-December 21st, 3246-
"We ain't leaving Ryss."
"You're fucking joking, right?"
Sergeant Ryss responded, even though Moore's strained face made it clear that he wasn't. They had reached Centerpoint easily, and gotten rid of responsibility for the Boarders crew as swiftly as possible, but that still hadn't solved the issue of reaching Fyra proper.
"They don't have any long-distancers, only got a few Drakkens, and a squadron of fighters, they're keeping those for local and it's not like we can fly any of 'em."
"What about another blockade runners? Or resupply ships."
"After that last disaster, we're done. No more resupply missions. From the scattered messages they're getting, it looks like blockade running is going to be out of the question, the Shviri are pulling their cordon too tight."
Ryss pinched the bridge of his nose, none of the commandos had slept in forty-eight hours, and Moore could feel it taking a toll on him. The rest of their squads were sleeping in place, braced up against the wall, only Val was pacing back and forth, restlessly tossing his rifle from hand to hand, occasionally glancing up at the two sergeants.
As one, the commandos snapped awake, some yawning widely, others immediately snapping to attention. Moore himself wanted to keel over and fall asleep, but he wasn't about to declare it openly.
"What's the news sarge?"
Willy inquired as the group began to move back towards their temporary quarters.
"Bad, we're stuck here, we'll do our best to help out with what we can, but Hess wants us planetside, not up here, so keep an eye out for a chance to get off this rock. All of you."
They had been assigned one of the dugouts at fortress "Kursk", an incredibly cramped storage space meant to store munitions. It seemed that the entirety of the garrisons mood was grim, he'd heard constant reports of incoming enemy troops, and seen their transports landing outside of the range of their orbital defense batteries. The actual fortress was a webway of subterranean bunkers and trenches, with small turrets and sheltered firesteps dotting the upper portion of the fortress. Living quarters and all storage facilities were in the center of the fortress, buried deep beneath the moons surface and powered by subterranean generators. For the moment though, it was home for the commandos and all they could do was make the best of it. Moore propped himself up against munition crates and chewed on a ration-bar. Sleep was taking him quickly, he realized dimly.
"Willy, wake me up if anything happens, standard two hour watch cycle. I'm turning in."
Willy merely nodded and stood up, heading towards the hallway connecting the storage annex to the main fortress, but Moore was already fast asleep, curled up in his cloak with his head propped up against the crates.
"Sarge! Sarge! Wake up!"
"Dammit Willy, I'm up! Oh, shit, it's you Kurt, your watch already eh?"
Moore snapped up and lifted his rifle, the rest of his squad was standing up groggily alongside him. Ryss was already awake, trying to stop one of the soldiers rushing past them. A klaxon sounded, hurting Moores head with its deafening howl. He shook himself awake and hastily doused himself with some of the water in his canteen. The bunker shuddered and the lights flickered, instantly causing the commandos to look upward cautiously, waiting to see what else would happen.
"We're under attack sarge, the sheevees are making an attack on the west gate."
"Not our problem," Kurt said bluntly.
"Kurt's right, let's wait, not our job to defend this installation, it's probably just a probe, the shvir are usually slow 'bout attacking," Ryss decided.
"Fuck that, ima gonna go take a look aroun' up there, not like we have any objective right now anyway," Moore said.
"Just don't get yourself blown up," Ryss cautioned.
"I don't plan to."
Moore slung his helmet over his head, grabbed his Akarn and began making his way up towards the surface.
The upper tunnels were filled with smoke and commotion. Wounded lining the halls. Screaming, shouting, dying. The firesteps were a flurry of weapons fire, the clatter of automatics overlapping with the roar of dug in anti tank guns. Moore slowly peeked over the edge, eyes widening at the sight of onrushing shviri tanks and infantry. One of the vehicles suddenly detonated as an anti tank gun found its mark, tearing the turret off its bearings with ease.
"Need ammo over here!"
"Tank is out, pass me a rocket!"
"Fucking god! My leg! My leg!"
Moore was no novice to combat, having served four years in the marines and commando, but that had been before the shviri onslaught. A man toppled over and fell on top of him, head smouldering from a direct laser hit. There was no helping him. Moore dragged himself up and kept going. The aliens were too close, a machine gun crew fumbled reloading a new drum. The alien was only ten meters away. Moore swung his rifle up and fired a quick burst. The alien dropped instantly. The gunner nodded quickly to Moore as the two men hefted the gun back into a firing position, but the commando was on the move already.
