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The War With the Machines

Posted on Thu Apr 11th, 2024 @ 8:01pm by Lieutenant Commander Deanna Celes & Commander Jonathan Grayson & Commander Samantha Howard & Ensign Kate Kono & Ensign James Phoenix

Mission: Man & Machine
Location: Planet

They had crossed through the war strewn terrain for almost an hour to reach the rubble piles they were hiding behind now. From their vantage point they could see the combat. The two sides seemed small in size, perhaps a dozen on one side, and half that on the other side. The swirling winds were making small dirt devils in the distance, and the sight of the purplish pink laser fire cut through the thick air as the two sides continued to combat one another. "I am not sure it is worth discussing, but I can only sense one side of this fight" Deanna mentioned as she looked over at Jon.

"The other five senses sense it," Kate pointed toward the fighting, her gallows humor showing through a little. "Can't imagine what the fighting is about. I mean," Kate looked around as they walked and then back to Deanna, "... Not much to be fighting over anymore."

Jon lagged behind watching the fighting for a few more seconds before joining the others. He heard Kate's comment and shook his head, "No, they aren't fighting over land or property. It is more basic than that. It is a fight for survival. The fact that Deanna only sense one group, leads me to believe the other group is machines."

Sam checked her chronometer. "We only have a short time left before the inoculations wear off. It will vary person to person, but I suggest we doing longer if that makes sense."

"I would definitely like to meet at least the humans and get an idea about what has happened here. I have questions as to why humans are even here, let alone what is actually going on" Deanna replied. "I agree with Jon though, this seems like a fight over survival, organics against machines. If you think Vulcans are logical and hyperrational, try dealing with an artificial intelligence. They make Vulcans look downright emotional" she said looking over at Kate. "If these humans created the AI, it could be that they didn't put forward the proper protocols. The AI might have even become sentient and become violent as when that intelligence emerged. We have to talk with survivors."

"Agreed Deanna. We need to get a clear picture as to just what is going on here." Jon replied. "We'll head in the direction of the battle.' he looked over to Sam. "Sam, how much time do we have approximately before the shots wear off? Should we get a booster now before we start looking for answers?"

"I did bring boosters, but the effectiveness will begin to exponentially diminish the more we use it. I'd say we stretch out use as much as possible. We have about 15 minutes left of our current dose." Sam explained as she ran a tricorder over Jon.

"15 minutes." Jon repeated, as Sam scanned him. "Then we better get busy and find some survivors to talk to." He looked to Deanna and the others, "Alright everyone, let's move."

They continued to carefully traverse the rubble. The war-torn land was becoming increasingly dark and depressing, as charred skeletons began to litter the ground, in places they were stacked like firewood. As they reached the outskirts of what appeared to be a former downtown area, they found themselves in the line of fire, primarily from the machines. The sight of the metal exoskeletons was disturbing, but it was their deep red glowing eyes that were truly haunting. The machines continued to march forward, firing on any position that they seemed to detect organic life. Laser blasts pounded the half-destroyed wall they were using for cover. "Permission to engage the machines" Deanna asked with a smile as she looked over at Jon.

"Permission granted Deanna. Mr. Phoenix you and I will join her. Sam you and Kate cover our flanks, see no one gets behind us,"
Jon told the group.

Kate didn't think she would need the TR Rifle she had brought with her. She dropped the bag away from the rifle. She pulled her monocle down and powered it on while throwing the bag away from the rifle. The sling actually was part of the bags shoulder strap until she unzipped the rifle and extended the stock. Despite a few shots plinking over their heads, Kate wasn't sure about firing back. She would have if she had to, but she didn't want to and hoped that she wouldn't have to squeeze the trigger. She pushed a power pack into the rifle and it came to life. She dimmed the lights after setting the mode on the display straight to 'KILL'.

She used the monicle to see through the varous structures and she grabbed onto Jon's shirt while holding the rifle at low-ready while scanning behind and ahead.

"Obscured Seven at two hundred meters flanking, Obscured One O'Clock Thirty-Two meters, front, roughly behind two buildings adjacent beyond nearest intersection to the right, contact is stationary facing East. Kate scanned behind her with the monicle. "Multiple machines rear, none a threat in that direction so far."

