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Operation Red Hammer [IC/Closed]

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Imperium Sidhicum
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Ex-Nation

Operation Red Hammer [IC/Closed]

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:30 am

---The Russians have a saying that you don't swing your fists after the fight. I suppose they've got that one right. Looking back at those days now, I can't really say I would have done anything differently. There wasn't really anything any of us could have done differently. There will always be winners, and there will always be losers. That's just how the world is, how it's always been, and how it always will be. But I have no regrets. The toasters might have won the day in the end, but even they acknowledge that we made them fight for it. In all honesty, we never stood a chance and deep down everybody knew that, it being a miracle that we lasted as long as we did. So I don't blame folks who chose to quit when they did, the terms really being more favourable than we could have hoped for otherwise. The people always come first... But for guys like me who just don't know when to quit, we will keep on fighting, making the Ivan earn what he's taken every day until our last breath, know that he will never be able to tread our lands without looking over the shoulder. This doubt, this insecurity in his claims, will be our victory.---

---

CPT Hendriks Vanags
Outside Pļaviņas HEP
Baltic Union
071420BJUN2132

"How did we do this time, skipper?"

"Better. But you are still lagging 20 seconds behind the average time, and in my outfit we don't do average!"

"Uh... No disrespect, sir, but it can't be done! I mean, two of us nearly drowned trying to keep the pace!"

"Excuse me, Corporal, I am not sure I was hearing you quite right! What was that word you said between "sir" and "I mean" again?"

"Sir, I said that it can't be done!"

"Gentlemen, it seems that we have a problem! Your squad leader Corporal Liedskalniņš seems to be of the opinion that none of you have what it takes to get across this damn river and back in under 10 minutes. Who is willing to prove him wrong?!"

Judging by the silence and exhausted gasping of my men, the lads seem to be inclined to agree with the Corporal as they lie about on the dolomite slabs at my feet.

"Nobody, huh? Alright... Sarge, time me!"

"Ready when you are, skipper!" staff sergeant Valdis Liepnieks, my oldest war buddy and company sergeant, readies the chronometer.

"Keep the boys busy while I'm at it," I say as I step down to the riverside.

"Aye! Squad, exos off! Now hit the deck! And... ONE! TWO! ONE! TWO!" Valdis bellows to the trainees who assume positions and start doing push-ups on his mark.

"Go!" I shout and dive into the cold stream.

The water here is chilling even in summers. Unsurprisingly, coming from the depth of 73 meters behind the massive hydro-plant towering upstream behind us. During the Great War, this place was what kept not just my home country, but the entire Union alive with it's power supply. To this day, it is still the beating heart on the main life artery of our country.

The river downstream from the plant can be tricky to navigate even at low water and minimal outflow like it is now. I fully get the boys for not being able to do their task in time, but out there on a mission they won't have the luxury to do such things under controlled or safe circumstances, so their current performance just won't cut it.

The undertow pulls me under several times near the middle, but I steadily make my way to the opposite bank. At one point I feel my boots graze rock below the water, the place being full of treacherous dolomite slabs that shift every spring when the plant's floodgates are open at full and the whole river becomes a roaring torrent for miles downstream. Finally I make it to the other end and proceed back immediately. On my way back, the current carries me close to the safety line stretched across the river, but redouble my efforts. My exosuit helps me against the current, and some minutes later I set my feet back on solid ground next to my newest squad of trainees.

"8:37!" Valdis calls out the time, the lads collapsing in exhaustion after their eight-and-half minute session of push-ups.

"Now, is there anybody else who thinks this cannot be done under 10 minutes?" I turn to the lads, "And I'm not even the best swimmer in my company!"

"Who is, sir?" Corporal Liedskalniņš grunts.

"He's standing right next to you," I point to the sergeant, "His record is 7:58, without an exo! And we both are old-timers, not lads like you in their prime! If you boys spent half the time exercising as you spend goofing off and chasing girls on your off-time, you could beat either of us with ease. But since you don't, and I've gotten mighty wet and cold just having to prove you what a lazy bunch of swine you are, I guess you will just have to exercise until I begin to sweat. Ten clicks exos off in full gear shoud do it."

"Alright, ladies, you heard the man! Move it!" Valdis bellows at them, "Any who doesn't report in by lunch time doesn't eat!"

---

"What do you think, Hendrik? Think we can get them in proper shape by the deadline?" he asks me after the lads have run off beyond earshot as he starts to reel in the safety line.

"They'll need a lot more drilling before they are ready..." I sigh, "The Colonel is already on my back about filling the ranks, especially with all the recent fuss over Abrene and Petseri."

"Think the Mekhs might try anything if these talks fail?" my friend asks.

"I'd like to believe they won't, but you know how the Russkies are. They will smile to your face and shake your hand while sending "raiders" with special forces training and military issue gear across the border, and with the whole shitstorm going down in Europe right now, there ain't even anyone we could possibly call to our aid," I state, "Not that anyone in the West gives a rat's ass about some obscure country in the ass end of Europe in the first place."

"The usual cynic, I see..." Valdis chuckles before changing subject to a more positive note, "By the way, I never properly congratulated you with your second on the way! Is it a boy or a girl?"

"Thanks," I accept his handshake, "We don't know yet, and Gloria wants to keep it a surprise. As my mother used to say, we'll baptise what we get."

"Speaking of baptism, makes me wonder sometimes how a sworn sinner like yourself and a God-fearing Christian girl like her even get along," Valdis states, tossing the line over his shoulder as we start to walk towards the hydro-plant, "I mean, you know... She always says her graces, goes to church on Sundays and all, while you only ever mention God as the leading protagonist in various blasphemies."

"You know how they say," I chuckle, "Polar opposites are attracted to each other."

---

We make our way uphill near the dam, where the road enters a tunnel through it. There's a small door leading inside with a security checkpoint.

"Good afternoon, captain," the guard greets me, "How's the training going?"

"D. For "don't ask". How's the watch?" I grumble.

"The usual," the lad, no older than 19, sighs, "It's not like anything ever happens here."

"Trust me, lad, boring is good," I say, "Any word on how things are going with those border talks?"

"The Colonel isn't back from Riga yet," the guard explains, "With any luck, we will know in an hour or so on the radio."

The tunnel leads us inside the dam, past a pair of blast doors and to an elevator shaft. The earth inside and beneath the dam is criscrossed with tunnels, some going well below 200 meters beneath the reservoir floor and the surrounding countryside and stretching for miles in every direction - the work of three generations. The geology here is great for tunneling, multiple impermeable strata of clay and dolomite keeping out any groundwater. Even though I've spent much of my life around the place, even I don't fully know the extent of this intricate network.

"I overheard from the intel boys the other day that the Mekhs have amassed quite a force along the border," Valdis tells me with a bit of concern, "Supposedly to protect against our cross-border runs, so they say, but I can smell bullshit from a mile away and this whole business reeks like a ton of it."

"Probably just another show of force. Won't be the first time they've done this, especially not since they've picked up on that old border dispute," I respond.

"Well, the Estonians certainly don't seem inclined to give them shit, and last I heard, the Colonel of Abrene had to be physically removed from the conference room when some jumpier folks suggested he support them in ceding his own district to the Mekhs," Valdis states, referring to the last miserably-failed diplomatic conference, "Insulted the Russian delegate, proclaimed, in his own words, that no copper-dicked toaster will ever set foot in his district while he can help it. No wonder the Russians have stepped up their presence since."

"What about the Lithuanians?"

"They don't like the idea of granting Ivans access through the Reclamation zone any more than we or the Estonians want to cede our turf near the border. I mean, even if the Oblast is still all radland, they only have to set up one base for it to already be a problem. To us and the Poles, for that matter."

The elevator stops at its destination, and we leave it, taking a hallway to the left, in the direction of the mess hall. The vast underground complex here houses the region's military headquarters, a sizable garrison and enough facilities to live entirely autonomously for an indefinite period of time, there being enough room and supplies for the entire city of Aizkraukle and the surrounding countryside, and still more to spare - all underneath and around a facility that is just too vital for any invader to target.

I still have to hit the showers and grab a dry change of clothing. As we pass the mess hall, however, my ears catch an announcement on the radio.

"...in other news, the diplomatic talks over the Baltic-Mecharussian border dispute have again stalled to an impasse today, Russian territorial demands being deemed unacceptable by the majority of the government. Mecharussians responded by swiftly recalling their delegation, "until further notice" according to Ambassador Bobrikov. This breakdown of border talks marks the new low point in Baltic-Mecharussian relations..."

"I guess I should call Gloria, tell her not to expect me home tonight," I grumble. Even while the Ivans might not necessarily respond with an ultimatum or anything of the sort, having had a long history of tough talk and backing down in the face of stalwart resolve, diplomatic breakdowns like these still mean an automatic elevation of combat readiness. Which means lots of sleepless nights for me at the HQ, and lots of lonely nights for my dear wife.

"Same here, buddy..." Valdis agrees, "Guess we'll find out exactly once the Colonel gets back in an hour or two."
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Blakullar
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:16 am

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN IMRAN RUDNITSKY.
CURRENT LOCATION: CENTRAL COMMAND, SURGUT DISTRICT, NEW LENINGRAD COMMAND SECTOR.
TIMESTAMP: 11:14 (LOCAL TIME), 20.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



The gentle buzzing of the air conditioning vent wandered through the office, oppressing the otherwise silence. The establishment was walled primarily by a dark, steely silver paint, the sole view into the outside world being the trapezoid window on the north flank. On the cream-colour synthwood desk stood a variety of amenities, from an empty jam-jar of pens and a file full of papers, to a small portrait of an old man holding a smiling young girl on his knee, to the name plate on the table's front bearing the letters GEN. A. MARILOV.

In a corner, two men were locked in silent, intellectual battle over a steel table pocked with chess pieces. On the white side, a middle-aged man of swarthy complexion and Asiatic features rested his silver-stubbled square jaw on his fist in contemplation. The piercing golden gaze of his cybernetic optics swept the board, searching for a terminus to the stalemate. A cerulean blue beret with a winged Red Star badge crowned his head, hiding his short black hair from view. On the shoulder epaulette of his service uniform, coloured in TsV-patterned steel grey, four stars arranged in a vaguely arrowhead shape denoted his rank as a Captain. The black letters on his uniform's white breast badge proclaimed him IMRAN RUDNITSKY.

The second man's epaulettes bore an Army General's single large star with a wreathed Red Star above, his leather-brown greatcoat bedecked with a rainbow of ribbons and medals on the breast. This man, the Anton Marilov who was the lord and master of the office, stroked his lengthy white beard as he awaited his opponent's move, cold red eyes fixated to Imran's hand.

With a confident smirk, the captain made his move. With a flick of the wrist, his last remaining knight outflanked Marilov's bishop to box his king into a corner. With two pawns and his own bishop on both side denying escape, the game was over.

"Well, that's checkmate," the old general smiled and spoke with a jaded, gravelly voice. "Congratulations, Captain."

"Six years of you kicking my ass at this, and the one time I win is just before I get transferred..." Imran chuckled in a distinct Central Asian accent that revealed his Kyrgyz heritage.

"Well, I just thought I'd give you a parting gift before you head out to Tver," Marilov stated as he hauled himself from his chair. Imran followed shortly after.

The office door opened, bidding the pair exit into a gunmetal-walled corridor lined with hexagonal archways. A red carpet guided walkers from the offices to elevators on either side, each leading to a different wing of the building. As Imran and Marilov made their way toward one of these elevators, the former recalled one of the many wall paintings of martial glory that had caught his eye. It was composed in a style reminiscent of neoclassicism, vibrant and vivid in its coloration and depiction. The caption on the frame enunciated its subject as the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.

"If I had a glass, I'd toast to the hope of the negotiations pulling through despite the turmoil," Imran stated.

A deep, grumbling sigh from Marilov made the captain turn his head to face the general.

"I feared you'd say that. Look, I'll be honest with you. This whole affair is only gonna end one way – with blood. The Senate will make very damn sure of that."

"I thought Bobrikov was negotiating for a peaceful solution?" Imran stated with a hint of alarm, knowing that Marilov was particularly intimate with Mecharussian political machinations.

"Don't kid yourself, Captain," the general enunciated. "There was never gonna be a peaceful solution. The extremists in Engalychev's inner circle have lost their patience. With the West distracted in continental Europe, it's unlikely another opportunity to start expanding would have presented itself any time soon. Now that there is one, the war-hawks are in flight, and it'll take more than a rock to bring 'em down to earth."

"So where do my men enter into it?"

"The higher-ups sent out an order to send their best troops to lead the vanguard assault. They want the most experienced groups to take out the heavier Baltic units and sweep the whole region, and let the conscripts follow up as a rear-guard occupation force. And Spear Company's the best I've got, so ... I didn't really have a choice."

Imran's eyes narrowed like daggers.

"To be honest, sir, I don't know whether to be flattered or disgusted."

"I get it, I really do," Marilov stated by way of apology. "And if it were my place, I'd bellow into the President's ear way louder than these crypto-fascist shoebangers he's jumped into bed with could ever manage."

"We both know you've got the voice for it, sir."

"Used to, though if I ever got the chance Engalychev would be the first to see if this old dog's still got his bite," Marilov retorted with a brief smirk. "Anyway, as the commander of Spear Company, you'll be doing a meet-and-greet with the overall Officer in Charge of the operation, Colonel-General Piotr Shuvalov from Second Shock Army. Cut from the cloth of New Leningrad's premier officer academy. That's to say, he spent five years there just to learn how to eat with a knife and fork. A prissy glory-hound, an ass-kisser and an all-around prick. But you didn't hear that from me."

"Right..." Imran grumbled with curiosity. "So why'd the Council put this guy in charge if he's a clown?"

"Because they're expecting the Balts to put up one hell of a fight," Marilov proceeded to explain. "And since Shuvalov's specialty is armoured warfare, they figured he'd be the best fit for a high-intensity conflict. Plus the brass want their neophytes to get a taste of real combat. The ones who didn't get to fight in the reclamations like we and Shuvalov did. And the latter's the man to show 'em the ropes."

"I see," Imran contented himself with the previous.

"Anyway, regardless of his experience, he'll be the guy who gives you your specific instructions and orders. In other words, you and your squad will answer directly to him. He knows you and your squad are coming, I already sent him an introductory telegram. I figured that'd be the best route given the temperament of one of your corporals."

"Med?" Imran guessed immediately, the two men slowing their pace as they approached the elevator at the end of the corridor. "Mister Shuvalov doesn't need to worry about her. She'll be on a short leash."

"I'll trust you'll be able to put your money where your mouth is," Marilov jested as Imran pressed the 'call' button. "Oh, and Captain?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Take care of yourself out there," the general's tone turned solemn.

"And don't you go too mad while I'm gone," Imran returned with a smile as the bell sounded and the doors parted with a clank.

The two old friends exchanged a firm, sincere handshake before the captain embarked the elevator. The last Imran saw of Marilov was a faithful, almost proud expression on his face before the doors closed. Once he was alone, the captain's face soured.

"Once more into the breach..." he grumbled to no-one in particular as the lift began its descent.
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Imperium Sidhicum
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Founded: May 28, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:28 pm

CPT Hendriks Vanags
12 km outside Aizkraukle
Baltic Union
151700BJUN2132

---

The decreipt fibre cement shingles shatter under my boots as I kick off to the next roof. It's a good distance, almost 20 meters away. I realize already in mid-flight that I am going to fall short, and fire off the grappling dart. It strikes square on the roof ahead, a rim of pliable super-adhesive pancaking around it's impact point for better adhesion, a useful feature for hard surfaces that the dart will not penetrate. The pitch coating of that roof might flake away, and then I'd be in big trouble, but I've done this on this particular roof many times before and know that the pitch here is still strong.

My feet plant on the brick wall two meters below my intended destination, the thin grappling wire tensing as the entire weight of me, my exo and my son who sits strapped on my back comes to rest on it. Starting to slowly reel in the wire, I make my way up the wall and finally come to rest on the roof's ledge.

"5:38, papa!" Marek marks the time, beginning to undo the straps that held him secure on my back, "You did 15 seconds better last time."

"Well, I didn't miss this ledge the last time," I state, resting with my feet over the said ledge as my boy sits down next to me. Our usual circuit consists of 15 buildings in this derelict pre-war town, Marek riding as my wingman and timing me whenever I go out here to test my exo.

"Papa, is it true what they say in town? That there's going to be a new war soon?" he asks me with concern. It's not a question any father should ever have to answer in affirmative to his son, but I'm not the one into making white lies, especially not for my family.

"I don't know, Marek," I say, "I would hope not."

"I'm not afraid even if there is!" Marek enthusiastically proclaims, "I will protect mama and my baby sister while you are away fighting!"

"Sister, eh?" I grin, "What makes you so sure it's going to be a sister? Has mother told you that?"

In truth, Gloria hasn't told me either even while she probably knows. She wants to keep it a surprise.

"Uh... no..." Marek suddenly looks guiltily confused, "But I'd really want it to be a baby sister. And if it's a brother, also good, I will have someone to teach how to fight and hunt!"

"So mother has told you?" I grin.

"Uh... yes," Marek lowers his gaze embarassed, "She asked me not to tell you, because it's supposed to be a surprise. Please don't tell mama I did!"

"I'll be quiet as a grave," I smile. So, I will be having a daughter...

I pull out a cigar from the silver case I always carry in my chest pocket. It's a wedding gift from Gloria's old man, said to have been in his family for eight generations. Seeing how she's the only surviving child and a non-smoker, he probably must have figured I would put it to better use than her.

"Are you happy to know it's a girl?" Marek asks with concern. He's a perceptive lad, having taken note that I usually smoke when I'm either angry or very happy.

"Why, of course I'm happy," I say. "To tell the truth, I've always wanted to have a daughter. Daughters take care of their papas when they grow old, not wander off to fight in wars like the boys."

"I won't wander off. I'll stay around and take care of you and mom when you are old," Marek objects, "Who else will look after the farm if you're old?"

"Well, sometimes a man just has to do what he has to do," I explain, "The enemies of our country don't care, that's why the men must sometimes go off and fight, so that the women don't have to."

I continue to enjoy my cigar while Marek reflects on my words. We grow our own tobacco among other things, our cigars being a valued commodity in town, made by Gloria herself in accord with an old family recipe. Her ancestors come from West Virginia, where the best tobacco in the world is said to have been grown before the Great War. I don't know how well our own home product would compare to that, but in the absence of anything better and any living individuals with first-hand knowledge of pre-war tobacco, these cigars make for a neat surplus in our household budget.

"Can I have a smoke, papa?" Marek suddenly asks.

"Sure," I chuckle, holding out my cigar for him, "Here, take a good deep breath!"

He leans over to my outstretched hand, sucks in a hefty smoke and predictably starts to cough and spit so hard I have to hold him by the collar to keep him from falling over the ledge.

"GAAAAAH... How can you even stomach that stuff..." Marek grunts, spitting furiously.

"It's bad for your health. I wouldn't want you to start when you grow up."

"Why do you smoke then if you know it's bad for you," my son asks.

"Well, it's a bad habit, really. People start it because it helps calm the nerves, they get used to it, and then at some point they just can't live without it anymore," I explain, "I started to smoke after my first real mission, and it kind of just caught on."

"Why do you need to calm your nerves now, papa?" Marek seems confused, "You are not at war, and you are not angry..."

"That's because I'm very excited, I think. After all, I have just learned I will be having a baby daughter of all things!"

"How are you going to name her, papa?" the boy asks.

"Well, I think we'll leave that for mom to decide, don't you think? After all, technically I still don't know it's a girl!" I chuckle.

"But if you had to, how would you name her?" Marek doesn't relent.

"I think I would name her Austra, after my mother, your grandma," I state after pausing to think, "You do remember her, right?"

"Only a little," Marek nods, "But I like that name. I'll suggest it to mom sometime."

"Alright. Just make sure she doesn't know it was my idea, otherwise she'll realize I know and you will be in trouble for spilling a secret," I flick away the cigar butt and tap the boy on the shoulder, "Ready for another go before we head home?"

"You bet I am, papa!" Marek's eyes spark with delight as he gets behind my back and starts to strap himself in place.

"Hendrik Vanag, where do you think you are taking our son?!" I suddenly hear a shout from below. It's Gloria.

"Uh-oh! Looks like we're in trouble now..." I give my son an uneasy look, trying hard to conceal a smile.

"Busteeed..." he agrees with me.

"Dear husband, you get yourself and your son down from that roof this instant!" Gloria shouts from below.

"Strap up, kid, we're taking the quick way down!" I instruct Marek, who finishes strapping himself in place and holds on tight to my shoulders. An instant later, I slip over the edge much to Gloria's protests, dropping three stories before landing on all fours, the exosuit's powerful servos arresting my fall into a hard but bearable touchdown.

"Those damn raiders must have evidently bashed the last remnants of sense out of your skull!" Gloria starts to berate me, "Don't you realize you're putting your son in danger?!"

"Dear wife, we can handle ourselves just fine," I object.

"Don't you "we" me on this, Hendrik! Marek doesn't know any better, but you do! Has it ever occurred to you what would happen if you would have fallen from that height on your back?!" Gloria shouts, mixing up Latvian and English like she often does when she's excited or angry.

"It has, and that's precisely why I won't fall on my back!" I argue, "And what will our son learn sitting at home like you would have him?"

"Not to be such a reckless idiot as his father!" my wife snaps, turning her back on me demonstratively.

"Looks like you're sleeping on the couch tonight, papa..." Marek whispers as he unstraps himself and gets off my back. I bump him in feigned anger even though the grin and mischievous spark on both of our faces tells how we really feel about the situation.

"And where will that get him, Gloria?" I approach my wife, trying to embrace and calm her. She wrestles from my grip angrily at first. "In a few more years, our boy will be off to the boot camp, doing dangerous things every day and you won't be able to protect him no more. It's better that he gets accustomed to it sooner than later."

"But until that happens, I want him to be safe!" Gloria barks almost tearfully.

"What is even safe these days, wife?" I get upset myself, "The woods and wastes outside the safe-zones are still full of wild beasts, crazies, outlaws and God knows what else, there are raiders trying to sneak across the border every other day, and for all I know we just might be having another goddamn war on our hands any day now! Our son is already in danger every minute of every day with or without you shielding him, and that's just a fact of life we all have to accept."

"Every time," Gloria looks at me angrily, tears beginning to flow from her blue eyes profusely, "Every time you get called off to town, my heart breaks because I don't know when you will be back, I don't know if they are going to send you off on another job for only Lord knows how long! I don't even know if you will be back at all! Our son is often the only thing reminding me that I too have a husband, and I know full-well how dangerous the world we live in can be! So I beg of you, don't risk the only reminder of you that I have while you are gone - even if you do it out of love for him!"

I can see now why my wife feels so strongly about what we boys regard as merely a little dangerous fun.

"Mom," Marek speaks out, "Papa is one of the best soldiers there are. He knows what he's doing, and if he can't help with something bad happening, then nobody can. I am as safe with him as I can ever be."

A man could hardly hope for a praise higher than such evaluation by his own son. This revelation also seems to leave my wife impressed.

"We'll talk about this later," Gloria states, sniffling as she wipes away her last tears, "Let's go home now, a messenger from town came by, said they need you at the HQ again, that it's important."

"I gathered you wouldn't bother coming all this way just to give me a piece of your mind for taking Marek to hop roofs," I remark and cringe as Gloria gives me an angry elbow-bump to the gut.

"Gosh, sometimes you can be such an asshole, husband!" she exclaims, though her tone indicates she is only partly upset with my remark.
Last edited by Imperium Sidhicum on Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Freedom doesn't mean being able to do as one please, but rather not to do as one doesn't please.

A fool sees religion as the truth. A smart man sees religion as a lie. A ruler sees religion as a useful tool.

The more God in one's mouth, the less in one's heart.

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Lunar Union
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Founded: Feb 25, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Lunar Union » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:59 am

[RETCONNED]
Last edited by Lunar Union on Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:10 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Imperium Sidhicum
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Posts: 4324
Founded: May 28, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:51 am

CPT Hendriks Vanags
Farm "Vanagi"
7 km outside Aizkraukle
Baltic Union
212200BJUN2132


Summer Solstice is normally the celebration of the year, and this time is going to be no exception even with the dark clouds of war looming overhead.

Last week, all Tier One personnel such as myself received instructions in sealed envelopes, to be destroyed after reading. It is now confirmed that there is going to be war. How big and how serious, remains to be seen, but there is going to be a war. I and my company already have our orders for that eventuality.

Tier Two personnel have likewise been instructed to call off any plans and report to their stations, prepare the defenses and be on fifteen-minute standby at all times. The rest of the population has been instructed to prepare emergency supplies, keep their personal arms at hand and await further instructions.

While I am not at liberty to discuss the general operational plans with anyone below my tier, I must say that the defense plan the brass have concocted for just such an eventuality is ingeniously devious. Being all to enthusiastic about dickwaving as is their habit, the Mekhs have revealed a lot more about their probable war plans and doctrines than would be good for them. Tier One teams along the border have been doing their job well, the intel obtained from their cross-border runs having given our analysts a good idea of what to expect long before even the diplomatic machinations of the current border dispute.

To be honest, I am quite baffled as to why the Russians have chosen to try and strike us with a heavily armored force. The terrain is rather unsuitable for mass armored warfare over much of the Baltics, confining heavier armor to a relatively few narrow corridors. Perhaps they are expecting us to run out of anti-tank ordnance sooner than they run out of tanks. Their airborne forces are, at least to me personally, by far the bigger concern, although our current plans have accounted for them as well. In my line of work, a man is bound to become paranoid, and I have a grudging feeling that there is more to this seemingly simplistic plan than belies the eye, but then again, Russians have always preferred simplistic brute-force solutions as long as they work. Or perhaps they are just so arrogant as to expect a repetition of 1940, neglecting the fact that a lot has changed about our peoples and nation in these two centuries.

This isn't going to be an easy fight once it starts, not by any standard. We will be outnumbered 20 to 1 in the optimistic scenario, and that number isn't going to even out even if we mobilize every single able-bodied citizen. But huge empires have been forced to concede defeat before small but determined foes before. We must not fight brave, but fight smart, fight not to hold territory at any cost, but to inflict maximum attrition upon the enemy and make his stay in our land too costly. Our people have done this before, during the days of my grandfather and father, repelling the repeated invasions that the Mekhs call the Salvagings, and we will do it again.

---

In an effort to get my mind off the looming threat, I turn to my guests.

There's Valdis with his wife and their brood of six, other lads from my team and some of the guys from the rookie squad that we've been drilling so hard for the past few weeks, many of them with their wives, sweethearts and kids. Not all of the folks I invited have come, preferring to celebrate with their families instead, and I don't blame them. There's Nikolai and my other three farmhands, two of them with their girlfriends, there's my boy, playing with the other kids, and Gloria who is extending her Southern hospitality to our guests. Sometimes I wonder why do I even think of her as a Southerner - with her family having lived here for three generations, the only thing American about her remaining is her habit of speaking English with her parents. And that peculiar accent that she knows is an assured way to seduce me with.

Right now, she is dressed in the folk attire of our region, a red tartan skirt and vest, a white linen blouse and the red-and-white Lielvārde belt that every man and woman from these parts makes a point of pride in wearing on festive occasions. A wreath of meadow flowers adorns her head along with a red crown embroidered with glass beads, the only inauthentic part about her costume - as a married woman, she ought to be wearing a bonnet instead. She is serving homemade cheese and ale to the guests at the long table. I'm in the meantime busy around the grills. One thing I've learned in my life is that a man never ought to trust a woman with his meat, no pun intended. Even if it's such a wonderful woman as my Gloria.

Given the circumstances, there are a lot less drinks tonight than usual. In more peaceful times, the revelry would continue well into the next day. Today, however, the lads have even brought along their weapons and exos, keeping them in a truck parked next to the barn just in case the Ivans decided to try their luck today or tomorrow. But for now, everybody is singing the usual customary songs, dancing around the large bonfire, carousing and trying their best to get their minds off the uncertain future.

"I had the guys bring along the heavy gear, just in case," Valdis mentions in a hushed voice as he goes by, "With what we have in that truck, we could take out a whole company with ease."

"Let's not talk about this," I grumble, "Not today."

"Agreed," my friend nods, "Need any help with the meat?"

"I suppose I could use a hand," I say. Valdis takes to the other two grills and examines the assortment of ribs, steaks and shashlik, flipping some over as necessary.

"Papa, what does it mean to go looking for a fern blossom?" I'm interrupted from the task at hand by Marek, "Every kid at school knows that ferns do not blossom." I and Valdis chuckle.

"It's an expression," I explain, laughing, "It means two people are going off for some private time together on this special night."

"You mean going off to have sex?" Marek inquires, prompting another chuckle from me and the sergeant.

"Well, yes. Why do you ask?"

"I just saw Corporal Liedskalniņš and his girlfriend walk off to the woods," my son explains, "I asked them why are they going away when the meat is about to be ready, and he said they would try to find a fern blossom."

"Ah, I see..." I laugh.

"Well, if they want to go off and have sex, why not just say so?" Marek seems confused.

"Because that wouldn't make for a very interesting life if people said everything straight up as it is," I say.

"Are they trying to make a baby, like you and mom?" my boy keeps asking. He's a smart kid whose grown up on a farm and knows very well how these things work, nobody ever having tried to dupe him with nonsense about storks, cabbages and whatnot.

"I wouldn't know," I chuckle, "You'd be better of asking him when he comes back. Not that you should."

"Why not?"

"Because it's a private matter. I'm sure they will tell everyone when they feel the time is right."

Content with such an answer, my boy runs off, leaving me and Valdis laughing.

"Clever kid," he remarks, "Nothing seems to slip his notice."

"Do me a favour," I say after a while, "Get the meat on the table, I've got to take a piss."

"Right-o, skipper!" Valdis responds, going off to fetch the bowls while I head out behind the barn.

On my way, I pass the army truck that holds the gear of my lads. The instruments inside will likely see use in the coming weeks even though a part of me wants to believe this whole affair will just turn out to be a big bluff like it has a number of times before. There are a number of glowworms in the grass, their little green lights shining here and there, and I remember my own childhood when I used to catch them and put them in jars to light my room in summer nights.

Having done my business, I return to the table, where my guests already feast on the meat, praising the seasoning, my personal recipe.

"Dear husband, why are you not wearing your wreath?" I feel Gloria's hands wrap around my waist. Many of the men present are wearing oak-leaf wreaths, as is the custom, and it seems I have left mine by the grills. Although I don't find it particularly comfortable, I make a point of retrieving and putting it back on, knowing how seriously Gloria takes all the traditional festivities. Perhaps she's never really felt fully-accepted here, carrying the label of Westerner despite being born here, and is thus trying harder than most to assert her nativeness.

Assuming my seat at the end of the long table, I fill my mug with ale and invite everybody present to a toast.

"It has come to my attention that the lot of you are quieter this evening than is normal for today. I know what troubles you all, and believe me when I say I have the same thing on my mind too. Times are tough, but it is not the first time, nor the last. We have prevailed before, and we will prevail now and always. Let us drink to our glorious Fatherland, may she live as long as the Sun!"

"For Fatherland!" everyone enthusiastically raises their mugs.

"Now let's feast and rejoice as is proper!" I exclaim, "Don't know about you rest but I've about had enough of this graveyard mood!"

My guests enthusiastically agree, and we proceed with the feasting. Judging by the number of samogon bottles that suddenly join the ale mugs on the table despite best advice to go easy on the drinks today, it's going to be a hard morning. But I will worry about that in the morning...
Freedom doesn't mean being able to do as one please, but rather not to do as one doesn't please.

A fool sees religion as the truth. A smart man sees religion as a lie. A ruler sees religion as a useful tool.

The more God in one's mouth, the less in one's heart.

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Blakullar
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Founded: Sep 07, 2012
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:18 am

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN IMRAN RUDNITSKY.
CURRENT LOCATION: VDV STAGING AREA, TVER AERODROME, PETROGRAD COMMAND SECTOR.
TIMESTAMP: 08:31 (LOCAL TIME), 21.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



The thunderous rattle of nuclear jets filled the air as the sharklike hull of an Ilyushin Il-82M1 heavy dropship careened into its final approach at the Tver aerodrome. The two large flight-jets on both ends of its wings tilted forward to slow it down, eventually floating downward to join the third turbine beneath the V-shaped tailfins in propping it aloft. Five sets of massive wheels slowly emerged from the landing gear pods as the craft drifted towards the helipad, guided by its powerful avionics computers. Finally, and ever so gently, the dropship touched down onto the tarmac, the roar of its engines steadily devolving into a grumble before fading into eventual silence.

Imran watched the dropship disgorge its cargo of munitions from the door, wheeled logistic bots running up and down its rear ramp to collect the crates. He wanted to believe that the breakdown of relations would not lead to the war that Marilov had prophesised, and yet the colour of dismay on his face revealed that he knew the inevitable reality. Venting a sigh, he decided to make his way to his barracks as he had been instructed.

On his way across the busy airfield to his destination, Imran noticed the crew of one of his smaller gunships, an Mi-22A VTOL if he recalled correctly. They were examining one of the AGS-301 Iskra grenade machineguns on the right door mount, one checking the firing mechanisms of the beastly firearm and the other the ammunition boxes.

"Good morning, boss!" the crew chief acknowledged his presence, the metallic ring of his voice and holographic blue triangles at the centre of his eyes revealing him to be one of the android Reasoning Machines.

"And a good morning to you too, starshina!" Imran returned the greeting. "I trust everything's going well here?"

"I am just boxing up the thirty-millimetre grenades, sir," the crew chief answered, grinning as he examined one of the grey cigar-shaped munitions. "I cannot wait to observe the panic on whichever yokel gets this popped up his ass!"

"Your present paradigm fails to account for the high probability that his face will be on one end of the potato field and his ass will be on the other!" his fellow-droid comrade chuckled, the two bumping their fists with a metallic clang.

"As you were, gentlemen!" Imran left them to it with a smile. His grin disappeared as soon as he was on the move again – even if he disapproved of such a grim sense of humour, he could hardly blame the Reasoning Machines. Sentient as they may have been, many of the new-builds held little grasp of humour as human beings understood it. That particular starshina, Imran knew was only six or seven years old and had been in the military almost literally from his construction. For him, knowledge of the civilian world was fleeting.

Soon the barracks in question, a hastily set-up tent to accommodate a squad's worth of troopers, entered his sight. In one of the windows, Imran saw a familiar face gazing out, which widened when the character caught sight of the captain.

"Gentlemen!" an equally familiar, booming voice could be heard bellowing from within. "Drop your cocks and grab your socks! The boss is coming!"

Imran smirked as he recognised his comrades setting up a welcoming committee on his behalf. Not that he needed the attention, it was still nice to see his subordinates seem so pleased to see him. He was one of those officers who stood firm in his belief that fraternisation was one of the keys to turning a good soldier into a great one. Soldiers would naturally be more predisposed to fight on behalf of their friends than they would be their nation, at least in his experience.

He stepped through the tent to find the seven soldiers of his squadron standing to attention, in a line that could well have done this new colonel-general himself proud. All of them were dressed in nearly identical uniform to their commanding officer, save for the epaulettes denoting a different rank to him.

"At ease, gentlemen," Imran addressed the crew. "I hope everyone's been keeping well in my brief absence."

"Indeed we have, boss," a heavily built, square-jawed mountain of a man answered in a deep, rumbling voice. "Private Numbnuts over there's convinced he can kick my ass in a drinking game, and when this shitstorm dies down, I'm aching to prove him wrong!"

"Is that so, Gorshkov?" Imran turned toward a soldier of a similar body shape and complexion to himself, the key differences being youth and a green shimmer in his eye rather than Imran's gold. "What makes you think you can beat the good Sergeant Andropov at boozing?"

"I've been practicing, sir!" Private Gorshkov responded, crisp determination in his voice.

"Tell the captain what you've been practicing with, Boris!" another private called out, barely able to suppress his laughter.

"A cider from the Commonwealth-"

The instant that Boris gave his answer, Imran sprouted a massive smirk and stifled a guffaw.

"I'm gonna be honest with you to a fault for your own good, Boris. You don't stand a snowflake's chance in hell of taking down Bogdan's record. Believe me, I've tried. I mean, you're welcome to give it a go on our next leave, but don't get your hopes up."

"Heh heh heh..." Bogdan chuckled in remembrance.

Suddenly, Imran caught sight of a figure in the entrance to the tent, wearing a similar shinel greatcoat to what General Marilov typically wore and a badged peaked cap to match. He was a man dark of face, with two shimmering-white, piercing eyes and a chiselled jaw, crossed with scars from previous augmentations.

