Their Very First Battle
by Jeffrey Yorio
1st Lieutenant Randy Khor, the commander of D company, 3rd battalion, Terran Marines, examined his section of the line. D company had been reduced to seventy-four effectives, less than half his original complement. He came across Corporal Jones, passing out ammo.
“How much do we have left, Jonesy?”
“Six-hundred clips and forty-eight grenades, then we’re down to bayonets.
“Shit! Khor said sotto voce, as he turned to survey the battlefield
Ghoram bodies covered the ground outside his lines. Their gray and tan leathery bodies, blood the color of melted rust, fly-like eyes, and ant-like mandibles, lay where they had fallen. The Ghoram made no effort to recover the injured, whose chirping, click-clack noises became increasingly unnerving. A few Ghoram had reached the trenches, where many Terran marines had suffered those mandibles as they crunched through combat armor and released a caustic liquid or crushed the arm at the same time.
While lost in thought, Khor felt a presence next to him. Turning, he saw Jones, who saluted. “Sir, these ‘grasshoppers’, how do we fight them? They just keep on coming. The men are worried that Fleet won’t get here in time.”
“Relax, we all know that Fleet needs a computer to tell time and an alarm clock to remind them to check the computer.”
A screeching whistle, interrupted their conversation, heralding the third ‘grasshopper’ assault. The large explosion and cloud drew Randy’s gaze. That’s near battalion HQ. The noise of high pitch screaming filled the air and Khor heard the words, “Incoming!”
Khor went to ground as several explosions showered him with dirt and pieces of dead Ghoram body parts. Randy turned on his HUD battle computer and was immediately linked with his company. Crap, four more I & I’s(Injured and incapacitated) but so far no deaths.
“D-company, RAM grenades hit quads A2 through A8. Mini-guns, D3 through D6, troopers 1st and 2nd platoons, concentrate on D1-2; 3rd and 4th platoons on D7-8. He heard the sound of the 105mm mortars, from battalion artillery. They were using ‘beehive’ shells and would target the enemies rear.
D-company rose to the edge of their trenches and began fire at the enemy. Selecting targets was not an issue, they were coming in waves. “Nice, the grasshoppers have limits, they’re keeping their density by shortening their lines.”
Several ‘zings’ of the Ghoram ‘needle’ rifles, slammed into his armor. “Is that all you got you slime balls?” He pressed the button and sent two of his four RAM grenades into the Ghoram line, which bore no resemblance to an orderly attack. Again the Ghoram were able to reach the lines, after suffering withering fire from the marines, for about forty-five minutes. A huge Ghoram, almost seven feet long and over five feet tall, entered the trench about four feet from Khor. He whirled and emptied his clip into it, yet the holes made in it only seemed to anger it. It reared up on its hind legs and jumped at Knor. Instinctively, he had raised his arm and heard those mandibles clamp onto his arm. Shit! Now, what the fuck do I do? …My rescue flare! Khor actually twisted his arm such that his fist was pointing into that ugly mouth and discharged the flare, causing the head to catch fire as it began to spill bubbling, boiling brown blood all over his arm and body. He looked around and saw that they were retreating. Good. Wait, that’s Jonesy’s marker moving with them.
Without thinking about what he was doing, he grabbed a rifle from a dead marine and ran toward Jonsey’s marker. He killed the two Ghoram who were protecting those carrying Jonsey. That was when he noticed that the rest of D-company had followed his lead and also charged the retreating Ghoram. But they were unable to reach him, despite those that they killed. He ordered a return to lines.
“Okay, D-company status, click your status buttons.” The news wasn’t good. Down to fifty-seven effectives. “I want the walking wounded to help get the more seriously injured to MASH or evac.”
He was interrupted by regimental HQ. “Lieutenant Khor, this is General Tines. As the most senior company commander alive, you are now commander of the 3rd battalion. Command links have been established. In three minutes report battalion status.”
“Yes, General.” The news was terrible. 3rd battalion was now barely two companies strong. Its command post had been partially destroyed and its ammo dump was gone. Randy switched to 3rd battalion’s comm line. “Attention all company commanders, this is Randy Knor, now commanding officer of the Fighting 3rd. All companies will withdraw to the last trench line, walking wounded will help those who are seriously injured to the evac point. For the rest of you who can still use a rifle, take weapons and ammo from the injured, rig traps with grenades you can’t carry. Platoon commanders report in status in two minutes. Knor out.”
Within two minutes, he knew the battalions status. 275 effective marines, they’d gathered seven of the eight mini-guns and what ammo they could. All had several grenades and a perimeter had been established around battalion HQ. Then they waited and prepared, all injured had been evacuated to the regiment. He finished his report to the General. Fleet was expected in ten hours
Seven hours they waited, sleeping in 2hour shifts yet no attack came, none of their mortars, nothing. One of his sentries noticed movement and sent word to Khor.
“Sir, a movement was detected at the edge of our old trenches. One enemy, dragging something, just standing there. I see no weapons on him.”
Knor checked, sure enough, one unarmed enemy, dragging a litter. I’d say we just received an invitation. “I’ll check it out.” Randy Knor left his weapons behind and walked to the enemy.
When he was close he saw that it was Jonsey on the stretcher, no armor, the Ghoram soldier just stood there. Knor said, “Why?”
The Ghoram said, “Always Faithful.”
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Jeffrey Yorio lives outside of Rochester, NY. and has been writing for close to four years. He has accumulated degrees in education and operations management to go with a wife and three children. His stories had been published in Aphelion and The Flash Fiction Press.