Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tactics of Delay, Part 27. Serial Fiction. Louis Shalako.

Louis Shalako

The sun was still shining, the sirens had finally gone quiet. Plumes of black smoke rose from the south and southwest. The enemy helos had shot up the town and taken out a few more buildings.

They had their own plume of smoke—

With plenty of loiter time, they’d gotten all of the Confederation decoys. They’d missed everything that mattered, and that was good as the reports flowed in. After a good half-hour, forty minutes of action, the enemy had finally departed, all weapons presumably expended. 

One of the 20-mm cannons had registered hits on two of the four gunships, and that might have been the convincing factor: time to go.

With all the trees and hills around, in their little clearings and down in the valley, the Sky-Cats in Roussef had never even gotten a lock—she’d have to think about that one, especially as the enemy had flown right through the zone covered by their sensors. The trouble was all those trees—with the enemy flying at low altitude and keeping the speed up. One quick flash of data and the thing was gone before lock-up.

It was a shock to see the Command Centre destroyed, and yet they’d been expecting it all along.

Unfortunately, there was no evidence as to how the enemy’s intelligence service had obtained the information. Ultimately, it was just a big room with a bunch of electronic equipment in it, and pretty disposable compared to the price of the long-range missiles it had taken to destroy it.

It was a moot point, but half the town of Roussef probably knew about the place by now, (which meant, on some level, that everybody on the planet might have known), and that certainly included their first centre. According to the initial reports, it was still intact, albeit abandoned and stripped of all useful equipment. That might have been good intel on the enemy’s part. Not worth wasting a pair of rockets on that one. The second location was a write-off, and while a few people were looking at Dona for guidance or inspiration, the more experienced ones were already sprinting for the vehicles.

Wheeler, Chan and Captain Aaron were giving some calm and unhurried orders.

“People. Get a-hold of all off-duty personnel. Tell them to head straight for Ryanville.”

“We’re on it, Colonel.”

“Thanks, Lieutenant.”

As a precaution, the vehicles were parked a minimum of fifty to one hundred metres from the building, a hastily-emptied family grocery store in the northeast corner of the town. Their trenches and undergrounds were a minimal fifty to seventy-five metres in the opposite direction—an elementary precaution, but one that appeared to have worked. People could run that far in the time allotted. It was heavily-treed, it was down in a tight little valley, with all sorts of non-descript buildings around. Still, the enemy had found it, and found it pretty good.

“All right. Ladies and gentlemen. Command Centre Three is now active. We need to get our asses up there, pronto.” There was no longer anything left to do in Roussef.

Nothing for the command team, anyways. There would be stay-behind parties. As usual.

 “There’s not much worth salvaging here.”

“It’s okay, Colonel. Someone will have a quick look.”

The skeleton crew that had set up in Ryanville would man the boards until relieved.

Chan was on the fibre-line and to a limited extent, the radio to their scattered field units—

Captain Aaron was very much on it, letting the rest of them know in a calm voice, as their eyes met momentarily—he gave her a wink and a wry grin and she nodded firmly.

There were cars, trucks and busses zooming down the Walzbruch Line, clearly with a view to bugging out, and she had some concerns about traffic—and more missiles.


“Yes, Paul.”

“I would suggest a road-block up the line, uh, maybe a kilometre or so.”

“Do it.” A trooper at his side turned and sprinted for a Puma, grabbing another one by the elbow in passing.

Two would be enough, in her mind, and so that was it.

Case closed.

Anything that kept the civvies off the road was a good thing, and the few troops needed could fade off into the bush in the event of a real emergency. The thing to do was to get her people out and then let the civvies clog the roads…however cold-hearted that might be.

It wasn’t like she could actually control them—they were getting some garbled reports of a resistance movement south of the battle area, and there had been one or two light ambushes by the civilian force along Highway 2. There were too many reports coming in, and of course no boards—no boards.

There was still some feeling of shock—it all still seemed so unreal.

“Thank you.” Putting the com unit up to his mouth, he moved away and began speaking, grabbing people, naming names and giving orders. “You. Don’t forget to cut that line.”

He was referring to the fibre. The soldier nodded, still moving.

“Yup, Right on it, Captain.”

A Panther slewed to a stop beside her and a few other Command Centre staff.

“Colonel Graham. We would suggest that you go now.”

“Ah, Roger that. And thank you—”

Vicky was right there at her elbow and she reluctantly tore herself away. Stowing her weapon on top of a half a dozen duffel-bags in the back, an anonymous trooper slammed the hatchback and Dona climbed into the front passenger seat.

