Author Topic: The Terran-Numerian War  (Read 1578 times)

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Offline Þórgrímr

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Re: The Terran-Numerian War
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2010, 08:26:54 PM »
[center:1o37x934]Chapter Six

June 22nd, 2554 AD
Rigel Kentaurus A III[/center:1o37x934]

With a slight shriek of metal scraping on metal the polished gun barrel slid into the body of the plasma rifle, the usually silver tube painted a dull assortment of browns to better suit the craggy and inhospitable terrain Rigel offered. The barrel twisted, locking into place with a satisfying click as the magnetic seals activated and held the weapon together. Considering the device had to handle bursts of plasma streaming down its magnetic bottle that served as a barrel, he hoped, most sincerely, that the seals were as tight and secure as advertised. Allegedly the magnets were strong enough to lift a tank, a statement that he treated with a very healthy amount of scepticism.

Life had taught Alex Jenkins to be careful, to watch his back and to take every statement, affirmation, and unshakable truth with a large dose of salt. All too often something prized as unbreakable broke, or something unconquerable fell, or something impossible happened. This war had shown him nothing was safe, or certain, and that even his own beliefs needed to be constantly checked, weighed, and challenged. Complacency only got you killed.

He replaced the handguards over the rifles vitals and began to fold up his cleaning kit, giving the weapon a final once over, to ensure it was spotless. He had to admit the plasma rifles the military had gone with were, at the very least, easy to maintain. They had virtually no moving parts and were made out of Tri-Tanium alloy, an almost indestructible material that couldn’t chip, bend, twist, or break. He had seen a plasma pistol run over by a tank and still function perfectly afterwards, a very handy advertisement for the manufacturer. Unfortunately the material was remarkably heavy for its size, which made using it as body armor impossible, something which most infantry found disheartening.

The rifle itself, however, only had a fairly small amount of pure Tri-Tanium in it lining the firing chamber and barrel, which kept the weight down to a manageable level, although the relatively small weapon still weighed as much as the previous generation of larger more complicated slug throwers. Slight as they appeared the weapons were still very useful in a melee and Alex had seen first hand how strong they were, even against thick Numerian skulls.

Besides its strength and ease of maintenance the other great advantage of the plasma rifle was ammunition. The weapon was fed from an interchangeable fusion battery, a small energy magazine a couple of inches long that contained enough energy for dozens of rounds. It allowed each soldier to carry thousands of rounds of ammunition with ease, something impossible with the old slug throwing assault rifles. In a war such as this one where soldiers could be cut off from supplies for months this quantity of ready to use ammunition was a tremendous advantage, and the primary reason why Earth had adopted energy weapons across the board, both on land and in space.

The only downside was that the rifles didn’t deliver the same physical impact as a 7.62mm bullet travelling at twice the speed of sound and was less effective against body armor. Instead infantry had to spray a target with plasma and trust quantity of fire over quality, a tactic that did seem to work most of the time. Another linked problem was that the bright green plasma rounds made it easy to spot where the troops were firing from, and to direct fire on them.

As such some specialist troops still used slug throwers, especially snipers and infiltrators. Silenced submachine guns and invisible snipers had both been a massive shock to the Numerians, the uniquely Terran concepts inflicting damage far beyond their actual numbers. Even the mere hint of a nearby sniper reduced most Numerian platoons to crawling across the ground, cursing vehemently every inch of the way.

“Good as new.” Alex said with a sigh of satisfaction, laying the weapon on the mat he had been using for a bed these past few weeks. “Weapon inspection in five minutes!” He called out. “If I find dirt on anything I will PT you so hard your grandkids will be born exhausted!”

“Yes Staff,” a dejected chorus of voices resounded.

It was not a huge surprise Alex Jenkins had made Staff Sergeant. He had decided early on the Marine Corps was going to be his life, despite a brief flirtation with the idea of joining the close orbit and aerial fighter command, and had dedicated himself to the task. Despite being a fairly new recruit his performance in the Denevan war ensured he wasn’t one of the men demobilized after the conflict as the UST cut down its troop strength to something more sustainable in peacetime. Unsurprisingly, the Army and Marine Corps bore the lion’s share of cuts, reduced heavily to free up cash for the Navy. If promotion and progress in the Navy was slow, in the Army and Marines it was virtually non-existent. Even so Alex had managed to make Staff Sergeant by thirty-eight, aided by several small-scale actions that kept the Marine Corps busy during Earth’s golden age of prosperity and expansion.

