Battle for primus sector 451

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  1. The High Command of the Nukaribbu Crusade were embroiled in a debate. They stood around a holo display, on it was a valley surrounded on all sides by mountains of varying heights, covered in thick and unpassable jungle forest. At the mountain’s base lay a clearing that formed a near-perfect circle, some five hundred metres across, housing a series of trench lines that blended perfectly into the second tree line.
  3. At the heart of the valley was a small artificial forest, one that had been created by its defenders. At its nucleus stood a massive “tree”, tall and defiant, at around four hundred metres; tilted at a sixty degree angle and leaning as if it was on the verge of collapsing under its own weight. Yet it stood, seamingly unphased by the laws of reality, as if a monument to Nukaribbu technology and a perfect representation of their species.
  5. It was a planetary defence weapon, created by the Nukaribbu, and the subject of the current debate.
  7. “I sssstill do not underssstand why we cannot sssimply nuke the sssite from orbit!”
  9. “Firstly,” the Emperor responded neutrally, “holding the world following the campaign’s conclusion is dependent on that battery, Heldon.” He lifted a hand to manipulate the hologram, displaying a theoretical assault. “Secondly, the winds in that area tend to blow due south - where our troops are preparing to siege a major manufacturing hub.”  He turned to the Pandemonium thereafter, blue eyes intent. “Thirdly, even if it doesn’t end up going south, two thirds of the surrounding area make up a critical area of the planet’s overarching ecosystem, and polluting that may very well be no different to glassing the world from orbit.”
  11. “Your Imperial Majesty, is this not a job for your Holy Knights?” the Covenant Grandaugur asked.
  13. “Normally yes,” the Emperor said with a glance towards her, “however the target location they’d be dropped on is too small to ensure adequate numbers could be deployed without sacrificing half a cohort, not to mention they’d need armoured support to break through the main defenses.”  He lifted a hand to manipulate another theoretical. “The terran simply makes that unfeasible.” A moment’s consideration was given after this verdict, and then the Emperor turned His gaze to Tink. ”Magos-Enginseer, could your Legios lead an assault ?”
  15. After a few seconds of thoughtful silence and careful observation of the cartography, the Magos-Enginseer shook his head and responded. “Unfortunately, Your Imperial Majesty, I doubt we could traverse the mountains. Furthermore if it were to rain prior to our assault, the weight of our warforms would prove to be their undoing…”
  17. The Emperor nodded as if He had expected that answer, and merely wished to hear it confirmed.  He turned to the others, then back to the holographic map.  “If we can not assault by land, we should consider by air. What are the prospects of establishing aerial supremacy?”
  19. “I do not believe it feasible, my lord.” Lord Admiral Ironside replied grimly. “Their fortress has its own strike-craft groups, and enough Anti-Air to hold out for months. Aerial supremacy will be theirs throughout the battle.”
  21. “Let us face it,” Heldon interjected impatiently. “Thisss isss a meat grinder, we have no choice but to either sssiege them out, or turn the handle until it issss ourssss.”
  23. A moment of silence loomed on the group as the Emperor’s officers pondered the prospect of how many thousands of soldiers would need to sent in to attain victory, for a point of control that they could not even guarantee could be properly taken.
  25. The silence that followed was broken only by the Caretakers’ terminal.
  27. “Alternative Solution. The Caretaker Nexus is capable of long term wars of attrition and has planned an pacification operation that is calculated to achieve victory within <<Six Primus Planetary Rotations>>. This operation does not require assistance from <<Coalition>> forces, other than in re-supplying. We will, however, require full control of the operation. Is this within acceptable parameters?”
  30. While others appeared perplexed, the Emperor appeared approving, and the very slight twitch at the corners of His mouth seemed to indicate that He had expected something quite akin to such an eventuality.
  32. Heldon was the first to speak. “Jusssst what doessss the machine have planed? Are you going to hug them out of their bunkersss?” Before the Caretaker could respond, however, The Emperor interjected to ward off needless contention.
