“On the firing line! Move it Marines! Get on the fucking firing line!” Gunnery Sergeant Adam Grant bellowed. He crouched as he heard the whine of an incoming shell, which exploded twenty meters away, throwing up a fountain of dirt into the air. Around him, the Marines of Charlie Company, 11th Marine Assault Unit raced out of the safety of their APCs and dove into the hastily dug trench works.
“Shag your asses—get those Sentry guns on-line! We’ve got killer robots coming in hot and heavy to steal away your pimply dirty skin, sweethearts. Robots that don’t feel pain, they don’t get afraid, and they outnumber you devil-dogs three hundred to one! We are a road-block Marines! We are going to stop these metallic monstrosities because behind us there is the capital and the space-port! One hundred and thirty-seven thousand civilians who are counting on us to hold until the fucking Guard manages to squeeze their fat asses into fatigues and get mobilized!”
Another shell came down as the Marines feverishly worked to get the twenty-four Sentry guns assigned to Charlie Company set up behind the berm of soil that the engineers had hastily created before moving down to Bravo Company on the right—and then Alpha beyond them.
“We have the Sentry guns, Marines! We have the APCs providing fire support! We have our own Mortar Section ready for on-call fire! We will prevail today! We will hold this line! These fucking Cylons have never met Marines before! My Marines! Leathernecks, today we will show these unfeeling, uncaring, evil tin-men just what they fuck they have stuck their aluminum dicks into!”
“HERE THEY COME!” yelled one rifleman, and the Marines threw themselves forward against the earthen berm, charging their pulse rifles. The Smart-gun operators and their assistants had already set up tripods to hold the heavy weapons—but each still wore their harnesses just in case they needed to move fast.
Gunny Grant looked up at the line of fast moving Cylons crossing the ridge two kilometers away, and he gritted his teeth as he charged his own pulse rifle and hopped down into the trench. “Aimed shots, Marines! Make every shot count!” he shouted.
Behind the trench line, eight APCs opened up with their 20mm rotary cannons, their pulse-phased plasma guns, and their high-intensity automatic lasers. The shells and energy beams tore into the leading edge of the Cylons—but they did not halt. Well, most of them did not halt. A few did came to a stop and raise disposable tubes to their shoulders that sprouted rockets trailing fire and smoke in their wake. Far heavier than what a human could have lifted, the anti-vehicle rockets tore across the ground, and three went home—each in a separate APC that exploded under the impact.
“Mortar teams,” Grant said into his microphone, silently cursing the Captain and two Lieutenants who had fled earlier, “fire mission, dual-purpose HE, sheaf aligned north-east to south-west, grid coordinates 3Q-1F-2473-3621.”
“Shot,” the radio broadcast. And there was a whine as a marker shell impacted, “Splash.”
“Up twenty and fire for effect,” Grant ordered.
“Shot,” the mortar chief answered. The eight auto-loading mortars assigned to Charlie company went to rapid-fire, and forty shells came plunging down into the center of the formation. Thirty seconds later, the mortar teams repeated it—and then again and again.
The Sentry guns began to bark, and one of the smart-gun operators yelled out, “Let’s rock!” And among the noise created by the automatic fire, Gunny Grant smiled as he heard the distinctive sharp CRACK of the dozen snipers—each shot blasting a hole into the head or chest of an oncoming Centurion.
“Riflemen! Hold to two hundred meters! Ready grenades!” Grant ordered, and the Marines raised their pulse rifles at a steep angle and loaded a grenade into the chamber of their integral launchers. “FIRE!”
Scores of grenades rained down, but the Centurions just kept coming.
“Aimed fire!” Grant yelled out. “Lock! Load! FIRE!”
And as the riflemen began squeezing off two and three shot bursts, Grant thumb his radio again. “Trident Six, Charlie Five—where the fuck is our air support?”
He raised his rifle and fired off burst after burst, and then the voice of the commander of the 11th MAU came over his earpiece. “Inbound bearing gifts, Gunny. Ten seconds.”
Another APC exploded behind Grant and he winced. Five gone—FIVE. In minutes. And with them the majority of his firepower. “Third platoon! Watch the left, they are flanking us!” he bellowed as he stood in the trench and began to fire into the chrome and golden Centurions working their way around his open flank.
And then there was a scream of engines and three Cougars passed by overhead—their chain guns barking flame and fury and tearing immense holes in the Cylon charge. And from underneath the wings, cluster bombs disengaged and dropped free—but the Cylons were expecting the air attack and two of the Cougars exploded in mid-air to the man-portable (HAH! Grant thought) SAMs these creatures carried.
And he jumped, swiveling his rifle as a man hopped down into the trench beside him—but he checked his fire as he realized it was another human.
“Colonel Chatham, Gunnery Sergeant,” the man reported crisply. “7th King’s Own Scottish Border Paras,” he said with a salute. “Sorry about the delay, old chap, but had to scrounge up some civilian lorries for transport; areas a bit too hot to deploy by air today.” He smiled at the UAA Marine NCO. “Where do you want my boys and girls?”
“If the Colonel could secure the left flank,” Grant said as he lowered the pulse rifle and began to breath easier.
Chatham waved and from trucks pulling up behind the APCs, Imperial Paras began to extend the line to the left. And this god-awful wailing sound began to moan through the air. Grant blinked, as the kilted bagpiper walked past, ignoring the incoming fire as he wailed out Scotland the Brave.
“We may be Scottish in name only these days, Gunnery Sergeant, but we always make certain that at least one Highland piper is in our ranks,” Chatham said with a smile. And then he clapped Grant on the shoulder and climbed out of the trench, took a moment to adjust his beret, and trotted over to his command group.
Grant shook his head and turned his attention back to the oncoming Cylons—the thousands of them coming over the ridge and the broad river flats. “Pour it on, Jarheads! The Brits are here; and the first one of you who embarrasses the Corps in front of these crumpet-eating, tea-drinking, cater-wauling bastards will get shot by ME!”