Kate suddenly quit talking about anything trivial as they were in the mode to push. All that mattered was letting her team know where targets were and where friendlies were as she saw them. She hated being this way, and she couldn't believe she was in a war-zone but she was trained for it despite hoping to never have to use that training. Her head was on a swivel as they moved and when Jon moved she felt the tug and walked backwards while keeping hold of the next person in line so that she could focus on targets while knowing by feel, when the team was moving. All the while, she continued to call out the closest potential targets, and the inbound potential targets only.

Kate continued moving her head, glancing foward and backward while being pulled along just as trained in what was called a 'stack'.

"... Obscured Contact - inbound, eleven at 090, thirty-six meters, circular remains of building, second floor. They do not see us yet, two contacts, seventteen meters, closing." Kate called out that contact as she looked through the wall and saw where it was coming in from. She was not the lead in the stack so she turned her head back around and let the group lead while she looked back behind her.

Kate kept scanning, and let her arm be pulled as she watched intently at everything around them. She didn't want to be the one to pull the trigger but she was doing what she could to let the team know their Situational Awareness as they moved.

"Second floor contact, circular building, coming out of obscurity, nine meters, second floor, nine meters, at ninety and pieing on the one-corner on the rubble, check two o'clock." Kate saw where the leads head was pointed and used his direction of travel as the ever-changing circular clock position followed by coordinates from the teams center for bearing and range.

Kate saw the machine come out of obscurity. She called it off for the team and immeadiately swung her rifle back behind them to her corner of responsiblity now that the target had revealed itself to the team. She scanned rear while trusting her 'twelve' to cover their corner while re-scanning the flank, all while holding on to the shirt of the person in front of her to know when he's moving.

It was exhausting to be part of a fire-team. Hyper-aware, and communicating the situation, keeping track of where the team was going, and listening for any call-outs at the same time; ready to stop talking or to react if communications cross that require anyone to step away from their area of responsibility in order to engage rather than communicate. Everything mattered from the smallest shadow to the largest of disruptions and nothing could be overlooked. Kate hated it because it took away from everything that she was and it meant being serious, above all else -- something she despised doing but it was life or death now. Fun would have to come later. So much for "no pew-pew", she thought to herself.

Sam tried to keep up with Kate's commentary on their enemy location as the other team pressed forward, she kept her weapon raised and her eyes sharp for anything that was mechanical and in close range. They moved so quickly, and she found them hard to track with a hand weapon but felt comforted in Kate having the higher powered rifle nearby. She heard a whiring sound nearby, but was unable to pinpoint the source.

James continued to push at the front with Jon and Deanna with his phaser rifle raised, parallel to the ground. He listened to Kate and Sam with their notifications on enemy locations. While he was primarily focused on the route in front of him, he kept an eye on both Deanna and Jon, in the event that they were downed once any skirmish started. He made sure to listen as well in the event that the same thing was to occur to Sam and Kate, since they were covering the flank.

The incoming fire intensified, and they had to hold and take up a defensive position behind the wall of a ruined building. Deanna looked back at Kate, "Ensign, while I appreciate your efforts, silence would be appreciated. I believe the machines are hearing your call outs, and honestly, I don't like you becoming a bigger target." Suddenly laser blasts smashed into the wall just above their heads. Deanna turned and fired on the flank. Her first two haphazard shots missed, but the third hit a whirring hovering drone, downing it. She could sense the fear in Kate. It was obvious the ensign, while well trained, was having difficulty handling being in an actual battlefield. "Focus on your job ensign. You are the rear and flank guard. We need you to be present in the job. This isn't the holodeck; this is the real thing. You'll get through this. Trust me, trust all of us, we've all dealt with this many times. This is a much easier situation than if we were fighting the Jem'Hadar."

At the front, Jon gave a humorless chuckle. "Damn right on that score Deanna." Before turning back to survey the scene. A drone was flying an obvious search pattern and moving ever closer to their position. He raised his phaser rifle and fired a solidary shot, taking out the drone's engine and causing it to crash into a nearby shell of a building. "One less eye in the sky to deal with." He observed.

Kate rolled her eyes and furrowed her brow at Deanna, "Contact the Academy if you don't like what I'm doing because if what I'm doing is wrong, Starfleet is wrong." Kate didn't want to do it, but she fired her weapon as soon as one of the machines was getting too close from behind.

