Close Air Support
04 October 2018 at 01:09:44
Part of Tales From a Space Bar
A Voidwater-verse Story.
So, no excrement, there I was stationed in the third trench-front on Yerrin --
--Now, I know what your thinking, "Yerrin? Didn't the Thakuul glass that one?"
Well, they did, but this was a few months before. The Glassing is a story itself, but the one I'm here to tell today is about the first time I met the Human --
--Hey, don't look at me like that, just let me tell the story. Yes, it was a Human. Just sit back, enjoy your phosphate-water and listen to the story.
Anyway! There I was, fresh off the hive-carrier and dumped into the middle of the mess. My Prime-In-Charge met me at the drop point with the previous Signal-Caste's kit still stained by his ichor. Of course, that was enough to make me lose my nutriment, but he just handed me the kit and ordered me to follow him. His pheromones stank of fatigue and stress.
He guided me from the crater that protected newly dropped soldier-forms like myself from enemy lancer-fire and into the network of tunnels that made up the third trench-front. There were signs everywhere that this engagement had been going on for too long. Of course, I didn't realize it at the time, being so fresh. If I had known what the next few months would be like, I probably would have plugged my own spiracles.
So, these tunnels you see, they were dug by our engineer-forms before the Thakuul even got to Yerrin. Trouble is, with how long the war had been going on the hives didn't have modern construction materials to spare on trench-fronts. The tunnels were falling apart, with many of them open to the atmosphere due to roof cave-ins. The tunnels that were intact had been shored up with so much spit-crete that I would have thought I had stepped back into our cave-hive days if not for everyone carrying pulsers. The tunnels closer to the enemy facing edge of the trench-front were actually STAINED PURPLE from all the spilled ichor.
My Prime-In-Charge took me into a deeper bunker, supported with scrap metal and whatever other debris they had found. Here, the Arch-Primes planned and conducted their operations. I was relieved when I saw the signal station that I assumed I was to interface with. I actually thought I might survive the war in this fortified bunker. Of course, my Prime-In-Charge yanked me back and informed me that the fortified position was his, and that I would man the surface station and relay communications to this one.
He led me to a surface mound only a few hundred mandible-widths from the front lines and showed me the surface signal station. It was bad enough that the station was above ground and only defended by a few mandible-widths of spitcrete and rebar. Even worse was the cluster of comms antennae and dishes that were a dead giveaway to the enemy as to the position's purpose. No, the thing that really emptied my hind-gut was the splatter of ichor from the previous Signal-Caste's death. He must have been shot by a long-lancer clear through the mound-wall. My Prime-In-Charge ignored my protests and charged me with relaying comms. Once he was sure I understood my ordrs, he scurried back into the tunnels faster than a maggot smelling queen-nectar.
I sat in that position the rest of the day-cycle, flinching every time the whine of a lancer made it though the mound-wall, relaying communications from the planet-hive, and cursing my luck at being born a soldier-form. When night finally fell, I did my best to dig a crevice behind the mound to cower below the surface as I tried to rest. Knowing what I know now, it would have been kinder if a lucky lance had finished me that night, but that is a story of another day.
The next morning, I was rudely awoken by a ground-quake. I was struggling to get back into the signal-mound to find out what was going on when I heard it through my translator.
"YEAH! GET SOME! WHOOOOOOH!" -
I peered out of my mound, antennae pressed to my thorax, and saw the strangest sight of the entire war. Behind the adjacent mound, a strange hairless pink mammal was laying on its back and peeking around the edge of the mound with a mirror on a stick. It had no tactical webbing on his body at all, only a black cloth garment covering his lower abdomen. In one five-digited hand it held the mirror, and in the other it held a black device. It was speaking into the device, but my translator only got a meaningless string of numbers. It stopped speaking into the device and noticed me.
"Oi, bro, better cover your ears... or whatever you use for sensing sounds." he said, barring his teeth.
