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Burnt out

The door clattered close on its old hinges behind her as she placed the basin down on the cold metal surface that served for a table in the back area of the aid station.  Around her the steady drip of water hitting the concrete floor echoed about her as the various pieces of linen and sheets dried on the hanging lines and pegs scattered around the sodden room., the central drain filled into a small pool of brackish water tinged with steady ribbons of red as it disappeared down into the ancient pipes bellow. Rolling her shelves up Sara began to pull the next load from the metal tub before her and slowly rinse them clean once more before hanging each in turn to dry on another section of hanging line, before returning to repeat the process with each piece of blood red linen that her hands pulled from the pile she had brought with her. Soon enough her own hands and the cloth apron she wore over her blouse were smeared with watery red marks through out its surface and under her nails as she paused in her methodical work to wipe the sweat from her eyes and realised that it was tears running down her face, not sweat that she had expected. Looking into the murky surface of a small mirror mounted to the wall her face was covered in a mixture of grim, watery tracks from her own tears and splodges of brackish red spatter covering one cheek.  She stopped at this and slowly her tiredness and sadness began to pull through forcing a new flood of tears to run down her face as she slumped down and cradled her head in her hands. She stayed there for what seemed like hours as she just let her emotions flow out but what time steadfastly refused to admit had been longer than only 15 minutes when the sound of the door clattering open once more and the air filled for a moment with the moans of the wounded floated through from the forward areas of the building. “Sara?” a question came from above her as she looked up to see the senior matron stood there looking down at her through slightly milky eyes but ones still filled with a worry at the sight of the younger nurse huddled up and clearly distressed. “I’m okay matron” Sara wiped away some of the tears with the hem of her blouse, the material becoming more caked in grim from her face as well as the tears she had intended to clear from her eyes. “Clearly” the matron raised an eye brow as she put down the bundles of  linen and withdrew a handkerchief from the side pocket of her own apron, passing it down to the young nurse with a gnarled but caring hand. Sara dried her eyes with a wordless thank you and picked herself up. Brushing her apron and blouse front down into some semblance of order Sara recomposed herself as she looked over at the matron who had crossed over to another work space and put the bundle she was carrying down before coming back over to Sara and placing an open hand before her, clearly awaiting the return of her handkerchief she had loaned the crying nurse. “If you allow yourself to weep for every fallen son or daughter I fear we shall be treating the local settlement for severe cases of drowning” the matron popped the scrap of cloth away before gently patting the young nurse on the shoulder, “Yes Matron” Sara nodded, feeling calmer and more steady know that she had let some release from her  emotion that had threatened to overtake her.  “Now we have several new cases being treated and the doctors require additional bandages to be brought through, take those two bundles and that case of antiseptic through to them Nurse Sara” the matron pointed over at the new neatly tied up stacks of fresh linen bandages, all workmen like once more as the edges of a smile flickered across her features for a moment as the young nurse as she nodded and reset herself to her work as the elderly women encouraged her onwards. Heading over to the piles and picking them up Sara headed back up the small set of steps and back through the ancient shuttered doors and out into the aid station proper. Ahead of her the same familiar stretch of corridor lit by the light of the flickering electric string lights nailed to the roof that ran through out the building, each room closed off by combination of hastily repaired door or a simply strung curtain that covered the way into the various recovery ward rooms. Bustles of people moved up and down the tight corridor as mucky soldiers looking for comrades and medical personnel clashed and jostled for room with trolleys and stretchers passing to other parts of the aid station. Pushing through quickly Sara darted down the corridor, taking momentary refuge in a porters closest as a pile of nurses and doctors filed past surrounding a stretcher carrying an injured specialist officer. Once they had cleared from the corridor she headed out and further down another stretch until she reached a side junction where she turned and head for the front wards passing several operating rooms and a small number of wash rooms, the red stained water from some flowing out into the corridor almost in a couple of places. Pulling herself away from the sight she headed towards the main reception area and took a left turn to head down a service corridor where she knew she could cut around the crowds of soldiers, officers, medics and other personnel cloaking the place up after every battle. Even from here she could here the shouting and yellows, the sound of a bullhorn bring used to try and direct people and calm the situation from whatever was going on. Finding the room she wanted she knocked on the petrified wood of the door and waited a moment before a voice beckoned her in, pushing the door aside she entered a low ceiling room filled with cots of various occupancies being checked over by other nurses and doctors. The thing that immediately struck her was that unlike the normal flow of soldiers from the old guard there were mainly civilians and a few private militia here in their stead, “What’s happened doctor?” Sara crossed over to the nearest attending physician who turned round at the sound of her voice, “Joven savages” the doctor replied shaking her head “Blasted tribals to the south raided the market town there, near killed the poor settlers”. At the sound of this a number of the injured let out their own roars of disgust through their pained yelps, “What do you mean?” She asked, her brain failing to grasp at it. “Bloody Joven dirt scrappers tried to murder us is what she’s saying” a large built technician in the remains of a foremen's overalls growled through a bandaged jaw, “Jumped the town and raided everything not nailed down is what” another piped up from further down, “They took all the food, anything edible we had and killed anyone that tried to stop them” a private militiamen called over from where he was being treated, “Its gone, all just gone”….       