Like most of Terran based humanity he hadn’t expected another major war, not after what had happened to the Denevans. He had imagined that would have been warning enough to the galaxy that Terra was not to be trifled with. Sadly, the Numerians hadn’t received that message, and after the first engagements it became apparent that such a warning didn’t really apply to them.

The 23rd Colonial Marine Regiment had been sent to the Neu Berlin Colony early in the war, a lush tropical world favored by tourists and romantics for its glorious beaches and hotels. By the time they arrived the Numerians had already blasted the paradise into a patchwork of petrified forests and craters, along with the hotels swarming with Numerian warriors. After a hair raising drop from orbit the unit landed and fought for three months solid, taking the measure of the strength, skill, and dedication of the Numerians, and finding them a grim opponent to face. As far as Alex was concerned the old Denevan Imperial Guards were still the toughest enemy he’d ever faced in battle, but the Numerians were lethal in close combat and completely unshakeable.

They were evacuated from Neu Berlin when it became clear the situation was untenable, escaping just hours before the Numerians thoroughly blockaded the world and trapped the remainder of the Terran ground forces on the planet. The Regiment had learned a lot in the long fight through the jungles, swamps, and mountains of the colony. They knew how to defeat the Numerians in a stand up fight and had done so often, but they also knew that their enemies were not mindless fanatics. Some of them were soldiers every bit as deadly and disciplined as elite Terran formations.

Unfortunately, the fighting had also cost the Regiment half of its effective strength, which meant when they returned home they had to soak up a lot of replacements. They were lucky in being able to absorb veteran Marines from units that had been wiped out elsewhere, keeping the 23rd as a mostly veteran unit, but at least a quarter of the soldiers hadn’t seen action and were going to get a major shock.

“All right Third Platoon, get up, and form up by the numbers,” Alex ordered. “Present rifles for inspection.”

The fifty-two men and women lined up in the artificial light, powered lanterns hanging from the rock above them. Since they arrived the Regiment had been living underground in caverns, mineshafts, and tunnels to keep them off the Numerian radar. For a lot of the older soldiers it harkened back to the climactic battle of Stygia, an engagement where the UST forces had been forced to shelter underground for a month while naval forces duelled high above for the system. Twenty-Five years ago the Denevans had planned to spring a trap at Stygia and halt the inexorable Terran advance on their homeworld, now the Terrans were planning to do the exact same thing. Like the Denevans before them this was their last chance to keep the enemy clear of their homeworld and everything rested on the element of surprise followed by a little ingenuity and a lot of pure courage.

Alex walked down the line checking each weapon in turn, scowling at the owner and checking their BDU's. Generally speaking everything was in order, although little escaped his scrutiny.

“Private Ulanov, what is this?” Alex pointed to a scrawl on his rifle.

“Sir, that’s my girlfriend’s name, Sir.”

“You wrote it on your weapon Private?”

“Sir yes sir.”

“You’re nuts,” he gave the weapon back, “but serviceable.”

He moved onto the next young man, again flipping the rifle over and checking it out. The marine stood perfectly still, waiting patiently for the result. “Very good Private Ritterman.” Alex returned the weapon.

“Thank you sir,” he answered with a sideways grin that perfectly recalled an expression his father used. Eric Ritterman Sr. had been Alex’s mentor and had saved his life more than once. The old Master Gunnery Sergeant was a Regimental legend, Sergeant Crowbar of Third Platoon and even twenty-five years later Alpha Company still bore his symbol, an enraged Bugs Bunny in a steel pot, rifle in one hand and crowbar in the other.

