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Central Europe

© 1999-2001 Imminent Storm of NEWST.

Chapter Fourteen: The Tempest is Unleashed

Team Thunder. The Commander recalled reading something about a Team Thunder Special Operations group around a month ago, in a classified report. However, he did not have any clue as to what they were doing this far behind enemy lines.

"Ok, Team Thunder; I'll give you clearance to land. But we will need to do a security check on you as soon as you arrive."

"Understood, Commander; see you in a couple of minutes."

He closed the channel and got lost in thought. Just what the hell happened back there? How could they have staged an ambush as massive as that with so many units detected? Where in the world did they....

"Commander we have one of the transport captains on a secure line. ...Commander?"

"Oh, yes; put him through."

"Commander, we've got a visual of the aircraft that's following us. I'll switch to our external cameras to show you."

On the main visual monitor, the scene switched to the external camera. It zoomed in on the other aircraft; the commander immediately recognized the shape of a helicopter, for he was quite knowledgeable about pre-Collapse military technology. As the image came into sharp focus he was even able to recognize the design model--a German RX-34 Warhawk heavy assault gunship/transport. If he wasn't mistaken, those helicopters had been out of service since 2060 when the more-advanced VTOL aircraft became practical.

"Where in the hell did they find one of those?!"

"I don't know sir," the transport pilot responded, "but it packs one hell of a punch with whatever they got for missiles. That thing took out at least 30 units in 4 shots; I've never seen anything like it."

Something clicked in The Commander's mind. Those helicopters were the first to use experimental antimatter-warhead missiles. However, if he remembered correctly, they had a habit of containment failure and premature detonation, so they never became more than an experimental weapon. This left even more questions in his mind.

A few moments later the transports and the helicopter landed. The base operations manager told The Commander the current status. "All surviving units are being unloaded now. Team Thunder is undergoing a security check. All ground sensors clear, all air radar screens clear. Condition is green and quiet. Status report on returning units will be available in 5 minutes."

The next 5 minutes passed slowly in Ops. "Commander, I have the report on all returning units and Ultra Cyborgs."

"--Oh, so that's what you're calling them?"

The Commander turned around and saw Colonel Richard Franke standing just inside the door. His face almost black with dirt and his cyborg-armor suit worn and battered. "Just how the hell did you get in here?"

"My security clearance passed. I let myself in with my clearance card; is that a problem?"

"No, not a problem at all. I'll get to you in a minute." The Commander turned back around. "Continue with the report."

"75% of the ground forces were destroyed by enemy fire. Of the remaining quarter, half are severely damage, or nearly destroyed; the others of the quarter have received moderate damage. Repairs are beginning on those units. The 'Necron' Ultra-borg was destroyed in combat. The other three received from moderate to severe damage as well. They all had a 100% expenditure of all hardcast ammunition, and are currently undergoing repairs and rearming. At current production and repair rates we will be back to 100% unit strength in about 36 hours."

The commander turned back to Colonel Franke--who started speaking before The Commander could address him. "I came up here because I may have some very useful information for you, and I don't think we have time to wait until I finish debriefing with HQ."

The Commander nodded his head, "Ok then; I will be having a meeting tomorrow at 09:00 hours with my staff. I will invite you and your team to present whatever information you have. Until then, get cleaned up, and get some food and rest."

"Will do, Sir, and thank you," the colonel then left. The Commander followed not too long after, deciding to take his own advice.

Next morning, the base was swarming with activity. With most of the unit repairs finished, the factories were now operating at full tilt producing new and replacement units. The only problem here is that most of the new unit pilots and operators were all raw recruits with little or no combat experience; many experienced men were lost in the previous battle. The Commander entered the Command Center conference room. The conference room was a rectangular room with a long table that had computer terminals at each seat. Along one of the long walls was a set of large windows overlooking the base factory complex. Everyone remained silent while The Commander sat in his seat at one end of the table. He touched a control on his computer terminal and the monitor screen on the far wall across from him came to life. Another control shut blinds over the windows, darkening the room to make the screen more visible. He started talking.

