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Author Topic: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread  (Read 2857 times)


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Re: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2020, 09:19:11 am »

This is unpolished as hell since I did it last minute, but whatevs.

Avon stepped in the door, and was met with the usual joyful greeting. Harlin dashing over to latch onto his leg, and driving a toy army truck up his leg. "VRRRRNN! BANG! Bang! B-b-b-b-b-b-baaam! They got the Ini! He's full of holes!" The boy took half a second to breath, still navigating the toy over his father's shins. "I got a truck, dad! Real metal!"

"Splendid! I can see--" Avon's exclamation was cut off by the blindside tackle of his daughter. He stumbled sideways, tripping in his attempts to keep from accidentally hitting Harlin. But he soon found his balance, lifting the boisterous girl up into the air. "How's my little Aishi doing? You're growing so quickly!" Aishi giggled as she was lifted higher and higher, until she could touch the ceiling. Carefully setting her down, Avon began working to extract his leg from his son's grasp. This took some time. He eventually managed to escape, and hopping lightly away from his son's next attempts to ensnare him, he made his way over to his wife. She leaned in to give him a kiss, and a quick hug, before pulling away.

"Dinner is just about ready, Aishi, come help me get this on the table, while your father gets changed!" Kala called out.

Soon the four were seated, enjoying a somewhat bland meal. The rations were not the easiest to combine into something particularly exciting. It had been about three months now, and while there'd been some complaining both from Harlin and the normally stoic Aishi, everyone seemed to have accepted the state of affairs by this point.

As they ate, Avon commented about his work at the clinic. "Busy day today. Got in early, and you know what Nik told me? Apparently our janitor was asleep this morning, and the door was unlocked! Apparently the damn fool had gone out for a smoke, came back in, and decided to take a nap without locking it! Three hours wasted, taking stock of the inventory to see if anyone broke in. Can't have the morphine going missing these days. Not that I think the cleaner would do it, he's the nice sort, just a little slow."

"Oh, the one with the glasses, and the really stiff hair?" Kala asked cautiously. They'd been in to the clinic just recently.

"Yes, that's the one, Manit. About the only job he can do. But really! Just smoke in the clinic a little if you have to. I'd much rather someone wheeze a little than invite someone to steal half our medication stores! And we're running low as well." The doctor rubbed his neck, frustration apparent.

"Need a new shipment, ahh, next week I think, else we're going to be fresh out of sulfa, two weeks on the morphine. At least we'll always have good ol' penicillin." Avon took a sip of water, and Kala took a moment to interject.

"How is Eren doing? Has the fever gone down, her daughter was telling me over by the drop-off that she might be on the mend. . ."

"Ah, uh-huh. Seems like she's gonna make a full recovery, just some rest really now. The antibiotics fixed her up nice. Real good magic bullet. . . We had some guys from the front come in today. Discharged, in stable condition, they got lit up in one of the landings by the Inis. The captain or whatever said he wanted the field doctor for the more critical cases. I'd hate to see what those are, more than a few amputations. One of the guys, I could see right through his leg, big cavity right here," Avon gestured down at his leg, missing his wife's pointed glance.

"Their bullets do a lotta shock to everything around, and it's not pretty, lotta singed muscle that'd take a long time to heal. But it's not the muscle that's the problem, it's the bone, because it shatters way out from the hit and," Avon noticed his wife's frown now, but kept going without really processing it, "well the fragments really slice up the inside of your leg. Can't heal a femur that's in three hundred--Ow! Oh." It took Kala kicking him under the table for him to get the idea. Harlin was distracted, moving his truck around the table, and Aishi seemed to have been staring out the window. Looked like they hadn't been listening to work talk, thank god. "Anyway, busy time." Avon mumbled contritely.

Kala let out a huff, before turning to Aishi, and prompting, "Do you want to show your father. . ." And so the conversation turned to other, more palatable subjects.

A few hours later, the children had been put to bed, and Avon and Kala had returned to the kitchen table. Kala was speaking, quietly for fear of waking the children, ". . .and in the letter Sati told me they're thinking of having another child soon. I'm so happy for them. They do make such a cute family, so watch out, you may be seeing them again at the clinic. . ." Somehow, while Avon knew everything his wife said to be true, there was something strained in the statement. Her trailing off seemed more evidence to this effect. Avon struggled, should he respond now, and keep the conversation going, or let the silence build? And in his struggle, he let the silence build, until it was briefly pushed back by Kala.

". . . I want to leave." She stated in a small uncertain voice.

Avon frowned quizzically. "Huh?"

"I want to go back. Home. To Embral." Kala stared into Avon's eyes, waiting for his reaction. That reaction was a mildly annoyed, "Why?"

"I'm worried about them. Aishi and Harlin. Every few days they're seeing one of their friends being told that a father isn't coming home, or coming home mutilated. It's not right for a child growing up, to have their friends slowly orphaned! A-And what if they call you up for service? How would I-how would Aishi and Harlin deal with that? And--"

"They won't call me up, they need a civilian doctor back here. The colonel's assured me--"

"I don't give a damn what the colonel assured you! They're at war, if they lose a doctor at the front, and they can't find any more, they're gonna come for you next, I-I just know it!"