"Gentlemen, may I come in?" he enquired, yet the totalitarian tone of his voice revealed that he would expect nothing more than an affirmative answer.

The entire barrack snapped to attention at once, recognising the man as a senior officer immediately.

"You must be Captain Imran Rudnitsky," the newcomer started as he entered, each boot-step conducted with immaculate precision and calculated distance. "It's a pleasure to finally meet face to face with such an esteemed combat officer as the so-called Ace of Spades."

"The pleasure is mine, Colonel-General," Imran returned the greeting, recognising from the triple-starred epaulettes as the fabled Piotr Shuvalov. "I gather you received Marilov's letter of introduction?"

"Received it, but I don't need someone else to introduce a man on their behalf," Shuvalov stated. "I'm someone who prefers to meet them myself, and one thing I pride myself on is that I'm an excellent judge of character. Now, I see you've assembled yourself a motley crew of fine infantrymen for your squad."

"They're the best of the best, sir – save for the special purpose units of course," Imran replied. "I should start by introducing you to my squad's second in command and machinegunner, Sergeant Bogdan Andropov."

Shuvalov stepped away from the captain to investigate the man to whom Imran had pointed, the corporal standing a full head's length taller and at least twice as broad as the colonel-general.

"Say, your name seems familiar to me," Shuvalov enunciated. "I seem to recall a man who served in the first half of the Salvagings. From Perm, if I'm not mistaken? Any relation?"

"No, sir," Andropov negated. "I was born in Kursk, sir!"

"Yes, I can tell..." Shuvalov glanced at the man, before turning elsewhere. "And who's this strapping young lass?"

The present focus of the colonel-general's attention was a heavily-built young woman, head covered with flowing blond hair that reached to her shoulders. As she stood stiff as a ruler, both of her arms were visibly augmented, and from her sparkling blue cyber-optics two tear trail-like scars ran down her cheeks to her chin.

"Sir, I am Corporal Trofima Medveditsa, the heavy weapons specialist of Captain Rudnitsky's squadron, sir!" she announced herself in a noticeable eastern Siberian-accented voice.

Shuvalov grimaced at the mention of her surname as if he had just heard the most ludicrous joke in the entire universe.

"What the fuck kinda name is 'Medveditsa'?" he scoffed. "That's almost as bad as that 'Private Serzhant' fellow I encountered once..."

Trofima's right eyebrow twitched.

"Sir, the corporal would like to report that the Comrade General doesn't want to know how many possible answers there are to that question, sir!"

"Oh, really?" Shuvalov's left brow stuck upward like an arrow. "Well, why the hell did I ask the question if I didn't want to know the answer? Or did that not occur to you while you were trying to be a smart-ass, Corporal?!"

"Sir, 'Medveditsa' is my surname, sir!" Trofima announced, obviously trying not to lamp the colonel-general as she balled her hands into fists.

"That's better!" Shuvalov barked, snapping his fingers and pointing to the floor. "Now drop down and give me thirty so you remember how to answer a simple question next time! And unclench those fists, or I'll quadruple it for breaking stance!"

Resignedly, Trofima did as instructed, proceeding to get down to the floor and perform the requested push-ups. Imran watched a subtle grin slide up one of Shuvalov's cheeks.

"I gather you didn't come here just to castigate my soldiers, sir," the captain announced in an effort to defuse the tension.

"You're a perceptive man, Captain," the colonel-general stated, reaching into his pocket for a flat, triangular object. "This holodisk contains the precise nature of your objectives for the coming mission. Your company, along with Sword and Metal companies, will be deploying into the Latgale region to support the Seventh Armoured battalion as they push westward to Semigallia. Your company will be deploying close to Rez... Rese... Reason..."

Shuvalov's face contorted into a scowl as his miserable attempt at pronunciation failed to bear fruit.

"KAMINSKY!!!" he bellowed to outside the tent. "Help me out here!"

"Rez-ek-neh, sir," an unidentified figure responded from outside in a deadpan voice.

"Yes, thank you..." Shuvalov refocused his attention to Imran. "Anyway, your company will be deploying close to Rēzekne for the upcoming assault early tomorrow. All other details regarding your objective will be on the holodisk. I wish you the best of luck, Captain – not that you or your men will need it, given your combat prowess!"

At that moment, Trofima completed her push-ups and stood back to attention.

"Thank you, sir," Imran responded as Shuvalov turned about and left the tent. The unidentified adjutant Kaminsky, wearing a similar jacket to his commander, followed close behind him once he left.

As soon as the colonel-general was out of sight and earshot, Trofima's expression twisted into an animalistic snarl.

"Fucking ass-clown!" she seethed. "If that prick had attended my high school, I'd have made him drink toilet water every day!!!"

"You could've handled that better yourself, Med," Bogdan enunciated.

"Wait a minute – we're attacking tomorrow?" the private who had initially challenged Boris on his drinking prowess spoke up. "Did you know about this, boss?"

"I only learned it from Marilov yesterday, Yevgeny" Imran answered with a look of concern on his face. "Now, I need to run through these plans that our esteemed commander has given us for the occasion. Andropov, you come with me. The rest of you, start packing and give your weapons one last check-up with the quartermaster!"

"Right, boss!" everyone responded in near unison, with Bogdan following Imran out of the barrack.

"So the Old Man told you, did he?" the sergeant enquired as the two walked to their destination.

"To tell the truth, I think we all knew it was coming," Imran stated grimly. "Though that still don't change my thoughts on the matter."
- - - MECHANOCRATIC RUSSIA - - -
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Imperium Sidhicum
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Founded: May 28, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:18 pm

CPT Hendriks Vanags
Farm "Vanagi"
7 km outside Aizkraukle
Baltic Union
221015BJUN2132


I only realize I am having a bad dream when I see searchlights. Gloria and Marek are engulfed in flames, reaching out for me and screaming for help while I stand paralyzed. There are explosions all around, unlike anything I've ever been through before, air raid sirens blaring in the background and searchlights probing the ominous sky darkened by smoke and illuminated by the blaze. Nobody uses searchlights these days, certainly not for tracking aircraft. As I struggle in vain to move and save my family, a massive blast knocks me out of the dream.

I come to my senses, realizing that the explosion must have been Valdis' kick. The sergeant stands next to me, frantically trying to wake me up.

"Get up, skipper, it's starting!" he shouts.

Judging by the pounding in the back of my head and the fact that I've been sleeping outside in a hammock indicates that I've evidently been having a bit more drink than would be prudent yesterday. I haven't been imagining the air raid sirens though, their ominous wailing coming from the direction of Aizkraukle. There are no triple squawks between every three cycles, meaning that this is no drill.

Adrenaline rush sobers me up in an instant. Faster than I can think about it, I'm already inside, hastily changing into my exo and grabbing my service piece from the big gun locker in the living room. Every self-respecting Baltic citizen owns at least a few pieces, one of them being his service rifle. Most ordinary folks get to make do with conventional pre-war designs, but as a career soldier, I have the privilege of keeping a TST ChemRail at my permanent disposal. Spitting 8.5-millimeter hypervelocity flechettes at a rate of 800 rounds per minute, this piece can chew up pretty much anything softer than a main battle tank in moments, even side armor of modern IFVs being vulnerable to the armor-piercing variants at close ranges. Not that we use the rapid-fire feature very often - "one shot, one kill" is the Baltic soldier's credo.

Only now I notice all four of my farmhands already there, clad in their Tier Three uniforms.

"We're ready, captain!" they announce. I distribute them pre-war AK-12s also stored in the locker and toss Nikolai the key.

"Gloria's got the other key. You make sure nothing happens to her or my boy, got that!?" I instruct them.

"She already went down in the tunnels to take Marek to safety," Nikolai explains, "Said she'll be back for her own piece once your boy's in the shelter."

"Good," I nod, "Take the guns and ammo to one of the hiding spots outside the house, if the toasters come, first thing they'll do is search homes for weapons. Let them have one or two of my hunting pieces as a token so they don't get overly nosy. And for the love of God, lose the damn uniforms while you're around the house! I don't want some trigger-happy cog-head blasting my house because of one of you!"

"What if we are called to defend the town?"

"Then you go defend the town. And tell Gloria to go down in the tunnels and stay out of sight if that happens. She is no soldier, but she can take care of herself in the wild."

"Boss," Nikolai says, "I know you trust me to do it without saying, but I just wanted you to hear that from my mouth - as long as I or any of us are alive to help it, no harm will come to your wife and son! You and your family have been real kind to me even though you had no reason to, and I'll be damned if I don't repay it properly! Right, boys?!"

"HA-OOH!" the three other guys affirm. I need no more reassurance that my family is in safe hands.

Having suited up and grabbed my other weapons, I rush outside to the truck, where the rest of the lads are busy suiting up and getting the guns ready. I see Private First Class Mārtiņš Slišāns, our radio operator, trying to get in touch with the HQ.

"Report!" I demand.

"No luck, Captain," he states, "There's only this funny static. The Ivans must be jamming our comms."

"Try cellular!"

"No zone either," Slišāns states after examining his cell phone, "I'm telling you, skipper, I know jamming when I see one."

Apparently the intel was right. The briefing last week did mention our deep recon guys having spotted mobile ECM platforms near Pskov and Polotsk, said to be capable of jamming all wireless communications and radars in a 300-click depth. Which in turn confirms what the analysts had determined about Russian offensive doctrines already years ago. First disrupt all the comms and detection, and then send in an overwhelming assault force according to a pre-planned time table. The idea is to keep the enemy disorganized and unable to coordinate. Fortunately for us, this works both ways, the Russians' own comms and sensors being down as well for the time, any major disruption to their schedule also likely to disrupt the whole operation. What the Russians don't seem to know is that we have an extensive network of landlines.

Private Slišāns turns off the radio, it evidently bound to be of no use for the next 24 hours or so.

"Alright, lads, get around!" I announce, "This is the X hour we've been training for! Last week, Tier One and Tier Two officers around the country received their orders for this eventuality, and I am now at liberty to disclose them!"

"Our standing orders are to proceed to Firebase Lubāns and assist the Tier Two forces stationed in the region, where the primary defensive line is set to be established. Bravo, Charlie and Delta platoons should already be on the way, so that leaves us. We are to arrive there no later than 3 hours from the commencement of hostilities. Upon arrival, we are to report to the firebase commander and await further instructions. We bring along our standard equipment, any specialist gear will be requisitioned on site as necessary."

"Firebase Lubāns?!" Corporal Liedskalniņš grumbles, still looking weary from yesterday's revelry, "Awww, man... Why did the brass have to send us to THAT shithole of all places!?"

"Most probably so that you would have something to complain about, Corporal!" I bark impatiently, "Lubāna District is the single most defensible location in Eastern Latvia, and it will be our job to defend that location until further notice."

The Corporal is right about his assessment of Firebase Lubāns, of course. In truth, there is no firebase in the normal sense, just a series of loosely-connected strongpoints on hills rising out of a huge wetland. Lubāns is the largest lake in Latvia and second largest in the Baltics, Lake Peipus excluded over it being party-Russian territory. Shallow and largely overgown, Lubāns has no set coastline, being surrounded by vast marshes and floodplains, temporarily growing several times it's normal size in springs and rainy years. Before the war, it used to be kept in check by an extensive system of canals, dikes and levees, but decades of post-war neglect have put most of them beyond repair, the lake since returning to it's natural state and the current authorities having little interest in restoring the drainage system since the area is sparsely inhabited. The remnants of this massive drainage system present a formidable obstacle in itself to any armored force, and where that isn't sufficient, the vast marshland is assured to stop all but the lightest amphibious vehicles. Travel in this area is essentially restricted to foot, airboats and maybe some off-road vehicles, preferably with amphibious capacity. There is likewise hardly a suitable place for airborne landings, the few existing ones being well-defended. Naturally, living in such a place is no pleasure trip, constant 100% humidity and clouds of mosquitoes and gnats tormenting anyone stationed there especially in summers. But with all that said, it also makes for an ideal staging ground for defensive operations and eventual counter-attack.

"What opposition can we expect on the way?" Corporal Ieva Andrejeva, combat medic and one of our platoon's two female members, asks.

"At this stage, primarily airborne threats, contact possible, but unlikely. With the jammers blanketing the surface, the Russians will likely be limited to medium and high-altitude bombers and strike craft, flying SEAD sorties and striking high-value installations, us not being a priority for the time being. That being said, I still expect MANPADS up and ready. Encounter with airdropped infiltration groups also possible if unlikely," I explain.

A supersonic boom interrupts our briefing, and I see two triangular shapes soaring high overhead towards Lielvārde. Some time, thunderous explosions can be heard in the distance, and soon pillars of black smoke begin to rise over the treetops in the distance. More sonic booms from invisible distant sources indicate the Russian air campaign has begun in earnest.

"Alright, lads, hassle up, we've got a job to do!" I shout, "Don't wanna be sticking out here like sore thumbs for the coghead flyboys to practice on! Who's sober enough to drive?"

While the men hassle about to get the MANPADS set up on the two armored cars that have been driven here during my sleep, I see Gloria rush out of the house, wearing jeans, a camouflage jacket and cowboy hat, an AK-12 assault rifle slung over her shoulder. In all honesty, I've rarely seen a more pleasing sight than that.

"Come home, husband!" she kisses me frantically with tears in her eyes, "You come home to me and your children, you hear me?!"

"I will," I say with steel determination. This is apparently the reason why the brass strongly prefers family men as Tier One operatives. A single lad without much to his name will never care about his life the way a married man with a wife and children waiting for him at home does, "With the shield, or on it, but I will."

It's obviously not what Gloria needs to hear right now, but I'm not in the habit of sugarcoating things even for family members. Especially not for family members. Life of a soldier's wife is tough, and there is no point in deceiving her to think otherwise only to suffer a rude awakening to the brutal reality afterwards. Men like me rarely live to see their retirement, and those who do oftentimes wish they hadn't, their wives having to endure it all. Yet for some reason, I have never heard any of them admitting to regretting their choice to be with such men.

Not wanting to torment my wife or myself with tearful parting any longer, I hop into the first armored car, waving my Gloria a last goodbye.

"Alpha Platoon, move out!" I shout over the engine rumble, "The toasters ain't gonna scrap themselves!"
Freedom doesn't mean being able to do as one please, but rather not to do as one doesn't please.

A fool sees religion as the truth. A smart man sees religion as a lie. A ruler sees religion as a useful tool.

The more God in one's mouth, the less in one's heart.

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Blakullar
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Founded: Sep 07, 2012
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:06 pm

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN IMRAN RUDNITSKY.
CURRENT LOCATION: APPROX. 3,000M OVER LUDZA MUNICIPALITY, LATGALE REGION, BALTIC UNION.
TIMESTAMP: 10:15 (LOCAL TIME), 22.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



Darkness, interwoven with the thunderous rumble of nuclear jet engines, resonated through the confined space of a heavy dropship's cargo hold. Standing on the diamond-plated metal were thirty-two figures, a full platoon of paratroopers organised by squad. Gone were the service uniforms observed merely the day before. In their stead, exoskeleton suits armoured with titanium-carbide trauma plates, backpacks bearing the parachutes that would convey them to the surface below. The glow of the enclosed helmets' circular crimson optics amidst the paratrooper platoon awaiting deployment showcased their frigid determination and eagerness for war.

Before the sea of blood-red dots stood Imran and his squad, their only differentiation being their choice of weapon and their rank badge.

"Crew chief!" the captain shouted over the engine noise. "What's the situation on the ground floor?!"

"Our flyboys are giving 'em one hell of a hammering, sir," the addressed soldier called forward. "Sword One and Two Platoons have already started their drop over Ludza ... Metal One and Two are readying to drop in thirty seconds ... Sword Three and Four are readying to drop in one minute. Estimated time until we're green to go, one minute thirty seconds! Metal Three and Four drop in two minutes! And Spear Three and Four drop in two-thirty!"

"Alright, listen up!" Imran bellowed to the soldiers at his side and behind. "We'll be dropping down five clicks east of Rēzekne, the heart of Latgale! You all know where your landing sites will be! Our objectives are to sweep along the outskirts of the city, knock out their first lines of defence, and help our tankers and mechanised units mop up the rest in the city proper! Much of the terrain is either fields, forest or urban, so there should be plenty of heavy cover – both for you and the enemy! Once we land, blanket jamming means there'll be NO radio communications for the next twenty-four hours! And remember: if things go completely FUBAR, the fall-back points are marked on your maps and your Platoon CO's BattleNet! There you wait for reinforcements to show up, get your wounded out, and follow the armour back into the fight when you're ready!"

"Now remember: this is gonna be a hot drop deep into enemy territory! And these guys ain't your standard junkie outfit or bandit group either! The average Balts aren't the kind of pushover you're used to. They're a tenacious bunch of pricks who aren't gonna drop their rifles at the first sign of a serious enemy! They'll fight, and they'll fight hard. The good news is, our Yaks should have taken out most of the heavier stuff, so the main threats we'll encounter should be spider-holes, landmines, machine gun nests and technicals. Your days in the sims are over, boys and girls – this is the real deal! And if you fuck this up, you're in for a whole world of pain! But if we do it right, then the boss guarantees we'll be back home in time for the Workers' Solstice! The celebratory party will be on me!"

"OORAH!" the soldiers cheered forward in unison.

"Twenty seconds until we're green to go!" the crew chief at the back called forward again.

Imran took this opportunity to check over his weapons one last time. Slung over his back was a 6P86 mod.2124 assault rifle, a bullpup variation of the Kalashnikov-pattern assault rifles that served Russia well in the last century. Using a hybrid electromagnetic propulsion system, this beast of a weapon was chambered in heavily modernised 5.45x39-millimetre plasma propelled bullets said to be able to chew through modern power armour like butter – something that Imran could attest through experience of his workhorse against cobbled-together raider armours and refurbished mining exoskeletons.

In his side-holster rested his trustworthy 6P11 Kulak heavy handgun; while the 12.7x32-millimetre rounds it coughed forth were not plasma propelled, there was no need for them to be. A single bullet could blast a fist-sized crater through a man's chest with frightening ease, and there were seven of them in a single magazine.

And finally, there were the twin 6Kh30 blades built into his right gauntlet. Able to extend outward in an instant, their serrated edges were tailored to amplify the lethality of one's punches, and could be used in conjunction with unarmed fighting moves.

"Ten seconds!" the crew chief barked forward again.

A brilliant clank and the robotic buzz of the cargo doors opening almost drowned out his call. The rumble of the engines was transmuted to a tonitruous roar as the daylight crept into the hold, unveiling the camouflaged paint on the paratroopers' power armour suits. The light that had hitherto illuminated the hold a dull red suddenly exchanged its pyrescent colour for a bright green.

"GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!" Imran bellowed. At once, his squad was on the move, the first to disembark the dropship.

The moment that the captain leapt from the lowered cargo door, he was in freefall, jumping from some three thousand metres above ground level – so his helmet's altimeter informed him. The cloudless summer day revealed the magnificent greenery of the Lettigalian countryside, unmolested by the same nuclear fire that had ravaged the motherland to the east. For a moment, he started to understand why his government had wanted to seize this veritable paradise lost for themselves, so taken aback was he by the scene.

Two thousand two hundred and fifty metres, his altimeter proclaimed. Imran was pulled from his mesmerisation by a flash in the corner of his eye. A flat, holographic triangle was placed on the ground far below, along with a similar arrow directing his eyes to the spectacle. A tag running off of the right denoted it as DESTINATION - LANDING ZONE.

One thousand three hundred and ten metres. Now stabilised at terminal velocity, the captain waved his arm to the right, guiding him to face his destination as he swung his arms back, picking up velocity as he careened toward the triangle. A distant rumble could be heard some way forward, not of jets but of anti-aircraft fire. Imran identified the source as a 40-millimetre Bofors with immediate effect just from its thumping racket, old but dangerous to even modern low-flying aircraft. The succession of deep thuds ceased just as suddenly as it had begun, subsumed by a low, crashing bang afterward.

Six hundred and five metres. As Imran yanked back the cord, his parachute fluttered open and dragged him to the more agreeable vertical velocity of eleven metres per second. A pillar of black smoke could be seen rising from where that anti-aircraft gun had most likely been, an occasional flash followed seconds later by a crack reminiscent of ammunition exploding. Imran could see no potential culprit in the air, so the first thought to cross his mind was a 203-millimetre artillery shell blasted from back over the border. At the same time, however, he knew that Yak-20Sh stealth strike fighters utilised visual cloaking devices to close in on a target, de-cloaked to drop their payload of bombs and cloaked again as they made a speedy exodus. From this knowledge, he figured that the anti-aircraft gunner had most likely been aiming for some of the paratroopers, but had spotted the distinct white flash of a de-cloaking Yak and desperately changed targets at the last second. To no avail, it went without saying.

Twenty-two metres. Lifting his legs up into a sitting position, Imran readied his rifle and prepared for touchdown into a dense wheat field. The instant his armoured boots struck the soil, the captain transitioned into a forward roll, culminating in a readied crouch position with his rifle matching his stare. A three-pronged aiming reticule and a number beneath, denoting range, followed the gun's sight, denoting exactly where Imran could shoot and to what effect. Right now, it was joining his watch over the top of the wheat ears, peeking forward into the distance. No enemy forces materialised at present, though Imran was all too aware that this could change in but an instant. In the distance, another triangle materialised ahead of him. This time, it was pointed square into the heart of the city – his objective.

Suddenly, a message on Imran's screen informed that all eight of his squadron had touched down onto the ground and were ready to move. With a pair of hand gestures, Imran instructed his group to move forward with him, taking care to watch their step as they advanced in enemy territory.

Operation Red Hammer was a-go.
Last edited by Blakullar on Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperium Sidhicum
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Ex-Nation

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:51 am

SSG Valdemārs Barkevics
2 km northeast of Abrene
Baltic Union
221000BJUN2132

"This should do it. Let's hope the SWORDs hold them at bay for a while," one of the demolition men states as he finally retreats into the trench dug into the murky swamp soil some 200 meters from the road.

"They will," the staff sergeant in charge of the whole outfit states confidently. There is a reason why Baltic demolition specialists are known worldwide, and why Latvians tend to predominate among them.

The SWORDs that the sergeant is referring to are multipurpose linear shaped charges, hollow metal tubes with the cross-section of a four-pointed star, designed to be filled with whatever plastic or castable explosive best suits the needs, and forming four swordlike blades of white-hot metal flying in different directions upon detonation, cutting through practically anything. Originally designed as an upgrade of the venerable Bangalore torpedoes and meant for breaching wire obstacles, SWORDs have since been modified and put to more creative uses by the Baltic forces, one of them being linear anti-tank mines. Their elongated shape allows covering more ground with less of them, and their centrally-placed blast-resistant detonator makes them highly resistant to mine-sweeping attempts. Mine ploughs will merely disalign but not neutralize them, it being irrelevant which side points upwards, mine-clearing charges will simply fail to set them off, and mine flails will likewise merely dislodge them unless striking them square in the middle. And yet, once driven on, the blast from a SWORD mine will be enough to slice clean through the track of an MBT and quite possibly also the bottom hull of lighter vehicles, just like it's namesake.

The work of the demolition crews in Abrene district has been going on for weeks now, since the first intel of a possible invasion arrived, these last few mines being merely a conclusion to it. The Colonel of Abrene may be a brash and tough-talking individual, but he is no fool, knowing perfectly that his position is untenable in a conventional war against the Mekhs. He is hence determined to leave the accursed toasters without their prize, destroying everything that cannot be taken away, so for the past weeks, citizens under his command have been busy aiding the demolition crews in booby-trapping everything they haven't been able to evacuate, so that the Russians only get a smoldering ruin littered with unexploded booby-traps that will take years to neutralize for their efforts here.

But not before being given a proper welcome on Baltic soil.

---

The sky is aroar with artillery shells and aircraft flying in from across the border. Heavy thuds from the rear signify that a considerable barrage has been directed at the town of Abrene itself. Being a border town, it is rather heavily fortified, as opposed to Baltic cities and towns more inland, which have been designed more along the principles of "easy to enter, hard to leave". Rolling exchanges of gunfire in the distance indicates that the Border Troops are making a fighting retreat. Let the Ivan have the fight he's been looking for and think he's winning it all according to plan, let him be ensnared in the false assumptions of easy victory...

Minutes pass and the roar of engines can be heard approaching. A number of motorcycles and quad-bikes carrying men in the green-patterned Border Troop exos speed past the ambush position, many of them wounded. The SWORD mines have deliberately been set to heavier detonation weights, striking tanks and troop transports of the pursuing Russians. Those who still can fight turn into the swamp some two hundred meters back, dismount and come up from behind, joining the ambush through pre-designated access routes, the rest of the swamp being littered with landmines.

"What's the situation ahead?" the sergeant inquires to a newly-arrived Border Troop corporal who reports in to him.

"Bad," the corporal responds, "The Russians are coming like a swarm of flies to a fresh pile of shit! Lost almost half of my boys trying to hold the bastards off for the allotted time."

"I feel for your men," sergeant Barkevics says, "Now, are the rest of you ready to give the toasters some well-deserved payback? Because here things are gonna go a little differently."

"You bet, sergeant!" the corporal enthusiastically responds. He's a young lad, hardly over 18, but in the Baltics it's nothing unusual to see 18-year-old lads wear the stripes of corporals and even sergeants - considering how early their training begins, many Baltic youths are battle-hardened veterans by the age of 18, their skill and mettle tried and tested in the constant skirmishes with raiders, outlaws and other scum that the militant Baltic society gleefuly throws them against to hone their skills. If the peoples of the Union have learned anything in the past centuries, it's that freedom has a heavy cost, and that only a well-prepared man can be a free man, especially in the violent post-war world.

The men assume positions and wait. The mosquitoes are a torment in this hot summer day, the stagnant hot air of the swamp feeling like a steam bath. Standing waist-deep in murk doesn't help things one bit, and the IR-opaque camo netting pulled over the entrenchments hardly makes things easier, making the stagnant air stinking of swamp and rotten vegetation even more stagnant and malodorous.

Many minutes pass, the rumble of heavier engines being audible in the distance. The men tense up, readying their chem-rails and RPGs. Every minute seems to be like an hour, tension building with every heartbeat. And then, finally, the enemy emerges in sight.

It is a vanguard column of armored forces, a heavy engineering vehicle with a mine flail spearheading the assault, followed by several tanks, T-25's by the looks of it. A seemingly endless line of APCs and utility vehicles follow in tow. An inverted chevron of men around 100 metres wide wades through the shallow swamp on both sides of the road starting from the lead tank, seeking out for potential signs of mines and IEDs. They are further assisted by a handful of nimble drones that hover between the trees like oversized bees, buzzing irritatingly. So far, they seem to have found none of the mines laid for ambush. Sergeant Barkevics grins with pride - he and his boys have evidently done a good job hiding them.

Frankly the audacious manner of the Russian advance is surprising. They have clustered plenty of heavy armor on this one poor country road close to collapsing in a march formation, with next to no safety distance between the vehicles. Chunks of dirt fall from the steep edges of the road as the first tanks roll past, indicating it's been brought to the brink of it's endurance and might very well collapse and become impassable under such abuse without any aid from Baltic engineers whatsoever. Evidently the Russians expect to overcome any token resistence with ease here. How they intend to maneuver in this marshy area in case of an attack, is evidently unclear.

The mine flail has finally reached the place where the SWORD mines have been placed. Several bright flashes and sharp cracks indicate that the flail has struck it's mark, pieces of chain and iron weights flying high and wide as the blasts sever parts of the flails. The engineering vehicle pushes on, however, until another crack under it's treads suddenly brings it to a grinding halt, the massive vehicle twisting sideways and nearly collapsing the already unstable road. Worse still, another crack delivers a similar fate to the lead tank driving behind it.

The convoy grinds to a halt, troops beginning to dismount from the APCs and trucks behind and setting up perimeter in the swampy forest.

Sergeant Barkevics observes the ongoings coldly, holding his hand on the control board. When the time seems right, he hits the first key.

An instant later, several dozen bounding mines plop out of the murk on the ambush side of the road and explode thunderously in the midst of the Russian troops, spraying the confused and terrified men with a deadly hail of ball bearings. Sergeant proceeds to hit the next key, several more much large self-targeting directional anti-vehicle charges shooting out of the water, aligning themselves in mid-air and exploding. Deadly explosively-formed penetrators strike the side armor of eight tanks and APCs, whole trees are cut down by the blast and shrapnel.

Upon hitting the third key, several automated sentry turrets placed further to the right in the woods open up from concealed positions, targeting every moving thing without a friendly IFF beacon. Hypervelocity flechettes and grenades whizz through the air, wreaking further havoc on the totally disorganized Russians, who hastily scramble to take cover on the opposite side of the road embankment. The rest open fire towards the position of the supposed ambush, tanks and APCs twisting their turrets and opening up with deafening thunder.

The sergeant isn't out of underhanded tricks just yet as he sets off several flame fougasses adeptly concealed on the opposite side of the road, aimed for exactly where the majority of the Mekh troops are presently taking cover. In an instant, a 200-meter stretch of the road and the swamp behind it is turned into a blazing inferno, scores of bodies screaming and writhing in the flames, diving into the murk in vain hopes of extinguishing the sticky fuel that simply reignites as soon as they re-emerge from the water already red and full of floating bodies and still-moaning wounded and dying men.

"NOW!" sergeant commands, ripping away the IR camo net. Being covered in burning fuel, the tanks cannot spot them now, their sensors completely disabled. The APCs, many of which were caught in the flame blast with the rear doors open, are likewise incapacitated, their crews fleeing the burning vehicles desperately.

Multiple RPGs roar towards the damaged and disabled armor as well as the vehicles still intact. The rest of the ambushers open up on the scores of burning Russians fleeing from across the road and trying to put themselves out, every high-pitched crack of a chem-rail dropping a man on the enemy side with a well-placed flechette. The lead tank explodes deafeningly, it's turret flying off on a pillar of flame and crashing back down into the murk. More vehicles suffer RPG hits and catch fire.

The ambushers only stop when the enemy starts showing the first semblance of organized resistence as reinforcements arrive from the rear of the convoy. Their orders aren't to hold the line at any cost, but simply to pull back to the next defensive line where yet another series of similar surprises has been laid for the enemy's personal examination. In the present situation, the position is untenable in any case, the ambushers being vastly outnumbered and about to be encircled or wiped out from air.

Before departure, the sergeant sets off the last key on his switchboard, detonating a chain of explosives buried inside the road embankment itself. The entire section holding the destroyed convoy rises up and crumbles back down into the swamp along with the burning destroyed and damaged vehicles and scores of bodies littering the place.

---

2LT Hugo Zeltiņš
Rēzekne
Baltic Union
221030BJUN2132

The bombardment of the city was even heavier than expected, the air itself being dense with constant explosions and the incessant roar of bombers and incoming shells overhead. Even as the majority of strikes were hitting decoy positions as expected, the defenses were still taking a beating, forcing their occupants to assume more dispersed and less-obvious backup positions.

"Helluva day to die, eh, Lieutenant?" sergeant Lapšāns asked with a grin, ducking as another 203-millimeter shell made its screaming descent, kicking up a pillar of dirt with a heavy thud near where the platoon had been positioned just minutes ago.

"I don't plan on dying today, sergeant," Lieutenant Hugo Zeltiņš chuckled, "Not without having a couple words with the Mekhs first."

Given the concentrated nature of Mekh bombardments that seemed to ignore targets of opportunity, they were apparently firing on pre-determined targets according to a fire mission plan, the blanket comms jam making it impossible to get any recon drones or spotters close in and have them relay back the information. The lieutenant's platoon had consequently taken advantage of this, abandoning their position as soon as it became obviously untenable and taken shelter in a nearby apartment building, intent of reclaiming their entrenchments near one of the main roads leading into Rēzekne as soon as the bombardment lifted.

"Think the bastards will be targeting refugees?" the sergeant asked, naturally concerned about his compatriots especially in light of his family being among the civilians who had started to evacuate from the city a day ago.

"There is no such thing as a Baltic refugee, sergeant," Zeltiņš interrupted him sternly, "Not anymore, nor ever again, anyway. There are only Baltic soldiers making tactical withdrawal!"

True enough, even disregarding the patriotic zeal in that statement, the sergeant thought. In a country where teenage kids were assigned military ranks, accompanied adult soldiers on patrols and were taught how to build IEDs as part of their standard school curricula, there truly were no civilians and therefore no refugees in the normal sense of the word. While that technically made every single one of them liable to become a target, such was the price of freedom.

"Seeing how it's the Mekhs, I wouldn't keep my hopes up," Zeltiņš added on a softer note, "You know as well as I what the bastards did here in during their "salvagings" after the Great War. That being said, your folks departed already yesterday, so by now they should be safe and sound in Aizkraukle. I'm more worried about the people who chose to stay behind."

"Like that Butkowsky guy and his family? You know, the Polak who owns the farm just behind that ridge ahead? Last I heard of him, he was gonna stay behind and make sure the damn Russkies don't loot his place bare," Lapšāns spoke, pointing towards the rolling hill about a mile ahead of their position.

"Yeah, I remember him. You two served in the same outfit, right?"

"The same guy. Got busted down to Tier Three after taking a slug to his knee during that run deep in Belarus, took to farming in earnest after that. His wife knows 144 different ways to cook potatoes, and that's just the ones I've had the pleasure to eat during my visits."

"Well, let's hope he rides this one out alright..."

"Heads up, LT!" the conversation was interrupted by a shout from the top floor, where several of the platoon's younger soldiers were posted as lookouts, "Enemy paratroopers at 12'o'clock, estimate 3 clicks!"

Zeltiņš looked towards the sky ahead and indeed saw a dozen or so parachutes pop open in the distance, there probably being more inbound all around the town.

"Well, looks like we can expect company in the coming hour," the lieutenant stated before shouting to the rest of the platoon, "Eyes and ears open, and shoot anything that's got more metal to it than a proper human being is suppsoed to have!"

"That's right next Butkowsky's farmhouse they're dropping, LT," the sergeant stated, "Maybe we should go and get him and his brood to safety?"

"Our orders are to hold this position, Sergeant," Zeltiņš strictly objected, "I know Butkowsky is your buddy, but he had his chance to leave and chose to stay behind."

"LT, I'm not saying we leave our position, I'm merely asking permission to take a couple volunteers and go see him to safety. Butkowsky and his folks ain't gonna let no stinking toasters tread on their farm without a fight, but it's just him, his old girl and two big sons against a whole bunch of commandos," sergeant Lapšāns grumbled, "The least we can do is help him even out the odds a bit!"

"Sergeant, I get your sentiment and in your place I would be asking the same, but we can not weaken our position over some noble errand, especially not now that the action is only about to begin!" Zeltiņš stated sternly.

"And what about all those things you so often repeat to the boys during training? "Once a soldier, always a soldier" and "Nobody gets left behind", is that all just baseless pep talk alluva sudden? What kind of example would you be setting to the platoon by refusing to rescue a fellow citizen and a decorated veteran?" the sergeant argued.

"Alright," the lieutenant finally relented, "Pick a squad of volunteers and go get that old potato-farmer and his brood! Just in and out, no heroics!"
Last edited by Imperium Sidhicum on Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Blakullar
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:07 pm

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN IMRAN RUDNITSKY.
CURRENT LOCATION: APPROX. 2.5KM EAST OF RĒZEKNE, LATGALE REGION, BALTIC UNION.
TIMESTAMP: 10:42 (LOCAL TIME), 22.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



An ear of wheat crumpled beneath an armoured sabaton as the eight soldiers of Imran's squad advanced, only their olive-green helmets peeking over the field as red optics loosed a menacing glow. All around the squad sounded the symphony of battle, the distant pattering of bullets and occasional rolling thunder of a bomb or artillery shell exploding resonating in the air. So far, they had encountered no opposition, though Imran, at the front of the squadron, knew that this was set to change shortly.

Ahead of the group stood a modest farmstead, consisting of a single-storey house and a small barn surrounded by the same kind of short cobblestone wall that segregated the fields from the overgrown road. The dour grey walls of the home ahead were covered at the base in sandbags, betraying prior preparation for the invading Mecharussians by the stead's occupants. Securing this stead was one of the squad's objectives, per Imran's earlier command for his company to secure the city's exterior before advancing.

"Captain, watch your step!" an alarmed robotic voice called out from behind him.

Imran glanced to the soil and stopped dead in his tracks immediately. His left boot was mere centimetres away from a vaguely circular object crudely assembled from scrap metal and recycled electronics. The meticulous care taken to hide the object amidst the wheat betrayed it as an improvised explosive device. Whoever had planted it, however, had obviously failed to account for the presence of a Reasoning Machine with military-grade olfactory sensors.

