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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-11 01:42pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-04-21 04:31pm
Posts: 75
It's very good to see this story is not dead!

I enjoyed the update although I do have one small, very subjective, nit-pick. For some reason the repeated use of "man-thing" bugged me. I'd have called them "infected" or something.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-12 05:25pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
meh, it was too early after their appearance for them to get a nickname, and I didn't want to have them referred to as zombies either, so 'man-thing' got the go-ahead.

Anyway, on with the next update, it's a bit America-centric, although that's a bit of a consequence of the author being American 8) . This however will change with the next two updates.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-12 05:30pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
Episode 22



“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower








"...are reporting that the city of Thunder Bay in the Canadian Province of Ontario has in fact fallen after a nearly month long siege.  While accurate figures are difficult to pinpoint at this time, early estimates place the number of casualties at something in excess of fifty thousand with only a handful escaping.  Fortunately nearly the entire civilian population of the city had been evacuated, resulting in the vast majority of all losses being Canadian and American military personnel.

It is unclear what it was that had turned the battle in favor of the bozorg forces laying siege to the city which had been holding on quite well for the past four weeks with little sign of falling and well established supply lines over Lake Superior.  Early rumors of mind controlled undead bodies and sea monsters were quickly dismissed by officials at the Pentagon and reliable sources within the military itself as nothing more than the frantic recollections of traumatized refugees.

It is unclear just how much this loss affects the overall conflict itself, however a statement released by the Defense Department the day after news of the city's fall that while tragic, the troop and territorial losses are far from devastating to the war effort as a whole.  Further..."

-Excerpt from a New York Times article written by George McKenna, dated August 1, 1987






-3:27 PM August 6, 1987, southbound on Interstate 395, Arlington County, Virginia





Major General Alfred M. Gray sat in the back seat of the Towncar and flipped through the file before him.  Physically it weighed little more than a half a pound, probably less, but to him it felt as though it might as well have been ten tons.  For the most part the pages contained within this file individually meant very little.  They had lists of troop numbers, logistical requirements, ammunition and supply consumption estimates, columns and columns of data, paragraphs and paragraphs of analysis, nothing too staggering.  However; on the whole, it meant far, far more than that.

He flipped through to the fifth page and scanned down to the second paragraph:

"Analysis of enemy behavior to this point reveals that while on the surface the modus operandi is of little more than to push out in all directions blindly attacking with as many forces as possible, there appears to be a much deeper strategic and tactical mindset behind it.  In fact it appears that the underlying strategy appears to involve at first sending out probing attacks to test an opponent's defensive lines to see how strong they are and to try and locate any weak spots.  Following this, the next step could follow one of two possible paths.

The first option will be enacted in the event that a weak spot is located by the initial probing strikes.  In such an eventuality, a large concentration of forces is immediately amassed and launched in a spearhead to exploit said weakness in the hopes of achieving a breakthrough.

The second option, which has been seen far more often is the course of action that the tāziyāne pursue in the event that no immediately apparent weakness is evident.  After the conclusion of an extended series of probing assaults, what follows is anywhere from several days to several weeks of quick thrusts or jabs at seemingly random locations and times.  These attacks are far more concentrated than the probing assaults yet still not reaching the full capacity of the  tāziyāne to concentrate troops. 
 
The apparent purpose of these seems to be to chip away at those same defenses in the hope of generating a breakthrough or weak spot.  Once this is achieved, the  tāziyāne immediately shift the bulk of their forces into a concentrated and narrow assault column which attempts to exploit the newly created weakness.

Following this, the enemy will generally proceed to attempt to encircle and capture as many defending troops as possible before halting its advances to digest al  gains and then start the process all over again.  This process seems to have been a relatively effective tactical and strategic doctrine, as it allowed them to considerably increase territorial gains with no major setbacks during the course of the entire first year of the war...
"

He skipped ahead a bit:

"...the events of April of this year, tāziyāne strategic doctrine seems to have undergone a significant change.  While the aforementioned tactic of probing attacks followed by rapid fire thrusts and then spearheads seems to be adhered to regularly, what has changed is that now the enemy seems far less patient to consolidate its gains after advancing.  In stead the enemy merely continues its attacks without stopping or pausing..."

He flipped ahead a couple pages:

"...the commander of allied forces in the region will of course be making all major doctrinal and strategic decisions; however, as commander of the American element, you will still have considerable tactical leeway during this operation…"

He finally stopped reading, the size of his intended command was not going to be something to sneeze at to be certain, but in terms of the scale of the overall operation, the American contribution was miniscule by comparison.  Although it was true that the part his troops would be playing was a crucial one to be certain, and that they would be suffering plenty of casualties as a result, but deep down he just couldn't shake the notion that the whole thing was really just meant to give the people back home something good to read in the newspaper about an operation involving American troops.

He closed the file and the words on its cover stared back at him in bold block letters, cold and indifferent.

OPERATION ROUND HAMMER

The name would be burned into his memory for the rest of his days, as would be the thought of all those young men and women who he would undoubtedly be sending to their deaths a mere three months in the future.  He knew that he couldn't prevent casualties under his command, he just hoped that they were for something more significant than a few nice headlines in the papers.





"...initial findings from specimen number thirty seven recovered from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada on or about July 30, 1987.

The sample in question is a deceased human male body that has been infested with a tāziyāne parasite.  The body in question is a Caucasian male, weighing approximately eighty seven kilograms and a total height of five feet eight inches.  Identity is unknown, and so is exact age, however, based upon physiological evidence, he appears to have been thirty seven years old at the time of death.  Cause of death appears to have been from severe loss of blood due to a two inch laceration in the left arm which severed the brachial artery.

While there have been an additional six samples of similar nature recovered from the Thunder Bay battle site, this is the only one which was recovered both functional and intact.  Fortunately, this sample was infested only a couple hours before being recovered.

The tāziyāne organism that seems to have infested this particular body appears to consist of a small(roughly four inch long) arthropodal creature which possesses seven multi-segmented limbs.

Interestingly, the parasite appears to have very little articulation in its limbs, which would indicate very limited mobility, however the 'muscle' tissue packed into each limb is dense enough to indicate considerable strength for a creature of such small size.  It would seem that based upon the presence of very sharp claws at the end of each limb along with the fact that they were embedded deep within the flesh of the host body that their primary purpose seems to be to burrow within the flesh of an intended host rather than locomotion.

Six of the limbs are arranged in a standard symmetrical pattern, much like legs on an insect, while the seventh  appears to possess a thick concentration of nerve tissue along with  a pair of small 'spurs' which extend directly from the end of the appendage.

There is no sign of sensory organs whatsoever with the exception of a small bundle of nerve tissue located in the abdomen just below the 'head.'  Early examination of the sample revealed that when pressure is applied to this location it triggers what appears to be a reflex action causing the limbs to extend outward in a sudden and forceful fashion.

Additionally, there appears to be a pair of rather sharp stinger like structures located near the 'head’ as well, just above the primary nerve bundle.  Closer inspection revealed that each stinger is in fact hollow and seems to serve as a form of 'hypodermic needle' much like the stinger of a mosquito, or the fangs of a poisonous snake.

Upon dissection, it was found that these stingers are connected to a series of small sacks located  within the body which contain a complex mixture of different chemicals, hormones, and enzymes.

My initial analysis of the infestation process is as follows:

Some as of yet unobserved form of tāziyāne variety searches for dead bodies in its immediate vicinity.  Upon locating said body, it proceeds to place one of these parasites on the back of the intended host's neck.  The limbs and stingers extend, penetrating the flesh.  The seventh limb further penetrates the spinal column; in the case of this particular subject, between the fourth and fifth cervical vertebra where the nerve spurs 'tap in' to the host's spinal cord.

Simultaneously, the two stingers extend into the muscle tissue where they start to inject the host subject with the contents of its internal sacks.  It would appear that following this, the parasite takes control of the host's nervous system, without direct observation this is difficult to accurately verify, however it would appear that this process takes no longer than an hour.  From this point on, the parasite appears to have complete control of all of the host's motor functions and access to all available sensory inputs.  Essentially, it 'drives' the host body.

Host behavior is noticeably aggressive and violent, as specimen thirty-seven attacked or attempted to attack anyone who came within site or earshot and had to be continuously restrained when not isolated. 

The chemical mixture injected into the host appears to either severely curtail or completely eliminate rigor mortis as there was no sign of its affects on the host body during captivity at any point, and did not set in at all after  expiration.  Additionally, physical strength seems to be thoroughly heightened as a result of infestation, although whether this is caused by the injections or some other means is unknown.  Energy for locomotion was at first assumed to have been drawn from the energy reserves of the parasite itself; however, upon further examination of the host body, it was revealed that it was digesting its own internal organs most of which had been partially dissolved by the time of dissection.

Initial indications would seem to suggest that an infested body would make an ideal warrior class for use by tāziyāne forces as they do not take much effort to create and can sustain considerable amounts of damage before being thoroughly incapacitated.  However, it would appear that the same process which prevents rigor mortis also causes an accelerated decomposition of all soft tissue within the body.  Based upon observations from other recovered samples and tests conducted on this particular sample, it would appear that a host body fully breaks down and becomes completely useless as a host within four or five days.

My correspondence with Dr. Reznikov in Russia as well as my own observations indicates that some form of hive mind exerts a kind of remote control on the various different warrior classes through an as yet unidentified method.  It is unclear if a similar form of control is being exerted over these parasites, however such a case is not beyond the scope of reasonable assumptions."
-Scientific Journal of Dr. James Mandell, department of biology, Johns Hopkins University, entry dated August 8, 1987






-6:23 AM, August 19, 1987, Regensburg, Bavaria, West Germany






The sound of both inhuman and human shrieking rang out in the walls of the ruined ancient cathedral.  To Mark it sounded as though maybe three or four people were being viciously murdered in the other room, however he wasn't sure how many bozorgs were in there, if he had his way it would only be two warriors, but he seriously doubted that they would be that lucky.

Three of Mark's men made their way down the hallway, weapons in hand while they hugged the walls.  Private Morse; one of the Brits they had picked up the other day poked his head around the corner up ahead, after a second or two of looking around, he reached his free hand up and gestured toward Mark with a series of hand signals.  There were eight warriors, two mantis', and one super mantis on the other side of that wall.  Mark in turn looked back at Sergeant Murkowski and made a series of his own hand signals at the man at the other end of the rubble strewn corridor..

The sergeant nodded then proceeded to lead his squad up around the corner at the other end of the hallway, the eight of them disappeared out of view..

Finally, Mark maneuvered himself up to be right behind Morse, and after a few seconds he found himself practically breathing down the other man's neck, he leaned forward "alright private, whenever you are ready" he whispered in the English man's ear, Morse merely nodded.  Then Mark returned his attention back to the rest of the men in the hallway there, a total of twelve were crouching inside the hallway here in the cathedral.  Combined with Sergeant Murkowski's eight and the ten on the other side of the main chapel who were waiting for the signal, that made a grand total of thirty men in his platoon.  Before the bozorgs had come he would have thought that sustaining such losses would be unimaginable, but now he merely accepted such sacrifices with grim determination.

Mark examined his weapon, ensuring it had a full magazine in place and that it was ready to go.  Satisfied that he was ready to start shooting, he nodded to three men hugging the wall across from him.  They each pulled out an M67grenade and pulled the pins out, but kept a firm grip on the spoons.  About a minute further, he felt Morse tense up in anticipation and he knew beforehand what to expect, so Mark raised his hand up in a way that allowed the other men there with him to see it.  Morse's head jerked suddenly in a curt nod "go" he whispered quickly.  Mark's hand went down in a swift chopping motion.

The three men holding grenades tossed them over the wall into the larger adjoining room.  Several seconds later, three almost simultaneous explosions reverberated throughout the demolished building.  This was immediately followed by the rewarding sound of bozorgs letting out surprised shrieks.  The signal had been given, and so the entire platoon both there with Mark and in the other parts of the cathedral would all spring into action at the same time.


