ASSAULT ON BRAZEN
Exactly twenty-five armored personnel carriers screeched along the dark surface of one of the larger asteroids in the solar system, Brazen IX. Within one of the numerous APCs, a combat team waited for their changing ETAs. A grizzled man with dark hair and a cigarette dangling from his lips mumbled about the combat conditions. Printed across his CMP6 combat armor in boldface print was the designation "Squad Ldr. Watkins" He looked over his recently assigned team. A large man standing taller than the rest was checking over a well-worn Steiner MG94K. An extra belt of machine-gun ammunition was strapped across his Kevlite combat armor. On his marred combat helmet the name "Crats" was printed in boldface letters. Several demolition packs, fragmentation grenades and other explosives were stocked in his supply pack that sat almost carelessly beside him.
Two men leaned against the walls of the creaking APC and wore similar armor..CMP4 Assault Armor for a standard fighting harness. Each of the men had a Maklov mk 606 assault rifle strapped on the shoulder. The tags on their helmets read "Madison" and "Nasic". Both where of average build and kept their combat visors down during the trip. A young woman in her late 20's sat down on one of the reinforced seats lining the APC's interior. She sighed as she went through a medical supply kit, checking and re-checking every syringe and chemical.. stimulants, pain killers, tranquilizers, synthesized tsolvy crystals and other items a combat medic may need. She wore lighter armor than the rest, standard issue Ceramax plate. Printed on her helmet was the name, "Cunnigham". A relatively new "Needler" sat on the seat beside her, along with a few clips of pistol caliber ammunition.
The last man in the squad looked frail and obviously inexperienced with matters pertaining to combat. The heavy Kevlite armor plating he wore was obviously much too cumbersome for him. On the left shoulder was printed the insignia of the Collective Engineering Corps. He checked over his gear nervously with violently shaking hands, various reprogramming disks and kits, pre-made auto-turret encampment deployments, and extra munitions. He failed at trying to ignore the single Unittech Tech 09 Submachinegun attached to his belt. The weapon was new, probably never used before. The recoil was electronically dampened, allowing even the most inexperienced user a high-degree of accuracy. A weapon made for the man currently using it. The tag printed across his combat helmet read "Kanil".
Watkins took one last long drag from his cigarette before he dropped it to the floor, absentmindedly crushing the dim red glow with the heel of his boot. Crats smirked and commented, "Nasty habit that, chief." Watkins ignored him. The squad leader pulled down the visor of his combat helmet and checked the mission countdown timer, about 40 minutes until they reach the landing zone. The squadleader reviewed the objectives of the mission with the personal interface inside of his combat helmet. Watkins' fingers strummed against the handle of his Kamenev AP mk2 9mm pistol. This particular weapon was extremely well-worn, and actually had several notches along the barrel. Suddenly a small computer-generated radio-message transmitted to his helmet, "ATTENTION, ATTENTION: Radar shows the APCs are nearing the Landing Zone. Prepare to disembark within 10 minutes. Reviewal of objectives strongly advised" Watkins muttered to himself and latched on his combat helmet, a small hiss emitting as his suit pressurized. The other squad members looked up and Watkins nodded. All of them pulled on their helmets just as the APC shuddered violently.
Watkins yelled loudly as his shoulder suddenly hit the side of the APC. He threw open the door to the driver's compartment and cursed. He saw that the section had been breached, most likely by an antitank weapon. "God DAMNIT!" he yelled as he hit the "Open Rear" button on the control panel as he tried to avoid the slumping, bloody corpse of the once-able driver. The squad tumbled out of the rapidly deteriorating APC and watched in dismay as it crashed into a pile of rubble not too far off and burst into flames.
