Second Front

 Titus watched as the live feed from the surveillance drone delivered footage of the Muslim transports emerging from the surf and out onto the Beaches of Wales.  The turrets on top of the tracked machines swung back and forth as the cannons sent high explosive shells into the helpless seaside resort of Montenegro.

The force of the express, military train as it banked in a highspeed turn causing the Centurion to unconsciously lean into it as he stood there motionless.   

Centurion Titus Trebonius had been fighting these bastards for over two decades, he had the scars to prove it.  The traumatic gash that comes only from hypervelocity round penetrations were clearly discernible, both on his left arm and right side of his face.  Plastic surgeons could work miracles in this day and time, his chiseled, aquiline features remained largely unmarred by those close shaves encountered on the field of battle.  Of average height, his fine, dark hair was close cropped to his scalp, the creases of his sun-weathered features added five, if not ten years, to his otherwise youthful appearance.

Titus stood quietly watching the live video feed assessing the enemy’s strengths, strengths he and his cohort of armored legionnaires would soon face to eliminate.

The subsurface, water borne landing had gone undetected up to the moment the enemy craft began emerging from the normally calm, crystal blue waters.  Now, the bay looked as if a typhoon were hitting the beaches with water spouts spraying up into the air from highspeed projectile strikes, waves created by the colossal metal machines as they pushed their way through the shallows crashing against the shore.

The troop train rocked back and forth while the Centurion continued watching the unraveling event with a chilling calmness, he had witnessed this kind of invasion before, in Manilla.  That was where he and his cohort had pushed the communists back into the Pacific with a total loss of life.

The Centurion’s second standing beside him spoke gruffly, “The only way the enemy could have gotten this far is through treachery.  It is the only way to explain why the undersea detection system did not work.”

“The Intelligence Service is looking for the traitor,” replied Titus in his deep, authoritative voice.  “But, it’s probably too late, the coward has probably already escaped.”

“Wait till the bastard finds out what it’s like to live under their yoke,” replied the Junior Centurion, Marcus Paulus.

“Never know, it could have been a female,” scowled the Centurion in return. 

“Man, woman, doesn’t matter, wait till they become part of hundreds of millions those tyrants have liquidated this century alone.  Royals, why in the hell do we call them Royals anyway.”

“Because, Marcus, doesn’t matter which of the three communist states, or those camel riders from the Islamic Kingdom we’re up against, they’re all tyrants and after the same thing, our country.” 

Titus could see the first wave of Muslim tanks beginning to descend the rear ramps of the transports.  Ten machines, lined up one behind the other, rapidly racing out onto the beaches.

“That’s unusual, they’re using T-163s,” Marcus noted seeing the heavy tanks deploying on the beach, sixty-ton, tracked machines with turrets mounting EPC’s with the hitting power of ten-megajoules.  

Titus knew the light infantry would be just behind these leviathans. 

Marcus continued to elaborate, “Those Muslim tanks must be crammed with fuel and ammunition for this kind of operation given the remote nature of this landing.  The friction from a brush with one of our hypervelocity rounds will probably set the whole thing off in one magnificent explosion.”

One of the enemy machines took a direct hit, short seconds later another, then another.

“Those look to be a HEAT round by the intensity of the flashes.  The first wave of attack-drones must have arrived, I was wondering when those things were going to show.”

The Second Centurion took a look at the small readout of his wristband, officers’ link into the Terran military network. “Two-hundred drones are now in action.”

More and more exploding machines could be seen going up in fireballs.

Those coastal, defense drones appear to be giving a good account of themselves.”

The Muslims retaliated by unleashing a rocket barrage from several of the transports onto the unprotected, resort town which disappeared in a sheet of flame and explosions.

Those bastards look to be taking it to our civilians with no compunction, thought Titus to himself.  He remained quiet as he studied the enemy’s equipment up to the instant the video feed went dark.  A brief moment later the unfolding drama came back to life, replaced by the camera of a second airborne, surveillance drone.

Same old playbook, never changes, thought the Senior Centurion as he watched the common foot soldiers leap from a second wave of transports scattering like mice behind the cover of the tanks.

“Those soft-skin soldiers look to be canon fodder,” remarked the Junior Centurion.  “They’re still carrying those low-power, AK348s and wearing minimal body armor.  Looks like torso protection only.”

“The investment is too high Marcus, besides they have a million more soldiers to feed into battle.”

The Terran attack drones continued to hit the enemy with HEAT rounds either missiles, or with cannons.  Occasionally, one of the Terran drones would be seen falling into the beaches, exploding in one terrific fireball.  With ordinance expended, Kamikaze-like attacks were programmed to hit the transports.

Marcus looked at his readout, “Fifty-six remaining in first wave.  Fifty.  Forty.”

Titus turned to his lieutenant, “Now’s the time to call in the second strike.”

The Centurion saw Marcus nod in agreement then he noticed the Junior Centurion’s expression change.

“What, what is that?”

The Centurion turned back to the viewing screen to see the thing  Marcus was reacting to now emerging under its own power from the ocean, a new sort of war machine, one he had never before seen, a six-legged, bug looking contraption and it was massive. 

That must be four stories tall, thought Titus.

Suddenly the second feed failed.  The two men waited for the battlefield to reappear, but nothing.

“Where’s the damn feed!  They can’t have knocked out all the SDs (surveillance drones).”

Titus’ wrist band began to suddenly vibrate with an incoming call.  He looked at the readout to see it was from Terran Command.  Pressing his earpiece he answered, “Centurion Titus Trebonius.”

The scratchy, encoded, but clearly discernible voice human came over the connection.

“Centurion Trebonius.”  There was a short delay.  “Transmissions for both the defensive and surveillance drones have gone dead.  We picked up a sudden spike of a tremendous magnetic field from our manned ground surveillance teams.”

Titus thought for a quick moment, The only thing that could knock them all out at once is a nuke, or an EMP surge.  The enemy’s not going to risk their foot soldiers, just yet.  

The person on the encrypted link continued, “We’re recalling the attack drones.  Send in a scout…”

The connection went dead.

“Repeat last transmission.”  (Nothing)  “Repeat last transmission.”  (Still, nothing)  “Marcus, see if you can get through to Terran Command.”

Titus watched as the Junior Centurion tapped his earpiece then made futile attempts to connect with Command back in Sydney.

“That’s enough Marcus, they’ve knocked out communications.”

This does not bode well, thought Titus, the fog of war has descended upon us far too soon.

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