Mark's legs; already coiled like tightly wound springs launched him upward into a full standing position and into a fast paced stride in less than a second, the same could be said for the rest of the men there with him.

Gripping his rifle tightly, he rounded the end of the wall and came around into the room where he faced the assembled group of enemy creatures which stood over the eviscerated remains of their unfortunate victims.  One of the warriors lay on the ground, its exoskeleton shattered and leaking black fluid, two others awkwardly stood there on two good legs and one hobbled one.  Mark felt a slight twinge of satisfaction that their enemy had already suffered losses, he was just disappointed that those grenades hadn't done more damage.

All this time, he hadn't slowed or stopped his progress to reflect on the situation, he continued his motion to his destination about six feet to the right of the doorway through which he had entered the room.  He noticed that he hadn't started firing yet and mentally cursed himself, but then realized that while it had felt like an eternity had passed since he had entered the room, it had in fact been less than a second in reality.

He brought his weapon up to his shoulder and took aim at the nearest warrior, he squeezed the trigger, sending a small volley of bullets screaming toward the intended target.  He was rewarded by the sight of the monstrosity jerking violently and black blood spurted out from the spots where it had been hit by several 7.62 mm bullets at high velocity.

By the time he had unleashed his second burst of fire into his target, he was in his intended position behind an overturned marble statue of the Virgin Mary and the creature had collapsed to the floor in a shattered mess.  Mark went down onto one knee and took aim at the next available target, it was a mantis which recoiled under the weight of fire from at least two other sources.  After what had felt like another eternity; but could have only been a couple seconds, that creature also collapsed to the floor, black ooze leaking from it's shattered armor.

He spotted the super-mantis which had turned to attack the men on the other side of the room.  It plowed through massive wooden pews, kicking them to the side like they weren't even there, leaving them in shattered splintered heaps.  For the first time since going through that doorway and into this room, he felt his heart start to race out of genuine fear, not for himself, but for the men who were now in the sites of that massive monstrosity.

Suddenly the thunderous sound of an M2 Browning firing rang out to Mark's right indicating that Murkowski's squad had managed to see up their machine gun on the altar.  The super-mantis faltered then paused just as it was about to strike at its first target.  Apparently even that massive beast couldn't ignore the impacts of fifty caliber machine gun bullets tearing into it's thick armor.  It still held up remarkably well though, weapons fire that would have literally dismembered a human being merely slowed down the titanic beast.

Reeling from the bullet impacts, the super mantis turned to charge at this new more dangerous threat.  However it was too late, every other bozorg in the room had already been killed and this freed up the entire platoon to concentrate on the last surviving threat in the room. 
 
The combined weight of fire of the platoon was just too devastating.  It took three large strides toward Murkowski's squad then collapsed onto the floor in a heap.

Suddenly silence filled the room, save for the distant pounding of artillery and the rumble of jets.  The air was thick with the smell of cordite, smoke from the exploded grenades and weapons fire, and dust from shattered plaster and stone. 

He surveyed the room, the center contained the grizzly remains of eleven bozorgs and what had probably been five people.  He then looked around for the men of his platoon "everybody sound off!" he shouted.

After about five or ten seconds he was reassured by replies from every one who had come into that church with him.  He silently said a little prayer of thanks that they had not suffered any casualties this time.  Then he looked toward one of the younger enlisted men "Private Sorensen, go get Lieutenant McCoy and tell him that it's now clear for him to bring his team in" he ordered.  The young man nodded and trotted out of the church.

Mark found the nearest intact pew and took a seat "alright everyone, take five.  As soon as the demo team has finished setting up in here we're out of here and on to the next objective" he said.  Everyone else let out tired grunts and proceeded to take a seat or lean against the wall.  As many others did, he proceeded to examine his weapon and replace the partially empty magazine with a full one.

Moments later the demolition team entered the cathedral carrying several large crates which they promptly proceeded to unpack.  As they placed several sizable bundles of plastic explosive throughout the ruined building Mark took in the remnants of the ancient structure as well as what was left of the city's skyline that could be seen through the cathedral's shattered stained glass windows. 
 
It was a real shame, this city had survived for thousands of years, through plagues and battles, even through the allied bombing campaign during the Second World War, and yet it would not survive past the next couple days.

Once the demo teams had managed to place the last of the explosives(including the impressive pile of several hundred thousand pounds of explosives buried in the sewers in the center of the city) all remaining human troops would pull out and concede the city to the enemy, and hopefully draw in that hulking behemoth that was reported to be only about thirty miles to the west.  Then there would be nothing left in the city, no churches, cathedrals, ancient castles, or chateaus.

If all went well, the only thing left would be a massive half mile wide crater left by the death of that five story tall monstrosity.  So much history would be lost when that happened, so many precious historical sites and treasures would be gone.  He supposed there was some kind of tragic irony there; that they would have to destroy their past to preserve the future.  He just hoped that there would be some history left when this was over.





-3:28 AM, August 27, 1987, Camp Pendleton, California, United States





Kelly skidded to a halt along with the rest of the squad, her lungs burned as she breathed in gulps of air, she turned to see the last squad member pass the finish line, it was Lorrie Adams.  DI Florez looked at her stopwatch and nodded to herself silently, Kelly couldn't make out what was going through the drill instructors mind, the expression on her face seemed a tad different from the usual thinly veiled contempt that it usually wore, Kelly just couldn't quite put her finger on just what that was.

There was no time to dwell on that however as she reached around for her shovel which she pulled out and started to unfold as did the rest of the squad, unfortunately it wasn't quite fast enough for DI Florez "WHILE I MAY HAVE ALL DAY TO SIT OUT HERE IN THE SUN, I WOULD SERIOUSLY SUGGEST PUTTING A STOP TO THAT GRABASS AND START LOOKING FOR THOSE KITS!!!" she bellowed out in a voice that was far louder than the drill instructor's five foot tall frame seemed capable of.

They were nearing the end of day two of The Crucible, it was a new test that the Corps had enacted after  the start of the war.  While the length of recruit training had been shortened to nine weeks because of the dire need for manpower as a result of the war, apparently, the powers that be decided that something had to be done to make up for the shortened syllabus, and so they had instituted a two day long final test at the very end of boot camp to ensure that quality did not suffer from shortening the training schedule.

It had started when the entire training battalion had been broken up into squad sized teams, each with its own drill instructor.  They were woken up at 'O four hundred hours, mustered on the parade ground and forced to go through their standard morning PT regimen, after which they were each given a pre-assembled field kit which they had not been permitted to pack themselves.  In total, each squad had all the equipment they would need to complete all of the tasks of the coming 48 hours, they just weren't all evenly distributed amongst each recruit's kit. 
 
They would be required to work together to pool what resources they had to complete each task set before them, this included food, water, and various tools.  What followed was repeated completions of the obstacle course, each one having to be finished in an incredibly tight schedule.  There were long distance forced marches, weapons exercises, live fire drills, and countless other physical and mental challenges.

Kelly, along with the entire rest of the squad turned their attention to the ten meter by ten meter patch of dirt before them.  It was filled with one hundred flags, six of those flags marked the position of a rucksack that had been buried in the dirt.  Not much time was wasted as the squad went about dividing up the patch of earth amongst them in order to formulate a proper search pattern.  At first they all wanted to get into a row and work their way across the whole grid, but Ditty didn't think that would have worked too well, after a few seconds of thinking Kelly spoke up and suggested that they each take a rectangle shaped search area of equal size and start digging.  Quick mental arithmetic gave Kelly a number of roughly 17 flags per recruit.  Since nobody else could think of a better idea, there was no argument.  Kelly was pleasantly surprised to see that the group had arrived at a consensus in less than a minute.
 
Without further delay they went to work.  Kelly picked out her first flag and started digging, she found nothing then started on the next.  In approximately six minutes they had managed to locate all six rucksacks, any recruit who had managed to finish searching her area early immediately turned to help the nearest recruit who still hadn't finished theirs.  Quickly setting each rucksack down on the dirt they proceeded to open them up and pulled out their contents.

In total, all six bags contained the parts sufficient to assemble one fully loaded M16 for each squad member with an additional two magazines and anywhere from six to twelve extra parts just to make things more difficult.  With minimal conversation they went about assembling the rifles, when someone realized that they were short on a part, it was announced and anyone with extras supplied the desired component.  In spite of her growling stomach, the excessive sleep deprivation, and considerable physical fatigue, the process went surprisingly well, and in less than two minutes they had all managed to assemble a fully functional rifle.

Kelly examined her weapon then finished the process up by slapping a magazine into place, it made a satisfying click as it went home.  Assessing that everyone had managed to assemble their own rifles, the squad proceeded to move on to the next part of the course.  After jogging about a quarter mile down a dirt path they came to an obstacle course somewhat similar to the standard course which they had run through the previous day, however this one was slightly different.  The sound of wailing klaxons and machine gun fire emanated from the obstacle course up ahead and grew louder as they approached.

DI Florez had managed to race ahead of them and stood at the entrance to the course "GET A MOVE ON RECRUITS, THE WHOLE SQUAD IS THIS CLOSE TO WASHING OUT!!  HURRY THE FUCK UP!!!" she bellowed at them as as they came to the first part of the course.  Without a word, each recruit slung their rifle over their shoulder and started to scale the cargo net which made up the first obstacle.

The first to the top was Ditty, who secured her position then turned around and reached down to help pull up Kelly who was next.  Then Kelly did the same for the next recruit.  Next came a pair horizontal lines suspended about twenty feet over a mud pit, two at a time they traversed the thirty foot lengths of line.

Ten minutes later they had reached the end of the course, climbing down a wooden bulkhead with a series of random handholds arrayed about its surface, they reached a mud pit with barbed wire strung up above it.  A drill instructor stood behind a mounted M60 and fired blanks over top of the barbed wire.

Panting heavily, they threw themselves into the mud, crawling on their bellies as low as they possibly could and after about five minutes the entire squad had managed to reach the end.  Then checking to make sure that each of their weapons wasn't jammed with mud, they proceeded onto the next section.

Moving in tight formation, the squad approached a series of three fox holes which the squad crawled into in groups of two.  In front of each fox hole was a wall of sandbags which blocked the field of fire directly in front of the occupants.  Arrayed in front of the  fox holes were a series of obstacles; old trucks, crates, barrels, shrubs, tree trunks, wooden barricades and so on.

Ditty and Kelly occupied the foxhole on the right side, Kelly took the left side of the sandbags, and Ditty took the right.  The other two teams also took up similar positions in their own foxholes.  The idea was that while no team could cover the area directly in front of its own foxhole, their neighbors could.  So that team work and cooperation was essential to take out all of the targets. 

Before even the last team had managed to get into position, the first bozorg shaped target popped up behind a crate.  Kelly spotted it first and took aim with her rifle, she squeezed the trigger.  The weapon kicked back into her shoulder and brass casings wizzed through the air as they were ejected.  She looked with satisfaction as all three shots of her burst hit the target in a nice tight grouping in the mid section.  The target fell back to the ground and disappeared back behind the crate.

Recruit Adams must have spotted a target popping up in front of Kelly and Ditty's area because she raised her own weapon up to her shoulder and let loose with a burst of fire of her own.  Additional targets started popping up in Kelly's view, she quickly took them out,  meanwhile the sound of an M16 firing to her right told her that Ditty had started to take part in the action as well.

About a minute later Kelly's weapon clicked empty, she quickly ejected the spent magazine and popped the second one into place.  In spite of the many distractions, her fatigue, and the mud encrusted all over her body making her feel incredibly uncomfortable, the process became remarkably simplistic and routine, and before she knew it, she realized that her last magazine was almost empty.  She leaned her head over to the right "shit!  Almost out!" she shouted to Ditty.

Her comrade fumbled around for moment then produced a magazine which she gently tossed to Kelly "here, make 'em count!" she shouted back.

The timing was perfect as she fired off the last couple rounds just after catching the magazine.  Again she repeated the ritual of reloading the rifle and continued firing.

