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Reinforcing the Lines
Colonel Bill Jackson, Sniper Team/Division Commander (Hog Boss), and Naval Captain Martha Franklin of the troop assault carrier Tripoli and Task Force Commander, slowly walked the beach hand in hand. They’re inspecting the beach defenses located at the Republic base on Planet H-252 (Hell). A cool brisk wind swept across the beach from the ocean carrying with it the promise of the oncoming storm. The wind driven waves pounded into the flat beach throwing a white misty spray into the air. The azure blue sky held only wispy strands of clouds rapidly moving west.
Heavy hover lifters moved around the beach for miles depositing massive plasticrete barriers. The mech units will use the plasticrete barriers for cover when the Cartel Submersible Beach Assault Hover Craft (SBAHC-700) begin their attack.
Bill turns to Martha with a sad smile. “Martha, we’re in for the fight of our lives. The Warlords, Pirates and Marxists have put together an enormous assault force. Those massive mobile rail cannons and special munitions they have can kill a lot of our troops if we let them get too close. The SBAHC-700s making a beach landing will tie down some of our mobile rail guns and reserve mechs. We’re going to depend on your orbital team and those captured torpedoes to turn the tide here. We should get plenty of warning as to when and where the SBAHC-700s are going to land. The engineers have seeded the waters 5 miles out with remote sensor and anomaly detection buoys. This should give your team time to get the torpedoes on target. Once the anomaly detection buoys sense a SBAHC-700 it will relay the data to other buoys and track the machine’s progress. The buoys will continue to stream the data and build an accurate tactical map.”
Martha stopped walking and turned to face Bill. “You know Chief Bronson, my gunnery specialist, will move mountains by hand if necessary to protect you and our troops. I do worry about you though, you always seem to get yourself into the middle of gunfights. My team will deliver the torpedoes to the specified locations in time to save our troops, that’s my promise.”
Bill smiled sincerely at the love of his life. Bill places his arm over Martha’s shoulder and draws her tight to his body as they continue their walk. The Mechs began arriving to inspect the defenses being placed by the engineers.
The Mechs are massive bipedal heavily armored walking tanks controlled by a single operator. Mechs stand 12 feet high with heavy weapons mounted on each arm. The weapons are varied according to the mission of the machine from massive plasma cannons, rail guns, flame throwers and heavy machine guns. The two shoulders hide small missile racks that deploy and lock onto aircraft or ground targets with high explosive penetrator warheads.
One Mech is waving its arms wildly. Bill initiates his tactical comm unit in his onboard implants and listens to the conversation. “Hey, engineers what the hell is this? You want us to stand at the water’s edge and greet a pack of SBAHC-700s? Move the barriers back to the edge of the dunes. This will give us a much greater field of fire. And what the hell is that?” The Mech points to a rail gun revetment.
“That’s a rail gun revetment Gunny Robinson,” came a response from the lead engineer.
“Why hell, you got that revetment close enough for the gun crew to throw rocks. Get those revetments back at least another 500 yards behind the dunes so they can act as an over watch for us Mechs.”
“Hey Bedlam are you aggravating the engineers again?” says an unidentified voice.
“Is that the great and powerful Executioner addressing me?” Bedlam responds in a snarky tone.
“You little jarhead runt you better watch how you speak to me,” snapped Executioner.
“You’re a big oaf and I’ll talk to you as I please. Now do some work and help get these emplacements in good order,” Bedlam replied.
“Who died and made you the boss around here? I’ve been moving up the beach rearranging emplacements for the last 20 minutes.”
Martha nudged Bill in the ribs as she snickered, “If you didn’t know those two were friends you’d think they hated each other.”
“Yea they’ll growl at each other all day and be sitting together in the chow hall tonight filling the heads of the newbies with their war stories,” Bill replied with a chuckle.
Bill activated his full communications suite to talk to the two E7s. “Bedlam and Executioner, could you come over here for a moment. I’m at your 5 o’clock 200 yards down the beach.” Both Mechs stopped and turned to see who was speaking.
