BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

HOTPOINT

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Saturday, February 25, 2006

Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3227    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer – Everything either does belong to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind.

* * *

“Attack the enemy where he is unprepared, and appear where you are not expected. These are the keys to victory”

The Art of War - Sun Tzu (500BC)

* * *

Independent Army Rangers Team “Valley Wolves” – Toulouse – 2522AD

The Brimstone opened up a split second before the mortar, the distinctive “ka-pung” of the automatic grenade launcher easily recognisable amongst the harsh crack of the Gauss Rifles as it rapidly volleyed ten high-explosive grenades in quick succession into the remaining lightly armoured 4x4s at the front of the column of vehicles rending them apart in sheets of flame and setting off secondary explosions a some of the ammunition aboard cooked off.

With the Alliance vehicles so bunched up the mortar crew rapid fired a dozen rounds further down the column before they could scatter. Heaney, doing a fair job of aiming despite a decade out of practice, dropping four of the rounds right on top of the column sending a pair of tracked APC’s, another 4x4 and a lightly armoured six-wheel truck that must have been hauling ammunition sky high. The latter explosion completely totalled another APC and an AIFV which had been in front and behind it.

Infantry began to bail out of vehicles in considerable disarray with some firing wildly back at the Rangers. Gauss Rifle fire began picking them off as Jenkins fired another clip of high-explosive into the column then switched to the machine-gun scything into Alliance Federals as they dismounted. Mal, Zoe and the other riflemen joined in knocking down targets as they appeared their Gauss-Rifle slugs leaving harsh sonic cracks, as well as odd visible distortion patterns through any smoke they went through, en-route.

The column began to scatter from the road into the fields on both sides, they’d taken too long to do it but eventually the training kicked in and the mortar settled into a steady beat dropping bombs every ten seconds or so.

Up on the hill, fifty yards from the mortar crew, Hughes with the GR-21S found she could shoot out the engines of the scattered 4x4’s right the way back down the column and she proceeded to do so methodically if at some cost to her shoulder as the Gauss Rifle kicked like a mule at the higher velocity settings. Her rifle was no use against the boxy, and far more heavily armoured, tracked Armoured Personnel Carriers and Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles but the little 4x4’s, and the odd truck she spotted, whilst protected against a supersonic rifle bullet were not resistant against a hypersonic metal slug. She also made sure to pot shot any Officers or NCO’s that found themselves in her zooming telescopic sights, the latter were an especially worthwhile target as many of them, unlike the younger troops, would have been war veterans themselves and more likely to keep their heads in a firefight. Well they were more likely to keep their head unless a Ranger Sniper blew it off anyhow.

A small group of apparently better trained, or perhaps merely smarter, Federals were crawling towards a small rock outcrop on the edge of one of the fields. As soon as they reached it they began to return fire towards the Brimstone, which was easier to locate than the rifles thanks to its muzzle flash.

The outcrop then promptly blew up sending bits of stone, and bits of soldier and equipment for that matter, raining down in all directions.

One thing about good positions is that the other side can recognise them too and Keppler had planted a charge there at Zoe’s direction, right where she would have been lying if he was going to be using it for cover.

Another pair of Federals carrying a light machine-gun were similarly killed when they tripped a simple booby-trap, a grenade with the pin pulled attached to some black thread and stuck in a tin can, when they tried to set up the weapon behind a small concrete watering trough used for horses. Half a dozen other charges and booby traps detonated occasionally over the next few minutes as one unfortunate Federal after another found out that Zoe was a very good judge of where folks would head when the shooting started.

It was probably the best ambush he’d ever pulled off Mal Reynolds considered as he ejected another spent magazine and loaded a fresh one. The rifle’s power-pack was good for maybe another hundred shots at this power-setting but the ammunition clips only held thirty rounds apiece and the simple pressed steel magazines were starting to pile up at the bottom of the low trench he was kneeling in.

An AIFV began to storm 20mm chaingun fire across the river from its small turret and started to rumble forward straight over the top of the burning wreckage of one of the 4x4’s. The incoming fire forced Jenkins with the Brimstone to duck for cover pinning him down behind his makeshift bunker of sandbags and a few concrete blocks he’d collected from around the farm. The blocks practically exploded when hit by a 20mm rounds and the sandbags weren’t going to take that kind of punishment either.

