This isn’t really part 16. I’m fleshing out the Battle of the Twin Cities and this is one of the pieces toward that.
The light tracks had swept down from the glacier, disgorging troops just short of the scattering of abandoned buildings. farmhouses and barns that had lost their grazing land to the encroaching city or the invaders’ sprawling barracks and supply yard. The lead track crashed against the double doors of a barn. They gave on the third try. Troops streamed over the wreckage to check the interior was clear. This was to be the command post.
More troops headed for the neighbouring buildings. The house had been gutted by fire. The stable sported the bedding rolls and empty brew bottles of a makeshift pross-house. Its walls were thick and the small windows faced the barracks. Autoguns and a stonk were set up to cover the approach.
At the treeline white man shapes were appearing- discarded glacier suits nailed to trees as a diversion. The company’s bomb lobbers were further up the hill, finding clearings or hollows to hide in. From there they couldn’t reaqch the barracks, but were more than capable of laying down fire on any formations that were drawn out.
Only three of the tracks were armoured. They were in the farm yard, the crews mounting stonks, ready to lead a fast and suicidal charge when the next set of troop carriers arrived. Everything was going smoothly so far. The old hands waited for something to go wrong.
The shell penetrated the wall of the house before detonating. The shock wave carried masonry and wood splinters into the yard. When they settled, and the house had collapsed, three track crew were dead and another four struggled to get up. Those who remained moved into the cover of the stable or the front two tracks.
There was another explosion in the house. Shots were coming in from across the pasture, not the barracks. A third shell hit the rear most track, lifting it and throwing it into the side of the barn. There was a pause. The remaining crews scrambled to the front tracks.
On the second floor of the barn, the commander ran a circuit of the windows. He raised field glasses. “There. Three tracks. Heavily gunned ones as well.”
“How did they know?”
“I do not think they do. Probably out on a training run.”
“Sir. There is movement in the barracks. Towards the cities.”
“Good. But we have to deal with this first.”
The three large tracks were churning through overgrown pasture toward the farm. They weren’t turreted, but the guns had limited traverse as well as elevation. The tops were unarmoured, loaders could be seen scrabbling to get second rounds into the guns. “They do not have full crews. Get the tracks out to hit them quickly!”
The middle of the heavy tracks rocked as its gun fired. Before the crack of the shot was even heard an explosion shattered a corner of the stables. The two remaining tracks began moving. They cut around the stable, keeping the building between them and the heavier guns then hoping the contours of the land would do the job. They were far faster than the tracks they hunted, but needed to close to reach the stonks’ effective range.
Earth was thrown up in front of the heavy tracks. One of the bomb lobbers had changed its aim. Another bomb landed to the right of the trio. The heavy tracks turned to the left, away from the bombardment, and toward the light tracks, which had tacked up hill to get an angle on their targets. Four stonks fired in unison, the tracks neglecting to stop and finesse their aim. One shell bounced off the slanted armour of the front heavy track. Another bounced off the ground and exploded against the track’s underside. The left set of tracks jammed and the gun carriage began to slew around. The remaining two shells over flew their targets.
More bombs landed around and atop the heavy tracks. The light tracks skidded to a halt and fired two more precise salvoes at the shapes in the smoke and dust. All three heavy tracks had stopped now. Smaller shapes moved around them, the crews trying to escape. More bombs landed amongst them and nothing moved any more.
The light tracks whirled around and headed back for the farm. “Sir. Movement in the barracks.”
“Toward the city?”
“No, the near gate. Mostly infantry in soft skins.”
“Let them come. The lobbers can soften them up.”