It was a cold morning…just like all the others I’ve experienced in this desolate hellhole. LuckyStrike’s skills might be superb with his weaponry, but he manages to screw up even the instant coffee from an MRE. I drank it anyway, savoring the flow of warmth as it coursed down my throat and doing my best to ignore the feeling that I was swallowing metal shavings at the same time. What does he put in this stuff?
With Lorax and Heavy both out on a three-day pass, I was happy to get a decent night’s sleep for once. Rooming with those two guys in the abandoned business district here in Minsk is no picnic. Lorax snores like an FAV with a cherrybomb muffler. And Heavy? Well…let’s just say that the enchilada MRE might be his favorite, but it doesn’t do the rest of us any favors.
I sat at my post in the front line bunker, sipping my metal shaving mocha with a blissful smile on my frostbitten lips. I was daydreaming about how great the sleep period was going to be for the next two days when the klaxon started bugging out.
I almost jumped out of my skin as the screeching sound obliterated the otherwise quiet morning air. Pfeil likes to keep us on our toes with practice drills and it always happens on my watch. Shaking the spilt coffee from my cold-weather gloves, I turned around to give him a piece of my mind.
Pfeil’s eyes were hard. So hard, you’d think they were frozen. That only happens when he means business. I strangled my words and closed my jaw. This wasn’t a drill. With most of my coffee decorating the concrete floor of the bunker, I shot the last dregs down my gullet and tossed the cup as I raced to the weapons rack to grab my shotgun. Nabbing a Sentry Gun on my way to the bottom floor, I saw Drakin’s boys through my HUD as they grabbed kit and caboodle.
Lucy Quipment was parked right where I left her. Tall, sexy, with long legs and an upper body to die for, she’s the sweetest looking gal I’ve ever seen. My Bio readings were scanned as I climbed up the ladder into her cockpit and her fusion engine was purring like a kitten by the time I strapped in. My frozen fingers shot through with a throbbing pain as I yanked my gloves off and greeted the warm heat that comes with being inside a box that sits right on top of a miniature sun. I guess it’s a perk of being a walker pilot, but I try not to think too hard about what would happen if that titanium casing were ever breached.
Lucy Quipment and I moved out as the final cablings were interfaced with my helmet. She became an extension of myself. My sense of balance tied to her gyroscope, I had the feeling of ambling along at a brisk walk even though I was sitting still.
Lucy’s enhanced radar picked up a rabbit moving towards the bunker’s main chokepoint. I love these things. Rabbits are chewy little things with the only defense being speed. Little did they know we already laid traps for them.
EMP Mines detonated when the rabbit got close and Lucy opened up on the hapless driver with her twin gatlings. Like most women, when Lucy gets mad at you, her words are death.
Off to my left, the diamonds of two enemies floated along the northern side of the bunker complex. Lucy spoke harsh words again, but the men were obviously married. They avoided and ignored me and my baby and hugged some cover.
The next few moments were a blur. With the power of a walker, I had a lot of responsibility by providing covering fire. I saw the incoming mortar rounds from an enemy APC floating towards my position like the arcing flight of a PowerBall in the NPBL’s UltraBowl. The rounds exploded around me, doing little damage to Lucy, but wreaking havoc among my comrades. Nameless faces lay sprawled on the permafrost, broken and bleeding.
My rage was up and I flared off a set of rockets at the murdering APC. Mid-flight, my rockets were joined by the shot of a Pilum. Smoking wreckage was all that was left.
Minutes passed and all the while, the harsh words of Lucy kept the enemy from overrunning our position. Pfeil directed me where I was needed most, and I moved to support. It was a constant battle to throw the enemy back, keeping their heads down so my comrades could do the dirty work.
Oh feth. The boys in the trenches saw the tank approaching up the main road and spotted it on my minimap. The hovering bastard was out of my range. The first shot was already on the way and Lucy took a shuddering hit. The feedback caused me to nearly pass out. Electrostatic discharges swarmed around the controls of my cockpit like a teeming swarm of neon-blue hornets. I frantically hit the shields just in time to stop a second round from the tank. Just in time, but just for a moment.