In one of the forward positions Mailer dropped his GR-21 and with a grunt of effort picked up the metal tube wrapped in mono-molecular fibre mesh. It was already loaded and the counter-weight and warhead made the already hefty weapon very difficult to handle.

Bringing the tube up Mailer rested the end on the stone wall he was crouching behind looked through the simple sights gritted his teeth and pulled the trigger.

With a deafening boom two coffee tins full of lead shot blasted backwards from the Recoilless Cannon and because the tube was angled upwards slightly to achieve the range they only went a few yards before hitting the stone path that led to the farmhouse and then ricocheting off. Gyrating wildly the counterweight then promptly smashed through the wall of the chickenhouse.

Meanwhile from the other end of the tube, and going considerably faster, the HEAT warhead sailed over the river and to Mailers total surprise arced back down and slammed straight into the front of the AIFV exploding on impact. The shaped-charge warhead sliced through the armour and set off the ammunition in the automatic handling machine that was feeding the chaingun.

The secondary explosion blew the turret clean off the AIFV and it landed upside down and on fire a few yards away from the vehicle which was burning like crazy spewing thick black smoke that joined that already pouring from the other vehicles that had been destroyed by the Mortar and the Grenade Launcher.

Other AIFV’s that had been moving up too stopped in their tracks and decided to fire from a safer distance. The quantity of fire from the Federals continued to climb and climb in intensity, if not perhaps in effectiveness or accuracy, and it was definitely time to go. The element of surprise only gives you a mighty edge for so long.

‘Heaney’ Mal said into his headset microphone. ‘Fire your remaining rounds then pull out’ he ordered. ‘Jenkins fire your belt dry then put two clips of Frags and Willie Pete through the smoke and bug-out yourself.’

The 75mm Mortar went back to rapid fire with Jayne loading as fast as he could and Heaney dropping his last high-explosive and now a number of airburst shrapnel bombs for the attention of the dismounted infantry right over the column. The Brimstone fired itself dry of machine-gun ammo and was starting to shoot grenades again when the Mortar dropped its smoke bombs on the far bank causing an even thicker cloud than the one coming from the burning vehicles.

A few of the Federals trying to use the smoke for their own ends found themselves quickly dissuaded from the idea when the Brimstone started firing fragmentation and white phosphorous grenades into the thickening cloud, the anti-personnel rounds catching several in the open and causing horrific injuries.

With Heaney running down the hill carrying the Mortar Jayne snatched up Vera and began giving cover fire. The Callahan’s advanced electronic sights were able to see right through the smoke just like the one on the Brimstone and her jet-propelled ammunition left an even more distinctive trail through the smoke than the gauss rifle slugs.

‘Zoe pull out and take your squad with you’ Mal ordered loading another power-pack into his rifle. Unlike the empty cheap steel magazines for the slugs, he made sure to stuff the depleted power-pack he’d just ejected into his pocket. They weren’t cheap and could be recharged back on Serenity.

Mal flicked his GR-21 down to its lowest velocity setting which gave it its highest rate of fire and began firing full-auto across the river as Zoe got the troops moving. Even though at a mere two-hundred forty rounds a minute equivalent the gauss-rifles maximum ROF was a fraction of a normal assault rifles it was still quick enough to keep a few heads down over there.

Jayne and Hughes were still firing from up on the hill which gave enough fire added to Mals for the Rangers, even poor Mailer dragging both his GR-21 and the Recoilless Cannon to crawl back out of position out of line of sight and then run like hell. It was a well timed retreat as Alliance Soldiers at the rear of the column had managed to set up a few mortars of their own and promptly started to shell the enemy side of the bank.

‘Jayne, Hughes we are leaving’ Mal yelled into his microphone and crawled backwards ten yards before jumping up and running like his life depended on it which it likely did. The two sharpshooters were tearing down the side of the hill rifles in hand with Hughes marginally ahead but Jayne pumping his legs pretty hard too.

