The World of The Gunny

The Wasted World of Gunnery Sergeant DeShane
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 Post subject: Short Story for Time Of Fire
PostPosted: 09 Sep 2008 20:59 
Praefecturus Europae

Noricum Ripense

Nathan Aldrez d'Tauren, Captain of the light cruiser Pindroe d'Orly, was not a happy man. The Romans had informed him that he and his escorts would be kept at Noricum Ripense until the Deneven threat had been taken care of. And there was not a damn thing that he could do about it. He had tried and tried hard, but the Romans had not been moved, even by quoting treaty requirements at them. He had even considered daring them to shoot his ships, but his ships could not have survived taking on the gates defenses by themselves, never mind the battered Roman fleet. To make matters worse, his ships were optimized for killing raiders. Which meant killing fighters and shuttles. His six light cruisers, three destroyers, two escort carriers, 10 frigates, two GB tenders, and a full wing of twelve Gun Boats were death on small fry. But in a stand up fight against normal warships of equal weight would be ugly. Except for the destroyers and the gun boats. They were designed as ship killers and were here to chase down the raiders support ships to capture or kill them. To aid in this he had been assigned marine complements for his ships and additional crew for capturing prizes.

Tesserarius Quintus Leviticus had eventually said that the freighters could leave. Nathan had recognized the offer for what it was. A piece offering of sorts. He had put his extra crew meant for pirate prizes on board the thirty Lanyar class freighters that he had been escorting because they would merely add to the casualty count. Nathan was unsure why he had kept his extra marine complements, but it had felt right. He had stopped and thought about what else needed to be done. Ah yes. The freighters were empty. That was all his conscious had needed to tell him. Nathan had then offered to board refugees onto the freighters and offered to charter them through to USSA territory. Leviticus had seemed thunderstruck at the offer, but hadn't waited long to take him up on it. They had packed nearly three thousand people onto each ship. It was a pittance compared to the billions left on the planet, but at least another ninety thousand innocents would live to see tomorrow.
He and his first officer had talked extensively about the Denevens and their recent actions. His entire staff had debated it as well on the ships forums and throughout the task force. At some point the Denevens would come calling, and it would not be for tea. There was agreement on what needed to be done, but the how had been a bit more difficult. The how was now decided by the Romans and had made everything else easier. He and his task force would fight to defend this planet. He did not see himself or any other of his people leaving alive, but one could not claim to see the future. Perhaps his ships would be just enough to tip the balance. Or not. Only the Dream could tell him this, and none here could touch it. Even so, it was often said that the Dream could be confusing in its own right, so maybe it wouldn't have helped anyway. He smiled wryly.

His jacket comm beeped, then his XO' s voice came through. "Sir, shields are now rebalanced, but the aft two fighter quads are not responding to remote control. I have Engineer Salen down there now. He said he will just pull and replace the interlinks. The other ships report last minute shield tunings and are otherwise ready."

"Excellent. Start rotating rest periods for the crew. Keep battle stations at plus five." His crew would go into combat rested and fed. He was not a fleet captain, but he had seen may battles. The side that had the tired crew tended to lose its edge quickly. Oddly, both of his brothers were in the Order of Naff'Bei, but he had never felt a desire to join. Maybe the Orders more advanced classes could have taught him what to do next. The waiting was killing him.


The warning alarms suddenly wailed their screeching song. On board each ship crew members fell out of makeshift bunks and ran the tens of feet to their stations. Nathans response to the alarms was like any other crewman. He was instantly awake and moving towards his command chair before coherent thought even started.

As he reached his chair he looked at his XO and said, "Status!"

"Sir," His XO reported in a voice edged with tension, "A little over a thousand ships have jumped in. Romans mark them as Deneven. The carriers are at plus five and ready to launch on your mark."

They watch as the massed Deneven fleet moved in system skirting the asteroid belt.. Then it stopped and sent what was plainly a scouting force with fighter cover towards the planet. Minutes went by and the scouts course became more clear. They were going to hit the moon based industry and colonies.

"Comm, get me Navarchus Balearicus. What are his instructions?"

"Sir, Navarchus Balearicus says to hold our position."

Nathans jaw clenched. The Romans had no worthwhile defenses on the moon. The only saving grace is that many of the moon colonists were safely away on the freighters. But not all. Not all. There were still several hundred thousand on that moon and they were dying as he sat here and did nothing. He knew this would be a part of his dreams for a long time to come. Every fiber of his being wanted to order an attack, but the Denevens would be finished with their killing long before he could get there.

"Their trying to draw us out. See how their tempo of fire is about half of what it could be?", Comm officer Giulk d'Borne said quietly. "They are trying to provoke the Romans into pulling their ships out of line. I'm sure that there is another force ready to trap and kill any reinforcements that go to the moons aid. I do not like these...these Par'Mali."

Every member of the crew, including Nathan, looked at him for a moment in shock. Guilk had just called them a disease. But it was worse then that. It was a disease to be burned out at all costs, else it bring plague to all who touch it. A power similar to legends of the ancient demons that had once afflicted mankind.

Nathan thought about it. It was a good description of them. And it matched his own feelings as well. He nodded in agreement. "Guilk, let me know if anything else develops."

Guilk nods and looks back to his instruments.

The Main holographic map showed the Deneven fleet breaking into three parts. Of concern was the part headed towards them. It wasn't the largest part, and wold likely absorb the Deneven scouting forces around the moon, but it was enough to guarantee a good fight. The long range sensors showed fighter launches until the sharp outline of the Deneven fleet became fuzzy.