"Whew..." Imran sighed as he stepped around it. "Good catch, Velikov."

"They must've left it with several more as presents for us," Trofima commented from Imran's right. "Keep your eyes open."

It was then that the captain spotted a glint from inside the house. In but an instant he recognised it as coming from a rifle optic, having cleared enough heavily-entrenched bunkers in his various campaigns against bandit clans infesting the wastelands.

"Incoming! Behind the wall!" Imran bellowed as he threw himself to the ground.

No sooner did the squad follow through with that command did a bullet glance off of Bogdan's left shoulder pauldron with a resounding ping. More bullets struck the wall where the soldiers had ducked behind, each ejected with a mechanised cough betraying its point of origin as a Kalashnikov-type weapon fired from within the house ahead.

"Spread out!" Imran ordered. "Anyone got eyes on?!"

Trofima managed a curt peek over the wall before a bullet struck the cobblestone, forcing her to duck again.

"I'm seeing two in the house up ahead!" she relayed to the group. "Eighty metres to our north!"

"Andropov, suppress on my twelve!" Imran called. "Velikov, Pichugin, Gorshkov, Tolstoy! Flank 'round the right side on my mark!"

"On it, boss!" Bogdan and Velikov responded in unison, the latter shuffling along the wall with the three aforementioned privates to prepare to make their move.

A momentary lapse in the shooting from the house gave Bogdan the chance to prop up his 6P88 mod.2124 medium machine gun. The moment the barrel resting on the bipod lined up with the window, a thunderous rattle filled the air as the MMG began to unleash a torrent of 7.62x54-millimetre plasma cartridges. An unseen third soldier further inside the house stepped straight into the line, a puff of red mist indicating kill confirmed. The other bullets struck the sandbags, unable to reach those enemies ducking behind the wall.

"They're dug in too well!" Imran barked over the howl of Bogdan's machine gun. "Knyazev, get a thirty in there!"

Knyazev, the team's grenadier, nodded as he slipped a cigar-shaped 30-millimetre warhead from a pouch on front of his armour. Raising his weapon, a 6P86 rifle with an underbarrel grenade launcher, he slid the warhead down the launcher's breech and took aim. His eyes narrowed as he zeroed in on where a green helmet could be seen poking just over the windowsill, the leaf sight on his helmet's HUD lining up perfectly with the tight gap. With wind speed and distance successfully calculated, he squeezed the launcher's trigger.

As the machine gun drew silent, a dull bloomph resounded through the air, followed a second later by a flash of light, then a thunderous pop, and finally the tinkle of glass as the explosion knocked out the homestead's every window from the inside. Knyazev peeked over the wall to get a good look, and saw that the prior helmet had disappeared.

"I think I got them, but I don't wanna be sure!" he informed Imran.

"Right," the captain returned, before shouting out. "Velikov, Gorshkov – sweep the barn! Pichugin, Tolstoy – clear out the house! We'll keep watch!"

"Roger!" the addressed soldiers called out in virtual unison.

As Velikov pushed open the huge door to the barn, Gorshkov following him in per breach-and-clear protocol, Pichugin and Tolstoy – the squad's field medic and combat engineer, respectively – found themselves beside the door leading into the small homestead. Peering in through one of the broken windows revealed the room on the other side to be the kitchen, with an empty gun-locker indicating that its prior occupants had taken up arms in haste before Imran's squad attacked it.

"Alright – you do the kitchen and living-room, I'll do the bedrooms and basement!" Pichugin instructed.

"You sure we shouldn't do this together?" Tolstoy queried, replacing his carbine with the Grom-7 combat shotgun on his back into his hands. "What if one of us gets jumped?"

"Relax, I got your back! You can trust your old pal Pichugin, right?!"

"Whatever... Let's just get this over with! On three. One, two, three..."

The wooden door to the kitchen shattered before Tolstoy's armoured sabaton, smashing to the floor with a thud. The engineer's shotgun-barrel matched the glare of his eyes with infallible synchrony as he swept the kitchen, sight scanning incessantly for hidden bombs and tripwires. Seeing none, he proceeded through to the living-room, taking care not to step on any unpleasant surprises that he may have missed in the first sweep.

"Hey Tolstoy, did we get 'em?" Pichugin bellowed from downstairs.

The engineer surveyed the stricken living-room from the doorway. A huge black mark was left on a couch, split in two by the evident detonation of the grenade here. He grimaced at the sight of a scorched body in camouflage, his right arm missing along with all the flesh on the right side of his face, exposing a charred skull. Another corpse, that of a mature woman in camouflage, lay on the floor next to an AKS-74u carbine, bleeding face torn to ribbons by shrapnel and debris. A young man lay slumped with an AK-15 over a coffee table, an exit-wound jutting from his back marking him as the soldier that Bogdan shot. An older man lay in the corner of a room, pieces of glass and a flopping goldfish breathing its last around him indicating that the blast had thrown him there into a fish tank.

"Yeah, we got 'em alright..." Tolstoy reported. "MG nailed one of 'em, and that grenade toasted three more. Hey, boss, house is cle-"

"RAAAAAAAAGHH!!!"

Tolstoy's head snapped to a bloodcurdling shriek to his right side. A young boy in camouflage, with a lit pipe bomb strapped to his belt had been hiding behind one of the counters, waiting for the opportunity to spring at him and cling on. The spooked engineer bashed the child away with the stock of his gun and emptied two shot-shells into him, splattering viscera all over the wall. However, the shots had loosened the belt and caused the bomb to roll in his direction.

"FUUUUCK!" Tolstoy roared as he kicked the IED away and dove behind a counter in an effort to defend himself. A third thunderous crash rolled through the kitchen; Tolstoy was sent flying backward by the blast wave. His armoured frame demolished the wall behind him, causing him to land on the dining room table and shattering both it and the crockery upon it as they collapsed to the ground.

"Aaargh, what the hell..." a dust-covered Tolstoy groaned, lying supine on the ground with a painful concussion left by the explosion and subsequent impact, but largely unharmed.

At that moment the door to the basement slammed open, with Pichugin having come running the instant he heard the shotgun blasts.

"What did you do?!" he barked at Tolstoy, who grumbled in response.

"Lil' bastard hiding in the kitchen came at me with a bomb in his pants. But a goddamn child soldier ain't gonna do ME in – I've had worse headaches from hangovers."

"Bloody hell, Vanya – you're meant to search the house, not destroy it!" Pichugin remarked, aghast as he examined the devastation before his optics.

"Fuck you, asshole!" Tolstoy growled, picking up his shotgun as he staggered to his feet. "Besides, you said you were watching my back!"

Pichugin was about to retort that he was close enough when he spotted a shape in the corner of his eye. There, wandering across the open grass to the west, was another squad of soldiers dressed in green camouflage.

"MORE BAD GUYS!" Pichugin shouted, before bellowing out the window: "Boss, they're headed your way, west side!"

"On it!" Imran barked back, having seen the enemies himself. Their caution was directed primarily towards the house and the barn, but they seemed surprised by the noise of shouting, completely oblivious to the presence of Imran's team across the road. This allowed the captain to take aim with his rifle and target a balaklava-clad masculine figure. With just one tap of the trigger, his mark's chest burst into red mist, the dead soldier slumping to the floor immediately afterward.

The others were quick to run toward a nearby cobblestone wall into cover, but it was evident that whatever initiative they may have possessed from surprise was now lost. Suppressive fire courtesy of Bogdan's machine gun kept three pinned down behind the wall. One sensed an opportunity to fire over the wall at Imran's group, the wooden rattle of his weapon betraying it as an AK-model. The uncomfortable proximity of the bullets to piercing the Mekhs' armour plates enunciated their superior training to the militia in the house, revealing their part in the regular army. Nevertheless, the soldier found his head split open with a well-placed rifle round when he poked over to search for the Russians, courtesy of Trofima returning fire. Just as Imran motioned Knyazev to launch another grenade at their enfilade, another enemy raised their own weapon over the wall.

Though his arm was promptly sawn off with Bogdan's firepower, if the screaming that followed the arm's disappearance was any measure, he managed to squeeze off a few shots as well.

"OW!!! BASTARD!" Knyazev roared, prompting Imran to turn to him. A lucky hit from a bullet had beaned him square in the left shoulder, piercing the flameproof polymer skinsuit between his armour plates.

"Are you alright?!" Imran asked aloud.

"I'll live..." Knyazev groaned, glancing at his stricken shoulder.

"Damn it..." the captain grumbled, turning back around to see if he could not get a shot off on the offending enemy. Instead, however, he saw the last shape of a figure disappear behind the barn's wall.

"Velikov, Gorshkov, you've got incoming!" Imran bellowed towards the two soldiers.

The three Baltic soldiers that had escaped the wall of gunfire were promptly greeted by fire from Gorshkov, hiding in an overhang window. The nearest soldier's head exploded into a puff of crimson mist, and the one behind him was showered with blood, obscuring his view. This gave Gorshkov the opportunity to ventilate his chest. The third soldier, thinking quickly, opted to smash through the thin wooden wall of the barn.

Velikov spun around from his overwatch of the doorway to be greeted by a feminine figure in camouflage. Just as she raised her rifle to fire, an OTs-70M model that was phased out of Mecharussian service ten years ago, a swift rifle-butt from Velikov caused her to fire into the wall instead. His opponent swiftly recovered, however, and ducked out of the way of the stock about to collide with her face, grappling the armoured android before her and shoving forward. The two smashed into a room filled with boxes of potatoes, Velikov dropping his rifle outside and smashing into a crate, scattering its contents everywhere. The Baltic soldier raised her own weapon once more, only for a swift kick from the Reasoning Machine to knock it out of her hands.

Springing upward, he attempted to deliver a ferocious uppercut to her abdomen. Much to Velikov's unpleasant surprise, however, the soldier jumped away from the incoming hand with ease, brandishing her sidearm from her belt holster and readying a shot. Velikov leapt forward again to grab her weapon arm, causing the gun to discharge into his helmet and the bullet to ping off the armour uselessly. As the gun flew aside in the resultant tussle, Velikov threw her aside into a wall to brandish his own Kulak pistol. However, the punch that she delivered to his helmet threw off his aim, and seemingly ignorant of having almost shattered her knuckles against the armour, she drew her combat knife and made a slash for the vulnerable gap separating Velikov's neckguard from his helmet. Before she could cut the sensitive circuitry in his throat, however, he grabbed her knife-hand and delivered a powerful head-butt to her face, causing her to grunt with pain. This gave him a window to disarm her of the knife, the blade embedding itself into a nearby potato, before grabbing her by the arm and throwing her through another wooden wall back into the barn's centre.

A sharp metallic clank announced the deployment of two vicious, serrated blades from Velikov's right gauntlet as he stepped out of the pen, advancing on his adversary with menace in his shining red optics. Looking around in desperation from her supine position, the Baltic soldier's hands fell on a pitchfork resting in a heap of hay just as Velikov hooked his arm back for a death-punch. The incoming blades were intercepted by the fork handle, a clockwise twist throwing Velikov off balance with a thunderous clang. The android had to roll to dodge the deadly prongs as his opponent speared the floor, the scrape of metal against the plate protecting his upper arm ringing through the barn. A second attempt to impale him was mooted as the heel of his boot collided into her abdomen, sending her reeling as he leapt to his feet once more.

The Baltic soldier thrust the pitchfork like a spear once more, but Velikov caught the deadly implement by the pole under his arm.

"Wrong move, meatbag!" the machine taunted as he smashed his other elbow into the handle, breaking the pitchfork in twain. His enemy crashed into the wall behind her, courtesy of a vicious backhand swipe to the side of her head.

Before she had a chance to recover, Velikov brandished the pronged half of her previous weapon and drove the fork deep into her chest, piercing the vulnerable top part of her green plate carrier. Her scream of agony quickly turned into ghastly choking when the Reasoning Machine pushed the fork like a lever, turning her lungs into paste as the pupils of her water-blue eyes tightened with pain and horror. He almost hesitated as he watched the life seep from the girl. Even as a black balaklava covered her face, Velikov could see the flesh around her rolling eyes turn as ghost-white as Mekh synthskin.

The silence filling the air told Velikov that the gunfight had all but concluded, his latest kill evidently being the final of the exchange.

"Area secure!" he called back outside to Imran. "How many did we terminate, Captain?"

"Twelve," the captain responded. "Five in the house, seven out here."

"Correct that to thirteen," Velikov glanced back at the lifeless girl as he retrieved his rifle. "Did we find anything?"

"Couple ammo crates, some bomb-making manuals, materials and explosives," Imran answered as he entered the barn. "It's all been flagged for EOD to sweep up later on!"

As he walked in to see the dead enemy soldier pinned to the wall by Velikov, he could tell from how the Reasoning Machine continued to glance at it that he was upset, even if he could not see his expression for the helmet.

"Hey Yuri, what's wrong?" Imran enquired, trying to be jovial. "You look like your manufacturer just got foreclosed!"

A few contemplative seconds passed.

"Do all humans suffer such pain when they die in combat?" Yuri counter-queried.

"No, of course not," Imran answered. "Why so contemplative all of a sudden? You've never been so jumpy after killing bad guys."

"That soldier was the first person that I have killed up close," Yuri stated almost emotionlessly – even for a machine. "What are your orders, sir?"

"We move onto the next objective," the captain responded after a pause.
Last edited by Blakullar on Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Imperium Sidhicum
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Founded: May 28, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:28 am

CPT Hendriks Vanags
3 km from Firebase Lubāns
Baltic Union
221215BJUN2132

"So... Now what?" Valdis asks me as we disembark from our convoy. Some of the lads are busy camouflaging the trucks, while I look thoughtfully over the waving sea of reeds ahead of us. As far as the eye can see, there's nothing but marshland ahead, pools of open water interrupting vast fields of reed bending gently under the warm summer breeze.

Indeed, now what? Normally, we would radio in the firebase located deep into this marsh and have them send someone to pick us up, but with the Russian blanket jam in effect, that is hardly an option right now.

"Good question," I say, "Popping a flare would be my first guess, but it would likely attract our uninvited guests."

The constant thunder of distant sonic booms and the roar of jet engines overhead indicates that the Mekh air power is something to be concerned about.

"Makes me wonder if we still have any of our own aircraft left..." Valdis grumbles, as if having guessed my thoughts.

"I wouldn't worry about that," I shrug, "With the ample warning we had, the flyboys must have moved most if not all of our air force to auxiliary sites. The Ivans are just wasting their bombs on decoys."

The specialties of our armed forces have always been marksmanship, demolition and stealth, which naturally includes camouflage and deception. Our air force is no exception, keeping a good stock of lifelike decoys with identical radar signatures to the real things, and having some auxiliary airfields disguised so well as to be virtually indistinguishable from the surroundings. Some skillfully painted and countershaded runways and landing pads appear no different from ordinary meadows from air or sat imagery, only IR landing beacons activated briefly for landings making them temporarily visible to those in the know.

"So, what do we do? I don't suppose we can afford to just sit out here all day?" Valdis states.

"Guess we have little other options, unless of course the boys don't mind having to swim there," I make my call, "Pop a green flare, I'll tell the lads to keep the anti-air gear ready."

Valdis nods and loads a flare in the underbarrel launcher of his Chemrail. With a loud thump, the projectile streaks high into the air, bursting into brilliant green.

"Boys, I want MANPADS off that truck and inside those bushes near the water, and another one set up over there by those three trees!" I command my men, "Keep a lookout to the east and if you see anything decidedly flying this way, you know what to do!"

The men get to setting up our air defenses. These Israeli-made MANPADS might not look like much, but a semi-automated tracking system, neutral-particle-beam target designator and missiles carrying a trio of autonomously-guided Mach-4 submunitions ensures a 90% hit rate despite all commonly-used countermeasures, their only drawback being a somewhat limited range of 8 clicks and a restriction to visual contact, which is still more than enough to take out most of the probable threats with little time to react.

"Now we wait..." I say to Valdis, "If there's no sign of movement in 10 minutes, pop another one."

"What if the Ivans have bombed them out?" my friend asks with concern.

"Then we'd be seeing a lot of smoke," I explain, "It's been a pretty dry summer thus far, and these reeds are dry as tinder. A few bombs would likely light up this reed field like a fucking Christmas tree!"

I have been here before. The place where our trucks are parked right now would normally be at the edge of water, yet it has receded some 20 meters, leaving behind a stretch of reed and mud.

"Ever wonder why the brass posted us to this shithole of all places?" Valdis asks, angrily swatting a mosquito on his neck, the annoying insects pressing their assault on us in the shade of trees even during the heat of mid-day, "Besides the obvious fact of it being almost inaccessible, that is."

"My guess would be that they want to keep all their Tier One assets in secure and convenient locations, from where they could strike a broad area around with little risk of retaliation. Even when the Mekhs make it to the edge of this swampland, which they eventually will, the worst we'll have to worry about here is airstrikes. And to strike this place from air, they'd first have to know where to drop their bombs, because this is a pretty big swamp," I explain, "Besides, it's not like the boys in the firebase can't hit back at them."

"Speaking of which, it doesn't look like they are too keen to do that, given all the activity in the air," Valdis states as another flight of bombers thunders past high overhead.

"Probably don't want to spoil the Mekhs all the fun prematurely," I chuckle. Firing at targets of opportunity now would just disclose the well-concealed positions on the swamp islands prematurely. For now, the Russians must believe they are having an easy victory.

Minutes pass, and with no sign of activity, Valdis fires off another flare. I lean back in the shade of the trees and pull out a cigar.

"I trust your folks got to the shelters alright?" I ask the sergeant. A father to a brood of six, Valdis has earned himself the nickname of Rabbit from the men for obvious reasons. For the sake of his authority as the company sergeant, he only suffers hearing it from longstanding members of the company, "Sarge" being the most familiar referrence allowed to the new members of the outfit along with the prim-and-proper "Sir" and "Staff Sergeant".

"My old girl can handle herself and the kids alright," he shrugs, "She knows the drill."

"Sometimes I wonder how your girl even suffers you around," I chuckle, "If you keep going at it, Maira is going to get a Mother-Heroine medal before the age of 40."

"I wouldn't mind having another four at all," Valdis states proudly, "Nor would she, for that matter. When we married, she was a rather sickly one. Now she's as healthy as a draught horse, all owing to the children. She's feeling her best when with child, she's told me."

I guess some women are simply made for the task of motherhood. My Gloria says she'd want to stop at four, a number I'd be completely content with.

As we continue to chat about family matters, our conversation is interrupted by the distant roar of airboat propellers. It seems that our flares have been noticed.

"Alright, lads, get ready to move out!" I shout.

Moments later, a small bird-shaped drone buzzes overhead, indicating that the firebase staff are taking no chances without scouting out the new arrivals first. I wave to it, the machine making a U-turn and heading back into the marsh. The sound of motors is approaching, and some three minutes later, several airboats glide out of the reeds and gently stop at the muddy bank. Judging by the bow-mounted miniguns pointed at us, these lads mean business.

"Alpha Platoon, 1st Company, 2nd Special Tasks Battalion, reporting in!" I shout to identify ourselves.

"You the dumbshits who've been shooting the flares here?!" a man in a regular army exosuit, captain judging by his insignia, shouts back visibly displeased, "We've been having enough trouble staying out of Ivan's sight as it is without assholes like you!"

"Well, unless you muck-stompers have figured out how to un-fuck the comms blackout courtesy of Ivan or got a landline running somewhere nearby, I'm open to suggestions!" I shout back.

"As a matter of fact, we do!" the captain jumps out of the boat, walks over to the tree next to the one I'm standing under, and prys out the end of a wire from the moss, "If you high-and-mighty Tier One boys didn't have your heads stuck up your asses so deep, maybe you'd have noticed the marker!"

And he points to an inconspicuous marker sign scrawled in the tree bark slightly above eyeline, where few who don't know what to look for would bother looking. In all honesty, this is a little embarassing - marker signs and their use are one of the first things they teach kids when they start attending school. Ever since the Great War, they have been indispensable for our people's survival, allowing those in the know to find hidden supplies and weapon stashes, avoid booby traps, warn others about hazards ahead and obtain other useful information. While the markers are standardized, they are rarely obvious, so that even enemy who knows the meaning of the signs but doesn't know where to look in the particular setting will find that knowledge largely useless.

"Captain Mārtiņš Urtāns, 3d Company, 37th Infantry Battalion "Lubāna", at your service!" the man in question suddenly chuckles, extending his hand.

"Captain Hendriks Vanags," I accept his handshake, "I was not informed about there being a landline near our rendezvous point, but I suppose the fault is mine. This time..."

"You lads have arrived alright, I see," Urtāns states, "How are things in Aizkraukle?"

"Looked pretty tough the last I saw," I say, "Good thing our Colonel had at least as many decoys as real heavy emplacements set up in the days before. Don't think the Mekhs will try to take the dam for now though - they could be dropping a whole airborne division on the town and still not have enough to take the tunnels. How are things here?"

"Could be better," Urtāns shrugs as his men start to help mine load the gear aboard the boats, "With all this hot and dry weather, the water level is lower than usual at this time of the year. The Ivans could walk over to some of our strongpoints if they just knew where they are. We've been busy setting up positions on the far side of the lake, planting mines on the few roads going through here, that sort of thing... With the Mekh flyboys buzzing the place all the time, though, folks are getting a bit restless. Including myself."

"I understand there's no way of getting the trucks through to your firebase," I say.

"Nope! I can, however, have some of my men to take your drivers to a place where the Ivans will never find them," Urtāns states.

"As long as WE can still find them..."

"Oh, don't worry about the trucks. Where you're headed, you folks ain't gonna be needing them. We got our own ways of getting around here, and your Colonel also had a Skyranger flown in from Lielvārde a few days back, just for you bunch."

"A Skyranger? Here?!" I exclaim in disbelief.

"Yep! Outfitted with the very best custom-made stealth suite, so I heard, so that you don't have to worry about being blown out of the sky even with all the toasters flying around," Urtāns grins, "The pilots have been sitting on their asses for the last three days doin' nothing but whining about having nothing to do but kill mosquitoes and time. I suppose you and your outfit will give them something better to worry about now that you're here."

How the hell they managed to sneak a Skyranger in here of all places, let alone keep it undetected, beats me, but the idea of having a fast air transport available is pleasing, even though I much rather prefer being on foot in the present circumstances.

The boats are loaded up, Urtāns orders some of his boys and a boat to stay behind and help my men with the trucks, while the rest of us embark and proceed back into the marsh.

"This dry weather is a real pain," captain Urtāns explains, pointing at the wall of reeds on both sides of the boat, "The reeds dry out and break when the boats drive over them, leaving behind rather obvious trails. We've taken to sticking with established routes and scattering mines in the reeds between them. Real nice pieces, actually, courtesy of the Lithuanian demo guys - barely detectable and dissolve in water after a couple weeks, so we don't have to worry about blowing ourselves up once we have no more need for the minefields."

"Any news from the East so far?" I ask.

"From what little we can get through the landlines, they are pulling out of Abrene as we speak, while the Mekhs are hitting Alūksne, Gulbene, Rēzekne, Krāslava and Daugavpils with everything they have. The garrisons and local militias will hold them off for a few days, and then they'll be headed our way. They're also hitting Riga with airborne assault, but so far our boys are giving them hell," Urtāns explains, "I'll suppose we'll get a better idea once the Ivans lift their jam."

The boats enter open water of the lake and pick up speed.

"So how the hell did you manage to hide a Skyranger here?" I'm curious.

"Camouflage, my new friend..." Urtāns grins widely, "Rigging up a suitable landing platform was the easy part, had it built two years back already, camouflaging it was a bit trickier, however. But now it's done and the toasters could literally be hovering ten meters above it and never know it's there unless we let them to. You'll see..."

"I can't wait..." I respond in kind, when a shout from the leading boat interrupts our conversation.

"INCOMING AIR!"

An instant later, I must grip to the boat's side as it enters a sharp turn, the convoy of three boats scattering to present a less obvious target. Flying low over the lake, I can see a flight of two Yak-20s speeding our way.

Moments later, puffs of smoke under their wings indicate that the planes have fired their unguided rocket pods. With a shrieking roar, a barrage of missiles impact around the boat Valdis is riding, obscuring his fate behind fountains of water, steam and smoke, while everybody else opens up on the foe with everything they have. It's a largely useless response, seeing how these ground-attack planes are armored enough to withstand even AA gun fire somewhat. We do, however, have a saving grace at our disposal.

"Get that crate open! Quick!" I shout to the men in the boat standing around the stash of our equipment, and get to opening it myself. There's a MANPADS launcher and a pair of missiles prepped just for such occasions inside.

"Keep the boat steady!" I shout to the pilot, shouldering the weapon as the two planes soar overhead and split up, making a turn for another attack run. I won't be able to get both of them, but taking even one down would be a satisfaction.

"Load!" I shout and feel Captain Urtāns shove the missile into the launcher, while the pilot turns the boat in perpendicular to the incoming planes so that I have a better aim and don't scorch anybody with the backblast.

"Ready!" I hear him shout and tap on my shoulder. The enemy plane approaches fast as I fix the weapon's sights on it, but the reticle is locking on painfully slowly. But finally I get a lock-on.

"Firing!" I warn everyone behind me just as the plane opens up with it's gun in an effort to strafe us. The boat shakes from the roaring backblast just as the first incoming shells start to throw up pillars of water around. I can feel the heat from tracers as numerous bullets whizz close by.

The water spray momentarily obscures my vision, but a loud explosion indicates the missile has apparently made it's mark. An instant later, a burning plane soars overhead, half of it's wing missing, twisting and careening into the lake some half-click away. I see the pilot ejecting, but at an evidently inopportune angle as he strikes water at high speed before his parachute is fully deployed and skids across the water repeatedly. The other plane has missed it's mark as well, the lads inside now returning fire with their own MANPADS. The Russian deploys countermeasure flares, the proverbial "angel wings", but it does him little good, the missile striking it's mark. With a flaming engine, the Yak-20 breaks off and turns to flee eastwards, leaving behind a long trail of smoke.

"Everyone in one piece?" I inquire.

"Fuck!" captain Urtāns exclaims, "The bastard almost got us! I could feel one of those shells singe my cheek!"

I can now see Valdis, standing and waving to us in his boat that seems to have only suffered a damaged propeller. Assembling together and inquiring for damage and injuries, we figure we've been very lucky indeed.

"Lads, tow the other boat back to base, I and good captain here will stay behind and try to find that Russkie pilot!" Urtāns instructs his men, "Don't linger around, who knows what that other guy might have called in by now..."

"Just out of curiousity, who shot the other plane?" I ask my men.

"I did, sir!" Corporal Liedskalniņš responds, his squad having ridden in the third boat.

"Good job, corporal," I nod in acknowledgement, "I expect you to do better next time and blow the bastard out of the sky for good!"

With that, our boat departs to search for the Russian pilot. It doesn't take long to find him, his parachute floating spread out on the water not far from the wrecked plane, it's tail section still sticking out from the shallow lake, some fuel burning on water. The pilot is floating along with his parachute, entangled in the cords and quite obviously dead.

"Must have snapped his neck when he hit the water," Urtāns comments, pointing at the unnatural angle the body's head dangles in when his men pull it halfway from water, "Let's take this poor sucker back to base and come back later in the evening, see if there's anything useful in that plane."

As the men pull the dead pilot inside the boat, I am compelled to conclude that my stay in this rather unpopular station is going to be anything but uneventful if the welcome we've just received is any measure to go by.
Freedom doesn't mean being able to do as one please, but rather not to do as one doesn't please.

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Lunar Union
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Founded: Feb 25, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Lunar Union » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:11 pm

Last edited by Lunar Union on Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
Liberal democratic republic on the Moon in the early 22nd century. Spacefaring superpower, part of the "western world" alongside the Atlantic Federation, working hard to keep much of the solar system and Earth under our hegemony for our economic benefit. Moneyless, post-scarcity, AI-controlled command economy.
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Blakullar
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Posts: 4506
Founded: Sep 07, 2012
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:08 am

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN IMRAN RUDNITSKY.
CURRENT LOCATION: MEŽA STREET, OUTSKIRTS OF RĒZEKNE, LATGALE REGION, BALTIC UNION.
TIMESTAMP: 12:19 (LOCAL TIME), 22.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



"Clear!"

The shout from Bogdan's fireteam on the left side of the street prompted Imran's to advance to the next position of cover on the right. The position in question turned out to be an abandoned truck parked next to a T-intersection, granting good protection for the Russians as well as line of sight down both streets in question. The captain's eyes swept as many possible avenues of ambush as five seconds could afford. The advance had to be maintained, now that the obstacle that was the forest had been pressed through.

"Clear!" the captain shouted back to Bogdan's unit, who started moving up on prompt. Imran's team would keep watch of all angles while the other half of the squad occupied the next road corner up ahead.

Eerily little resistance had been met thus far, save for a fireteam's worth in the homestead and a squad-or-so that had come to relieve them. Imran's squad had pursued a pair of stragglers who had escaped the farm firefight alive, the captain specifying that they follow rather than kill them immediately. The idea was to get a good idea of where the enemy positions were, yet the captain could barely escape the suspicion that he was being led into a trap. At any moment a sniper could start taking potshots at them from that three-storey apartment in the distance, or they could walk straight into a house-turned-makeshift bunker by another squad's worth of enemy soldiers. Hence, he found himself especially guarded, rifle ready to open fire on any hapless Balt who turned the corner. He had already confirmed intelligence that the Balts were ready to make use of child soldiers, so special care had to be taken in dealing with 'civilians' who ostensibly surrendered, lest they be covered in suicide vests.

Eventually the squad reached a crossroads, a two-storey grocery store at the other side of it being the most prominent structure apart from the apartment in the distance. The sign appended to its front side read 'Veikals noliktava Labais' – the name of the shop or at least the chain, so Imran deduced.

"Contact! Left side!" Bogdan barked at once, prompting everyone to turn their weapons to face their immediate left. There, coming in from the eastern side, were six armed individuals, every one of them in camo-green armour.

"Friendlies!" shouted back the grate of a voice modulator.

Imran came incredibly close to gunning down a group of Russians. Specifically, he recognised from the voice, one Lieutenant Malashenko, the commander of his second platoon. The captain gestured for his comrade to come closer, his soldiers keeping watch as they moved toward him at the grocery store.

"There's only six of you in your squad," Imran noted as the squadron arrived. "Where are the other two?"

"I lost them to a spider-hole in the forest," Malashenko stated in a solemn tone. "You weren't kidding when you said these bastards were gonna put up one hell of a fight, sir..."

"I see. So what's the situation at present?"

"My squad and Third just swept the north trenches in the forest. Though I think our arty's been shelling the wrong positions."

"What do you mean?"

"Most of the trenches have been bombed to hell, but those that are still intact look like they were evacuated some time before we got here. It's mostly just stragglers and IEDs we've been cleaning up. Worse still, the relay drone got here about a minute ago with bad news. The armour that's supposed to be here in two hours got ambushed outside of Abrene. Whole platoon got wasted."

"You've gotta be kidding me..." Imran grumbled. "How long are we stuck here for?"

"Don't know, sir," Malashenko shrugged. "Could be a few hours or all day."

"Right. We've been tailing a couple of stragglers ourselves, came to relieve a bunch of militiamen we took out in Mihalova. Last we saw of 'em, they were headed toward that apartment over there..."

And Imran gestured towards the three-storey apartment block in the distance, the prominent structure giving a good view across the town outskirts and surrounding area.

"I see it," Malashenko stated. "You reckon they're using that as the HQ, rather than the trenches?"

"Possible. Only way to find out is to clear it out."

"If it is a HQ, how many d'you reckon are in there?"

"My guess? At least a platoon. We're gonna need way more guys to take 'em on without those tanks."

A pause for thought.

"Metal Three's got RPOs," Malashenko recalled. "Where did they land again?"

"Ignašāni," answered Imran. "If they've been making as good progress as we have, that should place 'em about a klick and a half to our north..."

"You two!" Malashenko pointed to two of his soldiers, who promptly snapped up to attention. "Go find Lieutenant Anatoly Zaitsev, let him know we need his flamers to help assault a possible enemy field HQ! And watch yourselves out there!"

"Got it, sir!" one of the troopers acknowledged, he and his comrade promptly making their way into the distance.

"The rest of you, on me!" Imran ordered, gently pushing the shop door open.

Just as he and the squad stepped into the shop, the distant snarl of an internal combustion engine offended Imran's ears, prompting him to gesture everyone to hold position. When he heard the faint clank of treads alongside the engine, he felt his eyes widen inside his helmet.

"I thought our tanks weren't coming for the next few hours," one of Malashenko's soldiers hissed.

"Yeah, our tanks are going to be coming from the enemy's direction..." Bogdan grumbled in a sardonic tone.

Two squadrons of soldiers turned into the road from a construction yard, taking opposite sides of the street. The boxlike metal physiognomy of an Iron Wolf light tank soon followed, a low-profile turret affixed close to its rear bearing a powerful 105-millimetre EM-assisted ballistic cannon and a remote-control weapon system. A small cylindrical micro-turret on its topside revealed a kinetic active-protection system, able to beat insufficiently-sophisticated missile systems with ease.

"Stay down," Imran hissed as he watched. "We'll get 'em when they pass."

The silence of the treads and diminuendo of the engine noise enunciated that the tank had come to a stop at the end of the road. The volume of foreign chatter increased as the opposing soldiers got closer to the grocery store, and Imran could see for himself that they possessed the same plate-carriers as the soldiers that they had fought in Mihalova. One of them peered into the grocery store as he passed, and it was at that moment that Imran remembered a crucial detail – the gentle red glow of his helmet's optics.

The Balt's eyes widened, and for but a brief second Imran hoped that he would have mistaken him for something else, like a rat, and move on. Unfortunately, however, a power-armoured VDV paratrooper had a penchant for sticking out like a wart.

"KONTAKTI!!!" the soldier screamed at the top of his lungs, raising his weapon to shoot. Imran, having already kept his weapon trained on him, however, was quicker on the trigger.

The pop of a weapon and subsequent disintegration of the Balt's skull into red mist drew the attention of every other in the area. The rest of Imran's squad exchanged fire with the opposing group, bullets shattering the windows on both sides of the street and striking the walls and counters. One particularly good shot managed to land a bullet through the neck of one of Malashenko's soldiers.

"SHIT!" the lieutenant bellowed as he watched his comrade fall to the ground.

Imran was focused on a much greater concern – the Iron Wolf outside. Out of the corner of his eye he bore witness to a soldier on the other side of the road gesturing towards the grocery shop. Then, his ears were assailed by the faint mechanical whirring of the tank's turret turning to face the grocery store with its evil glare.

"GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!" Imran roared at once. The squad needed no further hint, using a gap in the shooting to sprint straight for the exit.

No sooner than Imran pulverising the door and his squad following through did the thunderous cough of the tank's cannon resonate with a distinct electrical thump. Two more Russians, both Malashenko's remaining soldiers, were struck by the shell and promptly exploded into a shower of metal shards and red viscera. The bricks in the wall mere metres from where Imran was running erupted into the road, followed by a fantastic metal clang and the wail of an alarm in the car park. The funnel-like hole punched through the car's front door revealed the tank shell's trajectory and present location.

"We need to get to the other side of that road!" Malashenko barked.

"But the houses are crawling with infantry!" Imran protested.

"That's the idea – they won't shoot their own guys!"

"It's a death trap, you fool! A fireteam won't last two seconds against that many! Not without another to cover!"

"Well, unless you plan on playing catch with a fucking railgun, I'm open to a better idea!"

Imran took a curt pause for thought.

"Med, tell me you've got a shield-buster!" he suddenly barked to Trofima.

"One!"

"Your infrareds still working?!"

"Vision systems nominal!" Trofima announced as she readied the RPG-20 Kastet rocket launcher from her back.

"I'll tell you when to fire!" Imran stated as Trofima inserted a tandem warhead, the front with a blue band and the rear with red. "Make it count!"

The captain unhooked a smoke grenade from his belt, tugging forth the pin and tossing the cylinder into the middle of the road. With a sharp crack, the grenade belched forth a cloud of dense smog, enveloping the Russian-occupied half of the street.

"Now!" Imran barked, Trofima promptly leaning around the corner and aiming her RPG at the tank's general direction.