By now rifle, machinegun, 20mm cannon and mortar fire was streaming over the river with one mortar round blowing the roof off the farmhouse. This registered with Mal who made a mental note to ensure the new government built Monsieur Dumouriez and his wife a very good replacement home. The woman had provided the Rangers a very nice though basic lunch of bread and cheese before the old married couple had driven out of harms way to the village south of here, and with losing their daughter in the last war Mal figured they’d already given more to the cause than anyone had a right to ask of them.

Mal caught up with Zoe and her Rifle Team a mile down the road ready to give cover fire to Mal if the Federals had tried to ford the crossing and were in pursuit. The river banks were too steep for the vehicles to get across even though the APC’s and AIFV’s would have been amphibious but if they were motivated enough a few Alliance Soldiers might decide to swim across, unlikely though that was in the circumstances. From the sound of it they were still firing over the river.

As a group the Rangers began double-timing down the road spread out in case of ambush. Unlike the Federals they weren’t going to ever just assume there weren’t any enemy troops out there.

‘Time to pick us up Wash’ Mal said into his radio. Three minutes later at the crossroads where he was due to collect them Wash bought the Firefly swooping down and landed with the ramp open so the Rangers could just run straight aboard when they arrived which they did, more than a few badly out of breath including a wheezing Mailer who collapsed onto the floor as soon as he got inside the bay.

As soon as the last one was running up the ramp Mal told Wash to get moving and keep hugging the ground in case the Federals had Surface to Air Missiles. Simon was on hand in the bay and seemed almost annoyed that nobody had been hurt and he couldn’t do his Doctor thing.

Serenity lifted off and accelerated back towards the Capital with the Rangers all taking Mailers example and dropping to the deck panting heavily.

‘I want -- a rocket launcher’ Mailer stated between gulps of air. ‘This thing weighs -- a rutting tonne’ he stated slapping the empty recoilless which rang like a bell before rolling over flat on his back.

Heaney who had been carrying the mortar as well as a rifle, the latter of which he never got to use, took the canteen from his harness took a swig of water then poured it over Mailers head. Mailer considered retaliation but decided he was too tired and gave the Mortar operator the finger instead.

With a release of tension and adrenaline the whole bay erupted in thunderous laughter. Heaney poured the rest of the water over his own head grinning then bringing his canteen up as if in a toast hollered out ‘Valley Wolves’ at the top of his voice.

The Rangers all howled in response like Jayne had taught them startling Kaylee who was coming up from the engine room where she’d been to ensure Serenity was moving as fast as she could when Wash picked up the team. She looked in on the bay where Simon was trying to make himself useful handing out rations but was having no takers. Jayne pulled a small hunk of leftover bread from his jacket pocket and noted sadly between bites that he hadn’t grabbed any wine from the farmhouse before the Alliance blew it up. It was a good thing Crazy Girl wasn’t here because she’d have taken the bread off him and it was darn good bread that tasted like the stuff his Ma had baked back home.

They were a unit now, tested in fire they’d kicked ass and came back with their own asses intact. Skills and lessons learned the hard way on planets and moons across the colonised worlds during the First War of Independence over a decade before had flooded back as soon as the fighting started. It was a damn good day.

‘I need more exercise’ Mal said loudly after the howling stopped. ‘I used to be able to run a lot further than that in full kit without feeling this bad’ he said.

‘That was ten years ago Sir’ Zoe pointed out.

Mal threw her a baleful look. ‘I ain’t old yet’ he declared. ‘And anyhow you look more uncomfortable than I do.’

‘That wasn’t the running Sir’ Zoe replied. ‘This ammo harness hurts like hell.’

Mal frowned. ‘Got it set up wrong?’ he asked. That wasn’t like Zoe at all.

‘No Sir it’s the shoulder straps rubbing, or to be accurate it’s making my gorram armour rub’ Zoe told him unbuckling the harness.

Sergeant Reynolds looked confused. The Infantry ammunition harness was pretty well designed to work with the light woven monomolecular fibre vests the Rangers were all wearing. They wouldn’t stop an armoured-piercing round, or do much about impact damage, but they’d stop shrapnel right enough and were light enough to wear without harming mobility.

Zoe looked at her commander. ‘If you must know Sir’ she began, ‘I’m still lactating and my nipples are really sore’ she said without a hint of expression on her face.

Mal cringed. ‘Aw I didn’t need to hear that’ he moaned.