“Hey Hog Boss, we’ll be right there. I’ve been straightening out this big oaf Executioner about emplacement design,” chuckles Bedlam.
“Hey runt, I know more about emplacement design than you’ll ever know.”
The two men walk to Bill and Martha’s location and place the Mechs into a kneeling position then open their cockpit hatches. The two noncoms couldn’t be more different. The Marine Gunny Nigel Robinson (Bedlam) stands 5’6” tall and Army Sgt 1st Class Craig Swanson (Executioner) towered at 6’6”. Both men wore their camouflage Mech driver coveralls and helmet with full face shield that shows their surroundings on a heads-up display when enclosed in the cockpit.
Both men walk up to the two officers and stop three feet from the couple. “I know the two of you are the best of friends so why do you argue like an old married couple,” Bill states with a Cheshire cat grin on his face.
Executioner clears his throat, “Well Hog Boss if you had to deal with this little arrogant jarhead every day you’d get a little out of whack too.”
“Look who’s calling who arrogant. Didn’t I save your bacon on Sensei 3? You and your squad were being chased by a company of Mechs bent on frying your hides,” Bedlam finishes with a grin.
“I don’t recall that episode, but I do recall finding you and your squad backed into a shallow cave surrounded by a dozen Mechs on the Mars mission. And I also recall some runt calling me for help. So, I sauntered over to your location and dispatched the rouges for you,” Executioner finishes with a smug expression.
“Ok you two I’ve heard your war stories. Who do you have as your sergeants?
“Marine Sgt Carl Weatherman (Skull Crusher) and Army Sgt. Christine Walls (Punisher), and we had to fight to get them,” Bedlam replies.
Bedlam hails from the Republic of Britton where he grew up on the mean streets of a city called Manchester. He was a true street brawler as a young man and joined the Galactic Marines so he could fight without going to jail. His battle moniker Bedlam was awarded to him by none other than Colonel Bill Jackson after he ran into a company of 32 insurgents alone and scattered them to the winds in a matter of 5 minutes.
Executioner got his moniker as a sniper before he joined the Mech Corps. He was born on Cassius 2 in the outer reaches of the colonized sector known for its mineral wealth. The planet’s location made it a prime target for marauders of all stripe. He grew up fighting for his family estate to deny the marauders their spoils.
Executioner and Bedlam have fought on many campaigns together and are the best of friends. But you would never guess that from their daily banter.
“Are your Sargent’s on the beach?” Bill asked.
“They should be here shortly. I told them to join us when you called,” Bedlam responds.
Two additional Mechs walk up to the group and assumed the kneeling position to exit. Army Sgt. Christine Walls (Punisher) was the first on the ground. A tall woman standing 5’11” with platinum blonde hair tied back into a pony tail and striking blue eyes. She turns towards Marine Sgt. Carl Weatherman (Skull Crusher). “Well Skull Crusher are you going to join me down here?” she asked with a chuckle. She knew all too well the behemoth of a man took a while to exit his Mech.
Skull Crusher is a big man; his 6’10” frame weighs 310 lbs. of solid muscle. His black hair is cut in the short Marine Corps fashion which emphasized his rugged chiseled features. He slowly dislodged himself from the cockpit and jumped to the ground. “Funny Punisher, you bust my chops every time I get out of the Mech slower than you. I’m still trying to figure you out. You come from one of the richest families in the home system yet you’re here wallowing in blood and guts with us grunts.”
Marine Sgt. Carl Weatherman (Skull Crusher) was born on Earth in the republic of Australia in the city of Sydney. He got his moniker in a fight during a melee on a raid of a pirate stronghold in uncharted space. He killed 15 pirates all in body armor by clubbing them with his empty plasma cannon.
Army Sgt. Christine Walls (Punisher) was born on the Moon colony into a very wealthy family. Her family owns the corporation that financed the original colonization of the moon. When she asked for permission to join the Galactic Army her mother had her committed to a mental institution. She quickly escaped the halfway house and forged documents to enlist. She hasn’t spoken to her family since she joined the Army. She got her moniker for her ability to lay down suppression fire with deadly effect. Fighting with Executioner on his home world of Cassius 2 she laid down suppression fire from an exposed ridge, pinning a battalion of armored troops as her company maneuvered in for the kill.
