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Mech Battle 11 - Derf

Written by BlackPhoenix

It had been only thirty hours since word had came of the Incursion of the Templars into settled space.  The installation on the planet Derf was mainly an emergency landing station for the transports that prowled the depths of space.   During the hostilities of the Comstar War the small garrison had been armed.   There was a large particle beam projector that was quite capably of hitting a ship in high orbit.  This was complemented with three proton cannons and numerous small arms.  But the men were engineers not soldiers.  Their leader was Cuzn’_it, he on the other hand was a soldier.  Not that the men did not know how to fight but they were builders.  This rock needed builders. It was a jagged crater filled planet with just a single flat spot for the ships to land.  It had taken the men 6 months in habitat suits to make this small area of so called civilization.  A single hanger facility and radar station were the only buildings on the small burned world.  A large nuclear reactor provided power for the instillation and would be used to terra form the planet into something habitable but that would come after the war.  Thirty hours before the five men stationed here gathered around the radio receiver and listened to the reports of the fall of Ganma Crucis, but that was a light year away, and what importance was their little planet.

The long-range detectors register contact with the first invasion ships of the Templars when they were still in sub-space heading straight for them.  The part time soldiers manned the particle beam projector and waited.  The Templars hoping for a fast victory dropped from Sub-space just out side the atmosphere of the planet.   While the Templars were still disoriented from the jump and were in the process of powering up their weapons systems the Particle beam started its deadly work.  The first two ships to appear were destroyed before they saw it coming.  The beam cut through the hull of the ship opening the interior to the unforgiving emptiness of space.   The third ship to enter the orbit of Derf was a large battle cruiser.  This ship was armored enough to withstand two direct hits from the particle beam before it managed to re-enter sub-space.  No other ship stayed long enough to become targeted by the large blaster on the planet surface.

The retreat of the enemy fleet was cause for the men on Derf to celebrate. It did seem that they had won.  Cuz did not feel like cheering and dancing.  He knew that the Templars would not be surprised when they came back, and they WOULD come back.

Cuz made his way to the radio transmitter alone amid the festivities.  He fired up the radio and sent a massage to headquarters.

"Under attack by superior forces <STOP> Repulsed first attack <STOP> Can not hold without significant reinforcements <STOP> Will hold as long as possible <MESSAGE ENDS>"

Cuzn’_it removed the master fuse from the panel in the back of the transmitter and placed it in his pocket.  That would at least cut down on the propaganda from the enemy.  It would take three days for the message to reach the closest base and he had doubts that Derf would be here long enough to get the reply anyway.

Cuz set the men to work.  They dug slit trenches to place the proton cannons in for concealment.  The Particle beam was much too large to even consider moving so it was left where it stood.  Deep underground bunkers were dug and reinforced with steel and cement for the men to take cover in during the up and coming bombardment.  Even with this protection the men were ordered into their heavy construction Elemental suits.

Every minute the Templars delayed was one more minute that was used for defense preparation.  Three days after the initial attack the long-range scanners detected the ships approaching.  They dropped out of sub-space well out of range of the particle beam.  Cuz knew this defensive weapon would be a primary target and had the men well away from its position.  Watching the radar from deep under ground Cuz saw the large battle cruisers move to the front of the formation.

The Bombardment started at exactly at 500 hours and lasted for three hours.   The first target to be hit was the particle beam projector. It took four direct hits in the first volley.  The entire area was bracketed but the Templars who were ever so careful as not to hit the reactor.  Cuzn’_it and his men were under cover and managed to survive.  When the shelling stopped Cuz called the men to battle stations.  They jumped from cover and manned the proton cannons.  The first wave of enemy troop ships made a long low pass over the landing area.  The men held their fire waiting for orders.  As the first ship touched down a red flare climbed into the sky from a concealed position and the proton cannons opened fire on the helpless occupants.  The loud sizzle of the projector ports and the explosive concussion of the beams contacting matter were deafening.  The troop ships exploded into showers of little bits of white hot metal with human remains thrown in for effect. The carnage was devastating.  Of the three ships that had attempted to land none survived.  The bombardment re-started almost at once trying in vain to cover the retreat of the troops back to the fleet.

Cuz had the men fall back to the reactor and set up sled mounted Automatic Cannons, (AC 20’s), in close proximity to the cooling core of the power plant.   It could be seen from the way that the attack was going that the Templars wanted to capture the reactor intact. While Cuz knew he could not stop them.  He knew he could exact a great price for this place.  The men acted like battle hardened warriors instead of a bunch of bridge builders.  They took their time and laid down a suppressing fire in concentrated kill zones.  The gun closest to the landing zone was silenced in a brilliant flash of thermite.  The heat melted the barrel of the AC into a pile of molten metal.  The enemy elementals over ran gun #2 and killed the crew with out a thought to accepting their offered surrender.  Cuz moved to the reactor and activated the self-destruct timer and headed for the radio.  As he put the fuse back into the transmitter the final gun was silenced.  Cuz set the frequency and send what would be his last message.

"Base over run <STOP > Situation hopeless <STOP > I am destroying reactor <STOP > Tell them we did our duty <MESSAGE ENDS >.

AC fire came through the door of the radio room hitting Cuz. He fell to the floor in a bloody mess.  As he slowly slipped from life, the last sound he heard was the soothing voice of the alarm warning… "Energy Spike detected, detonation eminent." Something’s just ended badly at times but they would pay.

On the bridge of the Dropship "Avenging Angel" a young Khan stood looking out the main view port.  He knew that there was no chance of reaching Derf in time to be effective but he had been obligated to try.  The quickly brightening star in the darkness of space spoke volumes.  He knew that it was too late.  But he also knew that the Templars would not make use of Derf.  In the lapse of a few seconds Reddragon had aged years.  At times the weight of command was a great burden that only the soul could bear because the flesh was not strong enough.  Behind him 30 seasoned troopers awaited a chance for revenge, it was up to him to tell them of the loss of their comrades.  This was the part of the job he had never gotten used to.   He watched the star dull then it disappeared into darkness before he took a deep breath and headed onto the drop bay to deliver the bad news.  Derf had fallen.