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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 58 - The Other War
Babylon System
Pentagon Worlds
April 3rd, 3062

Star Colonel Seth Irons was grateful that he could not smell what was inside the quarantine facility outside Greypeak through his helmet. Nearly a hundred body bags were lined up in neat rows while MedTechs took samples for analysis. He leaned down to look at one of the crushed corpses, brilliant metallic tattoos were visible under the bruising. His Coregn Renner crouched beside him, the soft swish of their plastic overcoats audible in the external mic.

“Just like the others.”

“I know that the Hellions have some of the highest usage rates of EI among the Clans but have never seen so many in one place.” stated Seth

“Nor have I heard of such a thing, Colonel. Where do you think they were headed?”

“Unknown, I have requested a full log of all Jumpship arrivals from the Diamond Sharks, but it is possible they used a non-standard point.”

“Likely even, considering the other cargo inside.”

Both men walked over the other bits of material pulled from the wreckage, four large containers of a viscous black liquid marked X67, heavily damaged Zorya light tank, and a trio of half-sized quadruped mechs with a distinctly feline profile reminiscent of a cheetah except with a scorpion like barbed tail and claws. While each was damaged in a certain way one could piece together what they once looked like, “Were we able to determine what these are yet, Renner?”

Neg, Star Colonel, I have the assay team working on the chemicals, but it definitely looks like Harjel.”

“There is no Harjel on Tathis.”

“It could be imported. These machines are very curious though,” Renner moved his gloved hands over the machine’s exposed endoskeleton, “there is no cockpit, how would one control it?”

“Perhaps it is a drone,” Seth looked at the Zorya’s smashed comm array, “I know we use something like this for target practice, responsiveness is to slow for actual combat.”

“Would it be possible to remotely control these machines in real time using EI?”
“If it is then the Hellions could be working on a new paradigm shifting technology that we cannot counter. I will have to consult our Scientists and send a message to Sheridan.”

Two days later Seth, Renner, and Watch Commander Soula sat next to one another in front of the command room’s holotank. All non-essential personnel were banned due to the Top-Secret nature of this liaison. “Sheridan managed to access some of the datacore you provided. What we found was somewhat disturbing.”

Before them the holotank came to life, data streamed across the bottom but was incoherent to the Warriors on the other side. One of the quadruped machines which were apparently codenamed: BASILISK walked slowly across the volcanic ash. The sun hovered over the horizon as the rounded saucer shape of a camouflaged Asshur recon tank zoomed past along the foreground. A box marked the speed as it circled back ‘151 km/h,’ the BASILISK waited for the machine to come back. Appearing next to it was a digital line which the Asshur stopped at, its hover fans blowing ash around it in a great cone.

A countdown appeared and when it stuck zero the machines were off the races; the speedy hovercraft took an early lead but was being paced by the BASILISK which pulled ahead at the end to narrowly win. Its final clocked speed ‘165 km/h.’ “How can a machine like that move faster than a hovercraft? It could catch an un-boosted Fire Moth. Incredible.”

As the feed continued it showed that the machine was now limping, an Anhur hovered over the surface. Astoundingly it leapt onto the boarding ramp like a big cat on prey before disappearing inside, without stopping the VTOL closed its doors and flew away. A Fire Moth and the Asshur followed behind and the camera went black. “As you can see it appears that the Hellions were working on a fast attack vehicle, the like of which we have not seen before.”

Seth puzzled over the probable uses for such a thing, “An airmobile fast attack unit would be devastating to our mech forces. These machines would be impossible to pin down and could easily disrupt large battle theaters, perfect for Flurry Clusters and the Hellion battle strategy.”

He shuttered thinking about what it would be like to have to fear giant metal cats in his Thug. Spots, formerly Gabriela’s cat still clawed at him even after all these years of adoption. Despite that he would honor her memory by taking care of the irritating creature. Elemental attacks were already terrifying if you added armored Myomer enhanced Prides of lions it would be more so particularly if they hit at speed with surprise.

“Exactly and if he could re-task an EI operator with another one from a dropship or installation they could be a persistent and immediate threat. Already Khan Drake has proven disruptive to our strategic interests. He has two of our Warships and his previous contract agreement with the Jade Falcons must have given him access to their Scientists or resources to expedite R&D unless he is working covertly with another Clan. The Hellions have a history of moving fast. If their Scientists can perfect this design or even remote operation via EI and get it into serial production our Touman could be in great peril.”

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