Tribunus Tacitus Sir, all message pods have been accounted for on all ships in system. No deaths reported, just a few minor ‘bumps and bruises’. But sir...” He looked at his reader in resignation.

The Legatus sighed. “Let me guess, every Praefectus and Trierarchus wants to talk to me. Well, tell the Trierarchus’ to talk to THEIR Praefectus Classis and put the Praefectus’s through to me in order of seniority. Oh and Tiberius...” He said before his aide could disappear, “Bring me a bottle of aspirin.” As his aide ducked out of the office the first comm signal chirped on his desk. He shouted out the door, “A BIG bottle of aspirin!”

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 05 Nov 2007 09:12 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Eighteen


(L + 40 days)


Legatus Labienus was working his way through his paperwork with only an occasional glance at the countdown chrono on the wall. He was reading another complaint from the Praefectus of the XI Velites Squadron about the lack of the proper Pila reloads when his aide rushed in.

“Legatus, gravimetric detectors are showing a massive disturbance in the area of the Apollonian Gate in system near Nova Cartago I, it looks like a large number of ships. I have alerted all Classis units to go to Red Alert and all your staff members have been informed and are on the way to the CiC.”

Legatus Labienus put his arm on the desk and brushed all the readers and data crystals into the trash can. He smiled at the look of horror on his aides face. “Tiberius, if we lose this fight none of this is going to matter, and if we manage to win this by my Battle Plan, no one is going to care about a few late reports. Either way, it will be another Legatus’s problem.”

Centurio Maximus just shook his head as he helped the Legatus on with his formal Musculus with the knotted sash around his waist. As they entered the CiC the young officer realized why the Legatus made him break it out of storage for this battle. In the massive room, crowded full of men in their gray ‘utility’ uniforms, he stood as an easily locatable island of shining bronze. He chuckled as he thought to himself, Labienus has always been a frustrated thespian and loves the chance to dress up and play the part of ‘The Imperator Classis’.

The Legatus turned his head slightly as he studied the readout boards. “You find something funny about an invasion Centurio?”

“Umm no Sir, just thought of something funny.”

“Well keep your mind in the game, we have important work to do here and I need you on the ball.”

A comm officer caught the Legatus’ attention. “Legatus Labienus, I have Praefectus Classis Avidia on the line Sir, she says she needs to speak to you, ASAP. Her words Sir, not mine.”

Labienus sighed a moment before he keyed his mike, “Labienus here Domitia, what do you want?”

The voice was shrill enough that Labienus had to hold his headset several inches away from his ear. “Legatus, have you completely gone around the bend? After our talk in your office we agreed that I was the best one to lead the first attack against the invaders but then I get sent THIS!”

Labienus smiled a second as he looked at his aide and spoke calmly into the mike, “What do you mean Domitia? I have given you almost half the ships that Classis Command sent me, and you have been sent the Battle Plan from my H.Q., so what’s your problem?”

He quickly held the headset at arms length before the explosion could happen. Her voice thundered from the comm systems speaker. “YOU ASSIGNED ME EVERY OBSOLETE RELIC THAT COMMAND SENT YOU, NOT ONE of these squadrons has a ship in it younger than 30 years. I mean you assigned me a squadron of Diana Class Pila Quadremes. Legatus, I checked their registry numbers and ten of them were due to be used as gunnery targets at the Sol IV test range and the others were pulled from various museums and memorials where they were HISTORICAL DISPLAYS! Legatus, with all due respect, if the simulations are accurate, the enemy is going to turn this fleet into scrap metal in fairly short order. I respectfully request you release to me some of the more modern squadrons from wherever you have hidden them to bolster my command.”

Labienus walked over to an office connected to the CiC and shooed the occupants out. He closed the door behind him and sat on top of a desk. “Domitia, get to your ready room alone and switch to Cipher 43-Alpha right now.” There was a long pause and several clicks came from the comm as they were reconnected using the special Command channel reserved for Praefectus Classis and up.

There was a mild distortion as she spoke again. “Alright Legatus, NOW will you be so kind as to tell me what is happening? And why I am required to carry out this Battle Plan that was obviously designed by some dangerous mental defective?”

Legatus Labienus took a long deep breath before speaking. “Domitia, we ran the simulations at least 100 times with all the data recovered from Nova Londinium and from Helvius’s experience along with input from the best tacticians on my staff and the results always came out with the same. Based on predictions, if we meet the enemy with our best ships first and try to slug it out with them in open space, we have only a 20% chance of victory. All possible permutations were run and all showed the same thing, our best squadrons would be shattered, the enemy would have taken between 30% and 50% losses including all his transports and the remainder of his Classis would have had more than enough firepower to destroy the relics that would have remained to defend the system and both planets would be glassed by the enemy shortly there after, they would then jump through the next five systems leveling them along the way until they got to the next Classis Command Mobilization Headquarters.”

Avidia’s voice cut into his explanation. “Twenty percent? Are you telling me that I am going to be fighting my squadrons on a Battle Plan with only a twenty percent chance of success?!?!”

Labienus’s voice cut her off. “No Domitia, if you will let me finish I will tell you the rest. A bright young Commander on my staff came to me with a plan that he had been running on his evaluator program and it showed a number that seemed unreal at the time when we were fighting to get better than a 18% solution. His superior wouldn’t pass it up to me because of what it required from us but he bucked the Chain of Command and walked into my office with the outline of what we are now calling Operation Brutus.”

Praefectus Avidia hesitated a moment and then asked. “If I may ask Legatus, how does me sacrificing my entire Classis by concentrating fire on the enemies Pila and Carrier squadrons and ignoring his transports as is called for in the plan you sent me, accomplish anything?”

Labienus closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose to forestall the headache he knew was coming. “Domitia, the plan requires you to wait around Nova Cartago II until the enemy comes to you and then knock back those ship types by at least 30% before you retreat out of system and regroup. If you can do that, the comps predict a 90% chance of the enemy landing his transports on Nova Cartago II. It’s only THEN that I am going to attack them with the nine first line squadrons that I have waiting in the asteroid belt. The simulations show that if we can catch them in a defensive situation with their Pila and fighter complements down by 30%, we show a 57% chance of defeating the remaining enemy squadrons. Each percentage point of those ship types we destroy above 30% raises our odds by 2%.

Her voice interrupted him; he knew the chill in it was not a factor of the scrambler this time. “Am I to understand the Legatus intends to just allow the enemy to invade a planet with a population of 2 billion?” There was a moment’s pause and she continued. “Now I see why you stole all our comm pods Legatus. If Classis Command knew you planned that, they would have relieved you immediately.”

Labienus felt the pain behind his eyes growing. “Domitia, if you could show me a sim that had a better than 50% chance of success that didn’t involve this, I would jump on it. I made the decision to put those 2 billion at risk rather than sacrifice the tens of billions in the systems behind us. I will stand before a Courts Martial board when this is over, but I’m not going to allow ANYONE to interfere with my Plan until it’s over! Then you can testify against me at the hearing and throw the entire thing on me. But I have to know if you will carry out my orders or do I have to put someone less qualified in command?”

There was another long pause. “How can your staff predict that they will hit me here at Nova Cartago II instead of smashing you there at III?”
He sighed. “We predict that with a full complement of defending ships they will have a 75% chance of hitting the planet with the fewest orbital defenses.”

He heard her punching some data into her comp. ”Legatus, with all due respect, but Nova Cartago II shows nine orbital defense bases and III only shows 8 so how... By the Gods, you aren’t going to...”

“The charges are already placed Domitia, they should detonate in about an hour.”

“You aren’t going to warn them or try to evacuate them before hand? No you can’t can you, then word might get out and the enemy might get wind of it and smell a trap. By the Gods you are so cold it’s frightening. All right Legatus, we will take as many of them as we can with us before we jump out, just remember that I am going to be the primary witness against you when this is over. Avidia out.”

The Legatus looked at the ceiling a moment and whispered. “I wish you could be Domitia, I wish you could be.”

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 06 Nov 2007 10:24 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Posts: 5244
Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Nineteen


(L + 40 days)


Centurio Maximus had been leaning over the shoulder of the Senior Sensor Principale for the past two hours. Chief Maelis sighed as the young Centurio almost knocked over his mug of coffee. “Sir, why don’t you have a seat, nothing should happen for the next couple of hours.” The Principale lowered his voice and whispered to the officer. “With all due respect sir, you are making the lads a bit nervous. The next few hours are going to be hard enough on everyone without them having an officer hanging over their shoulders.”

Labienus’s aide looked into the old Principale’s eyes and nodded. He stood up straight and looked over at his Legatus. He saw Labienus casually sitting on the edge of a desk reading and signing messages on his comm pad. The Centurio noticed that although there was a frantic bustle in the comm channels, there seemed to be an island of calm around the relaxed looking Classis commander. As each person came up to the Legatus with a question or bearing something for his signature, they also carried away with them a little bit of the tranquility that Labienus radiated.

The Centurio looked down and met the Principale’s eyes. Principale Maelis glanced over at the Legatus and then grinned up at him. Centurio Maximus gave a wry smirk. “Lesson received and understood Principale.”

The two men looked quickly at the sensor holo as a warning alarm flashed. They saw the green and blue ball that was Nova Cartago II and the icons that were the squadrons of Praefectus Avidia deployed around it. The red flashing was coming from the geostationary belt surrounding the planet. The Principale highlighted an area and zoomed in. The two men watched in horror as two of the orbital defense bases exploded. A moment later three more went up in quick succession.

