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Chapter 1 - AU Zhukoverse Drabbles

An Ambush gone wrong

Location - Dell - Federated Commonwealth
Year - 3051

A Zhukoverse setting story.

Ganesha (Combat Vehicle)

Ganesha Assault Vehicle
"Big Bertha"

Big Bertha’s tracks slithered slightly on the wet mud as the Ganesha assault transport crested the top of the hill it had been climbing, its tracks clanked as it came to a halt and the clamshell doors at the back opened, letting light out and rain in.

Before the door had hit the floor the Elementals inside were on the move, two Points of standard Elementals and a Point of Deimos light Battle Armor, the smaller suits already sprinting ahead to take up position as the turret on the forward hull of Bertha tracked from left to right.

Deimos Light Battle Armor (Matt Plog 2019)

Deimos Light Battle Armor

“Report.” Point Commander Vincent said as he scanned the terrain around them, heavily wooded like many of the approaches to the Lyran defenses in the Mercer Pass. Stretched out behind them was the rest of the Star, a mix of heavy and assault tanks. They could have gone around but the rate of advance would have been even slower than on these muddy paths that barely deserved the name.

“Thermals have picked up something as we crested the hill, it could be an ambush or a downed aerospace asset. Marking on your HUD.” Came the voice of Warrior Evans, a man that Vincent trusted having spent three years attached to his vehicle and he trusted the older Warrior’s instincts.

“Why the hell did Theta not scout this route?” Vincent grumbled slightly as he walked past the big APC. “They did. Its why I stopped as this was not there earlier, that and I thought you could do with stretching your legs.”

“Alfa Point, on me and take up firing positions here.” Little twitches of his fingers and flicks of his eyes marked the point on the map, the data link transmitting the coordinates to Vincent’s Point. “Charlie, hold back and prepare to sweep round to the right if they try to run, Bravo…”

“Yes yes…we are the bait. Again.” That was Point Commander Elise, older, experienced and tough as durasteel, but she had a sardonic sense of humor but lead her Point with an almost casual ease and you didn’t want to be person to cross her.

Dell was proving to be an ‘interesting’ target, the Lyran’s had moved away from the huge cities that were the worlds most prominent features with a population density that was already giving the Merchant, Scientist and Labor Caste Factors a nervous breakdown with them trying to figure out how they were to administer such a mass of humanity.

The Lyran defenders, centered around the 24th Arcturan Guards RCT had instead withdrawn into the woods and mountains to chip away at the Hell’s Horses forces that had landed to engage them. After a week of skirmishes and ambushes as well as several pitched engagements often at shockingly short range, the Lyran HQ had been found, an old SLDF facility that had been turned into a fortified HQ. Its defenses were too strong to risk bringing a DropShip in and so Star Colonel Richard Liang had spread the 23rd Mechanized Assault Cluster out to form a cordon and close it around the HQ like a noose.

And Gamma Star of the 201st Supernova Trinary was part of that noose. The lighter Deimos suits of Gamma slunk around to the east, hugging the ridge and terrain, their black and green camouflage making them quite hard to make out despite their bulk. Alfa Point was also moving into position, within range of their lasers and SRM’s whilst Bravo looked like it was patrolling ahead of the hulking form of Big Bertha which started nosing its way over the hill.

The Lyran’s were not idiots, they had thermal gear too but it was considerably inferior to that of the troops facing them, but they’d prepared their ambush site well, recoilless rifles and machine guns were well positioned as were troops with SRM launchers who were waiting for the ‘patrol’ to enter their killing zone. It might have even worked if one soldier, a militiaman barely out of training but young and strong enough to carry the heavy ammo boxes for the machine gun he was crewing hadn’t pressed fire a moment too early.

Everything happened very quickly, even as lines of hammering tracers reached out for Beta’s Elementals they were already charging forwards, the snarl of their lasers backed by the staccato barks of their arm mounted SMG’s or the heavier boom of combat shotguns.

The loud whine of jump jets filled the air as Charlie Point leapt forwards, the smaller size and far greater agility of the Deimos suit a Kerensky given gift in such tight confines, their shoulder mounted machine guns tracking, hunting for targets.

Behind them Big Bertha lurched forwards, its heavy bulldozer blade lowered as the 100 ton tank charged forwards its turret mounted large pulse laser blitzing bright blue bolts into targets, its Streak missile launchers roaring.

