Months after serving with Rothschild at Athena Academy, Cpl Lanval Whittaker returns to the start of a failed offensive that would see him disappear for nearly a year.
Location: Roubiax, Leonis
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 578
The Leonese Marines were in the air before dawn. The scout squads of two four-man groups were set up inside a pair of Hummingbird light transports, a VTOL atmospheric craft that was dropping them on the outskirts of the city to work their way to the interior and mark drop zones for incoming invasion force. For close to an hour, the Hummingbirds had matched the manic undulations of a fertile volcanic plain and now; as they jerked back and forth to avoid the petrified trunks of a forest burned long ago, Corporal Lanval Whittaker had to work to keep his boots planted on the Hummingbird's starboard landing skid.
Like the other Marines, Lanval was dressed in the cold weather urban camouflage of muted grays and blacks with matte black tactical armor that bulwark everything vital from his neck down to his knees. A grey shemagh was pulled around his lower half of his face, a mirrored set of tactical goggles covered his eyes. Even with gloves, though, Lanval could feel the cold biting through him. He squeezes his hands into fists to keep the blood flowing, he glanced down at his watch. Just as the slightly glowing hands his 0457, the transports crested a line of fertile hills and Lanval and the other Marines got their first line-of-sigh view of their objective: one of Roubiax's Industrial Complexes, shut down when the war started and overrun by Cylon workers. This would be their insertion point to start working their way forward to start to mark areas for the follow-on Marines to land - a full regiment with full air support - Roubiax would be the first step in taking back the whole territory, and eventually, Leonis.
Even before the pilots of the Hummingbirds could give the two squads the heads up that they were approaching the landing, Lanval was already in motion; slapping his magazine into his weapon, yanking the charging handle and toggling off the safety - a well-rehearsed cacophony of clicks and snaps that went unheard over the spooling noises of the twin turbojets and rushing wind as the Hummingbirds hustled over the back slope of the hills and came to an abrupt, nose-up stops on the edge of town. The thrusters on the Hummingbirds’ wingtips rotated to keep the aircraft steady as the Marines unclipped from their hard-points, dropped onto the frost-covered pumice and began to run.
As the lead scout, Lanval took point of the first squad, moving quickly across the broken ground. Seeing how his own armor stood out in the pale, pre-dawn light, he knew speed was essential if both squads were going to reach the workshop undetected. So he set a brisk pace, hurdled a low, chain-link fence, and wove quickly through piles of plastic crates and pallets that littered the parking lot of what appeared to be nothing more than a rundown vehicle repair shop. By the time Lanval and his squad reached the shop’s front door, they were winded. If it weren’t for the Marines’ helmets, their breath would have billowed bone-white in the frigid air, but Lanval was thankful for the extra warmth.
Bringing his chin down on a pressure-pad inside his helmet, Lanval sent a short burst of static across the squads’ encrypted radio COM channel: an 'in position' signal for Staff Sergeant Byrne, the leader of the second squad, now positioned by the workshop’s back entrance. Lanval waited for Byrne’s two-burst response, then he pushed away from the workshop’s pitted mason and concrete wall, raised a knee to his chest, and smashed his boot against the thin metal door, just above the lock. Once the door was down, the group moved quickly to clear the factory floor. Resistance was light as they entered - a pair of former factory drones that carried rivet guns that sprayed bolts at the Marines were taken down quickly, as the squad moved across the floor. There was several bodies here still from the original uprising, the factory superintended and his staff were among the first to fall in the Uprising, and their bodies were never recovered afterwards. Their decay had left them barely recognizable as bodies anymore.
Passing by the break room, Lanval glanced within. While they only had a limited human staff, the break room was still set up for comfort of those with a pulse and a heart. Not that the vending machines within would provide any sustenance at this point - the building had been without power for months at this point - even the freeze-dried snacks would have passed their expiration. However, that isn't what caught his attention. A flicker of movement caught his attention. Moving within the room, Lanval brought his rifle up. A page from a calendar ruffled in the breeze. The girl in the picture was in a propped up pose in a swimsuit against a piece of the newest Cylon equipment - he couldn't help but to think of a similar pose that his former Sergeant, Eudora Rothschild, was doing now to promote the war effort. His amusement was brief however, when he heard a mechanical, feminine voice asking. "What can I prepare for you?"
Lanval had heard of this servant model before - it was a chef, one that was supposed to prepare meals and probably worked in the factory's kitchen. It's hands were fitted with two blades, and he could tell by the dark-colored brown on them and the stains on the white plate, it had used those in a very unauthorized way. Bringing up his rifle, Lanval snorted softly. "How about a lead appetizer." he muttered as he put a three-round burst into the Cylon, causing it to hit the ground.
'Report' came over his radio a moment later. Pressing down on the side of his ear, Lanval reported. 'One tango. It's down. Are the beacons up?'
'Beacons up, clear the floor.' was the response.
Making his way to the rooftop, Lanval set in position to watch. The beacons were the call to the heavier transports to start to arrive in the city - they were going to drop in from the all sides and swarm over the Cylon resistance. It would be a quick and hard thrust that would have everyone home within three days. Causalities were expected to be light.
The transports crested the hills, the large lumbering craft filled with Leonese Marines and Legion soldiers the spearhead of the offensive coming in to lay the punch at the four beacon locations that had been set up around Roubiax. Lifting his hand to shield his eyes, Lanval watched for a moment before something from the city caught his attention. A single streak of white launched from somewhere near the city center - from Lanval's guess, it was the Botanical Gardens - and quickly jumped to meet the front transport. It exploded just beneath the cockpit of the craft, ripping it apart with flame and shrapnel and explosive decompression, sending the Raptor into a hard spin. The first streak was suddenly joined by dozens more as it seemed that every missile in the Centurion stockpile was in the sky, a swarm of angry bees attacking the birds getting too close to the nest.
The Raptors and transports had little chance. Chaff and flares were flung into the sky as discarded party favors, desperate attempts to baffle the missiles into tracking away or prematurely exploding, but for every missile that was taken out, there seemed to be two more that took it's place. It was quickly turning into a slaughter in the skies as the first wave of transports was completely annihilated within two minutes.
One of the Raptors took a hit in the engine and warbled dangerously, it's one remaining engine screaming shrilly to try to keep it aloft but it was a failing gambit as the transport streaked over the factory, trailing thick black smoke as it disappeared into the city and crash-landed.
'Orders, sir?' Lanval asked, 'They're gone, what are we going to do?'
It took several moments for the response to arrive. 'Command says we're on our own, there's no exfil coming. Let's try to get to that downed Raptor.'
Lanval lingered on the roof for a few more moments as he realized that they were marching into the teeth of the Cylon's stronghold and muttered quietly. "Frak."