Marchan d'Bouraln, his XO, spoke quietly. "That's a lot of fighters."

All Nathan could do was nod. It was a lot of fighters. Fortunately, the Romans had a lot too. Just not in this sector. As if to contradict him deliberately, Navarchus Balearicus voice came over his headset, warning of a fighter launch. Several hundred Roman fighters catapulted from their orbital launch bays and arrowed towards the Deneven ships. These fighters were armed for a shipping strike against the lighters Deneven ships like the destroyers and light cruisers. But they ran into Needles on CAP. The Romans knew that that would happen. Hence the Peregrines were escorted by Aquilia interceptors. The resulting tangle of dogfighting drew off enough Needles to permit the Peregrines to launch their broods of anti-ship missiles and retreat with relatively few losses. The same could not be said of the Aquilia. But their exit had been planned for too. Long range Roman missile fire had been timed to arrive with the lighter missiles fired by the Peregrines. The Needles went after the missiles and actually killed enough to prevent the nearest Deneven destroyers and light cruisers from being turned into wreckage. But enough missiles got though to wound and maim the targeted squadrons. While few kills had been made, the enemies ships had been weakened for the Roman battle line.

Long range missiles and spinal lasers from the Romans began to hit and damage or outright kill Deneven warships. The Denevens closed the range before replying in kind.

Nathan's eyes narrowed. The Denevens were losing ships from hits that should have been merely severely damaging. Were they mad? It was like they were using armed civilian hulls for their warships! Of course, he thought, that would permit you to build a fleet very quickly, but they wouldn't hold up well against proper warships in straight battle. Then again, the Par'Mali didn't do straight battles, did they? No, ambush and trickery was their stock in trade and it worked very well. There was a problem with being a trickster, he thought. You could trick yourself.

"Marchan, launch our fighters. Task them to space superiority missions. The next time the Romans launch their Peregrines, they will have additional cover. Giulk, to all ships, plan Adalin. Carriers, tenders, and two frigates to fall back behind the Roman defense satellites. The rest of us will advance when we see a hole. Tell Juslina that her gun boats are tasked to independent anti-ship termination. Slash and strike. She knows it, but remind her."

"Sir!", said Giulk as his fingers tapped rapidly on the input controls on his hand rest.

Marchan spoke not 2 seconds later, "Fighter launch complete. There may be a break through sooner then we thought."

Ahead the ugly green Deneven ships and the stately shiny ships of the Romans were busy clawing at one another with point blank weapons fire. Missile launches that impacted almost as soon as they showed up on sensors, lasers fired at ranges so short it was impossible to miss even if they were in manual control. And throughout this firestorm of wreckage and dying ships wove flights of Needles and Aquilia pouncing one another relentlessly.

The task forces twelve gun boats accelerated ahead, splitting into three groups of four. They would hunt down and kill whatever they found, or so the theory was. Aside from the fighters, they were likely the fastest ships in this battle and the Denevens were not prepared for them. The first the Denevens saw of them were the GB popping around and over the wrecks and even still fighting Roman ships and unleashing anti-matter torpedoes and cannon directly into surprised cat warships. Three destroyers disappeared in horrific explosions, a cruiser went tumbling in two pieces, and already damaged dreadnought was turned into burning wreckage. She was lit by her own plasma fires and was a strangely beautiful site to behold. The attack had taken the Deneven fleet by surprise. But they recovered quickly. Three runs in a GB was lost to concentrated laser fire. GB 76 was simply shredded into a multitude of pieces that were consumed by antimatter explosions seconds later. Her sister, its crew startled by the sudden destruction of its squadron mate, never saw the Dreadnought and its cruiser escorts that killed her with missile and laser fire. The remaining two GB of the squadron disappeared into the sea of fire and wreckage.

Two other gun boats were lost because they came in on exactly the same vector and always broke left while the other two broke right. Just after the squadron unleashed its torpedoes, it started to break left and right. But the Deneven commander had timed it just right. GB 117 took two capital laser hits amid ships and disappeared in a glaring explosion. Her sister, GB 115 took a capital laser hit that literally destroyed an engine and caused massive power explosions through her hull. She lost control and rammed an injured Roman cruiser, causing them to both blow up.

In the meantime Nathan and the rest of the task force had been doing what they did best. Kill fighters and provide ranged missile support. They had been key in overwhelming several cruisers and strike cruisers point defense, permitting Roman missiles to penetrate the saturated defenses and destroy or terminally wound their prey. But by doing so, they had drawn the attention of someone higher up in the enemies command structure.

Nathan tensed as an enemy dreadnought and four escorting cruisers turned in his direction. As they came his way a wing of Needle fighters joined them. It was not auspicious. The massive green dreadnought by itself would be more then enough. The cruisers would have been possible, barely. Add in the Needles and it was just ugly. He would not be able to handle this himself. It was time to use the resources around him.

"Marchan, focus missile fire on one cruiser, and see if Juslina can get her gun boat wing striking from behind. In this crowded battle she may be able to get close enough to get an alpha strike on the dreadnought."

His first flight of missiles was already halfway to their target when the Deneven's replied with their own missiles. He didn't expect a small cloud of the buggers to come his way, but that was what his ships had been built to take on. Then the Needles accelerated and formed into attack formations. He would not be able to effectively defend against both. His own fighter strength was virtually untouched. That was about to change. He didn't want the Needles weaving through his own formation and attacking targets of opportunity.

"Marchan, let the fighters loose."

"Yes sir," Marchan said while seemingly never ceasing his stream of orders into his head mike.