Centurio Maximus turned towards Legatus Labienus as the Principale fed his data to the main holo display. “Legatus, seven of Nova Cartago II’s nine orbital bases have been destroyed! Correction, eight... now nine, by the Gods! Sir, all of II’s orbitals have been destroyed!” He looked over at the Principale and got a shake of negation. “No sign of weapons fire. It must have been sabotage.”

Labienus got up from the desk and walked to a nearby comm console. “Get me Praefectus Avidia on the Caesar.” There was a moment of static on the holo projector before Praefectus Avidia’s face appeared. Labienus nodded to her. “Praefectus, it appears that the orbital bases supporting you have been destroyed by some unidentified force or forces. We are checking all of Nova Cartago III’s bases now for concealed explosives. Please update your Battle Plan taking into account the loss of those units.”

The stern faced Praefectus simply nodded. “Understood sir, my staff just happens to have a plan in their files for the Classis fighting without any planetary support. We will implement plan Thermopylae 214.”

Legatus Labienus nodded to her. “My compliments to your staff on having a plan for an occurrence like this. They are a credit to you.” He glanced at the countdown chrono. “We show 30 minutes before enemy arrival.” He looked around the CiC before he looked back at her. “Luck to you and your crew from all of us here Praefectus.”

Avidia gave a wry smirk was reaching for the cut off switch when Labienus stopped her. “Thirty percent Domitia, if you can’t do that much damage to their Carriers and Velites ships, it’s all going to be meaningless.”

She looked him in the eye and nodded almost imperceptibly. “We will do our best sir. Avidia out.”

***

Praefectus Avidia stared a moment at the fading holo projection of Labienus. Thirty percent? She thought. His mind must be slipping. She looked again at the projections from the new Battle Plan while her staff looked on. “Are these numbers accurate?”

Navarchus Salvius’s mouth was in a grim line. “Yes Praefectus, if Classis's estimation of the enemies strength is even close to being correct, those are the numbers we have been getting out of the Sims.” He paused for a moment and pointed at her comm pad, “Ma’am, I think the Legatus is being unrealistic in his estimations of our ability to inflict casualties upon the enemy.” He appeared to want to say more but after a moment he fell silent.

Avidia rubbed her eyes and snorted. “Never underestimate the ability of higher officers to ignore the facts that don’t agree with their view of reality.” She paused for a moment and looked down at her comm pad again. “He will just have to accept the casualties we can realistically inflict with the relics that he gave us. Well, lets get the Plan transmitted to all ships.” She tossed her comm pad onto a nearby desk and headed through the hatch onto the flag bridge.

Her aide picked up her comm pad and followed the other staff officers out the hatch. In spite of himself, his eyes were drawn to the viewscreen. An icy chill ran up his back as he read the figures. He stepped through the hatch and pressed the sleep button on the comm pad. The glowing data on the pad flashed:

Battle Plan: Thermopylae 214

Section 25.4.6 E

Casualty Estimates

Estimated ................Enemy
Fleet........................Veles/Carrier
Losses:.....................Losses:
47 %..........................17 % [scroll up]
51 %..........................18 %
55 %..........................19 %
59 %..........................20 % << Planned
63 %..........................21 % << Fleet
67 %..........................22 % << Retreat
71 %..........................23 % << Point
75 %..........................24 %
80 %..........................25 %
85 %..........................26 %
90 %..........................27 %
95 %..........................28 %
99 %..........................29 % [scroll down]

The numbers flashed on the screen once more before going black.

***

There was a loud pop, and then the smell of ozone and burning plastic filled the bridge of the Pila Quadreme ‘Regulus’. Trierarchus Diashi looked over his shoulder in time to see his Praefectus Fabrii slapping out a small fire on his console. The cursing that filled the air seemed incongruous coming from a small wrinkled man who looked more like someone’s grandfather than the Praefectus Fabrum of a starship. Not that I’m any kind of spring chicken myself. Thought the Trierarchus. He watched as three of his crew tore open several panels and began pulling melted and fused components out. Another nauta was passing circuit boards to them from a box marked ‘Historical Displays of Electronics of the Past.’

He remembered when his preservation group had purchased the ship to turn it into a museum. Most of them had served on the Diana Class ships in their youth and when they heard that the Classis was going to send the last of them to the ‘breakers’, a large pool of ex Nautas and Manipularii had pooled their money and bought the Regulus. He smiled as he thought of how many strings had been pulled to allow the group of Nautas, not one of who were under 85, to sail her from the Sol IV Test Range to Bithynia III. The hull was so riddled with air leaks that the group of volunteers had spent nearly the entire 3-week voyage in their e-suits.

They had been 14 months into their 18-month overhaul and outfitting when word of the war had come. The hasty mobilization of every ship that was spaceworthy to intercept the incoming invasion came as a surprise to the retired Nautas. That surprise was eclipsed by the paperwork that the Regulus Restoration Committee received informing them that their ship was being remobilized for the war and would be manned by a ‘scratch’ group of Classis reservists.

The anger of the men and women of the R.R.C. was immense until a ‘youngster’ of 75 spoke up with an idea. Trierarchus Diashi had no idea of what kind of strings, bribery, threats or downright blackmail had been made to the officers of Classis Command, and frankly he didn’t want to know. The results were the assigning of the entire R.R.C. to crew the Regulus in the coming conflict. The elation had been immense until the realities of the coming conflict had set in. The Trierarchus didn’t believe in keeping secrets from his crew. We are all just too old to play these silly ‘I know something you don’t know’ games. He thought. So the crew, from his Executive Officer to the most junior cook, a 78-year-old grandmother of 8, was as well informed as any Praefectus in the system.

The looks he had been getting from his crew over the last few days had confirmed his gut feeling about the whole situation. Each man and woman realized that this was going to be the last voyage for him or her. The sixth sense of all veterans was screaming at them to get out and get away.

Well, He thought, Just one more run, just one last battle, better this way than to die hooked up to life support machines and pissing all over yourself as you pray to die. A muffled squawk came from the sensor holo and all eyes went to the main display. Ships were coming into sensor range, and kept coming. Their size and numbers took his breath away. He turned towards his XO and Praefectus Fabrum and smiled, and they looked back at him with grins as tight as death.

The Chief Engineer chuckled. “One last day in the sun ‘eh Trierarchus?”

***

Praefectus Avidia saw the massive enemy fleet begin to turn towards Nova Cartago II, and her. She saw the icons marking her squadrons move to meet the enemy. There seemed to be strong jamming coming from the enemy fleet, as numerous contacts faded in and out.

Her Chief Sensor Principale screamed out a cheer. “BURNTHROUGH! I got your frequencies you bastards!” The holo picture snapped clear as the full immensity of the enemy fleet was revealed.

“Roma Mater protect us.” Avidia heard someone mutter. A beep called her attention to a display on the wall. Letters began scrolling across it as large numbers appeared.

All Enemy Carrier/Velites ships identified.
Current Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships remaining:
100%
Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships destroyed:
0%

Praefectus Avidia picked up her mike and keyed the all squadrons channel. “All ships, you have your targets, fire at your assigned ships until all ordnance has been expended or until I send the retreat order. The Senate and People of Rome expect your best today. May the Gods be with you all.” She turned to her weapons officer. “Fire as targets bear!”

***

Legatus Labienus and his aide watched the first pilas and fighters from Praefectus Avidia’s command head towards the enemy. Centurio Maximus looked at Labienus’s face and was shocked to see how pale the Legatus was. He saw Labienus’s eyes close and could barely hear a whisper repeating over and over. “May the Gods forgive me.”

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 07 Nov 2007 09:33 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Twenty


(L + 40 days)


Praefectus Avidia’s mouth took on a grim line as she watched her first waves of pilas and fighters close with the enemy ships. The largest waves were obsolete fusion armed pilas from her oldest ships. Mixed in amongst them was a scattering of anti-matter pilas from her few modern vessels. She hoped that the enemy would waste their defensive weapons on the older pilas and allow her more powerful warheads and her fighters to get in among them.

She watched as the first waves of pilas reached the lead enemy Velites Squadron. The screen seemed to glow as a massive battery of point defense beams laced out from the lead squadron and a pair of nearby Triari squadrons and destroyed pila after pila. Avidia swore, as the few fusion warheads that made it through the dense fire and impacted among the enemy ships appeared to have little effect. Immediately behind them were the lead fighter squadrons and her small wave of modern pilas. She looked over at the wall screen.

All Enemy Carrier/Velites ships identified.

Current Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships remaining:

100%

Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships destroyed:

0%


***

The three squadrons of Falcon attack fighters cut through the dark of space. Tribuni Trebius’s Falcon attack group had been assigned to the most boring duty in the Republic, ‘guarding’ a friendly border that was shared with their good friends, the Americans.

When the word came down from High Command, the reserve carrier Billenius had been pulled off the border along with the rest of her sisters. Only a small handful of customs biremes were left to slow the pirates that had plagued the border systems.

His carrier and her escorts had been mothballed for years until the pirates had begun their raiding and the Republic was forced to re-activate them. Since then, the Classis run but Manipularii squadron manned ships had been used to give ‘live fire’ training to green Manipularii pilots fresh out of flight school and to give a comfortable last post to pilots just waiting to retire.