Military Campaign Progress Edit

Old grudges and older prejudices have always been a hall mark by which human civilisations have grown in competition with one another as the years have passed and new eras have come and gone with the turning of the clock. Some of these grudges have been born out of the mistrust between siblings that have grown far apart whilst others have been born from the fires fanned by those beyond the sight of those amongst the forefront of the flames. Some are yet grown from the perceived superiority of one culture or civilisation over another by simple dint of progress or chance happening that has led to their separate developments from the same origin leading in entirely different paths and down roads neither would have foreseen as their eventual route to some new form of life. In this history has repeated this cycle time and again through out the pages of mankind's progress from simply cave dwelling nomads through to planet spanning empires and eventually to the stars themselves with the advent of the first extra-planetary colonies. For some this re-occurrence is seen as a shining example of their march towards a special place in the annuals of history whilst others see it as an arrogance born of a lack of understanding between those that face one another from different sides of the same coin. In this history is an even handed, if slow; reminder that whilst there are those that advance down one path quicker than others and proclaim themselves superior because of it, all they simply do is forget the lessons of the past and open themselves up for those following up from below. For the various cultures of the ruins each shares this same origin point through a shared tragedy of unimaginable proportions, and yet each has led them down a separate path. For the spark of human endeavour that is the mech-corp this path has led them to a place of industrial strength but at the same time gifted them a sight from on high that few would know would be of so recognisable to those that had once trod a new land and made snide remarks about the tribals they found living there.

For the people of the mech-corp this innate sense of superiority splits itself down into two potent yet distinct variations that defines them as a culture. For the technician masses the sense of a spirit of stubborn pride pushes them onwards to see the accomplishments of other cultures and the military might of those around them as something to be matched and bettered through their hard work, and a ’never say die’ attitude that rises them above the muck and tightly guards the embers of humanity amongst the darkness. For the specialists this notion of betterment is both a boon and a failure in equal measure, where some use their sense of entitlement to position themselves for personal gain, looking down on those beneath them and scorning other cultures as crude or barbaric, others will use it to drive a motion forward that would gather up all caught in its tracks and carry the culture forward once again in a great surge of national pride to see all bettered through the industrial power they have reawakened from the darkness of the ruins. The issue with this however is that for every great leveller who bridges the gap there is another that would see the gap widened simply to better stroke their own ego, and when this is distilled to the masses the effect can be utterly profound and spread like a wild fire. 

As the first few days of the new season passed by the people of the mech-corp by the ever growing nature of the ruins would slowly reveal more of it self to the select few of the expeditionary forces dispatched to the agri-dome. The reports making there way back find themselves slowly piled on the desk of the relevant parliamentary figures who spend hours discussing them in various committees and through hours of sittings within the parliament itself, whilst on the flipside the general masses would learn half truths through the papers that made their way around the towns and slum hamlets before passing down to the various outer settlements through messages from friends and family, before then once again making their way with the thinnest lines of truth as gossip to the troops on the front line of the mech-corps military endeavours in the ruins. Come the end of the first week the Old guard finds itself fighting an ever escalating battle against the mutant menace as each day brings new loss and bloody action as stubborn grit and massed rifles face against the living waves of chitin and rotted flesh that would devour them all whole.  Communications from the front flit back and forth by foot courier and motor carriage in a small number of places, the drivers almost falling a sleep at the controls as they wait for the replies that would inevitably be sent back in rapid succession. The next couple of weeks would see a steady stalemate grind itself out in the former manufacturing territory as across the lands and through out the rusted remains of warehouses, assembly plants, storage silos and literally across conveyor belts as the swarm would smash itself against the defensive line of the old guard time and again. Here and there along the several mile long engagement in places militia troopers would manage to push forward and take hold of the next building in front of their line, only for in another place to be pushed out from the barn they were holding under a wave of mutant spawn to then the next day counter attack that would see them under volleys of coordinated rifle fire and surges of grenades slaughter the mutant brood and retake the barn, before suffering the new building taken the previous day be taken from them again as the wounded are hurried back to  the lines as sections of militia troopers fall back to their original position from two days before. This constant see-saw between the lines would wear some others out but was a constant way of war for the old guard, defensive attrition backed by massed infantry waves had seen them through and would so again the officers would say, whilst the troopers on the front would time and again show why the old guard had a reputation for stubbornness in the face of adversity.

