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The Assault of Orion I

Part Two

Trooper Cahill ran his hand down her smooth flank and gently laid his cheek against her side . He softly whispered to her . " Soon baby , soon I can untie you and then we can have some real fun." He reached down and checked the fasteners that held her firmly to the rings in the floor. I know you hate this baby but it's for your own good and it won't be for too long." He gently checked to make sure the clasps weren't chafing her too badly . A harsh voice behind him startled him . "Everything OK Cahill ?" A familiar voice asked .His face flushed crimson as he wondered how much his Sergeant heard . " Sure thing Sarge , just checking the tiedowns on the tank and making sure that those swabbies didn't mess anything up when they fastened her to the deck." Rhame just nodded at his driver and motioned a thumb over his shoulder. " The pre invasion briefing starts in 10 minutes so get a move on." Cahill all but ran out of the cargo bay and out from his Tank commanders glare. Rhame shook his head as the Trooper disappeared through the hatch. Cahill had an affinity with machines that even the Meklar mechanics in the Motor Pool had remarked on once , but whispering sweet nothings to the tank was a bit much. Rhame headed for the hatch as it wouldn't do for him to be late to the briefing . He paused a moment and slowly walked to his tank and placed his hand gently on the cool side for a moment . In a voice so low it could barely be heard over the humming of the air circulators " Just one more battle old girl , just keep us safe for one more. " He shook his head a moment and strode out the hatch without looking back.

The messhall/briefing chamber was packed with more people than Rhame had ever seen at one time this whole voyage . "At least the Corps could be transported as a whole on these new class of troop transports" Rhame thought . He remembered the old days packed in like sardines in those old slow buckets that were more akin to spacegoing coffins that proper spacecraft. "You made 6 drops in those buckets 'old man' and you came through better than most of the guys that you went through Armor school with." he said to himself.

Rhame found the rest of 3rd platoon by just looking for Sgt. Kindred , easily the tallest man in the room . He wondered for the 100th time what kind of deal he had made with Personnel Department to get assigned to tanks even though he was clearly at least 6 inches too tall and 50 lbs over the maximum allowable for Armor asignment . Sgt. Kindred was arguing with his gunner Cpl. Burke again . Rhame wondered what it was THIS time . As he got close enough to hear he rolled his eyes when he got the gist of this conversation. "I'm not kidding , I got this from a friend of mine and I checked the code out Sergeant , this code upgrade will give us a 40% increase in target aquisition speed and cut through the ECM noise 60% better than what we have uploaded now." "It's the genuine code out of the Hack Labs but it just hasn't been approved for use yet but it's the real deal , I checked it line by line and it'll work perfectly" Rhame came up behind them and decided to end this before the whole platoon found themselves with unauthorized code in their hardware. "I am telling you once and once only Corporal , no unapproved code on any machine in this Platoon are we crystal clear ?" Cpl. Burke spun around and nodded quickly to his Platoon Leader . "Sure Sarge , I was just trying to get us ahead of the curve on this drop" They were interrupted by the Corps Command Sergeant Majors bellow " ATTENTION ON DECK ." All sound stopped as all the men in the room came to attention , the General had arrived.

General Parker stepped to the podium and glared at the assembled Troopers. The General was shorter than most of the soldiers looking up at her but her troops knew that small frame contained a commander that didn't accept anything except victory and expected nothing less than 100% from all her units during battle. Her voice carried by the halls audio system had an edge of anger that caused a slight apprehension in her troops. "Alright XV Corps we have a change in Battle Plans and you all need to pay close attention or the whole Corps is going to be hip deep in flarg " There was a murmmer among the gathered Troopers ."A change of the Battle Plan ?" Rhame thought ." The day before the drop , they must be crazy" All of 3rd Platoon looked at Rhame as if to ask if he had known of this. The stricken look on his face told them the truth. General Parker let the mumbling go on for only a few seconds before growling out " Alright quit acting like a bunch of Infantrymen and get your heads in the game !" She looked around as the insult hit home and the troops shut right up. "Military Intelligence has informed us that the Antarans had a spy in High Command that passed our Battle Plans and drop zones back to Orion and I was given the options to abort the attack or land in the planned area if I thought it was possible ." "Well I didn't like either of those options so I told High Command that if they gave me discretion as to drop location , that XV Corps could carve a drop zone for the other units to land in" She looked at all her soldiers before telling them the rest. " The General in command of Army Group Center wanted to abort the whole invasion until the Field Marshal told him that if any unit could do it , XV Corps could." "So the Field Marshal thinks we can do it , I think we can do it , but it won't work unless YOU think we can do it." "So XV Corps can we do this or do I send the abort code to High Command " The massive "UUUUURAHHHHHHH" that echoed off the walls was all the answer she needed .

She turned on the holoprojector behind her and began to sketch out the new plan "Alright now here's what we are going to do"




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