A note from Necrontyr525

Take Cover is a bit longer then tha last two works combined, and the end of my mini-HFY-military kick. The theme pops up again a bit later in my work, but I'm working on branching out and away from that these days.

Angelus Solari, warrior-prime of the Arisa Realm, stands resplendent in his powered armor. Its armored plates shine under the overhead lights in the gold and crimson colors of his house and regiment. His plasma rifle gleamed polished chrome, its power cables linking into the cold fusion reactor of his armor. He was here to lead a spearhead to hold the Scion Rebels back off of hill 235.

But the troops before him were... underwhelming. High Command had assured him that they were the best infantry regiment the humans had to offer, experts in all sorts of tasks, and that they had never failed a mission to which they were assigned. Angelus was not convinced. Their armor was simple unpowered carapace the color of wet mud. Their firearms were short and brutish things, heavy with underslung ammunition packs.

Still, they had the swagger of elite troops, the sublime confidence that comes with being handed the hardest jobs and succeeding again and again. Angelus would give them their chance. He had to. There were no other ground troops expected for a week, and a breakthrough here would see the Scionites spreading their rebellion off-planet when they overran the starport.

Angelus gave the requisite speeches, but the humans didn't shout or holler. They simply gave a single barked Hip Hip RAH! and moved out to take their positions. Angelus slung his rifle and followed. He was bemused, for they didn't break out their weapons, but entrenching tools. Did they not trust the arisan Fire Shields to protect them from the Scionite's fire? Angelus shrugged. He would stand his ground and break the Scionites alone while these cowardly humans dug their own graves.

Two hours later, Angelus had to re-think his estimation. The humans had dug into their fighting positions deeply. Earth-filled bags added extra thickness to walls, crew served weapons nosed through firing slits, communications equipment and supplies were placed in bunkers and buried ever deeper. These humans may be cowards, but they would be difficult to dislodge, buying the time Angelus would need for proper troops to arrive.

Come the smoky dawn, Angelus was rousted from his armored slumber by the shout of a human sentry. The humans didn't waste time awaiting orders, they were already in their fighting positions. Angelus took his place atop the command bunker and readied his weapon. His armor would protect him against any three weapons the Scions could unleash, leaving him free to rain death upon their heads like the god of war he was.

The arisan Fire Shields lit up in their characteristic flickering haze as Scionite beams splashed worthlessly against their barriers. Angelus settled in for a long siege. If this small arms fire was all the Scionites could bring to bear, then...

The Storm broke. Angelus knew what it was from the first crash of energy: a Scion siege-breaker artillery piece, designed explicitly to shatter Fire Shields. Called the Storm in hushed tones, his armor would now stand the ultimate test. The winds howled, the Fire Shield imploded into dozens of lightning-snap shards of radiation, and the plasma-bursts came screaming in. Angelus was forced to one knee as his armor took dozens of hits, but he was alive.

The humans were unmoved in their positions, awaiting the Scion's attack. Angelus could feel the pain-killers flooding his bloodstream, but the cowardly humans hadn't suffered a single casualty. A communications officer popped out of the command bunker with a message.

"Better get under cover sir, the Rebels are coming."

Angelus snorted his disdain. "Hide in your cowardly bunker if you must human, my place is here where I can slay the foe."

The Human shrugged. "Suit yourself sir, but you are going to want to hold onto something. The beacons are lit and it's going to be danger close work before the night is done." with this, the human vanished back under cover.

Angelus rose back to his feet, daring the Scionite snipers to lay him low. The humans forward positions were engaged now, their crude firearms reaping a heavy toll as the scionite Rebel mob tried to cross cleared killing fields. Human mines detonated, sweeping aside more scionite Rebels in ripples of flame. Crew served pieces chugged out machine-steady arcs of fire, leaving neatly-harvested rows of dead before them. Angelus added his plasma-rifle to the barrage, wincing as an increasing number of Scionite laser-beams scored his warplate.

The scionite Rebels broke, their first assault falling back in disarray. Angelus safed his weapon and trudged back to the command bunker for the after action reports. Amazingly, the casualty board was empty save for his own marker. Units were calling for resupply and and replenishment, but not replacement personnel. Angelus scarcely had time to drink a glass of water before the Scionites attacked again.

Again and again the scioniteb Rebels attacked. Seven more times over that one day they threw themselves at the human lines. Seven more times the humans threw them back, savaging them with fire and energy. The last four had been ever-closer run, with the human's artillery falling ever closer to their own immobile lines. Twice Angelus was struck by flying shrapnel from the human's brutish high explosive shells.

Come nightfall Angelus finally had time to fully assess the human's entrenchments and take a tally of who was still combat capable. He was stunned. He was no longer the only casualty, but he was the only person, human or otherwise, under his command that could not be considered combat effective. He was also the only serious casualty, being sustained only by his battered armor's pain killers and auto-doc.

The human Regimental Commander approached him. "Best get to the doc Sir, we're going to be pressing the attack in a few hours."

Angelus was stunned. "You would abandon your entrenchments to attack the foe? They are the only thing keeping you alive and in this fight! There are no ground troops arriving for another week. Why attack now?"

The human shrugged. "Logs and depressions work just as well for cover, and we'll have orbital support in that time frame. They need targets, so we're going to go find them."

Angelus nodded, and increased the dosages of his pain killers. "I'll be there."

Two hours later, Angelus hobbled out of the entrenchments behind the humans. The same communications officer stopped him. "Best stay here sir and watch the light show."

Angelus was too tired to argue, so he stayed and watched the human's orbital support systematically eliminate the Scion rebellion from the top of his command bunker.

When the Arisan reinforcements arrived, they too scoffed at the human's 'cowardly defensive measures.' "Where is the foe?" they asked, expecting to have to do all of the heavy lifting in the fight. Angelus was too tired to answer, having surrendered himself to the doctors care to recover.

The human Regimental Commander simply smiled. "Dead. Broken against our earthworks and slaughtered by orbital support."

The Arisans bowed in respect, and asked how high the cost had been. "Your command must have suffered heavily to slay a foe numbering four times your own numbers if Angelus Solari was wounded that heavily in the fighting."

The Regimental Commander shook his head. "He's the only serious casualty, because he wouldn't take cover when the shooting started."


About the author


  • Graveyard Shift Writer


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