By the eve of the first month however something would hang in the air around the troops on the front line, not quite palatable but sensed by all affected by the shift in mood as if the direction of the wind had changed in some manner. By what means and its overall meaning few would know, though some would hold private wishes for either fresh reinforcements or for the swarm to quit the territory and allow the old guard the ease of simply slaughtering them as they fell back. Few would get their wish as during the final couple of days of the month itself a battered motorcade would arrive at the picket gate to the central camp, its rider clearly the worse for wear from riding hard to bring some news to the front. Letters from home were fairly common but actual newspapers or general updates that settlements or the home towns were used to were a rare thing this far out, especially on a military front. What little back and forth communication there was with the militia regiments headquarters was taken up by military business and even those that had some R&R time would only get to spend it in the back camps or nearest settlement rather than being allowed all the way home.

The news itself wouldn’t begin to really spread until the 4th day of the first week into the second month after a early morning meeting is called by the general himself and a number of staff officers. Initially the meeting is fairly up-beat with the Old guard holding their line and the third of the territory they had originally conquered remaining in their hands. Enemy casualties would seem to be indicated at roughly a third more than those suffered at this point which receives a few smiles and stiff nods of amusement from the collected officers. A general harrumph whips round those gathered at this consensus as the general gets the meeting back under way as he brings up further good news in relation to the ongoing persecution of the mutant kind with regards to the way of reinforcements. As part of the expeditionary forces the general and the 9th company under his command had managed to arrange for support from the tribals to the south, more commonly known as ’the peoples’, to lend military aid in combating the mutants. Some of the specialist officers present almost choke on their drinks at this, with some loudly and snidely remarking about the nature of joven savages. A few of the more candid officers openly remark about the potential effectiveness or lack of these tribal troops would display, whilst those more within the general’s inner command circle simply wonder how he managed it without the techno-order attempting to stick their nose in on the action. This raises a collective snigger from the entire gathered officer corp as the messenger spotted the day before appears at the door, with his riding hat and long coat removed the messenger is shown not to be a parliamentary courier at all but a member of one of the garrison companies to the far south. The young officer begs his apologies for intruding but heads over to the general and passes him a closed letter that he then waits for the general to read. The next few minutes would change everything historians would point from amongst the academics of the mech-corp as the general quietly read the letter and simply thanked the garrison officer for his duty and stood up. What was written in that letter would soon be common knowledge as he passed it around to each officer in turn whose snide remarks, smirks and comments of amusement would turn into rage. Those closest seated to the general would hear an audible crack as the metal tankard held in the generals grasp would shattered in his clenched fist, a look of utter pure rage cutting across his face for a moment before returning to his habitual scowl. The other officers present would not be as restrained as a flurry of abuse would fly across the table at the mention of the peoples, others would call for them to quit this front and avenge the lost market town whilst others would petition to be given leave to take men south to regain lost honour from the joven savages. Cutting through the brawling argument with a barked snap and the sound of splintering wood from punching a hole through the table the general would simply stand and utter one order to those officers present before dismissing them to their units with a curt snarl, “We are the Old Guard, We hold the line. I will deal with these treacherous jovens personally”.

The revelation of the lose of the market town would spread through the army and in some places morale would take a dive for the troops who had family within the settlers of the market town to the south, whilst for others a terrible rage would grip hold of them. In one case during the midst of the second week of the second month a squad of troopers would go as far as to loss their rage on the mutant kind, engaging at point blank range and bayoneting anything that so much as breathed in their direction. They would almost be cut off and surrounded to be devoured by the swarm if another squad bearing the markings of the ‘wasteland rangers’ hadn’t provided covering fire to allow them to disengage and reform the line. This sort of anger would flow like an open wound through out the army where conversation would turn to thoughts of revenge and payback, and where thoughts become bloody and violent causing some to seek to desert to head south and engage the peoples coming northwards they would be stopped when the news of the generals exact words would whip round. The mental image of the general himself dealing with them personally caused a common sense of righting a wrong to settle about him for the rank and file, leading some to ask if the ‘Old Iron pace’ would take the 9th and bag one for them.  The next few weeks would see this sense lead to a determination developing within the army to deal with the swarm spawn here to allow the general to take the army back south as soon as possible and in places where fatigue, fear or injury would have see a unit begin to buckle or break a solid line of ochre coated militia regiments would form line and reduce the swarm to bloody ichor coated chunks from mass volley fire and the sharp end of a hedge row of slick bayonets. Come the passing of the final days of the second month and slipping into the first week of the third the common sauce amongst the Old guard would see if flex like a corded muscle and set like steel, not one foot back and facing the enemy with the stubborn refusal that had gifted them their reputation in the early days before the coming of the mech-corp as they were today. For the various officers of the Old guard this sense of martial pride and imperative would see the usual bickering between technician and specialist officers put to one side until the time was right, each taking a renewed step forward when called to stand and be counted in a time of need. Where one officer would fall plugging the gap in a line with their troopers, another would draw their blade and singing songs of home and hearth encourage their troops onwards to victory through memories of home.

