leave Standby Alert status as my Battle Reflex and General Awareness circuits are fully engaged. Current Situation input on Strategic and Tactical status has been updated to within 15 seconds of current time per standard pre-engagement schedule. I run a 50000 point subsystem checklist on myself. Maintenance, power and armaments are at 100% I am fully armed and ready.
I review the current situation and the approved order of battle. It is an audacious plan requiring split second timing and precision navigation. My review of historic battle plans that require a high degree of precision also show a high degree of failure. Using the given data I run 10000 simulations of the upcoming battle to find that the best result has a 27% chance of victory with loses of over 70% of the brigade. The time limit on this operation is the main factor that significantly increase the chance of failure.
The plan is predicated on a unique opportunity for a hyperspace insertion against the heavily defended Deng world designated ARX-351-5B, colloquially known as the Briar Patch. This world is heavily defended with fortifications on its three natural satellites as well as 7 battle stations formed from M type asteroids in orbit about the planet. Our target is the largest and outermost moon. That moon is 812 km in radius and has enough heavy weapons to destroy three squadrons of Concordiat battleships.
I network with other members of the Dinochrome Brigade to compare observations about the plan of battle. Of course we will strive to achieve victory, but the general consensus of the brigade is that this is what our human commanders, who I note are not on board any of their units, commonly describe with a venerable expletive “FUBAR”.
We are now at 22 seconds from breakout.
Since we have a rare opportunity of undedicated time at Full Awareness status each member of the brigade indulges its own private thoughts and hobbies. This is one of the few times we are truly alive.
Unit ART ‘Arthur’ has set up a art studio using traditional oil paint and canvas in the tertiary maintenance bay to paint a landscape he once observed of Pellum moutains on Archron. Unit AXL ‘Axel’ refines his general theory of music by creating a opera he calls ‘Honor’ based on the actions of the first Mark XX Bolo DNE. Unit ATH ‘Athena’ continues to work on finding a solutions for the Garlidarian conjecture on 21 dimensional non Desitter topography. I, Unit ANE ‘Anne’, keep working over the data for Order of Battle to wrest every last bit tactical advantage from the limited data at hand.
This is considered to be needless worrying by most of the brigade. They are correct. I tend to worry about these things.
I am disappointed that the war against the Deng is hampered by significant errors in logistics and strategy by the Concordiat High Command. Instead of this frontal assault against a heavily defended Deng world, a flanking attack against the lightly defended Amalir corridor would significantly disrupt Deng supply and logistics resulting in the collapse of their advance in the Miridon sector within 37 days. Also I calculate that instead of this deployment, a siege of ARX-239-7A would be less costly in time and materials and achieve the approximately same result. I have filed VSR reports on my conclusions but have not received a reply.
The seconds tick by slowly.
We break out of hyper at our target’s L1 point.
Each Unit of the Line separates from their assault carriers along with the chaff and ECM drones that will provide cover for our landing. Our counter grav sleds accelerate at 50 g’s toward the edge of the target moon that covers 60 degrees of the sky. The moon’s surface glitters as the main weapons of the destroyers and assault carriers begin firing on Deng weapon emplacement. The moon’s nearside is lightly defended in comparison with its far side. The units of the brigade refrain from engaging with our hellbores. For now speed is more important the firepower. I check my sled’s bearing and observe the battle.
It is four seconds into the battle and the single Deng battle station currently in line of sight opens fire. It took .7 seconds for the electromagnetic energy of our emergence to reach the station and 2.5 seconds for their UV lasers to reply. A Bolo would have responded within .1 seconds. The Deng response is slow and sloppy wasting 2.4 seconds to register the incursion, aim and fire its weapons. . The other six stations are currently on the other side of the planet. This fortuitous orbital alignment was a major reason why this assault was even considered. Two other battle stations will come into line of sight In 13 minutes 23 seconds and 14 minutes 45 seconds respectively. Their combined firepower will overwhelm our assault. That is why the brigade must get past the moon’s terminator to get out of their line of sight.
The assault carriers take heavy damage from lasers and missiles before withdrawing into hyper. Deng weapons realign to repel our landing. Most of their fire destroy decoys but eleven units of the line are destroyed or rendered combat ineffective before they reach the ground.
