The Ofylian War: Tarkan Squad
Chapter 2: ... Always go wrong...
Copyright© 2011 by Huon
The Lieutenant stared at the Alpha squad soldier with disbelief, almost wondering if he didn't hear him right. "Nukes?" asked the Lieutenant again.
"Yes sir, four warheads, no delivery system, but they are ND3 warheads, the same type of warhead that destroyed the Edellin," responded the soldier, bent over and trying to catch his breath from the long run back to the surface. If he wasn't wearing armor, the Lieutenants face would be white as snow, and his eyes would be that of a scared child.
If the Lieutenants thoughts right now could be broadcast like a news channel, all the headlines would be blasting 'Edellin Protocol'. The Lieutenant rushed over to Pvt. Berkeley, the squads' wide-range radioman, "Berkeley, get a message up to command! Code T1-LT, Tarkan Squad is on the ground and reports Edellin Protocol! Four warheads! Make sure they get that!"
"Yes sir!" responded Berkeley, who began fiddling with various dials on a small pad and raising an antenna that wagged like a tail, "Sir, I'll need a different vantage point." The Lieutenant called over Haverson and pointed out the factory where Jake was still keeping watch.
"Top of that tower should give you enough clearance. Remember, T1-LT, Edellin Protocol! Repeat that to me."
The radioman responded quickly and repeated what he was told. The Lieutenant nodded and walked over to Shegar, leaving Berkeley and Haverson confused at what was happening, the Lieutenant never got this shaken up.
Sergeant Shegar was sitting on a piece of concrete debris, the grate protecting his mouth was propped open and he was chewing cocabto, the Ofylian equivalent of tobacco. His eyes were staring at the ground, but as soon as he saw the Lieutenants boots he stood up, spit out the cocabto and closed the grate, offering a half-assed salute to the Lieutenant, "Sir! Sorry sir, just enj—"
"Shegar, tell the squad to get ready. Edellin Protocol is about to be enacted, so make sure we're ready to hold for a while." The Lieutenants order wasn't wasted on Shegar, he knew exactly how serious the situation had just become, and a soldier as old as him didn't forget the name Edellin. Shegar didn't argue.
"Yes sir!" replied the Sergeant, already running to give tactical orders to the rest of the squad, most of them questioning what the Edellin Protocol was, but they did not question their orders. The men's confusion was obvious, of course they didn't know what it was; it's been nearly twenty years since the day it was enacted...
The sterile white hallways of the Edellin Space Weapons Platform were quiet for the first time in years. Save for a young cadet that ran through them on his way to the stations main hangar bay. His face was that of a young man, no more than 18. There were no scars marring the blank expression on his face and his head was crowned with a crew cut that was only a couple hours old. His uniform was just as new, the bright blue uniform hadn't even shown signs of fading. It still had the clean antiseptic smell of a capitol factory upon it as well. A soldier entered the hallway, dressed in the same new uniform and sporting the same 'fresh-out-of-the-academy' look.
"Camel! Hey buddy, you late too?" The young soldier asked in a jubilant voice. He ran up to Private Camel and matched his stride.
"I dozed off, what the hell were you doing, Shegar?" Camel asked between breaths while he ran. He was already running out of breath and he had barely been running. Edellin was a small station compared to the wrecks surrounding them, about the size of a pair of super carriers from the 'Contemporary' Era on Earth. Despite its small size it had become the deciding factor in the First Ofylian Civil War. Capable of dropping a well-armed and large military force from space, it was also the only space asset either side owned and the fact that it could bombard positions from space with both nuclear weapons and with a massive rail-gun, meant that it could single-handedly end the war in minutes.
"You know me Camel, best of intentions!" replied Private Shegar, the only friend Camel had on this station. "So what's going on again? Peace summit right?"
Camel answered with pride in his voice, "Not really, one-year anniversary of the end of the war, but we're finally going to convince them."
"Convince them of what?" Shegar asked.
Camel shook his head, panting a little when they finally reached the door to the hangar bay, "You should read more. We're going to convince them of—"
The hangar bay was large, and any sounds would echo around the massive chamber, but it was silent as a battlefield after a ceasefire, save for the booming voice, laced heavily with confident calling, of President Ellis from the holographic screen. President Ellis was a tall man in his mid-forties, with slicked back black hair and a finely tailored suit. He looked like any other politician, except he was the genius tactician of a president who brought the 79-year Ofylian Civil War to a close. He also had a flair for ceremony; the Peace Summit took place in the heart of the New Republic of Ofylia, the capitol city, Atartha.