Madison cursed as he pulled out his assault rifle and aimed at a nearby running figure wearing a dark green combat suit. It identified as hostile and he pulled the trigger. The weapon fired in fully automatic as figure suddenly hit the ground, dead. Watkins glanced at the fresh corpse and motioned for the group to follow him. They took cover behind an over-turned APC, much like the one they had arrived in. He ordered Crats to keep a lookout and for the rest of the squad to remain in cover. He opened a comlink to base and tried to yell above the gunfire and explosions in the background:
"HQ this is Squad Leader WATKINS. We were ambushed near the Titan base and our APC was wrecked. From the look of things, not many of the other squads made it. We where ambushed, over." A reply came a few moments later, the radio crackling with static:
"Watkins, we read you. This whole damn thing has been a mess. Out of all the squads we sent, only three others are still alive. We can't risk sending e-vac via dropship due to enemy anti-air capability. Can't send APCs due to the fire-fighting and heavy firepower around there. We vastly underestimate-" the session was cut short, probably one of the enemy communications arrays scrambling the signal. Watkins frowned and wondered what to do.
"All right, team. Seems we've been really screwed here.. base had pretty bad intelligence as to what these Titan bastards had. Apparently they've got some anti-air capabilities and HQ can't send help till those're disabled. Guess what we gotta do?" Kanil shuddered and made a cross-sign across his chest.
Nasic groaned, "Where the hell is this thing, anyways? I hope we can get out soon, jeeze." Watkins pointed a few hundred meters away at an automated THOR MRLS system held within a concrete bunker. Crats studied it for a moment and checked his demolition packs.
"I can do it, chief. Just hope we can make it there.." he muttered to Watkins. The squad leader nodded and thought for a moment.
"All right, Kanil.. I want you to stay here with Madison and work out a defense grid till help arrives. I'll go with Crats, Cunningham, and Nasic to take out that damn anti-air system. Sit tight."
Kanil nodded nervously and started unpacking his equipment. He fumbled several times and Madison rolled his eyes. Soon enough, a basic tripod was constructed with a pivoting head mounted with a short-barreled MG at the edge of their temporary "base". Soon a second was constructed at the other side and Kanil waved wearily as the other team members went off towards the THOR MRLS system.
Crats ran quickly, even if heavily weighed down with his equipment. The medic, Cunnigham, was behind him along with Nasic. Watkins was taking point, holding his sidearm with both hands. All four of them lost their balance and dove head first into the dirt as a mortar impacted nearby. Quickly getting back on their feet, they started running again. not even acknowledging the blast. A lone guard stood outside the service entrance to the THOR MRLS center and slumped over against the door as Nasic filled his chest with shots from his assault rifle. Nasic pulled the body aside and kicked open the door.
Watkins cursed at Nasic's stupidity and winced as he heard an auto-turret whir on and blast Nasic in the left shoulder and arm before he could roll into cover. In a reflex action, Crats pulled a fragmentation grenade from his belt, flicked off the safety clip and pulled the pin.. throwing it gracefully into the room. A moment later, a satisfying explosion and the sound of electricity buzzing along with a metal clank on the floor indicated the turret would no longer be a threat. As soon as it was safe, Cunnigham checked over Nasic. The wounds where minor, his armor stopped most of the impact.. but something else was wrong. She heard the sound of Nasic breathing heavier than usual along with spotting the fact that his face was turning pale underneath the visor. She'd seen it before, carbon-dioxide poisoning.. but how the hell could it be? Unless.. the severed wires that connected the filtering system to the fighting suit had something to do with it. She didn't know anything about the Mark IV suit. But an engineer surely would. She called up Kanil over her comlink, "Kanil! KANIL! I need you up here! Nasic took a bad hit and his filtering systems' been messed up! I need you to fix it!"
Kanil shook his head and spoke a reply, "N-no.. no way I'm going over there. Mor-mortar fire and all that. Why can't you bring him over here?"
Cunnigham growled impatiently. "Because it'll take too long! Get your SCRAWNY ASS OVER HERE NOW!" she screeched through her comlink.
The engineer's teeth chattered as he told Madison what he had to do. He began running across the field to the concrete bunker which held the anti-air defense system. He heard a mortar whizzing overhead and dived head first into the dirt and stayed there for a few moments. He stumbled to his feet and reached the point where the others where.
