Part 1: Tired And Cold
Max Deveros was hating the cold. Despite the warm winter coat, and the heat on high in the cockpit of his Training Strider, he could still feel that deep down inner core cold. When their patrol was over, he was spending all of his free time in the showers.
He kind of wondered why anyone would want to live up here, all he saw were blizzard filled skies and an endless field of snow. But a few months ago, Colony General Malthus had given his life to defend this forgotten coastline from invasion, and the EEF would be damned if it was all for nothing.
But from Max’s point of view, it was just a waste of time. Most of the lands up here were owned by the Northern Kingdoms. The EEF owned a little slice that ran from the Glacial Research Station to the coast. On one side was the neutral Northern Kingdom of Jemison Post, named after a famous Earther astronaut.
On the other side of their territory was the lands of the Hobtla Mag’ol. Nasty little white fur Olgogs known for eating anyone they find. Things had gotten worse over the last couple of months since the invasion. It seemed a whole army of Cambions serving the illuminated Unixah had landed here, and were supposed to help the invasion. But when the invasion failed, Unixah married the Olgog Emperor Hobtla Mag’ol and intergrated her forces with his.
From Max’s perspective this was all political nonsense, but he had seen the white fur olgogs of the Hobtla Mag’ol watching their patrols with interest. But when they began tunneling towards the EEFers with speed, Max was a little surprised. He raised the alert just in time as the attack began.
Max’s fingers danced across his control panel, activating thermal scanners and beginning target acquisition for his missile systems. He called in to his commanding officer and his radio got static. Glancing over, he saw his CO and two fellow EEF Specialists were down. Their bodies so covered by bone spears they looked like odd porcupines. The snow at their feet was already staining a deep red.
His own anti-vehicle lasers were already targeting a trio of mounds burrowing through the snow towards him. The laser was not visible until was a few feet from the snow. There, snow flake particulates allowed it to be seen. The beams struck with precision. Each beam resulted in a large heat flare up under the snow line, melted snow and a cooked olgog body.
While fighting back the attackers, Max radioed back to the Glacial Research Facility, and was put through to a tactical officer.
“Sir, Our CO is down, and we are barely holding this valley,” said Max in a fully panicked voice.
The voice from over the radio said, “The valley has limited tactical significance. Withdraw immediately, and we will bring in an airstrike.”
“Sir, we are surrounded. There is no direction to withdraw through, without trying to push through their ambush,” Max said, as he vaporized a leaping White fur.
“You are driving a damn Strider, boy. Get that vehicle moving and push through. You can open the way. Remember your training. Your fellow soldiers are relying on you. Now get that vehicle moving!” ordered the voice over the radio calmly.
Max thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
He had his Strider step up and out, pushing up past an ice wall that sprang into effect in front of him. Using the anti-vehicle lasers, Max melted the wall and was ready to call his squadmembers to rally and make an ordered retreat.
An older White Fur stepped from the snow, and raised a staff made from giant bone. The little alien waved the staff and a massive blast of purple and blue flames leapt onto the Strider.
Max panicked as his gauges all began to shut down.
He fired off the missiles, hoping their guidance systems had not been hit as directly as his cockpit had. Using the last bit of power in the battery he keyed up the missile and fired, then his display went dark. The temperature in his cockpit was getting oppressively cold by the second, and he couldn’t turn the heater on without power.
Pulling his jacket tight, Max was lit up for a moment as his missile struck the White Fur who had disabled his vehicle. There was a large flash of light, and when it cleared there was a crater where the white fur had been standing. Parts of the staff lay broken at the edge of the crater.
Max grabbed up an emergency Go Bag from under his seat. He pulled out his emergency radio and began cranking it up. When the display finally lit up, Max took a pair of cords from the emergency radio and plugged it into the strider control panel. He continued cranking like his life depended on it. What was about two minutes felt like hours. Finally he saw a link wink on, but the heat didn’t come back on.
Max looked down at his gauges and noticed his .50 Cal Machinegun system was able to work on the lowest power settings. Thank the Motor Pool for convincing him NOT to replace it with a railgun mount, and for the first time since the battle started the Immutable smiled.
Using the emergency radio for its actual intended purpose, Max finally broadcast an all-call on a specific frequency he remembered from training.
“This is Max Deveros. My Strider is barely functional, and we are pinned down by White Fur Olgogs. They are making hit and run attacks on our position, but with at least five feet of snow deep around us, they are coming from all directions.”