Final Flight

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Post by Xiggy » Wed Mar 24, 2004 7:10 am

Beh.. The title doesn't fit the piece. Ah well. Read on.

“Colonel!” a frantic voice shouted.

“Yes Major?” I replied.

“Sir, Outpost FZ-5 has reported a company of troops advancing on their position, coming in from the North!” said the major.

“Lieutenant Galveston, when will they be in range of our artillery positions?” I asked an attentive yet frazzled officer.

“Howitzer unit Alpha-2 has them in range, ready to open fire. Alpha-3 and 4 will have them in range in 120 seconds based on their current heading and speed.”

“Lieutenant, tell the Howitzer unit commanders to commence fire when the enemy is in range on my signal.” I looked over at the Major. Vic Zimmerman and I both knew full well that three Howitzers couldn’t take down a whole company of soldiers and vehicles. They would inflict moderate casualities yes, but they would be exposed to Air Strikes. “Air strikes...” I said out loud. I looked around my cramped command center. Three soldiers were stationed at consoles monitoring different things. Major Zimmerman was leaning against the video display table of the battlefield. The walls and floor would shake at the occasional blast of artillery fire. The metal walls seemed to be as flimsy as paper after some blasts.

“Sir?” the Major asked.

“Sergeant Hall, get me Central Command," the young female sergeant nodded her head in affirmation of my order.

“Colonel O’Halloran, Alphas 2,3,4 have the enemy in range,” Lieutenant Hall turned around from his console and stared at me. His eyes seemed to convey a sense of reigned urgency. The enemy was minutes away from blowing down the door and storming our bunker. He was anxious to remove the threat of impending death by giving the Howitzers the order to fire. I would do the same thing in his position if I was that young.

“Colonel, I have CENTCOM on the horn. Field Major Donaldson speaking,” Sergeant Hall handed me the headset she had been speaking on. I placed the contraption on my head and adjusted it to accomodate my large head.

“Colonel O’Halloran?” the voice on the other end said.

“Major Donaldson, would you feel it proper to send an airstrike at an advancing group of menacing soldiers my way? I can have the coordinates sent via DataStream at your...”

“No can-do, Colonel,” I was mildly shocked. “CENTCOM is getting blown to hell. General Quinlan and his staff were in the main command center when we got blasted by a dozen artillery shells. Damage control has given up at this point. Colonel Xavier would be in direct command of CENTCOM but he’s out at Outpost AD-2 trying to hold of a company of soldiers. My Comms officer has lost all contact with him and other outposts in our defense perimeter. Our Airfield was bombed to oblivion last night at the beginning of the assault. So basically sir, you’ve got a Command Center that is about to be overrun, no way to command any counter-attack, and a Field Major commanding everything who was given a field promotion from Chief Warrant Officer two weeks ago.”

“That bad, Major?” I smugly asked.

“That bad, Colonel. You’re best bet is trying to contact the Cargo Airfield Echo-Zulu 10. We can’t contact them, but that’s only because our Line of Sight transmitters have been jammed or destroyed by the enemy. As a matter of fact, your line of LOS Transmitters are the only ones operational.”

“Alright Major. We’ll see if we can get ahold of Echo-Zulu 10. Major, this isn’t order but it’s more of an imperative suggestion: Have any soldiers left in your base fall back and defend your position. I know CENTCOM has an underground passageway leading to the Greyrock Mountains. You probably don’t have access to that information, so I’m transmitting you a code to unlock the maps for the entry points to this passageway. Good luck, Major. Godspeed to you and all of your men. Colonel O’Halloran, out.”

I heard a blast of an artillery shell exploding outside the base. I heard Major Donaldson barking orders to his men to fall back to his position, probably to the auxiliary command center at the beseiged base. Sergeant Hall didn’t even ask for my orders. She immediately got ahold of Echo-Zulu 10 and gave me the thumbs up singaling a successful contact with the base. And this was before I even got a chance to remove the headset.

“Echo-Zulu 10 Here. You gotta package, we got the way.”

“What the hell is that? Is that some sort of commercial jingle or something? Who is this?”

“Oh I’m sorry sir. Major Gold here.”

“Major, do you have any aircraft able to launch an airstrike against a company of soliders and light vehicles?”

“No sir. We’re a transport unit. All we got is some.. Uhm.... CA-70s.. CH-21s.. Oh and a vintage CA-35. A real good line right there. You ain’t gonna find no better than a CA-70 on this backwater world, sir!”

I was about to chastise the Major for innappropriate language and decorum in a field assignment, but I was stopped by my own self-control and the fact Lieutenant Galveston was ready to have a seizure. The way he spastically waved his arms around you’d think he took to much sugar and he was an unwitting diabetic.

“What Lieutenant?”

