The battle-carrier ‘Therra’s Pride’ led the way through the warp with the troops of Therra situated in its cold, dimly lit cramped belly.
One mistake traveling through the warp and the Ants of Therra would never reach their destination and fight for the survival of their home world. They would die in the wink of an eye, crushed by the force of the warp with its twists, nightmare creatures and deformed grotesques and the evil that dwelt with them.
The warp was the only way to travel in three weeks what would take seventeen years in normal space. But to everyone on board those three weeks were plagued by coldness, sickness and the screams that seemed to come from the battle-carrier itself.
Everyone had been effected, not the least the medico. The Chief of the medico was named Malici Zilar. He was short and stocky, balding with a rounded head that had a scar on the right side of his face that traveled from his crooked nose, under his right eye and up to his left ear.
His eyes were the coal black of a deep cave and had the worn out lines that came with tiredness, stress and age. The scar was what was left after he had healed from a crushed jaw and cheek bone that he had received in training as a young cadet so many years ago.
Every member of the military structure had to go through the same training regardless who they were or what their job would be.
There had to be the assurance that every member in the military structure would have the confidence and fortitude in every situation to fulfill their duties with deadly accuracy and precision.
Chief medic Zilar, after completing his first years in service, joined the medical unites and in the years ahead developed the skills and experience that led him to the position of Chief Medic of the Ants of Therra.
He was in the medical supply room gathering medication to administer to the soldiers to help combat the sickness and fatigue caused by the warp. General Josiph Machais entered the medical supply room just as Zilar was getting ready to leave.
‘We will be in the warp for an estimated week and a half more. The troops must be combat ready and rested by the time our landing is in process. What do you think the chances are of this happening?’
Zilar took a deep breath. He was clearly on the verge of sickness himself but was fairing better than many of the other men on board. ‘General, I believe that by the time we get out of the warp the medication will have done its job and we will all be ready to attend to the Emperors will, but it will be tough for the next few days.’
Machais visibly relaxed and let out a long sigh. He leaned back against the wall and crossed his arms looking directly into the eyes of the Chief medical officer. ‘Malici, how long have we known each other?’
Malici Zilar shrugged and thought about the question for a moment. ‘Around thirty years, since we were just children. Why?’
‘You’ve helped me through some tough times, I don’t know if I ever thanked you.’ the General said half smiling but totally serious.
Malici Zilar frowned and raised an eyebrow. ‘What’s going on, Josiph?’ His voice had a wary tone to it like he expected there to be a “but” in there somewhere.
‘You don’t have to worry; I’m not going all soft or anything like that. I just wanted to say thanks.’ Josiph said.
Zilar leaned back against a filing cabinet and just stared at his long time friend. Finally he asked again, ‘Josiph, in all the time I’ve known you, you’ve never said thank you. What’s going on?’
General Josiph Machais thought about how to answer his friend. ‘Doc, I’ve got a bad feeling about this mission. I don’t know what it is that’s causing it, could be just the jitters. But you know me. When I have a feeling about something, there’s probably a good reason.’
Malici watched his General, not as a General but as the friend that he had grown up with. ‘What do you really think is going to happen?’ he asked. ‘We will hit the ground, kill the enemy, secure the area and finish the mission. It is what we always do. What could be so different this time?’
The General dipped his shoulders. ‘I don’t know. It’s just a feeling. Keep your head down when we hit the ground and stay close to me. Believe it or not, you’re the life blood of this unit.’
The Chief Medic smiled and saluted. ‘It’s nice to know you care.’ Malici Zilar was the only man that Josiph Machais fully trusted, the only man that he felt comfortable confiding in. If it had not been for Malici Zilar, Josiph Machais would never have lived long enough to become General of the Ants of Therra.
General Machais was a taller lean, muscular man with a scar riddled face from shrapnel that had shot through his face-shield like buckshot through a can. He had recovered from that only to lose his right arm and upper rib cage to enemy shelling that Chaos had fired into their advance.
Under the careful eye of Chief Medic Malici Zilar it had taken medical droids seventeen hours to graft the implants and his riddled body together, than another three months for him to be well enough to walk and begin the retraining of his body in therapy. Almost a year went by before he was fit for duty again. That was eleven years ago.
Chief Medic Malici Zilar, along with all the other field medics, surgeons and medical wait-staff walked out the elevator doorway and into the belly of the Therra’s Pride.
