Approx. 1500 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
Once Lana had been returned to the exact spot she was picked up, she retrieved her com and tried to call the General, but was answered by one of the Guardsmen at the planetary gun base. “We’ll be over to pick you up.” He hung up before she could respond.
As she waited, she noticed the time; it was apparent that almost three hours had passed in addition to the three hours she spent on the trip, leading her to believe that even Eldar webway travel can have an associated jump-time.
It only took about a minute for an airsled to show up and take her to the base. The sergeant in charge already had the General on the line.
When General Parker greeted her with a smile, she was hoping for some good news. Apparently a lot had happened during the time she was gone and he was somewhat relieved to say, “I just want to tell you the attack on the Hive was a complete success. I know you wanted us to wait, but once the Hive began producing Gargoyle broods--we couldn’t delay. In the first attack, we destroyed the Zoanthropes, the Triovores...even the Exocrine and the Terridan. The same attack also took out any existing broods, whereas a second attack was able to destroy the others before they hatched. The Mycetic Spore Pod and the Capillary Towers have all been destroyed as well. Subsequent attacks have rendered the Hive useless, but we need to....”
His voice trailed off as he looked at LaFong’s expression of exasperation and dismay. He sighed deeply before responding, “you DON’T seem to be very happy about our military success.” He slumped even lower and cussed several times before asking, “what did you learn?” He sighed again. “I’m assuming it’s unsupportive of what I just told you.”
Before Lana could respond, she heard Captain Falconer in the background. “Is that LaFong? Did you tell her the good news?”
On the video screen, the General addressed the Captain and spoke disappointedly. “I think she’s about to give us some bad news--”
“Well, it would’ve been good news if you guys had WAITED!” She spoke angrily, more so than she expected.
Falconer frowned, retorting, “listen, in four more hours they would’ve had at least two Gargoyle broods on the mainland probably spreading Mycetic spores--”
“But, you didn’t know that for sure!” Lana frowned back. “Did the Gargoyles you spot even have weapon-symbiotes?”
“We couldn’t wait for that!” He huffed angrily. “Have you read the reports of what happened on Thanatephoris 2--”
“Yes, I have!”
“Then you know what can happened. This is OUR colony and I have to do what’s best for--”
“STOP IT YOU TWO!” The General’s deep voice brought the argument to an end. “It’s a mute point as to WHAT we could’ve done. It’s already BEEN done. Captain...Captain!” He eventually got Falconers full attention, speaking rationally. “Why don’t we just listen to what LaFong has to say.” He addressed, Lana. “I’m assuming you talked to Ar’sharel and they told you something. Would you please tell us what that was.”
Lana took sometime to gather her thoughts, then began to relay the brief conversation Te’lyn had had with the Tyranids, about the GIFT, explaining it twice, trying not to leave anything out.
The General and Captain Falconer sat silently listening...
Finally, the General responded wisely. “Well...I truly have no idea what the Tyranids could thinking about now, but I don’t think it’s good.” He looked at Lana. “You DID say even Te’lyn thought it was strange for them to think the survey team was some sort of genetic GIFT, to actually eat them to obtain it, right?”
“The survey team was not meant as a GIFT!.” Falconer was still unhappy about the incident. “They TOOK our genetics.” He sighed, sticking firm to his actions. “And the price was the destruction of their Hive.” He addressed the General. “We still need to land troops on that island and make sure we got them all.”
“Look,” the General spoke, strongly suggesting, “I think you should wait until I can get at least one squad of Space Marines over here. I know I can’t stop you from taking your troops to that island, but if you encounter any Ripper swarms, you could find yourself taking way more casualties than you expect. And we didn’t spot those Raveners that attacked your survey team during any of our air attacks; they could still be there hiding underground. We still have plenty of incendiaries so lets just keep bombing them; with Tyranids, there’s no such thing as overkill. I’ll send the Yacht that brought LaFong here to Camp Cheyenne and use it to bring as many Space Marines as it can carry. Until then, we can keep the island contained. Meanwhile, we still need to hunt down those Lictors.”
The airbase for the six Vendette gunships was located on the same island as one of the equator planetary guns, along with two infantry platoons from Phalanx. The General also had his engineers build two Hydra Flak Platforms there, crewed by Thanatos-4 regulars.
At this point, the Thanatos-4 militia was much better equipped and trained than they were the last time the Space Marines were here. Falconeer had hastily built a small fortified port were two of his infantry platoons were ready to invade the Tyranid island, all of them equipped with lasguns and grenade launchers, plus a few plasma guns and flamers, the best troops he had. However, as he looked at them, he had to admit, the General was right. If there were Ripper swarms on the island, there could be many casualties...especially if the Ravener brood was still there hiding. He would wait for the Space Marines.
The same spaceship that had flown Lieutenant LaFong out to the south pole planetary gun and back again, flew Captain Falconeer to the fortified port (now called Moreau Base after the island they were getting ready to invade), then flew Lana to the Mobile Mining Machine, out were they spotted the Lictors. She was accompanied by a squad of what had become known as, Ratling snipers, volunteers that were equipped with their own sniper rifles, trained to act as a group; this squad only had five members, their sergeant a tall woman with long, flowing, dark hair by the name of Darla Zargos. However, out in the field, Lana was set up to be escorted by two men: a CCS (close combat specialist) and a Thanatos-4 naturalist, a tracker.
The problem of trying to locate the Lictors was discussed before leaving for the Mobile Mine: Lictors were expert stealth artists, with chameleon-like scales that were capable of blending into the background of any terrain, with the extended ability to avoid bio-scanners. So the problem was: how to find them?
The first thing Falconer had done before the first air strike was to arm the Mobile Mine with four railgun teams located on top of the vehicle, each team given advanced scanners. After the spaceship had dropped off Lana and her team members, they headed directly to the top of the Mobile Mine, the Ratling snipers using their airsled, Lana and her two escorts using their much smaller one.
The four men in Zargos’ Ratling sniper squad had auto versions of the Barrett sniper rifle; Darla herself had a Tau pulse rifle with a powerful scope and markerlight. Lana’s mercenary CCS (close-combat-specialist) escort was a tall, powerful, man armed with a plasma pistol and an Eviscerator (a large, two-handed, chainsword); he had the rank of officer, but preferred going by the name of, Lank Armstrong; he also had a bionic eye implant, that once fitted with an eyepiece gave him extended, telescopic, scanner abilities. However it was Cocker, their naturalist, they were depending on the most.
Finding the Lictors was going to be based on a simple fact that the they had to survive like any other animal, something they were good at even in the most hostile or barren environment. It would be Cocker’s job to find the trail of depleted wildlife, track the Lictor, then get his team close enough to piss it off. Yes, Lana understood completely: they were to be bait. Once the Lictor showed itself, Zargos’ Ratling snipers would be there in the distance to take it out.
In a short meeting, Lana and the others talked to the head supervisor of the Mobile Mine; there, he told them that one of the Lictors had already been killed, done in by two of the railgun teams, the one they figured was, Lictor Larry. However, that still meant there was at least one more out there, maybe two.