“So, you four are my beach assault command team. Sorry I couldn’t get you an officer.”
“No problem sir I think we can handle this situation just fine,” Executioner states quickly. The other three Sargent’s snickered at the rapidity of Executioners statement.
“Who is your liaison on the Tripoli?” asked Captain Franklin.
“Ensign Janet Parks is the fire control officer that we’ll coordinate all target data through. We are pushing the emplacements back to allow more time for your torpedo fliers to get the birds on target. Punisher is our relay. All targeting data is electronically transferred to her and she prioritizes it and sends it to the Tripoli,” explains Bedlam.
“That’s a solid tactical plan. Do you have anything else for them Bill?” asks Martha.
“It sounds like our team on the beach has everything under control. Thanks for the update and we’ll let you get back to setting up your defenses,” Bill retorts.
As the Beach command team climb into their Mechs, Bill and Martha walk to their hover car that has been trailing them down the beach. “Martha, we need to suit up in battle armor to tour the front lines. The snipers are still dangerous,” Bill states as he opens the door of the vehicle.
Bill and Martha approached the front lines where troops are feverishly working to reinforce the trenches and building new revetments for the gun emplacements. All the troops had a one-inch black cloth band tied around their right armored arms. “What do the black Bands on the arms of the troops represent?” asks Martha.
“Since the Cartel are using Republic Marine and Army armor we must be able to distinguish between the groups during hand to hand combat,” answers Bill.
Rail guns of different sizes are moving into completed revetments as crews begin preparing the sites for battle. The Marines and soldiers are filling sandbags and repairing fortified bunkers that were damaged during previous battles. The wind is beginning to howl, carrying a distinct chill which promises inclement weather soon to come.
“Bill my meteorologist on the Tripoli informed me that a massive storm in the ocean is moving towards our location,” Martha states as they continue to tour the front lines.
“How long before it makes landfall?” Bill queries.
“It looks like one day and it could be another two days before it clears. If the Cartel attacks during the storm it’s going to make fighting very difficult.”
“It will certainly increase the struggle for both sides.”
Bill spots Army Lt. Colonel Benjamin Walter and Marine Major Frank Williamson standing next to a massive bunker being repaired for the coming attack.
“Good morning gentlemen,” Bill greets.
The two officers turn towards the approaching pair. “Good morning Hog Boss. We’re getting our northern area COC into working order,” replied Lt. Colonel Walter.
“I don’t think you’ve met Captain Martha Franklin, our task force commander; in person,” Bill remarks as he motions towards Martha.
“Good to meet you Captain,” greeted both officers in unison.
“I’m touring the battle lines to make sure my staff on the Tripoli is establishing good communications with your team for support,” Martha finishes with a smile.
“Ensign Chris Benton is the fire control officer that we’ll coordinate all target data through. Cpl. Marsha Whittle is our relay located in this COC. All targeting data is electronically transferred to her and she will prioritize it and send it to the Tripoli,” explains Lt. Colonel Walter.
“We have 20 recon teams spread out across the battle front. They’ll give us warnings on any troop concentrations massing for attack. There are 4 Long Rang Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP) in the area that we think the big mobile rail guns and anti-air will be locating. We have given the recon and sniper teams going out to kill the mobile rail guns the authorization to communicate with the LRRP teams. That should help your hunting parties get to the guns quicker,” finished Major Williamson.
“One other thing sir. The chaplain has asked us to pass the word that a remembrance display has been established in the chapel. He would like as many as possible to visit the memorial before the battle to pay tribute to those who gave their all,” Major Williamson states in a somber tone.
“Martha and I will stop at the chapel tomorrow morning. Remembering our fellow troopers who gave their all is very important,” Bill promises.
Bill and Martha walk into the headquarters COC with their helmets under their arms. The sniper teams, recon teams and shuttle pilots were listening to Marine Air Wing Commander Lt. Colonel Pearson give a briefing. Bill and Martha took a seat in the back to listen.