Someone tossed her small personal bag and a bottle of water into her lap…

Senior officers would all be traveling separately, more or less in order of their relative importance.

The door was almost closed when she had an urgent afterthought.

“Any casualties?”

Major Chan shook her head.

“Don’t know, Colonel. But we’ll let you know. Civil or military.” She’d seen all of this before, whereas Dona hadn’t.

“All right. Thank you. In which case, I am out of here.”

Vicky slammed the door the rest of the way and the wheels spat gravel as the driver gunned it.

There was no time to wave goodbye. The side and rear windows were all heavily tinted anyway.



The main battle map was before her on the dashboard, with smaller pix from various situations strung out in a long line, down low along the bottom of the hard-screen.

It was her Command Centre, now safely ensconced in the village of Ryanville.

“Yes. What.”

“Your eyes only.” The young female face looking at her was grim.

Trooper Giffel. Nice kid, from Rigel Nine or so Dona recalled. An A-plus student. Dona recalled a dark young man in attendance upon her. A little young for her, but that one had definitely been cute. She’d seen them coming and going from class once or twice—and she had even wondered, once or twice since then, whatever happened to him, anyways.

“Very well.” She nodded. “Thank you.”

There was a package, the bogus little buff envelope icon down low on the screen of her com-unit.

A quick thumbprint and it opened to a scene that was frankly shocking. Pictures and sound, all of the sickening details.

Her heart pounded, and then she shook her head in disgust.

“All right. Hmn. Ah—” Her mind raced.

This would be all over the civilian television and radio networks, naughty bits blurred and pixelated maybe, and even with the phone net down—surely this could only be temporary, but there was just no way of holding this garbage back.

The Unfriendlies would make sure of that.


“Okay. Open access. I repeat, open access. Put it up on the board.” She sighed. “Label it enemy propaganda.”

The kid looked shocked—

The mental image of her commanding officer, her former teacher, the most dominant figure in their lives for these past few days, very intense days, dancing around in a drunken stupor, eyes glazed over with whatever was the dope of the day, stripping out of the blacksuit, flinging it aside, and then engaging in the kinkiest of sexual activities. It would be compelling. Yet she’d been there all along. Right in their ears and in their heads.

They all knew that—and so would most rational civvies. Hell, even the natives would quickly see through it.

And what the hell else could she do.

Snapping off the unit, she settled back into her seat.

Don’t sweat the small stuff—her father’s voice, right there inside.

As always—


But the sight of what was a pretty good simulacra, a virtual Dona Graham, somehow having kept her silvery stiletto shoes on what were some pretty microscopic feet, wearing nothing but big, trashy jewelry, naked, gasping, moaning and begging, was nothing if not disturbing.

Boinked up the ass, as it were. Breasts unnaturally large. Surrounded by a ring of very black men, she was apparently sucking every cock she could find, eyes glazed and with jizz—sperm, running down her face in the unnatural white of what was probably just good old mayonnaise. Or its film-shop equivalent.


Whore of Babylon!

The narration was nothing if not predictable.

The people of Deneb would probably laugh when they saw it—it was totally inappropriate for the culture, although it would have gone over big on Shiloh.

A wry look stole over her face.

She shook her head. Sure, she was angry, but she’d been almost eager to take that call.

I knew I shouldn’t have answered that—that bastard.

The old goat.

There was one hell of a knot in her stomach.

The vehicle was very quiet, her security detail carefully avoiding her eyes. But they had all the information too, by now. They had to—it went with the job. Hers and theirs.

She lifted her chin and looked around. She nodded at Jonesy. She let out a breath.

“…it’s all right, people. No big deal—I suppose I really ought to be flattered. The general has clearly been obsessing over me.”

“I’m going to kill that bastard, Colonel.”

“Shut up, asshole—” Sergeant Jones growled, deep and low.

The trooper on the left side of the back seat looked away, face beet red.

Not if he got there first—the message was all too clear.

“No, people. It’s all right. This is war, okay? It’s just shit. And now we know a little bit more about our man, and, ah, how he thinks. Our plan always was to win, and that sort of thing must always come at a price. Huh. Anyways. We’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of us, and quite frankly, I could use a nap.” There were seat controls down on the side, and she fiddled around until the thing was just right.

The electric heat was really something.

No one said a word, and her driver, a Trooper Williams as displayed in her goggs, reached over and turned up the music.


Just slightly, but it was enough. Junior rank, surrounded by brass and sergeants and senior troopers, he had a nice way of dropping a hint—

The Colonel doesn’t want to be disturbed right about now.

