When you're the wedge being driven by the sledgehammer to split the enemy...
...you're going to take some hard hits. - Lieutenant General Cyba'armo'o, Commander Warsteel Herd Cybernetic Infantry
Vuxten stayed back against the far side of the room as much as he could. In the middle were the holotanks showing the south-eastern corner of the massive super-continent, where Fifth Telkan Marine Division was on the ground, backing up the Fifty Seventh Corps as part of 22nd Army. Fifty-Seventh was spread across eight different systems, the same with Fifth Telkan Marine Division.
The Atrekna were pushing hard, showing they had a few new tricks up their sleeves, but so far they'd only been able to stall the Confederacy's advance, not push it back.
Colonel Dartrum and General Twargark were around the holotank, along with a ton of other officers, most of them like General Twargark and a few other staff officers and present only via holographic avatar.
There was enough high ranking officers to make Vuxten nervous even though he was a Major.
He was wearing standard Adaptive Camouflage with plates, like most of the officers. He also had a heavy magac pistol on his hip, as well as an ugly heavy cut down submachine gun on the other hip. On the table next to him sat a white enameled M318 20mm autocannon in an enameled smartgun frame, both of them inlaid.
Vuxten watched as the tanks of 92nd Armor Brigade were forced back. The TZ was firmly in Atrekna hands and the Atrekna kept shifting the landscape in a steady wave out from their trenches. Muddy swamp that was only a meter or so thick was enough to bog down the tanks. Turning it to sand was enough to mess with the hovertanks. Not to mention that the Atrekna servitors were dug in hard.
Trenches, tanks hull down with berms in front of the armor, point defense, counter battery artillery, battle screens, emplaced weapons, the whole kit and kaboodle.
And what was estimated to be a half million troops across the two hundred mile line. Behind that line were Atrekna TZ's, Dwellerspawn spawning and staging grounds, AAWM replications and staging grounds, then the mountains, where the Atrekna had fortresses dug in that could hit up to three miles past the trenchwork with their massive guns.
General Twargark was talking to a black warsteel faced Lanaktallan in one window, a Treana'ad warrior in the other.
"That line has to be broken, gentlemen," the General was saying. "Air support can't get near it, they've got the firepower to hit orbit hard enough that it's disrupting our orbital support. There's enough debris in orbit right now that Space Force Naval assets are having to adjust for it."
Both featured officers nodded.
"The tanks we can push forward are only light tanks, the majority of 9th Armor Division is slugging it out with the Atrekna Ohm Class Dwellerspawn," the General finished.
"My men can handle it," the Treana'ad said. "The distance across No Man's Land is five miles. We can make that in five minutes or less."
"And have what left?" the General asked.
"Estimates say three quarters of a Full Horde once we hit their lines," the Treana'ad said. "We were hatched for this. Our genetic lines will be covered in glory."
Vuxten could tell the casualty rate made the gathered officers uncomfortable.
"Tank support would be limited and your power armor assets are otherwise occupied," the General said.
"My men are off genetic lines that pushed the Terrans off of three planets," the Treana'ad said, seemingly unconcerned with the casualty rate. "They cannot stand against the Horde."
There was silence for a moment.
"I have a suggestion."
The Lanaktallan's voice was heavily synthesized, nearly robotic.
"Go ahead, General," General Twargark said.
"We of the Warsteel Herd will be the point of the spear. Our Treana'ad brethren are impressive," the Lanaktallan paused for a moment. "But they are only flesh. We are the Cybernetic Lanaktallan of the Warsteel Herd, we are more than flesh, more Lanaktallan than Lanaktallan."
"You'll be charging an emplaced and fortified position," the General said.
"The Atrekna must be pushed out of that sector or engaged too heavily to worry about anything else," the Lanaktallan said. "We will provide that engagement."
"My men will be right behind them. The tanks can follow the dust of our unending footpads," the Treana'ad said.
The General closed her eyes for a moment.
"Operation approved," she said.
Vuxten shook his head. He couldn't see any way to break that TZ without massive casualties, and the Atrekna were dug in hard enough they were reinforcing other sectors.
The two windows winked out.