"Good morning, all. Just an hour ago I received an urgent message from HQ: our enemy is on the move. As you know, we have been in a stalemate for the last few months. The only successful advance into enemy territory has been this base." He hit a few controls on the terminal and the screen switched to a map of Central Europe showing a yellow line as the front, green dots as large project bases, and red dots as known European Dominion bases. "Three hours ago, the enemy launched massive, highly coordinated strikes in almost every sector along the front. Oddly, they have not attacked here. Yet. Early reports tell of attacks by numerically superior forces in highly coordinated group assaults. The enemy seems to be able to control his units with an unheard-of reaction time. Firstline defenses are keeping the enemy advance to a slow crawl in most places; however, in two northern sectors the enemy has achieved a breakthrough and our firstline forces are in retreat to secondline defenses. By order of HQ we are now in emergency status. I, as Sector Commander in this area, now have the authority to take offensive or defensive actions without direct authorization from HQ. Are there any questions regarding this?"

The room remained silent for several moments, but seeing that there were no questions asked, the Commander continued. "Alright then. I will now discuss our options. For the next 24 hours we will stay on full defensive status. We will not have full unit strength until after then. Delta base occupies a unique position. Being so far extended from our main forces puts us at a disadvantage, for the enemy can surround us easily; on the other hand, we are deep in enemy territory making a quick strike to the rear of the enemy advance possible and thus we are at an advantage. Any comments?"

The Strategic Advisor spoke up, "I believe defense should be our prime concern. If the numbers we encountered in yesterday's attack are any indication, we are going to need every unit we've got to hold this base."

Colonel Franke cleared his throat and broke into the conversation. "I have a different idea. As we had learned, the enemy we are dealing with is very similar to--and yet quite different from--Nexus itself. From what we found out behind enemy lines, they use the exact same control software as the N.I.P. But, it is not used in the same way. They use it to give something or someone direct access to any system attached to the network; rather than to take over other systems. We had several brief encounters with this entity as we tried to gain access to their network from several different locations. I think that whomever sent us that message yesterday is the mind behind our enemy. I read the report regarding the N.I.P. and what was found at that New Dawn facility. But I am still unsure of how it controls its army. That is how it is different from Nexus. But, from what we did gather about the enemy, I think that they are throwing everything they have into this foray. If we attack deep into their territory now, we may catch them vulnerable."

The Commander nodded his head, "I agree that an offensive strike could throw the enemy off balance. But what worries me is the news that the enemy has and is building Ultra-Cyborgs. So far, no reports of enemy U-Borgs have been made. They are staying off the battlefront. I don't know why, or what the enemy may do with them. Oh, and by the way Colonel Franke, where is the rest of your team? They're not here...."

"Ah, yes. They were very exhausted from our ordeal; so we decided that I should represent our entire team. They really needed the rest."

"Oh, I see."

"But Sir!", another staff member interjected, "It is only a matter of time before the enemy comes knocking at our door! Our attack on their base yesterday may have slowed them down in this area, but they will come. Launching an offensive now would put us in danger of losing this base. And besides, we don't even know where to attack."

Richard Franke responded faster than the Commander, and took the words right out of his mouth. "If the enemy has diverted as much of their military resources as I think they have, then we do have a chance. I saw that you have built an Ultra-Borg production facility here at your base. We came across one of them in an enemy base we ran into after our mission. We managed to gather quite a bit of component and design information about them. I have the blueprints for numerous Ultra-Borg components. If we build a small force of U-Borgs to add to the three you have now, we may not need to take a large force of units, leaving the conventional army to deal with attackers. The catch is, from what I saw, we'd need to hit them hard and fast before the enemy can exploit the U-Borgs' weaknesses. If need be, all six of us in Team Thunder are ready to volunteer as pilots for them. And as for where to attack, I know a few good spots we saw that would do nicely."

The Commander now stood up, "Alright; we will have another meeting in tomorrow at 09:00. We will discuss the situation again at that time. Colonel, take your team and design data over to the U-Borg factory and get to work. All you others, I need an analysis of our base defenses and possible improvements. I want you to focus on our heavy artillery capabilities. That is all for now."

As they all began making their way out of the conference room, The Commander came up beside Richard. "You'll have to tell me sometime; how in the world you got hold of that helicopter?"

"Well sir, it's a long story and, unfortunately, we don't have a lot of time to explain."

"You're right about that--"

They were cut off right then by the broadcast intercom. Attention. Attention. Commander, please report to Ops immediately. Enemy units approaching eastern perimeter. Repeat. Commander, please report to Ops immediately. Enemy units approaching eastern perimeter....