Suddenly the menacing dreadnought came under a hail of missile and laser fire from three Roman cruisers. It proved to be a most effective distraction as the enemies point defense net was not merely saturated, but overwhelmed. Six Numerian missiles slammed into the targeted cruiser, flattening its shields and carving huge chunks out of its hull. Its drive field faltered for a second and then revived, but she was rolling to put her undamaged side towards the next flight of incoming missiles.

The incoming cloud, he refused to call it a flight, of missiles hit the outer intercept zone and began to thin as counter missiles struck successfully. Eleven vampires were wiped away, but another 80 were still inbound. Counter missiles continued to launch every five seconds and point defense lasers began to spit out rods of defiance. Another 32 missiles died as they passed through the middle intercept zone where the Numerian Jath fighters were fighting for their lives against roughly equal numbers of Needles.

As he watched, he knew that some were going to make it through to his ships. The incoming vampires passed into the inner zone and began to select targets, even through the intense jamming the cruisers were putting out. Counter missiles could no longer be used, but the point defense turrets did their best. It wasn't good enough. The defenses did well. They killed another 38 vampires, some just tens of miles from their targets. In spite of everything, ten missiles struck his ships. Three hit the light cruiser Benice d'Somerset and flattened her shields along with wiping away most of her port side sensors and half of her point defenses on that side. Four hit the frigate Lanyen. She disappeared under an expanding boil of ugly explosions. There were no life pods. The frigate Zenth took one hit and lost virtually everything on one side. Her drive field fluttered for a moment and abruptly died. The red band of damage flickered and finally showed on the main holographic map. The cruisers Hasting and Thurgrym both took a missile apiece. They both suffered hull damage and crew losses, but had not lost any combat capability.

He absorbed the carnage wrought on his command and knew another fight of vampires was inbound. It was not quite as large as the first. The wounded enemy cruiser had evidently suffered damage to her launchers. But it was large enough to likely get through as well. His missile defense had been thinned rather notably. And it would likely get worse as he lost ships. The Jath fighters were still tangling with the Needles and could not be used to thicken his point defense. He watched as one of the Roman cruisers exploded violently. But they were doing what needed to be done. They had distracted the dreadnought and bought him time. He would see what could be done. In the meantime he ordered the Zenth back to the defense satellites as soon as her drive was partially restored. Her remaining weapons could maybe keep wondering Needle fighters at bay. They certainly wouldn't be useful against any enemy warships.

The next flight of Numerian missiles arrived at their target. Amazingly, the Deneven defenses had fared better this time, even with fewer point defense stations. Only four missiles slammed into the cruiser. It was enough. Her drive strength died at the same time her sensor emissions disappeared. Evidently her power systems had taken a fatal blow.

Nathan ordered the missiles switched to another cruiser. The Deneven cruiser escort had moved much faster then the dreadnought and were striking back with their lasers while firing missile volleys at the Numerians. The dreadnought had finally turned enough to fire without its weapons hitting its friendlies. One of the Roman cruisers simply shredded under the focused fire of the Deneven task force. She was followed into death by one of the enemies cruisers. It had blown up from a laser strike through a fusion reactor.

Somehow, against the odds, the incoming vampires were whittled down until suddenly there were none left. Nathan didn't cheer like the rest of the bridge. The last Roman cruiser was taking on a still healthy dreadnought and two moderately healthy enemy cruisers. She would not last long.

The Numerian missile flight fared much better this time. With the enemy point defense net reduced and battle damage mounting, many more of the missiles survived to get though. Ten missiles impacted the cruiser, leaving it a burning, shattered wreck.

The enemy launched another large flight of vampires aimed at Nathan.

Out of seemingly nowhere, three gunboats whipped around several wrecked ships and closed on the dreadnought. Even though the enemy gunners were caught by surprise, they still managed to get off multiple shots. A dreadnoughts lasers were powered by massive capacitors and the reactors to charge them. There was little in space that could match these lasers save, perhaps, the larger battle stations. No gun boat massing 600 tons would even absorb part of the energy of one of the lasers. GB 27 was shattered like a children's toy. Her two sisters managed to get close enough to pump four torpedoes and two rounds of anti-matter each from their turreted cannon. As they swerved away one of them was swatted by the remaining cruiser. It was a tough deflection shot that blew off both of the right engines and sent GB 116 spinning into the disabled Deneven cruiser. They both disappeared in a blinding explosion.

The antimatter shots hit the dreadnought, knocking her shields flat and burning hundred foot wide craters in her enormous hull. The torpedoes arrived seconds later. All eight of them impacted in two tightly focused groupings. Two massive fireballs raced outward from the impact points and merged sending 100 ton hull fragments shooting out into space. When the glow faded, the dreadnoughts left side was covered by two craters that ran nearly a third of her length. Her drive field readings fell to 30%, held for a few seconds, and then vanished as she blew up.

The Numerian point defenses had been busy, but the enemy gunnery officers had seen what they had been up against and had finally adapted to the Numerian jamming systems and counter missiles. 40 missiles had survived to enter the inner defensive envelope. They abruptly started jamming the Numerian sensors. Nathan's head snapped up at the yelled gcrap!h coming from the tactical officers position. Commander Eveliena d'Mintrel was not given to profanity. In the time it took for Nathan to figure out what had changed, the Deneven missiles had reached their targets. Two more frigates blew up and the light cruiser Hastings was blown into multiple burning chunks.