The shields on these walkers were too much of a drain on the reactors to last for more than a brief moment or two. I felt sluggish and drunk as the pull on the core took a nose dive from the demands of the shields.
It only lasts a moment, but that’s all the tank needed. I frantically backpedaled Lucy towards the west, trying to put the hardened walls of the bunker between me and that hovering armor-killer.
When things get bad, they usually get worse. This was definitely the case on this damn-cold morning. A distress signal lit up on my HUD. They’d broken through! Our main vehicle depot was under attack.
Confusion reigned on comms. Shouts of “Holy feth, where’d they come from” and “They’re taking the rear base” fought for supremacy as Pfeil tried to quiet everyone down. His voice was as frosty as Lucy’s armorplas windshield.
“Drakin and his boys are going to retake our base, you guys stop freaking and get back to doing your jobs. I’m counting on you.”
That’s when I noticed that the FAV that usually sits next to Lucy was gone. The bastards had hacked our rabbit’s Bioscanner and had used it to break through. Must’ve been a Shade that did it. Those damn cloaking devices are noisy as hell, but if nobody’s around to hear it, you can usually remain unseen and undetected. The enemy had proven that.
All these thoughts happened in the span of a heartbeat. My heart skipped as the glowing streak of a Pilum shot erupted from the northern section of trenches and whizzed past my front viewing pane. It was so close that the shimmering heat of the discharge instantly evaporated the frost from the armorplas. My hand was slamming down on the shield button in rapid succession. Nothing. They hadn’t recharged yet. Looking at my fusion meter, I knew they wouldn’t finish recharging by the time the next Pilum round came in.
With little chance of the enemy missing a second time, I kicked Lucy into high gear. Her sexy legs tore up the ground underneath as I ground forwards, tracer rounds from the gatlings lighting up the enemy engineer’s position. If he stuck his head out for another shot, I’d make him pay for it in blood.
The calm sound of Lucy’s husky, bedroom voice purred in my ear, “shields on standby.”
Just in time too. Another round from that damn tank was streaking in. I hit the popper and the energy field sprung into life. Not one, but two impacts fizzled against the impenetrable shield. The engineer in the trenches was dead-on target, but too late. My shields snapped up the Pilum shot and spit it out.
I screamed in victory from the confines of my cockpit. He wouldn’t get a third shot. Lucy stalked up to the edge of the trenches and let loose on the dumb bastard. Gatling rounds ricocheted around inside the metal walled trench like a hyper-pinball table. The enemy engineer fell apart, literally shredded alive by the volume of fire.
A vindictive grin crossed my face briefly, but was wiped away by a gasp of panic. Out of my peripheral vision, another Pilum round was streaking in from further up the trenches. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t duck it. All I had time to do was hit the ejection mechanism.
Ejecting from a Walker is not like an aircraft. No bolts blow the cockpit enclosure. No rockets propel your seat out of the vehicle. Ejecting from a Walker is more like getting flushed down a toilet. Your command couch rotates on a hinge located where the seat meets the back rest. You are unceremoniously dumped through the underside of the walker onto the ground.
MilSpecs say you will land on your feet. They obviously never tried this in a combat environment. With Lucy still in mid-stride, the combination of being dumped out and being pushed forward means that the only way to survive is to hit the ground in a combat roll and get clear of the crushing step of the walker. Lucy hates being abandoned for death, so I don’t blame her for trying to stomp on my skull as I bailed.
I had my shotgun clutched tightly in my hands, cradling it as I came up out of my roll and murderously glared at the trenches, searching for the enemy. Lucy fell over in her death throes behind me as I rushed to the trench. LuckyStrike was trading shots with some enemies and I moved up next to him, laying down a pattern of scattering buckshot in the general vicinity of where he was firing. The HUD blinked once as it detected that one of my shots grazed an enemy’s shoulder. It wasn’t the one though. My eyes scanned the terrain and saw the engineer that killed Lucy lurking behind some supply crates to the north of my position. Without thinking, I was up and running.
“Wait,” cried LuckyStrike, but I was oblivious. Racking my shotgun, I nimbly hopped the wall of the trench and was dashing across the open area to flank the crates from the engineer’s blind side.
