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05/01 Direct Link
Calm Before the Storm
Day 67

Training feels as if I’ve been caught in a time loop - living the same days and maneuvers ad infinitum. The only things that make me sure this is not an endless cycle is the increasing numbers on the calendar and the falling numbers among my comrades.
Our indoctrination into the demands of war takes its toll, and it doesn't take prisoners. Injuries and the rare fatality thin our ranks, but it’s viewed more as a culling than unfortunate events.
We need able bodies to fight this war. Nothing short of the best will do.
05/02 Direct Link

Calm Before the Storm
Day 81

We saw our first victory today! Granted, it was on a training field with a simulated enemy in the form of drones programmed with adaptive AI. It was a live-fire campaign with ammunition weak enough to keep from penetrating our zone armor, but powerful enough to hit with enough impact to remind us to use available cover.
We moved like a well-oiled machine as if we’d been born mates in battle. No matter the resistance, we repelled the enemy and destroyed them utterly. Today, we are victorious!
What would tomorrow’s training bring?
05/03 Direct Link

Calm Before the Storm
Day 82

Not allowing us the luxury of sitting on our laurels, our combat drill commanders programmed the AI with a different species of alien than what we’d fought yesterday. In a swiftly shrinking galaxy, made that way by the myriad wormholes that open just about every day, there seemed to be a new species of alien every ten minutes that had made the human race either a target for annihilation or sustainable food source.
The training battle was hard-fought, but we were victorious again. To everyone’s surprise, we suffered no casualties - a training first!
05/04 Direct Link
Calm Before the Storm
Day 83

The giant spider aliens we fought today were the worst! I usually don’t mind spiders but make them bigger than me with an appetite for my blood, and I freak out. That seemed to be the squad’s consensus as well.
Our performance suffered. It was the most losses we’ve had since we started winning. In spite of that, we prevailed.
Our commanders didn’t seem to mind having to replace more drones than usual since we made for damn sure every creepy crawler was deader than dead.
I hope we never go up against spiders.
05/05 Direct Link
Calm Before the Storm
Day 84

Today we graduated Galactic Combat Training. Our final test - fighting wave after wave of combat drones programmed to emulate every species of alien trying to eradicate us.
We did well, but we lost someone. I don’t know if it was the pressure of our final test or a buildup of our twelve weeks of hell, but his mind blew. He just stopped and stared. Looking him in the eye, there was no-one there. It was strange leaving Mars without one of our own.
It is a dark reminder of what we might face.
05/06 Direct Link
In Transit to War
HMS Stormbreaker Days - M7342.100

I know the day count seems strange, but with time dilation, time moves differently for us in space as it does for you planetside. To try and keep track of the whole mess for our personal timekeeping and body clocks, we use the mission number and the number of days we’ve been at a specific location as reference points.
It’s strange we rely on analysts to get us to a place where a war might erupt, might be raging or might have ended. There’s no way to know halfway across the galaxy.
05/07 Direct Link
In Transit to War
HMS Stormbreaker Days - M7342.107

The full complement of five infantry divisions the Stormbreaker is ferrying to the battle on FedCorp Bank IV - I’ll never understand why they allow businesses to name planets - is growing restless. That’s over 100,000 soldiers looking to blow off steam.
The training facilities are always packed, and drunken brawls are frequent though alcohol has been banned from these flights. The idea was well intended, but we’re talking about cunning warriors trained to outsmart the most crafty of aliens. Smuggling alcohol aboard a FedCorp vessel past salaried TSA officers presents no great challenge.
05/08 Direct Link
In Transit to War
HMS Stormbreaker Days - M7342.163

Tomorrow we make planetfall. We’ve been in orbit of FedCorp Bank IV for three days to allow the onboard analysts and the brass time to assess the situation and formulate multiple strategies.
They’re streaming live feeds from the various conflicts for us. From what we can see via satellite imagery and planet-wide video surveillance, the Greens - savage, hulking aliens - are taking few prisoners and those unfortunate not to die at their hands are tortured in ways that make death merciful.
We’re eager for tomorrow’s jump.
We’re going to kill them all.
05/09 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.001