Nasic was gasping for air, his face was turning a bluish tint. Kanil glanced over the damage and frowned. The filtering mini-system battery was busted. It would need a replacement or a new route to the main suit power supply. The main supply might be enough, that is.. if the other life support systems didn't just shut down at the attempt. It'd take too long, too. Snapping his fingers, Kanil flipped open the last of the pre-made auto-turret kits and carefully disconnected the battery from an unconstructed automated sentry. He pulled out several tools and soldered the battery cables to Nasic's air filtering system, proceeding to tape the battery to Nasic's shoulder. Immediately, Nasic began breathing normally and looking a quite a bit better. Evreyone present sighed in relief.
Watkins growled at Nasic and began yelling at him, "You DAMN fool! What the HELL where you thinking?! Running into a damn room without cover!?" Nasic propped himself up on one elbow and shook his head in disgrace as Cunnigham administered several quick-acting drugs to hasten his recovery. Watkins grumbled something and pulled out his weapon, motioning for Crats to cover him. The large man pulled his weapon off his shoulder and nodded. Watkins entered the room with his weapon drawn and grunted. The wreckage of the auto-turret was laying in the middle of the floor and several computer screens where shattered from the blast. He motioned for Kanil to enter the room and ordered, "Kanil.. blowing up this damn thing would make a *LOT* of noise. Anyway you could disable this system?"
Kanil glanced about and sat down at a terminal. He punched a few buttons and muttered, "Oh.. its possible, but its gonna take time. I have to decrypt the access code-" he pulled out a disc from his reprogramming kit and slid it into the console. The engineer was obviously in his element. A screen suddenly popped up showing a status line for the decryption. They waited patiently, all watching the colored bar reaching the opposite end with anticipation. It was reaching 74% when they all heard yells and gunfire over their comlinks.
Madison cursed several times as the team could hear bullets ricocheting off his armor along with Madison's own returning gunfire. Barely audible above the chaos was Madison's voice, "God DAMNIT! These damn bastards have me frickin' SURROUNDED! Come back here! Now! NOW! Back me up immediate-" the radio crackled and the sound of blood gurgling and a body slumping down the side of an APC made Watkins grimace.
Watkins looked worried and looked impatiently towards the engineer, "How much longer?! We don't have much, Kanil."
Kanil glanced at the monitor and said breathlessly, "Another two minutes at least. Then another 30 seconds for me to disable the system so we can get outta here."
Watkins nodded and nudged Crats, "Crats, block the door as best as you can. Cunnigham, Nasic.. watch the entrance." Crats immediately began latching the metallic door shut and moved the heavy bar across the door. He pulled several crates and various pieces of furniture in front of the door then motioned to Watkins. A service tunnel was on the side of the bunker. Watkins sighed in relief and muttered, "First bit of luck all day. Alright.. soon as we get this thing disabled.. we leave through the tunnel and I contact base about getting outta here."
Cunnigham frowned and asked Watkins, "But what about Madison?"
Watkins shook his head, "He's probably already dead, I'm sorry. We can't risk retrieving him under any circumstances." Cunnigham sighed and nodded, she knew there was nothing they could do.
Crats watched the door intently and cringed as he heard the ear-splitting explosions of demolition packs detonating. Watkins looked impatient and tapped Kanil's shoulder, "How much longer?"
Kanil muttered, tapping away at the keyboard, "Already decyrpted. It's finished right about.. now." Kanil smiled as the system powered down.. just as the bunker door supports burst open.
