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2034-03-03 0900LT Preemptive Counterstrike

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Event: 2034-03-03 0900LT Preemptive Counterstrike

Scenario: Lunar War

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Characters Locations
Dale, Dex, Syd, Kevin, Dr. Fong, Mycroft Jade Rabbit Warren
Aspects
Caused By Cause Of
On This Day

The Grenadier Guard and Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group hit the Warren Spaceport.

Mission:

Preemptive Counterstrike against Chinese Lunar Base called the Jade Rabbit Warren.

Objectives:

1. Remove launch capacity of the Jade Rabbit Warren spaceport. 2. Neutralize Yutu, the Warren’s AI. 3. Neutralize Drone Warrior combat capabilities. 4. Return personnel to Luna Alpha. 5. Recover materiel useful to the defence of Luna Alpha.

Assets:

88 @ Grenadier Guards in Royal Guard Armour under the command of Colour Sergeant Dale Young.

41 Royal Protection Officers in TALOS5 Low Profile armour, under the command of Sergeant Hastur LeGrange.

12 @ APC Drop Ships (8 RG, 6 logistics and materiel support).

144 @ Orbital anti-meteor defence satellites.

5 @ Civilian Specialists (Systems Infiltration, Logistics, Bioweapons)

Additional Information

An AR statement from the Duchess Luna.

Kavya Wellesley straightened up behind her massive desk. If the small wrinkled woman felt the weight of her decision to go to war it did not show. She radiated certainty.

“We are in a battle for our survival,” she said. Her cultured, quiet voice was calm and measured. “The future of our colony hangs in the balance. It may be the future of humanity itself, given recent events on the surface.”

She leaned forward slightly. “I am ordering this assault for two reasons. Certainly, it is a response to the Chinese attacks that killed much of the command staff of the Grenadier Guard, many of our defence researchers, and a variety of other key personnel in Luna Alpha. That is secondary, however.

“Our intelligence indicates that the Jade Rabbit Warren is preparing a mass assault that Luna Alpha can not repel or defend against. Our assault must delay their ability to launch that attack and limit the force they can bring to bear if they do attack.”

She rolled her shoulders back, first left, then right, with a slight tilt of her head. It was a bit of body language well know to her subjects. It meant Things Are Worse Than That. “All surviving Dragoons and armoured RPOs have been committed to this action. We do not have the luxury of holding back. If we fail, nothing we can do can prevent our home from being overrun.

Your primary target is their spaceport. Remove their ability to send their Drone Warriors to us. Following this, you will attempt to remove their ability to create more Drones by destroying their Hive.

“The enemy is crafty and numerous, but unprepared. They will have defensive capabilities we can not anticipate. Your intelligence, experience, and skill stand between us and the darkness.”

The Assault

“Incoming missiles,” the pilot said.

Dale nodded. The dozen drop ships were hurtling from one pole of the moon to the other. They expected some defensive fire. “Command?” he asked.

“We have this Colours,” a calm baritone said. Dale recognized Corporal Janus – called Metatron when acting as the Voice of Command. “Keep an eye out for anything that slips through.” A perimeter appeared on the operations map, about 120km out from the Warren. “Based on what we’re seeing, our orbital lasers will start to get iffy when you get here. Be ready.”

“Copy, Metatron.” Dale’s AR made the ship disappear, showing him the incoming missiles and the anti-meteor defence satellites targeting them. A few seconds later the threats winked out. His display showed that on average the satellites had to triple-target the missiles with their lasers to get a kill. It was in the middle of their estimates. They should be safe for another fifteen minutes.

He glanced around. The Grenadiers were bold and gleaming in their 2.5m tall Royal Guard Armour. The RPOs were easy to overlook under normal circumstances. Decked out in TALOS with ‘low profile’ armour plates, they somehow blurred into the background. Standing beside the silver giants they just disappeared.

They were talking together in small groups – six Dragoons to two RPOs in most cases. The RPOs would handle themselves in combat, but they couldn’t hold a candle to what the Grenadier Guards could do. Scouting and support might not be the favourite roles for members of the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group, but Dale was glad they had his back.