"Look, Kala. Colonel Tafti is good for his word, and we've gone over this before. We'll have lost already if things get that bad, and he wouldn't order anyone out for a lost cause. I'm not going to be ordered to the front, so don't worry about it." His wife let out an exasperated sigh.

"I knew it was going to be like this. . . I know you won't be forced out there, but still! Why do my children need to watch all their friends lose their families around them!?"

"Would you take those other children's friends away from them after they've lost family?" Avon questioned.

"YES!" Kala clasped her hand over her mouth at her outburst, taking a moment of silence to listen if the children had stirred from their sleep in the other room. "It's not Aishi's or Harlin's responsibilities to have to be the ones to console kids who's parents are gone, they're, they're kids, this is the time when they should be out having fun and playing, living life to it's fullest without this shadow of war and boom of cannons over their head. I won't sacrifice their childhood to-to--It'd be different if it were you and me. We could be here and I'd help those other poor children as much as I could. But, I don't want our kids to be forced to. . ."

Avon shook his head. "We'd be poor again if we went back, and what kind of childhood would that be for them? They'd be living out these years with the spectre of poverty. No, here I can support us. I'm not letting that go. We chose this! You and me, we decided to do this, and now you just want to give it all up and go back?"

Kala said, clearly torn, "No. . .But, living poor wasn't too bad. You've got more work, but what does it mean? The house is nothing more than we had back there, and what with the rations, it's not much more than we had back there. And, and we chose this when we weren't at war! None of the reasons we came here are working, and, well at least things were safe back in Embral."

"The war won't last forever. In fact, I'll bet it'll be over before a year passes! The colonel told me when he stopped by, that we've had some major advances recently, and it's only a matter of time. They can't combat our submarines, and they say that's gonna be the key right there to crushing them. The Inis just got lucky a few times is all." Kala's expression indicated she was clearly skeptical.

"And I'm helping here! There's so many people in need of help, and if I went back to Embral, what would I be doing? Making a pittance treating warts and bunions. These people are dying here, and they need help, and I can give them that, all while providing for you and the children. I can't abandon our soldiers who are out there laying down their lives to combat those tyrants!"

"And while you do that, I sew shrouds for the next set, many of whom you'll never get a chance to treat." Kala spat out. "Aishi does too, and she probably realizes every time we get to patching a uniform with a big frayed hole in the torso, that that's someone who's died not that far from here."

Avon slumped a little in his chair. "You know, they support me, Harlin and Aishi. They're, they're so much happier to see me these days, and I think they understand the good I'm doing here."

"They're happy to see you because they're scared! Scared that one day you're not gonna come home like their friends' parents. I think we should go back." Kala stated with certainty.

Avon stared back at her, confusion and fury visible in his expression, but absent when he answered. ". . .I don't. And I'm sorry that I don't. But I don't want to go back. . .Let's, sleep on it, see what the next few weeks bring, okay?" Kala nodded disappointedly. Soon the lights were switched out, and silence dominated the house, broken only by Aishi turning in her bed trying to get the fragmented sentences she'd heard out of her head.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2020, 03:33:17 pm by Strider03 »
Within that world, she was God. But here, outside of it, her name was Yoake o-Shiri. That was unimportant. She was a Godslayer. That too was unimportant.
But what was important, was that she had a motherfucking boat.
And by God, was she going to use it.

Man of Paper

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Re: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2020, 09:26:33 am »

This one was tough, and I had to push Embral to post their final submission. Ultimately though I've decided that the winner of the contest

Nalani Fucking Hates Harren by Powder Miner

Untitled by Strider03

It's the best window into civilian life offered in my opinion (which is the one that matters :p). Fortunate for Embral that strider was online for my five minute warning, because Powder was damn close to taking it with a post that appealed greatly to the target audience. I fucking hated being rushed as a mechanic at a bowling alley, and Nalani Fucking Hates Harren caressed that part of me so gently.

So congrats to Strider for winning an Espionage Credit for Embral! This will be reflected in your Credits Spoiler once the turn is posted.
"I cross dress whenever I masturbate, thus preventing it from being gay." - evictedSaint on Discord at 9:42 P.M. Eastern U.S. on December 29th, 2018

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Re: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread
« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2020, 10:08:42 pm »

Hi, guys. Announcement here. All my games will be on temporary hiatus. Most of you are probably aware of that fad "global pandemic" that's taking the world by storm. While my home city, Philadelphia, isn't as hard-hit as other places like New York or New Jersey (both of which neighbor my state, with people from NYC fleeing down I-95 to get medical treatment here and New Jersey being a five minute drive away), I've been keeping track of the virus' progression. With that, as well as the window into the medical industry provided by my wife, a grim picture of Philly's future is being painted. Of the large cities in the US we are one of the poorest. This has had a two-fold effect - people aren't taking proper measures seriously, and, with a diminished police force responding to fewer calls in a timely fashion, people see opportunity for more crime. We always shit on NYC but at least when people started dropping dead their crime rates dropped too.