I didn't know what the creature was, but I almost shot him with my pulser before the translator gave me a contextual cue that bared teeth wasn't a sign of hostility. I was still puzzling over the info-packet about "Humans" the translater had just dumped into my neural-cluster when I was momentarily stunned by a sudden blast. The Human started whooping and hollering again, before resuming his previous behavior of muttering numbers into the black device.
The Info-Packet told me enough to begin to make sense of what was going on. The war between the Hives and the Thakuul had been going pretty badly for several generations. Apparently the Arch-Prime-Queen-Mother had hired a group of humans, of World-Hive "Terra", to assist in our side of the war. Humans couldn't produce the level of population the Hive could, so each battle-hive was assigned a clawfull of human "mercenaries". This one, identified as "Sergeant First Class Anthony Jerrit" of the "Voidwater Security Group". By the time I finished processing this information, I was stunned by yet another blast.
After my tympanal organs recovered from the sound, I realized that the Thakuul lancer-fire had stopped. I risked peeking around the edge of the sensor-mound. I saw three columns of smoke originating approximately where the Thakuul front had been. I turned to the human, who was belly-crawling to my mound. My translator told me the characters on the back of his groin-garment read "BAMF".
The human stood on two legs as soon as he was behind my cover, and I was surprised to see that he was easily twice as tall as a soldier-form. He might have even been able to reach the mandibles of an engineer-form. He bared his teeth at me again as he bent back and forth, stretching his muscles under his hairless soft-shell. He began pulling cloth garments of a similar color and pattern as the ground from his bag. As he dressed himself in the camouflage tactical gear, he spoke to me.
"Sorry for the fright, bro. Command didn't have time to properly introduce me to the hive before I was dropped here. I was trying to get some rack time, but the Scaleys were keeping me awake with all that lancer-fire. If you're feeling sore though, just remember: Close air support covereth a multitude of sins." He held the device -which by now I realized must have been an electromagnetic communication tool- up to his mouth and said, "Thanks for the RFGs, Top. If possible stay in geo-sync incase I need more."
As the human dropped himself into the tunnels below, presumably to introduce himself to the Arch-Primes, I shakily returned to my position. The comms were alive with messages to relay, so i busied myself with my task to push the stress out of my mind. I didn't see the human again that day-cycle, but that night I cowered in my sleeping-hole, thinking about the morning. It wasn't until seeing all the communications of the day that I pieced together what all had happened.
You see, the War-hive hadn't made any real progress on this trench-front since the Thakuul invaded. They were just too well entrenched, too accurate with lancers, and too close to our own position. Then this human shows up and lithobrakes from orbit in a glorified titanium can. Once he gets here, he decides to take a nap in the wreckage of said can. When the lancer-fire starts back up, he can't sleep, but he doesn't just hide underground like a normal being. No, this utter lunatic crawls across of thousands of mandible-widths of lancer-swept hellscape and finally finds a piece of cover with line-of-sight to the Thakuul front.
Now, just to remind you, we are only a short distance from the Thakuul front. We would never dare use orbital weapons at this kind of range. Of course, I've already established that this human is completely insane. He doesn't just call down plasma lances from his orbital support. No, humans don't actually have plasma weapon technology. Instead these barely evolved primates spent all their time developing incredibly precise targeting computers, which they use to aim their "RFGs". That's right, tremble there on your barstool. The human ordered a "Rod From God" strike. Not just one, because that wouldn't have been overkill enough, but THREE! Three stupid massive tungsten pillars dropped from orbit within spitting distance of the trench-front.
Any other species would have ended up killing us all, but humans have this obsession with killing. Its not enough to be able to completely devastate an enemy, even though they're plenty good at that too. No, to humans, war is an artform. Being able to completely pulverise any enemy within sight of your own forces with any weapon is a matter of pride to humans. They actually have a term for dropping explosives, RFGs, and other indirect fire so close to friendly forces without hurting them. They call it: Close Air Support.
Now, I have plenty of other tales about that human, but for now this old soldier-form needs a break. What about that drink, eh?