Kelly was coming to the end of this magazine as well and started to worry that they might run out of ammunition before the end of the exercise, but a few seconds later the targets stopped popping up and the machine gun fire also stopped.

"LAST PART OF THE TEST!!! GET THOSE ASSES TO THE PARADE GROUND IN TWENTY FIVE MINUTES!!!" DI Florez had come up behind them during the course of the firing test.  No time was wasted on grumbling or complaining or anything else, the parade ground was three miles away, and an eight minute mile was gonna be damned hard to pull off after everything else they had gone through.

***

Two hours later they were seated in the mess hall.  After completing the last run, they were marched back to their barracks where they all proceeded to shower and change.  Then they were allowed to head on over to the mess hall where they now sat with the largest meal they had been allowed to eat since the start of recruit training, each of them had a plate full of pizza, ice cream, french fries and about a dozen other foods previously forbidden to them during the course of training.

They were all exhausted and hungry and while normally all of them probably would have gone right to sleep after getting cleaned up, they were too excited even at this state.  After making it to the parade ground DI Florez had done something that none of them had ever seen before, she smiled at them.  She also congratulated them on successfully completing The Crucible.

Granted, they hadn't officially graduated yet, but everyone knew that that was only a formality, the final test had finished and they were all now Marines.

As they laughed and joked and smiled at each other while gobbling down their meals, Kelly thought back to that moment back on the parade ground.  Something about the drill instructor's expression had bugged her all throughout the past two days.  At first Kelly couldn't place just what that was, but at that moment when she had informed the squad that they had completed their training, Kelly realized just what it was. 

At first she thought that it must have been a mistake, that she had imagined it, but she couldn't shake the realization.  For the previous nine weeks of training, DI Florez seemed to have only two emotions, disappointment and anger, that total had increased to three when she saw that smile on the DI's face, but there was a fourth one that Kelly had spotted as well, she couldn't explain it, but she couldn't dismiss it either.

Somehow, Kelly was certain that she had seen sadness in her Drill Instructors eyes.
 

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-21 06:25pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
Episode 23



“Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way ”
-The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter





-7:43 PM September 1, 1987, San Diego, California, United States





"Aahh!" exhaled Kelly as she flopped on the bed.  It felt good for her to lay down on something softer than her berth back in the barracks at Pendleton.

The sound of a toilet flushing emenated from the bathroom, after about a minute the door opened and out came Mary Stuart; Kelly's temporary roommate on this trip "you know, I never truly came to appreciate the simple joys in life until I had to share a bathroom with fifty other women, shitty as this hotel may be, it could be the freaking Ritz for all I care" she explained with a smile.

Mary was one of the other recruits in Kelly's training battalion, she had grown up in a foster home, and didn't get along with her foster parents at all.  When Kelly had tried to call home, her mother just hung up on her and they ignored all the messages that she had left.  So when it came time for all the recruits who had graduated to go on leave for five days to visit their families before moving on to the next level of training, Kelly and Mary had found themselves as the only two without a place to go to.

They had first thought of pooling what meager amounts of cash they had to go to Vegas, but they weren't old enough to gamble, and they really didn't feel like going on any long trips anywhere, so they just decided to stay local and found a cheap hotel in San Diego.

Mary walked over to the bed and looked down at Kelly "so what are we gonna do tonight?" she inquired.

Kelly looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully "oh, I dunno, rent a movie?" she suggested.

Mary sat herself down on her own bed "our last five days of freedom before being shipped off to infantry school and you wanna spend the night in watching a movie?  Please tell me you are kidding" she said in a tone of mock incredulity.

Kelly turned to look at the other woman "well, I'm open to suggestions" she replied.

Mary had laid herself down on her own bed by now "oh... I dunno, let's go get drunk, and maybe get laid too" she said absently.

Kelly shook her head "sounds nice and all, but we're not on base, and last I checked, the drinking age in this state is 21, also I'm not all for picking up some random guy just to fuck" she said skeptically.

Mary sighed and started to sit up "well, you don't have to get laid, but you are gonna get drunk with me, I"m not gonna let you just stay cooped up in this hotel all night, besides, I bet with a little charm, and a flash of our military IDs we can get pretty far" she said as she got up from the bed and reached over to Kelly to wrangle her up to her feet.

Kelly raised an eyebrow and looked at her comrade skeptically "oh alright, what's the worst that could happen?" she said as she let Mary lead her out of the hotel room.

***

Three hours later the two of them were back at the hotel.  Mary had been right, and they had managed quite easily to find a bar where they were able to charm the bartender into letting them get a few drinks.  It was good times, and they even met a couple guys who tried to pick them up, but they turned out to be assholes, so Mary and Kelly had headed back to the hotel after getting sufficiently drunk on cheap beer.

As they stumbled up the steps to the second floor Kelly fumbled around in her purse for the hotel key "where the fug is the daaammn key!?" she slurred as she almost fell to the floor, but Mary caught her.

As Mary steadied her comrade she took a peak inside Kelly's purse "hmm, maybbeee you left it at the bar, or ggaaaafffffeeee it to one of those guyssss by accident" she managed to get out with a slight chuckle.

By the time she had finally found the key, they were at the door "fugg thosssee guysss, they were assholessss!" she half shouted.

Mary laughed at kelly who was struggling to get the key into the lock "ha!  I thhhink that's what they wanded!" she teased.

Kelly shook a finger in Mary's face "hhey! ...uh, I got the door unlocked" she said as she opened the door to their room.  Shortly they were stumbling into the room, Kelly dropped her purse on the floor as Mary closed the door behind them "loog, it'ssss time for bedd, you ssshhhould go to bedd" said Mary, half pushing Kelly over toward her bed.

Kelly half-heartedly struggled "yyyoooo aren't my mommm, you don't gedd to tell me what to dddooo" she protested with a drunken smile as they got closer to it.  However before reaching the destination, Kelly tripped, falling onto the floor, Mary got pulled down on top of her "hheeeyyy!!!! gedd off a' m-!" Kelly started to protest, but she was cut off when Mary's lips met hers in a clumsy kiss.

Kelly was so surprised that she was brought a little out of her stupor, her immediate thought was one of alarm, but that quickly changed to one of confusion.  When Mary pulled away,  she didn't say anything at first, she just looked Mary in the eye for a few silent seconds.

Finally the pause ended "w- what was that for?" she asked, surprised that her words came out almost completely unslurred.

Suddenly Mary broke eye contact and looked away "I- jus, jus felt like it, that's all" came her reply, her speech also markedly better all of a sudden.

Kelly had never thought of herself as being attracted to girls, and was certain that she was still attracted to men, but the kiss hadn't really bothered her as much as she would have thought.  Mary started to get up off of Kelly, I'm s-" she was interrupted this time as Kelly surprised her with a kiss of her own.

***

An hour later the two of them lay together naked in Kelly's bed, their skin was slightly damp with a light coating of sweat.  It had been awkward, and a bit clumsy, owing as much to their drunkenness as to their own uncertainness with such a new experience.

Silence hung in the room between them, they had been silent since they had finished, not saying anything to each other.

After another few minutes Mary finally broke the silence "w- was that your first time?" she asked.

Kelly looked over at her "do you mean at all or with another girl?" she asked.

"First time at all."

"Yeah, you?"

"Not my first time ever, but first with a woman."

"oh"

They continued the awkward conversation like that for the next ten minutes, then Kelly got a sudden look of horror on her face "oh shit!  What if somebody finds out about this?  We'll get kicked out of the Corps!" she exclaimed, she had just spent that last nine weeks working so hard to become a Marine, and now she realized that she had endangered everything that she had worked so hard for.  The thought of all that work, all those sacrifices, running away from home, possibly never talking to her family again, all for nothing.

"Oh shit!  You're right!"

Mary suddenly got a similar expression on her face, but she calmed down after another moment, she placed her hand on Kelly's "actually, I think we'll be okay.  I mean only we know about this, and I'm certainly not talking, I trust that I can count you to keep your mouth shut?" she said as she looked over at Kelly reassuringly.

Kelly thought about it for a moment then relaxed a bit, Mary was right.  Besides, there was little that they could do about it now, what was done was done.

They spent the next couple hours talking about various different subjects, obviously sex for one, but also other things as well, random things.  They got to know one another, they developed a rapport with each other and what seemed like the beginnings of a real relationship.

By the time their leave had ended a few days later, they had tried doing it a couple more times.  Both had found it enjoyable, although by the end, Kelly began to realize that what they had, while it seemed really special could not last.  She knew that after infantry school, they would probably both get shipped off to different units, possibly entirely different continents, and even if they did end up serving together they wouldn't be able to continue the relationship, there was too much risk of discovery.

However, Kelly was glad for the week they had shared together, and the memory it left in her mind.  She would cherish it always, and she hoped the same was true for Mary as well.









-4:25 PM September 16, 1987, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States





Jason stared over at the calendar on the wall of the principal's office and read the notes on it for about the twentieth time.  Unlike during the hours when school was in session, the office was rather quiet.  Mrs. McQueen; Principle Josiah's secretary, silently filled out paperwork at her desk, meanwhile Mr. Josiah was in his office behind a closed door talking on the phone quietly.  With a sigh, Jason gently rubbed his bruised knuckles once again, they still hurt, even after over three hours.

After another ten minutes and two more readings of the notes on the calendar, he could make out the distant sound of a door opening and closing coming from somewhere out in the hallway.  It was different from the sound the classroom doors made, so it meant that probably someone was coming in from outside the school.  Jason started to tense up in anticipation, if it was who he had been waiting for, he was not looking forward to what was going to be coming.

Moments later the door to the office opened, and in marched Mom "oh, hello Mrs. Irons, Jason is sitting right over there" said Mrs. McQueen.  Mom's gaze immediately shifted to stare at Jason, her expression was a mix of concern and anger.  Mrs. McQueen pressed a button on the intercom on her desk "Mr. Josiah, Mrs. Irons is here to pick up Jason" she announced.

After a momentary pause, the principal's voice came through the intercom speaker "alright, have her come in to talk to me before she takes Jason home with her" came his reply.

Mom walked up to Jason, that look still on her face, she knelt down and looked him over, taking extra time to examine his bruised fists "you know I had to get out of work over an hour early to come down here" she chastised him, then took a deep breath and sighed "well, at least the worst you've got is a set of bruised knuckles-" she paused and turned to look as Mr. Josiah opened his office door and poked his head out, then she returned her attention to Jason "we'll talk about this later" she said to him with a stern tone and then promptly stood back up and headed into Mr. Josiah's office.

For the next ten or fifteen minutes Mom and the principal talked, it was too quiet and muffled for Jason to make anything out, but Mom sounded upset, that much he could tell.  When the door opened again, Mom stepped out and walked over to him and extended a hand "let's go" she ordered.  After a slight delay, Jason picked up his book bag off of the seat next to him and got out of his chair, he took her hand in his and they walked out of the office.

As they walked down the hallway, Jason avoided eye contact with Mom, opting in stead to stare down at the faded and cracked linoleum tile "Mr. Josiah says that he suspended you for three days" she said to him, there wasn't anger in her tone, it was just a statement of fact.

As they stepped out into the still warm autumn air, rain drizzled down on the two of them.  The walk to the car was silent and purposeful, the distant sound of a police siren echoed in the distance as they crossed the largely deserted parking lot.  Finally they reached the car; a beat up old red hatchback that looked like it had more rust on it than paint, it creaked loudly as they both got in, immediately the familiar musty odor of the car's interior filled his nostrils. 

The car was a total piece of junk, even by the standards of their poor neighborhood, he remembered hearing his parents talking about how it was always so close to breaking down for good.  Fortunately Dad had always been able to get it working again when it did, of course they were too poor to afford a mechanic.  Jason wondered what they would do the next time it broke down, without Dad to fix it.  He flinched a little at that thought and the pain it brought to the surface.

