Prev: Re: [FH] Breaking News - KraVak attacks in Sol System Next: RE: [FH] Breaking News - KraVak attacks in Sol System

[FH] Breaking News - Margaritifer Now a Warzone

From: <Beth.Fulton@c...>
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2005 20:30:55 +1100
Subject: [FH] Breaking News - Margaritifer Now a Warzone

The Xenowar Takes Hold On Mars

New Guardian Times, RNAC Transport Bundaleer, January 3rd, 2194

In a scene repeated around the globe this morning, embeds from the NGT
joined the growing exodus for Mars. This morning, at the Harlow
spaceport, we saw shuttle after shuttle and pod after pod pick up
thousands of Anglian soldiers, lifting them to orbit for transfer to
troop ships headed for Mars.

We went down to our allocated port terminal last night by hovertrain.
Luckily we heeded the advice to set out early, as it took more than
twice the usual time to make it up to Hadlow. The reason was easy to
see. Again and again we were stopped as the dim shape of a troop flitter
shot past us northward bound to the already overcrowded Harlow

When at last we reached the spaceport in the small hours, the main
concourse was packed and every square inch held a soldier, marine or
paradropper in full kit. Most of us stood or sat for a couple of
sleepless hours on the floor, waiting for our nanostims shot and glad of
it. Without these shots Mars would feel like a frozen, gasping hell.
Even with the shots we are warned to keep hold of our rebreathers.
Already dubbed pigsnouts by the troops, the small masks are surprisingly
comfortable and easy to fit. Slotting down over the nose and sealing up
over the mouth and chin they give the wearer a rather macabre but
comical appearance, as if a small child has decided mid-drawing to
forego the usual nose and mouth and replace them with skeleton-like
nasal slits and a series of thin, fluttering, horizontal feeding flaps. 

As the rising sun turned the grey clouds over Hadlow to burnished
copper, our orbital carrier slid swiftly into its slot, its silhouette
blocked quickly from our view by a sea of heads as troops readied
themselves to climb aboard. When it finally came our turn to load up we
shuffled on to find the orbicarrier already near full capacity, soldiers
standing shoulder to shoulder amongst the hanging grip straps. Only a
few minutes later there was the thud of the door closing and the dull
pressure of the hull vacusealing. Trying to put growing nausea from our
minds we took in the scene around us. A wild mix of faces and emotions,
the nervous glances and kit checking of a kid on first deployment; a
sergeant hanging asleep in the grip straps, his quiet snores somehow at
odds with his fully polyclad form; an officer with hud down nodding and
making quiet comments as he checks over orders and rosters.

Then we were free of the atmosphere and the orbicarrier slowed down,
drifting towards the spacedock. Sensing the change in thrust the
soldiers on board stir and quite a few begin making cheerful ribaldries.
They at any rate did not regard themselves as the central figures of an
unfolding tragic drama. The gangways are in position in no time and we
all begin to clamber into the dock corridors. Then more waiting. We
wandered as best we could around the small deck where we waited for our
turn to board the transport for Mars. Every flat surface was occupied.
Small groups of soldiers in kit, some helmet down sleeping, others
helmet adrift sitting, chatting, sipping thermobrews or chewing nicogum.
Finally the clear voice of the load sergeant cuts across the chatter and
we grab our gear, form into lines and head for the transport.

The long string of helmeted men and women passes steadily but swiftly up
the gang-plank and away from the station. Once we have located a corner
to stow our gear we turn to the small tasks that are part of preparing
for the two day trip ahead. There aren't any viewports on our transport,
at least not in our section, but a large vidscreen shows an image of the
controlled chaos outside. Anglian ships and Europian, Swabian, Dutch,
OU, IFed and Eurasian, warships, transports, requisitioned Ftel-barges
and pleasure dome-yachts. Dancing about, trying not to foul each other
as they push off undaunted taking their loads across the hostile void
and into the inferno, where Vacforces and Army are fighting furiously to
keep open the entry points for our troops. We can't seem them yet, but
out there somewhere are fleets from every nation on Earth, protecting
our route to Mars. News is the Kraks have an equally large force
guaranteeing their access to their landing grounds. The two behemoths
watching each other pour more souls dirtside, unwilling yet to strike
out at each other and cut the growing tide. All the selfless courage of
the nations of man is being thrown into the resistance on Mars, and we
refuse to believe it will be spent in vain.