The scenery was still just as rugged and just as beautiful as it had been in her initial impression.

Well, they were pretty quiet back there, although they were still working and watching their own devices. Williams was competent enough behind the wheel, going a hundred and forty-five kph on winding, twisty roads, albeit still paved this far south of Ryanville.

They seemed to have calmed down pretty quickly, as mad as they were.

Mad as hell, in fact.

Sometime after that, in a kind of secular miracle, she really did fall asleep.

God, what a fucking day.

She might have even snored.


(End of part twenty-seven.)

Previous Episodes.


Image One. Denebola-Seven Chamber of Commerce.
Image Two. Collection of Louis Shalako.
Image Three. CPCO.
Image Four.  Carl Weathers.
Image Five. The Manufacturers.
Image Six. Trooper Williams. Collection the author.

Louis has all kinds of books and stories available from Smashwords. Please take a minute and have a quick look.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tactics of Delay, Part 26. Online Serial. Louis Shalako.

Louis Shalako

“Okay, Force H is about sixty kilometres down Highway 17. And the forces involved in the retreat from Walzbruch, Force W, are roughly the same distance down Highway 3. We’ve gotten most of them out, including the heavier weapons. We’re proposing to pull them back, to within five or ten kilometres out from the junction of 17 and 2.” The next big retreat looked a bit hairy…

“Anyone not out has their orders.”

“Yes.” That was in their original plan, and she saw no reason to change that with the information in hand. “So what’s the problem?”

“We’ve left weapons behind. We’ve lost a few to hits that almost seem accidental—until we consider the possibility of an enemy satellite. In which case, why not take them all out? What would be the capability of that satellite. There’s one question. But if we look at the terrain, Colonel, here and here…we can see good defensive positions. Our troops, or our robotic weapons, would obviously make use of such positions in order to hold up the enemy for as long as possible. While we try to get our people out of Roussef.” In other words, no big surprise that it would be defended in any case.

One more big, beautiful ambush point.

Also, the Confederation troops had been busy preparing a program of demolitions in Roussef.

The enemy might know all about it, in which case they would know there were still a good number of Confederation troops in the town…this would obviously tend to suck them forwards.

Hill 163 dominated Highway 2, and Hill 114-A, overlooked Highway 17 from a commanding height. The hills were protected in front by a short series of lower but steep ridges, heavily forested and with cascades coming down, the creeks flowing east to west, some of them visible from the roadside cams. There was a series of bridges and culverts, some of them quite large.

There was one interesting little river just off of 17. It was a local tourist spot, with multiple waterfalls and short stretches of white-water. It was easily accessible to the casual hiker, and there were some folks, on almost any planet with sufficient water, who enjoyed kayaks and rubber boats or just drifting down on an inner tube.


Captain Aaron, walking up and down the rows with his hands behind his back, was listening in.

“So what are you saying, Trooper Wyles?”

“It’s another psychological moment, Colonel—ah, Captain.” Time to get the hell out of Roussef, in other words, although he didn’t say it.

Her troops had their psychology as well. It probably felt a lot like running away, this when they’d had nothing but success against the Unfriendlies, and so far, not a man or woman lost. 

Her written plan was almost too reassuring. But the fact was, they were withdrawing, retreating.

It might be better to go a little early—rather than a little too late.


The urgent call came from the girl on the main battle board.

“Helos in the air. They’re headed our way—direct line, not the highway, and they are, according to Teams Three and Four, Deneb City, loaded for bear.”

Their eyes locked and then she and the young male at her side exchanged some kind of a look.

Everyone else was intent on their displays.

“Very well. There should be—”

They were nodding. They all knew the score.

Missile launch, shortly before the helos arrived on their raid.

“Ha. The other two helos appear to be returning to base. No known results from their search.”

“Thank you.”

Things were definitely coming to a head.

“How many people do we still have in Roussef?”

Wheeler had it all on her board.

There were air-defence batteries, the Hellions, a few Panthers. Big trucks, although most of the Pumas, the smallest of their units, were out on the roads, carrying on the action and being quite useful in spite of their small size.

“Very well. Prepare to evacuate. All non-essential personnel to depart immediately. Notify all people that an air attack is imminent. At the very most, they have about, ah, half an hour. Take the bigger vehicles first—the Hellions, the six-bys.”

“Roger that, Colonel.”

She and several others were studying the main battle-board.

“How many people do we actually have, anyways?” She meant in Roussef.

It couldn’t be very many, the way she had plastered them all over the place. All of this had been foreseen, but there was no question of defending the town even if they had wanted to. 

This valuable prize was to be given up, as bait.

