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WAR DIARIES OF A SINNER Chapter 4
Monday, October 23, 2006

Book wasn't born a shepherd, he was born Brian M. Yong, an ex-colonel surprisingly, and unwillingly, brought out of retirement by the Alliance to fight in the Unification War.----In this chapter Yong gets the first taste of battle.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1185    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

War came to them quicker than they could get to the war. At least that was how it seemed to Yong. Just three days ago he had taken command of his regiment, the 37th of the Persephone 3rd Airborne Infantry Division. He was only beginning to establish a basic working relationship with his fellow officers, both above and beneath him, and getting a feel of what kind of troop material he had to deal. The Independents didn’t give them more than three days. Just hours ago word had got out from their deep space recon patrols that a massive Independent fleet had surprised the Alliance and broken through. Now it was on direct course to Osiris. At that note Capital City had erupted into frantic activity.

Countless boats were in the air, rushing the upper five per cent of the population to hideouts in the mountains, or moving troops into combat positions. From the troop carrier that shuttled Yong and his troops off to their designated spot, he could see the panic that had gripped the city. Hundreds, maybe thousands hurried into the air shelters, some public, more of them private, but all protected by an assignemnt of Feds who kept the masses at bay and just let those with the right Ident cards into the bunkers. Throngs of people were squeezing into the underground stations, which already seemed to be overflowing. As far as Yong could tell from so far above, people were fighting for the scarce places down in the innards of Capital City.

When Yong and his 37th, and actually most of the 3rd, had been deployed at several miles distance from the outskirts of the sprawling city, on a group of low thickly wooded hills. Several anti-aircraft batteries were placed on the ridge. His men were manning several heavy machine-guns which could also shoot anti-air ammo. The sun was already setting and darkness was slowly creeping up the hillsides. Yong looked back to the city. Usually the city was brightly illuminated, but now everything was black, so the Independents would not see their targets. The activity in the air above it and in the streets seemed to have stopped. The silence before the storm. Thunder cracked.

“Where’d that come from? I don’t see no rainclouds anywhere”, a soldier said to the one next to him.

“It’s no thunder, kid”, remarked their sergeant. “Sonic booms. They’re breaking atmo.”

So it begins, Yong thought and stared into the night sky. Just a few moments passed before he could discern ships, despite the darkness. They were relatively small types, bombers. They swooped in over the ground, en route to Capital City. The blackout of the whole city hadn’t achieved anything, the pilots knew their maps. A couple of hundred yards behind Yong the flak was starting to target the enemy craft. The bright chains of anti-aircraft ammo were trailing the Independent ships, which also had started dropping their deadly cargo onto the city. Detonations flared up from all across the city, first very erratically, mainly hitting in the outlying districts, but after a while the pilots had found their aim and pounded the skyscrapers in the centre incessantly. But the flak also extracted a heavy toll on the attackers, turning some ships into bright fireballs falling from the sky. A squadron of bombers seemed to have noticed the danger the battery on the hill posed and decided to turn their guns on it after having dropped their bombs over the city. They were coming in low, using the first hills as cover. The batteries couldn’t tilt as quickly as needed. Yong saw what was coming.

“Cover!” he screamed over the roar of the approaching fighters and crouched behind the upstanding roots of a fallen tree.

Bullets riddled the ground where he had been standing a second before. Some trees were shot to tinder, crashing down on the men and causing a degree of confusion in the darkness. Trees and the dry leaves underneath had caught fire. Men were stamping on it to get it out. Others had obviously been hit, their comrades dragging them into cover and fumbling with the first aid kits. Lieutenants and captains were screaming commands to keep them in line.

“Hold it.” Yong sprinted over to the captain in charge of the nearest heavy machine gun dugout.

“Turn them around. Facing the hill”, he told them. “All of them.”

“But, Colonel, Sir…”

“Do it!” Yong said. “We can’t get a proper firing solution on them when they approach from downhill. They are flying too low, and we can’t see them anyway. We get them when they are passing over us. You see the glow of the jets, you shoot. Now turn the guns around and stay covered till they are passing over. Dong ma, captain?”

“Aye, Sir.”

The soldiers hurried to change the positions of the heavy machine guns, trying to keep their backs covered by the fallen trees. The bombers were flying their next approach. Again they filled the ground with lead until passing over them. The faint glow of their jets was the only thing visible in the night to get an aim on.

“Fire!” Yong called to the machine-gunners.

The guns fired, their rhythmic rattle the only thing to sound for a few seconds. Then a loud boom above. One of the fighters had been hit and veered out of sight, then his explosion on the other side of the hill set the night ablaze for a moment. Another fighter had also been hit, but was still manoeuvrable. His engine was on fire. The whole squadron abandonded their attack on their position and climbed up into the sky to their carrier.

“Look! We did it!” exclaimed someone from the dark. “They are aborting the attack on Capital City. They all flee!”

“That’s not on account of us, son!” Yong remarked. “I guess things got too hot in the air, maybe friendlies joined them in the orbit and they thought it was better to gather in their men and beat it.”

“That’s a lot to say from a simple aborted attack, Sir.”

“Let’s say, it’s a hunch.”

And what a hunch it was. The confirmation came just a few minutes later over the military com channel. The Independents had indeed got company in orbit when the Alliance fleet had finally caught up with the Independents and come to relieve Osiris. The battle had hardly been a skirmish compared to what a drawn-out battle would be like, Yong thought. It had hardly been a hint of a taste of real fighting, but the recruits in the regiment celebrated it nonetheless and boasted they could take on the whole Independents single-handedly. The more experienced soldiers who had already seen combat knew better, but they didn’t say a word. Let the rookies enjoy their victory as long as they could. For most of them it would be the last they’d ever have. -------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer: For the events of the war I am loosely orientating myself on the unofficial timeline on the Fireflywiki. The 'Verse is of course Joss Whedon's. But Book's alter ego Brian Yong is essentially my creation.

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Please comment

COMMENTS

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 4:34 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Ya know....I've always wondered at how Joss would have imagined the Independents' materiels capability. Cuz you and a few other authors give them equipment that could at least put up a fight with Alliance ships and weapons, while others have them as more guerilla-like....

Still...this was an interesting look at Book's first taste of conflict since rejoining the Alliance, rainstick;)

BEB


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