“Colonel, the enemy company has just entered our remote minefield. Our Howitzer’s still have them in range. In five minutes, they will be in firing range of our base. Your orders, sir?”

I motioned him to hold that thought. “Major Gold, how fast can you get those CA-70s over here and how much can they hold?”

“Eh.. We've got five. That’s about five hundred men, or maybe two tanks.. However ya look at it. They can be airborne and at your base in 3 minutes.”

“Major, as the only available ranking officer in this region, I order you to get those damn CA-70s over here ASAP. Get all your equipment and parts ABSOLUTELY NECCESSARY loaded on that CA-35 and evac your staff on the CH-21s. We’re falling back to AUXCOM on the island of Erastas. Do you copy?”

“Yes sir! I’ll have those birds in the air in two minutes, sir!”

I nodded my head in grim yet pleasing manner. “Lieutenant, get ready to detonate the mines and signal for the Howitzers to open fire on my mark. Vic, get ready to evacuate the base. Sergeant Hall, can you get ahold of CENTCOM?”

“No sir. I’m not getting anything from the base sir. All of the LOS Transmitters in our line are fully operational."

“Fine. Then give the evacuation signal to the base as soon as Major Zimmerman secures the airfield outside.”

“Sir, five new radar contacts. IFF is friendly. Looks like our ride is on approach,” Lieutenant Galveston’s voice was full of defeat. We have lost the battle. Our Howitzers were about to be sacrificed to save 500 lives here at this base. It is a sickening blow for any officer.

“Officer Xavier, guide the evacuation transports in on landing. What is their ETA, Xavier?”

“Sir they are approximately thirty seconds from final approach to the airstrip.”

“Alright. Lieutenant, are the mines and the men ready?" Galveston nodded his head in subdued affirmation.

“Sir, Major Zimmerman has secured the airfield.”

"All evacutation aircraft have landed, Colonel.” Xavier said.

“Sergeant Hall, give the evacuation order. Lieutenant Galveston... Detonate the mines and have the Howitzers open fire. All of you, get out of here as soon as you have completed my orders. I’ll be right behind you.” I knew what was going throught all of their minds. The soliders not privy to the actions in the Command Center were probably awash with feelings of fear and amazement at the the klaxon ordering the soldiers to evacuate. Those in the Command Center were probably feeling guilty, knowing that they had a hand in condeming a few dozen men to their deaths to save those at the base. I looked over to Lieutenant Galveston’s station. The moment just before he sent the order to detonate the mines and order the Howitzers to open fire, time seemed to stand still. His hand traveled at a snail’s pace before pressing the button to send the orders. The button itself seemed to stay depressed in the console for ages. Galveston’s ascent from his chair was reminiscent of a slow moonrise above the horizon. Even when he ran from the room, he seemed to be jogging. But then I heard it. The thundering sound of a few million mines exploding and artillery shells bursting in mid air cracked the zone of slowed time. Time came rusing back to it’s normal speed when I felt the shockwave of the tremendous explosion. It was done.

I quietly said to myself, “May God have mercy on my soul...”

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Post by InocPrime » Wed Mar 24, 2004 9:40 pm

Pretty enjoyable, but two problems as I see it:

1) I assume the conflict was ordering the howitzers to remain there to fight, and as a result be destroyed? I think you should have made this more clear, as the evacuation went relatively smoothly, and you need more of a tension builder.

2) A couple minor plot inconsistencies for me... one, the colonel didn't seem at all concerned about what is supposed to be impending doom. Two, if the howitzers can kill the enemy troops, why waste time calling for air support or anything for that matter? Just tell the howitzers to blow em up, pretty much negating any serious troubles.

All in all, very enjoyable, those two points are the only things that stuck out at me.

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Post by Xiggy » Thu Mar 25, 2004 1:39 am

Yep, I should have made that more clear. The Howitzers would be uncovered after attacking the enemy and they could easily be taken out by either a Surface to Surface Missile or Airstrike.

The Colonel... Isn't worried yet. He knows his base is as good as dead and is more concerned about getting the majortity of his troops out of the base and to a location where their forces can coordinate a counterstike or further evacuate the planet. On your second point, imagine a Howitzer unit being a semi fixed artillery piece that is guarded by 7 or so troops with anti-infantry and light anti-vehicle weapons. Now, this wouldn't be enough to hold off a full company of soldiers and vehicles so the Colonel tries to get an airstrike. When this plan falls through he decides to let them trample into a minefield. This would at least take out a sizeable portion of the enemy, but it wouldn't be enough to completely obliterate the enemy. So the howitzers would either be destroyed by the survivors of the attacking company or hit by a later airstrike.

Thanks for your comments... Shame that I had to post this to clear things up even though this should be better explained in the story itself.


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