Retribution by Frondz

The combat-torn area of Titan known as 'Kliest's Ridge' was currently under close watch by the Third Collective Armor Division, consisting of a tight formation of armored vehicles aimed at the sandbagged rebel encampment. Titan Militia forces had taken cover in whatever form possible; under barriers, discarded pieces of metal, and even the bullet-riddled corpses of their own men. Some stayed hidden while others prepared to fight back through whatever means.. Light Antitank Weapons, Ripper Automatic Suppressive Weapons, Hand Grenades.. whatever possible.

Suddenly, a single, baritone voice boomed within the head-sets of every Collective gunner at the current location: "Open...FIRE!!"

All at once, the ground began shaking. Shells fired from Trident Heavy Grav Tanks shattered what resistance the feeble encampment could offer, weakening it further for the Leviathan Assault Crawlers' magma plasma bursts. Occasionally, Rhino Self-propelled mortar fire screeched across the sky and detonated within the base, sending shrapnel flying. Screams filled the air as the remaining men stationed there where slaughtered. The fleeing cut down by fully-automatic LMG fire and the hiding torn apart with shells and Magma plasma bursts. A single man emerged from the rubble carrying his battered Titan Arms Assault Rifle in the air with a crude white flag hanging from the bayonet. He was immediately turned into a smoldering crater as three Trident Heavy Grav tanks took aim and fired their payloads in his direction. There wouldn't be any pieces left to bury, if such a thing was actually plausible. No survivors were reported when the bombardment on Kliest's Ridge was finished. Collective infantry forces took the area soon after, finishing off the wounded and dying. Losses where minimal.

With a grimace displayed on his normally hardened face, Titan Militia Storm Commander Krin Asnar turned off the remote-satellite feed within his helmet camera. The 50 militia troopers behind him where stunned in silence as they too had heard of the Kliest's Ridge massacre via radio conversation. Those bastards wouldn't get away with this. Asnar turned to one of his field engineers, a Major Sean Hennesay, an ex-mechanic now working with the Titan Militia Engineer Corps. Hennesay was startled with the sudden remark aimed towards him, and he quickly stood at attention when the Commander began speaking.. "Major, how many anti-tank rockets do we have left?" The engineer stood still for a moment and checked their supplies, taking a quick inventory.

"Uhhh.. only thirteen LAWs left, sir." he responded quickly. The Commander frowned and nodded. A frontal assault against the Collective force was impossible, but they had to stop them before they reached the Titan Militia military compound. If they did, the whole damned war was lost. They where currently stationed at the area deemed "Hill 86" which was directly south of the compound. A bridge connected the base's general area to the worn road which led to the main headquarters of the Titan Militia. Asnar turned to address his troops:

"All right, men. Here's the problem.. we can't let those damned red-wearing sonsabitches get away with what they did to Kliest's Ridge, and we can't let them get past Hill 86. We can't assault them directly, either. Any suggestions?"

Major Hennesay stepped forward and spoke nervously, "Sir, we could try an ambush. Take out the tanks indirectly instead of head-on.." Asnar narrowed his eyes at the engineer and nodded.

"How do you propose we take them out then, Major?" questioned the Storm Commander. Major Hennesay looked a tad startled then thought for a moment.

"Uhmm.. they gotta cross the bridge, right, sir? Just.. blow the thing up.."

Combat worn and shell shocked engineers began carefully setting remote demolitions charges under the bridge leading to a barbed wire barricade and eventually Titan's main base. Major Sean Hennesay oversaw the 'project' while Commander Asnar instructed his men to take ambush formation along the cliffs overlooking the methane river. Hennesay instructed his engineers to go back to the main force as he finished up, wiring the demolitions packs to trigger via a remote transmitter made in the field from a broken radio and a basic triggering mechanism. Just as the Major was returning to the main force, the Collective Armored column came into view.

Soldiers along the cliff stared in horror at the approaching force.. well over 70 well-armed infantry marched alongside a single Leviathan assault crawler, two Trident Heavy Grav Tanks, and a dozen armored light-assault exosuits. The poorly armed Titan forces could never muster something to defend against the sheer might of the Collective empire.

Asnar tapped Major Hennesay hard on the shoulder, silently reminding him of his duty. The engineer nodded compliantly, waiting for the Leviathan Assault Crawler to make its way over the bridge. Supports creaked as the massive vehicle slowly drove over the structure, at least fourteen soldiers performing escort duty alongside the gargantuan tank. Just as the Leviathan was about to reach the other side, a defeaning explosion burst suddenly, barely stifled by the sounds of vehicle movement.