Watkins gripped his Kuchler AP mk2 pistol in both hands and immediately shot several rounds into the chest of the first man in, who immediately hit to the floor. Kanil gasped in surprise and pulled out his Unittech Tech 09 SMG and tried to fire it then frowned as it jammed, never getting a shot off. Crats fired his Steiner MG 94K into the approaching Titan Marines that had come to look for Collective survivors. Several took nasty hits to the chest and had to fall back, while one had the misfortune of being shot in the neck, killing him in the few moments that his comrades took to drag him away. Blood had spilled violently onto the floor, making the entrance slick with gore. Cunnigham fired her Needler blindly, scoring a few successful, non-lethal hits. The entire team retreated towards the tunnel, weapons firing at the enemy, only pausing to reload. Watkins winced as a Kuchler LMG249a round caught itself in his lower leg, embedding itself close to the bone. Several more rounds ricocheted harmlessly off his combat armor. Crats rolled under a console and removed the extra ammunition belt off his chest and fitted it onto his weapon. He called out to Watkins, "Hey, chief! Why don't ya go ahead in the tunnel without me? Let me have all the fun!" Watkins stared at him in a moment of disbelief and motioned to the rest of the team to follow him. Crats jumped out from the console and clenched his teeth as he took several rounds in the chest, weakening the Kevlite heavy combat armor. He fired his weapon fully automatic, cutting down several rows of approaching enemy soldiers that had heard the noise and had come to backup the others.
As the rusty door slammed shut on the service tunnel, Crats heard Watkins' voice in his comlink, "Hey, Crats.. thanks."
Crats continued fired his weapon and yelled above the chaos, "Hey, just get the hell outta here, chief. And don't worry about the door!" He continued firing his machine-gun and frowned as he noticed the belt shortening. Crats immediately dived under a desk and prepped all the explosives, detonation packs, and blast caps he had on him with him. He flipped off the safety clip of a single frag grenade and put his thumb through the hole in the pin. A voice ordered for the firing to cease and Crats quizzically raised an eyebrow.
"Collective bastards! I'm Titan Patrol Officer Raznik. Throw out your weapons and we won't KILL you! Last chance!"
Crats smiled and yelled a reply, "Gee, that's quite an offer.. Officer Raznik, is it? I think I have a.. more sufficient peace offering." He jumped up from the console and fired the last few rounds of his weapon into Officer Raznik's skull, blowing out the back of his cranium. Immediately, the remaining soldiers began firing at Crats. He clenched his teeth as several stub cannon rounds hit him square in the chest and knocked him back to the entrance of the service tunnel. He muttered, "Hope you make it out, chief." Blood was gushing down from cuts on his forehead, obscuring his vision and his mouth tasted the bitter liquid. Crats knew he had internal injuries, so.. what the hell? Besides, being taken alive was NOT an option. He had heard stories about Titan Militia torture facilities and, to say the least, they where not pretty. Crats pulled out the pin from the fragmentation grenade, letting it hit the ground as a visored Titan Marine approached with an assault rifle trained on his head. All of the explosives in his supply pack simultaneously detonated with the fragmentation grenade, sending a massive shockwave through the bunker and collapsing the service tunnel entrance.
Watkins, Cunningham, Nasic and Kanil all lost their footing in the tunnel as a shockwave erupted from the bunker. Cunnigham yelled above the noise, "What the HELL was that?"
Watkins turned to acknowledge the wall of dust and grit coming towards them and muttered, "Good luck, Crats." They all continued walking down the tunnel, noticing it hadn't been used in quite some time. Dirt fell constantly from the ceiling, the shelling was apparently still happening on the battlefield outside. Watkins couldn't help but feel sorry for the two or three squads that where left out there. He ordered Nasic to take point ahead of the group until they reached the end of the service tunnel. Watkins ducked down in front of Nasic and forced the door open, his weapon in hand with Nasic covering him.
As they burst into the room, they surprised an enemy engineer leaning back in his chair napping on duty, obviously unprepared for what came through the door. The team surprised him so badly that he fell back in his chair and hit his head hard on the floor. Watkins immediately rushed forward and jumped over the desk, training his 9mm pistol on the man's forehead. The Titan mechanic stared at the crimson armored Collective troopers wide-eyed, obviously most of his attentions drawn towards the pistol pointed at his skull. Watkins ordered Kanil to take a look at the control panel, keeping his weapon trained on the man. "W-who’re you guys?" the mechanic muttered.