Shootings are getting out of hand. Robbery, mugging, and burglary are happening in broad daylight. The plague of the motorcycle and atv hoards has exploded (which doesn't seem like it's such a terrible thing until you find out they have no regard for anyone or any rules of the road and they're a half-step away from a gang Mad Max needs to off to get back his car).

So needless to say, while I am staying safe and calm as best as I can, it's been hard to find the willpower to forcefully and willfully ignore the real world and focus on my own creations. Thankfully I can game myself to blissful ignorance, but it seems my brain cannot overcome my brain.

Either way, props to those who are able to keep on in these times, regardless of how different our experiences are. I'll still be participating, since it gives me a good distraction (and interaction with what I'm pretty sure are mostly humans and not AI and bots meant to observe me), but I won't be updating my own until either my mental state adjusts to something compatible with writing for hours or the state of the world adjusts to better facilitate people not getting the 'Rona. I figured this'd be appreciated more than just not updating and being poked and prodded by impatient nerds.

Stay safe and stay healthy you fuckin' scrubs. And take measures to prevent the spread before it fucking spreads, unlike this potato of a federal government the U.S. has.
"I cross dress whenever I masturbate, thus preventing it from being gay." - evictedSaint on Discord at 9:42 P.M. Eastern U.S. on December 29th, 2018


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Re: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2020, 08:44:07 am »

Oh god the ATV gangs down broad, of course they'd be even more active right now.
Within that world, she was God. But here, outside of it, her name was Yoake o-Shiri. That was unimportant. She was a Godslayer. That too was unimportant.
But what was important, was that she had a motherfucking boat.
And by God, was she going to use it.

Powder Miner

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Re: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread
« Reply #34 on: June 16, 2020, 10:39:27 pm »

the shades I used painting this are not completely accurate (I envision the Marine Fellowship color as actually more of a seafoam green), and obviously our landers arent just a fucking box, BUT
Quote from: Interview with Sergeant Ekewaka Iokua, coxswain of the lander Vengeance
To those of you not familiar with my work, I'm Fakatete Vi, one of only five Journalist's Fellowship members on the Harren Expedition. As you can imagine, my work is set out for me. I've made it my personal mission, though, to get as much information about what it's like out in the war to everyone waiting in the settlement, in the outposts, and beyond. Today, I spoke to several soldiers returning from the recent battles in the muddy plains on the southern part of the continent. Many soldiers spoke of a bloody retreat after an unfortunately failed offensive, but I also heard emphasis placed by a few, especially members of the Marine Fellowship, on how the presence of one Lieutenant Kai Leilani increased morale and helped the retreat go off much more successfully than it could have.

I didn't manage to find Lieutenant Leilani herself, unfortunately -- by the sounds of it, she's already off speaking with the leaders of the military Fellowships about whatever operations they have planned next. However, in my searching for her, I did manage to locate a soldier very close to her -- Sergeant Ekewaka Iokua, a member of her platoon in the 1st Marine Fellowship Regiment, and the coxswain of the landing craft that brought them into battle. I found him in a dock where many of these Makuahine Landing Craft were undergoing repairs and found that his had been given a name (Vengeance) and its very own Tale of Color -- obviously, something this striking caught my eye, and I approached him. We talked for a little while, where we introduced ourselves and where he explained a little about what his position was, and then I stopped him and began a proper interview about his landing craft, and about Lieutenant Leilani. I've transcribed it:

FAKATETE: Right! So, for my readers' sake, can I get you to introduce yourself again?

EKEWAKA: Of course. I'm Sergeant Ekewaka Iokua, of the 1st Marine Fellowship Regiment -- I was part of the spearhead of an amphibious offensive we went through last season, and I'm a skipper for a platoon led by Lieutenant Leilani, with my landing craft Vengeance.

FAKATETE: The landing craft is what brought me over to meet you, so I wanted to talk about that first. How about you tell me what inspired you to name and paint it like that?

EKEWAKA: Well... that amphibious offensive wasn't victorious. They drove us back out, and it was... (Ekewaka exhales heavily and then pauses for a moment.) Well, it wasn't good. Those mudflats have been vicious for us... every step forwards has been after a bloody step back. I wanted to make a point, you know? That battle was bad, but it wasn't so bad that we're not coming back. We'll be back and this time we're not gonna be using. So, you know, a lot of that is pretty obvious.

FAKATETE: A lot of it is, huh? I'm detecting that you want to get a little more specific here -- go ahead.