* * *

Toulouse Spaceport – Toulouse – 2522AD

Vapour trails high above gave testament to the timely arrival of the Aerospace Fighter squadrons from Scylla and Charybdis sent on ahead at close to the limit of their range and arriving hours before the battlecruisers would be anywhere close.

The Interceptor Squadrons based elsewhere on the planet had come very late to the party because they were already in the air when the fighting began and had to return back to base to arm. The reason for their initially unarmed status was simply that the Alliance Fighters had been originally scheduled for a fly-past over the city at the same time as the parade and were carrying nothing more lethal than coloured smoke.

By the time the Interceptors were armed and streaking back to the Capital the four squadrons of Independent Angels were streaking from the sky and bounced the Alliance fighters over a hundred miles away from their destination. Armed on arrival for an Air-to-Air mission not for ground attack, unlike the Alliance birds which had arrived in the fight burdened with cluster-bombs and anti-tank missiles, the Angels had had by far the best of the initial exchange and although there were still a few dogfights going on the Independent Fighter-Jocks had Air-Superiority firmly in their grasp with Air-Supremacy, total control of the skies, not far away.

The Angels weren’t the only thing in the sky above the Capital though. Some of the Dropships and Transports that had bought the Marines to Toulouse were now dropping leaflets over the city.

One of the scraps of paper blew past Jonas and he snatched in from the air to read.

Citizens of Toulouse” it began.

For too long you have suffered under the yoke of a foreign tyranny, forced under arms to submit to the rulings and dictates of a government and courts that are not your own. But take heart brothers and sisters for the day of glory has truly arrived, the time to raise battalions again in the defence of liberty against the despotism of those that would make you slaves in your own land is now.

Already your allies in the cause of freedom have returned to the fight and have dealt a bloody blow against our mutual enemy but we cannot win alone. We implore you in the names of those who died for Toulouse in years past, and for the sake of your children yet unborn, to enlist like true patriots and raise the standard once again

The leaflet continued with more stirring patriotic rhetoric interspersed with quotes clearly designed to appeal to the majority French ancestry and culture of the population with carefully chosen lines from Rousseau, Diderot and others and finishing with an apt line from Voltaire “In the end Citizens, injustice must lead to independence”.

Jonas read and re-read it then stuffed it in his pocket. He had moved to Toulouse as a boy with his family and had suffered through not only French History but also the philosophy the locals insisted on inflicting on poor young minds. Well at least he knew why so many of his troops and nearby civilians who had already read one of the things were whistling the Marseillaise given the number of allusions to the old anthem within the leaflet.

‘Jonas’ a now familiar voice called across the port.

The Colonial Legionnaire turned to face the direction of the call ‘Yes Colonel’ he replied.

Colonel Taylor was holding his Gauss-Rifle with one hand with the stock against his hip and the muzzle pointed upwards at an angle. ‘Our Ranger Team has stopped the Alliance from crossing the bridge but they’ll get down here eventually. I’m sending Major Fushida and her company to the north of town to prepare a defence for when they get here. Could you provide local knowledge of the lay of the land and take your men along in support?’

‘Yes Sir’ the Legionnaire responded immediately and thumped his fist across his chest in the Colonial Legion style salute.

‘The Major is over by the new transports that just landed unloading heavy weapons you’ll find her there.’

‘Right away Sir’ Jonas affirmed and started double-timing back to his troops. The nasty feeling he got in his stomach every time before he got into a firefight was starting again after many years hiatus. He only hoped he wouldn’t lose his lunch in front of the men.

Taylor watched the Legionnaire head off and went back to listening in to the reports coming in from his other two companies which were being commanded by Major Tucci in their assault on the Garrison Complex near town. The Federals were putting up stronger than expected resistance and were demonstrating a stubborn refusal to surrender the position even though they had lost the bulk of their infantry force when the Independent Marines shot up their marching column near the spaceport.

Major Tucci was reporting that he could take the Garrison by storm but that he expected to take heavy losses if he had to do so.

The Marine Colonel had been hoping the Alliance Troops up there would lay down arms readily once it became clear they were outnumbered but you had to give the bastards credit they obviously had guts.

Oh well they had their chance.