“Ah, maybe a hundred and forty, Colonel.”

More than enough.

More bait, always more bait—

Let the enemy think they were winning. For as long as humanly possible.

No matter how you felt about it, but she’d come to like Roussef.

The few people she’d met had all been very kind to her.

Wheeler was still checking.

“Ah, a hundred and fifty. Two hundred, tops. And that includes the militia. Can we get them out of here too, Colonel?”

“Yes. Make the call. Either they get out now, or they’re stuck here with the consequences.”

Lieutenant Wheeler was already punching up the number. She was of equal rank with their commander, during daylight hours, operator of a hardware store in Deneb City and a fellow who had some actual combat experience.

At least to hear him tell it. A big, bluff sort of a fellow, he seemed popular, perhaps a little too popular, with his people. No one had bothered to check his story as there were presently no secure communications at stellar distances.

No communication at all, just as Brigadier Renaldo had said.

Perhaps that was just as well—

What she didn’t know about the larger picture, well, it just didn’t matter.

Let’s keep this nice and simple.

I’ve got my own worries.


“Command Centre.” It was Marissa, flying Drone Two from their new base up the road to Ryanville.

“Go ahead, Drone Two.”

“Helicopters, inbound.”

Pictures flashed up on the screen. There were two helos, now equipped with fuselage pylons. 

As they watched, the system analyzed the pictures. Multiple folding-fin rocket launchers and what sure looked like good old-fashioned, wire-guided anti-tank missiles.

Hmn. Nothing really unexpected there. There would be a door gunner with a 12.7 and possibly a small rotary gun under the nose, anywhere from 20 to 37-mm. Their jammers were going full blast. The actual position was only accurate to within a few hundred metres, not enough to get any kind of a shot. The helicopters were all sharp angles, sloping sides, radar-absorbing materials and stealthy design. It would be the Sky-Cats that had the most chance of a hit. The thing was to knock them down and then get the missile batteries out of Roussef and harm’s way. They still had a limited number of reloads which would be worth their weight in kryptonium later on...

Her own 20-mm units, and her three remaining laser-cannons, were mostly in Ryanville or its approaches. The two 20-mm still in town might get a good shot though. The thing there was, she was hoping to recover them for the move. If they opened up, the enemy helos would probably try and engage with them.

“Roger that, and thank you. Keep on that.”

“Roger. Will do.”

She turned to the young trooper on the Sky-Cat board. The individual units of the battery were scattered, for reasons that would soon become obvious.

“Next time that enemy drone comes around, I want you to take a shot at it—one load, try and use Unit C, that’s all. Understood?” Unit C was slated for first removal.

Fire it, let them see it, and then it would be gone. This was also in the original plan, and the other units were sited accordingly. With luck, they might get a shot. If they enemy saw it, they would probably take a shot…

“Yes, Ma’am. Absolutely.” He seemed to approve.

Better yet, he seemed to understand the simple three-unit, triangular dispersal strategy for AA missile defense.


Drone Two had temporarily broken off from the action and turned to an intercept course.

“Helos turning away, Colonel Graham.”

“What? Where the hell are they going?”

They had broken to their right, headed east. They watched in fascination, as Drone Two, at maximum throttle, three thousand metres above, tried to keep them in sight. Putting the nose down, the pilot gained some speed, but it was no good. The overhead satellite view showed them pulling ahead, just two black dots now in the view from Drone Two.

They were flying low, using hills as low-level radar cover. As if they didn’t know about the Confederation satellite—but the satellite didn’t have weapons directly dependent upon it. 

That was all ground-based decision-making

Then they slowed, made a cautious approach, and landed on the highway, down in the middle of a valley just a kilometre from the front of the second enemy column—the one that had started off with all the fuel trucks. There was at least one still intact. Some of that must be JP. 

The column was two minutes up the road.

A side door opened and a half a dozen troops scattered into the ditches and underbrush on security detail. The rotor blades still spun—ready to dust off at the first sign of trouble.

“Ah. Now they’re getting smart—”

The remark was cut off by Lieutenant Wheeler’s hand on the young fellow’s shoulder as Drone Two’s cameras held the scene steady. Drone Two itself was turning back onto its original course.

“What are they up to?”

It wasn’t that hard to guess. Refueling a bare fifty or sixty kilometres from Roussef would greatly extend their time over the town.

“Enemy drone, inbound. They must have gotten that one fixed. Either that, or they have more in the crates, Colonel.”

“Ah, noted.”

“Team Three reports more choppers. Two choppers, up on deck, Deneb City, fueling up and loading…choppers are armed. Please advise.”

