Squooshy, a Squad Buddies Fiction featuring Eve de la Vega Jan 14, 2020 8:43:52 GMT -9 squirmydad, emergencyoverride, and 1 more like this
Post by glennwilliams on Jan 14, 2020 8:43:52 GMT -9
by Glenn Williams
by Glenn Williams
Field Corporal Eve de la Vega was relieved. The “debacle” (her CO’s word) at Pontic, had surprisingly not led to her demotion–only because, as her CO stressed, she had accomplished the primary mission objective, albeit in a way that led to much more sturm und drang than HQ desired. Finally freed from the bloody debriefing, she fled to the back shadows of the Enlisted Club’s bar. She stared at the bottle of Ye Old Rotgut, well, actually, Miterlong “Premium” whiskey. It was half full, the other half coursing through her blood stream. As she reached for the bottle, her hand missed, knocking her cigar from its ashtray. She swore, reached again, grabbed the square bottle and tipped it toward her glass. Most of what she poured filled the glass. The rest...she shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut. Opening them, she could see a small puddle sending rivulets toward the table edge, but a shadow over the table obscured her view.
Looking up, she might have imagined a figure in uniform pulling a chair to her table, turning it backwards, and then sitting facing her.
“Field Sergeant de la Vega?”
“Not any more.”
The figure slid a set of stripes across the table, carefully avoiding both the whiskey puddle and her half smoked cigar.
“Pick up the stripes and you will be.”
Eve shook her head and slurred, “Whuh?” then jumped as a sharp pin lackwit stung her left arm. The fog dissolved. She saw a grizzled, unshaven Field Captain wearing BDUs she didn’t recognize and some kind of turban. Then with a sudden shudder, she was washed with clarity, seeing better than ever.
“What the hell did you do to me, captain?”
“Only a pick me up. I need you sharp for this–“
They were interrupted by a Specialist Sergeant growling, “Officers aren’t allowed here. Please leave.”
The captain glanced at the intruder, laid a service pistol on the table, saying “When I’m done.”
A week later, Field Sergeant Eve de la Vega watched through the porthole as her sub-orbital shuttle dropped through the heavy cloud layer above Tonopah. In the seats behind her, Bodea with his new Field Corporal stripes, snored. Taiji and Domorov played some obscure card game that only required dealing two cards each. The shuttle’s S-curve to bleed speed caused her to brace in the seat, and after a few of the curves, she heard (and felt) the pop of air brakes slowing the craft for landing. A solid thump meant they were gear down.
Two months in and Eve and her squad of two teams stood in a hangar by Tonopah’s runway. Bright Nevada sunlight spilled through the massive doorway but could not reach the shadows at the rear of the building. Just poking out of those shadows was the dagger like shape of their new ride, a shiny new T/A-97 Scorpion spec ops squad attack transport. Eve’s eyes slid past it, having become perhaps too familiar with it over the past month. What intrigued her were the two shapes under its wings.
Field Captain Dermot Singh wearing a dark green Sikh style turban crossed the floor to stand by the craft. Turning their way, he motioned them to join him. “Come meet your new squad mates!”
The huge Stratolaunch 2 lifted their Scorpion with its attached booster off the runway. Without windows, Eve had to rely on the cockpit feed from the huge carrier aircraft. She saw the Tonopah runway shrinking rapidly as the altimeter display climbed. Crap, she thought, this was real–real stupid: she was strapped in a reclining bucket seat, clamped to a big ass rocket, hanging beneath a plane that was just too big to get in the air much less reach...Oh My God, 35,000 feet! Seconds later as the plane crossed forty thousand feet, her stomach was left behind as they dropped free of the plane. The Scorpion rotated its nose skyward and she was slammed back into her seat as a thousand dragons roared behind her. After what seemed like seconds, a shudder swept up the Scorpion’s airframe as the booster dropped behind them. Eve remembered how much she hated free fall.
Executing what the grunts called a “vomit stop” landing, the pilot dropped the rear ramp and lit the back compartment with red light. It was time. Eve didn’t bother issuing commands or looking at her squad. They knew the drill, even if this were their first rodeo. While they were all veterans, this was their first op as a squad. That explained the spike in blood pressure on her HUD.