Paradropping Into Margaritifer

New Guardian Times, Margaritifer Sector, January 2nd-4th, 2194

The NAC 7th paradrop unit formed part of the Coalition airborne force
which has spearheaded the relief of the Tokalau Isthmus. It landed in
Arda on January 2nd at 4pm MMT, seizing vital corridor defence points
and linking up with the Japanese forces pushing down the valles from the

I've been with the 7th para for years now. In that time I've seen a lot
of combat with them. Each clash much the same, each unique in its own
way. None seemed so desparate as the current one. While the vets still
joke, tension is high now we are so close to home. As one of the few
embeds already on Mars when the Kraks struck I have the terrifying but
equally thrilling privilege of covering the main action here in

I watched the 7th ready for its latest mission as dusk descended on
Unity only hours earlier; everybody, from its captain downwards, in cam
smeared faces and wearing the dropsuits and rimless sealed helmets now
common to all airborne forces. Each of them appearing nearly as broad
and as thick as they were tall, by reason of the colossal amount of
equipment they were carrying with them. The captain made a brief speech,
ending with the time honoured "Tonight we write history". In what seemed
spontaneity, but years of embed service with the paras let me know was
almost ritual, there were three cheers, a short prayer, and in the
gathering darkness they drove off singing, incredible as it seems.

It was dark when we finally took off. One of an enormous armada of
troop-carrying airships, protected by grav-assisted gliders, launching
from across southern Mars. The weather was not ideal for an airborne
operation, but there were no other choices. The Kraks had already
overrun Middleton Dunes and were pressing hard on Jalal at Jamsah and
Ojika Jima.

The paradrop was lead by the 7th, veterans of Fawcett's defence and the
retaking of Berens on Barnard's. It was their duty to destroy as far as
possible the enemy's anti-air defences and to secure cover points on the
corridor links at LK nodes 81 through 94. There were also some largish
grav-gliders carrying equipment and weapons of all kinds. It was a bumpy
descent, though not as hot as on Rheinhold. 

It was a ghoulish site that greeted me when I landed. The sky shot with
brilliant yellows, reds, and greens as lasers, plasma and kinetics tear
up sky and ground a like. Noise and pressure waves rolled through me as
huge explosions rock the area, Krak bombers covering the alien's
amphibious attack. A chorus of small grunts on the hudcoms acknowledges
the flight of Manitobas as they put a Krak artillery bank out of action.

These low gain vids don't do justice to the chaos that's currently
tearing through Arda, but the best we can do with alien jammers snowing
up our channels tremendously. The paras have cleared three Krak nests
and LK81 was in lock-down within minutes of landing. LK82 wasn't as
easy. Lying across open ground and with the corridor shell pretty badly
cut-up there was little cover for our approach. We're also being
continually harried by snipers. The gun section is keeping their heads
down a bit and the mortars are slicing them up, but nothing seems to
shake the resolution of those monsters until they're killed or their
ammo is exhausted. 

Jamming has grown stronger now; it will be voice comms only for a while
here sorry. The shelling has stepped up again and now there are flitters
at the other end of the valley. We're trying to dig in here now, Krak
armour is coming up the valles against us. We may have to blow 82 and
push on for 83. I think I'm going to be roasted by the heat of the
L20A1s, but I'm thankful these boys bought these plasma hogs along. They
do seem to be holding the Krak advance a little, looks like they'll have
enough time. There is a low thrum, just on the edge of hearing. Heads
all around me are searching the sky and close horizons for the source.
Its Europians! Aero-Gliss's are taking on the Kraks. Who would've
thought the 7th paras would be glad to see Europians?!....

...Sorry for the jumpy coverage, trying to conserve energy-packs. No
live bursts possible at present unfortunately. Now the immediate threat
is pinned, we can see other small bodies of Anglian troops moving along
under cover of the valley walls and small scrub to our west now. The odd
discarded dropchute is still fluttering down the valles. We're moving
forward again now on toward LK 83 and 84. We've left a small force at 82
until the Eurasian troops can move across and take over. As we get
closer to Ojika Jima we can see black shapes scattered over the ground.
Some are abandoned mining gravcarts, left by the refugees that fled here
a day or so ago; most though are smashed grav-sleds and Japanese
gliders, the blackened bodies with damaged wings or shattered tails
sticking up at odd angles. It is an apocalyptic site. The true red of
Mars showing through every newly torn gash in its surface, twisted
vehicles, smashed buildings, smashed and scorched corpses.