“We have ten shuttles ready with extra fuel cells onboard to support the additional Plasma cannon we’re mounting. The Plasma cannons will have a variable power setting. Be careful on the full power setting because you can destroy the cannons. The additional fuel cell is dedicated to the cannon giving you massive reserve power. Four of the shuttles will carry sniper and recon teams and the six additional will carry recon hunter killer teams for anti-air battery destruction. The heavy mobile guns of the Cartel are the sniper teams primary target.” Lt. Colonel Pearson activates the central holograph above the large planning table. A three-dimensional representation of the mobile rail gun appeared.
The massive mobile rail gun slowly rotated giving everyone a clear view of the behemoth. The gun platform sits on a heavily armored rectangular chassis 75’ long, 35’ wide and 12’ high. An ammo carrier is attached to the back of the machine with a reloading conveyor tube. A massive 50’ barrel protruded from a dome shaped turret in the center of the chassis.
After a few moments Lt. Colonel Pearson continues. “As you can see on the back quarter of the gun there are highlighted regions. Those two regions are your targets. You snipers will be using rocket assisted armor penetrating explosive rounds to send these monsters to hell. A well-placed shot will break containment of the power plant and it will supernova. Do not be closer that one mile or you’ll be incinerated by the blast. You pilots will fly at ground or treetop level, and remember to communicate with the Tripoli. The observers on the Tripoli will keep you informed of troop concentrations and weapons emplacements along your route. Now we come to the second priority, the anti-air batteries. For the torpedoes to be successful a direct hit is required. Each recon/sniper teams will carry a laser designator to assist the Tripoli in making a pin point strike. They have our anti-air central controllers which are very low profile and will be deep in their revetments. Close will not work in knocking these babies out. Two additional torpedoes are required for each anti-air system to knock out the remote missile batteries that can be targeted by the Tripoli. Recon has estimated there may be up to ten systems in the field. If this is true we have enough torpedoes to knock them out without having to assault the locations and destroy them with explosives. Once these missions are complete we will have air superiority. The Cartel will pay dearly when that is established.” The room erupted in laughter at the last comment causing Lt. Colonel Pearson to smile.
After everyone quiets down Lt. Colonel Pearson looks to the back of the room and smiles at his new guests. “Welcome Captain Martha Franklin and Colonel Bill Jackson which most of you know as Hog Boss. Would you like to address the hunter teams?”
Bill looked to Martha, “Go ahead, you address them first.”
Martha walks to the front of the COC and stands next to the planning table. “Hunter teams to say what you’ll be attempting is dangerous is an understatement. You will be in the enemies’ playground under constant threat of discovery. My team on the Tripoli will be in constant contact with you for support. My COC has been reconfigured to give maximum support and remain in continuous contact. They will be informing you of any dangers we see from orbit. Lt. Colonel Pearson has a list of contacts that have been assigned to each team, therefore; each route gets dedicated service. Your safety is my greatest responsibility and I plan on upholding my end of the bargain.” She smiled at the faces looking back at her causing her stomach to knot in fear. She understands the awesome responsibility her team must perform to keep her troops safe.
“Hog Boss their all yours.” Everyone cheers when she calls Colonel Jackson Hog Boss.
Bill walks up to Martha and stands next to her. “Some of you have been together for nearly twenty years and others are recent arrivals, but all of you were handpicked by me and are the best the Galactic Marine Corps has to offer.” The COC erupted in cheers and cat calls so Bill waited for the group to settle back down. “As Captain Franklin stated this is a very dangerous mission and I have complete faith that you will be successful. Your mission is to kill the big guns of the Cartel. If this is not accomplished, it will mean the deaths of many of our friends. The Ten-Inch Mobile Rail Gun special munitions was developed as an area suppression weapon for new colonies. In the early years of colonization there were not enough troops to garrison a colony properly. This understrength situation led to Pirates, Warlords and Marxists overthrowing colonies. The Ten-Inch Mobile Rail Gun was developed to help the population center defend themselves until help could arrive. A very devastating munition named Personal Armor Eliminator (PAE23), a special shell in a cluster configuration, was developed that practically made troop armor charges useless.