Seconds later, the shrill roar of a rocket motor filled the air as the warhead careened towards the Iron Wolf. The micro-turret on its frame swivelled to face the incoming rocket – however, a cone of blue energy erupted from the first warhead. An electromagnetic pulse promptly washed over the tank, short-circuiting the delicate sensory equipment in its defensive systems. A near instant afterward, a jet of molten copper punched straight through the thin armour on the tank's bow into the engine compartment as the second warhead, a HEAT munition, made contact.

The thunderous muffled pop of fuel igniting inside the tank, followed seconds later by crackling fire and screams of agony, showcased that Trofima's rocket had hit to deadly effect, much to her contentment.

"Scratch one wolfie!" she smiled beneath her helmet.

The Balts presently occupying the houses and outer walls on the other side found themselves under fire with sudden effect, the Mekh troopers advancing under the smoke's cover with virtual impunity. As the first emerged from the cloud on the other side of the road, his helmet's optics glowed a menacing bright red, revealing activation of its thermal vision module. More Russian guns opened fire from various positions in the grocery store where the rest of the squad had been hiding.

As Imran, now on the other side with Knyazev, Tolstoy and Malashenko, stood at the back entrance to a house, he was using another module of his helmet to great effect. Several ghostly red imprints were marked onto his HUD, all in various positions of readiness – the last known locations of several enemy troops before visual was broken during their escape from the Iron Wolf. The captain gestured to Knyazev, who acknowledged the shapes' presence, before counting down with his fingers.

The door to the house exploded inward under the force of a boot, prompting three Balts to turn around. Before they could even glimpse at what had just invaded the domicile, they were all gunned down by Imran and Knyazev. The rest of the house was cleared out by Tolstoy and Malashenko, as the thunderous belch of two shotgun blasts and the bark of an assault rifle attested. Imran and Knyazev took up a position by the living-room window out into the street, while Tolstoy and Malashenko occupied the kitchen.

Three Balts approaching the grocery store from its side were suddenly scattered by a grenade explosion, courtesy of Knyazev's launcher. The others in the house next to Imran's realised that they had been outflanked and turned around, exposing them to the Russians in the grocery shop in the process. By this stage it was obvious that the gunfight was turning in Imran's favour, so another group of four hiding behind the wrecked tank tried to make a run for it. Three of them were picked off by Imran and Malashenko. The last one attempted to throw down his weapon and surrender, to little avail when his face was blown off by machine gun fire.

"Break contact!" Imran shouted. "What are our losses?!"

"Arkhipov got a bullet through the throat, Volsky and Ponamarenko got toasted by that tank," Malashenko enunciated. "All my guys."

"Pichugin, how's Arkhipov doing?!" the captain bellowed into the shop.

"Bleeding like hell, boss, but I got a wrap 'round his neck!" Imran's medic shouted back. "Won't be combat-effective for a while, presuming he survives the next hour!"

"Sorry man," Imran felt compelled to apologise to Malashenko with a sigh.

"Don't gimme any of that, boss," the lieutenant stated. "They knew what they were getting into, and unless you personally shot 'em, you don't need to apologise."

"Just showing a bit of sympathy," Imran continued.

"Sympathy's just the nice way of telling someone they're a worthless piece of shit," Malashenko stated, then proceeded to change the subject: "What do we do next?"

"Our best bet is to wait in the grocery store for your other two guys to get back with word on Zaitsev - unless the Balts have mortars, which I doubt. After that, we go hit that apartment block."

"What if it's a trap, boss?" Knyazev pitched in.

"Then we spring the trap, obviously," Imran stated with a half-smirk.
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Imperium Sidhicum
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Ex-Nation

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:21 am

2LT Hugo Zeltiņš
Rēzekne
Baltic Union
221230BJUN2132

"Contacts 12'o'clock, 300 meters!" a shout from the rooftop alerted the Lieutenant. The platoon's marksmen were positioned on the roof and third floor along with AT operators for better vantage.

"How many?" Zeltiņš shouted back.

"Looks like just two... It's our guys!" the marksman responded.

Zeltiņš raised his binoculars to examine the field ahead, and after brief searching indeed found what the marksman had sighted. It was Sergeant Lapšāns and another man, 2nd Squad's machinegunner Berdinskis, if memory served right. Judging by how the gunner was leaning on the Sergeant and stumbling, a bloody bandaged stump in place of his right hand, the expedition to the farmhouse had gone rather badly - although that was by now amply clear in any case especially with all the fighting now going on just across the street.

"Cover him! Medics, get ready!" Zeltiņš commanded.

The men assembled at their positions near the windows and firing slits, but to little necessity as the Sergeant and the wounded machinegunner made it to safety unmolested. The platoon's medics rushed out to retrieve the injured man just as the two were within a single sprint of the building.

"Report, sergeant!" Zeltiņš barked when Lapšāns arrived in the platoon's makeshift headquarters in a second floor flat.

"No luck, LT!" Lapšāns grumbled, sitting down to wipe the sweat from his brow, "The bastards got Butkowsky and his entire family, saw us coming and got everyone except me and Berdinskis. We barely made it away, had to crawl through the bushes for an hour to get back. Poor bastard will now have to learn to jerk off with his left hand..."

"What does that tell you, Sergeant?" Zeltiņš grumbled irately.

"We fucked up. I fucked up..."

"You can go tell the families of those seven guys that you fucked up!" Zeltiņš barked, "Right now, we've got toasters trying to chew through to our right flank, and we have to figure out how to stop them short a whole damn squad because of your do-gooding!"

"Look, don't get me the wrong way," the Lieutenant continued more calmly after having blown off the steam, "Poor ol' Butkowsky was your buddy, the lads who went with you volunteered, and I let them, so this fuck-up is mine as well and we're still gonna get through this one way or another. I just want you to take the lessons of this incident into serious account the next time we hit a situation like this."

"Right..." Lapšāns nodded, "But now we have a job to do, right?!"

A warning shout from one of the sentries on the other side of the building alerted everyone to shift their attention. Zeltiņš and Lapšāns both rushed to the opposite side of the hallway passing through the length of the building.

"Friendlies coming in!"

"Cover them!"

A group of battered survivors came running from the direction of the general store, where a fierce gunfight had been raging just minutes ago, carrying along three wounded.

"I count six still in fighting shape," Lapšāns remarked, "Just about solves our casualty problem..."

"Guess this must be your lucky day, sergeant," Zeltiņš remarked, "Those must be Ulmanis' boys. Get downstairs and get a debrief from them!"

---

Lapšāns reached the first floor entrance just as the men guarding it were done barricading it back up. The six battered soldiers from the store were still catching their breath while the medics were tending to the wounded.

"Who's in charge?" he inquired.

"I am," a young corporal no older than 20 replied, "Corporal Vilcāns, reporting for duty!"

"Sitrep!" Lapšāns requested.

"Got hit by Russian airborne commandos, roughly platoon strength. Took out most of our guys and the tank assigned to guard the street corner with minimal casualties. Probably regrouping and awaiting reinforcements now," the corporal summarized the situation, pulling out a notebook to sketch a more detailed depiction of the situation, "The bastards hold the general store and have the street open now."

"The street isn't much of a problem, the lads in the other houses will take care of that," Lapšāns remarked, examining the corporal's rough sketch, "I'm more worried about them sneaking up the house from the store end where we have no windows. Tell you what, grab some chow while you can and find empty rooms on the second and third floors on the yard side, no more than two men per room! I want one pair of eyes in each room constantly on the lookout."

"Aye!" the corporal affirmed and started to direct his men.

Lapšāns returned to Zeltiņš and informed him of the situation.

"I doubt the Mekhs will be dumb enough to try and storm the house, not until their reinforcements arrive, which shouldn't be in quite a while," the lieutenant stated after pausing to think, "But in case they try their luck, we better get ready. Tell the boys downstairs to make some good use of that diesel fuel in the basement, now that the tank's gone we won't be needing it anyway! Tell everyone to find a cauldron, cooking pot, kettle, anything really, fill it with sand from the sandbags and get cooking once the fuel is brought up."

"I read you!" Lapšāns responded with a cruel grin, instantly realizing what the lieutenant had in mind.

---

CPT Hendriks Vanags
Firebase Lubāns
Baltic Union
221300BJUN2132


They've really done it. I've camouflaged APCs and even the odd tank, but thus far, camouflaging an entire landing pad with something as big as a Skyranger to this degree was something I only knew from textbooks. Then again, camouflage of this scale is not my field of expertise.

The residents of the firebase have covered the landing pad with camo netting and fake shrubs and trees so that it resembles a small hill overgrown with typical wetland vegetation even from just thirty paces away. Only after driving the boat right next to it can one peer inside and see the Skyranger parked beneath the disguise. As I understand, this is going to be our main ride for the coming weeks.

An elderly man with a Lieutenant Colonel's insignia on his shoulders awaits us at the small pier, also cleverly disguised. Men apparently posted specifically for the duty pull camo nets over the boats as soon as they dock.

"Captain Hendriks Vanags, 2nd Special Tasks Battalion," I salute and introduce myself after stepping off the boat.

"Lt. Colonel Zigmārs Veske, commander of 37th Infantry and Firebase Lubāns," the old-timer before me returns the salute before extending his hand warmly, "Your assignment came in with the highest recommendations from your Colonel. Speaking of which, how is he? I haven't met him in quite a while."

"Doing well, I suppose," I state as we shake hands, "Running a town like Aizkraukle is no easy job even for a man of his reputation. Still the same tough-as-nails nut-buster as he used to be when he was still running our battalion."

"I should really pay your old boss a visit sometime, Captain," Veske smiles, "I heard you received quite a welcome from the Ivans as well."

"That we did," I state, "They were even kind enough to leave you a gift!"

And I point at the dead pilot that the men from 37th are busy lifting out of the boat.

"Well done," Veske seems impressed, "Keep it up, and the Ivans might just run out of air power. Anyway, I was told that you ain't much for small talk, so let's get straight to business. We have set up quarters for your unit just next to the helipad, so that you don't have to run a long way in case you have to high-tail it somewhere. It's not very comfy, but it is what it is out here - finding dry spots in this swamp can be a bit of a challenge."

"Impressive job you've done with that Skyranger," I remark as we go past the camouflaged helipad. A man in a flyboy jumpsuit is busy refreshing paintjob underneath the cockpit.

"No small thanks to you," Veske states, "The brass must have big plans for your outfit to assign you your very own Skyranger. Because I know every big prick worth sucking for favours in the entire Latgale military district, and none of them had the authority to grant this firebase a Skyranger before. And believe me, I tried. When the word came, we had to modify our helipad in record time. By the way, I believe you might want to meet your pilots."

Veske takes me to the man working on the bulky VTOL. I finally notice that he's doing a nose art piece in the best traditions of pre-War NATO forces. Typically, it shows a buxom red demoness with oversized bust, beckoning seductively as she rides a thunderbolt. The guy working on the painting is currently giving finishing touches to her right breast, sparing no effort to make such an important detail look perfect.

"Lieutenant Brazauskas!" Veske barks, "Stop painting titties on state property and come meet your new boss!"

The man, a lanky blonde lad of about 25, jumps startled and almost falls off the ladder.

"Damn bloody cock-and-balls whore..." he starts to swear in Lithuanian before realizing a commander is present and shaping up, "Apologies, sir, you startled me!"

"Meet Captain Vanags, lieutenant!" Veske introduces us, "From now on, you will be the air arm of his special tasks unit, flying wherever he needs you to fly him and his men."

"1st Lieutenant Algyrdas Brazauskas," the pilot introduces himself, speaking in Latvian with a notable touch of his native Lithuanian, "They didn't tell us much besides that there's a bunch of crazy Latvian Tier Ones needing a suitably crazy air crew, so here we are."

"Right..." I shake his hand, "I trust that there is more to the crew than just you, Lieutenant?"

"Well, there's my co-pilot 2nd Lieutenant Petras Szydlo, who's currently hell knows where, and flight engineer Staff Sergeant Monvydas Šnepaitis, who is most probably fishing somewhere at the far end of the firebase," Brazauskas explains, "And, of course, this here is our girl, the Demoness - the finest piece of ass south of Daugava, and probably north as well!"

And he proudly taps on the hull of his VTOL.

"You boys get sent over from Šiauliai?" I ask, somewhat surprised that the brass has chosen to send us Lithuanians rather than one of our own Skyrangers from Lielvārde.

"Head-on! Brass said something about "improving ethnic cohesion", whatever that means... Guess they want us neighbors working together more for this coming scrape with the Mekhs," Brazauskas confirms, "I hope your English is good, Captain, because my Latvian isn't even good enough for picking up whores, and my buddies can't exactly declaim your national poetry either."

"Language won't be a problem," I answer in Lithuanian, having attained good command of the language as part of my Tier One training, "If you and your crew are as good as you say you are, I think we'll get along just fine."

"Gerai!", the lieutenant nods, impressed by my proficiency of his native tongue, "Well, I should get back to work and let you get back to yours. Them red demon titties ain't gonna finish painting themselves..."

"The lad and his boys are big-mouthed braggarts and wannabe swashbucklers who could really use some more deference, but their recommendations say they can put their money where their mouths are when it comes to getting a job done," Veske explains as we move on, "This Brazauskas and his crew are the same guys who pulled our troops out of Chernobyl two years back. That's about the only exploit they don't like to brag about."

"Can't blame them. One of my collegues was there, left behind his right leg," I state. Everybody in the Baltics knows about the Chernobyl raid of 2130. A coalition of local gangers and warlords had been constantly blighting the countryside near the Lithuanian border for years, the Mekh authorities who nominally controlled the place doing exactly squat about them. After repeated protests falling on deaf ears, our brass issued a final warning to the Mekhs to take care of the warlord problem, or we would take care of it for them. When the Ivans didn't pay much attention as usual, a sizable task force was deployed to Chernobyl where the warlords were known to have a major base. Things didn't exactly work as planned, and although our men managed to take the base and capture or kill most of the gang leadership, they were soon surrounded by a much larger force than was expected. Consequently, it fell upon the air force to extract them under constant shelling and anti-aircraft fire. The real irony - a number of those captured raiders including two gang bosses expressed desire to reform and join our citizenry, evidently embittered by how quickly their thugs had turned on them, shelling their captors indiscriminately with full knowledge that their bosses are still inside the compound.

Veske takes me to a large tent, set up some 50 paces from the helipad on a pier-like structure about half a meter above the murky water. It too is camouflaged, as are all the boardwalks connecting various sections of the dispersed firebase.

"The dispatches didn't say exactly how many of you were coming, so we made room for a full platoon just in case, apparently rightly so. Should be enough space for you and your gear," Veske explains, "The toilet and shower is further down and to the left, the mess and one of the barracks areas is opposite to the right. Further straight is the HQ, where you can find me if you need anything. There are also listening posts and artillery batteries dispersed further in the swamp."

"Thanks for the tour, Lieutenant Colonel," I say, "I suppose and my men should get set up."

"Go right ahead, Captain. Chow time here is at 1500, until then feel free to rest, explore the base and get to know the men. Be ready for briefing in the HQ at 1630, the brass in Riga will be sending in new orders," Veske says, turning to leave for the HQ.
Last edited by Imperium Sidhicum on Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Blakullar
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:57 am

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN IMRAN RUDNITSKY.
CURRENT LOCATION: RĒZNAS STREET, OUTSKIRTS OF RĒZEKNE, LATGALE REGION, BALTIC UNION.
TIMESTAMP: 13:22 (LOCAL TIME), 22.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



One of the longest hours of Imran's life had passed since the grocery store was taken. The captain himself was in the office, having examined the holodisk that Shuvalov had given him yesterday a second time. Bogdan was watching over the south-facing window with his machine gun; two other sentries from Malashenko's unit had been posted on the store's roof. Trofima, meanwhile, sat slumped in one of the office's armchairs in the corner of the room, a thoughtful expression on her face. The lieutenant's two messengers still had yet to return, and reinforcements were due in another hour, though Imran was growing more sceptical about the prospects of their appearance. If those RPOs could not be retrieved, then the chances of them having to spend most of the afternoon here were almost certain. The one silver lining to this affair was Pichugin's report that Arkhipov's condition had been stabilised.

Imran knew very well that this war would be long, but only now did the stark reality finally dawn upon him. Though he was too young to have fought in the first battles against the Balts, he had heard grisly stories about them from old man Marilov. For all of Imran's experience, this was his first taste of real warfare, and if Marilov's tales of miserable failure were any example, this whole conflict would be a far cry from curb-stomping bandit groups out in the wastelands.

"We're gonna be here a while, aren't we?" Trofima spoke up, as if to grant corporeal form to his thoughts.

Imran huffed and smiled. "Worrying about little Timur, I see?"

"Well, I do worry about him. What if we don't come back?"

"Then he gets to grow up knowing his badass mama and papa didn't go down without a fight!" Bogdan commented with his characteristic zeal.

Seeing that his remark did little to cheer her up, Imran addressed her in a soft tone.

"Look, I know you're worried. But his babushka will take good care of him until we get back. Besides, you can't say we're not coming back yet when the war started literally eight hours ago."

"Just promise me we'll get home, Imran!"

"I promise..."

"BOSS! We got company!"

The call from one of Malashenko's sentries immediately prompted Imran to prick up, standing to his feet. "How many?!"

"A squad and a fireteam – No, wait, they're friendlies!" the sentry called back down again. "They've got wounded!"

"Bring them in!" Imran barked as he slipped his helmet back on, Trofima doing likewise and following him out of the office.

Sure enough, the first sight to offend the captain's eyes was a group of thirteen soldiers, five of whom were injured men being carried on their comrade's shoulders. Several scuff marks and bullet holes around their armour plates elucidated that they had come under heavy fire from some distant source. Some of Malashenko's men, along with Tolstoy and Velikov, were assisting the survivors from this catastrophic encounter with the enemy by helping them into the store.

"Sitrep!" Imran addressed the nearest newcomer, a praporshchik owing by the rank-tab on his armour.

"Lieutenant Magomedov attempted to assault an apartment block two klicks west, sir!" the soldier answered. "However, the defenders were more than prepared for our attack. We suffered seventeen dead and were forced to retreat. We were making our way to the designated fallback point when we encountered your men guarding the store!"

Imran's forehead wrinkled.

"Where the hell is the Lieutenant?"

"Over there, sir!"

The captain wasted no time in storming towards a soldier who, wearing his armour, looked almost identical to Malashenko. The key difference was the presence of sparks shooting forth and wires hanging from stumps that had once been his kneecaps. A larger soldier, about Bogdan's size, had him hoisted onto his back in a fireman's carry.

"Lieutenant Magomedov," he began his tirade. "Don't tell me you tried to assault an enemy HQ without backup or fire support!"

"I... I thought I could take them..." Magomedov could do nothing more than grumble.

"For fuck's sake, Lieutenant!" Imran clutched the sides of his head. "You're a soldier, not a superhero! What the hell were you thinking, lad?!"

"I'm ... I'm sorry, Captain... I've failed you..."

"Try using your brains instead of your balls next time! You're VDV now, you're not with the conscripts any longer!"

Shaking his head, Imran sighed as the lieutenant was carried into the grocery store by his comrades.

"Who's Magomedov's second in command?!"

"I am, sir!" the warrant-officer who had informed him of the situation prior announced. "Praporshchik Ivanov reporting!"

"You're Spear Two-Actual while Magomedov spends the day in the sin-bin!" Imran enunciated.

"Will he be alright, sir?" Ivanov enquired.

Imran simply furrowed his eyebrows. "He'd better bloody hope so..."

"What happens now, boss?" Bogdan enquired.

To which the captain responded by rubbing his hands together.

"Well, we're just gonna have to take that godforsaken apartment ourselves!"

It was at this moment that two additional figures rounded the corner to Imran's right, the captain instantly recognising the pair as the relays that Malashenko had dispatched. They were followed by eight more soldiers, two of whom each carried a disposable rocket launcher on their backs. One more had a weighty backpack strapped to his armour, evidently carrying additional launchers.

"Sergeant Platonov, Metal Three Squadron Four, reporting as ordered, sir!" the leader of the newcomers reported with a salute. "Where do you want us?"

"You'll be tagging along with us," Imran addressed him. "We suspect the apartment up ahead to be an enemy HQ, but the problem is, as Spear Two Platoon's overzealousness has just revealed to us, the building's heavily fortified."

As he spoke, he drew the holodisk that Shuvalov had handed to him the day before. At the touch of a button, a brilliant crimson landscape erupted into prominence, cast from the holodisk. By parting his thumb and forefinger repeatedly, Imran zoomed in on their current location, then to an illuminant crimson representation of the apartment due for attack.

"Judging from satellite scans run the day before, the south face of the apartment will no doubt be the strongest point, being the main entrance and all. And it's more than likely the building and the surrounding yard's gonna be riddled with traps. So we make our way through the alleys to get around to the south side, avoiding the streets where possible. Then we set up positions in the house across the street from the tower – and when I give the signal, you hit them with your rockets. Once their positions have been softened up, taking it's gonna be a lot easier, especially since if we do this right, we'll be taking them by complete surprise."

"Pretty solid plan if I do say so myself, sir," Platonov nodded and stated.

"Well, second rule of leadership – no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy," Imran brushed aside the compliment.

"Permission to ask a question out of curiosity, sir!"

"Ask away. And don't bother with formalities – this is a warzone!"

"What's the first rule?"

"Everything is the commanding officer's fault," Imran immediately stated, before turning to his right. "Malashenko, tell your men to get their shit together and be ready to move out in one minute! Ivanov, keep your squad and Pichugin back here to guard the store, I don't want any goddamn swamp monkeys sneaking up on our wounded!"

"On it, boss!" Malashenko and Ivanov acknowledged in unison.

"Everybody else, on me!" the captain barked. "I want my men in the lead! Velikov, you and I are on point!"




Twenty-four minutes of navigating the alleys and forested banks to avoid the open road segregated Imran's departure from the store to their arrival at their destination. Despite reports of infested houses, the streets were eerily empty, not a soul bar themselves populating it. Occasionally, the pop of a distant bomb, the booming thunder of an artillery shell, or the pattering of machine gun fire would interfere with the silence. The captain had done enough asymmetric warfare to maintain a high degree of apprehension about the lack of activity. He remembered a universal phrase about guard duty – Boring Is Good – and how that same phrase would be turned on its head in combat with forces using guerrilla tactics. The phrase then would be more akin to Boring Means Something Very Very Bad Is About To Happen.

It took some clever navigation and narrowly avoiding another couple of IEDs hidden in a field they had to cross, mostly thanks to Velikov's sensors, but here they were. The three squads had divided into two fighting elements of ten soldiers each, with one of Metal Three's RPOs with Rudnitsky on the south side of the road and the other with Malashenko on the east. Both groups had controlled two houses on their respective sides; presently, Imran, Bogdan, Knyazev, Trofima and their flametrooper from Metal were posted in the master bedroom on the first floor of their house. The rest of Imran's squad along with two more from Metal were downstairs.

So far, despite the captain's prior statement of no plan surviving first contact, things were going well. Imran could see from out the window that the enemy was completely unaware of what was about to hit them, a few moving heads visible inside the apartment obviously being Balts. Perhaps he had been wrong – perhaps the plan was going to work out after all.

The signal to begin the attack was Trofima igniting her pocket lighter, Malashenko using his thermal vision on the other side of the street to spot the flame. With everyone in position and ready to start storming the apartment, Imran tapped her on the shoulder. With a metal ping, the flame was lit.

A raucous screech resounded from Malashenko's house, the first rocket-propelled incendiary munition streaking across the road. A fraction of a second later, the howl of a fire explosion sounded as the rocket made its mark, striking a balcony on the first floor of the apartment's south face and igniting everything around it. The second rocketeer, backblast aiming outside of the bedroom door, took aim at the ground floor and, pulling the trigger, sent rocket number two on its way with a thunderous roar.

The second impact produced a brilliant infernal fulmination, a blinding light enveloping the apartment for but a few seconds. Then suddenly, a massive thunderclap exploded from inside, a mighty blast wave shattering every window nearby and shaking the leaves off the trees and hedges. As the Mekhs turned back to face the apartment, they discovered that the entire building had ignited in but a flash, and amidst the roaring blaze, Imran could swear that he heard dying screams from within.

"HOLY FUCK!!!" Bogdan bellowed. "How much fuel did they have in that building?!"

"Hey, pipe down!" Knyazev nudged him. "There could still be bad guys in there!"

Trofima stared for but a few seconds at the burning apartment. "Yeeaaahhh, no."

As if to compound her statement, another fireball erupted from within, sending another blast wave shuddering through the street and almost knocking the exposed flametrooper off their feet.

"Well, now what?!" Bogdan protested. "That was an enemy HQ! There has to be valuable intel in there!"

"Just let it burn!" Imran commanded, no less irked at this development than his machinegunner. "Nothing is going to survive that inferno! And if we stick around and that fire hits an ammo store, neither are we! All elements, fall back! I want my men in the lead!"

Moments after the squad's exodus from the house, another detonation thundered in the streets, a hail of burning debris raining down cementing Imran's prior assertion. A rising cloud of dust attested that at least part of the building had collapsed as a result of the most recent explosion.

"Could've sworn we were only meant to blow the damn doors off..." Trofima remarked, hiding a grin under her helmet.
Last edited by Blakullar on Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperium Sidhicum
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Founded: May 28, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby Imperium Sidhicum » Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:06 am

2LT Hugo Zeltiņš
Rēzekne
Baltic Union
221325BJUN2132


"What... the fuck... happened?" Lieutenant Zeltiņš groaned, forcing his eyes open. His ears were ringing painfully and his lungs and throat hurt from having the air forcibly sucked out by the massive combustion that had engulfed the house before he had lost consciousness, and the painful burn blisters and missing facial hair indicated he had narrowly escaped incineration.

"I think the Russkies hit the ammo room on the first floor," Sergeant Lapšāns explained, looking barely better himself.

"Damn shame... I take that we're down in the tunnels?" the Lieutenant asked, looking around to see a poorly-lit damp place lined with bricks and rubble.

"Yea... Barely got out before the whole place came down... While you were out, I did a head count, and we are just two men over squad strength remaining."

Zeltiņš closed his eyes again for a moment to reflect on the losses and think what to do next.

"We relocate to the next defense line," he instructed briefly, "Booby-trap this tunnel before we leave."

The now largely-defunct platoon had held off the first Russian probing attacks admirably. The arrogant fools had expected to take the place with just a squad's worth of men, and quickly learned the error of their plan after kicking down a booby-trapped door blew two men to shreds, another three receiving several bucketfuls of searingly-hot sand on their heads. The sand would find even the tiniest gap in their clothes and armor, trickling inside and scorching into their flesh so viciously that the trio had screamed worse than as if doused by flaming napalm. At least two of them decided to put themselves out of misery before being pulled out by the survivors. A repeated attempt by a larger force, with top story windows heavily suppressed this time, saw the attackers penetrate into the building, only to find more hot sand along with some hand grenades pour down on them through murder-holes cut in the ceilings. Then the Russians had pulled back and tried to take out the defenders with thermobaric rockets, Zeltiņš vaguely remembering the building being engulfed in a massive blast when one rather fortunately found it's way into the fortified first-floor room that stored much of the platoon's ammunition and fuel.

"Hey, LT," machinegunner Berdinskis would interrupt his recollections of the moments before being knocked out, "Look what we got!"

Zeltiņš rolled over only to come face to face with a disabled Mecharussian combat droid, the grip of a combat knife still sticking out from the back of it's head. He vaguely recalled someone shouting about having captured a droid moments before the world exploded into an inferno of flame and pain.

"Poor sods who got this here metal motherfucker did not make it, but we managed to grab it on our way out," the gunner explained, holding up the limp droid with his uninjured hand, "Thought this toaster might have some useful intel inside his chips."

"Well done," Zeltiņš acknowledged, struggling to get on his feet, "Hopefully, it will give us at least something to make up for the lads who died today."

"Charge's set!" one of his men announced from further down the tunnel.

"Good," the Lieutenant nodded, wincing in pain as he plucked away a singed tatter of uniform fused to his blistered left arm, "Move out and watch the six!"

---

CPT Hendriks Vanags
Firebase Lubāns
Baltic Union
221630BJUN2132


"Gentlemen," Lieutenant Colonel Veske addresses his staff of officers as we sit assembled in the firebase's briefing room, a platoon-size tent propped up on a platform above the marsh and disguised as just another small overgrown islet in the vast wetland, "Please welcome Captain Hendriks Vanags from 2nd Special Tasks. He and his men will accompany us in the coming weeks and months of these tough times until further notice from above."

The assembled officers among whom I recognize Captain Urtāns turn to me and nod in acknowledgement.

"Pleasure to be here," I state curtly, not being much for small talk, "I hope we have a fruitful cooperation."

"Now, with the pleasantries being done, let's get to business," Veske continues, "First thing in order today is an assignment especially to our new collegue, wired in from Riga just two hours ago."

He flips on a holographic projector at the center of the tent and starts to present my today's mission, sent directly from High Command for some reason rather than through my battalion commander.

"Captain Vanags, your orders are to prepare a platoon-strength force for a VIP recovery mission, commencing at no later than 1800 Hours. Your forces are to arrive at the following grid coordinates at no later than 1900 and rendezvous with the VIPs, following which you are to return to Firebase Lubāns," Veske speaks, the location of my mission objective highlighting on the holographic map of the Baltic Union.

"That is quite a distance from here," I note, the coordinates indicating a location outside Skrunda, the derelict pre-war army town that once used to house a Soviet anti-ballistic radar some 250 clicks to the west from here, "Any reason why the local Tier One assets haven't been assigned to the job?"

"Your briefing doesn't say. Which means it's probably classified," Veske explains briefly.

"Insertion method?"

"Your platoon's attached Skyranger, also to be used for extraction."

"Recommended equipment?"

"At your discretion. No enemy activity on the ground is currently known to take place in the area."

"Expected hostiles?"

"Enemy air assets have a constant presence. Maintain a low flight profile and be prepared for emergency landing at any time. Avoid major urban areas and exercise caution near the Daugava Corridor, where high enemy air activity is expected to take place."

"Expected friendlies and neutrals?"

"No civilian or friendly presence expected. If detected, avoid contact and wait until their departure."

"Rules of engagement?"

"Strictly a covert recovery mission, no fire unless engaged. If engaged, however, the VIPs must be protected at any cost."

"Define VIPs."

"Classified. It only says they are an armed squad-strength group, challenge is "Star", password is "Texas". In English."

"Instructions if compromised?"

"If compromised before reaching destination, abort mission and return to base. If compromised during recovery, complete recovery and return to base if possible. If unable to return or compromised during return, protect the VIPs at any cost and make effort to return to base without alerting local friendly forces of VIP presence. It is imperative that you prevent the capture of any of the VIPs or their inventory, alive or dead. Any VIP casualties and their inventory are to be thoroughly disposed of by means of thermite charges, no salvage permitted."

---

"I don't like this one bit, skipper," Corporal Liedskalniņš grumbles as I deliver our new orders to my men, being dismissed from the briefing early to have time to prepare, the rest of it not being my concern anyway, "The only part of this mission that isn't classified is us having to fly in, pick up some shady dudes and fly them over here. Way too much unknowns for my taste."

"Well, from the looks of it, it's either some big shot and his bodyguards needing an emergency recovery, in which case they'd just have sent one of the local Tier One teams, or our foreign friends sending over some "military advisors". Judging from all the secrecy and the specific choice of password language, I'd guess it's the latter," I state.

"Who, I wonder," Liedskalniņš remarks, "Polaks or Oldies, maybe?"

"Never liked them foreign spooks," Valdis grumbles, "Always thinking they're so classy and important and secretive, snubbing away your every question with buzz-phrases like "That's classified" or "That's a need-to-know only" as if we were too stupid to realize why they're here... I hope this job will also be the last we see of them."

"I wouldn't know," I chuckle, "As you already pointed out, that's classified."

"I've plotted the route according to the latest intel, Captain," Brazauskas enters our assigned quarters to report, "If all goes smooth, we should be in within 40 minutes and the same for return. I've also picked out auxiliary landing locations for any fuck... I mean, emergencies, all no further than 10 clicks from the nearest safe-zone."

"Good," I affirm, "Also, lose any external mounts for this one, they will only increase our radar signature."

"Already done," the pilot states, "I figured you'd want it done as soon as you mentioned covert extraction."

"What's the deal with all this thermite," Corporal Andrejeva asks from behind, taking two thermite grenades from a box and tucking them in the pouches of her tac vest, "Are we blowing up some tech?"

"A just-in-case measure," I explain, "It's for VIP casualty disposal. Apparently whoever we'll be picking up aren't exactly supposed to be here and probably carry some sensitive gear with Made in Wherevertheyrefromistan stenciled in bold on it, so if compromised, we are to dispose of any VIP casualties without leaving evidence of their presence here."

"I see..." Andrejeva states, her voice clearly betraying revulsion at the thought of not giving fallen soldiers a proper burial.

Guess we Balts are kind of sentimental that way, never denying even an enemy a decent final rest if it can be helped. Scum like raiders and outlaws can be left to rot like their sort deserves, but certainly not a soldier, not even an enemy, who was just doing his duty.

---

CPT Hendriks Vanags
Abandoned military town outside Skrunda
Baltic Union
221945BJUN2132


"This is taking way too long..." Valdis grumbles, fighting the temptation to light up a smoke as we wait in ambush mode, "Maybe they ain't here at all."

"They are here alright," I reassure him at hushed voice, "Ever noticed how the birds have fallen quiet for the past 5 minutes?"

According to textbooks, this old Soviet-era army town used to house the sizable garrison and crew of a Daryal-M anti-ballistic radar complex, one in a chain of EWR sites meant to alert Soviet high command of an incoming nuclear armageddon from the West back during the First Cold War. It was also the last Russian military site to be decomissioned in post-Soviet Latvia. If old pictures are any indicator, the radar itself used to be quite a sight to see, a massive edifice towering 30 stories high until it's demolition in 1995. Word is the Daryal radar used to have enough juice to fatally irradiate anything within 300 meters of the emitter at full power, disrupting TV and radio transmission and generally making it unhealthy to live as far as 90 clicks downrange, and was able to track objects the size of a goose over the horizon almost 6000 clicks away - somewhere over Greenland, in other words.

Nowadays, there isn't a trace remaining of that antique radar, only a dilapidated ruin of a town remaining where the nearby army base once stood. Before the Great War, the place was kept from falling entirely apart by regular military exercises, curious tourists and it's occasional use as a stage set for Western filmmakers shooting war movies. After the war, the old Skrunda army town was once again reappropriated for military use, again serving as an urban warfare training site.

We wait in one of the buildings, our Skyranger being conveniently hidden out of sight in the bushes behind it, landed on a patch of grass barely larger than it's wingspan. My men are dispersed through the building, sitting on overwatch and waiting for signs of our clandestine guests to appear.

"Maybe it's us the birds don't like?" Valdis speaks quietly.

"Don't be silly!" I dismiss the notion - they teach "nature walk" as standard curriculum at boot camps, and anyone who goes out hunting with any degree of frequency is bound to get good at it eventually, much less a Tier One operator. Learn to move as a part of nature, and the wildlife will ignore you.

After some minutes more of nothing but silence, the wind howling through the empty dilapidated hallways and rooms of the house and rustling the leaves of the forest outside, I am almost tempted to agree with the sergeant that some of us may indeed have gotten sloppy at nature-walking, when the barely-audible creak of a shard of glass being trodden on in the hallway catches my attention. With everyone waiting in their positions, nobody is supposed to be walking around in the house, so that can only mean one of two things.

An instant later, I roll over to the door, aiming my ChemRail down the hallway.

"Star!" I shout the challenge, aiming at the slight blur of air standing out against the bright background of the window at the end of the hallway, something I could easily mistake for optical distortion commonly seen on hot days if I didn't know better.

"Texas," comes the response as the blur dissolves into a black-clad figure wearing something akin to a hooded ghillie suit, but made of shimmering black triangular patchwork fabric.

"And bang, you're dead!" another voice announces in English behind me as I feel the barrel of a gun poke into the back of my head.

"Drop it, asshole! All of you!" Corporal Liedskalniņš shouts, erupting from his position in the room further down, gun barrels popping out of every room in the hallway.

"At ease, Corporal, looks like these are our VIPs!" I instruct him as several more black-clad figures in long peculiar cloaks de-cloak in the hallway, unsure how to react to being surround so swiftly.

"Very perceptive of you, Captain," the man in front of me states from behind his black optical camo balaclava and goggles, "I'm impressed."

"I see that you've already been informed as to who I am," I remark dryly, "And you would be...?"

"Ah, where are my manners..." the man speaks, "But if you don't mind, let's postpone the introductions until after we're airborne. Shall we?"