The Tribuni looked at his wrist chrono. He had it programmed to record his elapsed time in the Corps. He watched it roll: 19 years 11 months 30 days 2350 hours. Just short you bastards. He thought. You couldn’t have waited a little longer to do this so I could have retired with my twenty and gotten out of this garum smelling assignment?

A warning bleep called his attention back to the here and now and he hammered his port thrusters to avoid an enemy pila, and then checked the readout on his LIDAR. His fighter group had just avoided a huge wave of pilas and it appeared that they were ignoring his fighters on their paths to the capital ships behind him. He saw a small group of ships to his port side. His IFF computer identified them as 95% probable troop transports. He yearned to lead his squadron on a quick strafing run on the group, but the words of the Tribunus rang in his ears. “You will attack only the designated ships or I will stuff you and your whole squadron into a recycler!”

The Tribuni saw a glow on his LIDAR screen marking his designated target group just ahead. “Wolf Group, targets at 12 degrees, zed minus 25. Mark your targets and take them out. Timberwolf squadron follow me in, Gray Wolf and Coyote squadrons take up flanking positions.” He saw Gray wolf and Coyote squadrons spreading out on his flanks.

He had watched the older pilas get blown out of space and was hoping to close with them before their point defense weapons recycled and did the same to his fighters.

The Timberwolves entered into the squadron formation. Huge ships loomed all around them. The beams lanced out from the fighters. The thick armor of the heavy bodied vessels shrugged off most of the fire, yet here and there, hull plates began to glow and peel back. A few small hull breaches began to appear among the enemy ships. The Tribuni heard a cheer over his comm, and looked to port in time to watch one of the picket ships detonate.

Anger filled him “I told you to fire only on your ASSIGNED SHIPS! Don’t waste your fire on those worthless...”

White fire burst from the weapon mounts of the Velites and her escorts into the fighters. Wreckage from the Falcons crashed into and bounced away from the armored hulls.

The Siliconate 2nd Velites squadron advanced on, belching a new wave of pilas towards Praefectus Avidia’s fleet. A moment after they fired, the first wave of anti-matter pilas struck. Four of the Sexiremes exploded in quick succession. When the glow faded, four ships were gone and one tumbled gutted and out of control as the rest of the squadron advanced on.

Small pieces of wreckage were nudged aside by the massive Siliconate ships. A tiny piece of wreckage was struck and tumbled off into the dark. The glowing face read: 20 years 00 months 00 days 0010 hours *Welcome to retirement Tribuni Trebius*

There were no survivors from the three Manipularii fighter squadrons.

***

Praefectus Avidia gave an audible growl as she watched her pilots and pilas die with so little effect. An icon rose from Nova Cartago II and headed towards the enemy. Her fist hammered her holo projector as the planetary defense centers of the planet FINALLY launched their fighter squadrons.

Another flashing icon caught her eye. She zoomed in to the icon just in time to see her lead squadron totally vaporize under a wave of pilas and fighters. The fighters didn’t pause for a moment before heading to the next squadron in the formation.

She turned to her aide. “Casualty count!”

He tapped his keyboard quickly before replying. “XXIII Principe squadron totally destroyed Praefectus, XV Principe squadron taking heavy losses from enemy fighter squadrons. Total Classis losses are 16%.”

Avidia glanced at the wall-mounted holo projector and pointed to her Comm Officer. “We have to get closer for our weapons to have any effect, order all squadrons to close formation to cover each other and follow us in!” The rumble of the ‘Caesar’s’ engines increased as the Praefectus’s squadron lead her Classis into the jaws of the enemy. She glanced again quickly at the wall holo and growled again.

All Enemy Carrier/Velites ships identified.

Current Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships remaining:

93%

Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships destroyed:

07%

***

Praefectus Classis Ravilla watched as two more of his Sexiremes exploded. He screamed at his helmsmen. “More speed Centurio Renatus, we have to get into beam range before they kill the whole Classis.”

He was livid; his VIII Triari squadron was being shot to pieces before his longest-range weapons were even able to engage his targets. He hurried over to the weapons control station and checked the range to the enemy carriers. He ground his teeth in frustration. His weapons were in range of two enemy formations on his port and starboard flanks, but they were tagged in red as Principe units.

Labienus is an idiot! He thought. Here we are in range of the enemy and we are forbidden to fire because of ‘The Plan’. I’m going to have half my ships blown out from under me before I can get a shot at those carriers. He saw Navarchus Sulla’s V Triari squadron, on his starboard flank lose three ships in quick succession.

His Weapons Officer’s voice cut through his anger. “Sir, we are in range of the enemy carriers.”

The Praefectus’s face lit up with a feral grin. “Lock all weapons on target Centurio Zeno, coordinate fire with V squadron and fire when ready.”

Fire reached out from the two squadrons and began cutting into the Siliconate carrier squadron. The combined fire from two dozen ships chewed up a pair of fat bellied carriers in a few moments. The enemy carriers began a lumbering turn to port as another three ships were cut open. The Praefectus’s elation was cut short when he saw a crisscross of beams on his holo and six of his ships cut to pieces in seconds. He expanded his scan and saw the two enemy Principe squadrons that had been on his flanks closing in from either side.

“Centurio Zeno, lock on to that portside Principe squadron and fire all weapons. He saw his beams strike the onrushing ships with very little effect.

“Sir, their armor is soaking up most of our fire.”

He saw Navarchus Sulla’s ships still firing at the fleeing enemy carriers. “Comm, contact V squadron and ask them to support our fire against that squadron to p...” A huge hammer blow struck Ravilla’s ship, throwing him from his feet. “Keep firing Centurio, don’t stop as long as we have...” A huge explosion ripped the Fujimus Mons in two.

Navarchus Sulla’s V squadron destroyed two more carriers before beams from the two Principe squadrons speared into the V squadron and reduced its ships to gas and slag.

The two Siliconate squadrons banked hard and steadied on a parallel course towards the remainder of Praefectus Avidia’s fleet. Their point defense weapons targeted and destroyed the few escape pods that had ejected from the ships.

Of the nearly 40,000 officers and sailors of the V and VIII Triari squadrons, there would be no survivors.

***

Blood flowed freely from Praefectus Avidia’s hand. The bridge crew studiously ignored the fist shaped hole in a nearby readout screen. She saw the enemy Principe and Triari squadrons interposing themselves between the main body of her Classis and the Velites and Carrier squadrons that were her assigned targets. She looked again to her aide. Without looking at his screen he said. “Current Classis losses 45% Praefectus.”

She glanced again at the holo readout. The planetary defense fighters had slipped behind the main enemy squadrons and were heading for the damaged carrier squadron. She noticed an icon where there shouldn’t have been one. A marker reading:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
999th Velites Squadron (obs.)
Diana Class Veles
Lotus Class Bireme Escort
Fusion Pila Armed
Pila Waves Fired: (3)
Pila Waves Left: (1)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

She snorted a moment; her relics were still alive and hiding behind Nova Cartago II’s outer moon. I bet they can’t see you back there. She thought. She noticed the enemy’s advance was taking them past the moon. She nodded her head. Well done, maybe you can get a few of them before you have to jump out of the system.

She looked again at her aide. He simply mouthed the words ‘forty eight percent’. She looked again at the wall screen.


All Enemy Carrier/Velites ships identified.

Current Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships remaining:

82%

Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships destroyed:

18%

***

Trierarchus Herenus of the Sexireme (P) ‘Zoroaster’ watched as the Sexiremes ‘Pontifex’ and ‘Maximus’ were gutted. The two Principe squadrons were doing their utmost to hold the enemy Principe and Triari squadrons back, but for every enemy ship they destroyed, they lost five.

He turned towards his executive officer. “There is just no way to break through. And if we stand toe to toe with them, we are going to have no one left soon.” The Trierarchus watched in horror as the Quinquiremes ‘Augur’, ‘Pulli’, ‘Flamines’ and ‘Vestales’ were destroyed within moments of each other. The ‘Zoroaster’ staggered under the onslaught and tumbled off out of control.

***

The Praefectus watched as her melee line squadrons slugged it out with the advancing enemy ships. They were losing ships too fast.

Her aide looked stricken as he croaked out. "Classis casualties 67% and rising fast Praefectus." She looked again at the wall screen.

All Enemy Carrier/Velites ships identified.

Current Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships remaining:

82%

Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships destroyed:

18%

Avidia took a deep breath. "There is nothing more we can do here, we can’t break through to the targets. Order all remaining ships to retreat to the Apollonian Gate. Helmsman, activate the jump engines and in the name of Apollo get us out of here when we reach the gate.

***

Labienus heard the retreat command on his comm channel, he looked at the casualty projections. “Too soon Domitia, too damned soon.” He looked over at his Manipularii Special Ops. Commander. “You got to all of them Tribuni?” At the black clad officers nod, Labienus muttered. “May the Gods forgive me!”

The Tribuni nodded again. “May the Gods forgive us both Praefectus.”


***

The Centurio at the helm was trying evasive maneuvers to avoid enemy fire until the ship reached the gate and the jump engines activated. The Caesar rocked from nearby fire. The Centurio looked again at his panel. “The ships will begin jumping out in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... NO JUMP activation Praefectus, no ships have jumped!”