The hull of the ship opened into a lengthy, dimly lit floor space cluttered with cots stacked three high, sleeping bags, field kits and some personal effects the men brought from home.
The filter systems worked well but could not compete with the thousands of men that filled such a tight bit of space. The smell of sweat, gun oil and sickness was very strong, Zilar hoped that by the end of the cycle things would be different.
He looked around the immediate area until he found Major Anthoni Ri Shun, a strong and fit man that radiated confidence and a sharpness that no one wanted to be on the wrong side of.
He was tall and seemed to carry a shadow over his face wherever he went. Rarely did he smile and never did he laugh. His face was creased with a long scar that ran from his forehead to his right shoulder. It was thin and nearly unnoticeable but for the thin, pink flesh that exposed it.
He had received the scar on the planet Mispiv when a Chaos Captain sliced him with a power sword. Not a single drop of blood was lost because the power blade cauterized the wound even as it cut. With a kick to the chest of the Chaos Captain he pushed him back, and with the motion of his chain sword he decapitated the traitor. Back then he was just a Captain but now he was a Major in the Ants of Therra.
There used to be a Commissar that kept everyone in line, but he died. Every once in a while Major Anthoni Ri Shun still chuckles to himself about the circumstances behind the Commissar’s falling out.
Now he kept everyone in line well enough that there was no need of a commissar. He had been through a lot to achieve a rank this high and had earned the respect of every man.
Zilar motioned for him to come over. Major Ri Shun put the hand of cards he was holding down and excused himself from the table. He walked with fierceness in his step, like a beast from the forests of Therra.
His eyes were cold and deep like black holes that could take in everything and let nothing out. ‘Sir?’ he said with a surprisingly soft voice.
Zilar motioned to the men with a wave of his hand and a reassuring smile, ‘Major, if you would be so kind as to gather the men, we would like to administer antibiotics and anti-warp sickness meds.’ Chief Medic Zilar indicated his staff and motioned them forward. ‘Most everyone should be fit by the morning and ready for work.’
Since the space was so cramped, everyone had been touched in someway. The Major yelled out an order and the word was passed. Lines were formed so long the end could not be seen. All the medical staff, nearly two-hundred strong, went to work.
After a few hours everyone had received a vaccination, the chatter died down, the medico packed up their kits and left to restock and get some rest. By the time the lights went out most were feeling better and by morning bells all were able to work.
The filter systems ushered out all the remains of sickness but the smell of warriors gathering for war just could not be taken away. The fever had been broken but the nightmares remained until the Therra’s Pride returned to real space.
As the warp continued to envelope them, the Ants of Therra continued to gather their strength and begin training for the new environment they would be charging into. General Machais received word; they would exit the warp and enter real space somewhere near the fringes of what used to be the Equan territories; a place called Rexis.
Therra’s Pride would bombard Rexis from just outside orbit. When the bombardment stopped General Machais with the 35th and the 39th infantry would descend upon Rexis and under fighter cover blend into the environment, take up firing positions and rain hell upon the heads of the enemy. They had less than ten days to prepare for the assault and the exit from the warp.
General Machais called a briefing to be held in the ships meeting room on the thirteenth level. Generally used by the Admiral and the staff of Therra’s Pride, the meeting room was pristine, totally glassed on all sides, everyone who entered for the first time would fall victim to the view.
The room directly overlooked the massive fighter deck. Transports were being prepped for the assault to come. They had the look of large boxes with pintle-mounted guns at their front and massive thrusters set in their rear. They were heavy and thickly armored, built to get the soldiers to the ground as fast as possible.
Behind them were the Wasps. The Wasps were one man attack pods that were small and fast, extremely hard to hit and meant to annoy the enemy with their battery powered pulse-laser cannons in their nose and the tip of each of their four wings. They also had a limited supply of mini rockets.
Next were the heavily armored and massive bombers. They carried a payload that could level cities and make the enemy forget what they were fighting for.
All those gathered in the meeting room were very impressed with the magnitude of the deck below and the ballet of machinery and staff that seemed to dance with a precision that defied the senses.
Ammunition carts and life-support vessels moved under the drawn back wing sections of the bombers and greeted the servitors that placed the supplies in their proper places and secured the loads.
Trains of needed parts moved slowly through row after row of transports where servitors picked and chose various tools or supplies in preparation for the launch.
