Testudo Base Armor Garage
0530hr local 09 December
Chief Technician Stan Cimms sealed up the last compartment door on the drone controller box of Tango Four. The tank, one of the new production Abrams tanks from over on Cromwell had passed all the initialization tests on its software. The machine was an experiment, with an autoloader for its light gauss cannon and actuators for the anti-infantry machine guns on the vehicle. If Carson’s programming was on point, the four tanks being sent out should work to stop or slow the advancing infantry fighting vehicles of the Immortals.
Should being the operative term. Stan wasn’t sure that four tanks, no matter how good they were, was going to be enough… which is why everyone on the complex was armed today. Pistol, shotguns, assault rifles… whatever folks were used to using or comfortable with, it was issued and required carry. A lesson long learned by the Chief was if you were not comfortable with a weapon, no amount of training was going to make you great. Some folks were just plain not good with anything bigger than a pistol. Himself, he was and also had an assault rifle nearby. Because dumb shit happens… and he knew they would be fighting here in the complex.
As he stepped from Tango Four, his comm chimed. “Cimms…” he answered.
[Stan, Eric… everything operational?] The aforementioned base commander asked of him. It was not a normal call but then this wasn’t normal times.
“As ready as I can tell; just finished up number four and the systems all show green” Stan replied. “As long as Carson is sure of his software, the hardware will work. I don’t like the auto-loader speed though- I think its set a bit too fast.”
[How much slower should it be?] Eric requested. He trusted his cousin’s assessment on timing; Stan had a talent with old engines and could tell if something was too fast or slow to work right. It applied to newer stuff like auto loaders for mech armament- and these light gauss weapons were more or less the same weapons. Just on a tank.
“Call it ten percent; that should be software adjustable,” He replied as he reached his office. “No more than that… I don’t have my timer with me but I’m pretty sure that’s all that’s needed. They will work as advertised with that adjustment.”
[Ok… Carson is here in Operations and is making the adjustments now,] Eric said. [As long as the drone controllers work as advertised, we are good.]
Stan smiled. “I’m no fan of Franklin Labs controllers; I’d be happier with the Nokia stuff but we needed those for the flying platforms,” The technician commented as he lifted his rifle from the rack in his office. “But we use what we got. Anything else?”
[Nope…] Eric replied. [Got nothing else…. Except wish you luck. Sims indicate they might be here by eleven. Later if the tanks perform better than what I expect.]
“And sooner if they don’t,” Stan commented. “My department will be ready…”
[I know it will, cuz. Tanks being activated now…]
Across the tank bay, the engines of the armored vehicles spun up, the whine of the Fuel Cell engine piercing the air. One by one, the four machines reached operational idle and all four showed a green glow from the driver hatch. One by one, the hatches cycled closed and only a minimal glimmer was visible from the view ports.
“Looks good, Eric,” Stan informed his cousin. “Tell Carson they look like they are all working.”
[Excellent. Time to put them in gear….] As he said this, the four tank engines changed pitch and the vehicles began to move out, heading for the open air and points west of the base.
Twenty Kilometers west of Testudo Base
The lead IFVs of the Immortals were greeted by a shower of sparks as the lead Chimera suffered an impact from a high velocity slug from a light gauss. The other vehicles in the column scattered and as targets became visible to them, the vehicles of the Immortals fired back. Autocannons of the Chimeras barked and some rounds found targets.
For the next fifteen minutes, the two forces exchanged shots and one by one, the defending Abrams fell silent. For the most part, it was damage that did them in though in one case, the last drone ran out of ammunition and died ramming an Immortal APC.
But the four tanks did their job; of the 15 vehicles heading for the Lancer research facility, five would advance no further as they were smoking wrecks or immobilized due to damage. Casualties were moderate among the troops who were injured with the demise of their transports. The troops who were able to do so moved wounded over near the most intact of the immobile transports. The mobile units pushed wrecks off to the side and in positions to provide shelter while the healthy tended to the injured. Once everyone was tended to, the remaining forces moved on east.
Overall, the advance was delayed about an hour.
Testudo Base outskirts
The defenders were all in their positions throughout the complex. Various bunkers and strong points all manned and weapons loaded. The six towers with anti-personnel weapons were active and ready for what was coming. None of them looked the part either, as all were built to look like armored Uplink Towers or similar, simply six of the two dozen spread all over the valley of the base. A small nub of a barrel was the only thing that betrayed what they really were.
Strongpoints throughout the complex were mostly buildings or structures built into hills, almost like the classic Hobbit Homes in the books. Heck, if you took out the paved paths and the large vehicle doors on a few spots, it could almost BE something from that book series. Well, the paving and the Central Dome of Operations in the heart of the base being two big giveaways as to what was here.
The initial forays of enemy troops were met with silence. No weapons fire greeted the Immortals as they entered the valley where the base sat. The troops were all dismounts, with their vehicles providing standoff overwatch. And it would be as the initial two squads entered The Square (as it was called by the base inhabitants) that defensive weapons opened up.
Initial barrages inflicted casualties and as the Immortals returned fire, defending Drone flights entered the fray and went after vehicles or the rear of the advancing troops. These craft were modeled on the Peregrine Attack VTOL, modified to take a fuel cell engine. The weight savings went to drone control internals, which made the little craft semi dangerous; with no crew to worry over, sharper turns and movement were now possible. Six of these were tasked with hunting infantry.