Mom closed her door, inserted the key into the ignition, and attempted to start the car.  It of course didn't.  So she tried again, and then a third time.  On the fourth try it finally started up.  They slowly drove through the parking lot and around to the open gate.  The ten foot tall fences with barbed wire at the top passed by the car windows as they turned onto the street, Jason paid them little attention.

"They said that that boy, Deshawn Walker, he has two black eyes.  You could have really hurt him.  What the hell were you thinking?"

Jason didn't immediately answer, but after a moment he finally came up with something "he was being a real jerk, he cut in front of me during lunch, and then in class he kept shooting spitballs at me.  He's such an ass-"

"Watch your language young man!  You're in enough trouble already, don't make me give you a whuppin' for language" Mom scolded him.

"I can't believe you would do something like this.  Well you can forget about going to Dwayne's birthday party this weekend, you're grounded for two weeks, and no TV either."

His eyes shot over to look at her for the first time since she had come to pick him up from school "but, that's not fair!" he protested.

"A lot of things in life are unfair, get used to it" Mom said, a touch of sadness in her voice.  He remembered the look on Deshawn's face, that terrified expression as Jason lunged at him.  He was so angry, so mad.  The whole world was unfair, and he hated it all.

"You better check that attitude too, otherwise I might make it three weeks."

He opened his mouth to protest again but she interjected "or a month" she said assertively.

Mom gave another sigh "I don't know what I'm gonna to do with you, first you cut school last week, now this?  What's next?" some of the anger in her voice went away and was replaced by concern "look, I know that it hasn't been easy ever since..." she trailed off, she left that last part unspoken, they both knew what it was IIIever since Dad died.III

The memory of Deshawn Walker was suddenly replaced by that hot august afternoon three weeks ago.  When Uncle Damian had come to the door, he was still wearing his coveralls from the shipyard where he and Dad worked together. 

Jason didn't understand a lot of what he had been told about what had happened that day, something about them rushing too much, about not enough safety rules, but then again he wasn't sure if he really cared about it either.  There hadn't been any happy days since then, Mom almost never smiled anymore, and Jason always felt angry, angry at a world that had taken his dad away.

The car had come to a stop at a light, and Mom finally looked down at him for a couple seconds "look, I know that you took it hard, I know that you're mad, that you want him back, but you've got to work with me here or this family thing we've got isn't going to make it" she said, for the first time so far without any anger in her voice.

Jason didn't say anything right then, he just looked back down at his feet.  He wasn't sure if there were ever going to be any more happy days again, and he wasn't really sure if he cared at that point, he was just angry.






-3:23 PM September 21, 1987, 30 kilometers outside of Weifang, Jinan Military Region, China




"Ten degrees to the right."

Captain Yu's voice came in steady and authoritative through Corporal Gao Ming's earphones as he gave the order, and Ming obediently pulled the joystick to the right.  The sound of powerful electric motors rose above the rumbling of the diesel engines.  Slowly but surely, the massive turret spun to bear on the intended target.  After a few seconds, the desired angle was reached and Ming brought the joystick back to center, the turret's traverse stopped and the motors stopped whining.

Ming could almost feel the captain tense up as he prepared for what was to come within the next thirty seconds.

"Elevate three degrees."

Again, Ming followed the order by maneuvering a separate joystick.  Within a couple seconds the massive 280 mm cannon had been fully brought to bear on the desired target that sat more than a kilometer away.  Several more seconds passed as the Captain checked a couple more things, finally the order came.

"Fire."

It was calm and seemed somewhat out of place considering what was being ordered.  Ming reached over, gripped the large metal lever to his right and pulled.  The entire vehicle shook with so much force that had he not already experienced it before, Ming would have expected that the massive armored vehicle would have been shaken to pieces by the jarring recoil.  Meanwhile a deafening blast so loud that even through his padded headphones it drowned out all other noises.

Peering through his own scope, Ming looked for a sign that the shot had hit its intended target.  Less than a second later he was rewarded as the large five meter block of concrete that they were aiming for disappeared in a massive conflagration.  Ming's lips parted to bear his teeth in a wide grin of satisfaction as Captain Yu patted him on the shoulder "nice work everyone, now let's head on back to base" he said.

**

About a half hour later they had pulled the titanic machine back into a large aircraft hangar that it had called home ever since arriving a month ago.  Ming followed Captain Yu out through a hatch in the top.

The fleeting sound of air hissing filled the compartment as the Captain opened the hermetically sealed hatch.  As Ming climbed out he surveyed the other seven gargantuan vehicles all parked in a row to the left and right.  He pondered the massive size of their own vehicle as he climbed down the ladder along the side, and large it was.

The Huang Di class armored vehicle was over four meters tall, more than five including the turret.  Built on two interlinked heavily modified quarry sized dump truck chassis', each vehicle was over thirty five meters in length and seven meters in width.  Each Huang Di was mounted with an American 280mm nuclear artillery piece.  They had been old relics of the fifties and sixties which the Americans had turned into museum pieces, but the PLA had refurbished them a few weeks ago.

They had been named after the semi-mythical Yellow Emperor who was known for having bested and decapitated a giant in personal combat.  Needless to say, the symbolism was not lost on Ming, he had known that originally the Huang Di was meant to act as a possible answer to the problem of those damned fire breathing monstrosities that the enemy was using, with the hope that if a regular 100 or 120mm tank gun couldn't kill one of those beassts in a single shot, then perhaps a 280mm one could.  But then those massive giants had shown themselves.

Virtually unkillable by any conventional means, it was hoped that perhaps concentrated salvos of 8 of those guns could do the trick, especially since getting aircraft within striking distance of those damn things had proven... IIIdifficultIII to say the least.

Ming and Captain Yu met the rest of the crew on the floor of the hangar in front of their monstrous machine.  Corporal Zhang Péng, their driver, greeted Ming with a smile and a slap on the shoulder "that was good shooting Ming, you actually hit the target this time, let's try and do that again some time eh?" he teased.

Ming chuckled at him "well, I'm quite proud Péng.  Just as you should be for having not crashed into the hangar door while parking today!" he retorted playfully.

Péng was about to respond with yet another lighthearted insult when Captain Yu interrupted "yes, I'm sure we're all very happy that everything went well today, now we just need to actually get things done quickly.  We'll take an early day today and be here nice and early tomorrow, I want us able to fire off three shots in thirty seconds, and we will be able to redeploy to another location and start firing again within two minutes.  We've go less than a month before heading off to the front and the entire company will be ready on time."

The Captain looked the entire crew over, and then at their vehicle "alright, before we go any further.  Are there any further technical problems that any of you noticed?" he inquired, nodding his head toward the approaching contingent of mechanics and engineers.

Private Hu Wei; one of the four machine gunners, spoke up first "well, I noticed a little sluggishness on my W85" he said.

Captain Yu nodded as he looked at one of the forward mounted heavy machine gun sponsons "very well, go over it with the technicians before you leave" he ordered.  The looking back over the assembled crew "alright are there any other problems to be dealt with then?" he asked.  There was no response, after another second or two Captain Yu nodded "very well, get some rest, we have a lot to cover before we can start slaying monsters, you are dismissed" he said with a salute.  The crew obediently came to attention and returned their own salutes in disciplined unison.





-9:23 AM September 23, 1987, Edwards Air Force Base, California, United States




Lieutenant Lorie McCabe stood in front of the unoccupied desk of a Colonel Archibalt Powell.  She wasn't sure why she was there, and she wasn't sure who Colonel Powell was, she just knew that she'd been yanked from her bed back at Dover at about four in the morning and flown all the way down here to Edwards without the slightest bit of warning.

It's not that she was all that upset.  What with the war going on, it wasn't unheard of that people might expect sudden and drastic changes to happen, she just wished she had an idea of just what they wanted with her all the way over here.

After a few more minutes of waiting, the door to the office opened and in walked a tall and wiry looking man in a colonel's uniform carrying a stack of files in his hand.  Immediately Lorie stood at attention, bringing her hand up in a crisp salute "sir!  Lieutenant McCabe reporting as ordered, sir!" she said in proper Academy fashion.

Lorie had only just graduated from the Air Force Academy about three months previously, and it showed in her dealings with others, especially superior officers.

The colonel casually returned the salute as he came to his chair and sat down "that's fine Lieutenant, take a seat" he said absently.

Lorie slowly loosened her stiff stance and then proceeded to take the seat across from his desk.

As Powell got comfortable in his chair he flipped through one of the files, for a fraction of a second Lorie thought she spotted a picture of her in there IIIso it's a file on me, I wonder if this is good or badIII.  About a minute passed in awkward silence as the Colonel perused the documents in front of him.

Finally he spoke up "welcome to Edwards Air Force Base lieutenant, thank you for coming on such short notice, this was somewhat unexpected for us here as well" he said without looking up at her.

"That's no problem sir.  The Air Force tells me where to fly and that's were I go, never read anywhere in the manual about hours of operation" she tried to sound as upbeat and confident as she could.

Another long pause followed as the colonel perused more documents, a couple minutes later he closed the file in front of him and looked up at her for the first time.  Although his appearance was clean and orderly, his eyes looked as though he hadn't slept in quite some time "so, tell me about the incident in Vandenberg" he said suddenly.

Lorie had been taken aback by that one, it was so direct and sudden, had someone thought that she had been at fault after all?  She paused for a second, looking for the right words "um... well, one of our thrust reversers suddenly deployed and we had to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff.  It was-"

"You suffered engine failure and had to land your aircraft fully loaded and dead stick, and you managed to successfully do so with only minimal damage to the airframe, is that correct?"

"Uh, yes sir that is correct, it was quite a day sir."

"You know, you're far too modest.  Your CO tells me that you saved the lives of your entire crew that day, and that he's not sure there are too many pilots in the Air Force today who could have pulled off what you did that day.  Not bad for being a month out of the Academy."

Lorie felt her cheeks get warm as she blushed in embarrassment, she hadn't realized that Colonel Dorny thought so highly of her.

Powell continued "I'm going to get down to the point, how do you feel about flying in combat?" he asked.

Lorie almost took a double take at that one combat? what the hell did they bring me down here for?  "Begging your pardon sir, but it's not something that I had considered for my current posting, although I have no objections to a front line assignment.  I knew what I was getting into when I enlisted" she tried to keep the nervousness out of her voice, but she didn't think it was working.

"Good, one of our pilots died in a car accident last night, and his substitute came down with a case of appendicitis a week ago, so now we have a hole in our roster that we need filled immediately, we've got to be ready for deployment in less than a month.  If you're willing, I can have the transfer order sent through by lunch."

She blinked hard at that what the hell is he getting at?  Transfer order?  What the hell do they want me for?  She opened her mouth to speak, but didn't know what to say.

Apparently sensing her hesitation, Colonel Powell raised an eyebrow "if you are looking into career advancement, this is about the best opportunity you will ever have" his voice was encouraging.

Lorie took a deep breath and thought for a second, she didn't even know what she was being offered.  Finally she looked the Colonel in the eye "alright sir, but just one question.  Aside from some trainer aircraft, the only thing I'm rated in is a C-5 galaxy, just what combat mission could you possibly need me for on such short notice?" she asked.

The colonel gave her a knowing grin "well Lieutenant, it's something right up your alley."





-2:23 AM October 19, 1987, somewhere in Rajasthan, India





Nikolai stirred from another nightmare as he sensed someone approaching.  He had actually gotten quite good at dealing with the nightmares, or perhaps the term 'deal' was not quite apt.  He tolerated them, and he supposed that that was good enough.

He quickly opened his eyes which rapidly adjusted to the darkness.  He saw that the rest of the squad was sleeping soundly, that was good, they deserved a good nights rest, and Nikolai was getting the uneasy feeling that they were going to need as much rest as they could get in the near future.

Two days previously, his squad had been finally called back from their regular job of running from one hot spot to another, and for the first time in a long while, they had been sent to the rear.  At first he had held out the hope that it was because they had finally stopped retreating, which was a fact.  Two days prior to that he had finally gotten word that a firm defensive line had been established about fifty or sixty kilometers northwest of their current location.

