Hello, all. I’ve been submerged in certain real life considerations that have had to be taken care of, and it has cut into my writing time something fierce. To be honest, it has cut into free time in general. Soon I’ll be back into the swing of things. In the meantime, here is the third part of “An Onslaught Antagonized.”
An Onslaught Antagonized, Part 3
Krasnoyarsk Outpost Two, Siberian District, Russia
25 August, 2259 Terra Year
2130 Zulu Time
Second Lieutenant Mark DeBourchier accepted the salute of his gunnery sergeant and waited for him to move quickly to his post at the back of the formation. When the man stopped and assumed the position of attention, the lieutenant spoke up.
The platoon shifted into a looser formation and looked at their boss.
“It’s a fine time to be up and about this bright day, isn’t it?”
The assembled Marines rolled their eyes at their irrepressible lieutenant. It was still dark, but approaching twilight. He went on.
“We will be doing light patrol in Iwohime’s Rift. Going to be all day, and part of the night. There was reports of activity of some unspecified nature going on in that area, and we have orders to investigate and report back using quantum comms.”
This generated a stir. Quantum comms was the latest thing that the engineering geniuses had come up with. It was supposed to be able to reach the other side of a planet, using something called a ‘nucleonic baryon relay.’ The lieutenant was interested in science, but this was stuff way over his head. As far as he was concerned, so long as it worked when he hit the ‘transmit’ button, and he could hear what the command base was sending back, he was happy. He didn’t have to worry about this electron doing that to this neutron, or that quark insinuating itself onto another. As long as it worked, he was good to go.
A hand went up. He turned his head.
“Yes, Lance Corporal?”
“Sir, are we expected to use these new comms as a field test of untried equipment?” The corporal’s face was blankly outraged. DeBourchier sighed, not caring if they saw what he thought.
“Yes, Lance Corporal. While I like technical stuff,” several men coughed while remembering some of the machines he’d tried without success, “ours is not to reason why, but to do.”
The lance corporal stiffened.
“Aye, aye, sir.”
Lieutenant DeBourchier went on.
“Get your field gear on. Report to the armory and draw weapons. Everything is waiting for you. There will be a load-out of rifle, sidearms, and bladed weapons. Reloads also. Delta squad, you will function as heavy weapons, and will draw weapons accordingly.”
An anticipatory shiver ran through the platoon. Lieutenant DeBourchier caught the speculative eye of the gunny, and nodded. Adding sidearms was not the usual procedure while going out on patrol in the area he’d mentioned. In fact, it seemed to be a little heavier than usual. The gunny raised an eyebrow, and the lieutenant shook his head. There would be time to fill him in to the new stuff he had in a little bit.
“We don’t have a lot of time for questions or the normal routine, for that matter. There was a possibility of a Trippy scouting party out there in that area and we’ve been detailed to clean it out. There may be others in other areas, and there are other units assigned to check that out. We have our own area of responsibility to worry about. Gear up, people and shag ass over there. No formation run there – we’ll form up in the armory bay and inspect arms, then move out.”
Another glance at the gunny.
“And yes, people, I realize this is highly unusual. Get moving. Fall out!”
The group scattered.
DeBourchier motioned his gunny over before he could leave.
“Jim, there’s more.”
The gunny was a sixteen year veteran that was up for an early first sergeant post. He knew when things was about to go bad, and this time was one of them. He turned back to his lieutenant, and they started walking to the armory as they talked.
“Yes, sir, I figured that there was. That load-out isn’t common.”
“No, and neither is the order to remain in place at all costs, if we make contact. We are not to retreat or make tactical withdrawals.”
The gunny stared.
“Gunny, all I know is that there’s some tech in the comm units they’re issuing us that have to remain in proximity of any Trippies we encounter.”
“Sir, that sounds like these quantum comms are also sensor platforms.”
“Gunny, I couldn’t say. I wasn’t given a lot of choice three hours ago, when some new general’s aide got me up out of my bunk. She got me to an unscheduled meeting with the Skipper, the XO, and the other platoon leaders.”
“Wow. Skipper must have loved that.”
“Gunny – she didn’t say a single word. Whoever that general was, he had her quiet as a church mouse.”
The gunny whistled soundlessly. DeBourchier went on.
“That told me a bunch, right there. When they told me about the quantum comms, and gave us a change in operating area, that told me more. Then when they told me that we’d be getting extra rations, that told be even more. Here’s another thing. We’re supposed to have access to special tactical weapons for this mission.”
“Sir, wait. Mission? Special tactical? Nukes?”
The lieutenant nodded grimly.
“That’s right. If we get overrun by a large force, we can call in nukes. In fact, we will be expected to. And you can’t mention that little fact to the others, except if I’m down, you take over, and the situation is grim.”
The sergeant looked bewildered.
“Sir, just what in the hell is going on upstairs?” DeBourchier shook his head in irritation. He wasn’t too happy about any of it.
“I don’t know, and I suspect that if I knew I wouldn’t like it any more than I like it now. In fact, I’d like it less.”
