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Central Europe

© 1999-2001 Imminent Storm of NEWST.

Chapter Nineteen: The Plan

At 0900 next morning the, U-Borg factory was filled with activity as the damaged machines were repaired and the others were tweaked and refitted to match the pilots' latest requests. In the aboveground hangar, the new mech stood, different from the ones being worked on in the underground factory floor. Even when the Commander entered the hangar, he was still amazed at how massive those things really were. The Ultra-Borg facility manager saw him enter the hangar and walked over to him and shook his hand.

The manager looked over the Commander's shoulder towards the entrance doorway, "so who is the pilot you assigned to this beast?"

A mischievous smile formed on the Commander's face as he replied, "you're lookin at him..."

"WHAT!? [i]You[/i]?! But, don't you think that would be a little--you know--risky?"

"Sure, it is risky," was the Commander's calm reply; "but there is no one else here that has the close-combat training and the battle experience needed to pilot that machine. And considering the importance of the upcoming mission, I will need to maintain direct command over our forces. This solves two problems at once: the need for a pilot, and the need for me to be on the battlefield. And, maybe, I think it would be 'fun.'"

The look of disbelief turned to one of begrudging acceptance of the inevitable. "It looks like you thought about this quite a bit, and there is nothing I can say to change your mind." The manager handed the Commander a U-Borg combat suit. "We modified the cockpit a little to better conform to our standards."

After a few minutes, the Commander was suited up and walking down the elevated catwalk that gave him access to the Armored Suit's cockpit. The manager briefed the Commander on what to expect when the Prometheus calibrated itself to his neural patterns. "This will be unlike anything you have experienced. The smaller Super-Borgs and infantry cyborgs don't have the level of pilot integration that these machines do. Don't worry if things start to feel, well... strange."

"Strange indeed..." the Commander thought to himself after the calibration procedure was completed. He could now appreciate what the other pilots had described to him as 'the wierdest feeling in your life.' After an hour of maneuvering, the Commander felt that he had formed a good handle on moving the huge bulk of the Prometheus around. It was huge and bulky, but it moved very gracefully and fluidly despite that great size and weight.

The Commander went outside, followed by the U-Borg manager in a non-combat maintenance super-borg. "Remember when I told you that there were some weapon systems that we could not access yet because we needed a pilot?"

"Yes I do," the Commander responded as he leaped forward to testing his thrusters. He stopped and turned around facing the manager's mech, "but first, I'd like to know the details about this particle gun I've got here."

"No problem..." the manager began.

"The particle weapon held in your right hand uses a deuterium plasma fuel. This fuel is supplied by disposable 'packs' that are fed into the gun via the back. The gun can carry 3 plasma packs at a time, and two extra packs can be stored in the torso. Once a plasma pack is depleted it ejects out the side of the gun, around the middle, and the next pack moves forward and connects to the firing mechanism. The gun can fire using one of three 'modes.' The first 'mode' is what I call 'small.' In 'small' mode the gun fires small bursts with little destructive potential. It also uses little plasma fuel. Each pack can fire approximately 5 'small' shots. The second setting I call 'medium.' This shot has a greater destructive potential. When we ran computer simulations and one fire test yesterday, it managed to penetrate Vengeance class armor and most defensive structure materials. Each pack can fire about 3 of these shots. The third setting, 'large,' completely discharges the entire plasma pack in one huge blast. We only tested it once yesterday, and it almost melted the gun from the generated heat. I would not recommend firing more than one of these in succession. Although.... the crater it left in the ground was quite impressive."

"Hmmm, interesting. Is the gun loaded right now?"

"Well...yes it is."

The Prometheus reached around behind itself and disconnected the gun from its lock points on the machine's back. The onboard computer told the Commander everything he needed to know on how to operate it. "So if I were to set this at level 3, 'large'," the Prometheus switched the gun to level three, "and then fired it at say...a super-borg," the Prometheus raised the weapon and pointed it straight at the manager's super-borg, "what would happen?"

The manager responded in a very calm, almost mechanical voice, "it would leave a crater several meters deep and vaporize the super-borg."

The Commander disengaged the weapon and put it back. "So let's see what other weapons this thing's got."

The U-Borg manager interrupted, "there is still some wreckage from the last battle here over on the east ridge. Perhaps we could use them for testing."

"That sounds like a good idea."

They located the blasted hulks from a pair of Wyvern bodied units that appeared to have been hit by mainly Gauss weapons, leaving the units mostly intact. The Commander began to search the Prometheus's onboard computers for more weapons information. He came across a "Multi-Vector Remote Assault and Reconnaissance System." He decided to try it out. He acquired a target lock on one of the tank hulks and activated the system. On the back of the Mech were two rectangular structures that opened up. Inside were six small red cylinders. The six cylinders shot away from the Prometheus, unfolded, and began flying using spinning, helicopter-like blades. All six flew to the target and fired a volley of pulse laser fire, melting the wreckage. They then returned to their slots and the rectangular structures closed again.

"Hmmm...interesting," was the manager's comment after witnessing the display.

