Thursday, September 7, 2017
The Mercian Homecoming.
The standard workouts and weapons maintenance of week-three-day-seven had gone methodically and according to routine. After dinner, Jake sat in his cell, elbows on his knees, rubbing his face from his chin to his short-cropped black hair. Ever since it had been torn open by a five-pound slab of red-hot scrap metal, his forehead tingled in a band running from one temple to the other. Replacing the normal wrinkles that ribbed his brow, now a deep crevasse, still not fully healed, made a pale frown above his eyebrows. His fingers paused to try to become familiar with the scar. It still felt very new, however it had been over a year since the jungles of Chargis III. There, he had fought the traitorous Bandrois Conspiracy, where he gained this mighty scar. It made for a great story: his platoon commanders had slagged two Scout Walkers trying to outflank them. The first of these gangly two-footed contraptions had just fell to its knees and collapsed, its pilot boiling in his own cockpit. The second one detonated, and sprayed them with shrapnel. All went dark after this, and Jake woke up with this huge head wound. His men had helped him out of the swamp, tied bootlaces around his head to keep him from bleeding out. When he awoke he couldn't remember anyone's name for a week, yet now it seemed like a good memory. He closed his eyes and held on to it. He began to sink deep into this memory, drifting away from where he was. Away from his cot. Away from the sweat dripping through his fingers.
This is when the buzzing noise started. It was so soft he could barely hear it.
Jake turned his head up at the sound of the chime. He stood, straightening out his pants legs as he arose. His shoulders snapped back into their attention posture. The chime rang again. It was not unpleasant, much like a chord of five tones, lyrical and slightly muted as to not be offensive. It was loud enough to wake a soldier from his sleep, yet not disturbing enough to cause annoyance.
"Umber. Sir," Jake stoutly called into the air. "I've drifted off for a bit, my apologies."
Jake tried to look at attention despite the complete lack of any kind of video feed on board the transport. The Lathekin-99 was nothing more than a cylindrical bus for transporting bodies from one vessel to another. Its compartments held very little in the way of amenities, as the Lathekin craftsmen it was built to shuttle on their weekly commute would only spend twelve hours- eighteen maximum- from the food processing centers orbiting JYLN-55 to the landing ships that would bring them to the planet's surface. Each of its five decks held one hundred eighty rooms, each outfitted with a cot, a small sink, vacuum toilet and a light, no windows. There was not much room for anything else. The pilot of the ship was a mindless servitor, there were no recreation halls or simulation chambers. The men met in the hallways to talk, cramped passages dimly lit and full of stale air. Most men, at this point, stayed in their rooms most of the time, making little noise or complaint. The Lathekin-99 was a silent cylinder, drifting like a coffin through interplanetary space. It was not designed for this kind of travel, but desperate times had brought this plan.
The company commander's voice came from the small speaker located directly above the head of the cot. The speaker was a small disk of metal that protruded from the wall. The words "Interoom Intercom System - Narendra Corporation" were etched into its circumference, white letters on shiny red aluminum.
"Jake. I think I've got this figured out. We are essentially on a secure circuit. I needed some of the Ab's to cut some wires, but I think we can talk. So no need for formalities." The voice was from Nikolaus Umber, a voice that sounded full yet raspy. It always sounded as if Umber was trying to be quiet with his voice, yet he could be heard in the next room. Positions like company or platoon commander had a relatively high turnover rate in the PDF, yet both Nikolaus and Jake had survived their positions longer than most. Both of them secretly held a fear that they would both become old men. This mutual fear had allowed them to be rather honest with one another.
"Listen, Jake," Nikolaus continued after a brief pause where he had expected Jake to say something. He let out a bit of a sigh, and hoped the Interoom Intercom hadn't transmitted his exhalation as loud as it seemed to him. "You know I've never really understood that incident with the commisar on Chargis, right? And I've never forgotten about what happened on that bridge."
Jake winced. This was Nik's attempt at an apology. Umber was reminding him about the hostages, as if that was payment- in a sort of even exchange- for errors made on the bridge. Jake just didn't want to go through it.
"Listen Nik, I get it," Jake spoke into the air. This was one time he was glad they couldn't be speaking face-to-face. "We're just going to have to do what they say. The sooner we can get back to Chargis the sooner we can figure everything out." There was another pause.
"I'm... concerned," Umber replied, and then started again on a more whispered tone than usual. "Worried about that pull back. Worried about Larry and all them down there."
"We secured the ravine," Jake countered, "just a little jaunt across the system and we're back. Just keep your cool. okay? Larry can hold it. " Jake could feel his heart racing again. His mind was racing again for no good reason, and that tingling sensation prickled the crevasse in his forehead.
And the buzzing noise. There was that buzzing noise again. Jake felt that he needed to talk over the top of it as it grew a little bit louder.
"Tanks, Nik. They've got tanks. And we've got the gas to run 'em. We help them out, we can convince them to come back down with us."
Umber hissed out of the speaker. "Those were black, Jake. That was black Mark VII. I know you don't believe me, but I was up on that hill. You expect them to come back?"
Jake could hardly hear the last few words Umber said. The buzzing, droning noise filled his head. It was if cicadas were buzzing in the ceiling, in the walls, next to his ears. It was hard to ignore, and Jake began to drift, listening only to the buzz.
"Jake?" Umber could hear nothing from the small aluminum disk, just the omnipresent flutter of the guidance engines that dotted every yard of the 100 yard long Lathekin-99, as each fired small jets of liquid propellant in constant course-correction succession.
Then the buzzing stopped again. But only after Jake laid down and went to sleep.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
I've got a game tonight vs NGC40k Pete, Power Level 130 with the restriction that 50% cannot be Space Marines. I pointed up my list last night and I've got A chaplain in terminator armor and a Libby in terminator armor escorting some thunder hammer termies, Thad Allens tacticals in a drop pod, a small scout squad and a predator. Plus some 5man tactical squad to make it a qualifying battalion.
I've got IG for the other half, 4 units of infantry on chimeras and storm troopers and the paskquisher and Jake Taffton. Command squad, a commissar, and some Ratlings.
It should be fun to see the ratlings and scouts work together. Also, with the terminators, stormtroopers, and drop pod tacticals I should have a pretty good mid-game drop, hopefully there will be enough room on an undersized table.