The crunch of my boots on the permafrost sounded like the grinding noise of chewing on GrapeNut cereal. No wonder he heard me coming. His puny SMG shook in his hands as I rounded the corner. It was a kid. He must have been a raw recruit so fresh out of the womb that he wasn’t even issued a shaving kit. No remorse. His brains formed steaming piles of gobbets on the frozen ground as I blew them through the back of his helmet. Lucy was avenged.
I’m not sure how long the battle went on. I was incoherent with rage. They had the gall to attack before I’d even finished my first cup of coffee, made me spill half of it, murdered my comrades, and put a serious hurting on my poor walker Lucy Quipment. Suffice to say, the only thing I heard was Pfeil’s cool voice directing my rage to where it would do the most good.
I saw the contrails of drop pods rocketing from the sky onto a piece of cover on the south side. Shotgun at the ready, I waded in. Arms, legs, and torsos exploded from the point-blank blasts of explosive buckshot. I found the beacon and turned it to scrap…then continued to march up the line of the southern trench, hunting for more enemies.
At the edge of the trench, I saw a lone enemy standing motionless halfway up the hillside. He didn’t see me yet. Apparently, my casual walk without firing at him must have confused him. It wasn’t until I opened up with a blast from the shotgun from medium range that he figured out I wasn’t there to give him a pedicure. My first shot merely grazed him. He panicked. Jumping around like some idiot hopping barefoot on hot coals, he tried to bring his weapon to bear. The clack of another shell being racked into the chamber, and I sent the second blast straight at his torso.
Body Armor is meant to protect you from weapons. Too many soldiers gain comfort from this and believe that they are invincible. I proved this particular soldier’s theory to be wrong. A solid round of buckshot could probably be deflected. That was back in the days before backblasting buckshot was invented.
In today’s world, buckshot isn’t just a round sphere of metal. It burned with an outer coating of white-hot magnesium. By the time it hits the target, that magnesium has super-heated the round. Melting the initial layer of body armor, the round can pass the outer shell of defense. The heat generated from the Magnesium also causes the interior of the buckshot’s spherical shell to expand. The expansion breaks a small seal that lets the outside air rush in. Sulfur and oxygen don’t mix. When one meets the other, the chemical change caused by the unstable structure of the sulfur’s molecules mixing with the Oxygen causes an explosion. Not much of one though. But mixing this small explosion with a highly explosive bit of modified RDX compound? Well…that makes for some brilliant fireworks.
The rounds pierced the body armor of my opponent, searing through the outer shell and nestling into the chest cavity. Then the explosions did the rest. His body torn to pieces, I breathlessly panted, scanning the surrounding area for more enemies.
“Sorry Pfeil, I must’ve blanked out for a second there. What’s our status?”
“You got the last one buddy. It’s over. Come on back to the bunker and we’ll start a final sweep.”
Shotgun hanging limply from one hand, I trudged back towards the command bunker. If I was lucky, I’d still have time to grab another cup of LuckyStrike’s horrible coffee before we started burial detail. With all the comrades we lost, swallowing the bitter stuff would taste much sweeter than the post-battle depression that comes with seeing your brothers buried in the cold, hardened ground of this frozen wasteland.
I guess when you’re stationed in an outpost like this hellhole, you start to take on the mindset that matches the environmental conditions. I hope my mind will eventually be able to thaw out.
** The end of Round 1. Round 2 of the Minsk battle to come in another installment of “Blood and Honor, The Journal of a 9th MID Soldier”.
Last edited by Prophaniti; 04-26-2007 at 10:53 PM.
And if the Wonder Twin powers were ever activated with them saying "Form of, Iambic Pentameter" I would keel over dead from laughter at the lunacy of trying to not only mix terminology dealing with poetry with the creation of a novella, but also from you attempting to outsmart a Sicilian! It's inconceiveable!
Bring it Damonte...if everyone told a story instead of posting screenshots of the end-of-round scores, the AAR section would be much more interesting.
I wish you the best and if there's ever an idea you'd like to try in crossing the storylines, let me know and I'll keep you updated on what will be happening in my storyline that will remain unaffected by the actual outcomes of who the 9th MID plays or whether we win our matches.