“Hold fire. I repeat, Team Three is to hold fire. Team Four may fire if they get a shot—”

Team Three, holed up in the middle of Deneb City, in broad daylight, had no hope of escape.

One and Two were out of range, or were being held in reserve.

“Mongoose One’s Sky-Cats are active.”

“Thank you. Let’s hope they get a shot.”

Team Four, up in the hills, was in a far better position to get away, or to evade detection completely and were saying so in a brief text message.

“Team Four. Acknowledged.”

A trooper to her left began typing.

“Yes, Colonel.”

“Team One reports missile launch imminent.” He turned and smiled. “That’s always the way, isn’t it?”

“Roger that.” Somewhere, an enemy technician’s hand hovered over the button, listening for word from the helo force…

“As soon as they fire, hit the sirens.” Until then, keep working the boards.

“Yes, Colonel.”

More data…

As long as you’ve got a minute.

Team One had successfully evaded the enemy patrols looking for them. While some small enemy patrols were still out there, as near as three kilometres in one case, they had worked their way back into a good position to observe the space and airport facility.

Team Two was still in place. Buttoned up in their holes, with good concealment and a certain calmness of mind, the Unfriendlies had walked right through their position without so much as a clue as to their existence. One trooper had a bruise on the calf from being stepped on…that one deserved some kind of a bonus. As far as she could recall, there was nothing in the book regarding that particular situation.

Put him down for a hundred credits, even if she had to pay it herself—it would be money well spent. That one would be talked about—all over the place.

Those southeastern patrols, finding nothing, had all returned to Deneb City. It must be assumed that more would be coming out soon enough…surely the enemy must patrol.

“What about them other choppers?” A trooper down the line of workstations had a good, deep voice, one that tended to carry over the general hum in the Command Centre.

Harvey, noting her look, brought the stream up in time to hear the response.

“Gunships. On the pad. Rotors spinning. They’ll be along in a minute, I’m sure.”

“Thank you very much.”

The Command Centre was running smoothly, everyone seemingly very professional. It was interesting, just how quickly the newcomers and the original contingent had shaken down from any previous ways and formed themselves into something new and congruent.

The helos on the ground on Highway 17 would take some minimal time to top up their tanks. 

It only took so long to travel the distance. If their two new machines followed a similar track, they were well off from Mongoose One—and its attendant Sky-Cats. This was perhaps a good thing, as she had some ideas for later. Mongoose One had a handful of missiles left. That was it. Without a target, the Sky-Cat defense was entirely useless. The real problem with Mongoose One was that it was too close to Highway 17, but that particular track had been a short one and they had been running out of time. It was just one more gamble.

The thing had already paid for itself.

The trooper did a quick time-and-distance calculation. Not aware that she was already with him, he touched her call-icon and spoke.

“They’ll probably sit there a few more minutes, Colonel Graham. The only real question, will they be taking it in shifts, or will they concentrate for maximum impact…when they finally do, ah, get here.”

“What would you do, Trooper Dax?” It struck her that she was still teaching, still encouraging, still asking a lot of her people—

Stretching everyone to the limit.

He shrugged and shook his head.

“Damned if I know, Colonel.”

The tone was perfect and the young man seemed surprised by the quick ripple of laughter that went through the control room.

With a nervous little nod, he continued.

“I mean, it’s just one of many decisions. They have all kinds of options. But, all they got to do is roll on a bit further with the fuel trucks, make another rendezvous, and then they can have four helos, all fueled up and ready for an attack.” The road, with the fuel trucks rolling along it, was a land-based aircraft carrier on the move.

Not a bad analogy, she thought.

“That’s as good an answer as any, ladies and gentlemen.”

He sat there, neck visibly reddening from six metres away.

“Missiles, inbound!”

Sitting on the far right of the front row, the trooper in question stabbed a quick button and then the sirens began going off all over town.

“All right, people. Into the bunkers—you got thirty seconds to haul ass. No exceptions, no going back for something you forgot—”

Their low-level air defense was live and on full auto—

No one was listening, so she took her own advice and got the hell out of there.

(End of part twenty-six.)

Previous Episodes.


Image One. Confederation Public Communications Office.
Image Two. CPCO.
Image Three. Collection of Louis Shalako.
Image Four. Earthpig.
Image Five. Dneboloa-Seven Defense Force.
Image Six. CPCO.
Image Seven. CPCO.

Louis Shalako has many books and stories available from Amazon.

Louis hopes that readers are enjoying the story so far.

Thank you for reading.

By Earthpig - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,