Watkins stared hard at him, his face obscured slightly through his helmet's visor. "Doesn't matter who we are. I'm just taking a little stroll is all. What is this place, anyway?" Reaffirming the fact that the man should tell the truth, Watkins clicked off the safety on his 9mm pistol.
The mechanic stared worriedly at the pistol pointed at his face, sweat stinging his eyes. "Uh.. uh.. just the comm room. We're about sixty feet underground.. no need to worry 'bout shelling at all, no sir." He grinned nervously.
Watkins glanced over at Kanil for a moment before he spoke again to the mechanic, "So, this is how you jam Collective communications? Interesting.." The man nodded quickly, trying to scoot towards the door. Nasic reacted and closed it quickly, standing in front of the only exit. Watkins nodded towards Kanil, "See that nice man over there? You're going to tell him the password for decrypting the scrambling channel. Now."
The Titan mechanic was almost to the point of emotional breakdown. Tears where welling up in his eyes, but Watkins couldn't give a damn. He'd lost two good men in this mission and he wanted to get out of this God forsaken base. The squad leader pushed the end of his weapon hard into the man's forehead, grabbing him hard by the neck. "Tell him the password now, you worthless piece of rebel shit. Tell him before I blow you god damned brains all over that fuckin' computer console!"
A sob suddenly erupted from deep within the man's throat as tears began rolling down his face. Cunningham and Kanil obviously disapproved, glancing towards Watkins with looks of obvious disdain. Nasic was indifferent, watching the proceedings and ready to aid his squad leader in the interrogation if needed.
Watkins growled irritably, raising his hand to strike the man. Instinctively, the mechanic brought up his hands to defend himself just as his attacker came to his defenses. The Titan mechanic sobbed worriedly to Kanil, "E79152."
Kanil blinked in surprise and quickly typed in the password at one of the consoles, gaining access to the communications grid. Within a minute he had shut down the transmission jammers and opened a secure channel for Watkins. Looking over Kanil's shoulder, the squad leader nodded and began speaking into the console, "Squad Leader Watkins, Collective Military identification number 82129 hailing headquarters on Brazen IX. Repeat, Squad Leader Watkins, Collective military identification number 82129 hailing headquarters on Braz-," he was suddenly interrupted with a intense hiss of static and the voice of a mission's dispatcher.
"Watkins, we thought the assault on the Titan base was lost! We didn't think anyone else had survived. We'll be sending a dropship to pick you up within one hour, our communications relay has told us that most of the fire has cooled off for the moment. Morgan forces are stalling the Titan defenders on the western side of the base." Kanil printed out a sheet of paper from the console, pointing out the coordinated of the landing zone for the squad leader.
"All right, people. Let's get ready to move out. As for you.." he glanced at the sniveling Titan Militia mechanic and suddenly reached inside the nearby desk, finding a heavy roll of duct tape. He taped the man firmly to his chair by his hands and feet and taped his mouth closed.
Watkins opened the door slowly, glancing down both ends of the corridor before stepping out. Nasic followed closely behind, Kanil and Cunningham advancing behind. They filed quickly down the corridor, weapons in hand. The team made sure to keep their external suit lights off to prevent any detection whatsoever. They eventually arrived at an intersection and Watkins froze as he heard the sound of boots hitting the solid floor off in the distance. He motioned for the team to press against the wall in the darkness. Kanil muttered, "What is it-" but grew quiet as Nasic raised a finger to his lips through his helmet. Suddenly, a dozen men came marching across the intersection. Watkins noticed their distinctive yellow-brown fighting suits and insignia. Morgan Raiders.
Waiting for a few moments as the soldiers passed, Watkins began creeping down the tunnel again with his team behind him. He glanced at the pre-designated time he had set, the countdown growing slimmer. They had to hurry, the dropship wouldn't wait five minutes for them. They made their way down the tunnel, generally unmolested until they reached a service ladder, leading to the surface. The squad leader checked his digital satellite readout maps, this tunnel was less than five hundred meters from their pickup point and the next access ladder was two miles down. He turned to look over his team.