EKEWAKA: Aha, thank you. Well, first I actually have to mention that I'm not the one who did all the painting. My wife Anaukihesina is Painters' Fellowship, and though we worked on it together and I had many of the ideas, Anaukihesina is the one who did the lion's share of the painting. I'd get in trouble with her if I didn't mention that. (Ekewaka laughs.) But, uh, yeah. I'm sure everyone recognizes the Army Fellowship's green and the Naval Fellowship's blue, where we dotted them into the battles, but I think not everyone actually recognizes that lighter green. That's the color of the Marine Fellowship, there. You know, we just got put together this last year, and I wanted to make sure anyone who happened to see the lander knew that we were going to be back on the front and fighting like all get-out. I didn't exclude the Army or Navy, since from what I hear they were really getting it too, but I did want to put us prominently. We're the ones who jump from the sea into blood and fire, and we're going to do it again... it's an identity that I feel I can ascribe to people like Lieutenant Leilani.

FAKATETE: We'll get to that in a moment, actually, but I've got one more question about the Tale of Color. What does the white represent? The Embralish, I'm guessing?

EKEWAKA: That's right. It took me a little while to decide on what I was going to do for them. Their literal uniform colors weren't going to work, since green and brown just run up against the Army and Woodworker's Fellowships, which Anaukihesina made plenty sure to emphasize. So I thought... well, they don't have the Fellowships and the colors we have, right? They don't get to have that special piece of identity we do -- I have the Marine green, which I take pride in, but they don't have anything. So I thought... hey, maybe we can make them some sort of colorless? Grey didn't work, because we didn't want to associate the Embralish with the Mechanics' Fellowship or the Refocyte-smiths' Fellowship --even if I really. really wish they'd made us some artillery for that battle-- and black didn't work because of the United Armed Fellowship back in the homeland... which... I would rather not get into now, if you don't mind. So, white it was.

FAKATETE: Oh, that's quite thorough, then. I think that settles my questions about the Tale of Color, then. So, you mentioned that Lieutenant Kai Leilani was part of what is driving your identity with the Marine Fellowship? Mind explaining what you mean?

EKEWAKA: She sure is, yeah. And, well, let me put it this way... Kai's a terrible shot.


(Here, Ekewaka laughs.)
EKEWAKA: Yeah, she's gonna kill me for saying this like this, and I'll probably deserve it, to be honest, but she's really not some expert marksman or something. I've seen her miss a lot of fire. I'm actually better, even though I'm only even out there on land when they decide they want us to stick with the platoons. But, uh, it's not actually that funny. See, Kai was there in those very first battles at the Mudflats, when we first ran into that awful gas. And she got hit with some of it. She survived, and she didn't go blind, but... it took a toll, you know? And Kai didn't forget it. There's... this fire, in her, I guess. She wants revenge, and it's more than clear by now that she isn't going to back down, or slow down and stop, no matter what kinds of... horrible situations the Embralish place us in. She's brave beyond anything else I've ever seen. You know what else is real important to understanding why she helped build what it is to be Marine Fellowship for me, though?

FAKATETE: Er, what would that be?

EKEWAKA: I'm a deeply lazy person by heart. (Ekewaka laughs again.)

(Note: I tried to speak again here, but Ekewaka stopped me by grinning and holding up a finger. I know I'm editorializing here, which as always I will strive not to make a habit of, but there was a certain laid-back poise he had that I found I couldn't interrupt.)

EKEWAKA: I was born into the Naval Fellowship -- long line of navy folks, so we were doing pretty well and I never really felt the need to do much beyond go with the flow. That went okay, and I always kind of just went with whatever came up. I got into the expedition since the Naval Fellowship wanted to send members of senior families out, including me and my brothers, and I adjusted alright, and then they were looking for people for the new Marine Fellowship, and they wanted people good with small boats. I'm good with small boats, so they asked me to come aboard, and I said... sure, alright. And I thought I'd adjusted to that well, too. But without Kai, I don't know if I would have made it out of there.

FAKATETE: If it isn't too much trouble, do you mind telling me a little more about it?

EKEWAKA: It's fine. Ah... so... I was in some of the early naval combat with the Naval Fellowship, and I was piloting one of those garbage landers they gave us in that first landing, and it was pretty brutal in both cases. It's not like I haven't seen heavy combat before. But this was the first time I'd actually been out there on foot, since there's not as many of us in the Marine Fellowship -- they didn't want to leave a bunch of people idling in one spot, so they had us skippers pretty closely involved with rapid transport along the shore and with following up on foot when needed. Pushing through the mud like that, with explosives and artillery blasting every which way as we struggled to kick through the muck and as the tanks sunk... I mean, actually fighting for every step like that... it was new, and it was hard. I might have just defaulted back to that "go with the flow" approach if not for Kai, floundered, and got left behind. Maybe would have died. That's one of the things that's really special about her.

FAKATETE: Sorry, what is?