This thought was immediately challenged however.

First they were sent all the way back to what had appeared to be a proper military base, they were permitted to actually shower and sleep in real beds and eat real food.  It had seemed like a miracle, perhaps they were going to get sent back home, given an extended leave, something.

A big part of Nikolai's mind told him that they were being treated so well because something truly difficult or horrifying was to come.  Rather than a glorious feast or celebration, the excellent food they had received felt more like a last meal.

At first he merely dismissed this as his own pessimism getting the better of him.  Then the next day they had been all loaded onto a truck and shipped to this location, some small insignificant little village called Barwala.

The moment they arrived he knew that his suspicions were correct.  There were troops everywhere, tens of thousands of them, all packed into this little area.  He spotted equipment of all different makes too, not just Indian or Pakistani either, but Russian, Chinese, even American and British too.  Then he started seeing men who he had served with in Khost, and not just the occasional familiar face either, hundreds of them, maybe even a couple thousand.  He had hoped that these were just a small portion of the total number of surviving forces who had originally fought in that city and not all of them, but he had a strong feeling that such was not the case.

The area itself was heavily fortified too, as far as he could tell, there were three levels of defense.  Trenches, bunkers, earthworks, he hadn't seen anything so significant since their defensive perimeter along the Afghan border.  It had appeared a bit hastily constructed by comparison, but nonetheless it was quite impressive.  He wondered just what the point of it was with the front lines being fifty kilometers away.  Though he was quite sure that he would find out sooner or later.

He heard the faint and quiet footsteps of someone approaching, and picked himself up to get a look at just who it was.  As he got to his feet he managed to spot a dark figure about five meters away walking in their direction.

As the individual got closer, Nikolai noticed something familiar about him, it was the VDV uniform the visitor was wearing it couldn't be.

Nikolai took a couple steps toward the newcomer "Colonel Kvachkov, it has been a long time" he whispered as he brought his hand up in a salute, the first he had made in as long as he could remember.

The Colonel responded with his own salute "it is good to see you too Sergeant Antonov, I'm glad to see that you are still alive after all of this" he said back, and then extended a hand.

Nikolai hesitated for a second then reached out with his own and grasped it "well, it hasn't been for lack of trying, from the way things have been going I was starting to think that our superiors were actively trying to kill us" he said with a touch of sour humor.

Colonel Kvachkov nodded silently "it can seem that way all too often unfortunately, and I'm afraid that that is not about to change just yet" he said, there was a touch of resignation in his voice.

Nikolai took a deep breath and let it out slowly "I had a feeling such was the case, how bad?" he asked with trepidation.

There was a pause "how bad does 'most important operation of the war to date' sound?" the colonel responded.

"Bad."

"And that is why you got the job, you and all the rest of the troops from Khost.  You are the amongst the most hardened experienced forces in this war. You will be the anvil against which we will crush the enemy."





-2:06 PM October 22, 1987, Nawalgarth, Rajasthan, India




Kelly hopped out of the back of the truck and onto the ground, then sprinted around to the side of the truck with the rest of her squad.  She quickly came to a halt, then stood at attention with the rest of the squad who had lined up along with the rest if the platoon.

A middle aged man wearing a Lieutenant's Bar stood before them, his name patch read 'Samuels' he took a step forward "welcome to Task Force Sabre; I am Lieutenant Samuels, the commander of this motherfucking platoon!" he bellowed out to them.

Kelly was surprised to hear an officer use such course language, she was used to it from NCO's but never a commissioned officer.

He looked the platoon up and down, then continued "it is regretful that we have not had much opportunity to get properly acquainted, this however will be getting rectified over the coming days" he said as he paced about in front of them.

"As many of you may have heard, there has been much concern voiced over this operation and the choice of personnel for it" he said with an obvious air of contempt in his voice "they say that this is a job for the army, that the Marines should stick to the beaches!" his voice also seemed to have a bit of derisive humor in it as well.

"There have also been concerns voiced over the fact that this will be the first deployment of women in the Corps into combat!  There however are two problems with these concerns!" he paused for a second "first of all, I have looked over this base for days and days, and I have yet to see a single woman.  All I've seen, are Marines!"

"The other problem is that no matter what anybody else says, we are going to kill more motherfucking bozorgs than any other outfit in this whole goddamn war!"

"Now what do you have to say to that?!"

"OORAH!"

There was no delay.

The response was loud enough that it even managed to partially drown out the constant overhead roar of jets.

**

Twenty Five minutes later Kelly was jogging with the rest of her squad toward a large sized hangar located at the camp.  They had already been to their berths where they had dropped off most of their gear.  Corporal Dawson was jogging ahead of them, grunting and shouting at them to "hurry the fuck up."

Dawson was the unofficial leader of Kelly's squad, much Like Lieutenant Samuels, he was unsurprisingly crude and vulgar but seemed to know what he was doing.  The chief NCO of the entire platoon was Staff-Sergeant Brasseau, he was grizzled and looked to also be the oldest man in the unit, he was actually a bit more quiet and reserved than the others, but he gave the impression that he was a hard man.  She had heard that he had been in the Corps since 1968, and that he had served in Vietnam, which included a post at Khe Sanh.

She was a of course quite nervous at the prospect of her first combat deployment especially since most of the recruits who she had graduated with had been assigned elsewhere, but it looked like the platoon had solid leadership, which she found quite reassuring.  However there were a couple who had been assigned to the same platoon with her, and that included Ditty, which Kelly figured made up for it.

They came to a halt just inside the main doors to the hangar which bustled with activity as a constant flow of both people and vehicles and aircraft moved into and out of the large structure.  The heavy traffic created a large amount of noise which made it hard to hear much anything of any use, but Lieutenant Samuels seemed to have no problem being heard over the cacophony.

Before them was a row of parked CH-53Es, technicians swarmed over two of them, performing various forms of repairs and other maintenance.  Samuels gestured toward the row of aircraft "this is the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion, it will take us into and out of harms way, get well acquainted with them!"






-4:28 PM October 25, 1987, 5 kilometers south of the Kazakh border, Uzbekistan




Viktor patted down on the dirt with his shovel, then wiped the sweat from his brow.  Leaning on his shovel, he reached back to grab his cantine which he opened and lifted to his mouth, he drank from it.  Lukewarm water flowed down his throat, partially quenching his thirst.  It wasn't very cool and it had a strong metallic taste from his cantine, but it was refreshing enough for him under the circumstances.

As he swallowed the last bit of water, he looked over to see Leonid and Oskar placing the last empty case in the back of the truck, it's precious and deadly cargo having already been deployed.

For a moment he stood there contemplating the significance of their mission as well as that of the other thirty teams just like theirs working out there that day.  Their mission was both of the utmost importance and utterly secret.  Viktor knew why, he understood completely the purpose for such secrecy. 

He wasn't even sure if he himself agreed with what they were doing out there, and so he had no doubt that the world at large would be skeptical to say the least.  It mattered not, if all went well, this contingency would not be needed, and no one would ever need know of its existence.

However, if it was necessary to enact it.  Well then...

He pushed such thoughts to the back of his mind, it was not for the likes of him to think of such things.  The decision had been made by people far more important and influential than he, there was little he could do about it himself, so rationalizing such decisions was pointless.

The Major had emerged from inside the truck with a large spool of wire and hollared to Viktor to get back to work.  It brought him back to the present, so he resealed his cantine, put it back on his belt and headed over to the next spot.  His only further thought on the matter was that he would be glad not to be at this location when the time came, no matter what course of events were to unfold in the next week or two.





Received: from !obsidianhost!darpahost!obnet.workhub.westloc.gov([146.189.225.183])
by bobgriggs@obsidiannet.workhub.westloc.gov

to: <philsheckly@quivernet.centralhub.eastloc.gov>
date: wednesday, October 28, 1987, 1:08 PM
subject: arrowhead network system check


Phil,


Could you run a system check on the Arrowhead network?  We suddenly had a massive drop off in registered activity this morning and we want to make sure that it's not an instrumentation problem.  Interestingly we still picked up the teleportation test we performed about thirty minutes ago without a problem, however all of those 'slow portals' that we have been picking up for the past year have just suddenly stopped, almost like somebody just flipped a switch.  Anyway, we're freaking out a bit here since we're a kind of paranoid that the modifications we made to engage the jamming signal may be causing disruption to the network's sensitivity.

Thanks in Advance,
Bob




Received: from !quiverhost!darpahost!qnet.centralhub.eastloc.gov ([136.129.237.191])
by philsheckly@quivernet.centralhub.eastloc.gov

to: <bobgriggs@obsidiannet.workhub.westloc.gov>
date: Wednesday, October 28, 1987, 8:39 AM
subject: RE: arrowhead network system check

Bob,

We did a full scale calibration and system check on the whole network and have so far not found a single problem with it.  So far it looks like those 'slow portals' have indeed stopped appearing, interesting that they would build in frequency and intensity for more than a year then suddenly stop.  Still no idea on your end as to what they were about?  Anyway, we'll perform a full scale system check on each satellite over the next two days just to be sure.

Best Regards,
Phil

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-21 10:22pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2007-04-04 09:55pm
Posts: 72
Interesting that the US is able to send a sizeable contingent of troops to the Central Asian front. Does that mean the Bozorg advance in North America has been slowed sufficiently? Also surprising that the US isn't sending assistance to South America since that front seems to be in the gravest danger.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-22 01:08pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
The US sent troops into Asia for the following reasons:

1.)Afghanistan is the biggest threat
2.)there is a strong desire to get the Russians to divert troops to Europe so the US can divert troops away from Europe to North America, reducing or eliminating the bozorg threat in Asia can do this.s
3.)The Russians, Chinese, and Indians had already decided to hatch this plan to launch a major operation to turn the tide. American involvement was seen as a way to get the US in on the first major victory of the war for obvious morale reasons.
4.)The bozorgs are getting uncomfortably close to the Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which is considered a very important strategic asset.



Also, I never stated that the US didn't send some kind of forces to Brazil, So far most updates from Brazil are from Che Bruno's POV, and he's not in on the most up to date news regarding the war effort.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-22 11:15pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2007-04-04 09:55pm
Posts: 72
Okay, I see then. Also, I remember reading that most of Pakistan has already been overrun. Did the Pakistani government manage to evacuate most of its population?

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-25 12:26am
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
Zim wrote:
Okay, I see then. Also, I remember reading that most of Pakistan has already been overrun. Did the Pakistani government manage to evacuate most of its population?


The whole fight in Pakistan was pretty damn chaotic. With the bozorgs pushing the humans about as fast as they possibly could retreat. So though a good amount of the population was able to be evacuated, a lot were not.


Anyway, I realized that there was supposed to be a certain little bit included in the last update that I forgot, so here is a little mini update.



-10:18 AM October 31, 1987, Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, United States





Roger got out of the back of the Lincoln and walked toward the large aircraft hangar. Three men in Air Force uniforms awaited him, the first to speak up was wearing the insignia of a lieutenant "I've been sent by Colonel Powell to give you a status update on PROJECT REAPER" he said nervously.

Roger stopped and reached into his pocket to pull out a pack of Marlboroughs, he proceeded to extract a white cylinder from the pack and placed it firmly between his lips. Replacing the pack in his pocket, he pulled out a chrome lighter, flipped it open with a metallic ping and proceeded to ignite it. Taking care to cover the flame with one hand to guard against the light desert breeze, he lit the end of the cigarette and inhaled, warm smoke filled his lungs, relaxing his nerves. As he closed the lighter and put it back in his pocket he looked over at the harried looking lieutenant "any day now Lieutenant" he said annoyed as smoke escaped from his nostrils and mouth.

The air force man nodded nervously as Roger resumed his pace toward the large structure before him "yes, right. Anyway, the colonel says that we have experienced a slight delay with two of his aircraft, just a minor problem with the fuel system, but he doesn't think of it as a major concern..." he started to explain.