Nasic, besides the nominal wounds received earlier, appeared in good condition. So did Cunnigham. But Kanil, on the otherhand, was panting heavily and was barely able to stand, obviously not fit for actual combat duty. Watkins was finding it increasingly hard to walk, his ankle becoming stiffer from the round he received earlier. He waited a few moments, letting the team catch their breath. He began climbing up the ladder, Cunningham and Kanil behind him and with Nasic taking up the rear. Grunting in exertion at about three quarters of the way up, Watkins heard a sudden burst of gun fire, bullets flying off the access ladder. Nasic growled and unslung his assault rifle, firing in the darkness one-handed. He yelled "Go! Go! Go!" up at Watkins who hurried his pace considerably, adrenaline pumping through his veins. Kanil was slowing down considerably and with Nasic obviously agitated, this just wasn't a good day for the engineer. Finally throwing the hatch to the surface open, Watkins pulled himself out, helping Cunningham and Kanil up into the open. Nasic pulled himself out hurriedly, unhooking a fragmentation grenade from his belt. He flipped off safety clip and pulled the pin out with his teeth, dropping it into the darkness. The squad leader instinctively slammed the access door shut, hearing a distinct explosion a few moments afterwards.
Hardly noticing it at first, Watkins squinted in the distance and noticed a dropship hovering slowly down to the asteroid. He forced himself up and got his team's attention, pointing towards the dropship. The squad leader ignored the pain in his stiffening ankle as they hurried towards the dropship.
They neared the landing zone quickly, Watkins was standing on the bay door and motioning for his team to climb in. Nasic was basically dragging Kanil into the ship, the engineer almost having passed out twice. The squad leader moved to enter the dropship when a high pitched crack detonated the almost calm of the area. The armor-penetrating sniper round caught Watkins in the upper part of his back, knocking the breath out of the man. Nasic turned around in surprise, glancing in the distance through the scope of his Maklov mk 606 assault rifle and finding the sniper. He fired a three-round burst in the general direction, one bullet ricocheting off the barrier, another hitting the sniper in the shoulder. A final shot caught the Titan Militia sharpshooter in the temple, killing him instantly. The dropship crew member helped Nasic pull Watkins into the vessel as the bay door closed and the ship pressurized. Immediatly, a squad of Titan Militia soldiers came pouring out of the base, firing their weapons uselessly against the hull of the ship, several shots actually hitting but doing nothing. A single rocket propelled grenade flew past the ship as it hovered out of range.
Cunningham struggled to unlatch Watkins' combat helmet, her hands instantly unlatching her medical supply kit. She looked carefully over the wound as she pressed two fingers against the squad leader's neck, testing for a pulse from the juggular artery. She moved back and sighed, and when Nasic and Kanil looked to her, she shook her head. Squad Leader John Watkins was dead.
The assault on the Titan Militia base located at Brazen IX was a complete and utter failure on the part of the Collective Military. Over fifty men lost their lives that day, and almost evrey combat team had taken heavy losses. Of the twenty-five teams that went in, only the remains of three actually came hame. Most of the losses where do to skirmishes with Morgan Raiders, who had targeted the distracted Titan Militia base and sacked it for supplies less than 48 hours after the Collective had deemd the mission a failure. Some rumors of an 'inside job' floated about, but of course someone tipping off the rebels was absolutley impossible.
Nasic, Kanil, and Cunningham where each reassigned to different combat teams off of Brazen IX. Cunningham and Kanil both decided to quit the service as soon as their duty was up. Nasic, on the otherhand, decided to stay. Watkins, Madison, and Crats each recieved a hushed and quickly done military ceremony, the grave locations and files permanently deleted from public records to keep the mission failure from the public's eye. The survivors of the team where also silenced legally with a new edict to Collective Military law, they where loosing this war and nobody else needed to know..