"Trying to keep a Treana'ad Warrior Horde from engaging the toughest thing they can find is like expecting a duck to ignore a water-bug," the General sighed. She turned and looked at the only other Lanaktallan officer in the room. "I take it the Cybernetic Cavalry division is just as tough?"
The Lanaktallan nodded. "They have no fear of death, no fear of injury. They view themselves as the warsteel fist of the Confederate Army," he shook his head again. "They gravitate toward the toughest fights and casualties mean nothing to them."
"There's always that guy," the General mused.
There's always that guy who thinks it's a good idea to charge the machinegun, Vuxten remembered from classes. And sometimes it's a good thing to have That Guy in your ranks.
Captain Cyba'armo'o reared up and pawed the air, clashing his hooves with another Captain, performing close combat drills even as they swung unpowered Cutting Bar Mark 2's at one another. Around them new members of the Warsteel Herd Cybernetic Infantry watched as the two Captains demonstrated that not even officers were exempt from close quarters combat as part of the Warsteel Herd.
His comlink chimed and Cyba'armo'o signaled to end the practice.
They both dropped down and Cyba'armo'o activated the comlink.
An order packet.
He was to link up with the Treana'ad of 19th Rapid Assault Force Rgiment, part of the 1932nd Treana'ad Infantry Horde as part of the Crescent Saber Offensive. His company would be the leading point of the spear.
Five point six miles of No Man's Land, in range of the enemy guns as soon as they crested the berm. The enemy had indirect fire, directed fire, crew served weaponry, infantry servitors, Dwellerspawn in the trenches, close air support, point defense, and battlescreens of the biological, technological, and phasic variety.
It had enough firepower to force back tanks. To destroy close air support or air assault. Orbital drop was out of the question.
It would be impossible for mere flesh to crack.
It was a good thing that he was not mere flesh any longer.
He linked up to his men, ordering them to prepare.
There would be casualties, that was certain.
But the Digital Omnimessiah had revealed himself in glorious code made flesh just as Cyba'armo'o was flesh made warsteel.
He finished his orders simply.
"The Digital Omnimessiah will embrace our glorious fallen, to the Detainee's claws with the enemy dead."
N'Thrap had earned his spurs and then some over the last month of the offensive. His unit had taken minor casualties, as far as the Warrior Caste was concerned, and he had found himself promoted to Sergeant of the Bladearm when the previous Sergeant had been blown apart by a direct hit from a 320mm graser cannon normally used to shoot down frigate class spacecraft.
His weapon, the Undying Queen of the Infantry Ma Deuce, was engraved with sayings of the Treana'ad War Horde and the words of the Biological Apostles of the Digital Omnimessiah. She was a faithful companion to N'Thrap, the steady KA-CHOK KA-CHONK KA-CHONK of her song a balm to his Warrior Caste soul.
His armor was dinged and dented. Here a 120mm sabot had been deflected by his thorax armor. There a 66mm rocket had left behind a shiny divot of osmium that had failed to penetrate his body armor. A patch over where a 155mm sabot round had been stopped by his very own carapace had a crudely scrawled painting of a sad Atrekna on it with 'sad squid noises' written over the top. His front legs had the holy banding of the Neapolitan Ice Cream and he had painted his back legs and lower abdomen with the stripes of Black Cherry Swirl.
He was loving every minute of Operation Iron Piglet.
After all why wouldn't he?
Just look at him!
He was forming up behind the fearsome looking cyborgs of the Warsteel Herd. The Lanaktallan cyborgs were only half his height, but he could see how thick their armor was, how thick their battlescreens were, how heavy their weapons were. They had formed up into three ranks in front of him, serrated lines that let them shift to replace any cyborn that fell.
N'Thrap had his orders. Run by any fallen cyborg, leave them for the Undying Asclepius healers of the Warsteel Herd, who performed dark science to bring even the most greviously wounded back to full function and life.
He checked his weapons. He had replaced the vibroblade along the end of the Ma Deuce barrel after he had broken it off in the chest of one of the larger servitors. N'Thrap had taken the time to engrave the words of Enraged Phillip on the blade before asking one of the War Matrons to bless it.
