The Stars Came Back -087- Riposte

Cut to

INT – DAY – Tajemnica Bridge

Quiritis has her normal calm look on hers face as she works the controls, herding the starship through the twisting and narrow (for a seventy meter starship) canyon, and canyon walls fly past on the screens in their “glass cockpit” view. She rolls it this way and that, trying to keep one eye on the terrain, and one on the path laid out in the tactical display showing the planned path. No-one else looks calm, they are all white knuckled and tense-looking, watching things whiz by dangerously close. Suddenly, a red dot appears nearly over them in the tactical display. It is right at the top of a spur of rock sticking out into the looping canyon they are following. Quiritis pulls back on the yoke hard.

Cut to

EXT-DAY – observation post

On the flat-topped rock spur jutting out into a gooseneck of the canyon’s meandering course, a soldier stands munching a ration biscuit near a small table, chewing slowly, his face sleepy-looking. Behind him is a small camp – tiny tent, camp stove, small folding table and chair, radio set with a 5m ground-mounted antenna nearby, small pile of gear. The view is grand. He’s looking off into the valley on one side, down into the great steep oxbow valley. He starts to reach for the mike for the radio. He pauses. He perks up. He hears something. He turns around, his eyes get big for a second, then he hits the ground, food-bar forgotten. Roaring low up and over him and the rock spur is Tajemnica, so close that it tears up some of the cliff-edge rocks. Quiritis is not following the valley loops now, she’s cutting over the top of one of the loops, like a short-cut. As it passes overhead, the not-quite retracted landing struts and the wind of its passing sweeps away the camp, then Tajemnica dives back down into the valley and swerves around the next corner and away. Silence falls. The soldier stands up. Where his tiny but sufficient camp was, he now stands alone, nothing but the cloths on his back. No camp. No radio. Nothing. He looks down one cliff side of the rock spur, then down the other. His face looks shocked and bleak.

Cut to

INT – DAY – Tajemnica Bridge

Helton: Close!

Quiritis: No problem. Kiv position Alpha closing fast. Get folks ready.

Helton: (into mike) Everyone hang on. Gun crew, get ready to load, we’ve got gunnery control from here. Everyone who can, clear the cargo deck. Check Mid-deck windows. Secure everything.

Cut to

INT – Inside the APC.

The crew sit, strapped into place, piles of ammo belts wedged into place, ready to reload the gun’s magazine if needed so the gun stays fed.

Cut to

INT- Day – cargo bay ramp

The inner airlock doors are closed behind them, the ramp is up. The side—door with the folding arm opens, and the arm and gun fold out into the angled space next to the APC. One of the crewmen with his head out of the top hatch looks at it in surprise as he adjusts his helmet and goggles.

Ship AI: (OC, through his head-set) You’ll be man’n th’ port side, lad, I’ll be cov’rn th’ starb’rd. Ready t’ show’em the devil they kicked?

APC commander: (nodding) Shit, yeah! Bring ‘em on!

The ramp starts to lower, and the wind blasts in through it.

Cut to

EXT – DAY – Kiv battalion position Alpha

A large number of wheeled and tracked guns, cannons, tanks, APCs, missile and rocket launchers, trucks and trailers are laagered up in a pair of concentric rough circles, looking like they are loaded up and ready to move out. They are parked fairly close together. Only a couple of guns are pointed skyward and looking like they are ready for action. They are a couple of kilometers from an opening in the cliffs.

Three middle-aged, lean men in camo stand together, talking and smoking and waiting.

A young soldier runs up, breathless.

Com Dude: Sir! One of the outposts didn’t report as scheduled a few minutes ago, and SGT Mulenax said he’s getting something weird on the-

Major Schakowski: (caustically) A few MINUTES ago? And “weird” stuff? That’s all you want to report?

Com Dude is at rigid attention, not looking happy.

Com Dude: Sergent Mulenax told me to report it, sir!

Major Schakowski: Well, let’s just run away and hide, then, from a late report and a blip! Dismissed!

Com dude turns and runs back the direction he came.