EKEWAKA: It didn't matter if she was getting sprayed with dirt from a blast, if she was as miserable and sweaty as the rest of us when we set up camp or set down in a bunker for the night, or if we were... well, if we were losing our buddies. Which we did. And we lost... we lost a good few of them. None of it was enough to break her. It's not that she's some sort of super... killing machine, because she's not. But she's unstoppable, and when you're alongside her, losing heart and breaking just... it's not an option. And, like, I don't mean that she's one of those kinds of female officers that really lights you up and puts the fear of the brass into you. I mean, she's firm, and she's definitely going to kill me after reading this interview, but that's not really the point. The point is... well, uh, I guess I could put it like this: when Kai is up there fighting her heart out, and when she's not faltering... it's hard to not follow her. And she really takes us all pretty seriously, too -- she's taken the whole Marine Fellowship identity to heart, and she actually does spend quite a lot of time making sure we're set to keep moving forward, and motivated. With how much care she spends on making sure her unit is up here with her, and with how just tenacious she is... well, I just couldn't help but keep strong. Kai led our platoon further than almost anyone else in that battle, and when the decision was finally made to turn back around, she kept us all moving despite the mud and the blood. She got a lot of us out alive by leading the way she does, more than just me.

(Note: I'm fairly certain that Ekewaka is specifically complaining about Admiral Vaea of the Naval Fellowship with his comment about "those kinds of female officers", as she is notoriously strict.)

FAKATETE: I'm taking a guess here, but that is probably a lot of what influenced you to paint your Tale the way you did, right?

EKEWAKA: Yeah, that's right. With that bond between her and the rest of the platoon, and us between each other... it really made being Marine Fellowship mean something to me. We're the people who go into some of the worst situations, and we're the ones who do it again and again -- and we do it together. And that's what the bright green fist on that Tale represents. We're coming back to knock the Embralish out of here once and for all, and we're going to be back. Us, the Marine Fellowship -- we were forged in this war and we're gonna be on the front lines helping to win it. The Marine Fellowship, me, Kai, and it's that determination and those bonds that are going to see us through. I'm sure of it. The Embralish better hold onto their helmets.

FAKATETE: You really do seem to hold Lieutenant Leilani in high esteem. Do you think she's special this way, or do you think that there are plenty of Marine Fellowship officers this way?

EKEWAKA: Well, I'm probably pretty biased here. (Ekewaka laughs.) But I really do think Kai is something special. I mean, there are a lot of good officers in the Marine Fellowship, and I think the fact that we have a lot of units that feel the way Kai's platoon does is part of what makes the Marine Fellowship special in turn. But I doubt a lot of people are as unwavering and inspiring as Kai is. I expect her to be on pretty much every spearhead from here on out. Ah, man, I suppose I'll probably be there too, except for when they're keeping skippers with their boats around the ships.

FAKATETE: Alright, I think I've really got an excellent window of the Marine Fellowship and of Lieutenant Leilani from your words and your and your wife's work, Ekewaka. Thank you for that. Any parting words?

EKEWAKA: Well, I suppose I'll say this: I really won't be surprised if Kai gets promoted along with some medals -- and I'll gladly keep serving in her unit and being her skipper, to the end of the war, even! ...Well, if she'll allow that after this interview, anyway.

(Ekewaka laughs.)


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Re: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread
« Reply #35 on: June 16, 2020, 10:43:25 pm »

Tremble before the narrative might of Strider, who is not me and to whose work I lay no claim because it's absolutely insane, in length and detail.

Xilmal cursed, glancing over the assorted papers ahead of her. These Initharians and their obsession with pastels, so damn garish. To be certain, the reason for her frustration was not the colors themselves, but the fact that they were incomprehensible to her. Central Command hadn't seen fit to give them even a base level training in the written language, and she was quite certain it was because they did not themselves understand it. She had something, but it was small consolation given her situation. She'd studied the phrasebook of the language, written phonetically. Too much was involved in the colors to include in a phrase book, but she'd be able to say a few words. She wouldn't be able to pass in extended conversation, but with the garnish of pure pain decorating her words and disguising her accent, she might gain some few precious seconds.

The only thing she gained from these indecipherable papers was the layout of the bunker, and that she knew already. The room she was in provided a good view of the entrance, thankfully. An intentional element of the design she suspected, for landing soldiers that made it past the beach. She swept the papers aside, utterly useless unless she wanted to light a fire, and that wasn't going to happen in this cavern of metal and concrete. Steeling herself, and steadying her breath, Xilmal approached the three corpses collapsed in the corner of the room. She kicked the bodies apart, a slow ordeal, kicking a slumped dead person to a new location is no easy task. Once she had a good look at them, she selected the smallest of them, and began unbuttoning his uniform. Her left shoulder twinged, and she tried to keep her movements of her body small and steady. She'd need to be prepared to not pass out when the time came. Some awkward tugging, and the first arm of the soldier was freed. It'd be simple to remove the rest now. She only needed the jacket, and the pants. Enough to give her that extra second. The Embral soldier briefly considered taking the dog tags, but the likelihood that those would help her was slim to none.