There was a pause and the Comm Officer started speaking as fast as he could gather messages. “Praefectus, all ships report malfunctions in their jump engines. We have been sabotaged! They want to know what they should do!”

Praefectus Avidia closed her eyes in pain. Under her breath she muttered, “Damn you to the lowest pits of Hades Labienus.” The note of panic in her crew’s voices broke her reverie. “Since we have no way to run, we have no choice. All ships, full speed ahead! Lets take as many of these bastards with us before we die.” She was tempted to comm Labienus but she stopped. What’s the use? She thought. If I’m going to die, I will do it with some dignity. Not screaming like a banshee at that bastard.

She watched as her lead ships were destroyed. For nothing, She thought. We are all going to die Labienus, and it’s going to be for nothing because we are never going to make it through to the Carriers and Velites I hope they hang you and you rot in Hades as a blind Mane. She looked at her aide as her ship rocked from several hits. He held up his hands. Seven then seven. The ship rocked with a series of hits and there was the sound of a collapsing bulkhead. Not long now. She glanced at the wall screen once more. The glowing numbers seemed to mock her.

All Enemy Carrier/Velites ships identified.

Current Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships remaining:

82%

Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships destroyed:

18%

***

The Regulus and her sisters skimmed the thin atmosphere of Stygia. The dense core of the moon had shielded them from detection so far. They had received the retreat order, but as one, they chose to ignore the command. The intermittent feed they were getting from Command showed the enemy squadrons closing in on Avidia’s ships. One of the enemy Velites squadrons would be passing close to the moon and the Navarchus in charge of the 999th intended to get to point blank range before firing his last salvo.

The hull of the Regulus groaned in protest at the punishment. The outer skin of the 14 Quadremes and 4 Triremes glowed as they slingshot themselves around the moon. The Navarchus wanted to build up enough speed to overtake the enemy from behind. The 18 ships came rocketing out from behind the moon and saw several ships dead ahead. The heat from the passage still dissipating from their hulls, 18 glowing meteors closed on the Siliconate 2nd Velites Squadron.

Trierarchus Diashi was in awe of the sheer size of the enemy ships. Even the largest freighters and troop ships of the Republic couldn’t come close to the massive hulls that loomed around him. The enemy point defense weapons began to tear into the ancient vessels. Even their light weapons tore great gashes in the poorly armored hulls. The Regulus rocked from several hits. Red warning lights began flashing on many panels.

There was a squawk from the comm, “This is Navarchus Nerva, they have taken the bait. Their PD weapons are recycling. All ships LAUNCH PILAS!”

In their day, the Diana’s had been the pinnacle of human engineering. They had tipped the scales in the First Median Incursion and were responsible for the success of the Ten Systems Offensive. The Median ships had been unable to deal with the large waves of heavy Pilas that the Diana’s could launch.

So too were the Siliconate ships in difficulty, with their point defense weapons cooling down, their thick armor could only stop so much damage. Hulls tore open and ships were turned from mass to energy in seconds. In less than 5 minutes, the Siliconate 2nd Velites squadron was completely destroyed. The 16 remaining ships of the 999th were altering course towards a nearby carrier group when the beams from the Triari squadrons crumpled the charge and turned the ships into a small, fast moving gas cloud.

The Ion radiation flux of the human fleet’s missiles had reached into the darkest corners of the remaining ship wreckage, not one Siliconate or human survived the charge.

***

Avidia lay pinned under debris on her flag bridge. There was smoke and fires everywhere. She looked to her aide and only saw a collapsed bulkhead and his hand still holding her comm pad. Through the smoke she saw a dim glow. The fates were kind to her, moments before the Caesar’s reactor went critical; the smoke cleared enough for her to see the holo screen.


All Enemy Carrier/Velites ships identified.

Current Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships remaining:

69%

Enemy Carrier/Velites Ships destroyed:

31%

She coughed up blood as she smiled. “Better make it count you prick.” A moment later her world ended.

***


Legatus Labienus looked at the readout and turned to his aide. “Have my shuttle readied, I am joining the Classis. Have Navarchus Strabo keep running the simulations with all the newest data. I want constant updates to the Battle Plan based on the sim results.” He turned to his staff, “This is just the beginning! Now what we have to do is make sure what they did for us matters!” The Legatus walked out of the CiC and headed for his shuttle.

His staff watched the holo as the first enemy troop transports began landing among the two billion residents of Nova Cartago II.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 08 Nov 2007 09:33 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Twenty One

(L+40 days)


Centurio Maximus stood near the forward bulkhead of the shuttle carrying Legatus Labienus and the rest of his staff to the fleet hidden in the asteroid belt. The Centurio had grown accustomed to remaining ‘invisible’ yet available to the Legatus at a moments notice. He had been intercepting messages to the Legatus for over 2 hours now to avoid disturbing Labienus’s intense studying of his comm pad. Probably making last minute changes to the Battle Plan. He thought. Even with the enemy landing on Nova Cartago II and the grievous losses to the fleet, Maximus and the staff had absolute faith in the Legatus. He watched as Labienus cracked the seal on a bottle of Massilian wine and poured himself a large glass full. He stood calmly as the hours ticked by.

As they moved closer to their destination, he marked the time by watching the Legatus’s bottle grow lower and lower.

***

Tribuni Khitai watched the holo projection of the tactical map update again. He saw another five of his outer perimeter units highlight with the ‘engaged in combat’ color scheme. You decided to just grind us away to nothing haven’t you? Well, you are going to be sorry you sent your troops into that terrain. You would have been better off trying to push through the passes where the ground was to your advantage instead of eating your troops up trying to fight up those steep slopes.

The Tribuni smiled as some of the marked enemy units began to slowly pull back. In a few places, some of his units began to highlight in red indicating casualties needing to be evacuated. In one location, the marker for a platoon of 40 Siliconate infantry began blinking and then vanished, marking an entire enemy unit destroyed. Tribuni Khitai highlighted the unit that had destroyed so many Rockheads so quickly and sent a query for the unit I.D.

I Cont. I Cent. VI Man. X Manipularii Cohors (-)
Cdr: Prin. G Metellus R.M.C.
Curr. Str.: 6 effectives

He smiled, remembering the gruff Principale that he had debriefed many weeks ago. Six men not only holding off over six times their numbers, but killing every one of them. He shook his head and chuckled. Not men, he thought, Manipularii.

His smile ended when he saw the Curr. Str.: 6 effectives turn to Curr. Str.: 5 effectives without the telltale red indicator for wounded. His mouth took on a grim line. Please Iuppiter don’t let it be the Principale that died, I need men like him to hold this line together. He resisted the urge to comm the unit and check their status. He was about to widen the map view when he saw an icon marking another Rockhead platoon moving in the direction of the Manipularii.

Oblivious to the bustle of his Headquarters around him, the Tribuni watched another forty Siliconates moving towards the First Contubernium.

***

The image was shaky and grainy and yet it was obvious that the cameraman was a professional. The huge Lorica that burst through the concrete barricades and simply battered aside the men guarding it was in perfect focus. Its main gun fired twice and a pair of Papilio’s that was hiding in the shadow of a parking garage were gutted. The fires of their burning hulls lit up the area. Numerous bodies of the cities defenders lay strewn about the area.

The image of an anti-Lorica rocket slamming into the turret caused a moment of elation before it was noted that the only damage to the enemy vehicle seemed to be to the paint job.

The video panned to the left and showed over a dozen figures in bulky powered armor clamoring over the outer trench line. The defenders laser rifles seemed to be completely ineffective against the enemy ground troops and the camera showed the horror of a few enemy infantry mowing down the Urbanae by the dozens. The enemy infantry paused for a moment to examine the two of their number who seemed to have been killed and then began to move on. One of the enemy troopers pointed directly at the camera and a moment later there was a bright flash and then nothing but snow.

***

Pro-Consul Silvanus looked at his staff and growled, “And you say that the R.B.C. broadcast this holo-vid today? In the name of Hades what were they thinking? If this damned invasion didn’t cause enough panic already, this holo-vid is going to have the rear area crammed with refugees looking to get away from the battle line. From now on I want a complete press blackout on all video from the front. Assign some of your best men to it Tesserarius. I do not want the public to see another massacre like that on the holo-vid again, you understand me?”

The Tesserarius sighed and pointed to the mapboard of Nova Cartago II on the wall. “Sir, a press blackout hardly matters at this point as the R.B.C main studio was overrun in the last attack, the only broadcast facilities left are the local stations. Sir, getting back to the main topic, what are your orders at this point? Should we attempt another counterattack?"

The Pro-Consul looked at the mapboard and looked over the unit condition roster. “No Tesserarius, not after the massacre the enemy made of the last two counterattacks. I’m not going to throw away more of those boys lives against those bastards. We will dig into every city, town village and crossroad and hope to hell that Labienus can defeat that fleet hovering above us, Then we can land the reinforcements in the enemy rear areas and begin rolling these bastards up.”

The Tesserarius looked at the steadily advancing enemy on the mapboard and at the unit condition screen. ”If there are any of us left,” he muttered.

***

Macer paused a moment, digging the hole in the hard icky ground of the mountain slope was backbreaking. Doing it right after an intense firefight was even worse. He took a drink from his canteen and wiped the sweat from his eyes. He glanced over at the two Cohors Urbanae Legionarii keeping watch down the slope. They had offered to help dig, but this was Manipularii business.