Nathans cruiser was rocked by two missiles that hit her as well. Random power surges blew out monitor screens, door motors, and fried computer cores. The smell of burning insulations was nearly overwhelming on the bridge. Half of her launchers were mangled wreckage and her few remaining point defense turrets on that side were now in local control. Her sensors and communications arrays were largely undamaged, but their control runs were either cut or they had no power. Damage control parties spread out and hunted down what could be quickly repaired and rescue parties looked for survivors in darkened mangled rooms.

While damage reports began filtering in, the remaining enemy cruiser died from several laser hits from the Roman cruiser. He looked at the holographic map and realized the Jath fighters were still engaging the remaining Needles. Seconds later only Jath fighters remained. They turned and resumed their CAP. Of the forty Jath he started with, only seven were left. They had killed maybe thirty Deneven Needle fighters. A near one for one kill ratio. Something seemed to tap the back of his skull. He was missing something. His ships should have been wiped out. The forty missiles should have left all his ships as floating wreckage. A few taps on his command chair console permitted him to replay the last thirty seconds at high speed.

His ships had survived because the enemy had seeded his missile salvo with jamming missiles. 28 of these jammers had survived to help the remaining 12 ship killers get to their targets. It was insidious, sneaky, and underhanded. He knew that his next communication to the Admiralty would have some interesting recommendations.

Nathan glanced at his ships info bars. Each of the stations on the bridge had a repeater screen above them for the Capitan to get basic information from. Any of this information could also be taken and manipulated on the Captains personal screens. He did this now. His ships had fired anywhere from 30 to fifty percent of their missiles. Another encounter like this would leave him relatively defenseless save for his frigates and destroyers. And they would not last long in a battle of this magnitude by themselves. He sighed. Duty was a mountain, he quoted to himself. It was time to attack what he could attack. There were still plenty of small fry out there that he had a reasonable chance of taking down.

"Marchan, we will hit that squadron of moving destroyers there," He made the Deneven destroyer squadron flash on the navigators repeater.

"Yes, captain. Task force will reorient now. Thirty seconds to missile range."

Nathan continued to check his task forces readiness. There was something bothering him and he couldn't figure out what it was. The marines were engaged in damage repairs... A smile slowly appeared on his face as a thought occurred to him. Each cruiser carried an assault shuttle and 18 power armored marines for it for hostile boarding actions. Normally power armor was not available, but he had been going into a war zone and General Marlibue d'Tems had wanted his marines to have the edge in boarding actions against any raiders that were found. He could pack in twice the number of marines if they merely had armored spacesuits, but the power armor gave his men a huge advantage in zeroG combat and permitted them to carry much heavier weapons then normal.

The deck shuddered gently as the first missile salvo was away. The enemy destroyers had attacked the rear of a Roman squadron of cruisers to ugly effect. But they did not seem to see the small storm of missiles headed their way.

Nathan tapped the comm code for Major Belen d'Tamsen, the commander of the Pindroe d'Orly's marines.

Major Belen d'Tamsen had a voice that maybe a drunk donkey could love, but not his mother. Its deep resonance had a scratchy quality that made you sure that being tone deaf was a good thing. "Captain, how may I assist you?" grated out of Nathans earbug.

"Major, I have a job for your Raiders. We are going to have you board a destroyer, assemble intel and get out. Just like Marselles did in the movie. No living prisoners are needed. Expect to launch in ten minutes."

****

It had actually turned out to be twelve minutes. By the grace of the Dream, he had had a choice of no fewer then 3 mostly intact destroyers to choose from. The one that had had its rear end blown off was actually the most intact of them all. Problem was that meant that the Par'Mali were likely still alive in there. If they were given time, they would likely find a way to self destruct the remaining parts of the destroyer. They couldn't be allowed to do that. His five assault shuttles would be dropped as the task force went by to engage the what looked like a rag tag Deneven task force that was hotly engaging Roman capital ships. At the very least, it would draw some of the Deneven fire, and may permit the defenders to gain the upper hand.
The shuttles were designed to ram into the side of the ship and open a frontal hatch wide enough for marines in power armor to run out side by side. The marines themselves carried a variety of weapons ranging from small fully automatic shotguns to back pack powered lasers. This was in addition to shaped charged explosives, grenades, and personal weapons. Nathan was no marine and was going to do what all commanders of good men do. Let them do their jobs.

*****

Major Belen d'Tamsen knew what his mission was. He was supposed to do a forced entry into a unpowered enemy ship, search through an unmapped maze of corridors and rooms, and secure intelligence like computers and the like, all the while facing the ships crew in their own territory and with every incentive to kill him. It sounded like fun. His power armor was the results of 35 years of intensive development work. It could be easily configured to fight in any environment with just about any weapon the Numerian military possessed. Its inbuilt sensors ranged form thermal to ultra-violet to light intensification vision. It could provide basic medical care to ward off shock and prevent him bleeding out in case he lost a limb. But it didn't play music. At least not until the men modified it. He grinned. A marine without music was simply unnatural. He looked his men over once more. They were locked into skeleton couches that prevented them from flying everywhere in case the shuttle had to pull high gees. Assuming all the shuttles made it, he would have 90 marines to seize his objectives. It sounded like a lot, but a ship was normally a maze of small enclosures that permitted people to get anywhere through one of several routes. And it took a lot of manpower to seal these routes so the enemy didn't get behind you. He would likely end up with a force holding the shuttles and several forces scattered about looking for targets. The Captain did say a live Deneven was not required. A thought had passed his mind. He pulled up his TO&E and looked for several specific items and then smiled.