There was a commotion at the far end of the trench, panicked shouting, gunfire. The entire section of breastworks was engaged in a brutal melee. Moore activated his long range comms, quickly connecting with Ryss, "Yo, we got trouble down here. This isn't a probe, tha's for sure."
"It's not our job to help here."
"Hell yes it is, we got nothing else to do and we wanna live 'til evac!"
Moore was interrupted by a sudden flurry of gunfire and the detonation of one of the shviri tanks. It must have been equipped with a plasma flamer for seconds after being penetrated, it violently exploded with a brightness the sergeant could only compare to a small sun.
"Fucking god Moore, I told ya not to get yourself shot!"
"Yeah yeah, workin' on it, just get e'rybody down to the command bunker!"
A shviri officer suddenly spotted Moore amongst the crowd of defending soldiers, his distinctive black uniform causing him to stand out among the paras around him. The aliens pistol came up, too late, the commando fired sooner. Moving through the trench now, concrete rubble spraying his armor as the reinforcing structures took fire, Moore cursed and scrambled forward. The entrance to the command bunker was a tangle of bodies, both human and shvir, a pair of paratroopers was keeping watch by the small doorway. Rifles instantly swung up as they spotted Moore. He raised his hands up and they motioned him to come in, warily eyeing the trenches behind him. After the aliens had attempted to breach the place, they were in no mood to risk allowing any further entry.
The inside of the bunker was a flurry of commotion, orders being issued and junior officers racing to and fro to carry them out. Moore instantly singled out the commander of the installation, a certain Colonel Zhukov. He was about to ask the man what was going on, but the officer had spotted him first, and was urging him to move closer. A rocket struck the ceiling, causing the whole bunker to shudder. Moore swept aside the small cloud of dust with his hand and moved forward, not pausing to remove his helmet when he approached the colonel.
"Moore, Sergeant Moore."
"Moore, your men are still stuck here, correct?"
The sergeant felt a little bitter at the thought, yes they were still stuck here, and they were doing their utmost to get off. He was halfway expecting an order from the colonel to leave the "Kursk" position and fall back to Centerpoint.
"Yessir, there's no transport available."
"Well, then you help here, we got a message from your command. Right here, you can read it. They're quick at picking up what happened."
"Fucking God!" Moore slammed his hand against a control panel as he read the orders. Rage was welling up inside him. There would be no replacement transport, there was no way they'd get off this damn rock. The only addition to the message was of small comfort. A blank-check of some sort, to pursue objectives of opportunity until further notice and attempt to cooperate with the local infantry.
There was a commotion at the entrance as the remainder of the commandos made their way inside, their skeletal face-plates and black body-suits coated with dust and small bits of rubble. Moore motioned for Ryss to come up, the senior sergeant slowly made his way towards the colonel.
"We're not getting a fucking transport Ryss, look at this. Apparently just came in."
Ryss shook his head in disbelief as he read the message. Moore could see Val's half cocked head, reading everything over the sergeants shoulder, hand drumming silently on his pistol holster. Ryss' hand slid over his face-plate as he read the remainder of the message, cursing softly under his breath.
"We're not meant to do this. We don't have heavy weapons. Hell, all we got is Akarns and some pyrakite charges."
The colonel had walked off, leaving the group of commandos to ponder their predicament. There was more shouting at the entrance.
"Nother wave incoming!"
It was a scream from a runner, racing into the bunker, gasping for breath. The frontline command bunker wouldn't hold for long, "Kursk" was a perimeter fortress, and it was already obvious the outermost line wouldn't hold. They'd have to evacuate into the second line of defense, maybe even the third. Eventually all that would be left was the inner keeps and the Centerpoint, the core hub of the entire fortress structure. Moore had raced through the likely outcomes in seconds, licking his lips in consternation. He turned towards the command staff and the remaining paratroopers. A hard impact echoed across the sealed doorway. Moore saw the rest of his squad take up positions to cover the entrance. He grabbed the Colonel by the shoulder, turning the taller man around, his goggles staring straight into the mans eyes.
"Colonel, evacuate now. Get all the fucking staff out of here. We'll hold here!"
The man looked around, realizing the truth of the matter and instantly began shouting orders in whatever tongue he spoke. Men snapped to attention and ran about. He could see a few stretchers bearing wounded being moved out. The door was buckling. Moore could hear a sizzle on the outside, the bright light of a cutting laser breaching the portal blinding to any uncovered eyes. Kurt had already laid a pyrakite charge outside the entrance, the remote detonator uncovered in his palm. Moore sighed and leveled his rifle, waiting for the inevitable breaching squad to storm in. The die was cast, everything was falling apart. If only there was some starlight.