As we leave the building at haste, the men constantly keeping watch and covering every angle of approach, I finally see our VIPs in better lighting. There's four of them, two men and two women. Despite their gear having no markings of any kind and their equipment being mainly a mix of Old Nation and Russian articles common in our parts, some small gadgets betray them as Frenks - for example, only a Frenk would have a manual anemometer with wind speed gauges marked in both meters and feet per second.

As soon as we are in sight of the Skyranger, pilot Brazauskas immediately powers up the engines. Normally I'd have him rev them up already upon making contact with the VIPs, but the radio jam is making communication of such matters somewhat difficult. Once the VIPs are inside, I stand by the ramp, making a count of my men as they withdraw inside, giving an all-clear signal to the the flight engineer Šnepaitis waiting for my mark once everyone is inside. He shouts something to his buddies in the cockpit, and the Skyranger lifts off, hovering briefly at treetop height before setting off back home at speed.

Only now do the Frenks remove their masks, revealing a rather ethnically-diverse outfit of a middle-aged Mexican or Puertorican, who appears to be the ranking officer, a younger white woman and an Asian woman of roughly the same age, and a young black lad.

"Great, a fucking multi-cult rainbow team..." Valdis remarks with no small amount of disdain, "A greaser, a gook and a negro... They only forgot to throw in the obligatory token Jew!"

"My grandmother was Jewish, if that counts," the white Frenkish woman responds in heavily-accented Latvian to my mild surprise, her accent reminding me of my Gloria somewhat. From her tone, it's hard to tell if she's responding to sarcasm with sarcasm, or has genuinely missed the hostility in Valdis's statement.

"Hey, that's not a very nice thing to say!" the black chap protests, speaking in heavily-accented Russian, apparently having understood the "negro" part and voicing his protests in the one language he and most of us understand, "Is my skin colour gonna be a problem here?!"

"That's supposed to impress me now?" the sergeant grumbles, entirely unfazed, before switching to Russian to answer the other Frenk's question, "And no, so long as we shoot in the same direction it ain't."

"Alright, sergeant, that's enough," I intervene before my friend and his dislike for foreigners causes a diplomatic incident, "Apologies for my companion's blunt language. Now, I believe the four of you didn't just wind up here in our parts because your plane got redirected and one of you called our top brass instead of a taxi by accident?"

"Right, I suppose introductions and explanations are in order, Captain," the Frenkish commander states.
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New Frenco Empire
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Founded: Mar 14, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby New Frenco Empire » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:24 am


Image CAPTAIN HENDRIKS VANAGS

ABOVE SKRUNDA, BALTIC UNION
June 22nd, 2132


"Right, I suppose introductions and explanations are in order, Captain..." the Frenkish commander stated with a grin.
Vanags got a closer look at the man. Someone approaching his mid forties, he held the look of an exceptionally powerful man, his broad shoulders, sleeves of tattoos, and the impressive size of his muscles pairing well with his shaved head and dark, bushy moustache. Vanags could hear Valdis now - he looked somewhat stereotypical for some Mexican cartel gangster, yet at the same time, he held the stern, dignified appearance of a soldier. True, the man looked more soldier than spook.

"Dey call me Buckwheat, suh! All I wants to do is eat me sum fried chicken and fuck me one of yo big ol' plump white women, if that be okay massah!" The black man immediately butted in with a mocking, stereotypic tone, obviously still upset over the blatant judgement over his skin tone.
"Buen dios, Rollins! Knock it off!" The commander turned to the black, replying with a biting authority in English. After shaking his head and sighing he turned back to face Vanags.
"I am Agent Christoball Perez. Imperial Intelligence Agency, Special Operations Group. For this mission, I hold the acting rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Grand Imperial Army." The operative acknowledged with a nod. "I command Fireteam Golf here."

"This is Agent Heather Brinkmeyer, acting Major. Intelligence officer, techie...and just a tad bit psychic..."
The caucasian woman nodded with a grin. She was a tall, lean woman of about thirty-five, her eyes obscured by a pair of dark sunglasses Her head of curly chestnut was cut close, and she looked every bit someone would expect your typical woman soldier to look like, impressive musculature and all. Still though, if she were to grow out her hair and put on a bit of makeup, she probably wouldn't be hard on the eyes at all. Being one of the few caucasian women from the west he'd ever seen in-person, Vanags couldn't help but compare her to his beloved Gloria. There was some resemblance, he guessed, although she looked much harder and some of her features a bit more pointed (these small facial details combined with the last name "Brinkmeyer" led the Captain to muse to himself. Perhaps she really was a Jew).

"And Agents Heng Qiao, sharpshooter and infiltrator, and Jonathon Rollins, linguist, logistician and mission specialist." Perez waved his hand forward in the direction the two sitting across from them. "Acting Captains."
While the other two older agents looked rough and weathered, this was not the case with either of these two. Neither of them could have been out of their twenties, and both of them were considerably attractive. No sort of physical deformity, no sort of imbalance, just...flawless in every sense of the word. The Asian girl was quite the exotic beauty, her soft black hair tied into a messy bun. She looked more like what some Western movie thought a secret agent ought to look like - slim, gorgeous, and female. She locked eyes with Vanags, her bright violet irises meeting his own. Despite her good looks, Vanags could tell in her look...stone cold. This one wasn't to be messed with, even if she didn't look the part.

He shifted his attention to the young man, Rollins, had a much more casual look about him. He greeted Vanags with a friendly grin, that small expression oozing some unexplained charisma Vanags had yet to see. Though he wasn't much of a specimen when put up against his commanding officer (being quite short and not breaking the six foot mark), his body was still well cared for, possessing every bit the physical stature required of Special Operations. His dark, coarse hair was cut short, but still a bit too long, at least if Imperial military regulation was anything resembling theirs. He sported thick stubble, just short enough not to fall into beard territory, but prevalent enough to be an established part of his well-defined face. Despite Valdis' (sure to be) objections, he was as handsome as any young man probably could be. Despite his dark skin, an abnormality in this part of the world, Vanags would not hesitate to call this one a "pretty boy". He made a half-serious mental note to keep an eye on him, else every pretty young girl in Western Latvia started opening their legs for him while on their usual patrols (sure to leave behind a trail of angry fathers in his wake).

"Hah, so the mighty Empire finally decides to lend a helping hand to the helpless Balt! Is that what this is?" Valdis sarcastically stated, booming with insincere laughter.
"If y'all wanna fight the entirety of the MAF on your own, be my guest..." Rollins yawned. "But I gotta feeling that ain't gonna end well..."
"We've gone this long without any help from you or any of your 'free' country lackeys. Imperialists and opportunists is what you are!" Valdis spat, a look of complete contempt on his face. "You may help us fight off the Ruskies, but then what? Are you going to annex us? Put a more complacent regime in Riga?"
"Sergeant!" Vanags barked. "Enough. We're just soldiers. We're in no position to bargain if the brass thinks this is for the best..."
"Yes sir..." Valdis growled, his respect for his old friend holding him back. He listened, but he clearly didn't like it.
"Hmm...and here I thought I could take my ass back to Sweden..." Rollins sighed with a slight grin.

"Sweden? I thought the Empire and the Brits were fighting the Oldies there?" Liedskalniņš asked, joining in on the conversation.
"Were." Brinkmeyer emphasized. "The war is going quite good for us, if you couldn't guess. The Southeast is basically ours, hence, they can ship us over the Baltic without bumping into some stray u-boat..."

"It's flattering that the most powerful nation of our time has noticed our plight..." Vanags dryly remarked, obviously not showing any enthusiasm. "If it's not 'classified', I can't help but ask...how exactly are you four going to help us turn back the Russian horde?"
"Oh, we're not the only ones here." Brinkmeyer casually retorted. "We're just part of the first wave."
"We've already landed teams at Karklė and Virtsu." Perez acknowledged. "Fireteams Casper and Xerxes. We'll be making regular progress checks with them and whatever else the suits decide to ship over from Sweden in the near future. This is a large, multinational endeavour. All of the western allies have a stake in this."
"We'll also be joined by a Lunar field team soon enough." Brinkmeyer nodded. "Always fashionably late, those moonies..."

"Moonies?" One of the soldiers blinked.
"There's gonna be moonies here?" Another confusedly echoed.
Vanags understood their fascination on the topic. The Lunar Union (or "Luna") was widely reported to be one of the most powerful forces that currently existed, yet, they didn't have any sort of presence on Earth. Instead, they were masters of the cosmos. The Baltics didn't have any ships, much less any sort of space presence, so the Lunars were something to an enigma to the Earth's "little guys". All they really knew was that Luna had some of the most advanced technology known to humankind and their status as part of the "cultural west" brought them close to the Frenkish Empire, providing a looming dominance wherever humanity was - Earth or Space.
Vanags, ever the old soldier, knew that with their involvement this war was going to get a lot messier and a hell of a lot more complex...

"Rollins?" Brinkmeyer directed her attention to the young man.
At her prompt, he rose from his seat and pulled out a small duffle bag he was transporting on his back, unceremoniously tossing it on the floor of the skyranger.
"Once Riga falls, and it will fall, you fine gentlemen aren't going to be in an armed force anymore. At least, not an official one." Rollins solemnly blinked, making it a point to very briefly make eye contact with every soldier present, doubtless to hammer his point home.
"And once you all become soldiers without an army, you're gonna be glad we're here..."

At that cue, he bent down to the bag and unzipped it. Vanags peeked inside from where he was sitting, revealing an absolute mess of "classified"-marked dossier folders, complex gadgets, and the odd weapon or two.
"Welcome to the wonderful world of Western-sponsored terrorism...sorry, I meant 'freedom fighting'..." Brinkmeyer sarcastically remarked upon the reveal of these materials.
"In the next week or so, your government will collapse. Any industry you had will be in the hands of the enemy. Any sort of logistical support or reinforcements will not be available. It's going to boil down to guerilla warfare sooner than you think. You've all been trained in it, so we're not gonna teach you how to fight. The important thing you've gotta learn is listenin'. Once you make the transition from 'soldier' to 'insurgent', you're gonna be backed with western money, slapping chemrails on whatever old western gun we can ship over, and, most importantly, working based on whatever intel the west can dig up for ya..."

To illustrate this point, Rollins pulled out a very specific playbook and casually opened it, flicking through the pages.
"Aha, there it is..." The young man stated with a satisfied grin. "'All known planned drop positions as intercepted by Listening Post Nelvana at 0932, morning of June Twenty-Second, Twenty-One-Thirty-Two'. We have a log of all general locations where we believe the Mekhs will be dropping more troops. And in less than an hour, a company-sized group of assault engineers, meant to be cleaning out a few Union bunkers behind the frontlines in anticipation of an armored advanced in the region, will be dropping a hundred clicks north of here. Let's say we give 'em a nasty surprise. Never too early to start learning! Major?"

At Rollins' cue, Brinkmeyer flipped open a small wrist datapad from one of her gauntlets. After two seconds of meticulously punching in code (at a blitzing rate, suggesting her familiarity with the machine), she closed it once again.
"Pilot, please redirect us to the coordinates I just sent to your navigation computer..." She politely said towards the cockpit where Brazauskas was focusing on flying.
"What's going on?" Vanags neutrally inquired. "I thought we were taking you back to Lubāns..."
"You are." Perez nodded, leaning back. "But this just a little, uh...detour. Since we're already on the way."
"Does the brass know about this?"
"Believe me, Captain. This was your commanders' idea." Perez acknowledged. "The Special Activities Division has been in contact with your officials for the past week. They've assigned you to be our security escort and main operations team. They must think you very gifted..."
"So...do I answer to you know? Is that what it is?" Vanags responded, staying cool. He had faith in the brass. But he needed some things cleared up all the same. "Do my men answer to you?"

"No. They're still your troops. Your command isn't compromised." Perez assured him. "Your higher-ups made it very clear to us - one 'Captain Vanags' is the man we want in the field, but we're still foreign agents here on their, uh...'gracious invitation'. Since you brought it up, we have to give you this choice..."
"Accompany us, act on our intel, and try not to say 'no' to too many of our requests..." Brinkmeyer jumped in. "And we respect your command as much as operationally feasible, provide you with all the intel you need once Riga goes dark, and serve as your lifeline to the outside world."
"Or decline to work with us." Perez plainly put it so. "You and your men forget everything you saw here today after you drop us off at the firebase. They'll give us another Tier One field officer and you'll never see us again."
"Little tip for you, Captain..." Vanags looked to see Rollins addressing him, arms crossed. "Say 'yes' and you and your men will be a lot more fuckin' involved in liberating your country from Ivan! And I'm sure that's something you can all get behind..."

"So what'll it be, Captain?" Perez asked him, leaning in close. "Do we keep the Skyranger diverted? Or head back to Lubāns?"
Last edited by New Frenco Empire on Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
NEW FRENCO EMPIRE

Transferring information from disorganized notes into presentable factbooks is way too time consuming for a procrastinator. Just ask if you have questions.
Plutocratic Evil Empire™ situated in a post-apocalyptic Decopunk North America. Extreme PMT, yet socially stuck in the interwar/immediate post-war era, with Jazz music and flapper culture alongside nanotechnology and Martian colonies. Tier I power of the Frencoverse.


Las Palmeras wrote:Roaring 20s but in the future and with mutants

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Blakullar
Senator
 
Posts: 4506
Founded: Sep 07, 2012
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:47 am

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN HENDRIK VANAGS.
CURRENT LOCATION: SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE OF SKRUNDA, BALTIC UNION.
TIMESTAMP: 20:03 (LOCAL TIME), 22.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



"So what'll it be, Captain?" Perez asked in English, leaning in close. "Do we keep the Skyranger diverted? Or head back to Lubāns?"

"If you put it like that, Agent Perez, we stay diverted and see if your intel is any good," Hendrik answered without a scrap of hesitation. "What exactly do you have on that planned landing?"

"As I said before, a company-sized force of assault engineers to be airdropped some ten klicks southwest of a village called Kolka," Agent Perez proceeded to explain. "No doubt to clear out the coastal defence sites you have covering the southern side of Irbe Strait in preparation for an amphibious landing. We have also intercepted messages of a similar op targeting coastal defences on the Estonian side in Sorve Peninsula as well, so if your Estonian colleagues prove as cooperative as you, fireteam Casper or Xerxes should handle that side shortly. I don't think I need to explain the importance of preserving your coastal defences to a man of your experience, Captain."

As Perez spoke, the exact locations were illuminated on a satellite map on Brinkmeyer's field computer.

"Why didn't you pick a local Tier One team for the task?" Hendrik enquired again, somewhat confused. "They would have been more familiar with the local terrain."

"Well, for one, it wasn't ours to pick," Perez leaned back into his seat. "As I said before, your superiors were very insistent that we aid you and your men. I would presume it would have something to do with their strategy of delaying the main enemy force in the Eastern parts of the Union, which would make sense to have natives of Eastern Latvia accompany us for the duration of our stay."

"I see," Hendrik contented himself with this answer.


ONE HOUR LATER...

Several landings had been attempted on the Baltic coast over the past few hours, with a mixed degree of success. The blanket full-spectrum jam washing over the Union's whole depth had proven a double-edged sword, barring both sides from coordinating their operations. In a display of prudence, the Union's Council of Generals had installed a network of decoy defence sites around the cities and coasts, preserving at least some of the real sites in spite of heavy bombardment. Although the embattled Union lacked the resources to challenge the mighty battlecruisers of the Baltic Fleet, enough of these sites existed to inflict heavy casualties on any and every potential amphibious invader. This, in addition to the Baltic speciality of camouflaging anything and everything, the Mekhs knew all too well. As Frenkish intelligence had just unveiled, they had opted to solve the problem manually, dispatching teams of assault engineers to secure a beachhead for the advancing amphibious force. It went without saying that Hendrik and his squad agreed to Perez' suggestion of preserving the coastal defences without much quarrel.

Their site of choice was in the forests of Slītere. Hardly expected to be the place where any would find much military activity in, the primordial forest had survived from before the Great War, recovering from the nuclear winter with surprising haste, perhaps owing to proximity to the sea. The result was a renewed swath of near impassable, thick undergrowth interspersed with marsh. Asides from a few inconspicuous observation posts on the beach, the forest would serve as the first real line of defence – any invader would have to pass through the few small roads through this forest to get inland, a matter that well-prepared defenders could make into a costly endeavour. The true defences, however, were located further inland, perched close to the edge of a steep hillside towering over the surrounding forest – the ancient coast of the Baltic Ice Lake. At the end of the Ice Age, the waves of the sea would have broken at the foot of these hills where now it did so five kilometres away.

Hendrik could almost picture icebergs floating within the dark, folding blue of Cape Kolka to the north, despite the obvious dearth of them. In the far distance, a lighthouse sat upon an artificial island, marking the end of a long and treacherous sandbar. It was said that a man of tall, wiry stature could wade all the way to the lighthouse in calm weather, yet the sea floor would make a sharp drop to a depth of twenty-five meters on the opposite end of the lighthouse. Further westwards, a narrow dark line and another faintly visible lighthouse rose over the horizon, marking the coast of Sorve Peninsula on the Estonian side. Nowadays, Estonians and Latvians, employed primarily as fishermen and garrisons for the coastal defences, resided there, with both demographics and professions in equilibrium.

The Irbe Strait, visible from Hendrik's current position, was a narrow channel of navigable waters flanked by extensive sandbars and stone reefs, numberless ships being wrecked in this treacherous stretch over the ages. Even in the modern age of satellite navigation, large ships running aground in these parts in rough weather every few years or so was not unheard of. The waters could be especially dangerous near Cape Kolka, where the waves of the Baltic often clashed with those of the Gulf of Riga over the shallow sandbar, stirring up a maelstrom during the autumn storms.

The enemy had selected a meadow close to another lighthouse, an old masonry structure standing near the edge of the ancient sea coast, as the site of their landing. Sophisticated antipersonnel bounding mines, brought in small yet sufficient numbers by the Frenkish agents, were being rigged in the long grass alongside cruder devices procured from Alpha Platoon's own inventory.

As they set the trap, Hendrik and Valdis were busily scouting out locations in the surrounding woods for an ambush. The latter was Hendrik's platoon sergeant, but he had taken him along for a different reason. He had already determined the Frenks' superior intelligence gathering capabilities for himself, and was also none too keen to bite an extended hand whose necessity had already been decided by those far above his paygrade. Thus, the sergeant was by the captain's side, where the latter could keep the former on a short leash and stifle any potential future quarrels. 'A short leash', however, made little headway towards translation into enthusiasm about reliance on the foreigners – a matter that had already been made abundantly clear.

"This is what it's come to now..." Valdis grumbled in his mother-tongue with a venomous glare over his shoulder. "Good honest Latvian boys being bossed around by some damn tank-bred Westerners..."

"You know as well as I do that we cannot win this war without their help," Hendrik objected. "I might not be more fond of the notion any more than you are, but I don't want you to pick any more fights with them. Our country is going to need every friend it can get in these dark times."

"And what about both Liberation Wars?!" Valdis hissed back, turning to face his comrade. "Who stood by our side against the Ruskies then?! Nobody! Nobody gave a damn about us back then, yet we pulled ourselves through and remained free, and certainly none of those Western assholes give a damn now, beyond pretending to be friendly so that they can find out how to best capitalise on our suffering! We have shown twice that we can make Ivan's life miserable all on our own - we don't need those condescending foreign pricks doing us any favours so that they can later demand them returned with a big interest!"

"The Liberation Wars only ended as favourably as they did because of those same Western assholes pressuring the Mekhs with sanctions!" Hendrik barked. "Things were different back then, they had all the warlords and petty bandit kingdoms to deal with back home, and they could ill-afford to afford a trade embargo with the West. Now they are largely self-sufficient and have the full might of their armed forces to throw at us with the Westerners distracted with fighting each other in Scandinavia and the Atlantic. So like it or not, we need them! And as for their manner of conduct, the only one who's been acting like a condescending prick right now has been you, and I don't want to see any more of that."

Valdis breathed a resigned sigh.

"Hendrik, I respect you as a friend as well as my commander, which is why I will refrain from further antagonising our new ... allies. But I want you to know that at no point should you or them mistake it for approval or liking."

"I don't need you to approve of or like them, I only need you to shape up and act like the professional that you are! I know you couldn't care less about what they think of you, but you are also making me and our entire unit look bad! And more importantly, you are undermining my authority by showing them that I cannot keep my men in line, and also giving ideas to our own men in doing so! I want you to think carefully about that the next time you are tempted to pick a quarrel with those Frenks again, because while you may be my best and oldest friend, I cannot and will not cut you any slack where it comes to the discipline and integrity of this unit."

"You need not worry, Hendrik," Valdis reassured. "As I already said, I will exercise better restraint in the future out of respect for you, and for the sake of discipline and integrity of our unit. Now, I believe we have a job to do?"

"Yes, the Ivans will be here soon if our new allies are to be believed," Hendrik answered, glancing over to a cluster of bushes nearby. "I think those shrubs over there would make for a nice machine gun position..."

Valdis smirked and nodded in agreement, seeing the mentioned shrubs for himself.

Soon enough, the meadow, now peppered with antipersonnel mines, was empty of life once more. The rest of the platoon were spread out in the surrounding woods, covering the meadow with interlocking fields of fire and coordinated by radio where the serpentine grip of the Russian jammers over comms was looser. With the only escape route being a southward retreat towards more resistance from an Estonian squadron, it would be the ideal beartrap.

"All squads, status check!" Hendrik called into his headpiece.

"Bravo, ready!" Valdis' voice crackled through the heavy interference.

"Charlie, ready!" Corporal Liedskalniņš announced.

"Golf, ready!" spoke the accented voice of Agent Rollins, the Imperial crack squad's linguist.

"Alpha, ready!" Hendriks completed the roll call. "Over and out!"


ANOTHER TWO HOURS LATER...

Intel informed the waiting predators in the bush that the Russians would arrive shortly before nightfall, expecting to land undetected under the cover of night. Their expectation was to have the local defence batteries taken out by morning, when the amphibious assault was scheduled to commence. If the Allies did their jobs right, however, the Russian marines would be in for a profoundly unpleasant surprise.

So it had seemed.

Two hours had passed since the summer sun had sunk into the western depths, leaving a black night perforated with stars in its wake. In its place at the heights of heaven stood the full moon; a shimmering cerulean halo and the intermittent glitter of terraformed seas reminded Hendrik of ancient photographs taken from its once dull-grey surface. Now infused with the gift of an atmosphere, albeit a fleeting one in geographic terms, this was the grand demesne of the quasi-legendary Union of Luna. The grizzled veteran captain seemed, for but a passing second, uneasy. Long had stories been told of alien invaders arising from the surface of Earth's planetary brothers and sisters to rain untold hellfire upon mankind – and yet Brinkmeyer had informed him that soon they would receive the mixed grace of Lunar footsoldiers arriving from their spacefaring transporters onto Baltic soil. Their distinctly Wellsian sense of aesthetic was hardly a comfort to any of those Balts who only knew of death rays and spaceships from fables older than themselves.

Just as Hendrik, concerned about the Frenkish agents' presence for his own reasons, began to consider Valdis' astuteness in not trusting them, a faint rumble rolled through the fields. A flash of lightning would have been all too visible in the pitch night. The thunderous crescendo was growing ever nearer, and some of the stars above seemed to flicker away and disappear for but a split second. Then, the thunder transitioned without seam into a brilliant, dull shriek, accompanied by the flash of twin, wing-mounted jet engines.

The Russians had arrived.

A single Il-82M1 heavy dropship had settled into a hover some ten metres above the meadow with a stagnant roar, doors on its sides and rear sliding open with a hiss. Black ropes fell from the opened exits, coiling on the ground below; the dropship proceeded to disgorge two full squads of armoured infantry, one from each side, totalling twenty-four opponents.

Within the dropship, a faint mechanical thumping could be heard, as if something was moving around inside. The source emerged from the rear door, leaping from the craft and striking the meadow below with a thump. It was a large, bear-sized robot, similar in shape to a long-legged scarab with two praying mantis-like claws in front of it, bristling with tools and sensors. Its two red slit-optics glimmered in the darkness as it turned to face the southern side; along its unarmoured hull were strapped bags and additional tools for the soldiers to make use of, with a remote turret bearing a flamethrower and grenade launcher side-by-side stood atop the structure. Hendrik would have recognised the machine from a manual on Mekh fighting units as a demolition drone, used by engineering teams for bomb disposal, minelaying and destroying buildings and forests obstructing the advancing armed force.

With the dropship taking off once more to fly away into the distance as the pioneer teams and their drone got to work, they were left alone in the darkness.
- - - MECHANOCRATIC RUSSIA - - -
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Ex-Nation

Postby New Frenco Empire » Mon May 07, 2018 4:37 am


Image AGENT JONATHON ROLLINS

SOMEWHERE NEAR THE COAST, BALTIC UNION
June 22nd, 2132


As the last Russian exited the dropship, all squad's radioed in, affirming their readiness once more. The Latvians were set up to unleash machine gun fire on the Russians from all directions, while the Frenks were set up a ways behind them, close enough to keep an eye on the situation, yet far enough not to attract hostile contact. The Balts would be doing most of the legwork - Golf needed to be ready to bug out in the (highly unlikely) event this went south. Still, that didn't stop the ever-enthusiastic Qiao from screwing a suppressor on her M19 EBR, ready to take shots at any stragglers.

Rollins, on the other hand, quickly discarded the cigarette he was smoking and crushed it under his boot. He grabbed his ChemRail with one hand and put his other on the transmitter in his ear.
"Alright everyone, wait for the dropship to pass..." He whispered to the Balt leaders over the secure line. "Once we get the party started, we should have about sixty seconds of free fire before they start shootin' back. Oh, and have your guys switch off their NVGs. Trust me, they do not wanna be lookin' through them once we work our magic..."
"Turn off our night vision?" Vanags replied in a confused whisper, clearly hesitant at the order, but willing to follow it. He had no reason to doubt the Frenks yet. After all, their intel was correct so far. "Alright, if you say so...all squads, goggles off!"

Once the Mecharussian dropship sped off, Brinkmeyer acknowledged it was far enough away with a nod.
"We're good."
Rollins nodded back before returning to the transmitter. "Alright everyone...once you hear the whine, open up on the bastards. We time this just right, they'll all be dead before they even know what's happening..."

Meanwhile, the Russian troops were finishing their drop, scanning the treelines and quickly securing the perimeter. Everything seemed to be in order, but a few of the troops had doubts. They couldn't pin it, but it almost felt like they were being watched...
"I don't like this, Sergeant." One of the soldiers complained, keeping the sights of his 6P83 glued to his surroundings. "We're deep in enemy country. And the Balts know their country well...I don't think this is going to be as easy as command thinks it will be..."
"Relax, Corporal..." The NCO assured his underling as he checked the magazine of his 6P82. "This is a standard mission. We silence those missiles once and for all and watch as the marines open up another front, right before our eyes. A daring plan, but there's no way in hell the Balts will be expecting it..."

However, the Sergeant's insistence was contrasted with the drone, which began chirping and moving rapidly.
"What's wrong with the bot?" The commanding officer barked to the drone's handler.
"I-I don't know, sir!" The soldier shook his head, inspecting the drone from a distance. "They only start chirping when a minefield is nearby, yet...I've never seen it do it with this level of intensity! It seems to suggest we're right on top of the minefield..."
"Well, that can't be right." The Lieutenant dismissed. "The drone obviously needs to be recalibrated. In the meantime-"

However, the officer was cut off when he noticed movement in the corner of his eye. But it wasn't the tell-tale outline of a person. No...it was the Frenkish mines, manually activated by Brinkmeyer well behind the treelines...

The charges jumped a little over six feet into the air, kicking up dirt and grass and as they spun wildly. To the Russian soldiers, time seemed to slow as the shiny, metallic disks hovered upwards and in place. Then, however, about after a few milliseconds of aimless spinning, each of the charges emitted a high-pitched whine before unceremoniously dropping back down to the ground.

To the Latvians close enough to witness the charges in action, they were (for a split second) confused. What gives? They didn't explode or spit out shrapnel or anything of the sort. What was the point of them? Were they just glorified noisemakers?

However, to the Russians unlucky enough to have their night vision engaged, they were able to witness first hand just what the charges had done to them. Though invisible to the naked eye, the assisted sight allowed them to see, if just for a brief moment, the violent shockwave of energy each of the charges let out. As said shockwave dashed against their illuminated vision, their sight was reduced to nothing more than a blinding white. This was accompanied with a piercing wail in their ears, as their electronic rigs faltered against the energy burst. Their armor had temporarily locked up.

The Latvians took the high-pitched whine the mines gave off as they emitted their burst as the signal, and as such, proceeded to tear into the formation with unrelenting fire from three belt-fed ChemRails, each tactically positioned by Vanags so to expand the killzone as far as it logically could be.

Within the first ten seconds, many of the Mekhs fell, victims of the unstoppable onslaught. Removing the malfunctioning helmets was no easy task while under heavy fire, and most died trying to take them off. Trained Mecharussian soldiers they might have been, they were not prepared for such an ambush. The clearing provided no cover, so the best any of them could hope to feign casualty or fight back in a limited capacity. Agent Qiao's keen senses, however, were able to pick up on the few "smart" ones, and she was quick to snipe any who attempted to play dead or blindly fire back before they could pose a threat to the machine gun crews. Several attempted to run off into the high grasses, however, they were not spared - if the machine gunners didn't take notice of them, the antipersonnel mines Alpha set up certainly ended their prospects of running.

Before a minute passed, it was over. Just as Rollins advised, it was over before the hostiles even knew what was happening. It wasn't a firefight - it was a slaughter.
When all movement ceased in the clearing, Vanags ordered his guns silenced, and awaited a final call from Rollins.
"'Taipei Trashers', we call 'em." Rollins remarked with a chuckle. "Real experimental stuff. Mekh equipment is EMP-hardened, but at just the right frequency? You can still fuck with 'em. Fan out and check the bodies. Make sure we didn't miss any..."
The soldiers and agents carefully crept from the wood, weapons drawn in case they missed a straggler.

The smell of blood and powder - acrid and sour, permeated the air around them. Some of the younger soldiers could only blink and shake themselves off. They hadn't seen violence of this level before. In a way, it was simply horrifying. They were the enemy, yes, yet...they were cornered and gunned down like animals. Did any self-respecting soldier truly deserve such a fate?

Rollins, keeping his hands wrapped around his ChemRail, ignored the smell and the sights, and simply swept around the killzone, ensuring it was clear before they proceeded. The only thing that was still moving in the immediate vicinity was the badly-damaged drone, which was twitching and chirping, it's lights flickering on and off. Between all the guns, it's hull must have taken well over a thousand rounds from the powerful hybrid weapons. The fact that it was still (if only just barely) functional was a testament to how hardy they really were. Rollins fired a burst into the machine's (now exposed) CPU, finally ending it.

"We're clear!" Rollins yelled out as he removed his balaclava, eager to let his face breathe a bit. "Drinks are on me, fellas!"
"Oh? Not so fast..." Brinkmeyer responded, waving for Rollins to come over.

"Got one!" Liedskalniņš barked as a pair of Latvian soldiers dragged one of the corpses from the middle of the killzone. They unceremoniously dropped it before Perez and Vanags, and sure enough, the body was moving. Before long, it was sitting up and staring at the two leaders, wide-eyed.
As though it were a miracle, this lone Mekh soldier managed to survive, and seemingly no worse for wear, despite the bleeding bullet wound in his leg and the perpetual horror his face expressed.

"Well, looks like we got a prisoner..." Perez remarked as he investigated the shellshocked survivor, hands on hips. "What's your policy on prisoners, Captain?"
"We're special operations, Agent..." Vanags solemnly remarked with a cynical sigh. "I'm sure as you're aware, that means we've had our fair share of 'take no prisoners' orders. Still...I don't think it's necessary, in this case. I don't think this one will be a threat to us..."

"Interesting..." Rollins casually strolled over, a crude grin characterizing his dark, comely face. "What are ya plannin' on doin' with him, sir?"
The Mekh prisoner diverted his gaze to Rollins, whose face was still exposed. His expression shifted to one of confusion. There was no such thing as a black Baltic, he was fairly sure. Perhaps he was some kind of mercenary? Or, perhaps even...an agent of the West? A WAC? A Frenk? It was the latter realization that those in attendance feared. One they couldn't risk...
"Well, nothing now, I guess..." Perez sighed. "He saw your face. You know what that means..."
Perez quickly drew an exotic foreign pistol from his shoulder holster and put it at the soldier's head.

The prisoner's eyes widened and his mouth opened to protest, yet before he could mutter a word, a loud and violent gunshot silenced him for good.
He hit the ground, what was left of his face still wearing that signature horrified expression...

"Was that really necessary?" Vanags asked, somewhat annoyed. He had no qualms with killing the enemy, but he would hardly call that young soldier in the state he was in a worthy foe. It almost seemed barbaric.
"It was if you want to keep getting our help..." Perez casually retorted, nonchalantly placing the sidearm back on his midsection. "If Ivan even begins to suspect there are Imperial boots on the ground, we will all be royally screwed. Especially you guys. We're operating under plausible deniability, but we'll still be forced to pull out if New Leningrad decides to make a stink. And that means we can't help you anymore..."

With that, Perez nodded at Vanags and made his way to the elevated patch of land, seemingly to address all who were present...


Image CAPTAIN HENDRIKS VANAGS



"Listen up, everyone!" Perez addressed the eager crowd of Latvian troops (many of whom only fell into line a moment later with a scowl from their Captain). "You all did good tonight! Simply magnificent! We gave Ivan one hell of a bloody nose! And I just got the 'mission accomplished' beacon from my colleagues up north. The Union's coastal defenses are safe!"

In response to the news, the Latvian troops raised their rifles in the air and hollered in celebration. With just a handful of platoons and just the slightest taste of outside intel, they managed to stall the amphibious invasion without a single casualty, at least for the time being. Vanags even caught Valdis grinning widely, acknowledging the report with a nod. He didn't have to like the Frenks, after all, but even he would agree this was an occasion worth praise.
Perez allowed the troops to simmer before continuing.
"Because you all decided to cooperate with us and act on our intel, I'd say we just bought Riga at least another week. We're going to go back to Lubāns, but after we debrief, I'd say you all have earned some rest. After all, you have a week you didn't have before. Might as well spend a bit of it with your families."

Upon hearing that, the men chuckled and nodded at one another. The troops certainly had no problem with it. After all, if they were to enter guerilla protocol (as more and more likely that prospect became as each day passed), this might have been their last chance to share an embrace with a lover or go fish with a son before they were forced into the wilderness. It was a dark prospect, for sure, but if their time under the Frenks (and Lunars in the future, if Perez was to be believed) amounted to more victories such as these? It was hopefully going to be a quick and decisive period.

Still, Vanags didn't feel like that was Perez's order to give. However, he also didn't expect the Colonels to be anything other than absolutely elated when they returned with the news that they just saved the coastal guns out of the blue, so he was sure they would allow a day or two of leave if possible.

Thinking more on it, he had come to the conclusion that the Frenks were probably trying to give a strong impression to the local leadership in an effort to prove their trustworthiness. After all, they'd only been in the country a few hours and they'd already proved monumental in, if not salvaging the war effort, painting broad strokes in their favor for the future guerilla conflict. And that was before they even met them for the first time. If Vanags was in their seat, he knew he would be impressed.

The black lad, Rollins, then stepped up with a nod from Perez.
"What all y'all need to do now is gather all your equipment and load it up on your bird. We need to erase every trace we were ever here. Come morning time when those shore guns are still roaring and their pioneers ain't reported back, they'll probably send someone to come check. I'd also recommend you fish whatever you can off of our fallen Russian friends. You'll probably be needin' it a lot more than they will. Let's go, people!"

At Rollins' word, the soldiers disbursed. Some went to collect their mounted guns, while others carefully recovered what mines the Mekhs didn't set off. Many, however, took advantage of the ripe pickings the fallen Mekh soldiers could yield.
"Take any engagement rings or wallets, and I'll shoot you myself!" Valdis grumbled. Enemy they may have been, they were still soldiers much like themselves, and they deserved this much respect in death. Honor was hard to come by on the modern battlefield, yet the Balts prided themselves in it.

Most of them scavenged whatever useful supplies that could be found, not peppered with ChemRail rounds. This usually amounted to medical supplies and field rations. Liedskalniņš, however, was toting a large 6P89 heavy rifle, picked off the group's heavy trooper.
"Look at this piece! Ivan must be compensating for something, right guys?"
This prompted laughter from his men.
"Well, it's ours now! I wanna see what this big mother can do at the range..."