Eric Ritterman Jr. was not his father. He had much of the same attitude, a very similar outlook and a quick mind, but it was tempered with some caution and reserve from his mother’s side of the family. He was great at his job, but there was a hint of the subversive about him, a distrust for authority that would hurt his chances for a glowing military career. He was a good enough marine, but he wasn’t an excellent marine like his father had been. And if Alex was honest he didn’t think the younger Ritterman belonged in the marine corps. Unfortunately the impending invasion hadn’t given anyone much choice and Junior had accepted the situation, which made Alex’s job a lot easier.

“Staff Sergeant Jenkins?”

Alex stood at attention with the call, turning to acknowledge the platoon commander, Lieutenant Tucker. Another former member of Eric Sr's squad. Tucker had risen through the ranks to become an officer. It made him slightly older than most Lieutenants and put off some of the other officers, but the wealth of firsthand knowledge Tucker brought with him made him an invaluable asset.


“We got a briefing Alex, file them out to the HQ area.”

“Yes sir.” He turned back to the troops, “Third Platoon, fall out and report for the briefing! Look Lively!”
Sic vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Offline Þórgrímr

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Re: The Terran-Numerian War
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2010, 01:58:44 PM »
The group quickly split up, heading towards the side of the cavern given over to the company commander. They arrived to find several rows of simple chairs waiting for them along with most of first and second platoons representing the bulk of Alpha Company. Alex made sure his people took their places before joining them himself, glancing over the large videoscreen standing on a tripod in front of the one hundred and eighty or so personnel.

“Company, ATTEN-SHUN!” Came the familiar bark of Sergeant Major Malone, the senior NCO in Alpha Company and again one of Eric Ritterman Sr.'s veteran followers. The Company rose to its feet on the order, a response to the arrival of Captain Emma Fox who gave them a nod of acknowledgement.

“Be seated.”

There was a cacophony of scrapes and groans as one hundred and eighty people sank into the metal chairs and settled themselves in for the briefing. There had been a lot of idle scuttlebutt and rumors about what was in store for them, and it was with anticipation that the Company gave the Captain their undivided attention.

Physically Emma Fox had changed little. She was still small, still wore short blond hair and still possessed two large blue eyes. What had changed was the look that was in those eyes, the confidence she radiated, the poise she stood with and the certainty in her voice. She had gone from a smart but untested junior Lieutenant in the Denevan war to a fully qualified Captain in this one. A highly respected veteran officer that was a rare commodity in frontline units.

The Terran military invested massively in junior officers. It was said all wars are won by Lieutenants acting independently when cut off from command, and as the UST developed it learned those lessons well. A Captain or Lieutenant in the Terran Military had the same tactical and strategic knowledge as a Regimental or Brigade commander in alien forces, and nowhere was this more obvious then with the Numerians. UST officers had responsibility and flexibility completely beyond their Numerian equivalents, and they exploited that knowledge ruthlessly. Sadly, casualties among officers tended to be abnormally high, especially in conscript units where they often tried to lead by example, usually with fatal consequences.

“Alpha Company, we have just received word Numerian forces are two days out.” Captain Fox began with the information that was the most anticipated and dreaded. “We will be in action before the end of this week.”

A wave of gasps, sighs, and mutters swept the unit revealing a mix of emotions. “We will be taking part in Operation Shadow Warrior,” she continued. “A major combined arms attack that will destroy the best of the Numerian army and reduce enemy supplies through attrition.”

She brought the screen online. “Our objective is to hold Rigel and force the Numerians to fight here, to assault their pride and give them such an asskicking of a defeat that they commit fully to seizing this world. They will expend resources here that otherwise would be directed at Earth. That is our overall objective, to bleed them dry and give Earth a greater chance of countering any future offensives.”

She called up a map of their assigned continent. “This is our area of responsibility as part of XII Corps, Second Terran Army.” Fox highlighted certain points of interest. “We’re currently deployed here, beneath the New Andes mountains and we expect the Numerians to make initial landings here, here, and here.” She lit up each location in turn. “Large defensible plains that suit their mobile forces. Based on past experience it is unlikely the Numerians will be there long and will launch their own assault a few hours after landing. That’s just fine by us.”