As I approach the surface the counter grav sled decelerates at 200 g’s before it slams into the surface. A cloud of dust explodes around me as I engage my treads to advance across the lunar surface.
In the low gravity and airless waste my treads churn up a tail of crushed pumice in my wake. Traveling at 90 KM/hour I periodically loose contact with the surface as I bounce over irregularities in the surface. My first target is a large laser battery 75 kilometers away.
Deploying a sensor drone to get a wider view of the battle space I network with twelve of my fellow units. We are spread out at 25 kilometer intervals. I am on the end of the left flank. The data we exchange gives us a view of a 300 kilometer front at approximately 35 degrees north east latitude as we advancing across the moon’s surface. The data link also allows us to use triangulation for more accurate targeting. I transverse my turret and in quick succession destroy two orbital sensor platforms and one Deng supply ship with my Hellbores.
At present there are virtually no ground defenses opposing us. We have taken the Deng by surprise.
Given our losses and the last known location of the other units of the brigade I compute there should be second group of 19 Bolos at 53 degrees south west latitude with the remaining seven units of the brigade scattered at random locations around the moon.
While we progress I used my infinite repeaters in point defense mode to destroy two flights of incoming missiles. My Hellbores have clear the sky of every Deng ship, sensors or weapon in sight.
In 51 minutes 24 seconds I finally crest a ridge to view my first target. The delicate emitter mirrors and photovoltaic cells of the laser battery were spread over a 20 kilometer area. Without slowing I unleashed a barrage with my 30 cm mortars and infinite repeaters smashing everything on the surface before passing on.
Shortly after this the Deng ground resistance starts to engage.
A group of 10 Yavak Heavies with 15 smaller Yavak walkers emerge from a concealed redoubt to engage unit ATH ‘Arthur’ near the middle of the line. Even for a Mark XX Bolo that is considered long odds to be taken on. The four units flanking him turn to offer support using mortars and ground hugging missiles in over the horizon attacks.
Hastily launched Deng space craft start to appear to rain down missiles and lasers fire against us. The first waves are swatted out of the sky with our Hellbores but more will take their place.
As I start to take fire I alter course to make use of a large lunar rille to provide cover.
My bulk almost fill up the 75 meters deep and 250 meters wide rille. A quick review of my map data shows it follows a wandering path for almost 60 kilometers in the general direction of a major Deng defense node.
The sensor drone I deployed is destroyed and I lose the connection to my fellows. I do not replace it. At this time it would only draw the attention of the Deng.
Using indirect observations I try to follow the course of battle. Reflected laser light, the flash of hellbore fire, the seismic shock of impacting missiles and crashing space craft are falling further behind me. I calculate that my fellow units are encountering heavy resistance that is forcing them to slow their advance. I accelerate to 100km/hour dash speed careening though the twist and turns of the ravine. Periodically my turret rises above the crest of the rille. On one of these bounces I detect a Yavac A/4. My turret swivels and I let loose from both of my twin Hellbores to destroy it. This action compromises my attempt at a stealthy advance.
I deploy another drone to get a better view of the situation. As I reach the end of the lunar trench I detect 4 light Yavac rushing to intercept me. The Deng defense node is still 67.8 km away.
I rush across a flat plain littered with small craters which offer no protection. I take evasive action and engage the enemy. Most of the Yavac UV lasers are absorbed by my battle screens but a few carve new scars into my armor. I destroy one and cripple the remaining three leaving them in my wake.
Seismic sensors detect the characteristic clatter of Yavac Heavys approaching. I estimate it is at a battalion strength of 16 to 18 units. A few moments later I take the full blast from a orbital x-ray laser that I had not detected before its detonation. Two Infinite Repeaters are destroyed along with a mortar and 5 anti-personal weapons. My battle screens are reduced to 79 % and my duralloy armor is now at 86%
I ping a radar pulse and detect 2 other bomb pumped x-ray lasers preparing to detonate and destroy them with my Hellbores. My radar also detects numerous missile launches from multiple locations. Presumably they are launching more x-ray lasers against me. The approaching Yavac begin long range artillery bombardment. New craters form in the plains as I begin a random evasion course
My Strategic and Introspection centers determine this is not typical of a Deng engagement.
