The plan went out of the window when the rift opened up. All Freeborn Captain Kehra knew was that comms back to the Cadix base were breaking down significantly and the last communication amongst all the static and squeals was to evacuate the tunnels and head back to base with all due haste get back here. She understood that it must be important to interrupt the search for valuable Builder relics amongst the caves.
Their march formation was two units of cannon-fo… sorry Feral Mhagris to the fore screening the regular troops. Behind them was a central command squad with a unit of Domari and Vardanari to either side. The unit had recently been resupplied so there was now a targeting drone shard and a mobile reserve of a C3M4 combat drone and a Striker skimmer. Also two buddy gun-drones armed with plasma carbines had been added to the command squad.
The sounds of battle echoed all around plus an additional wailing noise. Then ahead of them appeared a Concord strike force, blocking the path. In front of Kehra’s force was comprised of one command squad and three strike teams, although she suspected they would have reserves too. The Freeborn’s quickest route eastward seemed to be to fight their way past the C3 troops, this had the additional benefit of giving them the opportunity to gain revenge on Blue 519, the force that killed Captain Petra (see episode 3). On the south side of the contingent Kehra, her body guards and buddy drones advanced firing. Their plasma carbines took out two troopers at long range. Further north but separated by a wall of stone, Feral Mhagris and Vardanari fired at a second strike squad gaining pins.
Then the bad news became clear: the Concord had also been resupplied. The caverns echoed to the sound of reaction thrusters as an M4 swooped into view from the north-east and three Vardanari were evaporated. Their unit held and watched as a squad of interceptors raced in from the south east heading initially to the centre of the battlefield. Behind them a strike team headed south-ward, clearly scouting out an alternate route past their Freeborn foes.
As all the troops advanced into the large cavern it became clear that the sound of fighting was coming from the north as odious Ghar fought yet more odious Ghar. As far as Kehra was concerned, there was no profit in getting involved in that but it closed off options of heading due north for either force.
Kehra responded to the C3’s combat drone by calling forward her own. It swept rapidly forward seeking line of sight on it’s opposite. A striker Skimmer also surged forward and then both the Freeborn vehicles fired at the Concord M4 pinning it. It responded by pinning the rival M4 back. To the south something odd and awful happened a roiling mass of vortex energy ripped the tunnel walls to atoms. It swept northward towards the two embattled forces and notably the scouting Concord squad which was closest to it. Kehra responded to this new threat by ordering her forces north east, aiming between the Ghar’s eastern edge and the Concord’s north. The Domari quickly followed her orders sprinting north east without pause. The two Freeborn vehicles surged forward duelling with the Concord combat drone protected by it’s batter drone. A shield drone caught an incoming shot. The closest Concord strike squad headed into the batter drone’s shelter ignoring the armoured duel happening just above their heads. The Interceptor squad switched directions and brought their plasma lances to bear on Kehra and her command squad. Kehra fell to the floor, mortally wounded. Jakoo her loyal body guard cradled her cauterised body willing her back to life. Her fall seemed to dishearten the Freeborn forces with half the units subsequently going down and giving the Concord free run. Most of the C3 squads advanced centre-ward. The command squad ran to the north west, presumably seeking a safer route.
Most of the Freeborn recovered from Kehra’s fall quickly. But not Jakoo even the swirling rift energy and the pleas of fellow bodyguard, Manus, could not shake him from his reverie.
Ferals and Vardanari followed Kehra’s last order sprinting north east while the armour duelled around them. This proved largely ineffectual with both sides receiving only pins although one shot appeared to penetrate the Striker skimmer’s armour.
The Domari surged north-easterly in to the open ground to the north. Seemingly in response, the Concord commander dashed north-easterly behind a rock, into cover but further from the ultimate safety of the cavern’s edge. he could be heard muttering about Ghar scourer cannons.
Bodyguard Manus was shot down by the Interceptor bikes but still Jakoo would not leave his dying captain and the implacable rift energy cremated them both as it swept past them uncaring.
The battle pivoted in a moment when the Striker pilot Noxanna changed tactics, she advanced Eastward giving her gunner clear line of sight to the Interceptor squad and the skimmer fired two waves of plasma light support shots at the bikes eliminating them. Following Noxanna’s lead both the vehicles switched to infantry hunting, sweeping on average north-eastward striking out at any infantry in range. The Striker pursued one strike-team relentlessly; closing on them firing three PLS salvoes at their brave foes killing them to a man. Similarly the M4, assisted by targeting drones, ruthlessly decimated the C3 command squad. Additional shots whittled the southern-most strike team down to one man, who cowered before their shots and that left him exposed to the rift energy which now covered most of the cavern.
The Freeborn infantry continued to sprint towards the north east and safety, amongst them a unit of Domari made it out of the cavern.
But not all was going the Freeborn way. The Concord M4 and the remaining strike team butchered what was left of the Vardanari squad. A feral squad sprinted in line through a much smaller tunnel but were caught going through it. Both ends of the line were evaporated and the remaining two sheltering inside the tunnel broke and served no further part in the battle.
Ultimately the two Freeborn vehicles covered the remaining feral infantry squad as it sprinted for its objective before gliding off accompanied by their targeting drones. They left behind one strike team, a C3 targeting drone shard and the Concord M4, which was close enough to leave the cavern too.
Result a clear victory for Vardos Cadix (16-6)
Things to improve on;
I keep losing my commanders.
The armoured duel proved pointless but it’s drama sucked me in. I should have ended it sooner or alternatively bought an anti-armour weapon.