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Brinkmeyer casually chirped. "MAF standard-issue firearms are microchipped. Unless you want a band of angry Spetsnaz banging down your door, I'd leave the guns..."
With that, the Corporal's expression shifted from merry to concerned. After looking the weapon over one last time, he quickly dropped it and jolted away from it, as though the rifle were diseased.
"Settle down, Corporal!" Rollins chuckled as he walked up to Liedskalniņš. "Just 'cause it's got a tracker doesn't mean it's gonna bite!"

As the men finished scavenging and loading up, Vanags called the skyranger back. All in all, he was content with what he saw tonight. This was definitely one of the best victories he had ever seen in his long career. It gave him hope for the future - maybe the Russians could be beaten back.
For now, he was just eager to get the Frenks back to Lubāns and see if Perez really could get them that R&R. If he was lucky, he might have been able to see Marek and Gloria again. One last time, before the government fell and he was to retreat to the bush.
His thoughts longingly lingered on the prospect...
NEW FRENCO EMPIRE

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Plutocratic Evil Empire™ situated in a post-apocalyptic Decopunk North America. Extreme PMT, yet socially stuck in the interwar/immediate post-war era, with Jazz music and flapper culture alongside nanotechnology and Martian colonies. Tier I power of the Frencoverse.


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Ex-Nation

Postby Lunar Union » Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:04 pm


Image 15KM EAST OF RIGA
JUNE 22ND, 2132, 20:35 EET


The sky low over the treetops began to ripple, as if somebody had thrown a stone into calm water, optical lensing distortions persisting for but a moment before disspating. A charcoal-black craft passed overhead in silence, the only indicators of its presence two circles of purple light - exhaust from its twin toroidal plasma-engines, one mounted at the end of each wing. They hummed a peculiar tone, only a little louder than the forest's rustling.

The engines pitched gradually forward as the craft approached a small clearing by a country road, bringing it to an eventual halt. Arrays of sensors under its nose scanned the area, and found nothing to be out of the ordinary; they were alone. The transport came, finally, to a total stop in the sky, hanging there perfectly still for a moment, then descending. The engines' hum grew louder as the exhaust grew dimmer and the ground began to be bathed in purple glow. Its landing gear came to touch the dirt as the side-doors slid backward, spilling a dim red light onto the ground from within.

Six figures disembarked, all clad in similar matte black power armour, very light and sleek and very unlike most power armor in design, large bulky backpacks attached to a frame at its rear. It offered little protection compared to heavier power armor, useful primarily against shrapnel, lower-power rounds, and for its integrated exoskeleton; but its mobility and agility were excellent, and protection was a more than acceptable compromise given the intended role. Instead of electric motors, arrays of biotechnological analogues to muscles - far thinner and more powerful than their biological counterparts - weaved between the armour and skintight suit worn underneath. Their heads were likewise covered, by helmets, arrays of sensors, breathing masks, and opaque visors. Several scanned the surrounding area with their peculiar rifles, optics dimly glinting in the red light that silhouetted them.

A sound like thunder resonated from the distance, coupled with brief flashes on the horizon beyond the forests.

While the others established that they truly were alone, the group's second-in-command slid open his visor with a pressurized hiss, and with the tap of a finger, activated a holographic projector on his wrist. A small map of the local area and topography hovered above the projector, though it emitted no light. The twist of another switch lit it just well enough to see.

"Half a click south." He indicated down the road.

With a hand signal from the commander, their transport's doors slid shut, and its engines began again spooling up in preparation for returning to the sky.

"Alright. Three on each side of the road. Stick to the forest. Make sure to keep good pace and awareness of the environment. And approach the rendezvous point stealthed up. Minayev, Dehart, you two are with Cavell. Wynn, Yant, on me. We're expecting a single truck, so be on the lookout. If anything looks off, we may have to pull out and try again."

She had worked with her second-in-command - "Bat" Cavell, as he was known within SITAR - before; they had returned from a deployment on Mars not long prior, assisting in the handling of a steadily developing insurgency. The others were new to her team.

"You got it, Fitz." he acknowledged, and gestured to the two assigned to go with him. "Fitz" - or, alternatively, "Eve Fitz" - was the captain's own nickname within the organization, following in the norm developed by most other field operatives.

The six figures assumed their respective formations, disappearing from the sight of anyone standing in the road. Noticable optical distortions briefly enveloped them, before the cloaking fields quickly stabilized and they appeared to vanish from sight, the rustling of trees masking their footsteps through the underbrush.

There it was; dark and showing no signs of life, but its still-warm engine was easily picked up on thermals - a Baltic military truck, uparmored by the fitting of panels around the cab and rear compartment. The commander noticed two silhouettes leaning against a nearby tree, one of them revealed by the moonlight to be wearing the uniform of a Latvian field intelligence officer.

"Raven!" She called out, approaching slowly from behind and maintaining distance, weapon intently raised.

"Snipe." Came the correct answer.

The lunar commander's gloved hand shook the Latvian officer's as she raised her visor. Her helmet depressurized with a brief hiss.

"Lieutenant Zvirbulis." He introduced himself.

"Sergeant Fitzgerald." She reciprocated, throwing her laser rifle over her shoulder and resting it there. It was a different model from that issued to the Espatiers, though its basic systems were largely the same, and it mounted a similarly bulky and impressive optics and targeting package. She had, aside from that, attached a flashlight, infrared targeting laser, and foregrip; the rest of the team had modified their own weapons similarly.

"Alright, come on, all of you. It's safe. Let's get out of here." She indicated to her team.

Now that he felt it safe to do so, the Lieutenant removed a cigarette from one of his pockets and lit it; he offered Fitzgerald one too, and she accepted, removing the breathing mask that covered the lower half of her face and allowing it to hang from her collar. The man that had been with the Lieutenant opened one of the doors to the cab, and climbed in, apparently impatient to be going.

"We'd best be on our way. Wouldn't want to keep the Colonel waiting." Remarked the Lieutenant as the Sergeant lifted herself up and into the back of the truck. He followed. There were several other men there, armed heavily - just in case something really had gone wrong, she supposed.

The city in the distance thundered again.

Cavell was the last to climb in, raising his visor and removing the breathing mask like the rest of the team had done; the gear was for operations, and uncomfortable to wear when unnecessary. When worn, the breathing mask - covering the lower half of one's face - would form an airtight seal with the visor. Something of an unconventional design, but it meant that one could be used without the other; the visor did still protect the eyes and displayed a HUD, and the mask could be similarly useful. Together, the two pieces of gear formed a proper environment suit, capable of operating in conditions ranging from CBRN contamination to hard vacuum.

Fitzgerald noticed a few of the Latvians eyeing her or her gear - seeing something like it wasn't an everyday occurence, after all, she supposed - and remarked something among themselves, again in Latvian. The Lieutenant offhandedly made some remark too, his tone of voice suggesting he was ordering them to knock it off, before adding something. At that, the man seated closest to it tapped on the cabin's rear window, and the truck's lights and engine came to life.

A rather roundabout way of reaching their ultimate destination, but higher-ups had decided - likely wisely - that the two teams should insert via differing methods. And, of course, they would be there to surprise any attempts to intercept the Colonel en-route to the firebase.
Last edited by Lunar Union on Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:35 pm

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN HENDRIK VANAGS.
CURRENT LOCATION: FIREBASE LUBĀNS, AIZKRAUKLE DISTRICT, BALTIC UNION.
TIMESTAMP: 01:00 (LOCAL TIME), 23.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



Arriving back at the base, Hendrik and the Frenks were greeted by Lieutenant-Colonel Veske himself. After getting acquainted to Hendrik's new guests, he turned to the Captain with questioning intent.

"I trust that there were good reasons for being several hours overdue?" he seemed sceptical at first, but quickly lightened up when Hendrik took to explaining the reasons for their delay.

"You gentlemen have a way of making a good first impression," Veske said to the Frenks. "Our intel was suspecting the Ivans might try something of the sort as well, but couldn't pin down the exact locations."

"Just here to help," agent Perez accepted his praise with modesty.

"Well, gentlemen, you are about to get all the opportunities in the world to help our country and people," he spoke. "Captain Urtāns, give our guests a tour around the base, the rest of you lads grab some chow and shut-eye. The next briefing starts at oh-six-hundred."

"Where can we bunk down?" agent Perez enquired.

"Since you are attached to Vanags' platoon, I suppose you should bunk with them. I trust that it won't be a problem?"

"No, not unless somebody makes it a problem," Rollins remarked, directing a glance at Valdis.

While the men got ready to rest, Hendrik was summoned for debrief.

"Captain Vanags," Veske spoke, his other staff officers standing by his side. "Let's hear it."

"Alpha Platoon deployed for VIP rendezvous and extraction by Skyranger on Twenty-Two, Eighteen Hundred-B June Twenty-One Thirty-Two as ordered. We proceeded to the destination along Jaunjelgava - Jelgava - Dobele-Skrunda line at treetop height, avoiding populated areas, and arrived at the target location at nineteen-hundred without incident. After forming a defensive perimeter, we awaited for VIP arrival, and successfully made contact at nineteen forty-five. Following extraction, senior VIP agent Perez provided us with intel on a target of opportunity, namely a platoon-sized Mecharussian combat engineer force pending for Slītere coast to disable our coastal defences in preparation for an amphibious assault. Given the time-sensitive nature and high importance of the target, I made the decision to take a detour and intercept this engineer force. We deployed near the old Slītere lighthouse at twenty-one-hundred, the enemy LZ as predicted by Frenkish intel, and set an ambush. Contact was made at twenty-three-hundred as predicted, the enemy platoon being swiftly eradicated with no survivors. After collecting trophies and potential articles of interest to MILINT, we returned home along the Kolka-Talsi-Tukums-Jelgava-Jaunjelgava line, avoiding contact and landing back in Firebase Lubāns at zero-zero-thirty. According to Agent Perez, our Estonian colleagues on Saaremaa successfully managed to repel a similar airborne landing of saboteurs."

Veske and his officers seemed impressed.

"Captain, you and your boys might just have bought your country another week! Colonel Zunda is coming in from Riga as we speak with another team of ... foreign advisors, he will no doubt want to hear of your exploits in the morning briefing at oh-six-hundred. Feel free to get some rest until then."

Seeing no objection to that, Hendrik returned to find most of his men fast asleep already. The Frenks had found their own corner, conversing quietly as they prepared to bunk down, while others enjoyed an evening meal or cleaned their weapons before sleep.

After taking off his exosuit and hooking its power cell to the charger, he leaned back on his bunk and closed his eyes. The humid cool night air reeked of swamp, and frogs could be heard croaking right under the floorboards. Fortunately, the place was well-equipped with bug zappers, giving Hendrik confidence that mosquitoes would not torment them this night. The distant rumble of war, like far-away thunder reached his ears, and his heart grew faint for but a moment. What would become of this country, his country? What would become of his people, his wife and son?

Before long, Hendrik was asleep. He would dream of Gloria and Marek, of life in a safer, simpler and happier world than this one...


FOUR AND A HALF HOURS LATER (05:30)...
APPROX. 5KM OFF THE COAST OF SLĪTERE, BALTIC UNION.


Son, if you ever have to fight against them, give them no quarter, no matter what the brass will say! These guys don't give a damn if you will cut them up afterwards. They only care about hurting you, come hell or high water, and as long as they do that, they will die happily. They fight like madmen, and that is what makes them so dangerous.

Sometimes they will respond better to an act of kindness than an act of terror. But make no mistake - they will always see you as the enemy, and treat you accordingly. The same man who will invite you into his house in gratitude for a favour one day will have no qualms about shooting you in the back the next day. Our brass failed to account for that, and paid the price...


"Get ready, boys! We deploy in sixty!"

The bellowing of the platoon sergeant distracted a certain Private Afanasy Masorin from his recollections. He shuddered in the gelid wind as the Zubr II transports thundered towards the land of the Balts. Many a story had been shared of the Baltic Union, particularly among the veterans of the first two Baltic campaigns. None of them were encouraging.

If Afanasy's own father was to be believed, the natives would fight for every inch of their land. They always appeared at the least expected of places, striking where it hurt the most and being long gone by the time the Mekhs could muster a proper response.

The command had made their point of impressing that upon the raw recruits, evidently keen not to repeat the mistakes of the past. The homes of the civilians were off limits unless there was reasonable suspicion of there being an ambush or weapons stash. The native womenfolk were likewise off-limits, except in the rather unlikely event that they showed initiative themselves. Spits and insults were to be taken in dignified silence, force to be used only when engaged. Directives of Army General Anton Marilov, the single most experienced commander with these Balts.

If the intel was any good, the native coastal defences should have been cleared by now. Afanasy remained sceptical of the official intel, seeing how badly their plots often seemed to backfire. So far, however, he had no reason to doubt the field reports. In spite of the drunken ravings of his late father, the afore-dreaded Baltic coast hardly seemed so terrifying after all, merely a stretch of sand and forest. The marine demolition teams had taken care of the coastal batteries by now, and intel reported this area to be sparsely populated and lightly defended. The glorious Motherland was making steady progress in its conquest, and the war was expected to be over by the end of the month.

"And here I was, thinking this would be some sort of D-Day...." his buddy Miloshenko remarked.

"We're not on the coast yet," Afanasy remarked.

"Don't see why that would be a problem," Miloshenko chuckled. "So far they haven't even fired a single shot. The flyboys and the Navy must have gotten them good."
True enough, the Baltic Fleet amphibious assault group had suffered relatively little casualties thus far, facing only moderate harassment from the Baltic Delfin and Manta assault boats on their way to here. The strange boats seemed to leap from the water like dolphins and were spectacular to watch. As previous anecdotes attested, however, they were easily repelled when facing any serious firepower.

"My old man fought them back in his day," Afanasy remarked. "These guys are fond of setting traps and hitting you when you least expect it."

"Ease up, sourpuss!" his friend chuckled. "Surely even THEY must have the sense to quit a fight they cannot win by any means!"

"If there's one thing about the Balts that my dad had to say, it's that they don't know when to quit..."

"Thirty seconds!" the lieutenant in charge of their outfit bellowed. "Get ready!"

The men prepared themselves for a quick disembarkation. So far, only the roar of the Zubr's engines could be heard to indicate any military activity. Afanasy stared out to sea, watching the waves roll against the approaching coast as no resistance whatsoever was shown.

"INCOMING! INCOMING!!!"

A terrified scream from the bridge interrupted the silence. An instant later, the point-defence guns roared to action, before Afanasy noticed several white streaks of smoke erupting from the forested coast ahead. Several explosions flashed ahead, their noise barely reaching his ears before his transport was shaken violently by a missile impact.

Before Afanasy could realise anything, he was thrown overboard in the cold water, his damaged transport ploughing into water nose-first and almost doing a front-flip before stopping and starting to sink. Tanks and APCs parked on the main deck flew wildly into the air, crashing into the water randomly with their stunned crews still inside. Another missile impacted hard on the port of his home ship, adding a coup-de-grace to the already-crippled vessel.

The other landing ships next to Afanasy's fared no better, white streaks of missiles erupting from the forests ahead and impacting the ships despite the best efforts of their defence batteries that caused some of them to explode in mid-air. More missiles roared overhead, speeding towards the ships behind, the rumble of explosions telling of their ill fate. Some of them seemed to dive right out of water, kicking up ample steam and smoke before striking their unfortunate targets.

Just as Afanasy came up kicking for air, his eyes caught swells of sea moving at speed towards the following ships of the invasion fleet, now desperately attempting to dodge the missiles. Moments later, curiously-shaped attack boats erupted from these swells of water, firing missiles towards the evading defenders at close range. Before their point-defence systems could react, the rockets struck to devastating effect, tearing massive holes into their targets. Gliding a neat circle around their victims, the attack boats started to pepper the survivors jumping overboard with well-aimed autocannon fire. Missiles roared in from further in the sea, coming from the Baltic Fleet battlecruisers, only to impact harmlessly on the water as the attack boats dove to safety. The marines in the water cheered as one late submarine was struck by a missile, disintegrating into a plume of water, smoke and debris.

Despite this small victory, it still left the men in the freezing water half a kilometre from the coast. As they neared the beach, a sudden torrent of gun and mortar fire from the forest made their approach even harder. Intel had expected it to be random and light, but this fire was anything but random and light. Men were cut down with alarming precision, concealed marksmen taking down officers and NCOs first, leaving the survivors a disorganised rabble. The cruisers and destroyers out in the sea began to shell the coast furiously, but with so many of their own men struggling towards the beach desperately, the fire was largely ineffectual. Although a handful of amphibious APCs made it to the beach, well-aimed AT fire destroyed or disabled most of them in short succession. Their flaming wrecks did serve to provide at least some semblance of cover for the survivors swimming out on the shore, but as they crowded behind them, the defending Balts were quick to single these spots out for mortar shelling. Struggling to stay afloat, Afanasy saw an entire squad disintegrate into a shower of red mist and shreds of flesh as a mortar shell crashed into their midst.

A thundering explosion roared in from out in the sea, prompting Afanasy to look back. A plume of fire, smoke and debris loomed over the horizon, roughly where one of the Baltic Fleet battlecruisers was supposed to be. A handful of Baltic attack craft could be seen hopping through the waves on their way back, diving intermittently with missiles and railcannon shells in hot pursuit.

Struggling towards the coast, Afanasy felt his strength fail him as he repeatedly tried to reach for the ground beneath only to fail. The gunfire grew more intense, bullets and flechettes whizzing overhead and striking men, who expired with a curt groan, and remained floating lifelessly afterwards. An approaching ekranoplane ploughed violently into the water and disintegrated after being struck by a missile. A Zubr hovercraft snapped in twain after one struck it square in the middle as it tried to make an evasive turn. Someone had made a big mistake indeed.

Even for the few hovercraft that made it to the coast in one piece, the ordeal was far from over. Missiles kept streaking out from the coastal forest, slamming into ships and tanks alike, reducing both to flaming wreckage. The few Mekh tanks that managed to roll on the beach were soon overwhelmed by the volume of fire pouring at them from the forest lining the coast.

"EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!!" was the last command Afanasy heard before a thunderous crash exploded through his ears. He turned his head to witness his sinking home ship disintegrate into a ball of fire – no doubt courtesy of a missile from one of those attack boats.

A jolt of pain numbed his mind as a whizzing flechette pierced Afanasy's left shoulder. Desperate, he struggled towards a floating piece of wreckage. Bodies floated in the sea all around him, the waves beginning to assume a shade of pink. With his last ounce of strength, the young lad clenched onto the floating fragment and played dead, hoping the Balts on the beach would take no interest in him. If he made it to the beach alive at all, this was going to be a tough mission.


ELSEWHERE, AT 08:48...
OFFICE OF PRESIDENT SPIRIDON ENGALYCHEV, CENTRAL DISTRICT, NEW LENINGRAD.


"The first reports after the jamming phase came in through the BattleNet twenty minutes ago. The ground invasion in the east is going according to plan. Armoured battalions in conjunction with advance attacks by airborne infantry have seized control of Abrene, much of Latgale and have proceeded to assault Vilnius and Rēzekne, with the Sixth Shock Army Corps having crossed the border and commenced full-scale deployment. The 31st Naval Infantry Regiment has successfully landed in northern Estonia, seizing control of Rakvere and trapping three Baltic infantry battalions outside of Narva, with the Eighth Shock Army Corps due to arrive there by the evening. The Third Shock Army Corps is moving to assist with the siege of Vilnius, with the city expected to fall by the end of the month. Tallinn, Riga and Klaipeda are all undergoing heavy aerial bombardment from the Ninth, Eleventh and 28th Strategic Bomber Wings respectively. Tactical bomber and interdictor squadrons continue to harass Baltic supply lines and key installations nationwide. However, the 27th Naval Infantry Regiment has suffered heavy casualties during its landing at Slītere, with two whole companies being wiped out. The Baltic Fleet, which moved to deliver and support the regiment, has lost two Yarostnyy-class attack ekranoplanes, three Varyag-class destroyers and amphibious assault ship Admiral Vakulinchuk, with battlecruiser Admiral Gurlukovich taking heavy damage. So far, the heaviest fighting is centred around Vilnius and Rēzekne."

Imran, you crazy bastard, I hope to the gods you're alright...

So went the thought pattern of General Marilov as he finished explaining the present Mecharussian strategic situation. He stood in an immaculately decorated office, an elaborate Mekh Winged Star emblem hanging over the oaken double doors and gilded watercolour paintings of well-dressed, highly prominent officials decorating the white walls. Before the General, staring out the vast window allowing the morning sun to penetrate the office, was a figure in a crimson-red three-piece suit, a brown flat-top hairstyle on his head. He turned to reveal dark blue, solid triangles in his night-black eyes, the mark of the Reasoning Machine.

"It is good to see that our military has made excellent progress so far," spoke President Spiridon Engalychev. His deep, resonant voice twanged with refined sophistication amidst the gentle machined ring so typical of his kind, allowing him to convey his tone with force and authority.

"A shame about the casualties suffered by the Baltic Fleet, considering I like to present myself as a perfectionist," Engalychev said with quasi-indifference. "I will be sure to send Admiral Badanov my commiserations for the loss of his vessels."

"Perfectionist, you say..." Marilov mumbled under his breath.

"Is there a problem?" Engalychev enquired with a querying look.

"If I'm going to be perfectly honest, Mister President – if you were a perfectionist, you wouldn't have picked a fight with the Balts."

"And why is that?"

"As you know, I have fought them before. And let me tell you this: there aren't a more stubborn and defiant people alive. Their dogged determination and suicidal disregard for personal safety cannot be matched anywhere else in the world. Not even by the Frenks."

"Then you have quite obviously not acquainted yourself with the Government's latest weapon, General Marilov," Engalychev countered.

"You won't defeat them by simply throwing weapons at them. It didn't work the last two times, and it won't work this time."

At that moment a shrill chirp sounded twice-fold from Engalychev's desk.

"Mister President, your nine o'clock has arrived," a feminine robotic voice spoke through the intercom.

"Ah, I was just about to say that she will be here shortly," Engalychev remarked, before pressing the button on the intercom. "Send them in."

The double doors parted. The first figure to enter wore a hood and skirt-cape of deep, piercing crimson over a suit of custom-forged black and silver armour. The woman's youthful countenance was draped in death-white synthetic skin, her machined Asiatic eyes surrounded by gunmetal-grey eyeliner tailored alike the wings of an eagle. Each metallic stride that she took towards the president and the general was in flawlessly equal distance from one another. A male companion followed her in, dressed in a dark blue suit of similar make to Engalychev's, with eyes to match and a blond flat-top to crown his almost muroid face.

"General Marilov, allow me to introduce Crimson Seraph, the Supreme Leader's own walking doomsday device."

"A woman in a red cloak, with a name like a superhero..." the old general scowled. "Why do I get the feeling this is just gonna be another of Madam Katenka's weird enterprises?"

"She is no mere populist show-piece, General," Engalychev stated. "Colonel Yelena Trotskaya will be commanding the Drakon Brigade's Special Purpose Force 'Vympel'."

"It will be a pleasure to work alongside your soldiers, General Marilov." The woman's voice was an icicle-sharp, light Bashkir alto. Every word flowed from her night-dark lips like water, every syllable enunciated with sniperlike precision.

"I gather you'll be deploying to the Latgale region alongside the airborne battalion there, then."

"Indeed, General. You need not fear any potential interruption of your operations. Our missions may intersect, but much of my work will be behind enemy lines. For the time being, at least."

"I'm not so much worried about you poking your nose in as I am about the headlines. The world has already made a laughingstock of the Anti-Sex Lobby."

"It may please you to know two things, General. The first is that you will be the first to know if any interference is necessary. The second is that I have no intention of taking any examples from the Popular Front on..." The pupils of her deep burgundy eyes dilated. "...personal matters."

"I am indeed happy to know that you'll seek my permission before interfering in our business," Marilov's expression remained emotionless as he crossed his right arm over his left. His right index finger bore a jewelled gold ring.

"If I may interrupt the ... tension for but a moment," Engalychev stated, "the good Colonel and I have paramount business to attend to."

"That we do," Trotskaya enunciated. "It was a pleasure to meet you, General."

Marilov nodded in acknowledgement, and proceeded toward the exit.

"Whoever taught her pickup lines needs to be shot..." he could be heard mumbling to an unseen figure on the office's exterior before the doors closed.

"First of all, Colonel – I do believe I have yet to congratulate you on your recent promotion," Engalychev began. "It is clear that you are proving yourself a worthwhile enforcer for the Supreme Leader."

"Your kind words are most welcome, sir. Rest assured that He fully expects me to repay His investment into my potential."

"And what better opportunity to do so than our third conflict against the Baltic Union. I trust you know well that this will not be another of your adventures into the wastes. The Balts are no mere gangsters nor wasteland raiders. You are fighting a real war now, Miss Trotskaya."

"I am perfectly aware, sir. The Supreme Leader has gone to great lengths to impress that particular point. For that reason I have spent the past week assembling a team of operatives to assist me in my operations within the Union. For the purposes of this mission, everyone in Vympel Group goes by codenames based on gemstones. In ranking order – Ruby, Onyx, Carnelian, Tourmaline, Emerald, Sapphire, Amethyst, Diamond, Zircon."

"Introduce them to me."

"Onyx is Major Vadim Churyumov. He will command high-intensity field operations, code-flagged Green and Orange. I will take command of field operations code-flagged White, Blue, Yellow, Red and Black. In other words, the Major will be the face who conducts the majority of interactions with the ground troops."

"I see. So what of Carnelian and Tourmaline?"

"Captains Dmitri Tikhonov and Vladimir Zhdanovich, our support officer and sniper respectively. Tikhonov will oversee the procurement of assets necessary for the success of our operations, as well as assist in the conduct of said operations as a field engineer. Zhdanovich's purpose is more ... hands on. It will be his task to conduct assassinations from distance, as well as provide long-range fire support."

"And the rest?"

"Lieutenant Stefans Vējonis, Sergeants Gleb Shimko and Roman Yurievich, and Valentin Shostakovich. Vējonis and Shimko will supply our team with fresh intelligence, as well as acquire targets of special interest for processing by Yurievich, one of our investigative operatives."

"Processing..." Engalychev repeated the euphemistic term back to himself.

"Yurievich will also, in tandem with our cyberwarfare specialist Beholder – who cannot be identified for security reasons – process intel that comes in and supply it to us. I and Churyumov will then decide whether the intel is worth acting on."

"And ... what of this fellow?" the president gestured to Yelena's companion. "He does not look much like a soldier nor an operator to me."

"That's 'cause I'm neither, Mister President," the blue-suited man introduced himself, his voice quick and sharp. "Valentin Shostakovich, resident expert in international and military law, at your service..."

"Rest assured that the role of Mister Shostakovich is no less important to our success than the others thus described," Trotskaya explained. "It need not be said that some of our operations will cross legal barriers, and will almost certainly irk the bureaucrats in New Geneva if they become aware of it. It is the job of Mister Shostakovich to assess the risk of our operation and/or operatives being compromised, and make preparations for such an eventuality by compiling a defence case. Mister Shostakovich will also oversee negotiations to exchange prisoners, whether our own or the enemy's."

"I have heard your name before, Mister Shostakovich..." Engalychev mused, his hand stroking his chin.

"Ah, you may know me as the man who presented the case against Article Twenty-Nine at the Sofia Conference in 2104!" Shostakovich stated.

"I remember it well now!" Engalychev affirmed, optics flashing with delight. "I was among the same delegation that went there."

"Most of the delegation were Reasoning Machines – in fact, I believe I was just one of two humans who went."

"All of it to make a point to the Empire. The day that Article Twenty-Nine: On Killer Robots was shot down in flames was a good day for all machine-kind."

"And to think the Frenks fancy themselves the champions of freedom and justice..." Shostakovich winced and scoffed.

"Quite," Engalychev concluded the exchange, his attention returning to Yelena. "Now, Colonel – I trust that you and the soldiers accompanying you will be deploying aboard the Neustrashimyy today?"

"This afternoon," she affirmed. "We will deploy in teams of three, with Beholder and Shostakovich staying behind at the Tver aerodrome. Ruby Team, under my command, will deploy to south-eastern Estonia, where we will personally introduce ourselves to Colonel General Shuvalov. Onyx Team will deploy to Rēzekne. It is my understanding that Spear Company under a Captain Imran Rudnitsky is leading the assault there. Our current objectives are to survey the region, locate high-value targets, and intercept them before they can retreat. If necessary, however, our missions will encompass the entire Union. However, we will need to requisition additional personnel and resources before our area of operations expands. This is where a detachment from the Drakon Brigade will enter into our mission, attached to the Eighth Shock Army."

"I expect you might find your area of operations expanding sooner than you may think," Engalychev commented. "General Shuvalov will give you the details, though you will soon learn that the amphibious assault on Slītere by the 27th Naval Infantry Regiment has proven to be a complete disaster."

A smirk jumped onto Trotskaya's lips.

"I would have expected the complete disasters to materialise later in the war, not at the start."

"Your sentiment is shared by the rest of the brass. I do not doubt that Shuvalov will want to know why Slītere has proven a challenge – and that you will not want to disappoint him."
Last edited by Blakullar on Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ex-Nation

Postby New Frenco Empire » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:21 am


Image AGENT JONATHON ROLLINS

FIREBASE LUBĀNS, AIZKRAUKLE DISTRICT, BALTIC UNION
June 23rd, 2132


"...and these are the latrines." Captain Urtāns motioned at an open doorway. There were only two occupants inside, a young, frightened-looking soldier in fatigues on his hands and knees, scrubbing the floors with a toothbrush and a hard-looking Sergeant Major towering over him. The rookie must have gotten on the old-timer's bad side. Humorous as the sight may have been, all Rollins could think about were the dirt floors and the lack of doors on the toilets and showers.

"That's about everything, I guess." Urtāns momentarily pondered. "You lot will bunk with Vanags' platoon in Barracks Tent B, over on the pier near the helipad. Might be a tight squeeze with all of you. I can look into alternative accommodations for the ladies in your group if you'd prefer..."

"That won't be necessary, Captain." Brinkmeyer's eyes briefly glanced up from her mission holopad (which she gave almost constant attention to since arriving) with an amused grin. "Girls can't be SOG if they're not willing to play with the boys from time to time. Captain Qiao and I will take special care to make sure the toilet seats are down..."
"If you say so..." Urtāns obviously didn't agree, but it wasn't his place to argue with the Frenks. "Now, if there's nothing else..."

"One last thing - as is obvious at this point, we are not lone wolves. This is an Entente-wide effort spread over the entirety of the Union." Brinkmeyer quickly stated before the Captain could depart. "We might need to make use of some not-insignificant on-station resources to ensure the overall mission proceeds smoothly. Communications arrays, weapon stockpiles, intelligence assets..."
"The Colonel has already sent word to the appropriate stations and personnel." Urtāns plainly replied. "Lubāns isn't much, but you have free rein of all facilities and resources on base, with the exception of any executive-level materials."

"Fair enough." Perez remarked. "You're dismissed, Captain. Inform Colonel Veske we will consult our assets and prepare a report. He can expect it on his desk tomorrow at noon."
"Thanks for making us feel warm and at home..." Rollins butted in with a grin. "A man could get used to all this...luxury."
Urtāns merely grunted in acknowledgement before leaving them behind, eager to rejoin his men.

Urtāns was right - Lubāns definitely wasn't much. Just a bunch of tents, prefabs and fortifications thrown down on whatever dry ground that could be found in the middle of a shitty swamp. He found himself missing their last assignment with each passing minute. He supposed, however, that he shouldn't have gotten too comfortable on that mission. Parisian hotels were certainly not the norm as far as SOG operational accomodations went...

With the Captain's departure, the four Frenks found themselves alone on the pier leading to Vanags' barracks tent.
"Brinkmeyer, start working on that 'report' I mentioned." Perez nonchalantly ordered. "I don't care what you have to dig into, find us something worthwhile."
"Hmm...red bullseye or green viper?" Brinkmeyer pondered for a moment before shaking her head with a sigh. "Oh, why do I even have to ask? Red bullseye it is..."
"Qiao, you've got the night shift." The grizzled commander turned to the enigmatic violet-eyed woman. "Take to the trees. Once everyone in Vanags' unit is accounted for, make sure no one comes knocking in the night."

Without a word, the graceful agent nodded and quickly disappeared into a nearby treeline. If Rollins knew Qiao, and he certainly did, her eye would not leave her scope for the next six hours, at least. God help anyone who tried to enter the tent that wasn't one of them or Vanags' boys.

"Rollins, you're free for about the next half-hour." Perez stated. "Take a walk. Get used to the place for us. And then..."
"...you'll meet up with the Lunar team, who has an estimated time of arrival of oh-one-forty-three hours." Brinkmeyer casually finished, her eyes darting back and forth across her pad, undoubtedly double-checking whatever timeframe she was using for reference. "And do be sure to be a good sport, Rollins. One of the Baltic Colonels is with them. Colonel Zunda, I think."

"Wait...the moonies are here? Right now?" Rollins blinked.
"No. They'll be here in twenty-seven minutes, thirteen seconds." Brinkmeyer flippantly retorted.
"I'm trusting you to point them in the right direction." Perez continued. "And for god's sake, get on that Colonel's good side. All the Imperial intel and Lunar tech in the solar system won't be enough if we can't earn the trust of the higher-ups here. I'll see you in the brief tomorrow morning."

With that, Perez and Brinkmeyer retreated into the tent, leaving the young agent to his own devices.
"Oh, and the codeword is 'Kails Ērglis' if you need to get anywhere!" Brinkmeyer called out to him before she disappeared inside.

"Pfft. Well damn." Rollins blew to himself. "Alright Jon, time to work those wily charms of yours, I guess..."




A group of about a dozen or so young soldiers, probably Tier Twos pushed into active service despite incomplete training due to the circumstances, congregated around a pair of comrades, eagerly awaiting the winning sound. Judging by the excited shouting and enthusiasm over what was essentially a silly party game, there was probably alcohol and gambling involved. That, or they just really took their gun games seriously.

When Rollins first arrived in the Union several days before meeting up with Vanags, he recalled passing through the outskirts of a village and witnessing this very same game being played by a group young teenagers. The idea, of course, was to see who could field strip and properly reassemble a rifle in the fastest amount of time. This particular game was probably encouraged (hell, probably even invented) by their elders to encourage military preparedness and all that jazz. Most players seemed to favor the old Imperial M19, which was as common as any other weapon in Baltic arsenals, as well as being very simple to strip and put back together. To top it all off, once the round was chambered, the M19's signature "ping" would indicate the weapon was in battery and ready to fire - making a very obvious signal towards the winner.

And the rifle's "ping" indeed sounded off, signaling the winner. The crowd cleared a bit to reveal a young woman wearing Lithuanian fatigues.
"That's the fifth one!" One of the spectating soldiers shouted in Latvian. "How is she so good at this?"

"I told you!" She retorted, annoyed. "My father was the best armorer in the village, so he got to work on all the fancy Oldie and Imperial guns! I know the Ringer like the back of my hand!"
"Ringer", Rollins assumed, must have been their nickname for the M19, presumably because of its signature sound.

He couldn't help but grin a bit at the sight. Women weren't exactly common in the Union's militaries, especially at the higher tiers. It was good to see this one was prospering. He always did have a thing for underdogs...

However, a hushed, excited laugh took the agent's attention from the game. He turned to see three young soldiers, two Latvians and an Estonian. The Estonian and one of the Latvians must have been early twenties, while the other Latvian couldn't have been a day over eighteen. They were gathered around the collapsed tree just a few yards behind him, sharing cigarettes and interesting conversation...

"So that's what they look like in-person. I only ever saw them on those old American army posters from before the Sundering..." The Estonian nodded, covertly glancing in Rollins' direction.
"A couple years ago, I saw one. I think he was with some Oldies on state business." The younger Latvian stated. "Do you...do you think he's a savage? Like those ones in the jungles we learned about in school?"
"No, you idiot! Look at him! He's got clothes on! And a ChemRail, like the Tier Ones! Pa told me the Empire took over Africa like forty, thirty years back and now all the black people are as advanced as the rest of the Frenks!" The older Latvian impatiently retorted.

It then occurred to him - they were talking about him.

"Come to think of it, I think the CO once said the Emperor was a black..." The young Latvian pondered.
"Who cares, pa always said to never trust a black! Before I was born, he went to West Africa as security in ol' Colonel Tamm's expedition to the outside, and they said all they did was swindle and cheat him every chance they got! They kicked him out of every pub he went to!" The older one snarled, sparing a brief, hateful glare at the Frenk from his spot.