The jacket was bloody, with a hole in the side, but luckily, the previous owner had fallen in a way that seemed to have prevented staining except in close proximity to the hole. The silk as well, seemed to prevent the staining somewhat. If Xilmal presented her profile in it properly, she suspected she could pass as uninjured. Well, knee pads, then the pants next. Xilmal cautiously stepped over to the window first, checking to see if she'd been noticed yet. There was movement, but none of it seemed to be approaching her. However, it would not be long before the body she'd left outside was discovered, or someone was expected to head to or from this watch post. She returned to her task. Unstrapping the knee pads was significantly easier than the following issue of removing the pants, but she managed it in time. Next, her clothes needed to come off. Pants were simple, she got them off with little trouble, but. . . after a minute of struggling to get them onto the soldier, she gave up. She didn't have the time to waste on this foolish idea of passing his corpse for the Embral intruder. Xilmal instead shoved him back to the corner where he'd died. Now his pants on her. A bit baggy, but she couldn't ask for more.

Now came the hardest part. Xilmal took her trousers, and with her right arm, balled up a section of them to bite down on. Then, she began moving her shoulders, attempting to finding a way to get her arms out. There was no easy way to do this without moving her left shoulder in some manner. She moaned into the cloth, pushing on her jacket with her wounded shoulder so that she could begin slipping her right arm out. A final burst of force, followed a jagged pain lancing down her shoulder and an accompanying muted scream. Her right arm was free. Shaking, she slipped the jacket carefully down her left arm, and onto the floor. She kicked it to the corner with the stripped corpse, and then the remaining corpses were arduously shoved on top of it, to hide the uniform at first glance to anyone who entered the room.

Now the new coat. A motley pattern of beige, rust, and brown adorned it. The silk made it somewhat gentler to slip onto her left arm, but the contortions necessary to put on a coat made it nearly as painful as the removal of her own uniform. It was only as the tears flowed down her face afterwards that she realized that there was a chance she could have gotten away with just keeping her arm out of the sleeve. But now, with this, she might not be shot on sight if she somehow got out of this. And knee pads on last of course.

Now, there was nothing more to do, but to plan her attack. The disguise would show it's value if there came an opportunity to escape the bunker. But for now, this was her best chance helping her comrades preparing to come ashore.

Xilmal brought the rifle up to the concrete slit, along with her ammunition. She had eleven magazines—three each from the men in this room, and two she'd picked up earlier—ten rounds each. She'd emptied one getting into this room. Now, she needed to begin picking her targets. There were a few: machine gun nests about 70 meters off from her in both directions, they seemed about evenly spaced beyond that. Each seemed to have three or four occupants, and there were a number of soldiers swarming up and down to different positions, with a motorcycle passing by occasionally, presumably messengers. Beyond the nearest east nest was a parked tank of some form, behind a sloped barricade leading up to its turret. Damn, she'd not be able to shoot through that. She'd need to bait out the occupants, if she could.

She took careful aim at one of the passing motorcycles. This would be the first target. Interrupt communications, and attract attention all in one go. But what would be the lead? She had only fired in close proximity with these weapons thus far, and their performance diverged significantly from what she was used to. The soldier lined up the iron-sights as she normally would for a low torso shot, knowing that she just had to give it a go. A gentle pull on the trigger, and the click of the round firing. Wait, if they were silent, that meant. . . they weren't supersonic. Not enough velocity, and the round would drop far more than she was used to. Shit. The man on the motorcycle continued forward, unharmed, seeming to notice nothing. And she hadn't even seen where the bullet landed, to adjust her aim.

Yet, within a second, he began to slow, and then came to a stop. Even from this distance, it was clear that the man was confused. That confusion became clear as he stared at his tire. She'd hit the tire, goddamn that was a lot of drop. Not optimal, but. . . that meant she knew the lead, and the drop. She aimed again, higher, iron-sights settling just a little above his head, and pulled the trigger. The man slumped, and fell over. One down, 108 rounds left. A shout rang out from the machine gun nest nearest him, and a soldier ran out, heading over to the courier. He was the next victim, 107. Xilmal was certain that no others would venture out to meet the same fate. Next, the machine gun itself. Three rounds into that and it was put out of working order. If they opened fire on her with that one, she'd be in some real shit, given it's proximity to her.

These nests, while well defended from the front, were not designed to deal with an attack from her vantage point. The occupants of the first nest died quickly under her fire, but the other on the opposite side, seemed to have noticed the commotion as well. They, given more time to react, acted. A colored flare shot out of the nest, yellow to orange smoke trailing into the sky, as she took aim for her next shot. It took 9 shots to take out the soldiers in the nest, for they could manage to hide most of their torso in that position, and she had a very small target to hit. Good practice for the aiming though. Now for the next nest, much further away. The flare had gone up, and they'd know she was here. A burst of machine gun fire from that nest pinged off the outer wall. Good, good, she'd gotten some attention. Also very bad. Xilmal poked her rifle over the edge, and fired the rest of her magazine out in a burst. Had she hit anything? She wasn't sure. Eight magazines left, and as she slammed in a new mag, and yet more of the spitting death from the machine gun. They'd be trying to approach the entrance under that cover. At a break in the machine gun fire, she popped out, took a shot at the approaching group of soldiers, before ducking back down, as bullets flew towards the slit again. Miss, both her shots and the machine gun's bullets. She hadn't had time to aim properly, but that was likely to be the case for the rest of her time here. Another peek, another shot, and another burst of refocyte from the machine gun. She smiled, got one. 78 rounds remaining. This pattern continued, the machine gun fire slowly becoming more concentrated on the slit, as they settled on the aim. A bullet grazed her ear, tearing into it, and with each burst, shards of shattered concrete spalled from the inside of the bunker. Some were minor, losing their speed before harmlessly bouncing off her uniform, others with more velocity tore small gouges into her jacket and arm.