He listened in to a few conversations while they hurtled through the vacuum toward Shackleton Crater and the Chinese base. Most of it was good-natured banter, but there was a fair amount of last-minute planning going on. Dale was well known for his tendency to prefer straight lines and direct assaults, but he had to admit that this was a hacked-together last minute improvisation, not a plan.

He shifted his view to the other ships. His AR made it look like all 12 ships were made of glass, traveling together in a tight formation. They were actually converging on the Jade Rabbit Warren from all directions. With Luna Alpha in Peary Crater at the North Pole and the Warren in Shackleton Crater at the South Pole it made sense to make the enemy split up their defences.

For nearly fifteen minutes, the Warren was silent. Dale was about to comment on the lack of fire when, from behind him, Mycroft said, “It appears Yutu doesn’t want to swing if it can’t land the punch.”

Dale took a breath and resisted the urge to turn. He wasn’t sure if he was angry or glad to be one of the few people who knew that Mycroft and Yutu were actual self-aware artificial intelligences. “You know I’m that way too.”

“It may have better judgement than we hoped,” Mycroft said, stepping into his field of view. “It tested our defences but did not waste resources. I am concerned that our forces are underprepared.”

Dale thought about this for a few seconds. The Grenadier Guard were among the most experienced and highly skilled soldiers in the New Commonwealth, but most of their training concentrated on missions like extracting hostages, not on full frontal assaults on a heavily fortified base. He usually liked plans that were simple and straightforward. Taking another look, he frowned. “Maybe it is a bit thin on contingencies,” he said, grudgingly.

“I would have preferred some more fallback and contingency plans as well,” Mycroft said. “Still, time was short and the strategists were dead.” His lips moved into a curve that was smile-like while also being devoid of all humour. “It is almost as if Officers were good for something after all.”

Good for getting in the way, Dale thought reflexively. He grunted. The thought was automatic, but not completely true of the officers that had been killed yesterday. Eventually he said, “These officers were pretty good at not being assholes and idiots. We have our objectives. I don’t think lots of plans would do much good in this situation.”

“Perhaps,” Mycroft said. “They do help you all stay coordinated, however.”

“You’re listening,” Dale said, gesturing to the soldiers and security officers around him. “They know that.”

“Even so,” Mycroft said, his hands opening and closing reflexively. He turned to look Dale over directly. “Please win,” he said. Then he nodded sharply and stepped out through a virtual doorway into the Command Centre.

Dale looked over their contingency plans again. “Dammit. Mary, connect me to all Squad leaders.”

A few seconds later his suit said, “Done.” He didn’t know who chose the voice of Mary Poppins for the RGA suit AI, but that person was a genius. The stern, demanding voice could cut through almost any battle noise and still make you feel like you were being well cared for.

“I’m not happy with our backup plans and we are not practiced in this kind of operation,” he said bluntly. “Pick someone from your team to make sure we stay coordinated and to add escape routes and plans when we get more intel.”

There was a chorus of “Aye, Colours.” A moment later one of the Corporals had added a virtual room to the battle plan. Soon after five Grenadiers and twelve RPOs were tapped into the room. Dale watched them for a moment.

“You are coming up on SRM range,” Metatron said.

“Confirm all locked down for evasive,” their pilot said. Across all twelve ships Guards and RPOs confirmed that their suits were bound to the ship. It took less than a second, which was just as well, since the board lit up with incoming missiles.

The orbital defences tried to help, but weren’t fast enough to take down many missiles. The drop ships launched countermeasures and dodged. They cleared out the volley of incoming fire when the nearest missile was still 10km away.

A ship exploded. Grenadiers, RPOs, and chunks of dropship fell out of the sky.

There was a short pause while the AIs and analysts tried to account for this.

“Looks like stealth tech we haven’t seen before,” Metatron said. “Ramp up evasive.”

Even encased in their armour everyone felt the powerful shifts in acceleration. They weren’t fun, but they were bearable.

“Countermeasures have exposed a type of missile we can’t track,” Metatron said.

Another dropship exploded.

The ships were silent, waiting for the next explosion.

Command came on again. “Looks like they have limited ordinance. We think that was their best shot. We’re showing twenty Grenadiers and nine RPOS on the ground and running toward the target.”