With her two fire teams and two robots, she had a manageable span of control of four, as each robot was managed as if it were a team. To her left the Little Corporal (she’d named it Shelly) UGV robot took a fire support position, all the while feeding sensor data to the squad net. The hum of her Buzzkill UAV began as it lifted into the air behind her squad and shot forward, its sensors probing and adding their data to the squad net. Fortunately, the limited AI on Eve’s back integrated and processed the data, preventing confusing overlaps and information overload. Nothing from either team nor either robot...yet.
She sent commands to her metal squad mates. Buzzkill climbed seeking enough altitude to detect roof top snipers. Shelly crawled forward on nearly silent rubber tracks. When it (she?) neared its forty yard command radius, Eve sprinted forward toward cover, knowing her human squad members were doing the same.
For this mission Eve had selected a multi-pod for Shelly. While the Gatling gun was great for suppressing enemy infantry, she really needed the six micro-missiles, as they gave her at least a modicum of artillery-like support. One of her guys carried an extra six pack of missiles just in case things got squooshy. In Eve’s experience, squooshy was the normal state of spec ops combat. Buzzkill she had fit with a silenced pistol. It would be her infiltrating Sneaky Pete, a combat routine she had moved to the top of the Buzzkill’s stack.
Moments later, the Shelly lit up a target guarding the door they needed. Per its order stack, the robot passed the data to the squad net and moved forward while staying under the cover of a fuel truck. Eve’s sniper clicked an acknowledgment of the target, then fired a single smart round that insured they would reach the door undetected. Or, that would have been the case had the Little Corporal not exploded as an anti-tank missile hit. Eve wasn’t sure the fuel truck’s secondary detonation was a hindrance or help, as the thermal bloom and light blinded a wide range of sensors. She did know one thing: that explosion was typical mission squooshy. The ATGM team’s two red dots faded. Buzzkill had infiltrated behind them and two silent shots ended the threat. Eve was glad she had moved the counter-threat order up the Buzzkill’s priority stack.
Surprisingly, the primary mission objective didn’t take long. Bodea hacked the door security. Buzzkill zipped down the corridor scouting ahead just as Eve ordered, and Taiji and Domorov took out the three people actually in the building. Fire team 2, her newbies (well, veterans who were new to her) set the charges and flashed a “set” across the squad net. They had left in good order, no one injured, except for scratches from the fuel truck explosion. Once they were clear, she triggered the charges.
Eve took a moment to savor that comforting “mission accomplished” feeling as the underground hanger was filled with primary and secondary explosions, incinerating the enemy’s entire stock of autonomous close air support drones. Four hundred threats the landing force would not face. Then everything went squooshy again. Some kind of smart micro missile detonated near Buzzkill. The drone shook, tilted, and slid sideways, almost grounding. Then it righted and shot upward, illuminating the new threat.
To Eve’s shock, a micro missile shot past her from behind, rising then plunging on the enemy micro-missile launcher. She glanced back and saw that the new guy Braxton on team 2 had set the micro missile six pack on the ground and held two wires. Raising her eyebrows, Braxton shrugged and said, “Hot wired.”
As it happened, that unmanned enemy missile launcher was their last opposition. Eve led her squad’s extraction and headed for the rendevous point. Just as they broke cover, the waiting Scorpion dropped the rear ramp, up they rushed, even Buzzkill, humans grabbing any hand hold they could as the Scorpion rose, pointed its nose skyward and ignited the under wing boosters.
Eve tongued her mission net switch and tersely grunted, “Volcano, repeat, volcano.”
The flight back was slower in atmosphere mode requiring two inflight refuelings, but after a quick debrief with Field Captain Singh, the entire team walked into the E Club holding a broom above their heads. From the bar, Eve held her beer out, took the celebratory cigar from her mouth and shouted, “Here’s to our little Shelly, may she rest in peace. And to Buzzkill, who didn’t fail when things went squooshy! And...,” she grinned, “to the best damn team in the squadron!”