"Hmm. Was your Pa aware he can't pay for beer in most other places in the world with two sacks a' corn and a pregnant goat?" The agent responded in clear, crisp Latvian with only the slightest hint of an accent, his malicious grin spreading from one ear to the other.

The young soldiers' eyes practically grew to the size of dinner plates when they realized the subject of their conversation could understand them.

"Shit. I, uh-uh..." The older Latvian boy stuttered nervously, obviously somewhat intimidated at the agent with his powerfully-built frame and advanced rifle.
"Settle down, I ain't mad at ya - hell, serves me right for agreeing to come to this backwater. What the hell did I expect?"

The older Latvian and the Estonian seemed somewhat offended at Rollins' flippant disregarding of the nation. The only thing stopping them from fighting back was probably the Chemrail slung across his back, which signified he was probably someone important. However, the younger boy couldn't help but letting loose a slight chuckle, drawing the ire of his comrades.

"You guys mad? I didn't mean anything by it. I know it's a sensitive time, but come on now! I'm on y'alls side!" Rollins halfheartedly tried to calm them down, chuckling all the while. "Ah, I see. You're both upset that your friend has a thicker skin than you do!"
He turned his attention the youngest of the group. "Look, I'll settle this right now. You love your country, kid?"
"I-I do, but..."
"But...?"
"I just...just want to leave for a bit, you know? I want to travel and see the world!" The soldier admitted, much to the astonishment of his mates. "I just...I don't want to serve in the army and work on the farm every day until I die. The Union isn't the world! I just want to go to the Empire, see one of those big cities. See one of those open-ocean aquariums I hear they have in Austronesia. Visit Luna, see space...that kind of thing."

"Why go visit the outside?" The Estonian lad barked. "You remember what the Governor-Colonel said; it's all dread and hypocrisy out there!"
"Enough of that. If your buddy's got the wanderlust, he's got it. What's your name, kid?"
"I, uh...Private Kulda, uh, sir!"
"You ain't gotta 'sir' me - I'm just a volunteer." Rollins shook his head. "Name's Frank Malcolm. Just flew in from La Reina. From the Empire."
"La Reina?" Kulda blinked. "I remember that one from school - it's the biggest city in the world!"
"Well, sorta." The "volunteer" scratched his chin as he pondered. "I think Shanghai's got more people, but it's probably all those nasty shanty mega-towns they got growing all over the place. La Reina is the place to go if you want to see a proper city..."

Volunteer. That was his cover story, alright.

It wasn't uncommon for foreign volunteers to serve in the Union's forces, especially during times of turmoil. Most were covert ON plants or zealous Zapadoslavs, though the odd Entente citizen sometimes turned up. Most Western volunteers were typically given minor support roles and shoved to the side with the Tier Fours, as to not get in the way of the proper Balt troops. However, those that came from military backgrounds themselves or hailed from nations with a strong "cultural" military presence (such as the Empire or the Commonwealth, where conscription and lifelong military preparedness was still at least somewhat a part of life) were welcomed into the mainstream armed forces, such as the Threes or the Twos, maybe even the Ones provided they were capable of keeping up.

Jonathon Rollins - or, rather, "Frank Malcolm" - was one such volunteer. Former Ranger who fell in with some batshit neo-Luddite cult. Cult got broken up by IDISA over terroristic threats and "anti-government activity". Narrowly avoiding a forty-five caliber haircut from some state overcoat in the back-alleys, Malcolm went abroad, looking for any chance he could possibly get at aiming his impressive combat skills against the Mechanocracy and their legions of robo-men.

He had to admit - it was a fun tale. One he had quite a bit of fun thinking up. He wasn't entirely sure he could play the part of professional thespian if anyone pried too deep, but he supposed that would be a problem for later.

"Alright, you lot!" A voice boomed from the side. Rollins turned to see a stern-faced Sergeant, watchpiece in hand, approaching the three boys while ignoring him completely. "Your break was supposed to be over twenty-two seconds ago! Back to your posts, now!"
"Yes sir, sorry sir!" The three immediately darted to their feet, snuffing their cigarettes out on their boots as they did so. Without so much as a word, the three retrieved their rifles from behind the tree (the older boys had OTs-70Ms, while Kulda had a heavily-modified pre-war 416) and returned to their posts.
"Hey, Private Kulda..." Rollins called to the departing young soldier.
The soldier didn't stop, no doubt out of fear of the Sergeant's boot, but he did glance over his shoulder.
"I'll see you around, alright?"

Rollins could see the lad smile widely before they turned the corner of a prefab, disappearing from view.

However, as the young soldiers returned to their former duties, a commotion began to stir. All the young Tier Twos in the area began darting up if they were sitting, and wrapping their hands around rifles if they were standing. The Lithuanian field-stripping champion was in the middle of a game, and Rollins swore on his life, he saw her put that M19 back together in three seconds before replacing the empty mag and darting off in another direction with the rifle in her hand.

He didn't think anything good was happening. Were they being attacked? According to the intel, Lubāns was perhaps the most secure military installation the Union had left. The Mekhs shouldn't have been able to threaten the place. At least not yet...
Rollins nervously swung his Chemrail to his front, cooly wrapping his hands around the grips. It didn't sound like there was any fighting. No gunshots, no explosions, no horrified screaming...

Then it became apparent what was going on.

"Colonel on deck! Colonel on deck!" One of the Tier Twos yelled, running across the base's courtyard.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Another soldier shouted in frustration. "Where the hell is my service cap?"

Oh, good lord...

Rollins couldn't help but laugh to himself. Of course, the Balts would be more terrified of an inspection than actual combat. That didn't surprise him a bit. If only he could them it wasn't an impromptu inspection...
In response to the hurried chaos around him, Rollins returned his Chemrail to its resting position, casually lit a cigarette and made his way to the road entrance with a hum, where the Colonel (and the Lunar team, apparently) was due.

The main gate to the compound was packed, with Baltic soldiers lining the entrance way for quite a ways, rifles drawn to herald the arrival of the high-ranking Governor-Colonel. They all ignored him, despite his shoving past a few of them. He knew the incoming trucks were due at the motorpool, so he made his way there.
With the Colonel arriving there, an entire squad, led by a junior officer, took up security positions. Two of the guards crossed their rifles at the stairway leading up to service entrance, refusing to allow Rollins passage.

"Oh, we're playin' this game? Alright..." Rollins said to himself in English and sighed. "Kails Ērglis."

The two riflemen seemed confused, but after a moment of hesitation, the officer ordered the guards to stand down and waved him through.
Rollins nodded at the guards before proceeding forward.

After proceeding through a dark utility hallway, he eventually arrived in the motorpool. He timed it just right, as a truck pulled in. As it parked, out poured Baltic troops. Mostly Tier Twos, but there were several Ones among them as well, likely the Colonel's guard detail. However, contrasting the spartan, lightly-equipped Balts were six figures clad in slender, jet-black power armor with laser rifles slung across their shoulders. He wasn't entirely sure of the model's design, but there wasn't any debating it - that was them alright.

He wasn't sure what to expect from the Lunars, but...it definitely wasn't this. Regardless, he'd address it momentarily. His current priority was acknowledging the Colonel...

The last one out was a towering, athletic older man of about fifty. At first, Rollins mistook him for an old Tier One officer, with his physical build, various scars and prosthetics and the "hard" look he carried, but after hearing him be referred to as "Colonel" by one of the retinue, he knew he was his man.

"Colonel Zunda, I take it?" Rollins approached as he addressed the senior officer with a salute. "Agent-Captain Rollins, Special Operations Group, Imperial Intelligence Agency."
"Well met, Captain. I assume you're with them?" The grizzled Colonel returned the salute before waving in the direction of the armored figures.
"Yes, sir. They're the other half of your, uh, 'foreign advisory team'."
"I hear you Imperials have been doing good work. Veske informed me of that impromptu operation near Slītere. Damn fine job."
"Thank you, sir." Rollins respectfully acknowledged.
"Another thing, I grew up being told moonies couldn't fight, but I'll just say I'm glad I had those boys and girls with us on the ride over here." Zunda blew in amazement. "Ran into a bit of trouble on the road. GPS led us straight into one of Ivan's roadblocks. I didn't think it was possible to eliminate an entire Mekh platoon in under a minute. Even my Tier Ones had trouble keeping up! I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship, you agree, son?"

Just then, however, Captain Urtāns arrived.
"Sir!" He saluted before promptly being eased by the Colonel's returned.
"Lieutenant-Colonel Veske is awaiting your arrival in the command center!"

With that Zunda sighed and put a hand on Rollins' shoulder.
"Son, I'll admit, my hopes for this campaign could be better. We're outnumbered and outgunned on every front. It's gonna get real nasty real fast. But I'll tell ya one thing, if we can put enough Ruskie sons of bitches in the ground, I'll die a happy man. And if the Entente gets involved, hell...maybe the Union will come out of this stronger than ever."
"Your wish is our command, sir..." Rollins coyly responded, much to the Colonel's delight.
"I await your reports tomorrow morning, Agents."

With that, Zunda and the rest of the Balts departed from the motorpool, leaving the foreigners to their own devices, Rollins couldn't help but turn to the Lunars with a frown on his face.
"Jesus H Christ..." He remarked as he approached the Lunar delegation, equal parts stupefied and confused. "I can't believe you moonies came dressed like that..."
"Is there a problem?" One of the Lunars remarked, the voice distortion in the mask giving no hint of any accent or anything beyond the fact that its wearer was male.
"Uh, yeah! Secret mission! Incognito!" Rollins twitched in a hush tone, presenting his simple black garb. "Don't y'all think Ivan will start gettin' a bit suspicious if he starts getting reports of a fireteam marauding through the countryside in powered-armor and laser rifles?"
"We come equipped for the job at-hand." The Lunar responded harshly. "Maybe the Empire should consider doing the same..."

"At ease, that's enough." Another faceless Lunar said stepping up to Rollins, the voice revealing the wearer to be female. "The Agent's concerns are legitimate. This isn't just some shadow assault. This is as covert as it gets. Regardless, all proper precautions have been taken. No serial numbers, traceable devices, patches...you needn't worry about the equipment giving our status away, Agent...Rollins, was it?"

"Agent Rollins, mission specialist of Fireteam Golf. Acting Captain in the Grand Imperial Military." He replied.
"Captain Fitzgerald." The Lunar leader remarked, removing her mask, revealing a hard-looking, yet attractive red-headed woman. "SITAR Field Operations. I understand your team contains our command element?"
She spoke in a crisp accent that seemed to blend genteel American Southern and Posh English into one haughty tone - it was Lunar-Anglo, alright.

"Lieutenant-Colonel Perez and Major Brinkmeyer." Rollins nodded as they shook hands. "They're bunked up in a barracks tent with our Tier One security force, led by one Captain Vanags. Real hardass-type, but reasonable enough, and we've given him no reason to, uh...'disagree' with us yet. Colonel Zunda seems nice."
"Bit of a blowhard..." Fitzgerald flippantly blew. "But a good enough officer. Former Tier One, so as you can probably tell, he likes results. We keep giving him results...and I think our mission is going to go just fine."
"Well, with any luck, the Major will have something for us tomorrow." Rollins noted. "So we can keep those results comin' in, ya dig?"
"Oh, I certainly dig..." Fitzgerald nodded, turning to her agents. "Cavell, take Wynn and establish a campsite. Secure, but in the perimeter of the base. I say we make a little place to call our own. The rest of you, proceed to the command center for debriefing. I'll be joining you shortly. Rollins, we'll formally introduce ourselves to the others tomorrow morning."

"Whatever you say, Cap." Rollins acknowledged, turning to leave for the Alpha barracks tent. "But just remember why we're here..."

With a movement of his thumb, Rollins loosened a secret compartment hidden on the inside of his sleeve. The item held in the sleeve casually fell into his palm, positioned in such a manner that only Fitzgerald could reasonably see it. It was a small, obsidian locket-like contraption, shaped like a crude circle. Emblazoned on it was a silver emblem - the Imperial Eagle and the Selenic Harrier, mid-flight, their talons locked together, making them into one.

Without a word, Fitzgerald produced the same black contraption from a hidden hatch on her armor. After the silent ritual, the two returned their trinkets to their former hiding places and departed from one another. No words were spoken, but the two agents each held the exact same grin of satisfaction on their faces...
Last edited by New Frenco Empire on Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
NEW FRENCO EMPIRE

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Blakullar
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Posts: 4506
Founded: Sep 07, 2012
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:51 am

Image
SUBJECT: CAPTAIN HENDRIK VANAGS.
CURRENT LOCATION: FIREBASE LUBĀNS, AIZKRAUKLE DISTRICT, BALTIC UNION.
TIMESTAMP: 06:30 (LOCAL TIME), 23.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).




"Good morning, gentlemen," Colonel Zunda announced himself in the briefing room, "Please welcome our foreign advisory teams from Frenkish Empire and Luna. In the coming weeks these gentlemen will provide invaluable assistance to making the Mekhs' uninvited little stay in our country insufferable. They have already proven themselves useful by feeding our forces intel that enabled them to repel an amphibious assault on Kolka and Sorve, buying Riga an extra week, so I expect all of you to grant them your full cooperation."

"Now, with that said," he continued, pulling a thick, heavy envelope from inside his trenchcoat. "Let's get to the real reason of me being here. In this envelope are contained the orders for Phase Two, clearance level Omega Black, signed by High Marshal himself. To give you an idea of how important they are, I had to carry a thermite charge strapped to my chest and wired to my vitals for the whole of yesterday until I arrived here safely with them. Lieutenant Colonel Veske, Captain Vanags, step forward to authenticate the package!"

The two stepped forward. Security protocol required that top-secret orders be authenticated by three officers with the according clearance level. Besides him as the commanding officer of this firebase, only Vanags as a Tier One have the top-level Omega Black clearance, making he and Veske the only two people present besides the Colonel authorised to authenticate the package.

"The envelope is intact, the seals are unbroken. The package is authentic," Colonel Zunda proclaimed before handing the package for examination by the other two.

"I concur," Veske briefly examined the package and confirmed, handing it to Vanags.

"I concur," Vanags announced and handed it back to the Colonel after examining it and finding no signs of tampering.

With the authenticity formally confirmed, Zunda pulled out a combat knife from his boot and cut the package open. Some of the Frenks and the Moonies looked mildly surprised, though it was hardly a surprise for anyone else. Every Tier One, current or former, had a special fondness for this particular knife. The Colonel was most likely sticking to a habit picked up over twenty years of service in Tier One, to always carry that knife with him even now when the pen had long replaced the ChemRail as his primary weapon.

The Colonel laid out the package's contents on the table before us. Maps, schematics, written orders, all pertaining to the upcoming Phase Two...

The Union's leaders had always been aware that even with arguably the best-trained soldiers in the world, the Union would not be able to hold out against an enemy like the Mechanocracy in a stand-up fight. The national defence plans had therefore been devised accordingly, anticipating and expecting that sooner or later the enemy would gain complete control over national territory. The current phase, the first week or two of fighting, was thus merely a token show of resistance, to give the enemy an impression that they were resisting fiercely, and lull them into a false sense of security when that resistance somewhat predictably ended, making them believe that he had seen the last of them. What the enemy would not realise is that that phase was meant but to buy time for the rest of society, the entire able-bodied population aged thirteen to sixty-five, the time necessary to prepare for the real war, the Phase Two whose general plans the Balts had just received. In all the seventy or so years of the Union's existence, only twice had the Phase Two plans been activated. Not that it surprised Vanags at all, seeing how he was a boy when it happened the last time - but he had certainly hoped to live out his life without seeing them activated again.

The largest of the maps from the package mark various population centres as cores of resistance forces along with the likeliest Mekh supply routes and facilities they might take special interest in securing and safeguarding. In vicinity stood marked potential staging grounds where Tier Ones and Tier Twos were expected to organise resistance bases, secure sites well away from population centres that few outside authorised circles even know about. From these places, it would become their duty to organise and coordinate resistance activities, from acts of civil disobedience and sabotage to ambushes and raids on Mekh convoys, bases and supply stations. The enemy has an overwhelming advantage in just about everything - numbers, firepower and technology - but Phase Two was planned specifically to neutralise all those advantages.

Instead of trying to fight the enemy off at range, we will grab him by the belt, Vanags thought. We will hug him so closely that all his artillery and air power will become useless. We will strike at him in tight places where his numbers and heavy equipment will only be a burden, we will strike him from every direction simultaneously and keep on striking where it hurts the most, every minute of every hour of every day, so that not a second passes when our enemy would not feel us breathing down his neck and our guns pointing at his back from behind every blade of grass. We will harass him from the moment he sets foot on our soil to the moment he leaves it, if he somehow lives long enough to leave, and see to it that he loses all liking for staying here.

"I want all of you to familiarize yourselves with these plans and memorise them to the best of your ability before passing them down to your men according to their clearance levels," Zunda spoke. "Remember that you ought to be able to command two levels above your current commands, and in Phase Two, you might very well find yourselves in charge of a brigade-sized force at the rank of captain. You still have time for now, though, as Phase Two will not be activated sooner than the fall of Riga, and that is not expected to happen for another week - with any luck, maybe even two weeks."

"I understand that this familiarisation order also includes our new ... allies, Colonel?" captain Urtāns suddenly asked. Somehow it didn't occur to anybody earlier that they were examining highly-classified defence plans in the presence of foreign intelligence agents.

"Yes, under order of High Marshal himself, our foreign friends here have also been granted Omega Black clearance level for the duration of their stay. As I said before, I expect your full cooperation with them," Colonel Zunda waved him off, clearly displeased that someone has brought up this technicality; in doing so, the implication was that the Colonel would be capable of such a careless oversight. "Now, with that said, there are matters which still need to be handled before Phase Two is activated. The first order of the day goes, I believe, to Captain Vanags. Lieutenant Colonel Veske, if you please..."

With that, Zunda stepped down. Veske took over to brief the officers present on their respective tasks for today.

"Captain Vanag, your team will be required for a high-value cargo extraction job today. While you were busy in Slītere yesterday, we received a high-priority extraction request from Rēzekne, the remnants of a Tier Two platoon, to be specific. I have a reason to believe they might have something that would be of great interest to MILINTSEC. For now, they have regrouped and rallied up with other Tier Two forces in the city and are holding their ground, but the situation in Rēzekne is deteriorating quickly, so there's no telling for how much longer they can hold their position. This is where your team comes in - you will have to enter the city, recover and extract the HVC, and return it here."

"What's the cargo?" Vanags asked.

"An intact IBP-255/M-series artificially-intelligent combat platform," Veske explained upon noticing Vanags' unfamiliarity with the designation. "One of their combat androids."

Vanags himself had never been very fond of robots. Although he was vaguely familiar with the various android models in Mekh service as far as their capabilities and weaknesses were concerned, he and the guys never bothered to memorise their proper series designations. Instead they would make-do with various unflattering nicknames, among which 'clanker' and 'toaster' would rank among the mildest.

"We've captured their 'droids before," said Vanags. "All they were good for was spare parts for exos. The ones that weren't trashed completely always self-destructed their CPUs upon receiving catastrophic damage. What's the deal with this one?"

"It seems this one hasn't. They have somehow managed to disable it while keeping it's whole CPU and data storage unit intact, which is why I need you and your men to bring it back for closer examination and study."

"If it hasn't fried it's CPU, then it means it will reactivate once the power supply is restored," Vanags objected. "Who knows what that thing will do once that happens - even if it is immobilised, it might still transmit its location and call in for help. I cannot in good conscience compromise the safety of this base by bringing that thing here. Not to mention that we don't have the equipment or the specialists to hack into that machine in this base in any case."

"We do now," Veske stated, pointing at their foreign allies: "That's where our foreign friends here come in. Agent Perez and his team will accompany you on this mission and conduct a preliminary examination of the wreckage to determine if and how it can be safely accessed. Once done, they will first ensure the machine cannot compromise our location or cause any other harm, and then probe it for data. In the very least, we'll have an opportunity to learn how to disable these combat androids without their CPUs self-destructing."

"Right," Vanags nodded without much enthusiasm, "Insertion method?"

"By ground. Mekh air activity is very high near Rēzekne at this time, we cannot afford to risk compromising the base or losing one of our Skyrangers by flying you in. You are free to pick from any ground transports available in the motor pool. The Skyranger will, however, be on standby for emergency exfil and will deliver you to an auxiliary location if necessary."

"Expected opposition?"

"So far we have intel on VDV vanguard elements operating in the outskirts of the city, with mechanized and armoured reinforcements coming from Abrene and Ludza, at least a battalion-strength force. Most of them are currently engaged on the east and southeast sides of the city, but we expect them to attempt flanking and surrounding the city later today. Local forces are under heavy artillery and air bombardment and stretched too thin to hold the city for more than another day or two at most if they are to maintain a safe retreat corridor towards our location. If you manage to avoid contact with the vanguard units or the flanking forces, your team could be in and out before anyone even notices you're there."

"Who is our contact?"

"A Second Lieutenant Zeltiņš of 56th Infantry Battalion and the remnants of his platoon. Rendezvous point - Liberation Boulevard Ninety-three."

"That's right in the centre of town," Vanags stated, having frequented Rēzekne on a sufficient number of occasions to remember. The address was that of the City HQ, located near the square where Mary of Latgale, the city's most familiar landmark, stood.

"Currently the safest place for the HVC to be," Veske explained. "I know it's inconvenient and risky to have you go that deep into the city and back with so many potential ambush sites along the way, but at this time it is really the safest place to store the cargo."

"It's not getting in that bothers me, it's getting back out," said Vanags, "especially with an intact enemy combat android on board. Who knows if that thing doesn't have a tracker or something running even while inactive."

"That's what we'll be there for, Captain," Agent Perez reassured him, though Vanags was not especially convinced.

"Alright. Anything I should know about rules of engagement?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary. You'll be operating in a highly-populated urban area with lots of friendly presence, so watch your fire. Other than that, anyone not positively identified as friendly should be presumed hostile. There will probably be wounded in the contact group. Evacuate them if possible, but your absolute priority should be the cargo."

"Understood," Vanags nodded. "If my further presence is not required, I will take my leave and get to it."

"By all means, Captain," Veske nodded and continued with the briefing, turning to the assignments of his other officers.

Before Vanags could leave the briefing tent, someone tapped on his shoulder. He turned to face captain Urtāns, a look of concern on his face.

"I need to ask you a favour," he spoke at half-voice. "My parents live in Rēzekne. I would be tremendously grateful if you could drop by and check on them while you're there. They live just a few blocks from your rendezvous point, so it absolutely won't be an inconvenience."

"I make no promises, but I'll see what I can do," the captain nodded in agreement. "Give me their address."

Urtāns pulled out his notebook, tore out a page and scrawled an address on it before handing it to Vanags.

"Tell my pa to try and not get killed when the Mekhs take the town," he added. "Knowing him, he'd be willing to take on the whole MAF all by himself if only ma let him."

~


"Alright, lads, get ready to hit the road! We're going to Rēzekne today," Vanags announced to his men once he returned to their quarters, "Our today's job is an HVC extraction. It seems that some of our boys in Rēzekne have managed to knock out a Mekh combat android with it's CPU still intact, and the brass wants it for intel."

"Combat android? Man, I fucking hate those things..." Valdis grumbled. The squadron had run into Mekh battle droids on their cross-border jobs before. Vanags found himself in complete agreement with his platoon sergeant that these encounters were definitely not among their fondest memories.

"We're going to bring that thing here?" Corporal Andrejeva seemed shocked, "Is that safe? I mean, what if it has some sort of tracking device like their other advanced tech?"

"I've been told our foreign friends will take care of that problem," Vanags explained, noticing Lieutenant Brazauskas raise his hand: "Yes, Lieutenant?"

"If you don't need me around here, Captain, I'll go get the engines warmed up," he says.

"You'll have all the time in the world for that - you are on standby for emergency extraction today," Vanags explained. "The air is hot with Mekh activity around Rēzekne today, so the brass doesn't want to risk the only Skyranger they've got unless shit really hits the fan. They also don't want to risk them tracing your 'Ranger back to base, so you've been given an auxiliary drop-off location for us in case that happens."

"Awww, man... And here I was hoping we'd get to smoke some clanker ass today!" Brazauskas grumbled as he copies the auxiliary drop site's coordinates from the Vanags' notebook.

"I wouldn't worry about that, Lieutenant," the captain grinned at his enthusiasm. "The war ain't going anywhere. You'll get plenty of chances yet - just make sure you and your lads are ready when that happens."

"All of the above considered, we go in by ground," he continued to brief his men, "I want two DAGORs and a 5-tonner ready to roll in 20. Andrejeva, we might need to pick up some wounded for evac, so be sure to bring along some extra meds and more stretchers. You and our allies are on the truck today. Liedskalniņ, you and your boys are on point today, my squad will cover the rear. Valdi, you're also on the 5-tonner, make sure it stays in one piece and rolling no matter what happens to the rest of us. Rendezvous point is Liberation Boulevard 93, which is right next to Mary of Latgale. As a personal favour to Captain Urtāns, we'll also be doing a quick stop in Liberation Boulevard 62 if the tactical situation permits, which should only take a minute. Other than that this is strictly an in-and-out job, whatever happens, we stop at nothing until that HVC is sitting safely back here in Firebase Lubāns."

"Any special gear?" radioman Slišāns asks.

"Besides the usual, I want two buzzsaws on the DAGORs, a Stinger on the truck and one Spike launcher with three missiles in every car," Vanags answered his question. "Intel says there's at least a battalion's worth of armor rolling in from the East as we speak, so we definitely don't want to find ourselves staring down the barrel of a tank without being able to do something about it. Any casualties go in the truck. I want complete radio silence from the moment we leave base to the moment we return, except if the 5-tonner gets disabled with wounded personnel on-board. We travel at X-Ray Three unless notified otherwise, maintain 100 meter distance."

After specifying a few more organizational matters, the soldiers set out to the motor pool to get the vehicles ready. It was left to Vanags to break the word with Agent Perez over his team's involvement in the upcoming job...


MEANWHILE...

A splash of ice-cold water to his face awakened Afanasiy. Struggling to open his swollen eyelids, he at first expected to find himself washed up on the shore, with waves washing over him. He had no clue how long he had been out cold, but it had probably been quite a while. However, the distinct artificial quality of the light, and the damp cool air with an earthy scent revealed that his current location was definitely not the beach he was supposed to land on.

Any further questions about his current whereabouts were quickly answered with a heavy punch to the gut and hard slap across the face.

"Wakie, wakie, clanker scum!" a voice speaking in Baltic-accented Russian bid Afanasiy a rough greeting as another slap followed on the opposite cheek. The young lad sprang to action, only to find his hands firmly bound behind his back and his feet secured to what seemed to be the legs of a chair. Consequently, his jolted jump failed miserably as he fell forwards, planting face-first into a concrete floor and smashing his nose that started to bleed along with an agonised cry as the flechette wound in his shoulder also protested harshly against such exertion.

"Awww, did that hurt?" the voice mocked him from somewhere above, "Well, guess what, shithead - it's about to hurt a lot more!"

That the statement wasn't just an empty threat was immediately reaffirmed by a heavy kick to the side, probably cracking a rib or two. As Afanasiy groaned and struggled for breath, unseen hands seized his chair from behind and pulled it back upright.

"THAT was for the boys at the beach," his captor informed before planting a bone-rattling left hook into Afanasiy's face. "THIS is for all the other lads dying because of you Ruskie filth! And THIS one's from me personally!"

Afanasiy could only scream at the top of his lungs as the next punch landed square on the wound in his shoulder.

"Welcome to the Baltic-fucking-Union, asshole! Enjoy your stay!" the captor added, his voice almost dripping venom of hate and disgust.

That they couldn't look forward to a warm welcome if captured by Union forces was obvious, Afanasiy thought as he struggled against the waves of pain. Still, he had taken the efforts of political officers to depict Balts as bloodthirsty Nazi wannabes with a pinch of salt back in training. After all, even his father who had fought them in the previous war and generally held a very unflattering opinion of the folk reluctantly agreed that whatever atrocities they had committed paled before what the Mekh occupation forces had done to them. Now it would seem that the veracity of one or the other would be put to the test, and he would be the one to learn the truth the hard way.

Only now his eyes had adjusted enough to be able to view his captor in detail. It was a young man, slightly older than him, clad in a Tier Two uniform and sporting the insignia of a Sergeant. Although he appeared slender, the strength of his punches made it obvious that this chap had a lifetime of physical exercise and conditioning behind him.

"Now, with the introductions being done, let's get to business," the Balt continued, pulling up another chair and sitting in front of Afanasiy, "Let's start with the basics. You know the drill!"

"Private First Class Afanasiy Masorin, ID number Two-Two Six-Two Five-Seven Eight-Zero."

"What unit? What was your assignment?"

"I cannot answer that question."

"I see you've done your homework. Geneva Conventions are great thing, of course, but we both know New Geneva is a long way from here. You could save yourself a lot of hardship by just answering my questions."

"Private First Class Afanasiy Masorin, ID number Two-Two Six-Two Five-Seven Eight-Zero, and that's all you're getting!" Afanasiy proclaimed with spite in his voice.

"Is that so? I'll let you in on a little secret - I've interrogated way harder guys than you, they all said the same thing, yet eventually they all got proven wrong and talked anyway. Last chance - what is your unit and its mission?" the interrogator stood up, approaching Afanasiy with menace.

"Private First Class Afanasiy Masorin, ID number... AIIIIIAUUUUGH!"

The Balt forced his thumb deeper into Afanasiy's shoulder wound, keeping up the pressure for a few seconds as the prisoner shrieked and writhed in agony.

"You know... You really ought to be nicer to me..." Afanasiy groaned when his tormentor finally let go, "In a few weeks at most, we will overrun your country and I will be a prisoner no longer. What do you think will happen to you then, if I were to testify I was tortured?"

"I'll be shot or starved to death in one of your Gulags, no doubt. You are also completely right about the likely length of your stay here," the interrogator shrugged indifferently, "But until that happens, you're stuck here with me, and depending on your cooperation, I can make those few weeks either a temporary inconvenience, or the worst of your fucking life! So, what's it gonna be?"

"Do your worst, you dirty Hans!" Afanasiy sighed with resignation, determined to endure whatever tortures were about to be thrown at him in the best traditions of the MAF.

A sadistic smile slithered up the Balt's cheeks. "I was so hoping you'd say that..."

~


For a young man barely a few years older, this guy sure knew what he was doing. Afanasiy couldn't tell how much time had passed, but it felt like many hours even though it had probably only been a few minutes. Every new kick, punch and slap seemed to strike exactly where it hurt the most, and despite his initial determination, Afanasiy could already feel his resolve begin to shake. The interrogator seemed to get more furious and violent with every passing moment.

"What is your unit?! What was your mission!? Speak, you peace of shit! SPEEEEAK!" he roared with spittle flying in Afanasiy's face as he pulled the lad's head back by the hair.

"Private First Class ... Afanasiy ... Masorin ... ID number..." the prisoner groaned with a mix of tears and blood flowing down his face. The interrogator roared in anger and raised his mace-like fist high, when an unseen hand grabbed him from behind.

"ENOUGH!" a young woman's voice shouted. "Dear God, what have you done with this poor lad, brother?!"

"Just questioning him, is all," the interrogator grumbled, looking slightly guilty over being caught in the act of torturing a prisoner, "Stubborn asshole won't say a thing besides the usual Geneva line!"

"Don't you know this is not how we treat prisoners?!" the woman scolded him. "You better hope the Colonel doesn't find out you've been doing this again! Now get out before I tell him myself!"

"If you say so, sis..." the interrogator grumbled and left the room, a small featureless concrete cubicle with a single lamp hanging from the ceiling.

"My sincerest apologies for the unbecoming conduct of my brother," the woman switched to Russian as she sat down in front of Afanasiy, pulling out a kerchief to wipe away some of the blood and sweat on his face, "He can sometimes get very... overenthusiastic with his duties. I can't say I blame him for that, but this is definitely not how one should treat prisoners of war. I guess he takes things a bit more personally than one should."

Afanasiy looked up to examine her. She was a very attractive woman with icy blue eyes and flaxen hair held together in a long, thick braid that rested over her shoulder. Also wearing a Tier Two uniform, she appeared slightly older than her brother the interrogator, somewhere around 28. She didn't seem in the least bit hostile.

"I'll get a medic to treat your wounds right away," the woman spoke, "And when that's done, I'll bring you something to eat. In the meanwhile, try not to move around too much - my brother's roughed you up real well."

With that, she left, leaving the battered marine confused and baffled in his cell.
Last edited by Blakullar on Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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New Frenco Empire
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Founded: Mar 14, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby New Frenco Empire » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:19 am


ImageCAPTAIN HENDRIKS VANAGS

FIREBASE LUBĀNS, BALTIC UNION
June 23rd, 2132


Just as he sent the last of his men to their stations, Vanags turned to see the four familiar Frenks walking towards them, fully kitted-out with weapons in-hand. He recognized two of the Lunars, bringing up the rear. They were both wearing patchwork uniforms made from both Tier One and Tier Two components. They certainly wouldn't fool any experienced Balt, but it was a passable enough get-up for the untrained eye. Enough so the Mekhs wouldn't suspect anything, at least.

"My team is to be deployed at your discretion, Colonel." The Lunar commander, Fitzgerald, stated as they made their way to Vanags. "We've visited the local armory and procured equipment suitable for local operations."
"A couple extra guns can't hurt..." Perez replied after pondering it for a second. "Send a couple guys with us."

"Yes sir..." Fitzgerald replied, motioning toward the young soldier behind her. "Lieutenant Cavell and I will accompany you on the mission. The rest of my team will remain here to guard our assets and assist in perimeter security as the base commander sees fit."
"Very good, Captain." Perez nodded. "Speaking of which..."

"Captain Vanags..." Perez and Vanags acknowledged each other with a respectful nod.

"You heard the Colonel, Agent Perez." Vanags began. "None of us have the tech or the know-how to slice Ivan's androids. We'll need your help..."

Perez acknowledged the request with a grunt and turned to Agent Brinkmeyer, standing right behind them.
"Brink?"
The ever-present techie briefly lowered her mission holopad, pondering on the request for a moment.

"An IBP Two Fifty-Five M, if I remember correctly?" Brinkmeyer scratched at her chin. "Never had the pleasure of working with one myself, but the architecture of the combat models is practically cut-and-paste from the standard RMs...well, it is where it counts, at least. Believe me, my experience with reasoning machines is more than sufficient. Shouldn't be too big an ordeal to make it sing for us..."

"With all due respect, Agent Brinkmeyer..." Vanags replied. "We don't need to make it 'sing'; we just require you to thoroughly disable it and make sure it can't hurt us or call in an airstrike on its position once we get it back here."
"Oh, if only it were so easy..." Brinkmeyer chuckled as though Vanags had just finished an amusing anecdote. "If it's all the same, Captain, it won't take long once we get there."

Vanags shook his head with a defeated sigh. He didn't like any of this. He didn't mind the danger of the job; he was a Tier One after all. But his sensibilities as an officer poked and prodded at him. The stakes were high. If this mission didn't go as planned, there was serious risk that what remained of the Baltic military would be destroyed. Still, this was approved by authorities higher than he. He just had to grit his teeth and soldier on. That's all anyone could really do...

"Very well, Agent Brinkmeyer. I'll defer all matters relating to the machine to you." He nodded. "Regardless, we'd better get to the motorpool. We need to hurry and help get the vehicles ready."
"By all means, Captain." Perez acknowledged.




They were about five minutes from their departure. It was just he ordered - Liedskalniņš and company had the lead car, Valdis and his squad were loading up the five-tonner, and his squad was about to jump on the rear DAGOR. The allied agents were to ride on the five-tonner.

With all the supplies and most of the personnel loaded where they needed to be, Vanags and most of the squad proceeded to the vehicle. Zīle took his position in the driver's seat, while Vanags situated himself in the front. Slišāns was seated behind him. Private Pihlak, the new Estonian transfer to the unit, was in the back, crouched behind the tripod-mounted Spike thrower. They were just waiting for Sergeant Pētersons and Private Āboliņš...

However, instead of his two expected squaddies, he was soon greeted by Agents Rollins and Qiao quickly jogging up to their vehicle.
"We're ridin' with you, Cap!" Rollins said, throwing his pack and Chemrail on one of the open seats in the back of the DAGOR. "Shoulda said somethin' earlier, but Dragonlance protocol says we can't all be in the same vehicle in convoy formation. Wouldn't wanna lose your entire foreign advisory team to an IED, yeah?"
"Dragon-what?" Vanags blinked, dumbfounded.
"Eh...nevermind." Rollins shook his head as he climbed aboard. Qiao took up a position on the opposite side. "All the same to you, Captain?"