Taylor changed frequencies on his headset. ‘This is Colonel Taylor to Aerospace units. I am requesting attack runs on the Garrison Complex immediately.’ Taylor had been hoping not to have to cause serious damage to some of the equipment there, it would be useful but if he had to level the place he would.

This is Squadron Leader Shumann my Angels are the closest to the Capital but we’re not carrying any air-to-ground ordinance and we need to land soon Sir’ the radio responded. ‘We’ve been in the air a long time Colonel’ the Aerospace Fighter Leader pointed out.

‘You’ve got Lasers don’t you? Strafe ‘em for a few minutes then bring your birds in here for rearming. We’ve got ground crew ready and waiting and we’re only a couple of minutes flight time from the Garrison anyhow’ Taylor ordered. ‘If they don’t take the hint from the strafing then take your Squadron back and blow them all to hell.’

Yes Sir Charbydis Blue’s coming in for pulse laser strafing run’ Schumann replied.

Colonel Taylor watched as several of the vapour tails above suddenly changed direction and headed for the Garrison. A few lines of laser fire stitched across the complex hopefully wouldn’t cause too much damage but it might start making the Federals think a mite harder about whether this rock was worth their lives. If their SAM battery had been still been intact Taylor would not have risked the Angels, it was harsh but men could be replaced easier than Aerospace Fighters, but Jake Foreman had already dealt with that issue himself.

Of course the by-product of his actions in painting the battery as a target for a long distance LGB strike earlier today was that Foreman had also made it a distinct possibility that his own airforce would be dropping bombs on him. This had of course dawned on Jake who was now stuck in a bunker at the Garrison with the cowering Alliance Planetary Governor himself hoping to hell that he was going to get out of this situation so he could personally chuck the odious creep into a cell.

* * *

INS Battlecruiser Scylla – Burning Hard to Toulouse – 2522AD

‘Sir we have confirmation from our agents watching Alliance bases that they have vectored several Capital Ships and a large number of other craft for Toulouse’ the communications officer reported.

Van der Heijden shrugged. ‘We knew that once it became clear we were devoted so much attention to Toulouse the Alliance Forces out here would seek to stop us even if they’re still getting nothing concrete in the way of orders or news from the Core, they’re not totally unfamiliar with the concept of initiative.’ he said. ‘Do we have an accurate count on the vessels heading our way?’

‘Not yet Sir’ the communications officer replied. ‘However they definitely include the Cruisers Jiangnan, Dortmunder, Vasco de Gama, Kirov , Magellan and Anshan.’

The Admiral looked thoughtful. ‘I was reading about the Kirov a few days ago in the copy of Janes Fighting Ships we found in the wreckage of the Pen Lung’ he said. ‘Her armament includes a heavier than normal complement of Particle-Beam and Mass-Driver weapons rather than Lasers’ he observed. ‘It would be wise to target her first I would suggest Captain.’

Captain Raine nodded in agreement. ‘Aye Sir’ she said. ‘We’ll turn our main gun on her as soon as she’s in range and knock her out of the fight.’

Van der Heijden meshed his fingers and began twiddling his thumbs absent-mindedly. ‘The other named ships are pretty conventional modern designs we should be able to deal with them in short order’ he said. ‘Comms send a signal to Captain Decker on the Charybdis and tell him to be expecting company shortly after arrival.’

‘You know Sir those Ally Warships are going to get a hell of a shock when they get to Toulouse and find us there waiting for them’ Captain Raine said chuckling. ‘They’ll be expecting a thousand warships to spring up near Londinium next.’

‘They’re just paying the price for complacency Captain’ the Admiral replied. ‘Everlasting peace only lasts until the next war’ he said, ‘they forgot that and it’s biting them on the ass.’

A wry smile appeared on the Admiral’s face ‘But I would give a years pay to see the expression on their faces when they arrive and see Scylla and Charybdis baring down on them with open gunports.’

‘Last thing they’ll ever see too’ Captain “Steel” Raine observed.

* * *

Toulouse City – Toulouse – 2522AD

The “parade” of troops through the heart of the city wasn’t quite the one people had been expecting when they woke up that morning. Instead of a column of the hated Alliance Federals marching in good order in crisp uniforms the city got to witness a couple of hundred Independent Marines, and around half that number of volunteers from Foreman Security, riding through the streets on the backs of cargo trucks from the spaceport.