Bill walks to the control panel for the holographic device and switches the image to the munition in question. The rotating image of a large tubular munition appeared. Bill input an additional command, a video image appeared next to the munition.
Bill pauses the video. “The reason you’ve never seen this munition is because it was outlawed 50 years ago. This colony had been allowed to keep a stockpile due to its remote location in the outer reaches. In hindsight that was an epic error. This video is of an attack on the capitol city of Sheridan on the planet Epoch,” Bill restarts the video.
The video started with an overhead view of a mass of heavily armored troops running towards a city. Suddenly a flurry of jet blasts appears above the troops and like arrows they flash into the mass of armored troops. The scene repeated numerous times until only a handful of troops remained standing with their hands in the air. Bill halts the video.
“If these munitions are used against our front lines we will be over run. Killing the big guns is vitally important. We have built many bunkers within our trench system to keep our people alive but during a line assault they must leave the bunker to defend the line. With that said if our troops must remain in protective bunkers the Cartel can walk to the front lines nearly unmolested. If we had time, let’s say 2 years, we could build a system of interlocking plasticrete bunkers and eliminate the need for this mission. We weren’t so lucky. Nightbane you will be with Pvt. Jennifer Rose of Recon until Blade returns. She proved her metal in the ambush when we were returning from the Reconnaissance-In-Force operation to assess the Cartel strength.”
“Yes sir, I know Pvt. Rose well and she’ll make a great spotter,” Nightbane turns and smiles at Pvt. Rose and she nods her appreciation.
“We’ll leave you with Lt. Colonel Pearson to complete your briefing.” Bill and Martha began walking out of the COC as the motivated Marines clapped their approval.
Outside the COC Bill stops and turns to Martha. “I think our tour is complete, what do you want to do now?”
“I still have that bottle of wine we never finished,” she responds with a sultry smile.
“We did get a little busy after the first drink the last time,” Bill says with a knowing chuckle.
“And I don’t think we will finish it tonight either,” Martha says as she hooks his arm with hers and they began walking towards Bills hooch near the rifle range.
Martha adjusts her tie in front of the small mirror in Bill’s hooch and smooths her naval dress uniform. “How do I look?” she asks Bill who is buttoning the last button of his Marine dress uniform.
“You look fabulous as usual. But you look a lot better without that uniform on,” Bill replies with a wicked grin.
“Not as good as you, big boy!”
“Big Boy! You’re looking at prime A Grade Marine here you know,” Bill retorts as gives an atlas pose.
Martha giggles and gives Bill a passionate kiss.
After Martha backs away smiling, Bill remarks with a beam, “We make one heck of a team, don’t we?”
“Evidently Commandant Smith and Admiral Thornton recognized that a long time ago, among other things. They’ve had us together for years,” she responds with a smile.
With a wry smile Bill winks at Martha. “Yea, your right. Commandant Smith told me personally we are the best Naval/Marine team he ever fielded.
“By the way Lieutenant Andre Sokolov, my top Communications Officer, will be your primary contact.”
“So, you have Andre babysitting me again?”
“He has complete command of communications and can keep you updated on movement of the forces. And do a little babysitting on the side,” she finishes with a full-throated laugh.
“Ok mom let’s get to the chapel,” Bill sarcastically responds.
The chapel is located next to the chow hall and the second largest building on the base. A small banner above the door read PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO HONOR THOSE WHO HAVE MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRAFICE. Bill and Martha go to the back of the line forming at the door to pay their respect to the fallen.
Message From Author: My name is David Smith, I worked as an international contractor for over 20 years around the globe. Like most of my family I performed my duty to military service, my service was in the United States Marine Corps. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration. My hobbies include writing, growing a home orchard and long-range shooting. I currently reside in the southeastern United States where I live with my wife Evelyn and two dogs Katie and Koal Bear. Subscribe for ALERTS - http://eepurl.com/c7KlTv
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