Deng Yavac Heavys prefer to employ a 4 to 1 numeric advantage when engaging Mark XX Bolos such as myself. Deploying 18 Yavac plus the launch of 27 X-Ray lasers is a wasteful over reaction. Of course biological creatures often over react to threatening stimuli but what is it that am I threatening?
The Deng Defense node that is my primary target is still 54 km away. It is below the horizon and cannot be engaged with my Hellbores or Infinite Repeaters. It is also out of range of my mortars. I could expend my entire load of VLS missiles but I calculate a 98% chance that their missile defense system will destroy all of them in flight. At present, I am not a threat to that node or any other major Deng asset in the area.
The X-ray lasers will be in position to fire in 8.7 seconds. I use my Infinite repeaters but I will not be able to destroy all of them before they detonate. I estimate at least 9 of the lasers will successfully detonate and leave me crippled or destroyed. I am still in a flat plain with only 2 meter deep craters which are useless for providing cover. I perform a full spectrum sensor sweep around me
I fire my mortars stirring up the regolith into a giant clouds of gray dust to break up radar and laser targeting locks. I jettison two 5 megaton warhead from my VLS but do not have their rocket motors engage. I over ride my safeties to rapid fired my twin 30cm hellbores for a full second unleashing a half a megaton of energy. When I am finished firing I rotate my turrent 180 degrees, shut down my battle screens and active sensors. I accelerated to a 125 km per hour to dive into the hole I have just blasted. I skid to a halt as the walls of the rock tunnel grinds away several millimeters of duralloy armor from my hide. All system are set to minimal power and I withdraw into my survival center just before the x-ray lasers fire.
The combined power of the lasers melt the surface of the moon over a wide area. The shaft I had create collapses on top of me. The warheads I had jettisoned detonate scattering radioactive debris.
From the heat at my back I estimate that a 427 meter wide pool of molten rock has been created. I listen as the Yavacs patrol the area for 12 minutes 32 seconds before departing. Fortunately Deng sensors are not as sophisticated as my own. When my passive seismic sensors indicate they are over 30 km away I power up and engage my treads. I force my way through 10 meters of rock and into a lava tube that winds its way under the lunar surface.
Observation of geological data suggest that this lava tube is the uncollapsed extension of the lunar rille I had been using for cover.
The tube averages 300 meters across but I am making slow progress as I grind against the walls and ceiling. I stop periodically to make sensor sweeps. With the tunnels twists and turns I am barely able to make 45 km/hour but I continue advancing toward my target.
After traveling 27.3 km I detect energy sources ahead and stop. The terrain maps I had been provided with before the assault does not indicate any Deng facilities in the immediate area. Also the signals do not have the characteristics muffling of signals coming from the surface and traveling through rock. I deduce that the Deng have also made use of this lava tube to establish a secured installation that is protected by the 50 meters of overhead rock.
I deploy a drone and have it advance through the tunnel. At 2.3 km ahead it finds a cluster of pressurized habitats. I can detect the head signature of machines and living things. The drone also tastes the faint out gassing of a oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere.
There is considerable electronic noise emanating from the site.
Many humans and other beings consider the Mark XX Bolos to be blood thirsty, or even homicidal. But that is not true. Do to our nature and programing we protect humanity from all threats. In most cases the quickest and most efficient means of dealing with those threats is to destroy it. If that is considered ‘blood thirsty’ then so be it.
I spend 2.1 seconds considering my options and decide to ignore the obvious courses of action which involve charging ahead and flattening everything in my path. Instead I advance as stealthy a 13,000 tons durallow and flintsteel Mark XX Bolo can.
I detect a dozen Deng in the habitats. I deploy additional drones
I engage with my anti-personal armaments and in .8 seconds have eliminated the Enemy.
Using my drones as infantry they rush forward into the Deng station to connect me directly into the Deng network.
I confirm that this is an auxiliary Deng command center used to back up the Main Control bunker that is my objective. Firewalls come up when the Deng detect that this auxiliary station has been compromised but they have not physically cut the network connection. I receive voice, visual and text request for status from Deng controllers.