The lower portion of the bridge nearly disintegrated from the blast, eight Collective soldiers being thrown into the gaseous river. The assault crawler was nearing the edge of the bridge just as the explosion erupted, the front end going up in the air as it dissapeared into the gaseous mist and eventually hit the bottom. Collective soldiers stuck in the river scrambled to the riverbank, one unlucky soul having hit a bridge support that tore a hole into the left arm of his suit. Methane instantly met his skin before his armor could patch itself, damage which caused sparks to erupt from the suit. This combined with the highly flammable methane and a small amount of oxygen turned the man into a living fireball, if only for a few minutes. He continued thrashing in the river, his comrades staring blankly at the death throes. The suit integrity eventually gave way and he ceased struggling, his corpse slowly sinking beneath the surface.

Asnar gave the signal to open fire, hell unleashed from his marine's assault rifles and Ripper weapons. They caught the Collective force by surprise, attacking their flank with an almost zealous fury. Titan marines ripped into the Collective infantry, killing six and injuring seventeen in the first few minutes of combat. Finally, one of the Trident Heavy Grav tanks reacted, turning its turret to fire on a group of approaching Titan Marines. Five LAWs where launched from the cliff nearby. Four hit their mark, immediately disabling the massive vehicle's main weapon system and killing the occupant of the turret. The fifth rocket careened carelessly into the ground near the river, the Collective infantry nearby having the first bit of luck all day. The warhead didn't detonate at all, and the sparks from the engine didn't have enough oxygen to create a fire.

In several moments, the Collective force reorganized itself, training overtaking fear and surprise. They fought back hard, killing and maiming at least fourteen of the Titan defense force. Asnar commanded a tactical retreat into the nearby cliffs, several members of the chain of command relaying the order. Most of the Titan marines were reluctant to stop the slaughter of the oppressive Collective army until the remaining Trident opened fire on a clustered group of soldiers, killing three. This changed their minds almost immediately as they began backtracking into the cliffs.

Major Hennesay was one of the slower runners, his training regiment not as demanding as that of a full-fledged combat soldier. Several 10mm cased sabot rounds ripped into his lower leg, causing him to stumble and fall. Collective infantrymen rushed past him as a solitary enemy marine stopped to fire a burst into the fallen engineer's chest.

Asnar was hurriedly arranging his men onto the cliffs above the ravine they where in, directing them to surround the cliffs in order to completely obliterate the Collective soldiers. The Titan soldiers hurriedly scrambled up the cliffs, Asnar ahead of all of them when bullets began ricocheting off the cliff face. The commander quickened his pace, hoping his soldiers would follow his lead. Asnar paused for a moment as a .400 caliber bullet nicked the side of his shoulder, not even scratching his skin. It unnerved him for the moment it took his suit to repair the superficial damage. Adrenaline pumping through his veins, the commander pulled himself up on the cliff and helped several of his soldiers over as well. They in turn helped pull up the last surviving members of the defensive force. It looked as if their original numbers had dwindled greatly in the face of the Collective threat.

Asnar glanced down the cliff, the bodies of several Titan marines laying in the ravine as the Collectives approached. Most had died from falls and mishaps, only a few had actual bullet-wounds with the Collective infantry so far out of range. The commander hurriedly assembled his men as the enraged enemy force unwittingly stumbled into his trap.

Four Collective marines entered the ravines first, scanning the cliff face for the green uniforms that they sought. One turned his back and helplessly shrugged his shoulders as six assault rifle rounds burst into the chest of his combat suit, the soldier dead before he hit the ground. Ripper rounds skirted the feet of the two remaining soldiers as they tried to flee. Three Titan snipers saw that did not come to pass, one scoring a headshot and the other two shooting the remaining man in the lower abdomen, ripper through his spine and bowels. Another shot to the head made sure his misery did not last for long.

The main force entered soon after, attempting to flee as soon as they noticed the unmoving corpses of their own men. Heavy fire emerged from the Titans on the cliff, ripping into the remaining force of the Collective offensive machine. Ripper fire was concentrated on the remaining mechanized combat suits, the anti-armor capabilities of the weapon making short work of the support-vehicles. Titan Marines fired into the cornered group of Collective's, having the advantage of elevation and cover. Most Collective soldiers either tried to run or fight back, several regaining hope from the sounds of agony as they scored several very lucky, mostly non-lethal hits to the Titans above. Fleeing Collective infantry where met by an ambush force stationed at the entrance of the ravine, they had rappelled off the sheer cliff walls after the force entered. The entire event took no longer than six or seven minutes, the Titan Marines showing little compassion as they cut down the crippled and fleeing Collective force.

Asnar looked around casually at the carnage in front of him. He patched his comlink through to base, telling them the current threat of a Collective offensive had been stopped. He sat down on a a rock on the side of the ravine, the armored personnel carriers would be there in twenty minutes to pick them up. It was then that the commander was informed of the losses for that day.. out of a group of fifty soldiers, only tweny-six lucky souls survived. Sixteen of those were wounded, eleven seriously. But they had taken out almost an entire Collective vehicle column and well over seventy-five enemy troopers. That was one of the last things on his mind, however, the foremost being getting a week of rest and relaxation before returning to the front. It had been one longass day.