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Central Europe

© 1999-2001 Imminent Storm of NEWST.

Chapter Twenty: The Battle

It was a brilliant sunrise that morning, and the Commander had the best seat in the house. Flying above the clouds was a fleet of transports carrying the first load of units to the forward LZ. It was absolutely necessary that they not be discovered, so they were taking a long and twisting route. Hopefully they would avoid the enemy radar network and land, undetected, several miles north of the target base. Then this feat would have to be repeated several times to get all of the units to the LZ. He could already tell this was going to be a long day.

To pass the time, the Commander studied the map of the enemy base. The base was in mountainous terrain. High rock ridges, steep cliffs, bottomless ravines, and sparse coniferous forests dominated the area. There were only a few passable entrances, and only one suitable for a large attack force. All were heavily defended. The only passable entrance was located on the north side on the base and had been dubbed 'North Gate.' Also the base itself was filled with natural obstacles, which would make movement difficult. After passing the North Gate they would have to cross a large open flat area that would leave them vulnerable to artillery fire. Then rough terrain of ridges, plateus, spurs, and cliffs stood in their path. All of that laced with defenses. At the center of the base area was a large plateau where most of the vital structures and other buildings were built. Around the entire plateau was a ring of defenses that they would have to breach. This was not going to be easy.

The first set of transports and the U-Bs arrived at the LZ without a hitch and began setting up a small forward base. The transports flew back to the main base to pickup more units. This would have to be repeated several times to move all 135 units (the command control limit was successfully increased by 10) to the LZ. Meanwhile construction of defenses and one very important structure continued. This structure was a Satellite Up-link Center for communicating with the recon-sat and Las-Sats in orbit over Europe.

All the units were gathered at the LZ by noon and the sat up-link was almost finished. The Commander was overseeing the last few finishing touches to the LZ defenses when he received a call over the comm. "Commander, this is construction team One. The uplink is completed and is now connecting to the satellites."

"Very good. I need you to assist with completing the LZ defenses. Commander out."

When the Uplink connected with the Las-Sats, one of his commanders called in. "Sir, we are getting data from the four Las-Sats. They are still charging and will be ready to fire in one hour. Uplink center out."

The Commander got on the general comm to all units, "we move out in one half hour. Make sure you are prepared by then. All group and squad commanders review the timetable and the tactical plans. All Ultra-Borgs review your assignments as well. Commander out."

A half an hour later they moved out. Going slow and staying under forest cover the trip to the staging point north of the North gate took another twenty-five or so minutes. All units moved into position just north of the North Gate. According to the clock, there were only five minutes before the Las-Sats would fire. The Commander opened his short-range comm, "Pandora, what's your status?"

After a moment Pandora replied, "All good sir. Sensors and radar functioning properly. All targets have been designated and the real-time uplink established."

"Very good. Prometheus out."

The Commander waited and waited, watching the mission clock. It had to be the longest five minutes of his life. There was no sign of the enemy, no indication that their approach had been noticed. The Commander, however, couldn't shake the feeling that they were walking into a trap. But trap or no, there was no turning back now. The last ten seconds before the Las-Sats fired ticked down on the mission clock.

The countdown hit zero. Then ticked to one second, two seconds. Then for bright blue pillars of light flashed bright as the sun. The air itself was turned to plasma in the space of a few milliseconds by the Las-Sat beams. The sound of the explosions where the beams contacted the ground rolled in a few seconds later. By then the artillery barrage had already begun. The opening few minutes of the attack were already planned down to the second, so the Commander had little to do but watch the show.

Coinciding with the artillery fire VTOLs flew in and bombed or blasted several key targets, suffering some casualties. They returned to the LZ and waited for further orders. A small group of fast medium units rushed forward towards the North Gate. The entrance was a valley between to large rocky hills or ridges. The hills were spotted with bunkers and emplacements. Defending the valley floor was a line of bunkers, towers, and hardpoints blocking the north end of the pass. The small group skirted just inside the sensor range of these defenses, fire a few pot shots, then retreated back due north. Seconds later Artillery shells and rockets pounded the ground where the units once were, It was all Pandora needed.

Pandora's sensor pack traced the shell trajectories and sent the CB data to the artillery group. The artillery switched targets to the new CB data and kept on pounding away. Pandora noticed movement on her sensors. "Commander, we have enemy ground units approaching. Wait... A flight of VTOLs is also confirmed."

"Thank you, Pandora. Groups Beta and Gamma standby. Bird of Prey, Fenrir, and Rapier prepare for anti-air operations. Longbow, are you in position?"

"Yes sir," came the reply from longbow, who was set up as sniper on a near-by and tree covered hill.

The Commander knew the enemy would likely try to counterattack almost immediately with ground and air units. Luckily this area had good tree cover and he was able to lay an ambush. Directly north of the pass was his central group of heavy tanks and medium tanks, the U-Bs, Artillery, SAMs, and Stormbringers. On the sides and a little south of the center group were two groups, beta and gamma, comprised of the bulk of his super-heavy and heavy tanks. His VTOLs were based from the LZ. The two side groups were hidden under the trees but his central group was mostly on open terrain, an inviting target, in other words, bait.