Dale frowned. Two RPOs and one Grenadier had died. Three more Grenadiers were injured enough to be out of the fight. The rest of them would arrive well after the rest of them were inside the spaceport.

“Command,” Dale said, “tell them we’re about to drop and to cover our exit when they get close.”

A set of three translucent spheres appeared in the air to his left, shrinking slowly. The largest had an image of the men and women running toward the spaceport. They were about fifteen minutes out. The smallest had an icon of an RPO in TALOS on it. They would drop a few seconds before the Grenadiers, who had the middle sphere. He gestured to collapse the timers into a single sphere with three layers.

The other ships were glowing dots in his HUD, approaching rapidly and changing vectors at random. The moment they crested the crater wall, the ships started a hard burn, slowing rapidly while continuing to dodge incoming fire. Bullets pinged off the hull. Explosions rocked the ship.

The RPO timer throbbed two seconds before the floors of the ships opened up. Their TALOS armour was set up for stealth, making them practically invisible as they fell into the darkness. They were deep enough in Shackleton Crater to be below the sun-line, and in the perpetual darkness that cloaked the interior. They were supposed to land 2km from the entrance to the port.

The timer for the Knights throbbed twice. He raised his feet and put his hands on his head. A ring of metal snapped out from the wall, automatically coupling to his feet and arms. An arm snaked out, snapping his kite shield to his back. The timer throbbed again. Two seconds later the ship and his suit let go of each other and he dropped into darkness.

Landing rings are a terrible idea, Dale thought. On the other hand he wasn’t sure there any good ways to slow down from a high velocity insertion in vacuum. The crouching hands-on-head position wasn’t comfortable and left him feeling exposed, but it was better than hitting the ground at 400kph with no kind of landing gear. The ring fired off small bursts of flame, orienting him to be falling with his back toward the ground. He could see where he was going through his AR interface, but it wasn’t ideal. Unfortunately, it was the only way to survive the kind of deceleration the landing rocket in the ring would put on his body.

Tracer rounds filled the space around the falling Knights. Several rounds hit, pinging off his armour, the ring, and his shield, but they didn’t do any damage. It sounded like they didn’t have a lot of armour piercing rounds.

The ring jets fired. Even with his extensive training, the high-G compensators in his suit, and the drugs that buffered the shock, the crushing acceleration was enough to make him black out. When he came back to himself, the ring had already reoriented again. It hit the black basalt hard, but at a shallow angle. The outside of the ring spun up instantly, and after two bounces he was rolling along the dusty rock at 200km/h. The brakes engaged, causing him to start to rotate inside the wheel. His large mass was enough to keep that rotation slow. Wearing 800kg of armour had more than one advantage.

The landing ring shot through a forest of giant electromagnetic coils. The exterior landing and launch field for the spaceport, where ships were accelerated up to space, or down to the interior of the port. The loops would have been an easy target for the Grenadiers and their MARG404s, but it would take too long to take down enough of them to seriously affect the Warren’s ability to launch ships.

“Mary, damage report,” he said. Most of his people were green in his AR, but not all of them.

“Three rings seized,” his suit said. “All three lost their MARGs. RPOs are all accounted for.” The TALOS “landing gear” was as absurd as the RGA landing ring: they rode down on armoured surf-boards. They had rockets, but didn’t use them to slow down from the full 400km/h forward drop velocity. A few seconds before touching down the rockets lit up to dramatically slow the TALOS descent. By the time they hit the lunar surface the enhanced strength from the armour was enough so the operators could absorb the impact easily. Then they skidded along, directing themselves to their designated positions while shedding speed. If the drop was timed correctly, everyone would be in right position in under thirty seconds.

Dale’s HUD showed his muster point rapidly approaching. Six other Grenadiers rolled into position, shedding their landing rings. While they turned to pick up the shields, which disengaged from their backs at the same time, their shoulder-mounted, grenade-launching machine-guns deployed.

The MARG404s were the pride and joy of the Grenadier Guard. Every other military force used medium weapons that were faster, delivered larger payloads, and had better range… The Grenadiers needed flexibility more than they needed raw firepower. The MARG variable payload system delivered that in spades.

The Assault, Up Next…


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