We survived. Despite the efforts of Migou, Rapine Storm, and our high command… we are alive. Mostly.
Viking is back in the tender embrace of med-bay after a celebratory beer. I’m sure the doctors are cursing my name and writing nasty things in their reports for hauling him out into the field in his condition. Fuck ‘em. If I hadn’t taken him along, it would’ve killed something inside him. Something that wouldn’t heal. It wasn’t my fault he got screwed by major mission creep. He’s in good hands. They tell me he should be up on his feet in a week or two.
Cut-throat and SPC Dunkwitz both received some heavy radiation poisoning. The docs think they got them into treatment quick enough.
I wish that was the worst of it with Akany, but I think finding Harp broke something loose inside her brain. Can’t blame her much. He’d been a prisoner of the Storm since the transports got shot down. They carved him up and lashed him to a warhead. No way was that not going to be disturbing. I’m glad his throat was too raw to hear his screaming. I wish he’d died. It would’ve been kinder. Shit, I wish Chapel had had the ovaries to discretely put him out of his misery before calling us all over. Regrowing the lost body parts is the easy part, I’m not so sure there’s anything left of his mind to piece back together. I know I’m not going to trust him under arms again, let alone in a cockpit. Got to love the NEG shorthand for this; “KIA” is now in italics. Functionally dead until disproved. He’s not going back to the world like this, the propaganda department can’t risk the questions. I hated the little puke, but he was one of us. He deserved a clean death.
It took me five tries to finish the after-action report. Remembering isn’t the problem. Data feeds aren’t the problem. It just scans so… weird. Some fobbit is going to parse through it and choke on the details. An Eclipse successfully engaging two Quetzecoatl alone. Two saber pilots in two separate engagements surviving a hand-to-hand encounter with a gug. A midnight raid on Migou blanks. Gugs in armor. Storm hordes using restraint. It’s all documented, but some pointy-headed rear-echelon “tactician” after another is going to call me before a board to tell me how reality couldn’t possibly have occurred. And I’m going to have to repeatedly find a way to tell them, with all due respect, to go fuck themselves with a diseased marmoset. It would be so much easier if regs would let me just shoot them for being morons. I have a war to fight.
It’s good to sleep in an actual rack again. And showers. And chow that didn’t spend the last decade in a sealed pouch. On the other hand, now I’m rattling around officer country on a damned destroyer. Funny how one of the very first things I did after racking out was email Kyrzy and my parents. I just needed to reconnect a bit, let them know I was alive.
Needed to remember I’m Reza. The thoughts kind of creep up on you. You forget that some of it isn’t you. Yeah… definitely need to reconnect intimately. Remember.
Reports are waiting. They’re always waiting. The gym has been turned into temporary berthing for other recovered personnel so I can’t use that excuse to avoid the fucking paperwork. Cassiel is dreaming whatever he dreams in storage, though the crew chief has already had to rig up a few blowers to clear away the fog that seems to build up in his bay. I pulled one of the techs aside, we’re going to perk up his paint scheme a bit.
We’re alive. Sounds so bloody strange when I say that.
It seemed like it was going to be a last stand. We were dug in about as well as we could be, fortified as best we could. And our intel was bad. Six fluff-maggots instead of four. And all the other vile nastiness that followed in their wake. But for some reason, two of them broke off to flank us. I don’t know if they were trying to sucker the two fast-movers into taking a chance or what, but I don’t think they were planning on an Eclipse joining in. She hurt one bad enough it ran for the deck where the jets could finish it off and dropped the other one like a bad habit so I’m thinking it wasn’t part of their plan.
I’d been planning to give her a hand, but some assholes decided to roll down the narrow valley onto where Viking and Wash-out were dug in. Someone had been chirping on a wide-open freak and I’d stepped on it with an ECM pulse. I didn’t like the way these quads were charging. Wash-out opened up and missed by a mile. I don’t think he’s ever pulled the trigger in anger before. Viking didn’t have line-of-sight from his hole, his shot was pretty wide too. I punched off a bolt of plasma about the time I finally decided to find out what the weasel on the other end of the comm was babbling about. Must’ve been the lead quad. Signal died the same time it did. Wash-out connected with his next shot and the third bike took a hasty one-eighty.
So I was late enough getting to Cut-throat’s scuffle, I had the choice of firing into two close combats or a rapidly closing flock of shanties. I burned one good, but they were pretty intent on ripping Cut-throat apart. Until I tagged the fastest with a round of plasma. That got some attention. About half stayed with her, and the rest came at me. One got close enough to score the armor over Cassiel’s left arm and chest, but it was also close enough to bite. The mandibles sheared through a wing and took off most of its face. After that, I just maintained space and started burning them out of my sky. The injured ones retreated. Eventually, they were all headed toward the defenses.
I’d expected the Storm to charge in headlong. They slowed down. They fired a missile. It impacted on the ridge behind us. When a second launch was detected, Wash-out broadcasted the camera shot and his panic. Next thing I know, Hopscotch is running into the clear, waving her hand in the air. A Tarshish should never be trying to stand up straight and wave their hand like an excited school girl. It’s just… wrong.
A gug had slipped through the perimeter about this time and had nearly snuck up on Wash-out while he was picking off the rocket in mid-flight. It dropped short, he dropped to the bottom of his foxhole.
Hopscotch wanted to be “first.” I wanted her shooting Storm.
I wanted her to be shooting the gug looming over our two most vulnerable mechs, but she engaged the main mass instead. Babysitter took a chunk out of it though. Both Saber’s kept trying to connect with their lasers, but weren’t having much luck. I gave them a hand.
Unfortunately, Wash-out decided to make a run for it. He got grabbed and slammed. His icon went hard red a second before the escape pod skipped him the length of the valley floor into the hillside. The gug didn’t last much longer before getting splattered over the countryside.
Sensors noted a rising fireball a couple klicks away which told me Chapel had found something juicy.
I’d decided the battle was going to get well and truly stuck in now when the marine company arrived. They’d said they were coming in to assist. Miracles never cease, they were on time. They took the Storm from behind like a hammer. Which was about the time the destroyer came over the horizon and added the weight of her guns.
Fuck me rigid. We’d held on until the cavalry came.
Real cavalry. Texans. Damned cowboys. But they brought barbeque… and beer. Fuck regs, we had ourselves a little party.
Shit. I need to check with medical and see how long they’re planning to keep my XO sedated.