  34. “I am inclined to allow the Nexus to perform its self-appointed task. I did not invite them to join us, only to deny them when they offer aid. I will redirect the organic and Coder forces to the manufacturing hub, and leave this battle to the Caretaker Nexus.”
  36. “Affirmative. Preparations will commence now.”
  38. Nano-seconds after those words, the Caretaker war machines roared into life. Aerial strike craft began moving on makeshift runways, and swarmers and battleforms alike began boarding Carrier-craft in coordinated unison. Mega-Warfoms rose weightlessy, and began their long and slow march in perfect lock step; a mechanical orchestra working in absolute harmony, and putting even the best drilled armies to shame with their effortless display.
  40. In the lead could be seen a single Aerial unit, followed by two more, and then the three Carriers after them. Three turned to ten, and then Aerials and Carriers appeared by the dozens before the entire sky was consumed - darkened by a metallic cloud; one that consisted of a cold and calculating swarm of giant locusts.
  42. The Emperor's faith, it seemed, had not been misplaced.
  44. For this was how the Caretakers waged war.
  46. And it would be a sight to behold.
  48. As the collective neared their target, the swarm broke into three. The two larger elements flew dangerously low on approach, using the mountains to conceal their destinations, while the third remained at medium altitude and charged the fortress at speeds that would kill any organic pilots.
  50. On the ground the first discharges of fire could be seen, and moments later the explosions began. Shrapnel ripped through the first wave with ease, as the defenders had been alerted to the approaching onslaught and began firing their flak batteries - while crews rushed to man their the bio-mechanical strike craft.
  52. The Caretaker Aerials, unphased by the destructive first volley, pressed on with all haste under a hail of withering fire. Through a torrent of shrapnel, they engaged the nukkaribu counter-assault; and the second they were in range, those on the outskirts of the swarm broke off and descended in suicidal strafing runs of the entrenched positions.
  55. Slowly but surely, through sheer numbers, they could begin observing the defence more closely; each shot cutting down Aerials one after the another only for another to take its place.
  57. At first it seemed as if the coalition had over-estimated the Nukkaribu, but though they withered, the Caretaker onslaught did not break them; and the swarm’s numbers began to diminish. Even outnumbered and by all means out-classed by their adversaries’ mechanical skills, the fortress’ defences proved decisive, and with every craft the Caretakers lost; the scales pushed ever more in favor of the defenders.
  59. The first assault had been beaten back, and the defenders dug in, knowing it to be only the edge of the oncoming storm. Though victory was achieved for the Nukkaribu, the Caretakers gained far more than they had given. For the price of disposable and replaceable drones, they now possessed a full and detailed picture of what to expect. In addition to using the assault as a distraction, they had tied up the defenders’ strike-craft from performing counter attacks on the far more valuable elements at their most vulnerable forces, giving them invaluable time needed to deploy.
  61. For the Caretaker Nexus, the engagement - though lost - was in its eyes a success, for the battle was far from over.
  63. Once the Warforms had deployed, they used their mobility to climb the surrounding mountains, continuing throughout the night without the need for rest or pause. They pressed on, marching in single-line formations, clearing and forcing their way through the dense jungle. Slow and tedious as it was, the Caretaker drones simply compiled, and continued with their task free from the needs of organic armies; supply lines of food, water, or medicine for dealing with the parasite and diseases were irrelevant - and thus the bane of organic armies was easily ignored.
  65. As they advanced, they cleared more and more room for the few supply lines they would need; those of ammunition and the constant flow of expected reinforcements set to arrive over the course of the coming days.
  67. When at last they reached the mountains’ peaks, they began clearing small areas for overwatch warforms, a tripod warbot that had exchanged its standard weapons and armour for a single large artillery piece. Once again the Caretakers’ normally impractical use of legs coupled with light weight designs for its machines of war proved essential, allowing deployment of tactical invaluable equipment where the tracked, wheeled and hovering equipment of other nations would have been logistically unfeasible or simply impossible due to the terrain.