The shuttles closed in on their target swiftly. Ten seconds from impact their front cannon and pod rocket launchers opened up on the derelict destroyer. The armor piercing rockets smashed through the hull into underlying rooms and corridors venting atmosphere. They did not explode on purpose. The heavy belly cannons each did the same thing. The exception was area around where the assault shuttles were going to breach and board.

Belen heard the buzz for warning for imminent impact and braced himself for it. Since his skeleton couch really did this for him it consisted of closing his eyes and breathing a prayer.

Even in the couch, he and the others felt and heard screech of the impact. A rapid series of Tcches sounded as the energy and air links to the suits popped off and the couches released him and his men. "Form up and check breaching seals sergeant", he said. The thud of additional shuttles impacting close by could be heard.

"Seals good, sir", said the sergeant.

"Good, open her up and proceed. Point, remember, no live ones needed! Keep a look out for what the intel geeks can use. Let me know if you find anything. Move out!"

The doors, powered by immensely powerful hydraulics, pushed the debris out of the way as they opened like massive sideways clamshells. The crunching of metal being moved out of the way carried very well, thought Belen.

The room that lay exposed was without light and had two large sealed doors on the far wall. His men surged forwards towards the doors, their infrared sensors scanning left and right looking for warm bodies. The sudden sound of metal crumpling from their left sent everyone to the ground behind cover. It was another shuttles assault door clearing wreckage out of the way. Her marines came forth at a run. The Major ordered them through the left hatch and to keep two men behind on overwatch.

The right hatch hissed open into a narrow corridor going left to right. The point men covered both ways and then moved to the right. The rest of the team following them on a bounding overwatch. The team used the cover provided by what little stuck out from the walls and moved down the corridor like two funny looking tank treads. The last man in line moving to the front at a run to provide cover for the next last man in line. The primary corridor lights were still off, but small amber emergency lights burned enough to provide shadowy illumination. Ahead could be seen a cross corridor. The Major intended to use it to probe deeper into the ship. Three Denevens suddenly emerged from the cross corridor at a run and were promptly blown away by the two point men with fully automatic shot guns. The cats had been carrying what looked like tool kits and small comps. These were promptly collected. The Raiders reached the cross corridor and found what looked like a short corridor with several doors and an open lift at the end.

Ten men proceeded down the corridor pressed against the both the walls while a rail rifle team at the corridor entrance took aim on the open lift. Anything coming through would be ventilated. Two Raiders slapped charges on two doors and stepped back quickly. A loud bang and the doors were blown in. Grenades were thrown in, exploded, and then five men piled into each room. The loud bark of shotguns and pop of rail guns going off in one of the rooms lasted for several seconds. And then Belen waved up the rest of the force to repeat the procedure on the next set of rooms.

It was going smoothly, thought Belen. The other teams had had no armed opponents facing them yet and in some cases were penetrating deeply quickly. The targets were the bridge, computer core, engines if possible, communications, and everything else in descending order. Ah, Major Hamis reported armed contact with what sounded like officers. The pistols had not helped them much. He smiled a grim smile. It was only a matter of time until the cats started to arm the remaining crew. Then it could get hairy. Numerian and American intelligence didn't have much of an idea on what the cats carried onboard their ships for resisting boarding actions. Well, he imagined he was about to find out.

Two more charges went off and two more teams charged into their targeted rooms. So far all they had found were supply rooms. It had provide some useful electronics and tools, but nothing of any real use. Unlike several of the other teams, who had collected portable comps, and even found a core backup for what looked like the computer system for the engines. That prize had another team headed its way to help. The last hatch had had a circular stairway behind it. In the sudden silence could be heard the thump and cough of marine weapons behind him and in front of him as other boarders began to meet resistance or at least other cats.

Belen ordered mines with motion sensors to be put around the lift just in case the cats got cute.

"Major, sounds from the stairway. Above and below."

"We need to head for the bridge. Which means up. Collapse the stair below this level. Rest of the team heads up. Embrey, pick two more men and hold the stair."

The point men switched out with three men who had dual fire fully automatic grenade launchers with rail guns as the secondary close in armament. The launchers did not normally shoot explosive grenades. Rather they shot the equivalent of 'Beehive' rounds. Each round releasing hundreds of small flechettes moving at 7000 feet per second. Halfway up the stair to the next level the hatch opened and armed Denevens started coming through into the stairwell. The new point men opened up with a hail of flechettes and continued to move up the stair way so that the men behind them could bring their shotguns to bear. The cats didn't have armor like the marines. Their standard issue uniform was an armor on par with Kevlar. It provided penetration protection to the body from the first shotguns sprays, but provided nothing for the head and didn't stop bones from breaking when tens of pellets hit the chest or arms. Flesh was ripped of and skulls splintered under the impact of hundreds of little balls of steel.

The firefight was over quickly or seemingly so. As the point reached the level hatch a string of grenades thudded to the floor feet in front of them. The explosion wiped out the dim emergency lights and blew four men off their feet. This is harder to do then one might imagine as the marines boots were magnetically held to the floor. The American Private Mckinney's power armor showed extreme damage to its legs and Private Tomsin d'Gelin showed penetration to his left arm. The other two were merely dazed. Upon the heels of the explosion came a flood of cats firing rifles at point blank ranges. The fight was on.

The shotguns and flechette swarms went off at targets close enough that you could reach out and touch them. Deneven lasers snarled at the same range and both sides threw grenades. It was over forty seconds after it had begun. A stream of blood flowed down the stairway and covered everything in sight. The final tally was two marines dead and another three wounded. He was down to ten effectives, not counting the two left behind at the shuttle.