They got a much friendlier welcome than the Federals would have too.

Fortunately for Major Fushida she didn’t have to try and force her way through the thronging crowds as a group of local policemen appeared. She had worried initially that she would have to deal with the armed men and women but to her surprise the Chief of Police grabbed her as soon as she jumped from the truck and kissed her on both cheeks.

The Police were citizens of Toulouse too he said. They may have been under the control of the Alliance Governor but they did so to keep the peace not to oppress the people the Chief insisted and they were as loyal to their homeworld as any other Citizen.

Then to more cheering the Police Chief ordered his officers to clear the route for the Independent Troops and asked any Officers who were willing, to fight alongside them as he would himself like a true son of Toulouse.

Someone passed the planetary flag, a Red, White and Blue Tricolour with a shining star in the centre to Fushida who passed it to an NCO on the back of the lead truck who raised it as high as he could and waved it all the way to their destination north of the city as the trucks thundered on once again.

Shortly after they arrived vehicles began to appear full of more volunteers. Many had gone home and collected old uniforms and weapons from the war. Soon there were even a few locals who appeared with heavy weapons, Machine-Guns, Rocket Launchers and explosives, buried in the garden for the day when they could once again take up arms.

Quite overwhelmed by the enthusiasm Major Fushida allowed Captain Jonas to organise the locals and he had set up work details to construct defences while the Marines prepared to meet the Regiment of Federal Mechanised Troops that were still heading this way despite the delay caused by Mal Reynolds and his Rangers.

‘Excuse me Major’ Jonas announced.

The Marine turned to face the Legionnaire and a much older man with white hair but a dignified manner and pose who was wearing a Blue Beret with a small enamel version of the Toulouse Flag upon it.

‘Major Fushida may I introduce Brigadier-General James d’Esperay of the Toulouse Militia’ Jonas announced formally. ‘Brigadier may I introduce Major Helen Fushida of the Gamma Battalion, Second Marine Expeditionary Unit.’

Caught somewhat unawares Fushida nonetheless snapped to attention and saluted an action the older man reciprocated neatly though with clearly less practice over the last few years.

‘It brings joy to my heart to see you Major’ the old Militia Officer declared and shook hands with the younger officer warmly.

‘The Brigadier is the highest ranking member of the former Independent Military still resident on the planet’ Jonas told the Major. ‘Many of the others fell in action or were not allowed to return home after the war.’

‘I was already here commanding the defence forces when the war ended’ d’Esperay explained. ‘I was injured by artillery fire during operations off-world and sent home to recuperate then they made me planetary military commander.’

‘I’m sure Colonel Taylor, my commanding officer will be glad to meet you Sir’ Fushida told the old man. ‘I can have you taken to him at the Spaceport.’

The Brigadier gave the Marine a gentle smile. ‘I would rather stay here and fight’ he said. ‘I will do so as a private soldier if you wish but I think I might be of more use if you let me form some of these volunteers into a more organised force. I know many of them, and more than that know me I believe.’

Fushida took a breath. ‘Brigadier I would be honoured to have the Toulouse Militia fight beside my Marines this day’ she said with sincerity.

As she watched the two men walk back to the throng of volunteers starting to bark out orders that looked to be being obeyed Helen Fushida wondered if she was going to be grabbed and kissed on the cheeks many more times that day and if Colonel Taylor was having to put up with the same himself.

* * *

Independent Army Rangers Team “Valley Wolves” – Toulouse – 2522AD

Serenity was grounded in the port after returning from its mission but Mal Reynolds was not one to let his soldiers loaf so he had them helping to unload cargo from other ships, and even haul munitions to help out the ground crew rearming the Angels as they landed.

The Aerospace pilots looked surprisingly chirpy, at least they did after each one that landed in turn sprinted off to find the nearest toilet, considering how long they’d been in their fighters but Mal knew that they were likely popping go-pills to keep them alert the pseudo-amphetamine drugs would keep you awake for days if needed but eventually you’d just fall over asleep wherever you were and wake up a day later with a headache.

