The Last Ride

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 3 (v.1) - The Butterfly Solders

Submitted: May 13, 2016

Reads: 308

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Submitted: May 13, 2016

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The two major divisions, the Wild Cards and the Hells Angles, were the two major fighting forces the Vanu had to offer. At the time, they were strung out holding various hard points along the VS borders. The Crown was a formidable fortress, and was centrally located at the heart of Indar, but there were too many hard points to cover elsewhere for the main forces to defend it. In an effort to pull important enemy assets away from other, more important locations, Command Gave control of the base over to Tiger and his Pale Riders. There was a second squad there, but I never spoke to them and there pink butterfly insignia gave me cause enough to stay away from them.

I was much more serious in those days.

When we arrived at the Crown we found the butterfly troopers had already started setting up defenses. Turrets were already manned, ammunition had been moved to the areas overlooking the approaching roads, and armor had been assembled to cover the roads. Most of us were impressed at how well the younger squad had done in preparation, but Tiger simply scoffed.

Not a single repair sundy up. What the hell are they going to do once the enemy starts putting holes in their armor?”

Get their engineers to repair them” Ginga said as though proposing an outlandish idea. Tiger gave him a sidelong glance that expressed his appreciation for his sarcasms.

Pull some repair sundies and place them next to the vehicles and turrets”.

Despite the squads dislike for them, repair sunderers were one of the most useful vehicles in an armored convoy. Aside from moving troops in their armored interior, they possessed a nanite generator that created and deployed airborne nanites that actively searched out and repaired damaged armor. If you could defend it, a well placed sunderer could change the course of a battle. And despite our constant grumbling about the lack of air conditioning, It was better to be alive than comfortable.

We set about deploying our sunderers and acquainting ourselves with the surrounding terrain. I had selected an area along the southern butte where the TR would most likely make their push. It was there that I found Fiend. Fiend was a lot like Doc and Tiger, a veteran of the fight and one of the leading members of the Pale Riders. However, that's where their similarities ended.I was cleaning and prepping my medical kit which functioned much like a repair sundy.

A medic would carry a pack on his back that, inside, contained a nanite dispenser. However, unlike a sunderer, the medical nanites were synced up to a hand held medical tool. It read the injuries of a soldier and dispense nanites to repair the damaged tissue. However, if the soldier was dead there was nothing the nanites could do and would not deploy.

How're you doing Foob” Fiend asked as he approached, hefting a Lasher over his shoulder?

I'm fine. A little concerned about these butterfly guys though. They look a little green”. Fiend turned to a small group of butterfly solders and looked them up and down.

I think it's supposed to be a fairy” Fiend said, calking his head to the side. “And I did hear they're newly assembled. So green is expected of them”.

You'd never catch me wearing an insignia like that”. Fiend turned back to me and with a look of amusement.

It's just a flag Foob. If seeing that pink fairy gives them a drive to win, then all power to them. A little strange, but all power to them”

I guess” I said as I open my canteen and took a mouthful.

Listen Foob” Fiend said before sitting down across from me, giving out a sigh of relief as the weight from his heavy armor was temporarily alleviate. “I have something important to talk to you about” he said as he placed his Lasher on his lap.

If you're proposing you'll have to wait behind Daku and Ginga. My heart can only go so many ways” I said, with a grin that never failed to make Fiend look uncomfortable.

I'm going to need your help with something Foob.”? I wiped the moisture away from my mouth and gestured that I was listening.I was talking to Tiger earlier and he doesn’t think we can hold the crown.” That caught my attention. I leaned sat up straight and locked eyes with him. “More specifically, he thinks the Taren’s will sidestep us, and go right for TI Alloys.”

TI Alloys was our only link to the VS warp gate. If the link was severed, and the link lost, the teleporter inside the crown would shut down. The Crown’s shields and turrets would still be powered by the generators on site, but the vehicle bays would stop delivering vehicle and with the teleporter off, there would be no way to get troops in or out. We would be effectively, cut off.