Roger waved a dismissive hand at the other man "alright alright, how long of a delay?" he said without masking the annoyance in his voice.

The nervous man nodded "well, maybe an additional twelve to twenty-four hours" he said.

"Alright, so thirty-six hours it is."

"...thirty- but I just said..."

Roger chuckled slightly "twelve to twenty four hours; yes I know, but as a general rule, I always find it helpful to tack on an extra fifty percent onto the maximum estimated time a project is expected to take" he said with a humorless smile. The lieutenant was about to speak again, but Roger interrupted him "that does not mean that thirty-six hours is acceptable or that this in any way implies that I or my superiors are okay with it, just that I'm not holding my hopes up for your estimate, just know that ROUND HAMMER is slated to get kicked off in one week, with or without Colonel Powell's little project along for the ride, and if it isn't... well, let's just say that it will not go well for him" he said ominously.

Finally he turned his attention to the other two officers as they entered the hangar "gentlemen, I trust that you have the results from the latest tests of NEMESIS" he said as he nodded toward the sleek black objects arrayed before them.

One of the other officers, a colonel spoke up first "that is correct, the tests have proven quite successful" he said with a slight tone of pride in his voice.

The third officer, a major spoke next "if you will follow us this way, we will give you a full rundown on all of our results before you take them back to Washington with you" he explained, leading Roger off to the right-hand side of the hangar.

Roger compliantly followed as he regarded the assembled implements of mass destruction lined up inside the hangar. It was somewhat ironic really, that such weapons which in a different time against a regular human adversary would have been thought of as practically insane or at the very least idiotic to use, were now considered an important strategic asset against a far worse opponent.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-28 07:01pm
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Youngling

Joined: 2010-03-22 02:14pm
Posts: 148
Episode 24




"Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them."
-Napoleon Bonaparte






-11:48 PM, November 7, 1987, South-Central Asia





In just a few short hours, the single largest military operation in the history of human conflict was about to begin.  More troops, equipment, weapons, vehicles, aircraft and munitions were to be used during the course of the operation than any previous operation.  In some ways, it was already underway, since there were already millions of troops currently engaged in combat with the bozorgs. Millions of people who were fighting for their lives, many of them dying every second, making the ultimate sacrifice to hold the hordes at bay long enough for this heavy blow to be struck.

It had cost more than fifty thousand casualties just to halt the momentum of the bozorg advances in Asia in order to stabilize the front and allow for the forces needed to be brought into position before the operation could commence.  It was an effort of herculean proportions, and yet compared to what was coming in just a few short hours, it was a minor delaying action.

As was their standard custom, the Americans had dubbed it ROUND HAMMER, impressive sounding, but incredibly vague.  The Russians had gone with the far more mundane HARVEST DRIZZLE, the Chinese had gone with an even more nondescript OPERATIONAL PLAN 119, and the British had named it BREADBASKET.  Whatever the name, the overall operation was grand indeed, and yet, like so many other grand military operations, it relied on the completion of another, somewhat less spectacular or glorious mission, the kind that usually gets little or no mention in history books, or movies that would come in the years and decades following the war.

Code named OPERATION SIDEWINDER by its American planners, it was conducted primarily by the air forces of the United States, Soviet Union and China, largely because they were the only three involved nations possessing the necessary equipment.

Unlike most obscure preliminary military operations, SIDEWINDER thankfully required little to no risk of human life to conduct, for its participants were all either remote controlled or automated.

The first stage of SIDEWINDER began at 11:22 PM that evening as over twelve hundred Soviet P-270 Moskit and eight hundred Chinese C-301 supersonic cruise missiles were launched from various launch sites in China, Kazakhstan, Iran, and India.  Each missile carried a conventional warhead designed to explode on impact.

Quickly accelerating to supersonic speed, each swarm of missiles made their way inward toward the heart of the bozorg infested region.  Of course, immediately upon crossing over into bozorg controlled airspace, a massive number of acid bugs and dragonflies rose to meet them, throwing themselves at the intruders, doing everything in their power to knock them out of the sky as they had done on so many previous occasions, and quickly, the massive numbers of missiles began to dwindle.

The human made and launched projectiles fell in droves, even their immense numbers were not sufficient to pierce the massive defenses that the bozorgs had set up in anything but small handfuls.  What would have been a devastating assault on a different opponent was quickly reduced to a minor nuisance, with more than 90% of all missiles fired being destroyed before being able to deliver their payload to their targets.

Normally, this would have been viewed as a failure, however the destruction wrought by these missiles was only a secondary consideration.  Rather, the planners of this mission had worked under the assumption that not a single missile would make it through.  In stead, that would fall to the second stage of the operation.

Three minutes after the initial wave of conventional cruise missiles were launched, forty additional missiles were launched from separate specially prepared launch sites, and these were anything but conventional weapons.

Originally conceived of in the 1950s, before the practical widespread deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile or SLAM was conceived to act as an unstoppable and devastating weapon of mass destruction.  Propelled by a nuclear reactor, it was designed to fly into enemy airspace low and fast, dropping off individual nuclear warheads along the way.

Their considerable top speed and exceptional durability made them seemingly very difficult to shoot down, which made them quite attractive at the time.  However, they also had the unpleasant side effect of sprinkling nuclear waste wherever they went, including any friendly countries they had to fly over on the way to their target.

This combined with the advent of reliable rocket technology which produced a more effective and practical means of delivering nuclear ordinance over long distances signaled the death of the SLAM.  It is of particular irony that the same people who were advocating amassing enough nuclear weapons to annihilate the entire human race several times over thought that the SLAM was too irrational for their own tastes.

However, times change, and against a foe as incomprehensible and horrific as the tāziyāne-ye bozorg, the SLAM had been brought back into the realm of reasonable consideration.

Aptly codenamed PROJECT NIGHTMARE, the newly constructed SLAMs were the product of a crash program conducted by DARPA and the United States Air Force which had begun shortly after the revelation that the bozorgs possessed some form of defense against nuclear weapons.  The program was so rushed in fact, that the first missiles had finished being built a scant few days before being shipped off to the front.

With the exact locations of their targets being unknown until just moments before launch, the forty missiles had been divided into four groups of ten and placed at the north, south, east, and west sides of the bozorg infestation zone.

All forty missiles simultaneously lifted off using conventional liquid fueled rocket motors which had allowed them to reach an initial altitude of ten thousand feet.  At this point they had accelerated to a top speed of mach 3 as they circled around to cross over the defensive perimeter, at which point each missile immediately dropped down to 100 feet above the ground and jettisoned their conventional rocket boosters and fuel tanks.  Following this, each missile activated its nuclear powered engine.  Due to the rushed nature of their development and production, four of these missiles failed to activate their nuclear power plants and crashed inside the bozorg infestation zone, but this too had been allowed for and so the remaining thirty-six continued on with the mission.

The final targets of these missiles were the still surviving behemoths which had proven so difficult to kill, up to that point. There were three in the south, three in the east, one in the west, and four in the north.  As one of the few fortunate turns of events until then, it appeared that after the successful destruction of an additional behemoth in Germany, the bozorg controlling intelligence had become somewhat skittish as to how it would employ them, holding them in reserve until an area had already been softened up by previous attacks before sending them in for a killing blow.

This had the benefit of all behemoths being at locations far enough away from the defense perimeter that their violent deaths would have only caused minimal damage to human forces in the area.  However, the planners of the coming operation knew that the massive creatures would undoubtedly come into play once things got kicked into high gear.  This could not be allowed, and so something had to be done to ensure that it didn't happen.

Using the distraction that the previous barrage had provided already, the 36 SLAMs entered bozorg controlled airspace with virtually no initial resistance just as had been planned.  It wasn't until after clearing through the initial maelstrom of bozorg air defenses frantically trying to swat the first intruders from the sky that this situation changed.

The central control of the bozorg swarms did take notice of these 36 incoming projectiles and started to divert resources to the objective of destroying them, which is a large part of the reason why some of the initial salvo of cruise missiles were able to get through.  However, the low altitude of the SLAM approaches along with their considerably high speed resulted in a sluggish response from the bozorgs.

By the time considerable airborne resources had been brought to bear on these new intruders, they had already been more than halfway to their targets.  It did not help that unlike the Chinese and Russian missiles that preceded them, the American missiles were being remotely piloted by a group of people sitting in a building in southern California, who had been provided with both visual telemetry and radar returns from each missile that they controlled.  This allowed them to take evasive action once it became clear that the bozorgs were responding to this new threat.

In spite of this, once they realized just what kind of threat these new missiles were, the response became dramatically more well organized.  At about the two-thirds mark of the flight, every single airborne asset in central Asia that the bozorgs possessed immediately switched to targeting these thirty-six new intruders.

Again, the mission planners had expected something along these lines and so the design of each SLAM had incorporated a series of countermeasures to confuse and distract the bozorg defenders.  Each missile possessed a payload of flares and chaff which each operator proceeded to jettison as the need arose.

This distraction bought them perhaps an additional thirty seconds or a minute, but each second was precious.  The amount of chaff thrown into the air was considerable, and it did succeed in interfering in the internal radar system of the bozorg dragonflies, however it also did cause a bit of interference in the remote control systems of some of the missiles as well.  Three more went out of control and crashed, but thirty-three still flew, and that was more than the planners had initially hoped for.

By the time the bozorgs had finally managed to get airborne defenses into proper position to intercept the incoming missiles, they were almost on target.  As they had done before, airborne creatures screamed in for ramming attacks against these incoming threats, throwing themselves at the enemy with reckless abandon.  But unlike previous human aircraft and missiles, these were far more robust.  Even as corrosive acid ate trough their fuselages and high velocity impacts from dragonfly spikes and kamikazi-style attacks slammed into the airframes, triple and quadruple redundancy on every system along with the incredible robust design of each missile prevented them from falling from the sky so easily.

But even they were not impervious, and so missiles started to explode and crash.  First just one, but then another, and then another, in fact they were being destroyed at such a rate that the bozorgs actually stood a chance of stopping them all... had they only reacted a minute or two faster.

Each missile was designed to cause damage in two different ways, the first and most obvious was through sheer kinetic energy.  As each missile itself weighed more than 50,000 pounds, however there was ten thousand pounds worth of tungsten and steel added to the overall airframe.  Additionally, thirty thousand pounds of explosive were loaded onto each weapon which were set to explode on impact.

The first missile hit its target in the southern region, the impact and subsequent explosion was enough to literally tear the creature in half.  Immediately destabilizing its power core, the creature died right then and there, releasing an explosion just like its predecessors, obliterating the other missile which was also tasked with destroying that particular behemoth, as well as everything else within ten kilometers.

The second to be hit was in the north, the impact had not done quite enough damage to kill the beast, in stead that was left to a follow up strike which hit the creature directly in the midsection.  As the late evening turned into very early morning, one titanic creature after another was obliterated one by one in spectacular fashion.  Troops along the front were treated to several early sunrises that night, although this had the unfortunate drawback of many of them getting cancer later in life, the ones that managed to survive the coming battle did anyway.

The plan went quite well overall, with every behemoth in the southern and western region being wiped out completely.  Unfortunately one in the east managed to only suffer the loss of a single limb because it had only suffered a graze rather than a direct hit.  Additionally, one in the northern region was close enough to another behemoth that when its neighbor was destroyed, the blast had taken out the two weapons allocated for its destruction.  Severely damaged as it may have been, it still lived.








-4:23 AM November 8, 1987, Coalition Southern Strategic Command, Kishangarh, Rajasthan, India




General Vishwa Nath Sharma paced about the room for another minute, then stopped and looked up at the clock, it was almost time, just seven more minutes.  He took a step toward the large map at the center of the room and gazed at the various little pieces which indicated the locations of troop formations.  He reached down and picked one up to examine it "it's funny, you know.  One of these little pieces of plastic represents tens of thousands of troops, people.  Many of them will not live to see the next day, probably not the next hour" he said thoughtfully.

