That's Karl on the left. Eternity on the right.
I love Melissa, but don't tell her. It's a secret if she can find this. Shhhhh....
Diary of a Marauder, Sheol Rescue Mission: Sortie #5B
For completeness of my Memoirs, I need to tell you about what happened on Sheol. There wasn’t nearly as much ‘action’ as the rest of my missions to date. And some, reading this, would think it was boring. But, it wasn’t. It was actually very intense, although perhaps anti-climatic for Command. Imagine playing cat and mouse. You are the mouse. And the cat is invisible. I was never so scared in my entire life.
Anarchy was set back down on Sheol to rescue the Knights, who were shot to hell. They had a number of KIA and 12 WIA. They created a defensive perimeter in some Barren Land surrounded by a mountainous ridge. This Gambit turned out to be the perfect defensive position. (Although I’m sure this scenario would have panned out much differently if the Bug Complex was underneath us, instead of about 15 miles to the NE). You see, Bugs have a hard time moving over this terrain and only their Heavy Weapon Platforms can make any speed at all (and even they are very slow)
Anarchy, my squad, was outfitted with High Explosive Missile Launchers and dropped into the middle of the Barrens. We quickly took note of the remaining members of the Knights. They had three Marauders with Listening Devices (LDs), three engineers with a few High Explosives and a few drop charges and Heavy Nerve Gas (HNG) canisters.
We began by dropping our 3 LDs along the northern edge of the Barrens. The Centre and Eastern LDs discovered tunnels 1 mile and 4 miles away, respectively. The western LD detected nothing and it was determined that our ‘gathering’ would be in the NW barrens where there were no nearby tunnels. Our Marauders began moving to gather the WIAs. We planned for 1-man carries, as they are faster, but with the downside of being quite risky for the one being carried.
One Breach appeared in the far SW, but no bug appeared. Was it some sort of decoy? We dropped some HNG down the hole to be safe while 2 engineers and the two LDs relocated in a 1 mile circle around the northern tunnel.
We kept monitoring the NW, with the marauder staying on the LD. Good thing too, because he detected some tunneling 4 miles away. He commanded to stay on his LD.
In the north we located a tunnel and two engineers advanced to it. Meanwhile, we began moving our wounded to the NW, away from both the breach and the known tunnel.
The digging continued and got a bit closer. The Bugs were three miles away now. They were getting closer. Our engineers laid down 2 satchels of high explosive and we were all pretty much gathered within a 10mile diameter. Good thing Command pre-scanned the sector for radioactivity and was certain there were no nuclear weapons in the Bugs arsenal, or half of our guys could’ve been taken out with one demolition!
More tunneling was detected, still three miles from our NE LD. We dropped two more LDs on our western perimeter and detected more tunnels 3 and 2 miles away. We were able to confirm a north-south safe zone. But it appeared that the Bugs were tunneling to either to the east or west of us. Our engineers primed the high explosives and we dropped HNG on top of the tunnel.
As the bugs were preparing for who knows what, we relocated a couple of our LDs to attempt to triangulate their position. The engineers blew two massive holes in the ground and collapsed the bug tunnel and filled it with HNG. The Recovery Boat beacon landed along our western perimeter.
Still no breaches, but our Listening Devices were going wild! All our Mobile Infantry moved a few miles, ensuring that everyone was within 6 miles of the Landing Beacon. The Recovery Boat Landed! It looked like we would all make it off this damn barren planet!
But, the bugs finally made their move! 3 Breaches appeared, two within 6 miles of the Retrieval Boat. 3 Bug Heavy Weapon (HW) appeared along with 4 warrior bugs (who came out of the breach practically underneath Johnson. Johnson was lightly damaged by close combat from the 4 warriors. The three HW shot out at carriers of the wounded: The first at Felix The Scout, heavily damaging him. The second at Tsu, lightly damaging his suit, and the third hit me with its beam weapon in the shoulder, heavily damaging my suit and destroying my High Explosive Missile Launcher! All three of the WIA we were carrying were KIA.
Command then put the success of the mission to the forefront. They could either fight back and miss the boat (hoping the second would arrive safely) or load up the boat and let us fend for ourselves. Command chose the former. Over the intercom, I heard McManlo arguing profusely, but he was outranked by the Knight’s Platoon Leader and had to obey. Johnson, Felix, Tsu and myself were stunned and couldn’t get to the boat. We watched as the remaining Knights, and Anarchy boarded the Retrieval Boat and took off into the sky.
What could we do? I had a HW hovering nearby which was too close to fire on me. The other bug HW, instead of risking friendly fire, combined fire with another HW and Tsu was seriously wounded. He wouldn’t make it back. Without my HEML, I had no way to take on the two HWs that stood between us. Johnson continued to fight bravely was stunned again, whereas the third HW heavily damaged Felix’s suit, stunning him again.
I was the only Mobile Infantry, still on Sheol, that was Mobile. With my suit damaged, I couldn’t extend my jump, but I was still fast enough to flee SW before the HW could get a bead on me.
Instead the HW shot Felix. Those Scout suits just can’t stand a prolonged attack of Heavy Beam Weapons and Felix was killed. Well, that was better than being captured. Johnson was stunned again, still fighting for his life against 4 warrior bugs.
The HW began advancing on me, cutting off my northern escape. I began to flee east, making sure to stay out of their 6 mile range. I was praying another HW wouldn’t burst forth out of the ground and fry me. The second Retrieval Beacon fell from the sky and landed 4 miles south of the HWs and 4 miles NW of where I was. I was within range for a final dash. Unfortunately, the HWs were between me and Tsu, and there was no way I could get to him in time to rescue him. My suit was too badly damaged and the distance was too great. Not to mention the two HWs that were between us!
Johnson continued to receive stuns by the assaulting Marauders when the boat landed. It seemed there was no way he would get to the Boat as well. The two HWs took a shot at the Retrieval Boat, but by Zarquon, that Boat has tough armour and it was only lightly scratched. I bounced to the boat as fast as my damaged suit would carry me and it took me back up into the stars. As I was disappearing into the sky, I looked down and saw the Bugs retreat to their breaches. Johnson stood on the surface, staring up into the sky, watching his last hope disappear into the sky. I held my faceplate in my hands and wept bitterly. I escaped hell. But for Johnson, hell was just beginning.
Command called this an overwhelming success. We successfully evacuated 43 MI and Engineers. The bugs managed 4 KIA, and two MI were left alive un-retrieved (Johnson and Tsu).
This mission was pretty lop-sided against the Bugs. It seems that to be successful, they would need to ‘randomly’ pick the correct quadrant to set their complex in. 1 in 4 chance. The Bugs also had a chance to shoot down the first Retrieval Boat, but only had a 1 in 6 chance of succeeding. Movement is so restricted, that in the rough or barren, almost half the possible map, they need to get the tunnels directly under the MI to attack with anything beside just their HWs. So, it seems that this mission should have a fairly high success rate for the MI. I’ve heard that there were a number of other Retrievals on Sheol. Have any of the readers heard any other rumours of MI success, or possible enslavement by the Bugs? As it turns out, this mission was more about ambiance and tension than actual combat action.
Hey, nice review man, its like being there!