The enemy VTOLs arrived first. Bird of Prey, Fenrir, and Rapier fired volleys of missiles. The SAMs and Stormbringers opened fire as well. All but two of the VTOLs were shot down. These two made their attack run with Scourge missiles, then they too were downed. Damage was minimal. The Commander gave the go-ahead command to his own VTOL group. They immediately took off and headed to their next targets, much deeper into the enemy base.

The enemy ground units exited the North Gate and came rushing straight at the center group, group alpha. They were about 40 units strong, mostly Gauss and Scourge, but with a few heavy pulse lasers mixed in. They were all on Wyvern class bodies. The Commander waited as they approached. The artillery barrage on the base continued, pounding the base's air defenses. The Project VTOLs flew by overhead and passed the enemy tanks. As soon as the enemy group reached just the right point, he gave the order. "Groups beta and gamma, ATTACK! Group Alpha tanks and U-Bs move to support."

Two huge masses of Project tanks swooped out of the trees to either side and executed a textbook double envelopment. Group alpha's tanks advanced forward and the U-Bs provided cover fire. The enemy was taken completely by surprise and was quickly overcome. Losses were small, but surprise was now lost. "Proceed to phase two, advance through North Gate," was the Commander's next order. The entire force launched forward. The defenses guarding the valley floor and the two ridges were soon burning. The VTOLs were now re-loaded and repaired, only a few more were lost, and they were now operating as close ground support. Within minutes, the Project army was through the North Gate and in the enemy base proper. But the battle had just begun.

At this point the structure on the attacking force changed. No longer on a rigid timetable, the individual commanders now had more flexibility to operate as situations arose. First off, while the Commander was in charge of the whole operation, Paladin was still in charge of the U-Bs. Paladin ordered Phalanx and Tiamat to stick with the main assault force and help them demolish anything that stood in their way. The other U-Bs spread out, providing fire support when needed, but mainly looking for enemy U-Bs. The Commander, in Prometheus, stayed in the rear, giving occasional orders. Pandora moved up with the artillery group to the south end of North Gate so as to get within range of targets deeper into the base. Longbow sat on a steep, pine-covered hillside not too far away with her rifle. Around her were large containers filled with extra ammunition, of all different types: armor piercing, high explosive, incendiary, you name it. She sat there, at maximum magnification, looking over the enemy base, waiting for a target to present itself.

The army formed into a large wedge and attacked across the open flat area. Any isolated defenses were destroyed or passed. Numerous artillery shells fell on the army, but Pandora was quick to calculate the trajectory and have the artillery assigned to her take out anything that fired. By the time they had crossed the flat, the enemy artillery was severely reduced.

When they reached the rough terrain to the south the enemy counter-attacked again. Enemy units poured towards them. The faster units in the Project army moved to the sides to try to flank the enemy. Phalanx brought his Sledgehammer Gauss cannon to bear on the enemy units. Tiamat pounded away with his heavy artillery. Paladin ordered Bahamut to join the fight, but the other U-Bs stayed back, to conserve ammunition. Prometheus, however, did contribute with his attack drones. The fighting continued as they made their way southward. Weaving through narrow passes and uphill climbs, encountering enemy units and fixed defenses all along the way, they came to a plateau area. Breaking through its defenses easily, they found that the plateau was a forward outpost with factories and VTOL pads. A badly cratered corner of the plateau showed remains of numerous artillery emplacements. "Well, we can see Pandora's been doing her job," remarked Tiamat. The remaining defenses and structures were destroyed efficiently. So far three hours had passed, thirty total units had been lost or knocked out of commission, and a lot of distance remained to be covered.

As the units gathered on the plateau to plan their next move, one of their fears was realized. Suddenly over the broadcast frequencies, a sharp static broke in, then died down. An all to familiar voice was heard laughing, "HA HA HA! Welcome! I have been expecting you. So you hope to defeat me here, hmmm....? HA! You FOOLS! None can resist the endless sea of my armies, no one can defeat the masses of my minions. You hope to defeat me here? Hope ... Your hope ENDS here! And your meaningless existence with it!" Then the static returned and cut off.

Bahamut came over the comm, "jeeze, won't that guy ever shut up?" A round of uneasy laughing and chuckling was to only reply.

Just as the Commander ordered the army to proceed down the eastern exit of the area and proceed south, another fear was realized. On the south side of the plateau, the ground began to open in six places. There were large doors just large enough, incidentally, to fit a U-B through, feet first. Then, riding, six elevators, emerged six enemy Ultra-Borgs. Paladin shot off quick orders, "Tiamat, Phalanx, proceed with the ground force. Bahamut, Rapier, Fenrir, and Bird of Prey move to engage enemy mechs. Longbow, give us sniper support. And Commander, I hope you can join us."

Affirmatives came in from all the U-Bs. The Commander called all his drones back in to re-charge, and he readied his plasma rifle, "it would be a pleasure to join you fine gentlemen."

The two groups of mechs faced off. Each chose a target. Firing up his left plasma blade, Rapier yelled over the comm, "alright let's get this thing started!" Kicking on his thrusters, he charged into the fray.