General Gray cleared his throat "I suppose it can help us to make decisions without letting our emotions get in the way.  Nonetheless, it is still disconcerting" he said, his voice somewhat conciliatory.

General Karamat nodded in agreement "perhaps, although I have seen far too many of those taken off of maps like this than I would care to, faceless plastic or not" he said grimly.

Vishwa took a deep breath in resignation, then placed the marker back down on the map, he pondered the picture it painted for him.  Arrayed before them was a representation of over two million men and women, arrayed out over a massive front extending from southern Pakistan all the way up into Western China.  Elsewhere in this command center an even larger map sat with even more place markers covering the entire central Asian theater, but he was far less concerned with the story that map told than what this one did at the moment.

The two million troops were for the most part evenly spread out over the entire length of the defensive line that the Indo-Pakistani forces were charged with defending.  There however was a single large concentration of troops not too far from there.  It was this massed formation that interested Vishwa most at this point.

Centered around the ancient town of Didwana were more than three quarters of a million troops, although most of them were not currently engaged with the enemy, very soon that would change.  In just a couple minutes he would give an order that no matter how well executed would automatically result in the deaths of thousands of people, there was no way around that. 

Of course people were dying every second already, there was no denying that, but each one of those people had had a chance of surviving to the next moment, or the next day.  When he gave these orders however, the directly affected troops would effectively lose that chance, by their very nature those orders almost completely ensured the death of those men and women.

The fact that the designated troops had all been volunteers who knew exactly what they were getting into did not make Vishwa feel any better.  Willing or not, he was going to be sentencing those people to death.

On that other larger map sat placeholders indicating similar formations of troops in three other locations, and after he gave his orders, within three hours Generals in three other command centers like this one would be giving very similar orders to the troops under their command, orders which would also mean certain death for thousands of troops.  He wondered if those generals lamented the true implications of the orders they were to give like he was.

He looked back up at the clock and watch the seconds tick by, far too quickly for his comfort.  Ironically enough, once he gave the word things would be largely out of his hands.  Certainly he still had the responsibility to make the decision to retreat, or to perhaps make slight alterations to the overall battle plan, or to give the order for the final contingency in the event that things failed.  However, that was all, everyone involved knew what they had to do, everything had been rehearsed and planned and orchestrated over the course of six months.  Everything would be in the hands of junior officers out in the field, in the hands of the lowly foot soldier.

He approached a radio set, the radio operator there handed him the handset.  While he most certainly could have had someone else relay the message, he felt that at the very least he should give this order himself.  He cleared his throat, took a deep breath, then spoke "This is General Vishwa Nath Sharma, commence Operation Summer Dawn."






-4:31 AM, November 8, 1987, Ladnun defensive sector, Rajasthan, India




"Fifteen minutes!!!" Lieutenant Jayant Daruka shouted at the top of his lungs in an attempt to be heard over the sound of weapons fire.  He'd just received the call over the radio, but he would have known what was coming even without it.

Twenty-five minutes prior, local artillery and air support had dramatically dropped off in intensity.  He'd known that the operation was due to begin today, and that was the first phase of it.  Even though he knew that things were about to get considerably more bloody and dangerous for he and his men, in some ways he felt relieved.  He no longer had anything to wait for, the operation had begun, all that was left to do now was to concede the line and make a convincing show of it too.

Suddenly another volley of spikes impacted all around them and down went three other men screaming, leaving a gap.  He stepped up to Sergeant Mahajan and slapped him on the shoulder "we've got to fill that hole!" he screamed as he pointed to the location where the three men had just gone down.

The sergeant nodded and started barking orders at other men to start shifting their positions.  Within about thirty seconds, the hole had been filled, at the expense of thinning out their overall strength.

With that little crisis taken care of, Jayant returned his attention to his FN FAL, checked the ammunition level then found a spot behind the sand bag wall along the front edge of the trench.  Then he brought his weapon up to his shoulder and found the nearest target he could find, it was not hard.  He targeted a warrior, and squeezed off an abrupt burst of fire, his weapon kicked him in the shoulder and he could feel the heat radiating from the spent cartridges as they flew out of the weapon.  Not waiting to see if he had successfully felled his target, he corrected his aim and fired again, by the time he saw the monstrosity hit the ground it was a mere five meters away, they were getting a lot closer, and fast.

There was no time to contemplate this as another warrior was charging right behind its fallen predecessor.  A four-shot burst managed to take that one down quickly enough.  Suddenly he noticed a downward arcing bozorg fireball.  It took him only a second to realize that it was headed in their direction.

Jayant opened his mouth to scream out an order to take cover, but a flash in his peripheral vision drew his attention toward a charging mantis, it was right on top of them, about to lunge at a machine gun position which was concentrated on taking down another target "Keshaw! Bedi!" he screamed in warning, but it was too late, by the time the two had managed to bring their weapon to bear on the closer threat, it had reached down with one scythe and decapitated Private Bedi in a single swipe, blood sprayed all over his neighboring comrade Corporal Keshaw who had time enough to squeeze off two shots from his PKM before a scythe had been forced through his skull.

The mantis had already managed to leap down into the trench by the time Jayant had swung his rifle over to fire on it.  Black goo splattered out from holes in the monster's body as he unleashed an extended burst of fire into the intruder.  Registering Jayant as the most immediate threat, the large monstrosity turned its attentions toward him.  Two additional soldiers standing behind it had turned their own weapons on the massive beast, however it suddenly made one of those flicking motions and a volley of those cursed spikes flew out and planted themselves deep into the two unfortunate soldiers and the ground surrounding them.  Blood flowed from a dozen newly created wounds on each man who now screamed in agony as they fell to their knees.

Suddenly a bright orange light bathed the immediate surrounding area and Jayant felt as though his entire back had been set on fire, it was then that he remembered that incoming fireball.  He didn't have time to worry about the sound of men screaming behind him, the sickening odor of burning flesh that filled his nostrils, or the loud popping noises as the bullets in someone's rifle started going off due to exposure to fire.  In stead he continued to fire at the towering monstrosity which lunged at him.
The creature lashed out in his direction, he managed to dodge the attack, but a sharp and excruciating pain in his gut told him that he had failed to avoid a second one.  Looking down he saw a massive scythe protruding from his stomach, blood gushed out from the fresh wound over the creature's weapon.

He realized that he was still holding his rifle and lifted it up, jammed the barrel into the creature's 'chest' and squeezed the trigger.  His body was pelted in a light shower of black gore and shattered exoskeleton as his bullets tore into the mantis' carapace at point blank range, it screamed out in what Jayant hopefully thought to himself was pain.

A sudden motion of the creature's free arm drove an even more intense pain through his body.  Suddenly Jayant realized that he couldn't feel the lower half of his body and that he was now flying through the air.  As his consciousness faded he managed to look down at the trenches to see scores of bozorgs swarming over the lines and only a couple of surviving soldiers left to oppose them.

He had no regret as he and every man under his command had known what they were being asked to do, he just wished that they had managed to hold out long enough for some of them to be able to retreat.





-Morning, November 4, 1987, Bozorg Control Mind, Afghanistan




The time was almost upon The Mind to finally cease these offensive operations.  The intelligent samples had given almost enough ground and almost enough biomass had been amassed that The Mind could make due with inanimate matter assimilation, the process was more time consuming, but required the assimilation of no further biomass in order to serve the needs of this iteration on this continent.

As it had done many times before, it sent out attack after attack, looking for a weakness, looking for an opportunity to expand further.  The Mind's attention had been drawn to a particular spot where these samples had been concentrating considerable amounts of parabolic projectile and airborne attacks.  Such disproportionate effort paid to defend such a small area had confused The Mind, it wondered what was so important about that location.  However the presence of a large concentration of samples behind those defenses was one possible explanation.

Additional forces were allocated to probe the location further.

Shortly the probing attacks had proven beneficial, these samples had made a mistake, the defenses there were far too weak to hold against a concentrated assault.  An opportunity had arisen and it would not be squandered..

The earlier loss of most of the devastator constructs in the region had worried The Mind somewhat, however when no immediate action by the intelligent samples followed, it had been decided that much like previous behavior, this had been an action with a singular purpose rather than a part of a larger plan. 

Perhaps it should have remained suspicious, but nothing in the behavior of these samples had suggested that they attempted to enact plans of too much complexity.  That seemed like a sensible option, as many times in the past, other groups of samples which had attempted complex stratagems more often than not had those plans collapse, more complexity meant more chance of mishap and misfortune.

Anyway, the losses of the devastators was not a big problem, as The Mind had learned that the decision to send them into battle had perhaps been a rash one.

A short time later another weakness had presented itself, and The Mind was more than willing to oblige.  Then a third opening appeared, and finally a fourth.

Such good fortune did not often present itself, a small part of The Mind's consciousness had grown suspicious, first almost all of its devastators had been destroyed in short order, and now these samples were giving way in uncharacteristically easy fashion.  However, many individual intelligent samples were being lost in these breakthroughs, and that was also uncharacteristic of the strategies employed by these samples, they did not sacrifice large numbers of themselves even if it could be used to make larger gains later on.

Any concerns were pushed to the background and more forces were sent in to exploit the weaknesses.  Besides, the territory gained by these breakthroughs would be more than enough to secure all needs for the near future.  The constant push could be finally halted and the excessive strain which The Mind had been laboring under could finally be relieved.







-6:07 AM November 8, 1987, Barwala, Rajasthan, India





It was strange, the silence.  While there was still the ever present sound of combat off in the distance, there was no nearby sound to indicate the chaos that was sure to engulf the whole area within the next thirty minutes.  Every time he had found himself holding a defensive position, expecting an oncoming bozorg attack, there was always a massive symphony of destruction that played out in the hours and moments leading up to the final crescendo of violence.

Artillery would be launching constant barrages, jets would be screaming in directly overhead, land mines and planted charges would be going off with regularity, all of it in an effort to thin the ranks of those approaching monstrosities before they reached the fortifications.

This time there was none of that, in an effort to truly sucker the enemy into committing as many forces as possible into the killzone, every effort had to be made to make it appear that a true breakthrough had been achieved.  At least that's how Nikolai had come to understand the overall battle plan.  He was surprised that he had received so much information on it actually.  His experience in the Army thus far had shown him that low level foot soldiers only ever got enough information to do their immediate job.  He supposed that whoever was running the show figured that the coming battle was so fierce that if they didn't let the lower level soldiers know what was at stake here, they might be more tempted to cut and run.

Nikolai doubted that there was a single soldier present with him there that would do that. 

In all there had been a full division of troops assembled from the ranks of survivors from the Afghan border cordon, Khost and various other vicious battles fought since these alien invaders had first arrived here almost two years previously.  This included a GRU Spetznaz battalion under the command of now Lieutenant Colonel Medved.  Put together into a larger brigade sized force under Colonel Kvachkov's command, Nikolai's platoon and other veteran units formed the core of a full division which in turn formed the core of a full strength field army which had dug itself in around this small town.

Nikolai had realized that he was gripping his rifle so tightly that his knuckles were white, he was actually feeling nervous.  It actually surprised him, he had been in battle so many times, and while he always had a certain amount of apprehension before going into combat, it had not been quite like this in some time.

A minute or two of consideration brought him the thought of how just about every time he had seen combat it had been either a surprise or as part of some long ongoing cycle of violence and death which seemed to fill almost every memory from the previous year and a half.  This time, he knew what was coming and when it was coming, perhaps this was anticipation.

Whatever the case, he could feel the tension building all along the line, not just in him, but in everyone there.  .

It was then that he realized that the tension wasn't so much a product of anticipation as much as it was the fact that everyone there knew what was riding on this operation.  Before, they were effectively fighting for themselves and the men next to them.  This time however, they were fighting for something far larger.  No one had told them what contingencies were in place should the operation fail, which meant that either they was really bad; or worse yet, there weren't any.

Nikolai pushed the thought aside as the distant sounds of jets and dragonflies began to grow louder.  He looked up and down the fortified trench they were in and examined the men under his command.  Today had been special, for in stead of just commanding a single squad, he had effectively been promoted to being a senior sergeant, making him the highest enlisted man in an entire platoon.