Just then, Vanags spotted the big, burly figure of Sergeant Pētersons emerge from other side of the five-tonner, one arm holding the Chemrail LMG he had slung across his shoulders, the other stroking his prized horseshoe moustache, the same one that had become famous among the men of the 2nd Special Tasks. The rookie Āboliņš trailed just behind him.
"Change of plans, boys." Vanags whistled at the pair. "You're on the five-tonner!"
The Private responded to the command with a "yes sir" before he changed direction, while Pētersons merely shrugged and turned, doubling back to the five-tonner at his usual, casual pace.

"It is fine with me, Agent Rollins." Vanags turned back to Rollins. "But I had to give up my gunner to save your seat. You got any experience with weapon emplacements?"
"Every grunt in the Grand Imperial Military knows their way around Ma Deuce." The agent chuckled in confirmation as he climbed up to his new position, mounting the MG3. "I can handle the ol' Buzzsaw."
"Let's hope so..." Vanags remarked as he motioned for Slišāns to hand him the transmitter piece.
"As soon as the clock hits thirty, we start moving, ladies and gentleman." He radioed the other vehicles. "Remember the mission - move in, locate the HVC, let the Frenks do their magic and evacuate everything and everyone we can. Rēzekne is an active warzone, and there will be a lot of hostiles. If we're lucky, we'll miss most of them, but keep your eyes open and your fingers on your triggers. All vehicles, report in."

On his cue, the vehicles moved into their positions. He spotted the two Lunars in the lead DAGOR, indicating that they obviously talked their way onto Liedskalniņš' car. He saw Valdis and Perez in the cab of the five-tonner, the former at the wheel.
"Heh, don't know how Valdis agreed to share a cab with one of the foreigners. Maybe it'll be a good learning experience for him and he'll stop trying to fight them at every turn. One less thing for me to worry about..." Vanags couldn't help but grin at the thought.

"Charlie, good to go!"
"Bravo ready."

"Solid copy. Strict radio silence from here on out. Good luck out there."




The hour-long journey to Rēzekne proved uneventful, thankfully. With the exception of a few close calls (including a T-25 being spotted on the horizon and a brief spell where they had to pull over and hide the vehicles under treelines to avoid being spotted by a passing To-3V attack gunship), they managed to hit the outskirts of the town without incident.
However, as everyone soon discovered, the journey wasn't going to be the exciting bit - it was going to be the town itself.

"Jesus Christ..." Vanags stared at the sights in shock as the vehicles stopped on a hill overlooking much of the surrounding area. It was worse than he imagined, and he wasn't exactly picturing a picnic in the park in the first place.
Countless rockets filled the skies, their distinct, ear-piercing screeches drowning out all other sounds. The flames left behind by their exhaust made them highly visible against the dark overcast sky. Vanags could even pick out their launch sites far to the east.
Looking downward, Vanags could see only smoke. Smoke from torched buildings, smoke from the trails of zooming rockets, smoked from blast sites...were it not for the raging thunderstorm going on, the entire city might have been consumed in a great conflagration. The eastern portion of the town was little more than smoldering ruins, where the Mekhs were advancing through with their armor. The center of town, where they were due, seemed clear, however.

As Vanags took in the sights, Valdis, Perez and Liedskalniņš, who had parked their vehicles nearby, walked over to Vanags.
"How are we supposed to get in the town, Cap!?" Liedskalniņš yelled over the rockets and the heavy rain, gripping his poncho tightly around him. "That arty barrage looks fierce! Blow us to pieces as soon as we get anywhere near it!"
"Those rockets are precision-guided, Corporal!" Perez retorted. "They're more-or-less hitting what they want them to hit! Long as we stay off their radar, we'll be fine!"
"All I know is we gotta decide what we're doing and quick! Someone will eventually see us up here and we're gonna be the next poor bastards to get assfucked by those rockets!" Valdis yelled. "What are we gonna do, Captain?"

"Proceed as planned!" Vanags replied, briefly hesitating as a nearby rocket strike just about tuned him out. "Way I see it, there's a straight shot into the center of town from here! We move quick, we can avoid the rockets and the hostiles and all the other nasties! I'll take the lead on this one. Watch our six, Liedskalniņš."
"Roger that!"
The men then returned to their vehicles, and on Vanags' cue, they moved once more, down into the depths of hell itself.

Upon entering the city limits, the convoy slowed significantly, both because of the recently-created potholes and the possibility of sudden ambush. Their fears of the latter might have been a bit unwarranted, however - this part of the town, at least, seemed to still be firmly in Baltic hands.
Vanags watched as many Tier Two and Tier Three troops bustled around the streets and buildings. Many of them were wounded, using their rifles as a makeshift crutch. Those that weren't were preoccupied with bearing the stretchers of those who could no longer walk. The few troops that seemed to be in more-or-less decent shape were quickly pointed eastwards by wandering officers, no doubt dispatched to help reinforce the front.

"Damn, these boys are gettin' whooped..." Rollins solemnly remarked as the DAGOR passed a section of wounded Baltic troops being tended to by a medic. "What I would give to put a Grand Imperial Army brigade here. Teach Ivan to pick on someone his own size..."
"With all due respect, Agent Rollins, the Imperial military doesn't fight quite like us. We're not helpless - we're in our element here." Vanags replied, just the slightest hint of a grin on his face. "I take some comfort knowing that the enemy is probably hurting just as bad, if not worse. We will lose Rēzekne, and it will be soon...but it's gonna cost them. A valuable lesson that we can't just be blitzkrieged over."
"That Baltic fighting spirit..." Rollins chuckled. "Believe it or not, it's famous, even in the west."

The convoy crawled it's way through the town, slowly but safely until it reached the center, near the designated rendezvous point.
Vanags knew they were about to pass by the ancient Mary of Latgale, which had stood pristine for over a century. He was afraid to take a peek, but his curiosity got the better of him. It was just as he feared - much of it was blown away, and what remained was a sorry reminder of what it once was, contorted by shrapnel and bullet holes. It was a shame. He always liked that statue...

"Real shame about Latgales Māra..." Vanags remarked to no one in-particular.
"Sure is, sir." Sergeant Zīle responded while he kept his eyes on the road. "But I doubt she'll be the last thing these bastards take from us..."
"You know, I don't remember much from the days before the Second Invasion. But I do remember passing through this town with my father as he went to visit his friend. He always took me to see that very statue..."
Vanags wasn't sure what he was doing. Why this right now? He wasn't entirely sure. It wasn't improper, unprofessional...completely out-of-character for him to bring up personal details like this to his charges. Still...

"You, uh...you never talked much about your folks, Cap." Slišāns remarked. "Your father..."
"He was killed in action when I was just a lad." Vanags plainly replied. "I wasn't but a couple years older than my son is now..."
"Sorry to hear it, Cap."
"Don't be." He reassured the young soldier. "It was so long ago, and I like to think I've morphed into an acceptable-enough man anyway..."

"Still sounds like you miss him..."

The voice caught Vanags off-guard, though no one else in the vehicle seemed to catch it, since they couldn't understand English. The accent was exotic, but still perfectly legible. Crystal-clear, even. All the same, it was a voice he didn't recognize.

He turned to see the normally dead-silent Qiao looking him over, her beautiful violet eyes locking with his own. She hadn't said one word to him since they all arrived. Come to think of it, he hadn't seen her say one word period, not even to the other Frenks.

"Or maybe you are just worried. Worried about your son..."

She spoke exactly as Vanags thought she should. Cold, authoritative...yet clear and beautiful, with the slightest hint of a Chinese accent. The world around him seemed to hush when she spoke - she was clear over all the thunder and the rockets, yet it didn't seem as though she was speaking any louder to compensate for it. It certainly unnerved him...
"We're all worried about our families." Vanags confirmed to her. "Just a part of war. Don't you have a family to be worried about?"
"No." She retorted bluntly.
"Hmm. You don't talk much, do you Agent Qiao?"
"No...no I do not."
"That's fine. I don't care much for small talk, either."

"Uhh...Captain?" Rollins said, extremely dumbfounded in tone. "I...don't think you realized what it is you just did. She never speaks to anyone outside Golf. Never!"
"Lucky me, then..." He spared another glance at Agent Qiao, who acknowledged him with one last blink before turning to look out the opposite side of the vehicle. Vanags wasn't sure what that was about. If she was as cold and enigmatic as Rollins let on, why talk to him over something so...irrelevant?

Regardless, it wasn't long before the convoy reached the destination - Liberation Boulevard 93, just outside the town's main office.
The area was certainly bustling. The local Tier Twos and Threes had transformed the area into a makeshift staging area. From here, soldiers were hauling crates full of weapons, ammunition and other assorted supplies towards the front and stretchers hosting the wounded away from it.
Still...Vanags didn't see anyone he needed to. Surely there should have been someone waiting for them to brief them on the situation at hand...

He quickly jumped out of the DAGOR, signaling for Valdis and Liedskalniņš to find a parking spot. He flagged down the first trooper that was close enough to him, a young Tier Three Corporal.

"You there, lad! Who's the commanding officer of this garrison?"
"It...it's not you, sir?" The Corporal asked, shocked at this apparent realization.
"You have no commanding officer?" Vanags blinked.
"Hell if I know, sir! I just got here!" The Corporal shrugged. "Command structure's a straight mess at the moment! Last I heard, they had to get a Master Sergeant to lead the Company here. If you could even call it a 'Company' anymore! Wouldn't surprise me if it's down to platoon strength!"
"Dammit, nevermind that!" He shook his head. "We're here on a special mission! Looking for a Lieutenant in possession of some high value cargo! You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

The soldier scratched at his chin for a minute before snapping in realization. "Actually, my squad leader said something about it! Said some Tier Ones were comin' along to meet some boys from the 56th for business above our pay grades. You must be them! Only problem is they never showed!"
"You mean they're not here!?" Vanags replied in frustration.
"Nope. Last I heard they're still in the Eastern half of the city! Past the gate over there!" The Corporal pointed towards a nearby barricade, one of the secured chokepoints leading to the front. It was crudely constructed, using scraps from the destroyed architecture, but it was well-fortified with a myriad of MG nests, sniper-armed sentries and even an Iron Wolf tank parked just behind it.

Vanags cursed under his breath.
"Well, looks like we're headed towards the front, then!"
"I'd be careful, Captain!" The young Corporal warned. "That sector is less secure than others! Last I heard, there were Spetsnaz units prowling around over there! Way more dangerous than Ivan's regulars! Not too much of a problem for Tier One, I'd bet, but I'd keep your eyes open!"
"Thanks for the warning, Corporal..." He acknowledged the young NCO before turning back towards his men to inform them of the situation.

Perez, Valdis and Liedskalniņš were waiting for him when he returned to his vehicle.
"What's the word, Captain?" Perez inquired. "Where's the high value cargo?"
"They never made it here..." Vanags sighed deeply. "They're still in the Eastern half of the city. Past the barricades."
"Well then, seems the mission's FUBAR..." Valdis shook his head. "Our contacts have probably been killed, and that bot is back in Ivan's hands. I hate to chalk up a mission failure, but there's not much we can do."
"Not yet, Valdi." Vanags disagreed, crossing his arms. "Considering the nature of that cargo, we need to at least look. At least find Zeltiņš' body. Besides, that's also where Urtāns' folks are. I still intend to stop by there if at all possible."
"So what's the plan, Vanags?" Valdis asked.
"We leave the DAGORs here. Liedskalniņš, you and your boys stay in this perimeter. Keep the engines hot in case we have to make a hasty retreat, and help keep this square secure. We need this fallback point."
"Got it, Cap!" The Corporal acknowledged.

"Valdis, you take the five-tonner past the barricade. I need you to be ready to pick up any wounded we come across, and once the time is right, the HVC and our contacts. You're going to be our only ride out of there, so drive slowly and carefully. Tell your men to spread out and secure the area as you drive, and stay off the main roads. It's dangerous, but you'll have at least two squads to help protect it. I'm authorizing limited radio contact, but just between the two of us. Only contact me about imminent threats or, god forbid, you come under attack."
"Understood." Valdis nodded.

"I will go ahead of the truck and personally pull force recon duty and, hopefully, find and secure the objective. Tell Corporal Andrejeva I want her with me, just in case any of the friendly contacts need medical attention. Perez, does your squad mind joining me?"
"We'll help you find what we're lookin' for." The Frenk accepted.
"Excellent. You know your jobs, boys. Get to them!"




It was very quiet past the barricade. A little too quiet. Even the rockets seemed quieter. He knew that wasn't a good sign, since that was a sure sign that there were hostiles in the area, but they were nowhere to be found.
He knew that soon, perhaps by the time the next hour turned, this entire sector would be overrun and Ivan would have a straight shot to the center of town. Although he was quick to reassure Rollins earlier, Vanags truthfully felt bad for the troops here too. If all went to plan, they would be able to retreat westward to safety once all was lost. But from what he saw so far, this effort was doomed and the plan seemed to be thrown out the window. He just knew the history books would see the Battle of Rēzekne as one of the nastiest, bloodiest affairs that could ever be...

He and his seven companions creeped through the back alleys and side streets, their weapons drawn and ready for engagement. Perez was on point, while Brinkmeyer and Andrejava brought up the rear. The Lunars covered the flanks. It was a very cautious plan, he would admit. Maybe just a little too cautious. But he wasn't about to waste his entire force dancing around a battlefield for a questionable objective.

"How are we supposed to find anything in this mess?" Rollins asked in an annoyed tone. "Radio silence ain't makin' this any easier..."
"The contacts were apparently holed up an in apartment building not too far from Rēznas Street. We're following the most secure route from there to the rendezvous point. If there's anything left, we'll find it." Vanags replied. "Just stay vig-"
However, Vanags was cut off by a hand signal from Perez.
"Stop! Shh!"

The entire group halted, while Perez kept moving slowly forward, closer and closer to the street. However, something moved in the corner of Vanags' vision. Rollins noticed it too...

"'Rez, look out!" The younger agent shouted in a hushed whisper, bit it was too late; two armored Russian troops, bearing symbols of the VDV, stepped out the nearby shadows, rifles drawn. They didn't notice anyone else, just Perez, who was much farther ahead. Vanags tried to get a shot, but he was unable to without hitting Perez or giving away his position.
For a split second, Vanags thought the senior Frenkish agent doomed. However, he was soon proven wrong...

Perez reacted quickly, much faster than even the enemy could. He quickly dropped his weapon and ducked down low, just below the firing line of their rifles. He then swept his leg to the side, knocking the closest soldier off of his feet. In the blink of an eye, he then raised to meet the other, grabbing the barrel of his rifle and jerking it to the side just as a round blasted out of the chamber. The electronically-propelled bullet impacted harmlessly on the pavement several feet away.
Just as this happened, Perez used his free hand to grab the large kukri knife he kept sheathed on his lower back. In a flash, the kukri was then dug into his opponent's neck, impacting right in a chink and quickly ending the soldier's life.

In the miniscule amount of time it took him to neutralize the first soldier, the other had just resecured his rifle and was aiming it at Perez. Just before several shots could be fired, the agent quickly spun around behind the recently-deceased soldier, using the corpse as a shield.
Just as a burst was fired, impacting on the dead soldier and visibly penetrating, Perez then pushed the body forward, launching it on top of the still-laying enemy. As the corpse toppled onto him, the Frenk quickly drew his Austronesian pistol and darted to the side, where he had a clear opening on the distracted but still-active hostile. He fired three shots - two in the side, one in the head.

It was over before it could ever start. Not bad for a man ten years Vanags' senior.

After a few seconds of winding down, Perez casually re-holstered his sidearm and wiped the blood from his knife on the fabric of his pants before returning it to the sheath. As he went to retrieve his MG, Vanags noticed him grabbing at his stomach as he walked.
"Are you alright, Agent Perez?" Vanags inquired as he ran up to check on him.
"I'm fine, Captain." Perez waved him away with a reassuring grin as he checked his Chemrail for damage. "Wasn't counting on the penetration being that powerful. Still, my vest caught all the bullets. Nothing some ice and an hour in a comfy chair once we're back at base can't fix."

"Aisha, look him over." Vanags signaled for his medic.
"Of course." Corporal Andrejava responded. Perez hesitantly complied, lifting up his jacket and allowing the medic to undo the liquid kevlar vest and carefully lift his undershirt. Sure enough, three large bruises scarred his abdomen, but it was nothing serious, as he said.
"Yeah, there's some nasty bruising, but he'll be fine."
"I appreciate the concern, Captain, but we need to keep moving..."

"Hold on a second, if you'd be so kind..." Agent Brinkmeyer requested in her usual jauntiness.
Before anyone could question what it was she was about to do, she knelt down by the fallen Spetsnaz, casually reaching for one of their arms.
"Brink, we gotta go. Who knows how many more could be lurking around here. They might have called some of their buddies on us..." Perez impatiently
"One second..." She chirped. She retrieved her holopad from her pack and ran a cord from it to the tacpad on the dead soldier's gauntlet. After a few seconds of typing, she beamed in satisfaction.
"Jon, would you be so kind as to come over here and read this for me? Can't waste time running the translator software on something like this."

With that, Rollins knelt down beside here and took the holopad, reading the Russian text imposed on the screen.
"Section engaged hostiles. Four EKIAs. No casualties. Unit five-eight-nine-dash-twelve neutralized, will need to recover and repair. Will resume alley patrol. And...then some coordinates, looks like."
"Just a block away." Brinkmeyer nodded in confirmation. "This could be our bite..."
"Or it could just be something unrelated..." One of the Lunars, Fitzgerald argued.
"Regardless, I'd say it's worth checking out." Perez retorted.
"Agreed, Agent." Vanags nodded. "There's a tunnel junction a block away. If it is where I think it is, that'd be the most likely place our contacts could be hiding. Lead the way, Agent Rollins."




They reached the spot indicated in the Mekh's after-action report. Sure enough, four Baltic bodies were littered about the street. One of them was sprawled over the top of a Mekh demolitions drone not unlike the one Rollins destroyed back at Skrunda. This one was neutralized, but still in decent shape judging by the chassis.
"Yep, these boys are from the 56th, alright...Aisha, check all the bodies." Vanags solemnly sighed. "If they still breath and can survive a trip, I'll call Sergeant Liepnieks over. Otherwise, take their tags. And see if any of them might be Lieutenant Zeltiņš..."
"Aye, Cap." The medic stated, wasting no time.

As Vanags watched her check the vitals and yank the tags from three fallen troops, his attention drifted over to where the tunnel entrance was. Like most communities, Rēzekne had a tunnel network that would be used to move troops and supplies and carry out ambushes in the event of an invasion. However, it was likely the constant artillery barrages collapsed several sections, limiting their effectiveness in this battle. It was the only theory he had in mind.

However, just as Vanags moved to investigate, he heard Andrejeva shout.
"Captain!"
He turned to see the medic knocked off her feet, and the drone rising from its formerly-disabled state. Evidently, when she checked the other soldiers' body, it somehow kicked the thing on.

"Take it down!" Perez instinctively shouted in English. Everyone in the group complied, and the bot was soon drowned in Chemrail fire. Andrejeva eventually managed to recover her Chemlite, and joined in concentrating fire on the drone.
It didn't take long for the threat to dissipate, a lot more holes in it than it had before.

However, just as the drone was indeed confirmed to have been destroyed, Vanags spotted something out of the corner of his eye, near the tunnel system.
He quickly turned, Chemrail pointed at the disturbance.
"Whoever you are, come out now!"

It was a junior Tier Two officer, M16A5 raised above his head in submission. He began slowly moving towards them, analyzing the group as he did so. Once he determined that he was dealing with friendlies, he brought his rifle back down to the normal resting position. Two other soldiers, both NCOs, followed him out from the wrecked building. The patches indicated they too were part of the 56th. They might have finally found what they were looking for.

"You lot are from the 56th? What's your names, soldiers?" Vanags asked as he surveyed the men ahead of them.
They looked like hammered shit, their skin marked with blisters and burn scars and their facial hair being reduced to naught but patchy remnants. Paired with the slight limp they all seemed to walk with, they just walked out of some heavy combat not long ago.
"Uhh...Second Lieutenant Zeltiņš, sir!" The young officer quickly stopped and saluted once he determined he was at an appropriate distance, nearly dropping his rifle in the effort. His partners did the same.
"Sergeant Lapšāns, sir!"
"Corporal Vilcāns, sir!"

"Just so happens I'm looking for one 'Lieutenant Zeltiņš'. Captain Vanags, Second Special Tasks." The Captain returned the salute. "Seems you boys are in a bit of trouble..."
"You're the Tier Ones from Lubāns, right? You're here for the bot?"
"And to get you out of this hell, son." Vanags reassured him. "Where are you shacked up?"
"In the tunnels, sir."
"Good. I'm sure all that gunfire might have attracted something. Show us the way, soldier. We'll talk more when we're in safety."




"There's only six of us left in the platoon." Zeltiņš said as they proceeded down the corridors. "Those four out there were with us. They volunteered to scout out a safe passage to the center of town, but they got caught early, it seems. Lapšāns, Vilcāns and I were getting ready to try again when you engaged that drone. We hid because we couldn't be sure of what you were at first glance."
"Understandable. What about your wounded?" Vanags asked.
"Well...all of us to varying degrees. But we can all still walk and handle a gun."
"Good to hear. My medic can look all of you over, time permitting." Vanags nodded. "But uh...the HVC?"
"Still with us." The Lieutenant was quick to assure him. "I'm having my guys watch it around the clock."
Once the questions were exhausted, the Lieutenant looked back at the primarily-Imperial team and turned back to Vanags.
"Uhh...sir? Am I allowed to ask you about all these Frenks in your company?" Zeltiņš quietly inquired.
"Unfortunately...no. No you aren't, Lieutenant." Vanags replied, trying his best to suppress a grin. "They're here to help with the package."

As they turned a corner, they were met with a T-junction, one leading west, the other east. The westbound tunnel leading to the center of town was collapsed, just as Vanags predicted.
"This is the reason we never made it to the rendezvous point." Zeltiņš said. "Above-ground travel is dangerous this close to the front, but it's the only option we have. Did you make it here safe, Captain?"
"We ran into a little trouble, but it was nothing we couldn't handle." Vanags recollected. "The alleyways are still mostly clear. If we move quick, we can meet up with our truck and get back to the center of town. I've got a slight detour to make, but we'll make sure you and the package are secure first."
"Roger, sir." The Lieutenant acknowledged. "The rest of the boys are shacked up down the hall, here."

The group walked a bit farther until they came to a secure storage room off to the side. Zeltiņš moved to the front of the group, knocking on the door.
"I'm back."
A soldier wearing Corporal's stripes opened the door and greeted them, and M60E6 slung across his back.
He seemed a bit healthier than the others, or at least he did until Vanags spotted the bloody bandaged stump where his right hand was supposed to be.
"Tier Ones!" The machine-gunner sighed in relief. "Oh am I happy to see you, guys!"

Vanags, Perez and Brinkmeyer entered the room, while the rest remained outside in the interest of space. Sure enough, Vanags spotted the HVC nested in the back corner.
"There it is..."
The three moved in close to investigate. Vanags wasn't going to lie to himself, the android disturbed him - aside from the usual distinctive features of a Russian RM, it looked too much like a dead man laying there, a combat knife jutting out of its head.
"I must admit, I never thought I'd ever get to see one of these up close..." Brinkmeyer excitedly rambled like a kid in a candy store as she knelt down to look the disabled droid over. "Oh what secrets must be in your head! You and I are about to be acquainted real soon!"
"Stay focused, Brink." Perez reminded her. "We're on a tight schedule. We need to get back to the center of town before you can do any of your magic."
"Ah, yes, yes..." She relented. "Does that mean you're volunteering to carry him?"

"Ugh. Fine..." Perez sighed as he reached down and readjusted the droid body, still obviously fighting some pain from the bruises he suffered earlier. He eventually managed to hoist it onto his back, slinging it onto his exo's carry hooks.
"You need any help carrying it?" Vanags asked.
"Nah, it ain't as heavy it looks, believe it or not. The exo can do most of the work..."

As the survivors of the platoon were preparing to leave and Brinkmeyer was investigating the damage to the droid's body, Vanags' communicator rang in his ear. It was Valdis. Considering the strict orders he gave him, it must have been serious.
"Speak, Sergeant."
"Captain, we had to turn back." Valdis stated. "Big bunch a' Ivans movin' around the sector. Too many to fight. Looks like they may be headin' in your general direction."
"How many?"
"Footmobiles. Several platoons. Maybe even a company."
"Do you think they're onto us?"
"According to Zīle, they're moving slow. Actually rounding up civilians. Well, trying to round up civilians."
"Got it. Get back to Liberation Boulevard. We'll meet you there."

"Rounding up civilians. Surely they're not going to..." Vanags started, a hint of horror in his voice.
"Unlikely." Perez interjected, seeing what he was about to get at. "Mekhs are trying extra hard to abide by the rules of war here. They wouldn't take any chances with NCOr on an invasion like this, else they get sanctioned all to hell. Sounds like they're just trying to clear the place out before they flatten it."

Vanags sighed. He knew what that meant.
He still remembered what he told Urtāns. He said he'd only do it if it was safe and if he had time. But if Vanags didn't act, there was a real chance he could inadvertently doom the man's parents. He was torn - his military sensibilities told him to leave it well enough alone. His moral sensibilities, however, required him to at least warn them of what was coming...

He eventually made his choice.

"Change of plans, people! Remember that 'slight detour' I mentioned? Circumstances dictate we go for it now! Keep your weapons close!"
With that, everyone complied and they started moving towards the exit to the tunnel. As Vanags brought up the rear, he pondered as he pulled out the note with the address scrawled on it. He was unable shake the feeling that he was making a big mistake, but regardless, he felt it was the only choice he could make...
Last edited by New Frenco Empire on Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Blakullar
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Founded: Sep 07, 2012
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Blakullar » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:20 pm

Image
SUBJECT: LIEUTENANT-COLONEL IOSIFINA KOZLOVA.
CURRENT LOCATION: COMMAND CENTRE, TVER AERODROME, PETROGRAD COMMAND SECTOR.
TIMESTAMP: 07:37 (LOCAL TIME), 23.06.2132 (TERRAN STANDARD CALENDAR).



Iosifina Kozlova, Lieutenant Colonel in the Mechanocratic Ground Forces, had been posted here by Colonel General Shuvalov himself to greet these six combat operatives. Why the general had delegated such a menial task to a woman of her station instead of an enlisted soldier, even she had no idea. Yet she was not going to be the one to query the orders of her commanding officer.

They were all assembled in the command centre's conference room, with Kozlova standing by the door while the others were sat around the oval table. They all wore different uniforms, the five men in the room all wearing greatcoats. The man nearest to her, for instance, wore a silver white coat over a black business suit. The contours of his face betrayed him as coming from somewhere in Eastern Europe, rather than the visibly Slavic origins of the other men. At least, what part of his face was visible – he hid the lower part of his face behind a black face plate decorated with silver, trailing so high up his head that the dark brown wavy quiff that his hair was styled into touched it. Such was the man introduced to her as Emerald.

The man opposite him, the individual marked Tourmaline, the one in the black coat and his feet propped up onto the table... Kozlova had been trying to make a conscious effort to stop herself from staring Zhdanovich down, such was the vampiric charm radiating from his chiselled Slavonic jawline, water-blue eyes and raven black pompadour. She could almost feel his stare boring deep into her own eyes whenever he looked her way... No, this had to be some sort of mind trick. Kozlova had heard of strange, anomalous beings rumoured to have come about from the aftermath of the nuclear war; such creatures were blessed – or cursed, depending on who was asked – with psionic abilities to probe into the human mind. She began to wonder if, as a special operative, this character was such a being. Restoring her professional composure, she quickly realised that this was improbable in the extreme, and simply turned her attention to the chap sitting on his left.

The character sitting to his left in the brown coat, the fabled Sapphire, seemed to be nothing special. Physical appearance demarcated a short, cropped head of light brown hair and a goatee – his skin was pale, eyes shimmering a gentle machined red. Shimko seemed to be staring into space, and Kozlova might have hazarded the guess that he had the ill-famed Thousand Yard Stare. The gaze seemed to bore into a power-armoured figure on his opposite, sitting to the masked man's right. The helmet was gone, yet the armour itself bore the winged stallion emblem of Hermod Interplanetary Logistics – a spacefaring shipping company whose security personnel were rumoured to moonlight as elite mercenaries and smugglers. Experts for hire by criminal syndicates and governments alike. Kozlova didn't doubt for a second that Carnelian, as Tikhonov had been introduced, was here for some similar purpose.

Next there was Amethyst, the silver mohawk-topped, dark blue-coated creep who hadn't kept his eyes off her since they had walked into the conference room. During his introduction, Kozlova had been warned to keep a special eye out for Yurievich, as he had allegedly had a habit of sneaking off unnoticed. Throughout the course of this twenty minute wait, however, this individual had contented himself, apparently begrudgingly, with sitting and staring. Kozlova shot him a dirty look in an effort to dissuade him, to no avail. At least, until two red lights flashed from the head of the table, making him divert his gaze to the wall opposite him.

The flash that cowed Amethyst brought Kozlova onto the group's ringleader. The red-hooded woman declared Ruby – by far the most intimidating of them all. She couldn't have been older than twenty five, yet her machined scarlet eyes bore tranquil fury, a blazing furnace masking a terrible blood-rage waiting like a patient hellhound to be set loose from its chains to wreak untold desolation. Enough fuel to last for centuries, yet her hauntingly beautiful Asiatic face carried no hint of the inferno pulsating beneath her corpse-white skin.

Then the core of the hell-furnace turned toward Kozlova with but a glance. The lieutenant colonel snapped to attention at once, such was the power of Trotskaya's solar glare to compel the layman.

"Lieutenant Colonel Kozlova, is it?" she spoke, her Bashkir alto radiating command.

"Yes, ma'am!" Kozlova announced her readiness, masking her fear of this stone-faced war machine.

"May I ask you a question?"

"Of course."

"Does the Colonel General make a habit of keeping all of his visitors waiting for so long?" Her eyes narrowed modestly, almost sleepily yet ever alert.

"I wouldn't know, ma'am," Kozlova shrugged. "This is my first assignment with him."

"What is he doing at the moment?"

"He didn't give specifics. Just said he was indisposed to matters of critical strategic importance."

"Strategic importance, my ass..." Zhdanovich blew aloud. "I read up on this guy, and I'm not impressed. I bet his idea of 'strategic importance' is a Thai massage!"

"Whatever the case behind his absence, could you kindly ask him to make himself disposed?" Trotskaya's eyes seemed to brighten, much to Kozlova's dread.

"I'll see what I can do, ma'am," the lieutenant colonel answered and turned to the communicator on her wrist. At the press of a button, she summoned General Shuvalov with a call.

"Lieutenant Colonel Kozlova," he eventually growled into the communicator, "I specifically asked for no distractions during this procedure!"

"Sorry, sir," Kozlova apologised, "but it's important! The operatives from New Leningrad arrived twenty minutes ago and are starting to get impatient. They say they were directed here to introduce themselves!"

"Ugh... Very well," Shuvalov answered with a begrudged sigh. "Inform them I'll be arriving shortly."

With that the communication was terminated. Kozlova turned to face Trotskaya, noticing the amusement resonating from her gentle smirk.

"The Colonel General will be-"

"-with us in a moment," Trotskaya finished her sentence in tandem with Kozlova. "Thank you, Lieutenant Colonel."


MEANWHILE...

The door to a room in Colonel General Shuvalov's quarters opened with a hiss. The general appeared wearing nothing but a towel around his waist, his face creased with great displeasure at the interruption of his present activity.

"Kaminsky?" Shuvalov grumbled to his omnipresent adjutant, who awaited him at ease in the corner of the room.

"Yes, sir?" the captain dutifully answered.

"Am I an idiot?"

"Of course not, sir."

Shuvalov made his way to the wardrobe where his uniform was situated. He let the towel fall, revealing a pair of white boxers; the first item of clothing he reached for was his shirt.

"Then explain to me how I came to believe these pompous bastards could manage the most basic of instructions."

"Benefit of the doubt, sir."

"Well I shan't be extending the gesture a second time!" Shuvalov raised his fists with frustration as he was putting on his jacket. "Do you understand how much stress I'm going through at the moment?!"

"As ever, sir."

Shuvalov would continue his rant as he dressed himself. Kaminsky, dutiful as ever, stood in the doorway with zero facial expression.

"This will be my big break. The highlight of my career! Me, who conquered the mighty Baltic Union after that idiot Marilov and his cronies failed! I can't afford to screw this up. But after I bring this shithole to heel, I'll definitely make Army General, courtesy of the Supreme Leader Himself!"

"Of course, sir."

"And then I'll whip the whole Military Council into shape! No more paltry raids on the occasional wildland complex, no more nonsense from the Entente... I tell you, sometimes it's like the whole council's been overrun by Frenks!"

"Couldn't agree more, sir."

"But do not worry, for the future Army General Shuvalov will-"

"Sir?"

"Yes?" Shuvalov dignified Kaminsky's interruption with a glance, now fully dressed and adjusting his tie.

"Your meeting with the operatives," the captain reminded him.

Shuvalov blinked as the revelation struck him. "Oh yes, of course."

~


Minutes later, Shuvalov and Kaminsky entered the conference room to find the gathered intelligence operatives. The former's face, however, screwed up with confusion.

"What the fuck is this heap of monkey shit supposed to be?" Shuvalov growled to Kaminsky under his breath. "I thought we were getting combat operatives!"

"We are getting combat operatives, sir," Kaminsky stated without any expression on his face. "They've been waiting for twenty minutes."

"The captain states correctly," Trotskaya informed: "There are nine of us in total."

"Wait a moment," Shuvalov blurted out. "If there are supposed to be nine of you, where are the other three?"

"Neither Zircon nor Beholder can be present on the battlefield for their own safety," Trotskaya began to elaborate, "and Samotsvet Onyx is on deployment."

"On deployment...? Doing what?!"

"That information is classified, Colonel General."

"Classi-WHAT?!" Shuvalov's eyes split wide as Trotskaya made her enunciation. "How can it be classified if-?"

At such a moment as his speech stopped, he came to a realisation. A grin spread across his face, running almost from ear to ear.

"Colonel, I command you to tell me what Samotsvet Onyx is doing on deployment," he stated in a regal tone.

"I am not authorised to divulge that information to uninvolved parties, Colonel General."

The smile on Shuvalov's face collapsed as Trotskaya remained emotionless. His face creased again with displeasure as he could have sworn a black-lipped grin to creep up the sides of her face.

"Great. Just what I needed... Another government sideshow coming here to steal my thunder!" he complained. "Well listen here, Colonel – you are not in a state propaganda film. This is a warzone, and you will abide by all according military protocols without fail. I trust you to understand at least that."

"Your trust will not be misplaced, General," Trotskaya nodded.

"Good. Kaminsky will give you the grand tour, including showing you to your quarters. I have some important matters of strategy to attend to."

"Of course," Trotskaya nodded again.

When Shuvalov disappeared from sight, Kaminsky exhaled a grating sigh of resignation.

"Ma'am, I cannot apologise enough for the General's behaviour," he said with his hand over his face. "I'm afraid he'll be like this in almost every meeting you have with him."

"Worry not, I've handled far worse than him," the colonel brushed his apology aside. "And you have no reason to apologise for a crime you have not yourself committed."

"Thank you, ma'am. Sometimes I wonder who exactly I pissed off to get stuck with him. Now, before I give you the grand tour of the base, I'm obliged to inform you that for the duration of your mission, you will report to him."

"That is not a problem at all. As I've said, I have taken much worse from men just like him. But they are all the same."

A shiver rode Kozlova's spine as Trotskaya's eyes almost closed, as if reminiscing some fond memory from her past.

"Good to hear he won't be too much trouble, ma'am," said Kaminsky. "If only to placate the General and add him to our command and control database, whereabouts do you have your asset deployed?"

"Presently Onyx is deployed in the Latgale region to undertake an operation of great importance," Trotskaya stated. "I'm afraid I cannot say more than that for obvious reasons."

"Of course, ma'am," Kaminsky enunciated. "Now, if you will follow me, I will show you to the barrack where you'll be staying in between deployments."

"Finally!" Tikhonov exclaimed in a heavy grating voice, revealing a cybernetic vocaliser in his throat as he stood. "Someone who knows what they're doing here!"
Last edited by Blakullar on Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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