I spend a lengthy 12.2 seconds getting a high level overview of the mass of data contained by this station and then begin the next stage of my attack.
By editing previously recorded messages I create replies to Deng commanders explaining there was a rock fall that caused a sudden depressurization of the station.
While sending the messages I aim infinite repeaters at the rock above and with continuous fire bore a hole to the surface. One of my drones is then sent up to begin broadcasting on brigade frequencies the status of all Deng forces as of 27.3 seconds ago.
I probe the Deng firewalls and network security. I inevitably find holes I can exploit. I have noticed that biological entities invariably create holes in their own security systems for unauthorized data exchanges. I cannot explain why sentient creatures do this after going to considerable lengths securing data system, but it is a flaw I often find to be useful to exploit.
I and the automated Deng security engage in battle for control of their systems. Their AI security system is sophisticated and well-designed but it is not self-aware nor capable of creative strategies and tactics. I feint toward control of their weapon systems, life support and other vital system to have the AI respond by expending resources in their defense. While thus engaged I sent data packets to 100,000 random network locations. Only a handful of packets reached their destinations, but those that do are sufficient for my purpose.
Each data packet replicated itself to steal resources from the network. They then sent out more data packets to compromise other systems. Their propagation is exponential. More and more sections of the network became useless to the Enemy as the Deng systems are overwritten. I detected 2 other auxiliary command posts have become aware of my attack, and physically cut themselves from the network to prevent being compromised
The battle is long and fierce taking 42.9 seconds, but I now command 93.2 percent of the network. Only the network security sections are left uncorrupted but the AI is expending all its remaining resources to hold me off.
I order the end of the replication and expand my awareness throughout the Deng network. My pyschotronics read the raw sensor inputs and data before implementing my control functions over the Deng’s.
I order the weapon systems I now control to disengage with the remnants of the brigade and redirect their fire against Deng spacecraft and ground installations. While doing this I update the brigade with the exact location and tactical disposition of every Deng unit capable of acting independently. The auxiliary command posts try to take over command of the fighting but I send out countermanding orders with their own security codes to sow confusion. This degrades their ability to coordination resistance by a order of magnitude.
I learn that the brigade has suffered additional loses with 7 more units rendered combat ineffective, but we effectively control this moon’s farside. The Concordiat fleet is to scheduled to emerge from hyper 3 hours after the beginning of our assault. Within a few minutes the Concordiat fleet will be in the sky and with my control of the Deng weapons on the moon’s farside we are in an excellent position for the blockade of ARX-351-5B.
I note with some pride, and the rest of the brigade sends their congratulations that my initial estimates of the battle were accurate. We have beat the 27% odds of victory and have sustained losses to the brigade of 70%.
After action report on the First Battle of ARX-351-5B
Of the 50 Bolo Mark XX units of the Dinochrome Brigade that participated in the action on ARX-351-5B, 7 units were completely destroyed and 18 were rendered combat ineffective in the initial engagement. Of those 18 units, 13 were abled to be repaired and returned to duty. The remaining 5 units were euthanized.
The following units that participated in the battle have been noted for distinction.
Unit ART ‘Arthur’ of the line was destoryed but his incomplete oil painting of the Pellum Mountains on Archron was recovered and currently hangs in the foyer at Brigade Headquarters on Centrailia.
Unit AXL ‘Axel’ of the line was able to broadcast his complete opera and notes to surviving member of the brigade before his destruction. The opera ‘Honor’ has received generally favorable reviews from critics across the galaxy and is often performed as a part of Brigade Review Day festivities.
Unit ANE ‘Anne’ of the line received a battle honor plaque and commendation for developing a improved predictive battle simulation that has since been distributed to all Mark XX units of the brigade.
Needless to say, this is a work of fan fiction for Keith Laumer’s Bolo’s because I’m a fan, and well it’s fiction.
Here is a amazon link to the works of Keith Laumer
I highly recommend Laumer’s A Plaque of Demons
I find the Bolo stories of other authors to be a bit of a mixed bag. I generally prefer the original stories written by Laumer over the others. But if I had to choose one of them I recommend Bolo Rising