Macer walked over to Varus and they nodded. They lifted the body wrapped in the poncho and moved towards the hole. They paused for a moment when a blood-covered arm fell out of the poncho and onto the ground. They put the body down a moment and Macer gently picked up the arm and placed it back with the body. He re-wrapped it before they gently lowered the body into the hole. They paused a moment before they began filling the hole back in.

They were only partially done when the proximity detectors began beeping. They threw down their shovels and grabbed their weapons and gear. A few moments later they were in their positions. Varus picked up his image intensifiers from the bottom of his fighting position and peered down the slope. It took a few moments before he saw the first of the Rocks moving up the slope. They moved cautiously among the shattered bodies of the unit that had attacked before them. Varus wished they had been able to pack more anti-personnel mines with them, but it had taken every mine they had to destroy the last platoon.

He searched among the boulders just in front of them. He saw what he was looking for in the shadow of a huge boulder. The figure’s legs were sticking out from under it. Varus watched him work his way out and start moving up the slope. The Rocks at the base of the slope fired a few rounds at the figure but the range was too great. A moment later Principale Metellus jumped into the fighting position.

He glanced up the slope. “Did you get Domitus in the ground?” At Varus’s nod he tapped him on the helmet. “I got the charges set and when they go, just pick off anyone trying to move out of the path. I’m going to move to the right flank to keep an eye on the children.” He said as he pointed over his shoulder with his thumb towards the Urbanae. “You got the whole left flank to yourself, think you can handle it Varus?” Varus met his Principale’s eyes and nodded. Metellus grinned a moment and moved off to the right.

Varus watched the Siliconates begin moving up the slope. Moving from boulder to boulder, they kept up a constant level of cover fire. Varus fired back only when he had a perfect shot and saw a Rockhead drop every time he fired. Varus heard the double-click in his comm and ducked to the bottom of his fighting position.

A moment later, a series of charges went off on the slope in front of him. There was a rumble and then a huge roar as the forward slope of the mountain began moving towards the Rockheads. The avalanche of rocks and boulders picked up speed and rolled over the Siliconate platoon.

Varus popped out of the fighting position and aimed down slope. The cloud of rock dust billowing up obscured the whole bottom of the slope. Varus eventually saw a figure dragging itself out of the edge of the dust cloud and punched a gauss round through the helmet.

Time ticked by and there was no sign of further movement among the debris of the rockslide. The avalanche appeared to have buried the whole Rockhead platoon.

Varus watched the Principale move out of his fighting position and pause at every position to speak with each member of the Contubernium.
He dropped back into Varus’s fighting position with a sigh as he glanced down the slope. “Shitty day, eh Varus?” At the Manipularii’s weary smile, he grunted and stuffed a pinch of tobacco into his cheek. He spit a brown stream onto a nearby rock and looked at the men in their positions to his right. “We’re getting whittled away here Varus.” He stared at Varus in silence until the Manipularii’s head turned and met his eyes.

The Principale spit again. “You’ve come a long way Manipularii. Don’t make me regret what I’m doing.” The Principale dropped something on the edge of the fighting position. “Sew these on as soon as possible, they were Domitus’s, so try and be worthy of them.” The Principale got up and moved back down the line.

Varus stared in shock at the pair of bloody Optio’s stripes sitting on the ground.

***

Legatus Labienus took another sip of his wine and stared at his comm pad again. He had been running through the updated Battle Plan and the numbers looked better than he had hoped. Each simulation run was showing a 63% chance of success, plus or minus 5%. But as his bottle got lower and lower, he found it harder to concentrate on the Plan. He found his finger hovering over the comm pad screen folder marked Personal once again. He emptied the last of the bottle into his glass and took a deep drink.

His finger stabbed down on the Personal icon. He pulled up the Pictures folder and opened a folder marked ‘Londinium’. He disabled the holo projector and called up the first of the pictures. The flat screen gave the picture an old fashioned look but the clarity was perfect.

The picture of the junior officers gathered in the ready room of the old Quinquireme brought back memories Labienus preferred to leave buried. He flicked through the pictures rapidly until he found the one he sought. The picture showed two hard-suited figures holding the blackened tailfin of a Median fighter. With their helmets off, the youth of the two officers was evident. The long red hair of the diminutive Centurio spilled over her shoulders as she held one end of the trophy, her grin lit up the picture. The Decurio holding the other end had the studiously serious demeanor that only junior officers seem to be able to affect. What an ass I was. He thought.

He focused the picture in on the female Ensign. The nameplate reading Centurio D. Avidia was stark white on the red surface of her hard-suit. He picked up his glass and raised it towards the image on his comm pad. He drank the whole glass in one long gulp.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw his aide approach him. “Legatus, we are coming alongside the Aratus.” Labienus stood up and walked steadily to the side hatch. He looked out the small glas-steel porthole. He saw numerous asteroids tumbling past the shuttle. But floating among them, the shark-like forms of his Classis. The gleaming hulls of the Sexiremes were gathered into their separate squadrons. The combat power they represented brought feral grin to the Legatus’s face.

Centurio Maximus felt a shiver run up his spine as he swore he heard his Legatus growl.

***

A dust-covered tentacle wrapped around a nearby boulder and dragged the battered form from under the rocks and dirt. It still thought of itself as Shoots-Straight-Always, although after it’s long trek on the back of the Terran food animal, it’s new platoon mates had renamed it: Rides-Squealing-Meat. It began to drag itself up the slope until it heard the human voices. After listening for a time, it’s anger grew as it recognized the voice of the human who had destroyed it’s last platoon. This human must be punished for killing so many of The Assembly, but it was too weak to overcome the human at this time.

*Another time human, another time* It saw a horned herd animal feeding on the lichen on the slope below. With the Siliconate version of a sigh, it moved slowly towards its new host.

*I will be back soon human* It thought with anger at the mountain.

***


Urbanae Legionarii Magnus peered through the night vision scope at the slope below. He saw movement and aimed his gauss rifle. He saw a woolly mountain goat and almost pulled the trigger. He held fire, not wanting to wake the rest of the men. Been too much killing anyway. He thought. He watched the goat move off into the woods at the base of the mountain.

Optio Varus stopped at his fighting position and knelt down next to him. “Anything out there Magnus?”

He looked up at his new section leader. “All quiet Optio.”

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 09 Nov 2007 09:52 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Joined: 23 May 2005 16:49
Posts: 5244
Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Twenty Two

(L + 49 days)

Legatus Labienus paced in his cabin until his comm pad chirped as it completed the latest download from the Aratus’s main battle computer. He moved quietly to a nearby chair and pulled up the latest data. He scrolled down the various sections until he got to Current Enemy Strength folder and opened it. Columns of data on enemy weapons and equipment filled his screen and he had to search until he found the section he wanted.

Appendix C Section 10.0.0 Enemy Classis Composition and Casualties
(Note: Enemy ship designations and Classis indicators have been assigned by Battle Sim based upon size equivalent ships in Roman service.)

10.0.1 Losses By Squadron

I Principe Squadron
14 Quinquireme class (P) vessels (7 destroyed)
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels (3 destroyed)

II Principe Squadron
14 Quinquireme class (P) vessels
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels

I Triari Squadron
14 Sexireme class (T) vessels
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels

II Triari Squadron
14 Sexireme class (T) vessels
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels

I Carrier Squadron
14 Hepteres class Carrier vessels (8 destroyed)
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels (2 destroyed)

II Carrier Squadron
14 Hepteres class Carrier vessels
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels

I Velites Squadron
14 Hepteres class Veles vessels
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels

II Velites Squadron (Destroyed)
14 Hepteres class Veles vessels (14 destroyed)
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels (4 destroyed)

III Velites Squadron
14 Hepteres class Veles vessels
4 Quadreme class Escort vessels

I Transport Squadron
12 Quinquireme class Troop Transport vessels (6 landed on Nova Cartago II)
6 Trireme class Escort vessels

10.0.2 Percentage Enemy Losses By Class
(P): 25 %
(T): 0 %
CV: 28 %
(V): 33 %
TT: 0 %
Es: 22 %

10.0.3 Total Enemy Ship Losses
Total 38 ships lost
Tot: 21 %

He scrolled down further.

10.1.6 Enemy Ships Remaining by Class
(P): 21
(T): 28
CV: 20
(V): 28
TT: 6
Es: 33


Labienus sighed. One Hundred and Sixty Two ships lost, over one hundred and fifty thousand nautas dead, not to mention the troops manning the orbital castra and the ground defenses to take out thirty eight ships. He thought. If this plan doesn’t work, then I pray the Gods help the human race.

He checked his comm pad again and pulled up the latest Battle Plan data from his headquarters. He knew the number by heart, but checking it brought him no comfort, “Sixty Eight percent.” He muttered to himself. “I’m betting the survival of the Human race on a sixty eight percent roll of the dice.” He was startled to hear a knock on his door. He thumbed a switch and the number disappeared from the screen. “Come.”

The door slid open and Centurio Maximus stepped inside. “Sir, sensors have detected a vessel incoming to the Classis. It is sending the Classis Command recognition codes, but as per your orders, all ships are observing communications silence. They keep asking for you Sir.”