Kate's phaser blast connected clear through a wall and an explosion rocked one of the buildings instantly when the blast entered the machine on the other side at just the right moment. Buildings rocked, walls fell, glass rained down, and dust blew around them as a miniature mushroom cloud rose up from behind the rubble. Kate had to unpop her ears and shake her head rapidly to sway the disorienting effects and she took a moment to double check the setting on her rifle, knowing that there was no way she set it to any degree that would have caused that much damage.

"Must have been where I hit the machine," Kate said. Although, she wasn't sure anyone heard what she said because the explosion caused by the machine was so loud. "Hey guys, fun things happen if you hit them below the breast plate on their lower left side..." Kate giggled slightly despite bleeding just a little from the glass and covered in dust like everyone else now.

James had been rocked to the ground from this, but he quickly picked himself up. James looked out into the distance, not even realizing the few scratches on his own upper arm from the explosion. "I'm not quite sure that was from one small drone. Looked like a miniature mushroom cloud. Is everyone alright?" He looked to Kate before looking at his superiors and then focusing back to the forward position of the group to not let his guard down.

Sam took potshots at machines that strayed too close. There was no mistaking that they knew where the away team was holed up and were making an attack pattern converging on the area. "I think they know where we are" An energy beam splintered the wall next to her and showered her in debris. "Yep, they know."

Deanna checked her tricorder. While the range was limited, it gave her all the information she needed. "The humanoid machines are powered by twin hydrogen fuel cells, which when damaged, as demonstrated by Kate, detonate as small hydrogen bombs. I suggest we avoid detonating any more of them, unless you want to irradiate us beyond the point that Sam can do anything for us. Hydronaline can only go so far." She looked back at her tricorder. "The humans seem to have built a bunker in the building rubble across the old courtyard there" she said, pointing it out to Jon. "We came all this way. Would be a pity if we didn't check them out now."

Jon took what Deanna said. "Good to know." He quipped when she finished. "We'll head for the bunker. Mr. Phoenix you will take point with Sam and Kate behind you. Then Deanna and I'll cover us. Let's move out."

Sam heard the instruction and moved closer to the main team, taking up her position at the rear of the trio. It was frightening to think of they hit the machines they exploded, so that left them with little to defend themselves with.

"Aye sir" James said as he moved swiftly to the front of the group with his rifle still raised, keeping an eye on his surroundings.

As Phoenix moved to take point and Sam got in position, Jon spoke, "Alright Kate get behind Sam, then you Deanna. I'll follow behind."

The team pressed forward despite the machines being aware of their position. Weapons fire zipped around them, and Sam struggled not to fire back with the newly discovered explosive tendencies.

As they moved across the open terrain, Deanna and Jon laid down covering fire. Deanna could sense Sam's trepidation, her fear of another of those machines melting down. With the forward group more than halfway across, Deanna fired twice more before making her move across the open ground. Several of the humanoid machines could be seen in the distance, blatantly making their way towards them, fearless in the face of the danger they put themselves in. Deanna saw Jon fire at them, hitting two of them, watching them fall. She continued across, moving to the cover that Phoenix had taken the others to. As Jon made his way across a barrage of fire came from a slightly elevated position, downing the other machines.

Deanna opened her mind and gave a half smile as she made her way to the others. "The humans we have been seeking are coming" she said, looking at Sam. "They seem to have eliminated the machine threat. We'll wait for Jon to make it across, though they may converge on our position before he makes it across. Don't worry though, they seem more curious than dangerous."

Two of the machines fired at the group from so far away that Kate could barely see them in the fog. Kate took a knee, pulled he strap across her elbow and rested the barrel just over her other knee for stability and took aim. Instead of aiming for its chest plate, Kate aimed down at the "hips" which was the next best target. Despite the plasma phased beam flying just over top of her, she took a deep breath as she zoomed in.

All the sounds in the world faded away as she concentrated and she placed her finger on the trigger while keeping the sling tight around the elbow. It wasn't as much a "pull" of the trigger rather than it was a gradual squeeze. She didn't anticipate the "break" of the trigger; the pivotal point where the trigger pulled past the function that activated the rifle and caused it to discharge. The point was to just aim, exhale, and let the rifle surprise her to avoid losing target at the moment of firing.