A quartet of drone Warrior VTOLs, weapons modified to a Light Five cannon and a smaller short-range launcher, entered the fray to hunt the APCs. These craft worked to tie up the transports and take the heat off the defenders. And they did this job well….
With the Immortal Command Element
Spanac took cover behind a low rock wall and quick scanned the area. He had known assaulting this place would be a bitch but he had expected less skilled resistance than he was getting. All data he and his people had managed indicated very little troops were present here. If they got through this, he was going to have a long talk with his intel people… “Jenkins!” He hollered.
“Boss?” Senior Sergeant Jenkins replied as he returned fire at a bunker.
“See if we can get to that central dome over there…” Spanac pointed. “I bet that’s operations.”
Jenkins glanced that way then added some more fire at the bunkers near a doorway. “Doable… though I think getting into one of those places near it might be better….” He said. “I’d bet on some tunnel complexes goin’ there.”
“You think?” Spanac asked.
“Yeah… there’s a vent over there-“ he pointed then decked as a defender shot at him. “Missed me bitch… Yeah, I think that’s a passage vent. It snows like nothin’ else out here; that we aren’t hip deep right now is weird.”
A snort. “Well, that’s good to know… Its cold enough.” Spanac said. “Then getting in there might be a thing.” Looking over to his radio man, he orderd. “Sergi, see if one of the carriers can make it forward enough to blast a door- or at least draw fire.”
Sergi Vanatov gave a thumbs up as he attempted to get somebody forward. With a shake of his head, Sergi looked at the Colonel. “Colonel… the carriers are a bit busy fighting Drones right now; majority of them are currently tracked…”
“Fuck…” Spanace cursed. Making the decision, he passed the word. “Alright… we do this the hard way. Pass the word- when I toss smoke, I want EVERYONE to suppress anything that looks like a defensive position. We’re charging that damn door; I’ve got an underbarrel shotgun that says the lock pops.”
Sergi blinked. “Oooooooooookay, Colonel.” He replied. “Its nuts…” The commo man began relaying the orders to whomever could respond to it. Whoever…. Which was about half of what had started this attack at this point.
Testudo Operations Building
Eric looked at the video feeds and the holographic map of the base. He noted where the enemy tracks were and nodded to himself at the overall effectiveness of the drones. Putting the modified Peregrine VTOLS and the old, modified Warriors had been something of a gamble. They were early test machines and suffered from vulnerability to Electronic Counter Measures. Because of that vulnerability, they were never expected to be used in combat on the modern battlefield.
But this was not exactly the most modern of combat arenas and well, they needed them for defending the base. And they were working…
“Dad,” Justin called out from his workstation, an assault rifle slung over his back. “Looks like there is a push for number 11.” A camera focused on the access door near a collection of attackers. “Attacking troops have stepped up their fire on the bunkers near it.”
Eric turned towards his son and the rest of the staff. “They might have figured out there are tunnels that come here; were going to figure it out sooner or later when there is only three visible entrances to here.” The elder Harvie reached over to a workstation and lifted up the Relic Arms MP-5 that was sitting there.
The weapon, based on the 20th Century submachine gun, was a lightweight defensive weapon designed from classic historical firearm of the past. Given that the company had gained some measure of inter-stellar success with their designs (they also had license to the Sternsnacht pistol family as well as Colt auto rifles), the classic designs had gained new life some six centuries after the original company folded.
“I’m pretty certain that if they get in here, they won’t like it much.” He finished. “Coins, set the comms panel to send priority messages to your omni-tool and to command staff. Then you and the other techs get to the old command center if you can.”
Justin unlimbered his rifle from his back. “Dad…”
Eric smiled grimly. “yeah, yeah… Don’t be a hero, I know. That’s why I’m only staying long enough with Charlie Kim and his trio to sell this place as defended,” He replied to his son. “Tis why you are going with Coins…”
“You aren’t a soldier no more, dad.”
“Nope. But I was once and I remember how,” He chuckled. “Besides, Kim and crew- “ he pointed at the four security men moving to the lower hall that headed to the Eleven tunnel- “Aren’t about to let me be stupid. Right Kim?”
Staff Sergeant Kim looked up at his name. “Be stupid? Nope… wouldn’t dream of it.” He then looked back to the movement of the defense bar for the door to the tunnel, helping his men drop it in place.
Coins spoke up then. “Chief Harvie…” she began as she picked up her own submachine gun. “With all due respect, I’m staying.” The rest of the techs, all six of them, all nodded and commented agreement. “My home too… and well, we know the tunnels and if they are coming that way, the passage to the Armor Bay and flight ops is open.”
Eric looked at the sergeant. “Coins…” He began.
“No, Chief…” she said. “You’re a good boss. Eccentric as hell… but a good boss. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you stay and me go.”
Another tech, Specialist Luann Spades, voiced agreement with coins. “Chief… we agree with her. Y’all a good boss and I know I don’t wanna have to break in a new one. Yo’ Son is cool but if we can help you with this, we got you.” The specialist looked over at Justin. “No disrespect, Mister Justin…”
Justin smiled. “None taken, Spades.” He looked at his dad then. “Dad, you’ve been outvoted. Uncle Stan is going to be mad if something happens to us…”
“Then I guess we better not get dead then…”