Down to 54, she'd gotten the group of soldiers approaching the bunker entrance. Now she'd need the nest. Deep breaths, she needed to take out the actual machine gun, at 210 meters, without much experience with this weapon at that range. Doable. The low recoil meant that she'd be able to get her shots off in quick succession. . . she just had to go for it. She waited a moment, trying to time it to a lull in the bursts of fire. She popped up and emptied the magazine into the nest. Xilmal was rewarded by a distant set of pings, distinctly louder and sharper than the click of the machine gun firing. Good. And yet, bullets continued to impact the bunker. A nest farther down? The rifles of the soldiers in that nest which she had just crippled? Or. . .Xilmal popped her head up for a quick glance, and was greeted by the sight of a tank turret ponderously turning to face her barrel aligning it's maw directly towards her face.

Shit, shit. Would they shoot the bunker? Xilmal staggered to the back of the room, away from the slit, placing herself as far as possible from the slit where the tank would presumably target. But, after a full minute and a half of waiting, nothing had happened. No concussive thud, no decrease in the sporadic machine gun fire. Perhaps they held out hope to take it back. The tank was equipped with two machine guns, she recalled. Those would be a mess to deal with. Ducking, she tentatively approached the table that had held the useless papers and plans, and tugged on it. Not light, but she might be able to prop it over. She pulled, attempting to lift it up longways, but found herself unable with a single arm. With a sigh, she crawled underneath, and stood, lifting it with her back, to cover the part of the slit looking out at the tank. As soon as the table was up, a burst from the twin machine guns peppered the concrete and splintered the table. But not her. And with the light switched off in the room, and the dawn's glow outside, Xilmal hoped that the table would prevent them from knowing when she popped up to take fire at the entrance to the bunker.

Not cover, but concealment. Either they'd have to waste all their ammunition blowing through the table, or they'd have to resort to sporadically firing and hoping that that was when she poked up. Safer than them firing in reaction to her appearance at least. Wait a few seconds, then. . .she popped up again, and saw a group of a soldiers ducking and sprinting from one covered location to the next in a meandering route towards the bunker entrance. When she opened fire, they responded in kind, but it seemed they'd been relying on the tank's cover fire, and they were easily picked off before they managed to hit her. She ducked down again away from the slit, breathing heavily.

They'd be sending more, probably, and she had. . .four full magazines left, and the rounds in her current mag. She could go silent for a bit, and make them think she was out, or had been hit by the soldiers approaching? That was probably the best—her thoughts were interrupted by an explosion of shards of concrete, the crash deafening after so much muted clicking and pinging. A burst of dust, wood splinters, and concrete shrapnel exploded around her, and flung her against the wall, winding her. The rifle flew from her hand, clattering to the ground. Concrete shards had embedded themselves in her wounded arm, and there was a red cloud spreading over her vision, pain in her left eye. Something had hit her eye. Gasping, she reached up towards her eye with her right hand, and was met by a wooden splinter sticking about an inch out. She flinched back from touching it. Oh god, oh god, the tank had fired, that was all it could be. Why, why hadn't they done it earlier, weren't they sending more soldiers in to take this place back!?

In her shocked state, it took Xilmal few moments to settle on an answer. They'd seen no option when she erected the table up to block their view. She'd forced their hand, and they didn't believe they could protect their approaching troops. They were right. And so they'd decided that they would suffer damage the bunker, if only they could take either her, or at least her table out. It had worked. Shit, this ruined everything, she thought, wiping blood and tears away from her mouth.

She reached up to her eye again. There was no saving it now, and given the imminence of her demise, Xilmal chose a course of action. She gritted her teeth, placed two fingers on the wooden shard, and yanked it free. She need to be able to blink, and to be able to cover the wound to stop the bleeding. If anything happened and that blood got to her other eye, well one hand was useless and the other would be on a gun. She needed to see. Two pieces of fabric she ripped from the deceased's uniforms, both to stifle and to tie off the wound. She had more bullets, she needed to be able to use them. The time to make this makeshift bandage was significant, all the more because of her fumbled attempts to tie it with a single hand, and Xilmal began to hear shouts outside. A new group, approaching the entrance? This guess was proven wrong when a gun poked through the slit, and a fired a burst in wildly. Fate smiled upon her insomuch as this it could in this situation, and the shots missed. Seated, Xilmal grabbed for her rifle, and pulled it up towards the window with an effort, perching the barrel on her knees. She held her fire though, until a female soldier peaked through the slit, to check whether the silence meant that Xilmal had been killed. The negation of this fact traveled through the unwise soldier's brain at high velocity, exiting with a splattering of red.