Belen asked for reinforcements from any team that had them. All five teams were engaged in firefights with crew that seemed to love ambushes and evidently knew how to use explosives. He was on his own. If he stayed, he could get his wounded back to the shuttle and then press forward. But this would give the Par'Mali time to make defenses and plan further attacks on him.

It did not take Belen long to decide. He left two men to get the dead and wounded back to the shuttle They were to attempt to rejoin if possible. He narrowed his eyes as he thought. There was a concentration of cats to the left. That meant that they were either guarding something or using it as a staging area. Either way, He needed to break it up.

While he had been thinking, the two corpsmen had done their best for the wounded and sample weapons and ear comm devices had been picked up. The intel would go back with the wounded.

"Move out." said Belen. He pointed to the left. The new point men bounded out and took their positions and the rest of the team followed them two at a time. They moved quickly in jogging rotations down the corridor, the last men watching back down the corridor in case something wicked this way came. Two corridors and two short fights later they came upon a squad of armor suited cats and everyone went for cover. The four rail rifles that Belen had snapped their high velocity rounds from behind structural members and the others threw grenades. They had left their lighter rapid fire laser rifles on the shuttles because they drained the suits quickly. The rifles had their own internal power packs, of course, but they could be shot out in a matter of a minute or less. So these rifles had the option of being plugged into their suits power packs. It would give continuous fire for almost 15 minutes. In spite of the fact that he wore powered armor, there was a limit to what he could carry. He had chosen to use area effect weapons like shotguns and flechette rounds instead of pin point accuracy weapons. The rail guns were the heavy artillery with the penetration power to kill other power armor and, of course, normally armored soldiers. They were really meant for heavier opposition, like those he faced now.

The first to use grenades this time was the Numerians. The two privates rolled them continously. This provided a very effective suppressive effect and allowed the rail gunners to point and shoot without fear of much return fire. Armor suited Denevens began to fall and not get up.
It was not all one sided. Belen had a round scrape the edge of his helmet which damaged several of his sensors and his long range communications. His suit went to its secondaries, but they did not have the same capabilities. They had hit Sergeant Jefferson Whiteman in his chest causing a seal breach and destroying his radar and infrared sensors. The same round had clipped his shotgun ammunition drum as well. The torque had jammed the drum in the gun and limited him to only another 34 rounds.

The unexpected firefight had delayed him for a critical three minutes. No other team had encountered armored cats yet and they were under nearly continuous fire. Maybe something important was down this corridor? The concentration of cats ahead was breaking up as groups dispersed. Maybe it was an armory? It was time to find out before he was forced to withdraw. His ammo was down to less then forty percent for most of his weapons save the railguns and he had used most of his grenades as well.

His question was answered for him as the ship shuddered and the dim lights went out. He had the advantage now. The dark would not impair him at all. Belen smiled in a way that could only be charitably called predatory. He was betting that the cats weren't prepared for this, but they would be if given time. The armored Denevens had been defending something. He was betting that it was the larger hatch that had been left open. Then it began to close.

"Shit!" yelled Belen. "Charge!"

The point men rocketed to their feet. They began to run forward pulling out explosives as they went. Their intent was to get to the hatch before it closed. They weren't fast enough.

Nothing needed to be said as Belen pulled his own satchel charges out and handed them to one of the Raiders. The hatch was of much heavier construction then any else encountered so far and would require much more thought about how to break through it. Merl Tamien d'Hasn took almost three minutes sounding it with his sensors and passing his hand over it in half a dozen places. Finally he knocked on it in several more places with his armored hand and began to place the charges in an odd pattern.

"We will want to be thirty feet from the hatch when the charges go off. It should throw the hatch inwards and to the left, but it will be left hanging. I don't have enough charges left to handle more then one more like this and we will likely be facing it on the bridge proper, Sir" said Merl.

The charges went off almost as one.

The first point man reached the now blown open hatch and glanced in using his guns camera. It was promptly shot at multiple times by a weapon that made a deep Burrp sound. Bits and pieces of the cross corridor flew out and banged against the far wall. The soldier drew back quickly. "Major, there are structural struts protruding from the walls and I swear there is an armored cat behind each one. Looks like a barricade with a crew mounted weapon behind it and more cats coming up behind them."

Belen nodded and pointed at private Franklin Adams. He and 4 other Americans were part of an exchange program and had been spread throughout the task forces light cruisers. In this case it was to get experience in boarding actions. They, he suspected, were also here to learn fluent Numerian as well. It was a language that many Americans had trouble with as it was very tonal in nature. They were wearing Numerian power armor like everyone else, but had dull gray stars on their shoulders.

"You were saying that you were a good pitcher in that game? Baseball? Show me what you've got."

"Major, this is what you call a bank shot." His New Californian accent sounded pleasantly exotic even when it was speaking in Numerian. The marine reached back into his pack and pulled out a string of black grenades. He then stepped near the entrance to the hallway and proceeded to bounce them off the wall into the hallway. The cats tried to shoot the grenades when they saw them flying in but it is hard to shoot at something that is small and fast and nearly the same temperature as its surroundings. Franks threw until he was out and then pulled his railgun back into position. Another Raider threw a smoke grenade into the hatchway. It bellowed forth a black haze that blocked infrared sensors in addition to normal light. It did not block the millimeter bad radar that the power armor carried. Belen's plan counted on it.
The Raiders charged into the short corridor with weapons blazing. The Denevens had problems seeing, but laid down a furious suppressive fire that the Raiders had to go through in order to fire back. But then, that was why the marines had powered armor. The fighting was cannon at fifteen feet with the occasional fisticuffs that resulted in smashed helmets and collapsed body armor. The fighting was relentless. These cats were very skilled at what they did, but skill counted for little when you couldn't see you enemy. The marines saw them coming with their suits radar and were largely able to shoot them down before the cats got close enough to see what they were trying to shoot at. Suddenly, nothing that wasn't a marine was moving.