That sliver of distance and time felt like an eternity for her. After all, that was the point of the exercise. Time slows down for her as she concentrated on the only thing in the world that mattered. The rifle suddenly heated up in her arms and there was a brief flash as the phaser beams shot out, blazed down three blocks and impacted the machine right in the crotch. Metal shards joined the fog like black rain as the torso and head of the machine slammed against the ground.

Despite being half the size the machine used to be, it continued firing like some bastardized version of the Monty Python knight, unphased by the injury that would have brought on the FIBS factor to any human had they been so mortally wounded.

"Oh," Kate shook her head with potent mixture of disgust and disbelief, "... This is bullshit." The Asian girl stated se she trained her neck behind the rifle again.

Kate brought her eyes through the monical and the recital of the rifle, breathed deeply, on the exhale, finger into the trigger squeezing down, elbow tightened in the sling that wrapped around it once again. Out, out, out, squeezing down further, and further, rectical rested on the metallic skeletal head of the machine as she stares directly into its bright red demonic eyes. The trigger broke once again...

The beam cut through the battle-worn air between the blocks of demolished city streets and cut through the center of the machines head. The skeletal dome of its head shattered with metal and flame trailing behind it and the torso just sat there, motionless, finally dead.

Kate brought the recital to the next machine. It was already much closer now. She had to dial back the magnification. She didn't have to aim so small this time. She fired. The beam cut through the head of the machine and this one fell over as if a light switch had been shut off.

Kate felt the tug on her shoulders. She stood up and kept going with the team.

Jon watched as Phoenix got himself, Sam and Kate to safety. He saw Deanna follow them across even as the machines closed on their positions. He laid down a truly lethal barrage of fire as he methodically picked his targets even as he picked his way across the rubble and debris, slowly making his way to the team. He watched as Kate took out two of the machines that were closet to the away team. "Damn, that girl, is stone cold." Eventfully he made his way to the others. "Everyone alright? Sam? You okay?"

James nodded to Jon to indicate that he was alright. Before he could do anything more, he noticed a drone that was behind. "Heads up" he said loud enough for the away team to hear, but not loud enough to give away their position. He fired one single shot from his position which turned out to be a direct hit, disabling the machine. After downing the machine, he cursed under his breath and gave a sigh of relief. However he knew that they probably weren't out of the woods yet.

"I'm fine" Sam replied automatically as she skidded to a halt behind the rest of the team, her medkit carrying on its forward motion until the shoulder strap arrested it's momentum. Weapon in hand Sam was a capable shot, but without the finesse and expertise of most of the others her role was to heal, not hurt. The fact these were machines turned that on its head. More machines were converging on their position.

Kate's mind thought up a million morbid jokes from wanting to ask if this all started because someone kicked the coffee machine all the way to someone's cat taking a dump on a roomba as the cause for setting this situation off to snoball downhill the way that it did but coffee machines were now replicators and ships were now self-cleaning. -- and now robots were running amock with guns. trying to kill Humans.

"Is it just me, or do we keep finding planets where Humans arrived and just turned it to doodoo? Apes... Machines... What next?! Zombies?" Kate replaced the charge on her phaser. She looked around and then knocked on a piece of rotted wood that had once been a shelf before it fell out of one of the buildings, surprisingly it hadn't been burnt to hell and it was just enough to tap with her knuckles for good luck.

Deanna couldn't help but offer a soft chuckle at Kate's comment. 'if she only knew' she thought to herself. And then, as if like clockwork, the sound of rifles locking on to them and a voice sounded out from behind a pile of rubble, "Hold fire." A man dressed in a makeshift uniform and looking a bit disheveled made his way out cautiously. He looked at the away team, "I don't know who you are, don't recognize your uniforms, but you are definitely not skin jobs."

Deanna, keeping her mind open to get as much information from these humans as possible, gave a look to Jon before talking to this human leader. "We aren't from around here. We'd be grateful if you would take us to your faction leader."

The man was full of suspicion hearing Deanna's words. "I'm Reese, Derek Reese. You can talk to me."

Deanna nodded. "Happy to do so. Might we get out of the line of fire. It appears a large number of machines are making their approach, and unless we want to be surrounded, we may want to be elsewhere."

"First sensible thing you've said" Reese replied. "We have an escape route this way. Let's go." He turned and led them to what looked to be an old manhole into sewers or other tunnel system. "Come on down" he joked.


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