Chapter 5: A Thorn in Our Side

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 204

An hour later, Major Dawson had a holotablet out on the private vehicle bay’s blood-stained cot.  “I don’t think the buggers even know you guys exist yet,” he began.  “And if Scy’s kill count is any indicator, you can kick a lot of bugger arse.  On top of that--” Dawson ticked off points on his fingers.  “--I believe they don’t know we can break their communication jamming quantumly, and that’s huge for us.”

The Major pressed a button on the holotablet, bringing up a flickering three-dimensional, yellow-and-green map of Johannesburg that hovered in the air above the table.

“Look,” Dawson said as he moved the map around, centering it on a familiar structure--the parking garage turned bunker.  “We’re here.”  He tapped on the structure, looked at Scar, who nodded, giving silent recognition that Jerry could see through her eyes, and then turned back to the holo.  “I think there’s holdouts southwest and southeast of here, but I can’t be sure.  Runners are...unreliable.  That, and buggers keep knocking out holdouts that become too obvious with airstrikes, so the map is constantly changing.”

Scy glanced up, looking beyond the ceiling, calculating, “We’re vulnerable here.”

Dawson nodded.  “Very.  It’s just a matter of time before they backtrack on our patrols and skirmish forces.”

“Pardon, sir,” Breach piped in.  “I suspect why, but can you please confirm why the risk of sending out forces if it will inevitably lead to the compromise of our headquarters?”

“Sure, soldier.”  Dawson expanded the map to most of the city, tapping at various locations around their holdout.  “We think they have a jammer nearby.”

“A thorn,” Jerry elaborated.

Dawson prompted the civilian, “Continue.”

Jerry tried to explain: “Er, well, dudes, a thorn is kinda basically an orbitally dropped thing.  It broadcasts an incredibly powerful signal that we suspect jams everything traditional: radio, satellites, the entire electromagnetic spectrum.”

“But it doesn’t affect them,” Breach noted.

One could almost hear Jerry nodding.  “We think it’s a broadcaster, relay, and amplifier for them, too, dudes.”

Scy looked up from the holotablet.  “Which means they’re not on the spectrum,” he said. “So…?”

Breach nodded.  “They’re either using a form of quantum communications,” he said, “like us.  Or they have a form of communications we’re not aware of.”  He scratched idly at his helmet, where his chin would be.  “Being insectoid, it could be a mass or hive mind...”

“I’m not familiar with the term,” Scar said.

“I’ll have to explain that to you later, babe,” Breach told Scar.  “It’s a sci-fi concept, but, basically, they need some kind of external assistance to communicate over a wide area.  And that can be broken.”

Major Dawson followed, “And it might open communications back up for this city, if not the region.  It’s a weak point.  Strategic, even.”

“How do we break it?” Scar asked.  “Can it be broken?  It did come from the sky, like Jerry said.”

“That’s my current conundrum,” Dawson said.  “I’ve barely got the manpower to handle bugger patrols and scouts, much less commit an assault on what’s probably a well-guarded position.  And that’s not even factoring in where the bloody thing is.”

Breach straightened up.  “They just gave us a thread to pull on,” the titanic chimera said.  “And we’ve got a way to communicate and triangulate a signal that has got to be strong enough to drown out everything else in the spectrum.”

“Got it,” Scy said.  “Jerry, one of us, and--”

“I know triangulation,” Scar stated.

The female chimera hurried out the door and into the streets.  A minute later, she sent her signal strength and vector information to Breach, who pulled the same information from Jerry, then compared it with his own.

After a few seconds, Breach looked back up from his calculations.  “Got it,” he said.  “About fifteen-hundred meters at two-eight-three degrees from this position.”

Major Dawson tapped on his holotable, following Breach’s directions.  “There,” Dawson said, pointing at a green-colored park dotted with blue ponds and a river.  “This map is static and out-of-date, but I kinda thought that’s where they’d park a major base, anyways.  We just never got close enough to check it out.”

“What’s our airpower situation like, sir?” Scy asked.

“Shitty,” Dawson replied.  “Even if there were fighters still up, no comms means no calling them if they don’t have quantum lines.”

Scy brought his rifle up in both hands.  “We’ll take care of it,” he said.

Breach and Scar brought themselves to readiness in tandem.

“You three, though?” Major Dawson said with one raised brow.  “It’s not enough.  I’m barely started on scraping together a force that can just hold a city block.”

“The Major spoke the words himself,” Scar mused.  “They know not we exist, and these buggers are unbeaten: confident, cocky, complacent…”

“One small force with the element of speed, surprise, and tactical superiority and all, sir,” Scy told Dawson.  “We can pull this off.”

“They can do it, Major,” Jerry put in.  “We built some real badasses with these guys.”

Scar made an ‘ahem’ sound.

“And gals.”

Major Dawson looked around the room, at all three chimera surrounding the room.  He snorted.  A lopsided grin appeared on his face.  “Sure, why not,” he said.  “We don’t have much left to lose, anyways.”  He turned off the holotable; tucking it back into his pocket.  “The buggers will fuck us eventually if we do nothing, anyways.”

“Hell with it,” the Major said.  “Go for it.”

Scy cocked his head.  “Are those your orders, Major?”

Dawson laughed.  “Yeah, I guess so.  Just one problem though…” He pointed at them all.  “Which one of you leads?  I’ll need someone to blame if this goes sideways.”

Scar raised her hands in surrender.

Breach lifted a hand from holding his minigun.  “Pass,” he said.

It was Scy’s turn to laugh.  “Fuckin’ fine,” he relented.  “Let’s begin.”

Submitted: March 16, 2016

© Copyright 2022 Jack Motley. All rights reserved.


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