The Legatus wearily got to his feet. “That Centurio, will be the ‘Inquisition’ here for my head over the loss of half my ships. I knew that Classis Command would be sending someone out to relieve me, I just didn’t think that they would get here this fast. I need more time damnit. I started this, I need to finish it.” He picked up his comm pad and strode towards the door.

Centurio Maximus barely got out of the Legatus’s way in time and had to almost run to keep up with him as he strode down the passage.

***

Labienus stormed onto the Flag Bridge of the Aratus startling the 3rd watch personnel. “Contact all units, we are executing Plan Ephialtes 121 immediately, summon all senior officers to their posts and signal all squadrons to Battle Stations.”

There was a shocked pause and then the crew began activating their comm systems and began bringing systems online. The overhead speaker blared the claxon. “ALL HANDS TO BATTLE STATIONS ALL HANDS TO BATTLE STATIONS THIS IS NOT A DRILL, ALL SENIOR CREWMEN TO YOUR DUTY STATIONS, ALL HANDS TO BATTLE STATIONS ALL HANDS TO BATTLE STATIONS

Within 5 minutes the senior member of each division was manning their console. Trierarchus Iustin entered the bridge in his sweat suit, the signs of a vigorous workout apparent. He looked at the Legatus. “Sir, with all due respect, but if this is a drill, it’s a badly timed one. The crew is tired and …”

Labienus cut him off. “This is no drill Trierarchus, we are going NOW. All units will begin executing Ephialtes 121 in 10 minutes.”

Trierarchus Iustin approached Legatus Labienus and leaned in close. “Sir, are you sure, the Plan calls for an attack fourteen days after the invasion of II, if we go sooner, we are going to lose some of our percentage.”

Labienus nodded and his mouth set in a grim line as he pointed towards a private message on his comm pad. “There are circumstances that are out of our control happening that could destroy the whole plan Trierarchus, if we do not execute right now, we may lose our one chance of victory and with it out only chance to save the Human race.”

Iustin glanced at the message and stiffened. He closed his eyes for a moment and nodded. “By your command Legatus.” He whispered. Iustin straightened up and bellowed. “Lets get the old girl moving people! We have a war to win!”

***

The High Speed Cutter Salve maneuvered hard to port to avoid another rock and slid forward through the asteroid belt. Legatus Augusti Classis Gracchus slammed his fist against the arm of his command chair. “If you can’t get this vessel moving faster Centurio, perhaps the Classis is better off without your presence.” Centurio Florens’s shoulders hunched as he advanced the ships throttles forward. The auto-avoidance system was, terrifyingly, flashing red. He knew that he should slow down, but the presence of the Legatus Augusti terrified him. His hand hovered over the manual override, ready to take over if the a-a system couldn’t adjust fast enough.

He glanced at the holo display to check the position of the fleet that they were chasing down. He saw the icons of Legatus Labienus’s fleet exiting the outer edge of the asteroid field. He hesitated before speaking. “Augusti, the Classis is out of the belt and accelerating towards Nova Cartago II. It will be difficult to predict an intercept point until we’re clear of the belt as well.”

Florens heard no response and was about to turn when he felt a presence looming over his shoulder and a voice growling in his ear. “Centurio, you were recommended to me as the best pilot that headquarters had. I can see now, that reputation was so much garum. I am going to give you one chance to redeem yourself before I have you put in the brig for impersonating a pilot.” Gracchus reached over and slammed the throttle to maximum. “Now PILOT!”

***

Gracchus returned to his chair and looked at the gaunt figure in gray standing next to his chair. Gracchus felt a shiver of apprehension at the figures total lack of reaction to the encounter between himself and the young pilot. The presence of a member of the Curatores Fumis, Imperial Intelligence Agency, could have a chilling effect on any vessel’s crew. The presence of the second in command of the I.I.A terrified every member of the crew, including the Legatus Augusti Classis. The fact that Tribunus Curio had actually spoken only 5 words since boarding the Salve was quite disconcerting.

Knowing that the Fumum Vendere, Imperial Intelligence Agents, could relieve and execute anyone on the spot, any officer in the Classis, was never far from anyone’s mind.

Gracchus glanced again at the viewscreen in time to see the Centurio manually avoid 3 asteroids and saw the impact of a fourth that rocked the whole shuttle. The pilot slalomed past a few more huge rocks and slid between a pair that could have crushed the shuttle like a bug.

Gracchus glanced out of the corner of his eye and was shocked at the total absence of reaction on the face of Tribunus Curio. He must have liquid helium for blood. He thought.

He heard a gasp of relief from the helm and watched as the shuttle finally exited the asteroids and broke out into open space. He saw a line on the holo showing the course plot. The readout showed intercept with Labienus’s fleet in two hours. He watched the pilot flip some switches and redline the engines to maximum emergency power. The plot recalculated and showed 88 minutes to intercept.

Legatus Augusti Classis Gracchus smiled for the first time in over a week. I’m going to make you pay Labienus. He thought. I’m going to make you pay for getting me cooped up with this ‘imperial enforcer’ for this long. The officers watched as the intercept time ticked by and the outer ships of the huge fleet began to appear at the edge of the viewscreen as they closed the distance.

***

Legatus Labienus looked again at the icon marking the Cutter eating up the distance behind him. His comm pad chirped as the latest update from his Nova Cartago III Headquarters reached him. He was not surprised to find a hastily typed note from his head Simulation Officer, Tribuni Porcus. Labienus scanned it briefly and found the data he needed.

Legatus, we haven’t been able to get a complete sim run on all the possible permutations but the numbers we are seeing here are showing a sixty to sixty four percent chance of victory. Sorry we can’t give you more data Sir, we are running the programs based upon a lot of assumptions at this point. We will try to get you better data ASAP.

Tribuni Porcus

P.S. Sir, the entire Staff here wishes you the speed of Mercurius. D.P.

Labienus sighed and looked again at the icon of the Cutter that was closing on his ships. I should kill all of you for costing me my extra four percent chance. He thought. He looked at his aide. Centurio, get Tesserarius Eudoxius up here and tell him to assemble a dozen of his most loyal men, he will know what I mean.”

Maximus nodded. “Aye aye Sir.” He hurried over to the communications board and a few moments later looked towards Labienus and nodded.

Labienus closed his eyes and his face took on the aspect of stone. On top of everything else I’ve done, this isn’t going to matter much. He thought. He turned as he heard the Tesserarius enter the Flag Bridge and he motioned Eudoxius to follow him into his ready room.

Maximus watched the Legatus and the Manipularii Tesserarius enter the room and turned back to the holo screen. The outer moon of Nova Cartago II was showing on the edge of the screen.

***

The Classis drove forward. The light gray hulls gleamed in the light from Nova Cartago’s Primary. The names on the ships showed black against their skin. Many ships throughout Human history had carried these names. Eugenius, Aratus, Caesar, Roma, Emeritus, Agrippa and Germanicus. Proud ships, ships that had lead the defense of Humankind in the past now moved forward to battle again against the most fearsome foe mankind has ever faced.

The pale Fleet drove on, and Death followed with them.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 10 Nov 2007 09:29 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Twenty Three

(L + 50 days)


The High Speed Cutter maneuvered gently into one of the Aratus’s landing bays. The bay was barely large enough for the ship, but Centurio Florens deftly set down in the curiously empty bay. They must have moved all the ships from this bay to make room for us. He thought. He activated the magnetic clamps to secure his shuttle to the bay’s deck and shut down his abused engines. “Aratus approach control, this is Salve. Engines shut down and shuttle is secure. Require refuel and maintenance crew as soon as possible. Pressurize when ready.” He watched as the outer bay door rolled shut and checked to make sure the atmosphere gauges began to rise. When the board flashed green, he turned towards the two officers behind him. “Shuttle secure Sirs, atmospheric pressure reads normal. You may disembark any time.” The young Centurio then turned back to his board to determine the exact damage he had done to the shuttle. He was so distracted that he didn’t notice a hatch open up into the bay and a dozen, power armored figures, enter and spread out to surround the shuttle.

***

Legatus Augusti Gracchus and Tribunus Curio listened as the landing ramp extended and watched the young nauta double-check the atmosphere gauges before keying in the code to open the outer hatch. The hatch slid upward and the two officers moved down the ramp. They stopped at the sight of Legatus Labienus standing at the base of the ramp, flanked by power armored Manipularii.

Gracchus gathered himself and strode down the ramp towards Labienus. “What is the meaning of this Labienus? Dismiss these men and consider yourself relieved of command immediately. Have you completely lost your mind? You cut off communications for weeks, send half your ships to their doom, refuse to explain your complete Battle Plan and then expect that Classis Command is going to just let you run your little ‘Kingdom’ out here without being accountable. You are responsible for the largest disaster in …” Gracchus’s voice trailed off as saw absolutely no reaction from the other Legatus.

Labienus’s face was stone as he took a step towards the Legatus Augusti. “Responsible? Yes, I’m responsible for all of it, but it’s not done yet. All my sims show that if we don’t stop them here, Classis Command won’t have enough to stop them before they get into the Core Systems and we both know what THAT will mean. Billions dead before Command can pull enough ships off the Median and Denevan borders and try to chase the enemy Classis down. And while that’s happening, there will be no one HERE keeping the Gods know how many more of them from pouring into our systems.”