Come the dawning hours of the mid-weeks of the third month this new found iron will would see the mutants begin to slightly lose ground as their assaults are ground to a bloody stop as ever so slowly the old guard takes one step forward and then another. Here and there in places packs of mutants would slink off into the dark only returning a couple of days later and in less well organised packs of lesser spawn as the more aggressive packs would through themselves to death on the wall of mech-corp guns. Battalion colonels by the final week of the third month would see that this state of affairs from the reports coming in and their own front line observations would put the Old guard in control of roughly 40% of the territory, not a huge gain in actuality, quite literally being a couple of streets deeper in and a few manufacturing towers further along but it was something they could grasp, something they could see and that was what they needed. One step forward would see them grind on through…

Summary:

The Positioning of the Old guard has not drastically changed within the old manufacturing territory they are currently engaged in, though through their orders and the defensive posture the army has adopted has gained them a little ground, now holding 40% of the territory in their possession whilst suffering 225 troops lost in the action and eliminating an estimated 320 mutants from the active swarm. Please note this brings the Old guard within one season of continued action of integrity failure of continued action. The mutants themselves however seem to have fallen back for some reason during the final days of the third month of the season, though for what reason is not understood (Currently the Old guard stands at a strength of 1685 of 3000, estimated swarm strength at 2200 of 3000).

One hand gives, Whilst one hand takes… Edit

Friends have always been few and far between for the mech-corp, never quite one to show favoritism to one group or another in the constant rounds of inter-faction bickering amongst the various cultures of the ruins, this has resulted in the mech-corp as a whole being more often than not viewed with a certain suspicion when outsiders deal with the higher ups, whilst the lower downs are seen as a hard but generally decent sort. This reputation has birthed amongst travelling bands of wanderers or merchant enclaves that lack any noted affiliation a common held belief that amongst the mech-corp when one hand will take from you the other will give and navigating this will lead to either success or failure when dealing with them. For the mech-corp themselves this notion of one side being more open and the other more closed off within their society something of a term for them as a whole. As such when some goes awry from one sides dealings the other often gets a scowling glance at the perception they are the cause for its down fall. In this when the revelation of the peoples actions catches the ears of the technician masses after the old guard general had managed to get their aid in fighting the mutant swarm are large amount wouldn’t be surprised if it was a specialists fault that the technician general’s new allies had just become potential enemies. This line of thought causes several large arguments in the lower house of the parliament and across the guild slope beyond to such a degree that one argument descends to the two original clashing members of the trading establish being locked in a full on brawl in the middle of an auction that draws in half a dozen other senior trading members before it is finally broken up by an exasperated guild accountant and the swift application of the auctioneers gavel to the back of head of both parties. In the upper house both major parties tear verbal chunks out of one another to a lot of harrumphing and snide remarks as each attempts to blame the other and gain some leverage from the situation, whilst the smaller parties attempt to slip their own agenda in. Some semblance of actual concentration on the matter is only obtained when the militia representative to the upper house takes the centre podium and reads a letter from the old guard general out to the parliament, flanked by a union party official who had used their one sessional vote to clear the floor for the military to speak. Heading the words of the representative a set of clear matters come through that must be attended too are called for by the Union party. This unusual situation of a minor upper house party backing the military catches a few eyes as the militia representative tears chunks from the ranking ministers and their relevant parties before returning to their seat in quiet conversation with the union party chairmen, leaving the upper house to return to its usual ruckus…

Summary:

1) With the revelation of the raid on the southern market town a number of refugees have begun to clog up Sileria, the only established settlement outside the mech-corp homelands. The current mayor of the town has dispatched an aide to speak with the expeditionary forces as their expertise would be off considerable help in sorting through the families of dispossessed, as an opportunity has arisen should they wish to take advantage of it . The aide is expected to arrive some time on Friday evening and will have more information on the matter.

2) As the Peoples army, known as the quiet step, has been invited to assist in fighting the mutants but responsible for the destruction of a mech-corp settlement a pair of opportunities has arisen for the mercenary mech-corp to assist in either safeguarding the army as it travels through mech-corp lands to assist the old guard, or to launch a retaliatory strike to recover the stolen property. Those wishing to partake in this must report their decision to GOD by Sunday. 

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