We can see where the main Krak line is, even though it is still miles
off. The sky dark with smoke and dust is cut by flashes of fire and
explosions. I thought we were heading for LK84, but we've just come upon
the main drop zone. Material is coming down like snow and that already
landed is being moved forward in multi-wheel mine lorries, or
concentrated in scrapes where it is best hidden from the air. Apparently
the main body of paras has secured most of the corridor nodes, so we're
to cover a mine-clearing op... 

...We're moving into the outskirts of Yokaichi now, southeast of the
main clash zone now nudging Ojika Jima. We're running into increasingly
intense actions with Kraks. Their snipers and foot patrols seem to be
saturating the entire area we're to clear. Every window seems to have
been smashed and the ring walls are crumbling. Before leaving, or dying,
the local miners have done a good job though, the place is dotted with
small Krak tanks, all hulled and well out of action. 

Perched up in this cliff-top perch we have a good view of the main
action in the Arda. Wire netting is rolling out like crazy snakes and
our troops are being forced to wade through the mars grass up to their
chests. The tinder dry grass is ready to seed at present so spot fires
are breaking out with each action. Only the winds from the heavy
bombardment are currently keeping the lot at bay, snuffing out each
patch with the debris and gusts they're kicking up...

...The situation is worsening here as our artillery march has gone quiet
and the Kraks on the west have renewed their push through the township.
We're under constant fire now and it looks like transmissions will be
cut altogether soon. Grenades are rattling against the outer walls of
our position. I can see what must be an entire company of Kraks flooding
up the main parade. They're cracking poly-armour like eggshell. Even
with the pig snout my stomach is turning with the acrid smells, though
the sickly sweet of burning flesh is much worse.

The huds are showing ghostly marks moving below, the green outlines mean
they are ours thankfully. We're descending into the main sub-t-system
now. Hard to imagine an entire war was fought in tunnels like these a
hundred years back. Ghosts above us now, red and pulsing outlines, a
platoon of Kraks. They've swept through the area we just left, levelled
all the buildings, cracked the domes. More reds, this time veh----- ---
art---y strike collapsing t-- ----- ------ -udcoms intermit-e-t...

...Sorry about that break, bit more sudden than I would've liked, but
conditions are extreme. The fighting is raging behind us. The entire
mining centre of Yokaichi has been overrun. Great swaths have been
levelled and there are unconfirmed reports of glowballs being used.
Guess the Kraks don't know about the Martian Anti-BCN-WMD treaty. Seems
ironic we should get this news as we settle down in the store shed of a
terraformer's PFC factory, the township's nuke stakes just over the
rise. We spent ages making the place glow to keep it warm so we could
scratch out a living here and now aliens are using them to smack us out

The squad tech Stephenson hails from south of here, outside of Vogel.
Family has been in core terraforming for generations. She reckons word
is elsewhere on Mars the reactors and PFC flumes are in full production,
trying to counteract the effects of the shelling of the Margiterif. Says
it's uncertain if they can fully neutralize the cooling effects of the
kinetic stikes. Decades of terraforming could've been undone in the last
few days, the whole planet maybe heading for the deep freeze. Sitting
here, sweating in polyclad, puffing into a pig snout, flinching with a
sound like antique freight cars roaring overhead, it feels anything but
cold right now. Steph says wait until the thermsticks run low and the
polyclad hasn't seen sun for a recharge in a week. Then I'll know

...A hudsup hush as swept through the troops here. Word's comes down
that we are to move again, the Japanese and Swabians have linked up with
us and we're going to push back down through Arda. I have been informed
it is likely all comms will be down from here, they're even putting
therm pant on their fingers so hand signals won't be missed. This is all
very surreal....

This was a delayed televid from the counterattack in the Margaritifer
Sector. We again apologise for the lack of continuous live coverage in
this conflict, but jamming and operational security is making such
immediacy impossible and we are grateful for your understanding in these
trying times. We will post further reports as they become available.

Prev: Re: [FH] Breaking News - KraVak attacks in Sol System Next: RE: [FH] Breaking News - KraVak attacks in Sol System