I leaned forward and dropped my voice to a whisper. “Why does Tiger think that”?

It’s only possibility at this point. If we were in their position, Tiger and I agreed we'd try to cut off the Crown before trudging up these killing fields” He said sweeping his hand to indicate the roads leading up the Crowns exterior. “TI Alloys is a far more forgiving base to assault. If they can cut us off there, the Crown is as good as theirs.”

With every word Fiend uttered, the reality of our situation began to dawn on me. I began looking look back and forth for some sign of reassurance. We always joked at the TR’s expense. How they were too scared to fight us man to man, how they needed their precious tanks to bring them victory, how the only reason they stood a chance at winning was because they found a way to hack the system. But in truth, we were scared of them.

They had time and time again orchestrated attacks that tore both the Vanu and the New Conglomerate apart with surgical precision. The strength of the Taren Republic was not in its aircraft or ground vehicles, but in its leadership.  

There is no way they could take TI Alloys. Half of Natural Selection is stationed there” I said, hearing the fear creep into my own voice.

Foobloo” Fiend said, locking eyes with me. “Calm down”. He held my gaze for a few moments, showing me the lack of fear in his eyes. And if he was not scared, I had no cause to be ether.

Fiend was considered by the squad to be a Taren killer. He seemed to have a kind of sixth sense about him when it came to the Tarens. He said he could feel them and predict their moves. Often times while riding point, he’d call the squad to a halt. And sure enough, the Tarens would be waiting for us, their ambush thwarted by Fiend’s TR radar. It was often joked amongst the squad that Fiend was a filthy Taren in another life.

If Tiger thought it was as bad as all that, we wouldn’t be here” Fiend said with a sly smile.

I guess” I said, my confidence slightly restored. “Then why do you bring it up”?

I bring it up because of what Tiger’s doing to make sure we all get out of here in one piece”. Fiend looked back to the spire and pointed to the top platforms. “Tiger is putting me and Zoartar up there. He wants us to be spotters and monitor how the fight is going and relay it back down to him. If we think the fight is going south, here or at TI Alloys, he wants us to sound a retreat”.

Did you tell him yet” came a cheerful voice to our left? We both turned and saw Zoartar stepping around a freshly dug foxhole.

One of the stranger members of the Pale Riders, Zoartar never wore a normal helmet. He always had one that had a camera attachment to its side. It was a set up used by reporters and film crews when they followed troops into battle. When I asked him about it he told me he was going to use his helmet footage to create a documentary about the squads exploits. I always participated whenever he asked us for help or to speak to the camera, but it was always awkward because we had to speak to a camera that jutted out the side of his helmet rather than talk to his face. Despite that, he had a quirky attitude that jelled well with the rest of the crew. And we all reveled in the thought that we all might get famous from his videos some day.

I’m telling him now” Fiend said as we both stood to meet him.

So did he say yes”?

I hadn’t gotten there yet”.

Ask me what” I asked. Fiend sighed at his conversation being hijacked by Zoartar, and hefted his Lasher back onto his shoulder.

Tiger only wanted two people on the tower. Now call me greedy, but I want a third guy up there. Preferably a medic.”

Yea. We’re supposed to keep our heads down but it’s a long run from here to there. And if a mosquito decides to take a pot shot at a pair of annoying assholes, we’re kinda boned” Zoartar said with a grin. I looked up at the spire and understood their concern.

One of you guys can’t be a medic”?

We could” Fiend said. “But I fully intend to use this” he said, pointing to his Hades anti-air rocket launcher. “If you know the TR, you know they will be bringing air support”.

And lets face it” Zoartar said, patting his Ghost sniper rifle. “There's no better place than the spire for an infiltrator.”

How about it Foob? I’m not gonna say it’s safer up there. I'm just going to say it's safer up there. And besides, you’re far less likely to get some asshole trying to hunt for medics up there.”