  69. At the break of dawn they had begun their descent, a considerable attempt was made to conceal their chosen approach, but the sheer numbers that were approaching alerted the garrison long before any attack could be made, as strike-craft sallied out to pick of the approaching hord, they clashed with the few caretaker Anti-Air weapons they had brought and Ariels that had evaded the first assault, insteaded having escorted the troop elements during their landing, at first the battle in the sky turned into a stalemate, neither side wishing to leave the safety of the respected defenses, but as the armies approached the much less dense jungles on the edge of the valley, the Caretakers hand was forced, more and more aggressive dogfights ensued, picking strike-craft but every kill was answered by the basse claiming revenge.
  71. As the defenders  few remaining strike-craft were pushed back into the total protection of their AA guns, the Caretakers saw no need to waste more crafts and simply took to circleling the base, picking off any pilot willing to venture out on attack runs.
  73. In the early hours of the third day the Overwatch battleforms wasted no time in getting to work, the first attack had confirmed the high command’s speculation that the fortress had its own small planetary shield generator in the form of specialised psionic users, before any attack could be launched the barrier would have to be removed. The overwatch battleforms obliged, once it was calculated that a constant flow of ammunition could be assured, the order was sent. The surrounding mountains peaks exploded in a masse volleys of concentrated fire, the sounds of the repeated and consistent detonation echoing in the valley was like defining thunder.
  75. A single one of gun’s great screams would hang in the air for just a moment, only to be echoed then reinforced by the next, again and again until all that could be heard was a constant quire, preaching a song of the Caretakers fury. The once nearly invisible shield began to glow bright purple, it’s psionic energy bleeding and waning under the constant strain, the impacts of the shells rippled of the shield like pebbles skipping across water distorting the view of the valley, blinding the defenders and preventing their own artillery from effectively returning fire or weakening the still approaching armies.
  77. With this display, the Nukkaribu understood that their initial thoughts that the Caretakers intended to siege them out vanished, the realisation that their mechanical foe was simply going to crush them through weight of numbers and superior fire power set in, the commanders took the initiative and alerted their brethren to pressing nature of the pending enslought, calling reinforcements from any and all available units. Gun ships, Strike-craft, Troop carriers, Infantry and a small amount of Armoured support, were being mustered but organising a force and the needed logistics to support the relief efforts posed significant delais, meaning this help was not expected to arrive for at least two primus days.
  79. The constant hammering lasted long into the night, periodic and relentless chiseling of the Caretaker’s shells which to the naked eye was going without effect, but those tasked with creating the psionic barrier began to feel the strain of drawing upon their powers, at first it would be a headache; dismissed as a mild annoyance or a weakness to be overcome, but as the hours pressed on some started to hear the whispers from the shroud, promessing rewards beyond mortal imagination if they were to simply agree, some from their training new that it was best to yield now and conserve their strength for the coming battle, others refused and held firm despite the risks, out desire to give their comrades more time to ready themselves, or perhaps out of stubbornness to submit to a heretical machine, the reasons ultimately pointless.
  81. For as they pushed further and further, unknowing sealing their own fate as the whispers became clear and turned to screams, the headaches become a million hot pins puncturing their minds from all directions, each thought only adding to the self inflicted torture, some lucky few died quickly, their minds caving in and heads popping under the psychic pressure.
  83. Those unfortunate enough to survive went insane, their minds overtaken by the shroud, and finally the final straw came when one poor soul gave in to the calls from beyond, in an instant they were replaced with a monsterous pile of deformed  bio matter and tentacles took their place, the creature commonly known as a shroud demon was quickly dispatched by the other nukkaribu, but its mere presence and spontaneous appearance had chaquen the defenders for but a moment to long.
  85. The Caretakers, seeing an opening, though earlier than expected, seized the chance and through themselves onto the base.