A few colored blobs appeared on the map. “Third Terran Army is already deployed in heavy defensive positions outside the landing zones to resist the attack. Third Terran Army is a newly raised formation, and made up of mainly conscripts untried in battle. We estimate they will hold for a day or two under full attack before breaking. Roman First Ala and Second Terran will wait in reserve until that moment, until the Numerians begin to pursue, then we hit them when they are overextended and vulnerable.”

She returned her gaze to the group. “You probably noticed all those VTOL’s parked in the next cavern over and you probably prayed they were nothing to do with us. Sorry to disappoint you people, but we will be launching an airborne offensive to cut off the Numerian line of retreat.”

She smiled at the groans. “Yeah I know, flying through a battlefield in the face of aerial superiority is suicide. Fortunately for us, command has taken measures to ensure the Numerians will be unable to call down fighter or warship support.”

She reached into her pocket and retrieved a small green cylinder some three inches long and a half an inch thick. “This is our key to success, something the tech folks have been working on since before the war. Personal jammers.”

She gave the device a quick turn over, showing it to the assembled troops. “Nothing more than a modified homing beacon and a battery, but it will mask you from sensors by producing a blanket jamming field. Every individual will have one at all times, and you will keep it active at all times. The battery is good for eight months, and if we’re still fighting by then I’ll be, frankly, shocked. They work against all known sensors and have been tested on a small scale elsewhere. These will prevent you from being targeted from the air or from orbit, it will force the Numerians to rely on visual means to spot you, unless you rip your thermal suppressive uniforms.”

Tucker raised his hand, “Captain, you said these devices were active?” “That’s right, they broadcast a blanket jamming field.”

“With all due respect ma’am, what’s to stop the Numerians from just firing on the center of the signal? It’d be like walking around with a ‘shoot here’ sign on our backs.”

“Good question Lieutenant,” Fox grinned. “Command has been seeding these devices, along with larger ones, all across the planet. When the Numerians land all the jammers will be activated, your own personal devices will merge into a carpet of ECM across the entire theater of operations. Everything will be covered, you’ll be indistinguishable from the terrain around you and, crucially, from the Numerian ground forces themselves.”

Her smile grew cold, “that is the key point. From orbit the Numerians will not be able to distinguish our troops from their own using sensors alone. If they engage us randomly they risk inflicting friendly fire on their own people, and according to our intel there is no higher disgrace than to kill a soldier on your own side. Because of this utter fear of inflicting friendly casualties the Numerian ships won’t fire blind, their fighters will have to acquire targets visually before engaging, and their artillery will only fire where directed by observers. Ladies and gentlemen, they’ll be fighting on our terms.”

There were a few chuckles and grins at that. “The only way they can call in support is with forward observers, they can bring down artillery or warship fire, so our snipers will be busy dealing with them,” Fox said with a feral frin. “Additionally, several specialist teams are going to be hacking and scrambling Numerian ship to shore communications, further complicating matters for the holier-than-thou's.” The last producing a chuckle from the troops.

“So if this works,” Tucker began, “the Numerians will have no orbital strikes?”

“That’s right, we’ll take away their favorite toy,” Fox said with a smile. “We can match them, they will have artillery, so do we. They have air support, so do we, and as you know once their fighters hit atmo we can track them through friction and turbulence, which means no more stealth for the holy rollers. What we have in this battle is a level playing field, and half a million prime Roman and Terran soldiers ready to host a rematch.”

There were a few cheers, the troops beginning to feel their spirits lift. In every battle of the war the Numerians had orbital supremacy, which made it impossible to field full-scale armies. Anything bigger than a tank platoon or infantry company was spotted from orbit and wiped out. But not this time.

“Okay people, settle down,” Fox said. “We still have a major task ahead. The Numerians will be able to reinforce, we won’t. What we have on the planet is what we have. Keep your heads and remember who you are dealing with. The Numerians are our most dangerous enemies, they are stronger than us, they have better vehicles, they still have some of the most versatile and lethal weapons known to exist. Fortunately this time we’re ready, Bugsy.”

The Sergeant Major moved to the front of the company holding two tubes, one much bigger than the other. He handed the larger of the two to Fox. “First up, the Silver Bullet Mark Two anti-tank missile. Fully autonomous after initial target selection, a fire and forget weapon. As you know, Numerian tanks are fast, infuriatingly fast, and agile in fact. Our old SB's were too slow and too sluggish to hit all the time, these new ones have been upgraded.” She patted the tube. “These babies are accurate and nimble enough to bring down a fighter, but have the warhead to punch through a tank. They cost a fortune, but are worth it, they will deployed on a squad level.”