Everything moved with a purpose and discipline that proved the worth of their training. The noise below shook the bones as massive engines were started and restarted for testing and configuration.
Many of the leadership in the meeting room above remembered the beginning’s of their careers as they started as menials or adjuncts to the mechanics or technicians so many years ago and were grateful for the learning experiences they had received.
Some of them smiled as they looked below, glad to have escaped those days. Where they stood now was another world entirely and the responsibilities were greater. Responsibility was to be sought after and loved not avoided and dreaded.
The bay doors were directly opposite the meeting room. With over thirty pulse guns and targeting systems the doors were well guarded. The bay doors were wide and barely taller than the largest transport.
Many fighter carriers, cruisers and battleships had been obliterated for lack of fire power at entrances like these, and clearly the Therra’s Pride had no intention of being next.
Major Anthoni Ri Shun along with the Captains, Sergeants and other command staff including Chief Medic Zilar were ushered into the large ornate meeting room at 0700 hours, ten days before company deployment.
The first thing one noticed when walking in was the long silver and brass table that sat in the middle. It was framed by fifty-two artistically carved chairs. They were of a dark wood that grew deep in the forests of Therra and were extremely rare. The trees were twisted and gnarled, thorny and smelled of deep foliage that had just drunk in a summer rain.
The wood carvers had used this to their advantage and had set each chair to its own perfection. Not a single chair matched, but was unique to its own beauty. Each represented an individuality and perfection that was second to none.
All along the ceiling in the texture of eggshell and feathers were the most detailed carvings of history in picture form. Admirals, Lord Generals, Captains of old and heroes that had given of themselves so that others might know the freedom of life without fear were represented.
General Machais hoped their sacrifices would not be in vain. It was still a long, hard road they must travel in order for there to be peace in this small corner of the galaxy.
The floor of the room was overlaid with a thin carpet of dark green and gold boarder. A flag set in each of the corners of the room. On one, stitched in black, gold and dark green was the double headed eagle and the sign of the Emperor. It was the Aquila: proud, strong, the empire that never ended.
The flag to its right held a wasp. It was bathed in simple colors of yellow and black. On the wings were imprinted the names of the fighter pilots, navy commanders and navigators that had fallen in the line of duty for the last two hundred years.
The next flag to its right, in a dark corner of the room was the flag that bared the names of the allies that once fought alongside Equa. This flag sat in near darkness; a testimony of the importance of remembering the past in order to preserve the future.
In the last corner, next to the plate-glass bay window stood the final flag. It was bathed in gold and bore the symbol of the Ants of Therra; a fierce six-legged creature that was wreathed in fire and surrounded by skulls. This symbol was also placed upon the weapons of each of the Ants upon graduation from the main armies of Therra into the ranks of the undefeated.
Conversation was flowing like a river down a mountain side. It was rare having so many warrior leaders in one place, let alone a single room. It was a reunion that had not seen its like in nearly ten years. Everyone had a story of adventure and heroism that they shared with great pride and boasting.
Many of the stories told had been exaggerated by those telling the story and most gathered knew that it was just part of the camaraderie and pleasure of being gathered together again. Since the Therra’s Pride left dock these men had not been able to spend time together. Many had known each other since childhood and the spirit of brothers united was palpable.
General Machais allowed the staff to loosen up and just be men with friends they would most likely not see again for what could be months or years and in some cases probably never again.
The hour of fellowship would not be forgotten and the morale would need to be high for as long as possible. Breakfast was being served along with hot recaff in order to revive those that had struggled with whatever duties or nightmares everyone suffered with.
It was still cold in the ship, a constant reminder of the warp currents that they traveled through.
When the hour was up General Machais brought the meeting to order with the ringing of his silver fork against his spent water glass. The sound echoed through the room, cutting through conversations, laughter and the few boasting arguments that poured forth.
‘Gentlemen,’ he said. He made a point of looking into the eyes of everyone in the room, ‘In two days time we will exit the warp and begin immediate bombardment on the industrial-world, Rexis. It is located on the outskirts of what were once the Equan territories.’
‘What we know about this planet is that it is a supply, repair and forge-world for the forces of Chaos. The world of Rexis was once an ally of ours, but fell quickly before the Great enemy. Billions suffered at the hand of Chaos and many were turned to the seductiveness of the warp.