  87. It came without warning at the crack of dawn, the metallic horde simply advanced as one, emerging from the tree line as a wall of steel bathed in the Caretakers calming blue light, after moments the shell shocked defenders came back to reality, and fear was replaced with rehearsed drills, Machine guns were manned the morters readied, and the Nukaribu artillery that had been denied its exchange with their robotic counterparts drew their mark, and for a single moment the battlefield fell silent  as the defenders drew a final calming breath and the Caretakers reajuster their targeting systems.
  89. Then the first gun fired, and every other weapon in the valley answered in kind, tracer rounds sailed across the nomansland and bounced of the Caretaker warfoms like sparks, the deathing rolling thunder of explosions began to shatter the glass of the fortress’ few windows, the very earth began to shake in fear of the artillery guns restless exchange. The day had just begun and those with the misfortune to be trapped their knew it would be a long one and that if they survived, it would most certainly be remembered.
  91. For the Caretaker Nexus however, this was simply yet another task, a chance to put theoretical troop movements into practice, it cared little for its troops as a simple battle form could be assembled in hours, the warforms despite their impressive size of 15 meters tall and impressive armaments it was simply one amongst thousands of relatively easily replaceable tools.
  93. In truth it even cared very little for the lives of the defenders after all, they were a greater risk to galactic happiness, their existence was unwanted bar a pacified sample to be preserved on the synthesis ringworld as to not extinguish its genetic uniqueness. The only thing it seemed unwilling to sacrifice to the wrath of this battle, was the much more valuable Mega-Warforms that were being kept in reserves, as unlike their miniature kin, they proved much more costly to replace - Such was the mind that had brought its makers and homeplanet to heel.
  95. Wave after wave crashed against the defenders lines each returning with more precision and efficiency, Ripper rounds blew limbs apart, cutting down defenders where they stood -  When bullets, lassers, grenades and missiles failed them the defenders would call on their psi corps to crush the Warfoms with their minds and throw them back into the advancing hoard, When no sign of Caretaker aerial units were reported, flack batteries were lowered to act as makeshift Anti-tank guns
  97. Nukaribu were burnt and melted alive as Warforms finally entered plasma caster range.
  99. This would encompass the fighting in sector 451 for two entire days, day and night, the attack did not cease, and despite despite it all, it would appear as if the defenders lines held on all sides, but the cracks were beginning to show.
  101. Come the Sixth day, the Caretakers began their preparations to deal the final blow, the hundreds of Aerials previously held back, were now unleashed on the valley, the nukaribu chose the best course of action under the circumstances, deciding to prioritise their Anti Air weapons instead of scrambling their fighters, any attempt to do so would result in either fighting under the Caretaker AAs or risking friendly fire of allied AAs.
  103. Given their foes previous tactics, a full on assault is what they expected and braced for, but instead, the Aerials simply circled the outer tree line before leaving without a fight. Understandably the Nukaribu were taken aback, confused by the sudden change in tactics, then they noticed the small trails of smoke from the second tree line at the north of the valley.
  105. The small trails were followed by an ominous glow, Minutes later the entire northern side of the mountain was aflame, as hours past and the smoke began bellowing out the southern winds began to pick up sending the pitch black some rolling over the valley - blanketing and suffocating all that lay within.
  107. The defenders reached their breaking point, the sky ran black and orange - ash, soot and high explosive shells alike raining down upon them, they looked to the sky wondering just what deity they had enraged to bring on such apocalyptic conditions, and there through the gaps of the smoke, was their answer, the light blue beacon illuminating the body of the 30 meter tall tripod, standing quietly above nomansland looking down on them as if they were mear ants.
  109. Before the few remaining that were still in a position to do so could react, it was swallowed and vanished back into the smoke, moments later the heavenly rays of plasma and missiles poured down on their last fortifications, crushing the remaining defenders with ease.
  111. The Planetary Gun had been secured, a single message was transferred to the Command staff.
  113. “Objective secure. Allied Losses: acceptable.”
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