She took the second tube. “Second, the Slammer rocket launcher.” This device was much narrower, less than four inches across but nearly four feet in length.

“This is an unguided, purely kinetic energy weapon. It’s optimized for use against Numerian crystalline armor and I am told it will kill anything smaller than a tank head on, and should penetrate flank and rear armor on a Numerian heavy vehicle at a hundred yards. These are short range, you aim by looking down these iron sights. Yeah I know, like something from the dark ages.”

She turned it around in her hands. “Use them against light vehicles, save your Silver Bullets for the big guys. They will be issued in batches of five to each marine, they are light but don’t get them snagged on vegetation. We’ve got mountains of these things so use them at will, command recommends salvo fire of three per target to ensure a kill.”

She paused with a grin. “By the way, if they seem familiar it’s because they were copied from Denevan anti-tank missiles. They were useless against our tanks, but against Numerian crystal armor they do the trick. In fact you might find yourself carrying an original Denevan manufactured one we confiscated after the war. Enjoy your little piece of history.”

She handed the weapons back and moved on with the briefing. “Many of you here have already faced the Numerians, but many haven’t. Even the old hands here might not know entirely the sort of forces we're going up against, even if you’ve fought then on Neu Berlin this will be a different type of warfare on a much larger scale. The CIA and military intelligence has put together details about the Numerian army, this is everything we know, it’s on data crystals and I expect you all to study it.” She smiled, “but if you don’t, here’s the highlights.”

She altered the briefing screen to show a selection of bronze and yellow vehicles. “First, you’ll notice camouflage is not something the Numerians use. A bit strange considering their ships do all they can to avoid being seen and shot at, but there you have it. Numerian ground forces have no jamming technology, they fight hard but simplistically. They will use cover, they will seize any advantages, but as far as we know they do not set mines, tripwires, or other ambush tools. Goes against their sense of honor.”

She sifted the images. “We have two main opponents, two different clans among the Military orders. The Naff'Bei and the Aero'Bei. Both use the same basic equipment with a few local variations, both are well trained and equally devoted to their cause. However, like all Numerians these two clans specialize in a particular aspect of warfare at the expense of training to perform a variety of battlefield roles. They are inflexible, if they fight outside their element they will suffer, become lost and misguided. Once they lose the initiative it will be virtually impossible for them to regain it.”

She smiled, “Even better is the fact these two clans rarely combine forces and work together on a tactical level, which makes pushing them beyond their field of expertise that much easier.”

“First up,” She brought up more images. “Aero'Bei. These guys are assault specialists, line breakers. They operate the majority of the enemy armored battalions and usually form the spearhead of any attack. If they were Terran they’d be a heavy armored division.”

She flicked through pictures of Numerian tanks, some artist impressions, a few videos of them in action. “Numerian tanks are faster than ours and more agile thanks to their gravity propulsion. We’ve clocked them outrunning our recon vehicles so believe me when I say these guys are fast, quite capable of punching through a line and breaking out before we can move in reinforcements. They are nimble and graceful, and they out range us and their main weapon is a type of highly accurate disruptor weapon. They also mount a twin linked fusion gatling turret for anti infantry work, far superior to our own heavy plasma’s.”

She showed a few more images, closeups of wrecked Numerian tanks. “But they are not invincible. A missile hit will kill them, gunships will kill them, and our own tanks will kill them. Our O'Connor tanks are slower, but they are also tougher, that composite armor has actually proven surprisingly effective against Numerian energy weapons while the 135mm cannons they mount go through enemy tanks like a brick through glass.”

She showed a few more images of Terran victories. “Our problem is engaging in favorable terrain to nullify the range and speed advantages of Numerian vehicles. Fortunately the broken rocky nature of Rigel fits the bill to a tee. We can engage Numerian armor in close confines at point blank range without air support. We’ve got a good chance.”