Capt Waxman: Just nervous, sir. Not sure what’s going on, why we broke tech levels. They’ll settle down as soon as we’re back on the move.

Major Schakowski: I don’t care WHY they are being stupid, I just don’t want to hear about it or see it! Damn morons!

Cut to

INT- Day – cargo bay ramp

The ramp is low enough for the APC auto cannon to have free side-to-side movement when firing. The gun on the folding arm is also ready. Through the open ramp the twisting and curving canyon roars by, its rough rock blurred by speed. There is a straight stretch with a notch ahead showing sky. They are fast nearing the end of the canyon. They are suddenly flying through the canyon mouth out onto an open plain, close to the ground, closer than any starship has a right to be. The circles of armored and light vehicles are clear in the near distance and closing fast, their circles looking almost flat from the oblique angle. The moment the canyon wall is past, the cannons start firing at full speed, spent brass cascading out from the ejection ports and being blasted back and away in the wind. Streaks of smoke from missiles being launched at the laagered vehicles streak away from them. Almost instantly, vehicles in the battalion group start erupting in flames, explosions, and smoke. Nearly every round being fired is hitting SOMETHING among the closely spaced vehicles.

Cut to

Tajemnica Bridge

Helton: Perfect! Swing around them if you can, keep us bow on! Make two full circle passes, then on to extraction!

Bipasha: (into her com mic) Camp Meliora! Come in! Kiv are in tech violation, abandon position! Raptus Regalitor is destroyed! Load up and drive west NOW! Come in Camp Meliora!

Lag looks at the screens, and rapidly identifies some of the most critical vehicles to hit, he taps on them on the screen, launching missiles at them to make sure they get hit and the guns on the ramp take out everything easy to hit.

Cut to

EXT – DAY – Kiv battalion position Alpha

All around the three officers, things start blowing up or showing damage, one after another, in very rapid succession. Mounted guns, missile launchers, transports, supply vehicles, and tanks take hits, mostly on the side Tajemnica is racing past, but also sometimes on the far side or in the middle after a tracer streaks though the formation. They stare in disbelief as their command is being rapidly reduced to ruin in seeming seconds. Suddenly Maj Schakowski jerks violently and collapses. The other two hit the ground, then stare in surprise at the mangled body of their fellow officer, his upper chest opened and shoulder blown away from the 25mm shell hitting him. In the background, Tajemnica sweeps around the outskirts of the battalion, battering it relentlessly from all sides, flying so low and sideways it’s kicking up clouds of dust, looking like a hot-rod driver drifting on a dirt-track as it circles the Kiv doing a giant doughnut around them, spitting out flares here and there as it rolls and rocks it way around the perimeter, leveling small high spots and dipping into swales a bit. The incoming missiles stop hitting the battalion, but shells are still ripping through the formation, reducing it’s firepower by the second. A few of the Kiv vehicles start to return fire, mostly to the effect of making them a higher priority target for incoming shells. A missile streaks from a launcher, going close to Tajemnica, but passing by and going on the hit the rock face behind them after plowing through a flare. Tankers are exploding, missile launchers are going up, communication vans with lots of antennas take rounds, APC turrets are getting holed, nearly every round fired by Tajemnica’s ramp-weapons take a vehicle out of action or damage a part of one. But there are a LOT of vehicles in the two circles, and a fair number of them have heavy armor, and some of them are starting to get their act together and move to return fire at the large moving target that is Tajemnica.

Cut to

EXT – DAY – a kilometer or so from the Kiv battalion position Alpha

Against the background of the cliffs and crags and canyon mouth, the circle of military vehicles is aflame. Most of the vehicles have been hit, though the heavily armored tanks just have superficial damage, and many are still at least partially usable. A few more are starting to return fire, if inaccurately. Tajemnica finishes her sweeping turn around the circle of burning vehicles, straightens out, and pulls away fast in reverse, still firing both guns on full auto from the open ramp that’s now at the back of the ship. The arcs of the tracer rounds rapidly get higher as it pulls away, then stops firing as the range gets extreme. Finally, she closes up her bow ramp, spins around while still moving at high speed, and heads off low and fast towards the camera view-point, then out of sight above.