"I'm uploading to your computer the specs on that Multi-Vector system," the Commander said. The small cylinders were remotely operated drones that mounted a standard power pulse laser and a visual/infrared camera package. They used electricity stored in an internal battery that was charged by the Prometheus' generator while they are stored on its back. Their power was sufficient for about 15 minutes of sustained flight while only using cameras. If using their lasers to attack, they could fly a distance of 500 meters, fire, and then return before needing recharge. They could either be controlled automatically by the Prometheus' computers or directly by command from the pilot.

The manager finished skimming through the more technical data, "I believe there was a second system we couldn't access."

"Ok, let me check..." the Commander was silent for a minute or two. "Well, it seems I can't access it either. I keep getting a 'linked mode only' error."

"Hmmm ... AHA! I know, it must be the control system for the Prometheus's transport weapons, while they are linked together."

After another hour of testing out the machine and the various weapons, the Commander felt he had an even better handle on how to pilot the Prometheus. After returning to the Ultra-Borg construction and maintenance facility, the Commander changed and went back to the Command Center to eat lunch in his office.

While he ate, he ran over the details of the new weapons turrets just developed for the heavy tanks. They were PPC weapons based on the technologies found with the U-Borgs and some ingenuity on the part of the research teams. The PPCs were combinations of plasma, antimatter, and gauss technologies. The biggest disadvantages of tank-mounted PPCs were that they required enormous amounts of power to build and fuel, they had a long re-charge and cool-down time between shots, and they carried highly unstable and explosive antimatter fuel. The biggest advantage they had was the fact that the PPC could do considerable damage to Ultra-Borg class units. Before this, the only tanks that could do appreciative damage to a U-Borgs were those mounting Gauss, high power missile, and laser weapons; cannons and low power anti-tank missiles were all but useless.

Finishing his lunch, the Commander called his Command and Control officer. On his comm screen, a dark-haired woman in her late twenties appeared. "Yes Commander, what can I do for you?"

"I'd like to know what the status and capacity of our command and control systems are currently."

"No problem sir," she paused a moment as she called the needed information up on her computer. "Right now we are running at 90% of maximum tolerance for the command and control software. Our current possible max controllable strength is 125 units. Included are all tanks, infantry cyborgs, super cyborgs, VTOLs, trucks, repair vehicles, and other support units. The Ultra-Borgs aren't included since they don't need telemetry from our control systems."

"Very good. Here are some new designs that I would like added to the design list." The Commander sent specs for designs using the new PPC turrets. "I would like our capacity to be 100% full for the upcoming operation. Also, see if you can't find a way to increase our unit capacity."

"Yes sir, we'll see what we can do."

The next three days passed rather quickly. With only a few days left before the operation started, every second of training for the U-Borg pilots was extremely valuable. On the last day before the operation, the Commander called one last meeting to go over the attack plan.

In the conference room, the Commander once again displayed a map of the enemy base. The Commander was explaining the course of the attack. "Starting at 000 hours tonight, four Las-Sats will enter into geosyncronous orbit over Europe. Then at 0600 hours, five full transports and all U-Borgs will take off and follow a route free of enemy activity. We will be landing several miles north of the base, outside of its radar and sensor ranges. We will establish a small forward base at the LZ while we bring in the rest of the units. Once all units have assembled, we will advance overland to the base. When we are just outside of the enemy's sensor range the Las-Sats will fire at their targets.

"Immediately after the Las-Sats fire, our VTOLs will fly in and bomb artillery fields and ground sensors along our attack path. The ground attack will begin with groups of high-speed medium units rushing to attack the defensive emplacements along the north entrance to the base. The primary objective of this maneuver is to get the enemy artillery to open fire. Then, Pandora will analyze the shell trajectories for counter battery fire. She will then feed this data to our mobile artillery groups and the U-Borgs Bahamut, Tiamat, and Phalanx. They will commence a heavy artillery barrage while our main forces attack through the north entrance.

"We will bypass any fixed defenses we cannot destroy and head as deep into the base as possible. Our mobile artillery will continue firing from their positions. Pandora will stay in the rear with the artillery and provide jamming cover and sensor data for them. Pandora's sensor data will also be linked to all command vehicles and the other U-Borgs. We must maintain full battlefield awareness. If any enemy Ultra-Borgs appear, Prometheus, Paladin, Fenrir, and Rapier will be charged with intercepting and destroying them. Phalanx, Bahamut, and Tiamat will move with the battle group and assist in destroying heavy fixed defenses and repulsing enemy units. Longbow will seek targets of opportunity as sniper."

The Commander now zoomed in on a few structures at the center of the holographic base. "These buildings are our primary objective. All efforts will be focused on destroying these and all other command, control, communication, and production facilities."

The commander turned off the holo display and sat down in his seat. "I don't think I need to tell you how dangerous this mission might be. We've all been here before, against the New Paradigm, the Collective, and NEXUS. This is a do or die situation. There will be no opportunity to retreat and re-group. There will be no reinforcements. Get some sleep, all of you; tomorrow’s a big day."