He spoke with power, dignity, and above all, resolution. This was the day that it would end, the day that Ofylians would become one nation again and work toward restoring the glory days. The speech was short, the style of President Ellis:
"Ofylians, Children of the Colonies, We've fought for too long, and our division has caused us to splinter into a million pieces. Today, we begin putting them back together. Just as the Forefathers would have wanted us to do: to rebuild under our own power, without help from the Terran menace. With the consent of the governing bodies of the New Republic of Ofylia and the Ofylian Republic I am honored to announce that Ofylia will finally join together as brothers. We will become a single Ofylian nation dedicated to peace, prosperity, and the restoration of our former glory!"
The applause from the holo-screen was drowned by the cheering of every soldier in that hangar bay, peace had been achieved! Several Ofylian flags were waved by the soldiers who began to dance and cheer in earnest. The station officers, overlooking from the hangar bay control room, clinked glasses of expensive alcohol together as they made their plans for retirement.
"It's over!" jubilantly roared one soldier, another yelled about how he could finally go back to his family, these messages were repeated throughout the entire hangar bay and likely in every military base on both sides.
Suddenly the image of the screen was warped, the signal was lost. A team of technicians quickly determined that it was not due to natural interference. The joyous cries stopped as everyone wondered what happened; did the communications array get hit by debris? Was there a malfunction somewhere along the line? The New Republic Army couldn't be jamming a signal on this magnitude ... Could it?
The once-dark hangar was suddenly lit up by the fiery red light of the alarm, and a blaring siren overtook any speech. Peace had been announced too soon. Camel and Shegar waited patiently as squad assignments were announced over the intercom.
"Tarkan Squad, Report to Hangar Bay One, Section C," ordered the emotionless voice of the Edellins' battle station operators. The two young privates ran over to their assigned area, half of the squad was straining themselves to get into the M8 Tactical Infantry Suit, also known as 'Ovens'. This term came to be as the earlier M7 model had been known to heat up into levels which, if left unattended, could literally cook a soldier alive. The M8 did away with that, with a variety of innovations, but the name continued to stick.
"Tarkan Squad! Status report?" The Lieutenant ordered, only the Sergeant knew his real name, the squad knew him as Heart, shortened to just Hart. Rumor had it that he literally punched out the heart of an enemy during the war to get that name. His armor certainly reflected experience. He strode towards the drop ship in armor that was bigger, bulkier, and the sound of air escaping couldn't be heard when he moved. The helmet was also quite different, a pair of blue-lit slits and a faceguard made of a heavy metal that jutted out into a point, like the horn of a rhinoceros. If he stood still he would appear to be an obsidian statue from hell, a sight that would turn any enemies' day into a nightmare.
Shegar nudged Camel as the Lieutenant began talking to the Sergeant and asked, "Hey Camel! The Lieutenants' got special armor. Wonder if that's the M9?"
"It's not special, and it's not the M9" replied Camel, who had just gotten into the leggings of his M8 suit, "It's the M7."
Shegar secured his own shoulder pads and helped Camel get his on, "M7? The real Oven? He got a death wish?"
"I don't know Shegar." Camel answered, grabbing his rifle and clicking the safety off before piling into the drop ship behind Shegar.
Lieutenant Hart almost scratched the ceiling of the drop ship as he stood like a statue, towering over the squad. The design of the drop ship, like the rest of the station, was Terran. The interior of the ship was white, and the cabin was brightly lit, with the seats being a sleeker, padded design, not the metal grates everyone was used to sitting on. Any Ofylian engineer would consider this ship to be waste of resources; but the Terrans could afford to be wasteful.
The squad went right into their seats after suiting up and began doing their pre-drop checks: Ammo boxes full, heads-up-display fully enabled, and armor working at 85% efficiency. Once this was completed each soldier hit a button that would turn on a green light above their seats, indicating combat readiness. Once the cabin was drenched in the green light Lieutenant Hart, who stood rather than sat down, spoke in a clear and commanding voice, "Tarkan Squad, our orders are to assess the tactical situation of our forces at Atartha, the New Ofylian Republic capitol city. Reports indicate communications are down across the board. This means that those Noras could be launching a full scale attack as we speak, or we've lost the war and the Capitols gone, so be damn sure you're ready when your boots hit the ground."