His finger speared into Gracchus’s chest. “I may have been assigned here in the back end of nowhere by you, but don’t believe for a minute that I don’t know exactly WHO it was that has been holding up the reassignment of ships to me." He punctuated his words by poking Gracchus’s chest over and over. “Don’t think that I’m not aware of why I had to send a good friend of mine to her death along with hundreds of thousands of her men because you sent me a collection of relics and combat rejects instead of the first line ships you have been hoarding back at your Headquarters.”

“Why Gracchus? So you can be the hero and stop the enemy where that ‘Wine Swilling Gaul’ failed? Oh yes, I know what you and your Staff call me behind my back. Do you have your eye on the Imperator Classis’s position or are you just setting up for a shot at Praetor? I don’t care either way you egomaniac.”

Labienus took a breath before continuing. “All I care about is stopping these ‘things’ before they get any further. Nothing else matters to me. Do you understand that? No one is going get in the way of me accomplishing that goal. I sent my friend and God only knows how many others to their deaths and I’m going to lead even more to the same end before this is through. I’m going to lead this Classis against the enemy and I’m going to win, despite the odds, because it’s the only thing I have left. Regardless of the consequences to me, I’m going to stop them HERE. And not you, Classis Command, that Curatores Fumis goon behind you or the Imperator himself are going to stop me from doing that.”

Gracchus’s face had turned paler and paler as Labienus had gone on. He hadn’t been spoken to like this since he was a raw Cadet. He set his face into its familiar sneer. “You arrogant, self absorbed, drunken bastard. Who in the name of Pluto do you think you are talking to? I am your superior officer and I’m telling you that you are relieved of command as of right now. You will inform your Staff that I will be taking command of the Classis and we will regroup back in the asteroid belt to consider the situation before we charge into battle with an unknown enemy.”

“Once my Staff has had a chance to review ALL possible scenarios and I bring my reserve forces up, then and only then will I send this Classis into battle. You will consider yourself under arrest pending a General Courts Martial. I’m going to see you hang if it’s the last thing I d…” Gracchus was interrupted by a quiet voice from behind him.

Tribunus Curio locked eyes with Legatus Labienus. “Do you think that this plan is the only chance for the survival of the Republic, Legatus?”

Labienus had never seen eyes as cold as those of the Fumum Vendere standing in front of him. The dark eyes were hard enough to chill him to his soul. The gaze made Labienus feel like a small child again and he sensed that a lie here would bring swift punishment. He set his jaw and met the dark gaze squarely.

“If I don’t stop them here and now, we are going to see a butchers bill that we haven’t experienced since the Denevans smashed us back to Africa Proconsularis and then our reconquest.”

Gracchus watched in horrid fascination at the exchange between the I.I.A officer and Labienus, he wondered how the Legatus had the courage to meet those eyes and smiled as the words from Labienus’s mouth only served to condemn him further.

Tribunus Curio’s face showed no emotion as he looked down at the Legatus. “And you are willing to risk your career, your life and the safety of the Republic on your solution?” Labienus simply nodded.

The Manipularii that had been gathered were veterans of numerous conflicts and though their armor gave them increased senses and reflexes; none of them were prepared for the lightning speed at which the Tribunus moved.

The small pistol fired once before anyone realized it was in his hand. The sound of the body hitting the deck echoed through the bay. The Manipularii stared in shock as the Tribunus’s pistol disappeared and he walked down the ramp. He stepped over the smoking body on the deck and locked eyes with the Legatus. ”You had better be right.”

Labienus stared at the corpse and then at the gray clad figure heading towards the hatchway. He turned to the nearest Manipularii and pointed at the remains of Legatus Augusti Gracchus. “Get this trash off my deck and eject it into space ASAP.” He then moved quickly to catch up with the long legged Tribunus.

***

Fleet leader Strives-Advancing-Onward was pleased. It had recently received a new body from the Harvest of the Human worlds and it looked forward to many seasons of vigorous life with the new form.

Yet overlaying it’s pleasure was a sense of apprehension. The Human fleets that had met them was pathetic and weak and yet they had stayed and fought to the last being instead of retreating as most other races would have done. *We must be careful in our future conflicts with them and hope that the Assembly sends reinforcements soon.* It thought. *We must base our plans on their willingness to die. Though I suppose the reason they fight so fiercely in space is their pitiful ability to fight on the ground.*

It looked again with pleasure at the huge advances that the troops had made on the surface of the world orbiting below. *Two billion.* It thought. *As many Humans, if not more, on the other nearby planet. Once we have secured this planet, we will move to the other and sweep aside their pitiful satellites and take that world also. If these human worlds are as numerous as we have been led to believe, it will be a time of massive spawning. The Harvest will leap forward on the backs of these creatures and we may have enough strength to finally secure the galaxy.*

A warning bell chimed and the Fleet leader saw objects appearing in the holo-tank. *Ships.* It thought as it called up information on the approaching vessels.*The Humans were hiding their ships and chose now to attack, when my fleets are dispersed around this planet and it’s moons.* It began sending orders to the scattered flotillas though it knew that they would not be able to assemble together before the enemy was among them.

It sent orders to the transports to land all troops on the current planet in case the Humans won in space. *Even if they destroy us, they will never have the fighters to be able to dig 8 divisions out of the planet.*

It looked again at the holo-tank and was shocked at the size and number of the Human Fleet. *They had this much combat power and yet they allowed us to blunt ourselves on their lesser vessels that fought to the death, let us land on an industrial world with billions of their own on it and then wait to strike when our fleets are dispersed. These humans must be insane!* It updated the data that it had collected along with its impressions and triggered a message pod towards the transit passage.

The Assembly had to be informed of what sort of mad beings it faced in this sector of the galaxy. It turned towards the holo-tank as one of its flotillas, near the outer moon reported contact with the enemy.

It ground its teeth in frustration as the first of its ships began to explode.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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PostPosted: 11 Nov 2007 10:51 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Joined: 23 May 2005 16:49
Posts: 5244
Location: Wandering the Wastes
Chapter Twenty Four

(L + 51 days)


Principale Maecius fought to keep a sensor lock on the various segments of the enemy classis. The wreckage from the first enemy squadron cluttered up his sensor screen but at the slow speed the Aratus was traveling, engineering was sending him enough extra power to burn through any jamming that the enemy could create. “Legatus,” he said. “Enemy I Principe Squadron destroyed. No other enemy ships in range for 30+ minutes. Enemy appears to be trying to regroup around Nova Cartago II Sir. Next set of units contacted will be their I Triari and II Carrier Squadrons around the moon Stygia.”

He paused as he saw a new set of signals on his board. “Legatus, I’m detecting Pila and fighter launches from the enemy’s classis. First wave of fighters will reach us in 32 minutes with the second smaller wave in 57 minutes. Pila waves will arrive in 22 minutes and 46 minutes.”

Labienus grinned at Trierarchus Iustin and his aide. “Better than we had hoped for gentlemen, their attacks are coming in staggered waves. We should be able to keep casualties to a minimum as long as the point defense weapons work as they’re supposed to.”

The officers watched the incoming pilas and fighters approach. Trierarchus Iustin looked at Labienus. “Now sir?”

Labienus shook his head. “I want their next wave of pilas to launch before they realize what we’re doing.”

They were interrupted by Principale Maecius’ call. “Launch! Enemy has launched second wave of pilas.”

Labienus grinned. “Trierarchus, inform all units, begin executing Maneuver Plan Testudo. All carriers launch fighters at those fleets around Stygia. Get a pila firing solution on those enemy Triari and Principe squadrons, they are going to be the most dangerous this time.”

***

The units of Legatus Labienus’s command began to implement the maneuver they had been practicing for weeks. Huge carriers began to turn ponderously towards their designated points. The Escort Quadremes and Triremes deftly closed in around the other ships. Many ships approached so closely, that anti collision alarms were constantly sounding. One Quadreme helmsman was heard to remark that if he had wanted to do close formation flying like this, he would have joined the Black Knights aerobatic flying team. Within 12 minutes, over 150 ships had formed into a vast globelike formation with only 2 minor collisions occurring.

***

Labienus keyed his comm, “Praefectus Horatius, all ships are in formation, transferring coordination of all point defense weapons in the fleet to the Retiarius. You and your ships are our shield, keep those incomings off our backs so we can crush the rest of these bastards.”

Horatius’s deep growl rumbled over the comm, Retiarius acknowledges control of PD weapons, first pila wave in range in 5 minutes. They won’t touch the rest of the classis unless they kill every ship under my command Legatus; you have my word on that. Horatius out.”

Labienus turned and spoke to the gaunt figure in gray to his left. “This is where it pays off Tribunus. Training, discipline, duty and dedication like this are what set the Roman Classis apart from other space faring species.” He pointed at the comm panel. “Praefectus Horatius hates my guts. Has since the Academy and that’s almost 40 years now. He wants nothing more than to see me dead and laid out on a slab, but right now, he will die before he will allow me to be harmed. Of course, once we are finished here, he may just call me out.”

Tribunus Curio interrupted him. “If we live.”

The Admiral paused a moment and smiled in agreement. “Yes, if we live.”

***

Admiral Horatius watched the first wave of enemy pilas close on the classis. His Point Defense ships were the most under appreciated vessels in the entire Roman Classis. Very few classis commanders were willing to allow the PD ships to do the job they were designed for, and even fewer Legati still were willing to slave all the classis PD weapons to the ships that had been damn well designed for that exact purpose. So many Legati used them only for ECM and ECCM and to guard ships they didn’t want to be bothered to defend.