He was right of course. It was common for infiltrators and light assaults to target the support units like medics and engineers over their scarier counterparts. Medics were not defenseless, in fact far from it. But it was impossible to heal your friends while holding an assault rifle at the same time. It’s the fear of every medic’s to be caught at the end of an enemies cross hairs while healing a comrade. But as I looked around my mind was made up.

Thanks Fiend. But I think they'll need me down here more” I said gestured to the Pink Fairy troopers around me. “They need all the help they can get. We didn't become one of the most renowned squads in the VS for choosing the easy way, right”.

No” Zoartar said while fiddling with his camera. “I'm pretty sure we got there by Tiger yelling at people. That, and every engineer with an anti-tank mine seems to flock to him”.

Here they come” ,an overly excited voice yell over proximity comms, “northeast bridge”. And just like that, the Crown fell silent. Shovels stopped their digging, engines ground to a halt, conversations stopped. Many of us were veterans, but it was all fun and games until now. The real work was about to commence.

Fiend, Zoartar, and I walked to the edge of the cliff side and looked Northeast to a large bridge that stretched from the Crown, over one of the Crowns surrounding canyons, over to the TR lines. Despite the distance, and bridge being covered, there was no mistaking that there was something coming. Columns of dust and smoke covered the bridges far end and spewed out from the end of the bridge. Inside the small dust storm I could see flickers of movement from what hid inside the encroaching fog of war. Zoartar slipped the scope off his rifle before lifting it to his eye.

Oh yea” he said in a sigh, that seemed more telling of our situation than a full report. “Prowlers and Lightnings, riding two by two in standard formation. Looks like a pair of Harassers riding point”.

Where's the air support” Fiend said with a confused look on his face?

Don't see any”.

Can't be” Fiend said, lifting the scope of his Nemesis to his eye. “The TR would never attack a place like the Crown without air support.”

Well I don't see them.” Zoartar took the scope away from his eye and sighed again. “Maybe they're at the Scarred Messa. With the Hell's Angles there, it's going to take a lot of air support to crack them.” Fiend shook his head in disbelief.

This isn't the Vanu we're talking about here Zoartar. The TR have more than a handful of fliers. They're out there.”

What the hell are you all standing around for” came Tiger's angry voice over platoon speak? We all turned back to the spire, to see Tiger in his prized desert camouflage Max suite, standing on a railing, overlooking the Crown. “Those bastards are going to be up that fucking road and down our throat in two fucking minutes! Get your thumbs out of your asses and move!”

In seconds, the Crown turned from a bunch of awestruck idiots, to a bustling hub of activity as everyone began prepping for the assault up the Northeast road.

Daku” Tiger yelled as as she and Ginga drove under him in Ginga's signature Wraith tank! “Get your ass down there and stop them from moving up that bridge”!

Mind your own ass Tiger” Daku said as she shot him a middle finger, before she and Ginga headed down to the bridge to do exactly what he told them to do.

Fiend, you traitorous, Terran bastard! Why aren't you up here”?

Fiend's hitting on me sir” I said, earning an uncomfortable look from Fiend.

And I'm trying to make a Foobloo sandwich sir” Zoartar said with an elbow to Fiend's ribs. Tiger's face was unreadable behind his Max helmet's visor but you could tell from his body language that he was rolling his eyes.

Foobloo you little bitch. Go heal something, or better yet, get in a Max and do something constructive”.

Yes sir” I said, giving a mock salute. Tiger was always swearing and yelling about something, but we all had learned that he meant it endearingly. Or as Marshall would said once, he loves, therefore, he pisses vinegar.

Last chance Foob” Fiend said, as he turned to head back to the spire.

Thanks Fiend, but I'm going to go keep Tiger from killing himself.”

Your loss” Fiend said as head ran to catch up with Zoartar.

As I ran to catch up with my comrades, I looked back and saw Fiend and Zoartar disappear inside the structure, dragging a butterfly medics behind them. Had I known what was about to befall the Pale Riders, I'd have stayed in the spire. 


© Copyright 2019 David M Beatch. All rights reserved.

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