The Capitol could be gone.
That possibility put the fear of god into the men, there's no way the Nora's, as the soldiers of the Ofylian Government called the military of the New Ofylian Republic, could have breached Capitol defenses. No way.
"We'll be dropping in hot, no pre-mission Intel, expect anything. Have I made myself clear?" asked the Lieutenant in a calm voice that seemed to betray the dire situation.
The squad responded with a loud, "Sir, yes sir!"
"Tarkan Squad. Four mi—Wait. Kell, get confirmation on that!" screeched the intercom of the ship. Lieutenant Hart turned around and tapped a keypad, opening the door to the cockpit. It was fairly spacious, with two high-backed chairs and a variety of blinking dots, glowing screens, and interesting levers and knobs. To the Lieutenant it meant nothing, but to the pilots it was the most advanced piece of aeronautics that was currently in the Ofylian arsenal.
The two pilots looked to the hulking mass of deadly force that stood in the doorway, "Lieutenant, we've got a sighting on an object heading to the Edellin. It's too fast to get a read on. We're awaiting confirmation on what it might be."
"Any guesses?" asked Hart.
The pilot shook his head, "We're not sure, sir. Once confirmation comes in we'll know more." The pilots' confusion did not last long, as a screen on the pilots side of the cockpit lit up with the identification of the object: 'Likely ID: ND3 'Sheppard' Class warhead installed on MDS2 Ground-to-space delivery system. Threat Level: Red.'
"Forefathers ... They're going to nuke the Edellin," quietly whispered the pilot under his breath. "They're going to nuke the Edellin!!" The Lieutenant looked into space; the shining white station was still in sight. It looked so peaceful out in space, amidst the wreckage of battles from a century ago. Suddenly it came into view, a streak of fire across the black backdrop of space. It sped up when it reached a hundred meters of the station, ignoring the countermeasures the station offered: Flares, arrays of anti-space rail guns; they even flew out a transport ship to try and intercept it.
Lieutenant Harts jaw dropped as he saw the station disappear into a veil of fire and smoke. Then there was nothing. He clicked on the intercom for the drop ship, "Squad, prepare to drop in force. We're not taking any chances."
The Lieutenant backed up into the belly of the ship and looked onto his men. He was silent and oblivious to the looks of his men, their eyes begging for information from the man they thought powerful as the Forefathers themselves. The squad Sergeant was first to speak, "Sir, are communications back online? Did we get orders?"
"Sergeant," the Lieutenant cleared his throat and took a look at his men. This were his children, and he had just seen their home destroyed. For all he knew they were the last of the Ofylian military. "The Edellin is gone."
"Sir, what do you mean gone?" asked the Sergeant.
"Nora nuked it."
The drop ship became eerily silent as each soldier contemplated what this meant. The New Republic of Ofylia, a nation that had been threatened by destruction for so long, was now in possession of nuclear weapons and they had just used one to destroy the biggest advantage Ofylia had in the war. On the day that they were ready to peacefully rejoin the Ofylian government.
The rest of the ride to the planet was spent in silence as every soldier continued checking themselves. One of the soldiers, a corporal, took out a picture of another soldier and stuck it into the side of his helmet, between the communication line and a flashlight the suit was equipped with. The soldier next to him looked over with intrigue and asked who that was. It was the corporals' brother, a technician on the Edellin.
The ships intercom buzzed on and the pilots voice came over, sounding hollow and defeated, "Lieutenant, we're about to enter Atartha's air defense zone, we'll land in one minute, Forefathers willing."
If a bystander in the streets of Atartha looked into the sky that night they would see ribbons of bullets from Mobile Anti Air guns lighting up the sky. Seeker missiles, like water bugs zoomed to and from their designated zones, awaiting targets to fall into their sensor ranges. Sudden lines of gray smoke filled the sky, easily traceable to the rail gun defenses of the city. Every now and then an explosion, like fireworks at a festival, would dot the sky. Getting to the ground wouldn't be easy.
The drop ship tumbled lazily downwards, streaks of bullets grazed the left side of the hull, but the armor of the ship shook it off with ease. Two lines of bright white light nearly impaled the ships belly, but it shot too soon and the ship passed harmlessly through the gray lines. Luckily their descent took them out of the line of the seeker missiles and straight into the fairgrounds outside of the New Ofylian Republics capitol building.