She changed the image, suddenly revealing a mountainous slab of bronze armor. “Unless you face one of these, an Aero'Bei assault tank. If you run into one, report it at once and run away. Fast.”

The report only had a few images of these monster vehicles, massive hovering machines with highly angled sides and a giant cannon. “These things are something altogether more nasty, they’re tough enough to shrug off even point blank tank rounds.” Fox informed them grimly. “They’re used like mobile bunkers, they’re slow and their gun has a limited traverse. However, they will blast clean through any vehicle or defense we have. They also mount a powerful secondary armament, anti-aircraft weapons, and missile launchers. They are seriously bad news.”

She brought up a schematic of a new device, this time clearly Terran. “On a more positive note, this is our answer. You are looking at the only revolution in armored warfare this century. Our first ground based gauss cannon, thanks to our brethren in the Roman Republic.”

She ran through a few more images, the final one showed the cannon fitted to an O'Connor tank, the long cannon projecting quite a ways from the turret. “These tanks are brand new and still experimental. We’ve had rail guns for a long time on starships, but have never been able to shrink down the power plants necessary to operate them into something that fits on a tank. We’ve codenamed these tanks ‘Whitmann’ and there are a few dozen on the planet ready to take on any Numerian super tanks that show up. As a bonus they should also go clean through Numerian troop ships and landing craft too, in case they try to get creative and move heavy forces behind our lines. Then, of course, we have three whole Roman armored legions equipped with their version of this weapon, and it is not experimental.” She said with a big smile.

Alex liked the sound of that.

“While the Aero'Bei specialize in armor they also deploy infantry and artillery to keep their tanks in one piece. Numerian artillery tubes fire shells packed with a variable quantity of anti-matter, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. The good news is there isn’t much shrapnel, bad news is overpressure, heat, and gamma radiation are extreme. Keep your uniforms sealed, it should help keep the radiation out, but against the other effects you better just pray.”

Once more she showed several images of the weapons. “A battery of these firing full yield rounds are more destructive than a nuke strike, and even at low yields they make our artillery look like popguns. It is highly probable our job will be to hit artillery sites to protect the main counterattack by the Roman and Terran armored forces.” She grimaced at the idea, then moved on.

“Aero'Bei infantry are average. Strong, unbeatable in hand to hand, and die just as fast as anyone else to plasma rounds and bullets. Keep them at range, use your surroundings, lure them into traps. They are impetuous and will chase you into places that even Wile E Coyote would see as a blatantly obvious ambush. Their tactics are poor, leadership is poor, and they aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. But they are relentless, merciless, and utterly dedicated once in battle. You can only stop them by killing them, so make sure that when they go down they stay down.”

Alex had no problem with that, he’d seen Numerians kill wounded marines where they lay and after that he had never shed any tears over finishing off wounded Numerians ever since. There hadn’t been much mercy with the Denevans either, but here Alex had taken things much more personally.

“Our other opponents are the Naff'Bei,” Fox drew his attention back. “These guys we’ve met before. The Aero'Bei favor direct attacks, armored assaults directly into enemy lines. The Naff'Bei prefer mobile warfare, flanking attacks and infantry assaults. They ignore heavy armor in preference for fast moving vehicles and light support. If they were Terran they’d be a cavalry unit.”

She brought up a long thin vehicle on the screen. “Basic Numerian troop transport. It’ll carry a full platoon into action and is much faster than our own IFV’s, in fact these things are closer to VTOL gunships in terms of speed. This gives them mobility very similar to an airborne battalion, but with the hitting power of a mechanized battalion. These people are very dangerous, if they get behind our lines and then can wreak massive damage, enough to bring our assault to a complete halt. They don’t have the firepower of the Aero'Bei, but they use what they do have much, much more effectively.”

She rattled through a few more vehicles used by the Naff'Bei, all optimized for speed. “If we can pin them and hit them with our own mechanized or armored forces we expect to be able to overwhelm them.” Fox said. “Our tanks and combat vehicles will shred their light armor, unfortunately though their crystalline armor is highly effective against energy weapons. Plasma fire won’t do jack to them so don’t waste the rounds. Use a rocket, or call on some heavy support.”

