Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
It’d been a grim day spent fending off morning and afternoon assaults by enemy forces. Wave after wave of troops. Minimal armour, and a lot of their kit looks past third-hand.
They’re low on heavy manufacturing capabilities after their industrial heartland was destroyed. We tried neutron bombing to minimise damage, but they just herded more workers in, regardless of casualties. So we became war criminals by leaving them nothing to sacrifice workers in.
Anyway, I’m lighting a cigar and thinking of home when someone screams. I shout as I roll off the bed.
I run from my tent, grabbing a flamethrower as I pass the rack. Sod subtlety. It’s night, I’m tired, and three attacks in a day is just not on.
We race to the line and find utter chaos. I’m trying to make head or tail of it when an enemy trooper lurches out of the darkness, one arm and half his head missing. Sergeant Chames puts three into it. It goes down, then tries to get back up!
I see another walking wreck that looks intact apart from a length of girder through its chest.
“Catch that one.”
Leaping up onto a six-wheeler, I go all-channels on the comms.
“All units, shoot their legs out from under them. Fall back to the six-wheeler park. Flamethrower teams stand by.”
It takes two minutes to sort comrades from chaos. When the only upright soldiers before me are moving like extras from a zombie movie, it’s time.
“Burn the line! Incendiaries to their rear. Send fragmentation long over.”
No more of this stupidity. We deal with it and leave a tangle of nastiness to foul any left. Come first light, we’ll walk fire across any ground we missed.
My lads ‘n’ lassies have the one I wanted tethered by four ropes.
“Somebody get a crate, get a tarpaulin round that abomination, pop it inside, then send it to the scientists. Tell them we need to know what’s happening, and we need to know very, very quickly.”
The next morning is no fun at all, but we clear our lines out to 500 metres, using Warthog strikes to stop the enemy trying anything nastier.
Our Warthogs may be old, but they’re phenomenally effective. We got them at an auction when there was a big sell-off after some nation or other went tits up. Came with stacks of extras, too.
I get back to find a memo from the scientists. Somebody must have lit a fire under them to get results this quick. It’s bigger than usual, full of technical detail and long words, but they know who they’re dealing with now: they’ve added a neat summation in layman’s terms. Scientists are why we’re all still here. The fact they occasionally need interpreters so most people can grasp the basics of the wizardry they do is fine by me.
This case is rather special, though. Seems there was some research done back at the beginning of the twenty-first century into little bits of the brain called ‘glia’. Those fellas have an alarming habit of waking up and growing tiny ‘limbs’ a few hours after the owner of the brain gets themselves killed.
Somehow, the enemy scientists, having no respect, have come up with a way to make those glial cells do what they do to the bits that make a body move. Only lasts a few hours, but the scare factor alone is worth it.
It’s a nasty process, involving injections into the brain. Another reason to win soon – before our side works out how to do it too.