More assorted shouts, and two more guns poked in through the slit. Xilmal took her shots at the guns, the refocyte rounds punching into the workings of each, rendering one of them silent after a few shots. The other gun, she must have missed the mechanisms. The Initharian managed empty his magazine blindly into the bunker, and a bullet struck Xilmal in the calf. So much for walking. Not that she'd had any hope of that anymore. Damn, she'd really been hoping to use this uniform. What was all that pain with changing for if she was going to end up corned like a fox in its hole here? Xilmal had had such high hopes for that, escaping the bunker after the local gun nests had been cleared, or tricking them into thinking she was a dead Initharian in here, and that the culprit had escaped. Well, that had always been unlikely, she thought, reprimanding herself for the foolishness of thinking it was even possible.

But, now for the last gambit she had. She dragged her self over to the pile of corpses with her good leg and arm, and began to shove herself underneath. Slow painful work. More shouting outside. She understood a fraction, something something got her? How would they know if they'd gotten her? She took a deep breath, and tried to slow her inhalation and shivering. Two minutes passed, and then voices from beyond the reinforced door leading into her room. They were in the bunker, and they'd break through soon.

A grunt from outside, and a dull thud. They were kicking or throwing themselves against the door. It'd be a little while yet. From her prone position, Xilmal grabbed another rifle from her pile of victims, and readied it, set on the floor next to her. She might not get another chance to reload, already difficult with a single hand. A shame that she'd left the last magazine by the destroyed slit. She wouldn't be able to get up and get it, what a waste.

Another five minutes, and there came a colossal crash at the door. Some kind of ram, she didn't know how they were breaching, but it was a certainty that they were. The frame shook and let out a puff of dust, but it and it's door held strong. It would be a moment yet. Xilmal steadied the rifle in it's resting position on the torso of one of the bodies. Another blast, and a crack appeared in the frame, the door bowing slightly. One final burst, and the door swung violently open. In that fraction of a second, she unloaded the rifle's magazine. Ten shots, had she gotten anyone? She didn't know, she couldn't really see through the dust, blood, and shadows of the hallway. The door had opened violently enough that it slammed into the wall next to it, and rebounded almost back to it's closed position. What a nice door, protecting her like that, Xilmal thought dizzily. In that brief moments respite, she grabbed the other gun. The door was pushed open again, and once more she opened fire, emptying the magazine.

Nothing left for her, and the shouts in the corridor continued. She hadn't gotten them all. Some unseen Initharian pulled the door close as cover, pushed their rifle around it, and fired wildly in. Bullets pinged around the bunker, and Xilmal knew this was the end. No more bullets, no more tricks, and a full unused magazine sitting out of reach next to the slit. What a fucking waste.

She couldn't stand, and her backup plan to use her scarce knowledge of the local language to pretend to be a wounded Initharian, well no chance of that. They would have to know that it was her when they came in, and they wouldn't come in before filling this tomb of hers with refocyte. Nothing left to do, but. . . drift into sleep. She'd done what she could. The defeated Embral soldier tugged one of the corpses closer over her, warm. She was closed her good eye, cruor cracking on her makeshift bandage around her other eye. She could rest now. As her consciousness dimmed, a deafening boom sounded, shaking her very skull. She did not see what had occurred, and immediately passed into unconsciousness.

When her eye blinked open, Xilmal's first feeling was surprise. This wasn't supposed to happen, that had been her end. She'd made her final stand. Why could she still see, and more specifically, see the cold smokey sky, and the grey crumbling concrete of the bunker? A thud shook her, not sound, but shock wave. And with that, she knew. The bombardment had begun, and the soldiers were landing. She let out a joyous sob, muted in her ringing ears, and smiled. They might not find her, they probably wouldn't. But, it had begun, and she'd done her part. The dull patternless booms of the shore bombardment, and the foothold they signified made the lullaby that once more dragged her consciousness away. It'd begun, and they would take the beach.
We shall make the highest quality of quality quantities of soldiers with quantities of quality.

Man of Paper

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Re: Mechanized Warfare: An Arms Race/Core Thread
« Reply #36 on: June 17, 2020, 01:17:37 am »

After much deliberation, I have awarded both teams the research credit as promised at the start of the contest.

However, due to the need to select a winner, the Espionage Credit goes to

Embal for that lore piece holy shit. Ngl it was pretty cool to see some writing like that from someone else based on something I built with my brain.

And hey, guess what a contest announcement means...
"I cross dress whenever I masturbate, thus preventing it from being gay." - evictedSaint on Discord at 9:42 P.M. Eastern U.S. on December 29th, 2018
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