Aurore, Tanstaafl Colony, 20th January, 2302.
2nd Lieutenant Hans Schrager looked on in some measure of impatience. He wanted to get on with the latest patrol of Aurore’s Hotback. It had been 5 days since Admrial Borodin and his fleet defending Aurore had smashed the latest attempt by the Kafers to take the colony. He’d let them gain orbital superiority, even begin landing ops, then caught them in a very nasty englobement. Not a single Kafer ship had gotten away, though, true to the nature of the aliens, none had tried.
What had complicated things was that not all the landers had been caught, and a number of Kafer lifepods had made planetfall. Any Kafer who had made planetfall was dangerous. Kafers were hermaphrodites. They could reproduce easily and a three year old Kafer was an adult. And they had a nasty habit of being able to use anything from sharpened sticks to captured human firearms once they “got smart”.
Tanstaafl was an independent colony. It didn’t have a Terran government back home to support it. It had been fighting the Kafers on its own, with only its militia and mercenary “Free Legion” to keep the Kafers away since 2298. This was slowly changing. Rumors were that American Marines and Texan Rifles would be arriving any day now. Schrager hoped so, his men and equipment were worn out. His “Ramrod” platoon was being called out after an all too short rest and refit cycle to do a 250-kilometer sweep of the Hotback where radar in Tanstaafl City had detected some Kafer landers go down. Recon flights were too risky, as the area was too thick with Kafer “Snapfire” remote SAMs.
Schrager walked the line of his troops, stopping here and there to make sure a trooper had secured extra ammo or water. The Hotback gave new meaning to the words “desolate” and “barren”. They were a far cry from the lads he’d led against the frogs at the Somme ten years before as an Oberfeldwebel in a proud Bavarian regiment. Post-war reunification politics had done him in. He was a Bavarian, and that was all that mattered. After knocking about as a hired gun and bodyguard up and down the French Arm, he’d found a new war on Aurore. And he’d done well, he’d taken a Texan wife and was expecting his first child any day now, which made this deployment all the more galling.
To make matters worse, the TFL’s fame in taking on the Kafers had attracted an influx of recruits. The colony’s leaders, as well as the TFL had been able to be picky. The good news was that all the men and women who had come, they were willing to fight. After that, the headaches had compounded. Schrager, thankfully, was blessed with several quality NCOs and his vehicle crews had been with him since he’d arrived two years ago as a Corporal. Promotion came fast in the TFL, all you had to do was two things..survive and prove your competence. Neither came easily. If the Kafers didn’t kill you. Aurore just might. Oddly, Schrager wouldn’t have it any other way. He smiled grimly at that thought.
His helmet headset crackled and the singsong voice of his platoon sergeant came over the platoon push. Sergeant Major Lien’s voice chimed like fine porcelain over the tinny speakers, her Manchu accent in full force. Her German and Texas accented English was fluent, but she had never lost the Manchu accent.
“Boss, Company wants us out there already. Captain Gross wants that sweep yesterday, that and we have to go check on a downed relay near Distant Thunder.”
Schrager shook his head. Such things could be nothing more than mechanical problems, or, they could be Kafers. Either way. Ramrod 131 would go check it out, and deal with it if there was something the militia couldn’t.
Time to get on with it..”Ok, Lien, mount the kids up and let’s get this done.” As he responded to Lien, the old Kangaroo IV APCs spooled up their MHD turbines with whines of protesting metal and sputtering fans. The old machines were past their prime, battered and pockmarked by stray rounds and splashes from spent plasma bolts. But, they’d done well for their second war. But he’d seen what happened when the Kafers had caught one straight on. It wasn’t an accident that APCs were called “coffins” in TFL slang.
Schrager shouldered his AS-89 and sighed again in resignation. What would happen, would happen. He was a soldier, and this was his world now. Time to go do what they paid him to do, thus, another day on Aurore began as Murphid cast it’s blood red glare over the open plain as Ramrod 131 departed in a flurry of dust and the whine of turbines.