Belen stood breathing deeply in his armor. The front of his armor had taken several laser hits and one of the bastards had nearly taken his head off at less then four feet. The cats laser rifle had pulsed once and hit the Majors chest and was getting ready to fire again. There had been nothing that Belen could do about it as he was busy killing another one that had found him. Fortunately, someone had put at least one railgun round through the cats chest and had spun the Deneven around while splashing blood all over the major and the wall next to him. It was the closest to death he had ever been and it had been an enlightening experience. Now he understood why the Orders had spent so much time with friends and family instead of partying at the bars and common mess.

"Major, the corridor is clear", the sergeant said, pulling him out of his revelation.

Another marine was checking out the point man and Private Franklin."Sir, we have a KIA and Franklin's suit is compromised. His sensors say he is suffering from an extreme concussion."

"Understood. Sergeant, do what you can. Its too far to take them back to the shuttle. I am contacting the other teams to get us support, but it may take awhile. Merl, I want that hatch down!"

"Sir, give me five.", said Merl. He moved to the armoored inner hatch and began to run his sensors an hand over it in slow motion.

"We don't want surprises from behind. Two of you keep watch outside. Sergeant Jefferson, see if you can use the cats rifles. Failing that, try that heavy railgun there." He pointed at the tripod mounted railgun that had been punching holes into the corrior walls.

It didn't take Jefferson long to make a decsion as to what to check out first. He soon had the railgun comfortably settled in his arms and a laser rifle hanging off of his equipment pack on his back.

Five minute had come and gone quickly, but Merl had emplaced less then half of the charges. Belen was getting worried. The team had been stationary for too long and he was pretty sure the cats knew he was here. The fact that no Deneven troops had shown up meant that either they had troops enroute or they were running out of soldiers. He hoped they were running out of soldiers. His team was not in the best of shape.

One of the guards at the blown hatch looked at the Major and nodded. The cats were coming and while help in the form of two battered Raider teams were on its way, they too were still encountering resistance. He and his five remaining effective were damaged and getting really low on munitions. He sincerely hoped that there weren't that many cats or it could get really dicy.


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 Post subject: part 2
PostPosted: 24 Sep 2008 23:35 
A light beam lit up the outer hatch, swish back and forth to the outer corridor wall as though looking for something. A voice growled out what sounded like short orders and the sound of many booted feet coming closer with the occasional clack of metal on metal.

Belen waited without moving and the others waited on him. The seconds ticked by slowly. Finally the cats sounded like they were just outside. "Go", he said quietly.

As one they each threw their grenades. Five fragmentation grenades and a smoke grenade went off in a sharp series of explosions. Sounds of Denevans yowling in pain and surprise came through Belens ear mikes.

The Raiders threw another batch of grenades into the now smoke filled corridor. Again a series of fragmentation grenades went off, quieting many of the wounded permenantly. Yet more smoke billowed forth from a second smoke grenade. The sharp crack of particle beam rifles and shotguns filled the air as the cats tried to laydown suppressive fire.
Belen was doing something that Franks had given him the idea for. He was doing a rolling barrage of grenades. The next throw was bounced off the opposite corridor wall in order to angle to explode further down the corridor. With them went the last smoke grenade.

Three Raiders armed with shotguns and Jefferson with his rail cannon movedout into the smoke filled corridor right after the last grenades were thrown and took positions against the walls. They then proceeded to slow walk forward until their sensors picked up movement they let their shotguns bark. Belen and another followed them outto watch the other end of the corridor. That left just Merl to guard the armored hatch to the Bridge.

The Denevans fired blue particle beams back into the smoke filled darkness blindly. The noise was incredible, like a continous crackle of thunder intermixed with the loud wine of flights of murderous flechettes and the occasional scream of agony. The Denevan rail cannon that Jefferson had was lost in the cacophony of it all.

"Sir," said Merl. "The hatch is opening!"

Belen and the Raider next to him looked at one another and charged back into the short bridge corridor. All the while Belen shouted, " Blow it, blow it!" The explosion was blinding and blew the hatch inwards towards the bridge. The two marines automatically jumped to the sides of the corridor while their eyes adjusted. Their helmets had blocked the worst of the light, but some had still leaked through before the helmet had adjusted for it.

It had sounded like the hatch had crushed something metal. Ah, it had not fallen all the way, thought Belen. Beyond the half fallen hatch were a mass of figures that gave off heat signatures. Belens rail gun started to snap rounds through the mass of cats that had started to move towards the hatch. His example was copied by the other Raider. Merl threw his last grenade in and pulled his rail gun down from its rest position. The Denevans went to cover with admirable speed and began to fire back.

With a loud clump the grenade went off, throwing bodies into the air. Their landing could not be heard over the thunder of particle beams and crash of rail gun rounds hitting walls.