Cut to

INT – Day – forward cargo ramp

The ramp closes, and the wind dies. There is spent brass all around on the ramp deck, rolling downhill, jammed into corners or stuck. Soldiers swarm out from behind as the doors slide open, removing the tie-downs and clearing away stuff. The APC starts to back down the ramp to make room for the soon-to-be-boarding vehicles.

Fade out

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10 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -087- Riposte

  1. “A large number of wheeled and tracked guns, cannons, tanks, APCs, missile and rocket launchers, trucks and trailers are lagered up in a pair of concentric rough circles, ”

    Lagered? Are they drunk yet?

    • Typo. Should be laager. A simple circular defensive position. Used when you are not expecting to be in a position long, to re-fuel, re-arm, or await orders in one spot for a brief period, when you don’t have time to make proper defensive positions. Sort of “circling the wagons.”

  2. Sweet! Never piss off a starship AI of questionable sanity who also enjoys TLAP Day!

    Couple of nitpicks/suggestions:

    Quiritis has her normal calm look on hers face as she works the controls,

    “…look on her face…”

    *******************

    “The crew sit, strapped into place, piles of ammo belts wedged into place, ready to reload the gun’s magazine if needed so the gun stays fed.”

    Hmmm…judgment call, but I’d go with “ready to reload the gun’s magazine WHEN needed, so the gun stays fed.” It’s gonna be a battle, so unless they’ve got 250’ ammo belts, the gun’ll probably grow a rather voracious appetite.

    **********

    There were one or two more that I had to stop and re-read the sentence, but ended up making sense if I just looked at em a different way. Awesome overall, as usual!

    • Fixed. Thanks again, as usual. I was wondering if no-one was reading it, because there were not much in the way of comments, other than Ubu’s lagger/laager catch.
      Not sure how much ammo the gun would use. They were not planning on sticking around to duke it out against tanks with nothing but overgrown peashooters like a 25mm. Mess with ’em, move on fast before the Kiv get their act together.

  3. The scene where they replenish the ship’s ammunition stores will be EPIC!

    All those little nooks and crannies to be stuffed to the gills with mayhem and retribution – I am seriously looking forward to that! 🙂

      • Not really.
        Straight line – everything arrives on military trucks and gets loaded – EPIC.
        Almost straight line – deals are done, barter committed, favours called in – MORE epic.
        Not very straight line – evil is attempted against Taj, thwarted by feats of piratical derring-do and human heroism, and ammunition is scavenged from the resulting wreckage – STYLISHLY epic.
        Circular straight line – jump-drives fail weirdly and drop off-line, strange things happen in space-time, and Taj is re-armed by a much later incarnation of herself, driven to be there and then by vague memories in a fading holo memory core – TRULY EPIC!!!! 🙂

        It doesn’t matter – it is ALL epic, and being thoroughly enjoyed.

        • Somewhere between “more” and “stylishly” epic, then. No time warping in this ‘verse. There may be flash-backs, though.

  4. Only two nits to pick:
    ” nothing but the cloths on his back” should be “clothes”
    “reducing it’s firepower” sould be “its”

    “with a 5m ground-mounted ” does 5m refer to antennna height or the band (around 70MHz)- not a nit- just curious.
    Majors should ALWAYS listen to experienced sergeants.
    Helluva scene. Well done! I can smell the gunpowder.

    • D’oh! I should be catching the “cloths/clothes” mistake by now! (head/desk) THANKS!

      Yup, another silly it’s / its mistake. Thanks.

      I was thinking 5m height. As it turns out, a 5m wavelength is about 57MHz, pretty close to the common HAM radio 6m band.

      Officers of ALL ranks should listen to experienced NCOs. Not always do what they say, but definitely consider it. Actually, that’s a theme that runs throughout- good-guy commanders get input from all sources when possible. They may make snap decisions when needed, but they listen to people who might have good ideas. They don’t just give orders. Bad commanders think they know better than anyone else around them what’s going on in the world, resulting in their predictable failures.

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