It is doubtful there are any that survived who remain faithful to the Emperor. The intelligence that we have received was gained through an anonymous source and through the use of spy satellites and sanctioned astrotelepaths.
The main supply and fueling port for the enemy is found on Rexis. Without the supplies this world brings, many of the enemy’s war-ships, carriers and supply vessels will simply starve from lack of fuel, and food goods. Many of their vessels would become prime targets for our fleet that will move in once our mission is accomplished.
The surface of Rexis is primarily jungle and water. Our target is the forge city, Bandon, located here.’ He pointed to a large red blip on the holo map. The projectors gave the impression of it hovering above the table; its reflection glowed slightly upon the tables’ surface.
The holo map showed Bandon from above. Bandon was massive in its proportions and covered a great deal of the maps attention. The buildings, forges, power plants, towers and smoke stacks that produced great amounts of smoke-trails which the wind carried away from them were surrounded by a massive wall that spread almost the entire circumference of the forge-city.
To the south of Bandon lay a man made lake that supplied fresh water to the inhabitants and fresh resource for cooling their forges. ‘The objective is to destroy the power generators. They are here,’ He pointed to a bright yellow blip with his augmented arm and touched the screen.
The upper levels of the screen faded, revealing the extensive blueprints beneath. ‘The power generators are here in sublevel ninety-seven. There are three massive areas here, here and here.’ He pointed to three green blips and again the upper levels faded away.
Everyone’s eyes were riveted on the map and they listened intently to every word spoken. Machais watched them as he spoke and made note of their reactions.
‘There are three supply conduits that run from these areas. They travel for twenty- seven kilometers in either direction to these underground rivers. The rivers are channeled in to supply power to the compressors and cool the titan sized engines below.’ He pointed again and once again the upper level faded away revealing one room, easily the size of a large city.
‘This gentleman is our objective. All the feeds to the production facilities on this planet lead to this. We must deliver charges to the main supports and collapse this fortress in upon itself. The enemy is not aware of us so far, but when the first shells fall, all hell will break loose.
When the bombardment stops, we shall descend like angels from the clouds, under cover from those fighters out there,’ He motioned to the bay below.
‘The 35th and 39th infantries will come down first, secure a base of operation and expect the 43rd and 91st infantries to follow. I don’t need to remind you of how bad things could be. We’ve all seen combat, lost friends, limbs and family to the horrors of war. Trust your instincts and stay sharp, the enemy knows the land and no doubt are dug in. Are there any questions?’
Sergeant Mikinzy Myres raised his hand and General Machais motioned casually. ‘Sir, why not enter through the river entrances? I’m sure they would not be so heavily guarded.’ he said.
Machais thought for a short moment and looked at the holo map again. ‘The Intel we have received told us the best chance for completing the mission is a direct assault on Bandon at this exact time of the year. The Intel specifically stated that at this time of the year there would be less resistance than at any other time.
We have been assured by command of the plans soundness and therefore have been ordered to make a direct assault with the use of force instead of stealth. Are there any more questions?’
The Sergeant shook his head, his wild red hair fallowing his movements. ‘Instead of stealth? Sir?’
‘Yes Sergeant. Instead of stealth.’ The General answered in a way that brooked no argument. But Sergeant Mikinzy Myres did not take the hint. ‘Who’s fracked up idea is that? I don’t want my men frack’n butchered down there!’ His black eyes were boiling with anger.
Everyone in the room took in a deep breath and seemed to hold it. The General bowed his head for a moment, as if restraining his anger.
After a moment he looked at the Sergeant and said, ‘Sergeant, I understand your concern. And truth be told, I share it too. But though I question the orders of my superiors privately, I will not question them openly. From now on you will not question mine openly. Do you understand the order and the warning given?’
The Sergeant gulped and beads of sweat appeared on his brow. His anger had turned into embarrassment. He knew he had overstepped the line. Humbly he answered the General. ‘Sir, I do understand the order and the warning given. I apologize for my outburst.’ The General nodded his head in silent acceptance.
‘Gentlemen,’ He began, ‘my feelings about this mission, off the record, are as fallows. Be careful and extremely watchful. I have seen enough and been through enough to know that nothing is as it seems with the forces of Chaos.’
A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep!
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Last edited by Boc; 08-05-11 at 05:26 AM.
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