His commanding officer was a Lieutenant by the name of Gelashvili.  Nikolai wasn't sure where they had managed to find a surviving Red Army officer, considering that he hadn't seen a Soviet soldier over the rank of Sergeant since getting pushed off the Afghan border.

Gelashvili didn't talk much, and he had a haunted look in his eyes which was standard amongst just about every man who had managed to survive in this war for more than a couple days.  Whatever the case, the Lieutenant had seemed quite competent, which had surprisingly reassured Nikolai.  He didn't think that anything could be reassuring to him anymore.

He inspected his own Kalashnikov then checked on his extra magazines.  Completing that, he started a slow but deliberate march down the line "everybody check your weapons and ammunition, and remember, if it's got more than two limbs, kill the fucker!" he shouted in the strange combination of Russian, Pashto and Urdu that had formed as a kind of lingua franca among most of the troops there.  The platoon responded with grunts and shouts of approval.

He normally wasn't much for speeches, and he had never thought of himself as being exceptionally good at motivating people, but this made him feel better and it seemed to be having a similar effect on the men.  He continued "how many of those fuckers are we going to kill?!" he asked.

There was a smattering of different answers in grumbled tones "what the fuck was that?!"

Another mix of grumbles and shouts arose "all of them!" came one voice in particular, it had been Eduard, whose Russian had significantly improved in recent weeks.

Nikolai smiled "one more time!" he shouted.

"ALL OF THEM!!!"


The idea had seemingly caught on quickly "that's damn right!" Nikolai shouted back at them "we have survived Khost, and every other shithole that they sent us to fight over, we have killed more of those motherfuckers than anybody else on the whole damned planet and we will keep killing them until there isn't a single fucking one left in the whole fucking world!"

"We have given ground from the first day that those bastards arrived here, but today we stand here and we say NO MORE!"

Cheers erupted from not just the whole platoon but from men that were quite a ways down the line in either direction.

Lieutenant Gelashvili stepped up behind Nikolai "I'm impressed Sergeant, I think that's the first time that I've smiled in months" he whispered in Nikolai's ear.

Nikolai didn't say anything, he merely nodded before finally finding a spot behind the sand bag wall along the front of the trench.  Aleksie was next to him "better watch it my friend, somebody may get the idea in their head that you're officer material" he teased.

Nikolai quietly guffawed at that "and here all I thought that I had to worry about was the prospect of a gruesome death" he said with a grin.

The first signs of the enemy was the appearance of what looked like dragonflies coming over the horizon in the distance.  Nikolai was actually surprised that it wasn't the massive cloud that usually proceeded a bozorg attack.  Then he realized that the bozorgs were probably not expecting to have to assault another defensive perimeter so soon after breaking through a previous one.  They were looking at the aftermath of the bozorgs breaking a fortification he thought grimly, not the prelude to it.

The contrails of missiles streaked across the sky above as they sped at supersonic speed toward the oncoming fliers.  Bright explosions blossomed above the horizon in the distance, knocking many of the distant creatures out of the air.

They all watched for the next fifteen minutes as horrific alien monstrosities and human aircraft dueled in the skies above in a vicious ballet of death.  Finally the first of the bozorgs appeared at the tops of the hills off in the distance, Nikolai felt his grip tighten around his weapon once again "this is gonna be ugly" said Aleksie.

Nikolai had concluded that that was decidedly an understatement.





-6:23 AM November 8, 1987, Bhuj Rudra Mata Air Force Base, Gujarat, India




"That has got to be the ugliest thing I have ever seen on a runway."

Flying Officer David Umbridge stared at the row of gargantuan black aircraft as he accompanied the rest of his squadron across the tarmac.  Flight Lieutenant Carol nudged him with an elbow "I don't know about that, I"ve seen you park your car on the tarmac back at Amberley and that is one ugly piece of shite" he said jokingly.

David gave the other man a nudge back and chuckled "kiss my arse, at least my car has the excuse that I take horrible care of it, that thing looks like they intentionally built it that way" he replied, eying the four motorized rotary cannons mounted along the aircraft's fuselage which looked like it used to belong to a C-5 Galaxy "Jesus, are those Goalkeepers?" he asked aloud to no one in particular.

"Remote controlled GAU-8 Avengers, eight of them if you include the four you can't see on the port side, plus an additional two 155 mm howitzers, also on the port side."

It was a female voice which the entire squadron turned to look at.  When he got a glimpse of her, David was surprised to see a rather tall and attractive looking US Air Force Lieutenant standing there in a flight suit with a helmet under her arm "Lieutenant Lorie McCabe at your service" she said as she gave a salute.

David and his companions casually returned the gesture "I"m sorry, but you say there are... two 155 mm howitzers on each of those things?  Crikey that's a lot of fucking bang!" David said with incredulity.

The American gave a smile "well, I heard that they tried it with just one, but couldn't get the rate of fire that they were looking for, so they slapped a second one on" she explained with a casual tone that sounded like she was describing someone remodeling their house rather than placing high caliber artillery on an airplane.

They were silent for a moment as the young lieutenant walked by them "just what do you call that monstrosity?" asked Lieutenant Carol.

"Well, my ride is called Betty, but if you wanna know what the make is, we call 'em Reapers" she said as she walked toward the assembled row of beastly aircraft.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-28 08:25pm
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Oh man, now I'm excited. This battle is gonna be epic. I'm surprised The Mind is reading humanity's intentions so badly. Not capable of enacting complex plans my ass.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-28 08:29pm
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The Vortex Empire wrote:
Oh man, now I'm excited. This battle is gonna be epic. I'm surprised The Mind is reading humanity's intentions so badly. Not capable of enacting complex plans my ass.

Those could be the Mind's last words, which put them on peer with John Sedgwick's.

"What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Famous last words...

I do have to wonder though, when humanity wins this battle, how will the Mind take the defeat? Will it try spawning new bioforms? Or will it try something more dangerous, and use a braincell or two?



If Dr. Gatling was a nerd, then his most famous invention is the fucking Revenge of the Nerd, writ large...

"Lawful stupid is the paladin that charges into hell because he knows there's evil there."
—anonymous

"Although you may win the occasional battle against us, Vorrik, the Empire will always strike back."

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-28 10:01pm
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I like how everyone's assuming the humans will win :D

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-28 10:45pm
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Seriously, at this point the humans deserve a break! This story has gone from a 'meh' on my reading list to a 'HOLY S%$T ITS UP!' in otherwords :D awesome work!

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-29 08:04am
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More total awesome.

I think the minds about to realise who its been screwing with :mrgreen:



"This is supposed to be a happy occasion... Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who." -Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-29 08:05am
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Also the RAF pilots, please let them be Buccaneer drivers.....:D



"This is supposed to be a happy occasion... Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who." -Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-29 02:26pm
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The Vortex Empire wrote:
Oh man, now I'm excited. This battle is gonna be epic. I'm surprised The Mind is reading humanity's intentions so badly. Not capable of enacting complex plans my ass.

Well, as stated, in order to properly fake a breakthrough, the humans are sacrificing thousands(tens of thousands in fact) people in those pre-determined spots, and while you and I are well aware of the long history of human conflict, The Mind has none of this kowledge, only what it has direct experience with. As far as it is concerned humans are highly averse to heavy casualties, so "they can't be doing this intentionally, they would never make such a sacrifice" is more or less what The Mind is thinking. Human generals that don't have such a disadvantage have misread their opponents far worse than The Mind is right now.

Andehtron wrote:
Also the RAF pilots, please let them be Buccaneer drivers.....:D


Actually, they are RAAF pilots, I didn't specifically state it, but I dropped hints like "crikey" and naming their home airbase, sorry. They are F-111 pilots by the way.

Don't worry, there is still plenty of cold war era hardware that hasn't gotten love yet, but certainly will, including the Vulcan, Tomcat, and a variety of aircraft that didn't see service in our timeline, I'm sure I could fit in at least a buccaneer cameo, I've been meaning to give the brits more face time anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-29 02:54pm
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guest wrote:
The Vortex Empire wrote:
Oh man, now I'm excited. This battle is gonna be epic. I'm surprised The Mind is reading humanity's intentions so badly. Not capable of enacting complex plans my ass.

Well, as stated, in order to properly fake a breakthrough, the humans are sacrificing thousands(tens of thousands in fact) people in those pre-determined spots, and while you and I are well aware of the long history of human conflict, The Mind has none of this kowledge, only what it has direct experience with. As far as it is concerned humans are highly averse to heavy casualties, so "they can't be doing this intentionally, they would never make such a sacrifice" is more or less what The Mind is thinking. Human generals that don't have such a disadvantage have misread their opponents far worse than The Mind is right now.

Andehtron wrote:
Also the RAF pilots, please let them be Buccaneer drivers.....:D


Actually, they are RAAF pilots, I didn't specifically state it, but I dropped hints like "crikey" and naming their home airbase, sorry. They are F-111 pilots by the way.

Don't worry, there is still plenty of cold war era hardware that hasn't gotten love yet, but certainly will, including the Vulcan, Tomcat, and a variety of aircraft that didn't see service in our timeline, I'm sure I could fit in at least a buccaneer cameo, I've been meaning to give the brits more face time anyway.


I should have paid more attention, just got a little excited, but varks or pigs as the aussies called them are awesome. The Vulcan was retired in 84....but at this time, alt universe not withstanding, they'd be easy enough under the circumstances to put back into service. maybe the Victor could get turned from a tanker, back to a bomber? Excuse the drooling over old hardware, one of my things. Again, awesome story and yes do squeeze the bucc in if you can!



"This is supposed to be a happy occasion... Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who." -Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-04-29 04:57pm
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Andehtron wrote:
I should have paid more attention, just got a little excited, but varks or pigs as the aussies called them are awesome. The Vulcan was retired in 84....but at this time, alt universe not withstanding, they'd be easy enough under the circumstances to put back into service. maybe the Victor could get turned from a tanker, back to a bomber? Excuse the drooling over old hardware, one of my things. Again, awesome story and yes do squeeze the bucc in if you can!



Drool away, that's half the point of this story. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-05-04 03:13pm
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I m so glad I didn't have to work last night. I just finished reading everything, and you have done an excellent job with the story. The new creatures popping out, the forced political negotiations

To everyone else, I apologize for making it look like there was an update.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-05-04 07:12pm
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ah, but there is an update of sorts.


Here is the latest map, Asia on the morning if November 8, 1987

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-05-04 08:54pm
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Oh shit, I didn't realize it had spread quite that far. Hm. It'll be pretty bad when it starts to really spread into India. There's a billion people in there and evacuating them would be just a tad difficult.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-05-04 08:58pm
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Well, if need be, India does have some nuclear weapons, which could solve the issue...



If Dr. Gatling was a nerd, then his most famous invention is the fucking Revenge of the Nerd, writ large...

"Lawful stupid is the paladin that charges into hell because he knows there's evil there."
—anonymous

"Although you may win the occasional battle against us, Vorrik, the Empire will always strike back."

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-05-04 10:09pm
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We saw how well that went last time.

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-05-05 04:49am
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I hadn't realised it was quite as bad as that either....

It's at the doorstep of Tehran and New Dehli, not fun.

Nukes, are a bad idea while the bozorgs can pretty much turn them back on us, although Im not sure if this is a general reaction to nukes or that they have to be "aware" that such a device is inbound...so nuclear mines could work, possibly?



"This is supposed to be a happy occasion... Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who." -Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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 Post subject: Re: Godforsaken Future PostPosted: 2011-05-05 07:09am
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I can see the Bozorg advance halted by the counter-attack in India, only for it to pick up steam in the Iranian front. What are the troop compositions in Iran? I can't imagine the Iranian conscripts there are very well trained and equipped and it's not like the human-wave tactics that worked in the Iraq-Iranian War would be effective against the Bozorgs. Maybe the Israelis and Turks could provide some much needed quality but in what numbers?

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