They reached the armory, a huge structure with a foreboding look to its construction. They went in, and went through the motions of drawing their weapons. Before they could start, the first squad leader came up to them with their personal gear. DeBourchier grinned.
“Davy, that was good. You anticipated us. You trying to become gunny?” The man laughed.
“One day, sir.”
“I don’t doubt it. Spread the word to get to the armory’s bay and prepare for a very quick inspection.”
The man braced to attention.
“Aye-aye, sir!” DeBourchier nodded to him, and he broke off. The squad leader moved quickly and was soon gone.
“Sir, everything’s ready for you.” The gunny had already gotten all of his equipment together, and was casting a critical eye over it.
DeBourchier signed several forms, quickly reviewing them as he did. He slipped on the web belt, and cinched it firmly. He checked the sidearm, a model C1-NC disruptive effect blaster, and assured himself that the charge was completely ready and that there were three extra power cells in complete shape. This went snug into the form fitted holster, and he heard a double retention click.
Next, two standard-issue blades with monomolecular edges. A machete-lengthen blade, and a combat knife with a stout grip. Why he needed two blades, he didn’t know, but his orders had been specific.
After that, the anionic rifle was produced, inspected, and accepted. The Hegemony called this by the dry “BFR-6,” but he and the other Marines called it the Big Daddy. Four reloads for it was accepted also, and not for the first time the lieutenant wondered why the reloads for the blaster and the rifle wasn’t interchangeable. It would make things so much easier.
He looked over the papers one more time, and satisfied himself that things had been properly executed.
“We’re good. We’ll form up and get out of your hair.”
The senior sergeant nodded. He wasn’t smiling.
“Yes, sir. You guys be careful out there, you hear? Give ’em hell for us.”
“Always.” Lieutenant DeBourchier grinned at the man. He turned away to join his men, since he had heard the gunny call for the men to fall in. As he went through the double doors leading to the bay, the armory sergeants glanced at each other.
“Mike, they drew more than they usually do.”
“Yeah, I noticed that, and it doesn’t make for good thoughts.”
“No, it doesn’t, and I hope nothing happens.”
They turned back to their work, getting ready for another platoon to come in for a similar draw.
In the bay, Lieutenant DeBourchier accepted the salute of the gunny, and they went through an abbreviated inspection. ‘Abbreviated’ was most likely stretching it, as they got through it in record time. The lieutenant had never seen orders with such a sense of urgency dripping from every word, and while he normally would have taken his time, the early morning visit had convinced him. In due course, they completed the cursory inspection.
“Right, face! Forward, march!”
The platoon moved toward the wide rolling door that Gunnery Sergeant Katz had opened, and Lieutenant DeBourchier marched his platoon out. He waited for his gunny to get the door back down and rejoin them, glancing over to see him fall into his place.
“Double time, march!”
The platoon shifted into a faster movement. They moved down the road, and Lieutenant DeBourchier kept them going. After the base faded from view, the lieutenant slowed them down.
“Quick time, march!”
After a few minutes, they came to a spot that was almost a clearing. The lieutenant called for a halt.
“Left, face!” As the men turned to face him in their ruler straight ranks, he looked around. “OK, people, we need to set up a post here. Get the quantum comms set up by those trees, about a hundred yards apart, and linked in. Otherwise, you know what needs to be done. Fall out.”
The Marines set up quickly, while a couple of the four squads paired off and started to patrol. The quantum comms fired up and tracked into several linkages quickly. The communications sergeant send several test messages in each band and was pleased to note that the reply messages came back much quicker that his old sets. He looked up at Lieutenant DeBourchier.
“Sir, this set is like a dream. Do I get to keep it?”
“Fraid not, sergeant. We’ll have to turn it back in when we get back. Hey, did the locator function kick in?”
“Locator? Let me check.” A moment passed, and a chime sounded from the machine. “There it goes, sir. Our location is being triangulated and transmitted, with encryption. And the two sets are reporting each others location in separate channels, so if one goes down the other picks it up instantly. And they are doing it together twice or three times as fast as the old sets. This is nice, sir.”
“Glad you approve. Get all the kinks worked out and pay attention. You’re going to be giving a report on how it performed to Captain Màrtainn when you get back.”
The look on the man’s face made it hard to keep his own straight, but somehow he managed.
“And just to make things worse, I’m supposed to tell you that if you do a good enough job in convincing her that we really could use these things, she’s going to take to see Colonel Hamilton.”
The look was almost pleading. The lieutenant went on, breezily.
“So! Work hard on it. I know you’ll do a great job, since you’d never done anything less for me. I have an astounding amount of faith in your ability to close this deal, since it’s plain you really, really like these units.”
“Uh, thanks, sir. A lot…”
“You’re very welcome, sergeant! Well, got to go check other stuff, and get ready for standing my watch.”
DeBourchier nodded to the man, and chuckled to himself once he was out of earshot. That was mean of him, almost, but at least the sergeant had been forewarned. His thoughts turned to the job at hand and his grip on his rifle tightened more. He took a moment to look in all directions. DeBourchier was uneasy out here, and trying not to show it.
That’s it for this round. Enjoy, and any comments, please leave here.