N'Thrap knew that it would not fail him.
And he would not fail the War Matrons or the Confederacy.
After all, just look at him!
The flags went up and N'Thrap did a quick visual check. His men were where they were supposed to be, all of them ready. As he watched, Y'Plark reached up, put his hands over the exhalation filters on his helmet, and exhaled sharply. His mask filled with fog and N'Thrap saw that he had drawn male Terran genitalia on the inside the lenses so that they'd show when the lenses fogged.
A good solid jape that made N'Thrap and the others chuckle sensibly.
The whistles began to blow and N'Thrap blew his whistle sharply by nudging the switch and exhaling sharply.
The flags dropped down.
Cyba'armo'o saw the flags dropped and the whole line of the Warsteel Herd surged forward, going for flank speed. They scrambled over the top of the berm, leaned forward slightly at the waist, activated their battlescreens, and sprinted at the enemy lines.
Tracers and energy weapons fire was already reaching for them, seemingly in slow motion as they crossed the five mile distance.
Confederate artillery was already dropping rounds, most of the rounds heavier than air smoke that deployed even though the Atrekna point defense blew the rounds out of the air. Cluster munitions were spewed out two kilometers up and the Atrekna point defense was hard at work.
The sky was full of hellfire.
Cyba'armo'o didn't care, running as fast as he could, so fast that all four of his hooves were off the ground quite a few times. He felt his battlescreens fully deploy, the additional projectors on his back unfolding coherent light in a fan on either side of him to protect the Treana'ad and the members of the Warsteel Herd behind him.
At five miles he was close enough he could engage the enemy. Cybernetic linkages, smartgun wires, and advanced optics let him walk his fire into the enemy, putting heat on them, forcing them to choose between continuing to shoot and risk Cyba'armo'o and the rest of the Warsteel Herd from blowing them into chunky salsa or ducking down and taking cover.
It didn't matter to Cyba'armo'o. He knew that the enemy could bring up reinforcements to replace the ones he killed.
The Atrekna were dropping heavy artillery in the region, their arty not inhibited by point defense.
But they'd already crossed a mile and were getting closer.
Ha'ardmo'o hit a mine or an unexploded warhead and vanished in an explosion. He was blown in half and dismembered, his upper and lower torso disconnected as it flew nearly ten meters into the air and crashed to the earth.
Cyba'armo'o jumped over Ha'ardmo'o's torso and kept running.
Ky'lermo'o waved the banner and took a 15 inch maser shot to the chest, blowing a hole almost through to the cybernetic Lanaktallan's spine. The Lanaktallan cyborg sagged, still stumbling forward, holding the guidon out with one functioning arm.
Seeing the point man in distress, Cyba'armo'o put on more speed, grabbing the guidon before it could fall to the ground and waving it over his head.
Behind him he could hear the Treana'ad whistles.
He pulled his chainswords out and held them to either side even as he spun the guidon over his head.
"FEAR NOT AND FOLLOW!" Cyba'armo'o bellowed.
N'Thrap put on more speed as the Lanaktallan screens deployed. Wings of gauzy battlescreen were spread out from the Lanaktallan's shoulders.
He saw two fall, jumping over one as he put on as much speed as he could. The fallen one's chest was shucked out like an oyster, sparks shooting out and lubricant and hydraulic fluid leaking out of the ruptured chest cavity.
The Lanaktallan blinked and projected an icon of a Treana'ad stomping an Atrekna from one still working eye.
N'Thrap dodged a Lanaktallan cyborg going head over heels, its head missing, jumped over a burnt and destroyed ground car, and kept charging forward.
The whistles were still blowing, banners were still waving.
N'Thrap was loving it.
How could he not?
Just look at him!
Support "First Contact"
- Terran Confed Space
- The Mad Arch-Angel TerraSol
Bio: The Wordboi, the Creation Engine, the Mad Arch-Angel TerraSol. I am Warlord Ralts Bloodthorne, the crazed speaker, the dark whisperer, the chronicler of dreams who's mind's eye peers into the spaces beyond for the sights to show you, such sights I have to show you, should you choose to look.