Chapter 32: "Standing On The Line"

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"A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week."

"The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his."

- United States Army General George S. Patton

1

The Line, South of Old Detroit

Rudy and Adam

Thousands of armored Thorn warriors crawled over the heaps of their shredded comrades. Two hours and half a dozen charges later and the Thorns were yet to break the defensive line between the ruins if Detroit and the township of Red Rock, established by the Grey Bears and Red Rocker militia. It remained to be seen if the line would hold much longer. Each charge was met by a slightly less intense volley of fire from the defenders as losses and dwindling ammunition reserves took their toll.

"They just keep coming," Adam whispered. "Where do they all come from? There's no way they were hiding so many of them in the ruins of the D. Where are we with the next bombardment SC?" Adam asked, not turning his head to look at Rudy.

"It's charging!" Rudy yelled over the crash of rail gun fire and rumble of explosions up and down the lone.

"Is it me or does this remind you of Newtown?" Adam continued. His rifle, formerly the main gun of Coalition Enforcer robot vehicle, thundered along with the rest.

"Nah," Rudy said, adjusting the targeting lock on the control panel, "Newtown was worse; we had to keep an eye out for civilians, CS bastards, a bunch of pissed off Juicers, and a whole different group of weird ass insect aliens. At least the Thorns don't have wings!"

The hum of the capacitor charging reached a crescendo and was followed by the rapid fire thumping of a thousand metal slugs being launched from the barrels of Metal Storm. A random person seeing the four compact cubes composing the unit would have assumed they were some form of portable storage, until the hatches were thrown open and hundreds of narrow barrels were exposed. Accelerated by a single magnetic coil, the primitive rail guns of Metal Storm saturated an area with a curtain of ordinance.

The cumulative effect was nothing short of devastating.

As before, the slugs travelling exponentially faster than the speed of sound chewed through the oncoming Thorns. It was a meat grinder of body parts, exploding weapons, and carnage of a biblical level. The deaths came so fast the enemy never even had the chance to scream before they were pulped. The advance was once more halted. Firing along the line slackened and then stopped.

For a few minutes, silence reigned.

"That was too close," Adam breathed, sliding his back down the wall of the trench.

"It's gonna be worst next time," Rudy replied, his voice cold and exhausted in equal measure.

Adam looked up and started to ask what his friend meant, but the words died on his lips. Thick black smoke billowed from the central hub of Metal Storm, the capacitor and generator unit were burning wreckages.

2

Behind The Line

Colonel McCoy and Karl

"I understand, Rudy," McCoy said into his throat mic. "Set the charges and get your asses back here PDQ."

"What happened?" Karl asked on McCoy's private circuit after the Colonel signed off with the forward team.

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