“Captain, what if we’re deployed forward with no armor to back us up?”

“We’ll have a few armed vehicles airlifted wherever we go,” Fox said. “They’ll mount additional rockets and a brace of .50 cal machine guns. Turns out heavy bullets are highly effective counters to light Numerian armor, so you’ll be seeing a lot of old Ma Deuces out there.”

Alex shook his head, impressed that a weapon invented nearly six hundred years ago was still so useful. Really he shouldn’t be too surprised, most Numerian weapons were even older and still brutally useful.

“Unfortunately for us Naff'Bei infantry are better than their buddies in the Aero'Bei. They are still rigid and unwilling to take the initiative in most cases but you will find some junior leaders who will try and take responsibility, who will try and act independently. Kill them first.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “As a rule Numerians won’t attack or change plans without orders, but once they do get orders they’ll follow them to the letter until they win or they all die. You will get exceptions, smarter leaders, maybe a senior officer somewhere running the battle in person. Those are the guys who make life for us annoying, with so many troops expected on the ground you can expect more and more experienced enemies. If we kill them they’re gone forever, and we deprive the enemy of a valuable asset.”

She clicked through more pictures. “These guys are fun, jump scouts. They use small gravity packs to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Normally while they’re up there they drop some grenades too, so watch your heads. Never forget Numerian infantry weapons are better than ours. I’ve seen some troops loot fusion rifles for their own use and while its fun to turn these things on their users, try to resist the urge. Our weapons fire green bolts, their guns fire red ones, so any Terran soldier who sees red fire automatically drops and engages without looking at who is actually holding the weapon.”

She glanced over the Company, making sure they took in her warning. “Those are the main units,” She concluded. “There are reports of other Numerian forces that are deployed as shock troops but we have no confirmation on that rumor. If this campaign is as critical as everyone seems to think, we should expect the enemy to send in the very best they’ve got, just like we’re doing. No chances, no risks, assume nothing and if in doubt open fire. Holier-than-thous or not these guys mean business, don’t underestimate them.”

She turned off the screen and relaxed a little, speaking more informally. “The Numerians are the ultimate team players, they complement each other totally. Massive direct force on one side, exceptional mobility and daring on the other. Together they are unstoppable, but divided we have a chance. We can split up these two different facets of the Numerian army, we can melt away before massive attacks or we can throw up a steel wall in front of their flanking assaults. If we stay on our toes, keep one step ahead of them, we can do this.”

From Second Platoon Lieutenant 'Hot Lips' Harlow raised her hand. “Captain, can we expect fleet support on this one?”

Fox shook her head. “Unlikely, we expect the bulk of the Numerian Navy to be in this system, in fact its part of our objectives to try and detain them here. Trying to run a blockade like that would be plain suicide.”

“So we’re fighting cut off and surrounded again,” Tucker remarked. “It’s what we do best.”

“We’re Marines, it’s what we’re here for,” Harlow grinned in agreement.

“Once the Numerians land we’ll have more solid objectives.” Fox said. “But we will be dropping behind enemy lines, disrupting Numerian supplies, throwing monkey wrenches into the works, and generally making a nuisance of ourselves. While we do that the 1st Terran Infantry Division and the Roman Imperial Horse Guard armored Legion will launch a fullscale assault through our sector. Once we link up we fight on foot as infantry support for the armor until game over.”

It was going to be a hard fight. So far the Numerians had won every battle of the war, and even though on the ground things were more even than in space the Terran armies had still failed to achieve anything more than temporary local victories. To really change the course of the war required a massive victory, one that gutted the manpower reserves of the Military Orders by grinding them into the dirt of Rigel. Earth had the tools, the training and the will to do it, but nobody knew yet whether or not they had the simple ability to win.

“Tonight is probably your last night off duty for a while,” Fox spoke quietly. “Take it for what it is. Enjoy yourselves, try to have a little fun, and in two days be ready to fight. This is it ladies and gentlemen, the line in the sand. We’re making our stand on this ball of rock, and if we can’t stop them then we’re finished. No turning back, no surrendering. All we can do is fight. I’ll see you all in two days. Dismissed.”
Sic vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war


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