The team's diagnostics icon flashed once with information in Belens visor. Damn, thought Belen. One of his men out in the main corridor had taken a particle beam to the already damaged helmet. That left just Jefferson and Madi to control the corridor. He could no longer track their progress by the noise made outside because of the fighting in here.
The marine Raider across from him took another hit to the chest. It was just one too many. The man crumpled to the ground. His medical system dumped drugs into his blood stream to keep his body alive just a little bit longer. It was not necessary. His chest had its right side burned out from the penetration.

The number of particle beams probing into the bridge corridor was beginning to drop noticably as Belen and Merl killed their users one by one. Outside the noise rose to a cresendo and then dropped quickly to occasional shots. The reinforcements had arrived.

*****

Captian Lufuris and his mauled team had arrived. The scene of carnage in the corridor was like nothing he had ever conceived of. The bodies lay two to three deep in places. His suit radar picked up three hard targets further down the corridor. His IFF queried and returned two of them as medically damaged friendlies and the last one as dead. There were additional IFF, but they were garbled. He motioned for his team to move forward. This entire damn ship had been one ambush after another. He had left seven dead and injured at the shuttles on his way here. That had left him with eleven men counting himself. None of his men were undamaged and half of them were using captured Denevan weapons because he had run out of ammunition for their shotguns and railguns. He had even run out of grenades.

Sergeant Jefferson watched them come slowly up the corridor. He couldn't figure out why they were not answering his radio calls. Then he ran a suit diagnostic. His radio was dead. He turned on his external speakers and said, "Sergeant Jefferson reporting sir. The Major is waiting for you inside the bridge." The Sergeant pointed at the destroyed hatch.

As far as Lufuris was conserned, the marine was lucky to be standing. His armor looked like some giant had pounded on it repeatedly. His living companion looked worse. The private had taken severe damage to her right leg. This was evident from the actual hole in its slanted surface. She was sitting with her leg outstretched using the bodies as cover. Her suit had dumped pain killers and a chemical cocktail into her body to kepp her awake and somewhat effective. It would not be long before the cocktail failed. One of his medics started to tend to her. Lufuris passed throught the hatch into the bridge corridor and saw the carnage in here as well. The actual bridge hatch had been blown off but had caught on an internal railing going around the outside edge of the bridge.

Belen and Merl both had their suit lights on. Merl had collected several portacomps and was putting them into a backpack.

*****

Belen looked at Lufuris and nodded. Lufuris nodded back and said, "We found their backup computer core. The primary was badly damaged while fighting for it, but we're taking it anyway. One of the other teams found a computer system in their surgery. We took that too."

Belen merely nodded and said in a quiet voice,"This was a fuck up. Next time we do this better. As for now, our time is running out. Lets get our people home."


*****

The Major had run a successfull thump and grab, thought Nathan. He coughed. One of the Denevan destroyers had hit the cruiser several times and caused a multitude of fires that had spread smoke throughout the ship. Including onto the bridge and had made his voice sound raspy. He had a task force full of damaged ships and too many casualties. Over 3000 dead and 700 injured had resulted from this fight. His remaining med bays were overloaded in the extreme to the point that he had asked Navarchus Balearicus for assistance. He got it. 400 crewmen were shuttled down to Noricum Ripense along with a few medical staff to keep a watchful eye on them. Nathan had also arranged a payment to cover bills and housing until another convoy made it through.

The patients commanding Officer was Meliir d'Durhven and he had been given orders to assist in Noricum Ripenses defense in any way he could. To assist in this Nathan was also detaching some of his damaged ships along with the remains of their crews. It would require two weeks of work to get the Thurgrym and two of the frigates back online. The last frigate would likely take two months or more of yard work, but she was a relatively modern vessel and could be repaired faster then new Roman ones could be made.

It was only a small assist, but Navarchus Balearicus had, after a moments hesitation, grabed at it like a drowning man. The gift of already trained and battle seasoned spacers and a few warships were treated like gold and had dramatically changed the way he and his command were being treated. The Romans were no longer standoffish, and their orbital control officers greeting his communications with the closest thing to a smile he had ever seen on their faces.

While he did not think a light cruiser and three frigates would help a lot, it was what he could get away with leaving. The cruiser Thurgrym would have her magazines topped off and it and the frigates would get what supplies he could spare. Their crews compliments were being brought up to full and marines would be left with them as well. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the shuffling to finish.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2008 10:35 
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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
I see you decided to post this story here. Good idea. Tis a good un and needs to be shared. :bs



Cheers, Þórgrímr

_________________
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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 Post subject: yeppers
PostPosted: 26 Sep 2008 22:44 
It still needs work. I just wanted to say thank you again for letting me play in your world. It was fun! :bs


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 Post subject: Re: yeppers
PostPosted: 01 Oct 2008 02:00 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
Sergeant Major of the USMC
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Joined: 23 May 2005 16:49
Posts: 5244
Location: Wandering the Wastes
Haegan2005 wrote:
It still needs work. I just wanted to say thank you again for letting me play in your world. It was fun! :bs


No need to end the playtime. :w I am sure there are a LOT of stories to be told in the official BTS! 'verse. :bs



Cheers, Þórgrímr

_________________
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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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 07 Oct 2008 00:05 
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Joined: 06 Oct 2008 00:03
Posts: 457
Oh yes. Many stories indeed. should i post the greetings thread?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: 07 Oct 2008 03:03 
Offline
Sergeant Major of the USMC
Sergeant Major of the USMC
User avatar

Joined: 23 May 2005 16:49
Posts: 5244
Location: Wandering the Wastes
haegan2007 wrote:
Oh yes. Many stories indeed. should i post the greetings thread?


Sure, if you wish to. :AH



Cheers, Þórgrímr

_________________
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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