The Way of War

The Pathfinder Shas’ui, acting on instructions from a battlefield controller in the command centre, has positioned his squad atop a small bush covered ridge over-looking the valley sweeping up to the steep cliff on the other side. Through his visor’s augmented battle field overlay he can see the icon of a Broadside cadre just below the opposing cliff-top. As he looks out onto the plain he doesn’t need the aid of his visor to see the brightly painted Gue’la tanks and supporting infantry carriers moving toward the trap about to be spring.

As the vehicles approach his position and the cluster of target icons that have been allocated to his cadre begin to separate out into discernible targets he allocates them to other team leaders and warriors in his team, watching as the icons for rail rifles and marker lights turn red as each in turn acknowledges his target knowing the same information is appearing on the holo-visualiser in front of the Aun in his Dragonfish high above the battle.

As the Gue’la vehicles enter the jaws of the trap the battle group receives clearance to fire and he aims your marker light at the lead troop carrier. When his visor’s motion tracker confirms a lock he indicates that he wants missile allocation. During the, seemingly interminably long, fraction of a second it takes for the icon to turn gold confirming launch he thinks back to the classroom of his basic training and remembers the schematic of guided missile operations:

“When the warrior marks a target the battle-net system allocates a missile to him based on a complex algorithm that factors in the number of missiles that have been made available for free launch by vehicle commanders and their distance from the requesting units – taking account of all requests and available missiles within the sector of operations. The missile may be fired from the transport next to the marker or from a fighter bomber as it passes within range of the target as the request is registered, but the battle-net’s algorithm means that the warrior does not need to concern himself with these details. Once the battle-net has confirmed the availability of a missile to the warrior via his hard-wired helmet visor systems he triggers it’s launch. The battle-net system then sends a launch command along with the target co-ordinates and the firer’s markerlight frequency signature to the missile’s drone brain. The missile navigates itself toward these target co-ordinates until it identifies the markerlight signature it has been keyed into and then rides the reflected light onto its target.”

Before the visor has picked up the signal from the drone controlling the missile allocated to his target and started displaying its distance-to-target countdown he sees the Broadsides on the opposite cliff top stand erect and ribbons of ionised air trace their path to explosions amid the lead tanks. At the same moment the rail rifles of his cadre sow destruction amongst the transports before the missiles rain down onto the thinner top armour of the remaining targets.
With the smoke resulting from the barrage clearing he is already searching for a new target with his markerlight as he hears the hiss of the crisis teams’ jet packs as they bound from the back slope behind and into the melee. Even through the smoke, the icons projected onto the visor’s display from their IFF transmitters allows friendly troops to avoid placing fire dangerously close to their positions.

Some of the surviving Gue’la are now mounting a defence from the wreckage of their carriers and, as their heavy weapons out-range the Pathfinder’s pulse carbines, they are forced to pull back into cover breaking the markerlight lock for an incoming missile. It’s drone brain simultaneously searches for a new markerlight lock whilst trying to identify a target for itself and, unable to find a new lock, guides itself in using shape and pattern matching algorithms programmed in before the battle.

Just as the Gue’la are reorganising to mount a counter attack on the Pathfinder’s position, he sees through the smoke that the icons of a cadre of Fire Warriors in their Devilfish transports has enveloped the enemy’s rear and trapped them in the valley that has turned into a killing ground.