Explosions filled the forest path, recoilless rifles belching shots into the front of the onrushing tank, the rounds bouncing harmlessly off its armor at worst, at best they left little black smudges where the HEAT rounds failed to penetrate. With fifteen Elementals swarming over their position and an assault tank nosing towards them the Lyran troops fought bravely but Elementals were bred, born and raised for this exact kind of fight and despite their being over forty well equipped infantrymen, the battle was decided from the moment the ambush was blown and it was all over, bar the shouting.

Elemental battlesuits were not just tough and gave their wearers heavy firepower, they were designed to fight in the mayhem of a Mech fight or the tangle of an urban jungle. On his suits HUD, Point Commander Vincent knew where all his friendly Battlesuits were, their ammo status, even their damage and the medical condition of the Elemental inside. He could see their targets location, ranges, threat assessments, terrain details and more, all with a simple flick of his eyes or finger movement that his suit would pick up. Checking, filtering and understanding this data was part of an Elementals training, even though the data was broken down into easy to digest and understand information, you was still bombarded with it, a normal, untrained human would simply be overwhelmed but for Elementals it was as easy as breathing. And this was all done whilst engaging targets and moving whilst under fire. The Lyran’s fallback position was a large clump of rocks that gave them excellent cover and a fairly clear field of fire to their front and sides, they knew if they ran they’d be gunned down, so the soldiers of the 24th Arcturan Guard and the militia they’d trained took cover and opened fire for all they were worth.

Big Bertha rumbled forwards smashing trees aside with its bulk or bulldozer blade before it came to a halt, bullets bouncing harmlessly off its front. The front mounted flamers twitched and then fired, but it wasn’t a sheet of burning hell, just a thick, strong smelling, clear substance that reeked of petrochemicals. It splashed over the rocks, catching the Lyran troops as well as drenching their position and the surviving NCO in charge knew what it was, propellant. All it would take was a single spark and their whole position would go up.

“Cease fire! Cease firing!” She called out. It was a tactic that was called ‘dry squirting’, a blast of propellant to convince any troops to surrender in a defended position because the next shot would be a full blast that would kill them all. The Sargent looked around, her men were willing to fight and die if needed, but the militia? Most of them were city boys or dockhands that had volunteered, one she knew had lied about his age, he was sixteen, not eighteen.

There was a loud SNAP-HISS from the tank as the pilot flames for the bow mounted flamers activated and she knew time was up.
“Stand up…slowly, leave your weapons on the ground or we’re dead.” She said as she slowly raised her hands, looking at the imposing bulk of the tank and the bullet and scorch scarred Elementals standing either side of the vehicle.

“You made the correct decision. Do you have any wounded?” The voice was filtered but it still sounded male.
“Three, one badly.”
One of the suits moved slightly and two more detached from the group, moving to take the prisoners “You fought bravely despite being outmatched. We accept your surrender and will see to your wounded.”

“And that’s it? We’d heard you guys were brutal.”
“We are not Smoke Jaguars, we are Hell’s Horses, fire is one of our symbols, but no one deserves to die by fire. We gave you a choice, you chose correctly. But try and escape and you will not be given a second chance.”' ' Vincent smiled slightly behind his viewport, perhaps he was hamming it up a bit, but he wasn’t lying, the prisoners would join those already taken and would be assigned to helping clear up the rear echelon’s supply chain and do menial tasks like road repair. Almost on queue the sound of jet engines was heard as an Anhur flew overhead, the VTOL jet circling to land and take on prisoners.

“Mount up, we have another three nav points to check.” Vincent commanded, they’d been lucky, some damage that could be easily repaired aboard Big Bertha and no injuries, if the Spheroids hadn’t panicked then things could have gone worse. He knew they would win but this far into the Inner Sphere, even small numbers of wounded or killed were harder to replace. The Command Circuit back to the Homeworlds was creaking under the strain of moving so many megatons of supplies and equipment as well as the huge number of personnel required to keep REVIVAL pushing forwards, the bold dash now slowing to a crawl, perhaps there would be a breakthrough and the Spheroids defenses would crumble, or, Great Father forbid, a disaster befell the Clans and it forced a halt or them onto the defensive. Only time would tell as nobody knew what the future held, apart from more battles and more bloodshed on the path towards Terra.

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