He ran his hand gently over the Diana Mk. 22 Fire Control Coordinator. Horatius inserted his command key into the slot and turned it to the little used, <Classis Defense> setting.

The panel lit up and the Fire Control Officer grinned. “Praefectus, positive connection to all one hundred and sixty two ships. All PD weapons are under our control. First pilas entering maximum firing range.” The Centurio straightened his back and asked formally. “Permission to commence firing Praefectus.”

Horatius smiled at the young officer. “Permission granted Centurio, fire at will.” He paused a moment and added. “Make it good Centurio, let’s show them what we can really do.” The F.C.O. nodded to the men and women of his section. “Fire!”

***

The fist wave of Siliconate missiles sliced through space. The missiles were so large; they were almost small ships unto themselves. Their solid bodies were covered in heavy armor and each generated it’s own shielding to protect the massive warhead that each carried. The guidance systems were not designed for special maneuvers, nor to do anything but detect, close with and destroy their targets. The simple computers could not have known when they crossed an invisible line in space. They didn’t care when hundreds of point defense weapons began firing at them. They drove on with their suicidal mission of death. If they had been able to comprehend it, they would have been impressed at the Mk.22’s ability to deliver precisely the correct amount of firepower to destroy each missile.

The Fire Control computer cycled the ships weapons to allow ships in the rear of the formation to deliver their firepower, while computing all ‘blind spots’ caused by ships hulls blocking direct fire. Of the 210 Siliconate missiles in the first wave, less than 40 made it through the immense web of fire. The missiles detonated among the point defense ships, collapsing shields and melting hulls. Five Point Defense Quadremes were destroyed by the salvo and all of the others showed some signs of damage. The fleet exited the roiling gout of energy and closed in on the nearest enemy formations.

***

Legatus Labienus’s jaw clenched as he saw the damage from the salvo. He slapped his comm “Horatius, you still alive out there?”

There was a pause, then an angry voice growled. “What do you want Legatus, we’re sort of busy over here at the moment.”

Labienus grimaced. “I’m transferring control of all short ranged weapons to you as well, we underestimated the firepower needed to stop those damn things and I can’t afford to lose any more of your ships like that.” Labienus entered a set of codes on his comm pad. “I’m sending you the override codes.

If you need to, take control of everything but the HET’s and the pilas. If you end up needing those as well, then we are well and truly screwed.”

Praefectus Horatius’s voice came back quickly. ”Aye aye Legatus, that should be enough, we’ll do our best, Horatius out.”

***

On the damaged and burning bridge of his ship, Horatius turned to his Fire Control Officer. "Centurio, the Legatus just gave us control over half the firepower of the classis. If you and your people can’t stop those fighters and that next wave of pilas, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”

The Centurio looked at the new intercept range line and the enemy fighters closing in. “Permission to turn those incomings to slag Sir.”

Horatius looked at swarm of fighters displayed on the board, “Fry ‘em”

***

The cloud of Siliconate fighters ran into a wall of fire that got more intense as they bored in closer to the Human fleet. All had been involved in the destruction of the first enemy fleet and they were expecting a divided and uncoordinated defense net to peck away at a few of them until they got close enough to tear open the Human ships. The massed defensive firepower of over 150 ships gutted the fighter squadrons. A few Siliconate pilots had time to see the heavy beam and missile weapons of the humans reaching out towards their Carriers and the weapons of it’s protecting Long Range flotilla answering back before they were blotted out of space.

***

The Siliconate 1st Long Ranged flotilla tried desperately to hold off the advancing enemy ships to give the Carrier flotilla time enough to scramble new fighters. It found itself in a long-range duel against very long odds. Its weapons were more powerful and had better range, but the enemy was crushing their shields with sheer volume of firepower. The Long Range Armada could outrun the Human ships, but it stayed between the enemy and the ponderous Carriers that it was trying to protect. In the end, it didn’t matter; all 18 ships of the 1st LR were shattered in a few minutes. The questing beams of the Human fleet then began reaching out among the Siliconate Carriers. The wreckage of the ships began drifting towards Stygia. The last few Siliconate ships fired at the cloud of Human missiles and fighters that passed them on their way to the rest of the fleet before they too were destroyed.

***

The Retiarius was locked on the next wave if enemy missiles. This time beams began detonating missiles at nearly three times the range of the last wave. The volume of fire only grew as the short ranged weapons joined the medium ranged ones. The death knell for the armored kamikazes came when they entered the point defense belt and all the PD batteries were finally unmasked. The last of the enemy missiles was detonated just short of the Retiarius’s hull.

The Centurio looked at his people and gave a pale grin. “Close.”

Praefectus Horatius looked down at the weary men and women of the section. “When we are done with this people, the drinks will be on the Legatus.” A sea of smiles lit up their faces.

Horatius pointed again to the board. “Now kill me that next wave of fighters and I just might treat you all to dinner first.” With renewed vigor, the men and women of the Fire Coordination Team went about their tasks. The next wave of Siliconate fighters never knew what hit them.

***

Fleet leader Strives-Advancing-Onward missed the tail of his last host. Lashing a tail in anger was much more satisfying than grinding teeth. It watched the holo-tank in frustration as another wave of its fighters was blotted out of space. The Humans had destroyed three of its flotillas and were advancing steadily on the planet they defended.

The LR flotilla and CV flotilla were heading to him from the second moon, yet neither would be able to join up before the incoming Human fighters and missiles were among his orbiting fleets. The point defense weapons of his three flotillas reached out among the incoming missile wave. The thin-skinned Human missiles were easily destroyed, but the ships lacked enough batteries to stop them all. The remainder of the wave annihilated the sole remaining SR flotilla.

Strives-Advancing-Onward howled in frustration. The vocal range of this host was insufficient to express the outrage as the human fighters began tearing its two missile flotillas to shreds. The Flagship rocked from numerous hits as the shields began to fail. It picked up the communications transmitter and sent signal to the remaining two of its flotillas. ”Remaining ships, this is Fleet leader…”

***

On board the Retiarius ECM Principale Valens detected an encoded transmission from the enemy Flagship. He directed a beam of jamming towards the transmitting ship.

***

”...Humans are killing our ships. To all ships, do not continue the fight. Do not fight on. Retreat and regroup. Do not fight on.”

***

Principale Valens flicked the power boost on and slammed the jammers to maximum.

***

Flotilla leader Long-Fang-Bellowing listened to the final transmission from the Flagship over the Command channel.

“...Humans … kil… … ships. .. all ships, .. …continue the fight. Do not… …Retreat… …….. .. …fight on.”

The transmission was garbled, but it was clear enough for the Ursine bodied Siliconate. Feeling the berserker rage of its host it turned to its crew. “Signal flotilla leader Rends-From-Afar that I am taking Command of the Fleet and all its ships are to follow us into battle.”

Its massive furred fist slammed onto its command chair arm. Plastic shattered and metal bent as it watched the swarm of fighters close with its ships. We are going to be rended by INSECTS! It thought. These Humans will not even close with us so we can claw and tear them!

***

Labienus watched the last two enemy squadrons torn to pieces by his fighters and a final salvo of pilas. He looked at the holo projection then towards Principale Maecius. “Principale, talk to me…”

The Principale checked his sensor board and then double-checked. When he had checked a third time, he turned towards the Legatus in amazement. “That’s all of them Sir! No active enemy vessels remaining in system.” He shook his head, and stared at the Legatus in awe. “You did it Sir.” He checked the Classis Status screen again. “Total casualties… seven point defense Quadremes and four Triari Quinquiremes destroyed. Lots of ships reporting some minor damage, but that’s it Sir.” He whispered in awe. ”One hundred and thirty six enemy vessels destroyed or rendered crippled for eleven of ours.”

The Flag Bridge’s crew just stared at the empty holo projection in shock and amazement until a young Manipularii who had been guarding the hatch, approached the Legatus, stopped before him and came to a crisp position of attention. Solemnly, Optio Romulus saluted his Legatus.

Across the bridge, Trierarchus Iustin and Centurio Maximus snapped to attention and saluted. One by one, the members of the bridge crew stood and saluted.

Labienus felt a lump in his throat and was shocked when Tribunus Curio stiffened and joined the salute. Labienus smoothed his jacket and came to attention and returned the salute. When he finally dropped his hand, many of the crew held their salute for a few moments as if wanting to remember this moment forever.

Labienus cleared his throat. “I want all fighters to fan out and destroy all cripples that will not surrender. Carriers and Triari will scour the system for any sign of enemy presence. Principe and the Veles will enter orbit around Nova Cartago II and destroy any ships or comm pods attempting to launch. Contact Pro-Consul Cincinnatus and tell him to bring up his troop transports, we have a planet to re take.”

***

On the surface of Nova Cartago II, the commander of the Siliconate Divisions, Ever-Conquering-Planets looked at the reports, slammed them down in frustration and turned towards its second in command. “Order all units to cease advances and pull back to our current lines. All armored units will move into the major cities. If they want this planet back, they will have to tear us out, city by city. Establish supply caches and have all units dig in deep. We are going to hold here until The Assembly sends us reinforcements.”

***

The Legionarii manning the shattered human lines on the southern continent stared in shock at their last minute salvation as the enemy began pulling away from them.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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