It was all over the port that the Garrison outside of town had surrendered at the Governors own order shortly after the Angels started strafing the place. The prisoners taken were being transported to a holding centre, actually a large aircraft hanger at the port, under the guard of one of the Marine Companies while the other was moving to reinforce Major Fushida, going the long way skirting the town to avoid the enthusiasm of the populace.

Simon was busy helping deal with casualties as they arrived at the port. After being stabilised they were moved by air ambulance to the cities main Hospital which had called its entire staff in to deal with the sudden influx of patients. Most of the casualties so far were Federal Troops but that didn’t matter to either the Hospital Staff nor to the Marine Medics and Surgeons working alongside Simon under canvas at the spaceport. They were acting professionally and in full accordance to both the rules of war and the Hippocratic Oath Simon was pleased to see although if two patients with similar injuries and medical priorities arrived the Marine and Navy Doctors and Medics were helping their own people first as you might expect.

Wash was making sure he was out of Simon’s sight and mind. Any time the Doc started cutting into folk it always seemed like he’d find a need for the Type O Negative blood running through the pilots veins and siphon a pint from him to stick into someone else. Let Simon drain somebody else this time Wash had decided and made sure he was keeping busy elsewhere helping Kaylee look over Fighter Engines in a quick visual inspection as they set down.

Still wearing his headset tuned to the command frequency Mal was helping to hump crates of ammunition from a Dropship onto trucks heading North when Colonel Taylor gave the order to move the Rangers by road to Major Fushida’s location. Forward scouts had reported that the Federal Regiment was across the River and advancing in Battle-Formation towards the city. Aerospace Fighters had made several attack runs but were driven off by Mobile SAM and Anti-Aircraft Laser Systems.

‘All right Rangers finish loading the trucks grab your weapons and climb aboard with the ammo we’re going up to the line’ Mal called out. ‘I hope you all made sure to enjoy the rest because I’m betting we’ll be up all night.’

‘Rest’ a Ranger called back. ‘What rest? We’ve been hauling this stuff about’ he said placing another crate on the truck.

‘Was it more restful than getting shot at back at the bridge Private?’ Zoe asked.

‘Well yeah Corp but…’

‘Well what are you complaining about then?’ Zoe quickly interrupted. ‘A few minutes under fire and you’d be happy to be back here sweating.’

‘I’d rather be back home humping my girlfriend instead of these crates but I wouldn’t call that restful either’ Keppler observed.

Jayne passed another crate to the next man in line. ‘Your girlfriend energetic like?’ he asked the demolitions expert.

‘Oh hell yeah’ Keppler replied, ‘keeps me fit and happy to be alive.’

‘Well if you’re so gorram fit’ Zoe barked out ‘then hurry up with the job or I’ll make you unhappy to be alive.’

‘You’re a great humanitarian Corporal’ Keppler responded picking up the pace. ‘I bet you stand over your kid teaching her to bottle feed by the numbers ‘Suck, two three four, now burp two three four.’

Zoe threw the Ranger a look. ‘Don’t make me accidentally cut one of your fuses short Private Keppler.’

‘All right’ Mal called out ‘two more crates and that’s it. And I’ve heard tale of folks handing out bottles of wine in the streets. Take one at your peril Rangers we can get drunk tomorrow, matter of fact that’s exactly what I plan to do.’

Five minutes later the Valley Wolves were heading off to battle again, and this time the enemy knew they were out there.

Part XV

COMMENTS

Saturday, February 25, 2006 7:06 AM

ANONYMOUS


Fantastic story! You write beautiful military sf.

Saturday, February 25, 2006 12:30 PM

ANONYMOUS


great as always

Monday, February 27, 2006 1:08 AM

ANONYMOUS


wonderful! keep it up!

Monday, February 27, 2006 6:23 AM

ARTSHIPS


Boy, everything seems to be going our way. Sounds like the whole revolution will be over in another chapter or two.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 9:57 AM

SOULOFSERENITY


Great stuff again!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2006 7:35 PM

ANONYMOUS


Author show great familiarity with military fiction and skill in applying that to this alternate universe. I should like to see m ore character development, and am always interested in understanding more the politics and economics that created and now sustain the conflict.


POST YOUR COMMENTS

You must log in to post comments.

YOUR OPTIONS

OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits


OUR SPONSORS