Our armored troop aircraft dropped into a zone where the Greens’ antiaircraft batteries were thinnest. That’s not saying much since the planet seems to be bristling with Green weaponry. Our losses came in under projection, but we still felt every one.
When our ship slammed down onto the deck, the ramp dropped, and our explosive rounds preceded us out of the bay. We cut down wave upon cursed wave of Greenies - miniature versions of the Greens but ten times more rabid - as we blasted our way to the first Green encampment.
05/10 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.001

The Greenie attack helped us work through the initial rush of adrenalin that relies solely on instinct, fueled by primal fear and rage. It still coursed through our veins, but our training took firm hold and carried us forward to take on the Greens in their fortified encampment.
The Greens’ seemed to fire walls of bullets at us. Alone, their ammunition was harmless against our zone armor, but in large quantity, they were enough to batter it to pieces. Taking cover, we called our Beetles forward - heavily armed and armored tanks.
05/11 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.001

Tearing through the Greens’ outer defenses like bog paper, the two Beetles spread out inside the encampment affording us cover and covering fire as we took up positions inside. Once we were in place, the tanks concentrated their fire on the Greens’ turrets while we swept through, killing any and all foot soldiers we encountered.
When the last Green assault weapon stopped chattering, each squad sounded off over troop comms. As the numbers came in, morale became palpable as we didn’t lose one trooper on the ground.
The assault was ours.
05/12 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.001

We were tasked with razing four more camps before our assigned mission would be considered accomplished. They proved to be more challenging than the first. It came as no surprise since we didn’t expect this war to be easy.
Our first victory gave us the morale boost we needed to face the ever-increasing number of Greens we encountered on our way to completing our mission.
We lost one of the Beetles in the third camp and by the fourth more than a dozen squads had been broken or completely decimated.
05/13 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.001

When the day was done, we’d crushed the five Green camps we’d been assigned. The last was the most difficult, but the remainder of our forces merged - each detailed with their own camps to destroy - before the final assault.
Casualties were heavy and our equipment took a beating, but the last loathsome Green in the region breathed his last before the sun finally set. Wiping out the camps meant removing the immediate Green threat from around the capitol’s walls.
The indigenous troops and militia visibly breathed easier as we marched in.
05/14 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.002

The numbers had slowed to a crawl, but as of this morning’s report, we’d lost a little more than half our troop complement in the initial attack. We were now on the shy side of 50,000 strong.
Reporting troop losses was an ongoing argument between the analysts and the brass. The former thought it brought down morale; the latter thought the opposite. They’d say it was important we know what we were up against. I’m glad they always post the reports anyway because I have new names to avenge every day.
05/15 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.002

Our forces garrisoned inside the capitol’s walls, I was summoned to the tactician’s tent with troopers from other divisions. Some I’d met aboard the Stormbreaker.
Turns out we’d all specialized in covert tactics and infiltration back at training. They made us a squad tasked with infiltrating the closest Green fortress to assess and report on defenses, assault capabilities, troop strength, and leadership. It was mainly an information gathering mission, but if we could assassinate any of their leaders we found without immediately alerting the Greens, we were encouraged to do so.
05/16 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.002

Sgt. Polaris is in charge of our squad. He has a calm and affable manner that conflicts with the necklace of Green ears he wears around his neck. He must have noticed the look on my face because he explained he wore it as odor camouflage. The necklace reeked of Green, which hid his human odor from the Greens’ powerful sense of smell.
We’re riding atop a Beetle that’ll take us as far as it can into Green territory without being detected. I’ll continue my story once the mission’s been completed.
05/17 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

I can’t believe we made it back in one piece! If I had faith in such things, I’d say the universe was out to get us. I do believe in math, the coldness of numbers, so all I can say is we persistently came up on the wrong side of the algorithm.
It was still a two-day march to the Green fortress from where the Beetle dropped us off. They’d razed the land around it for a mile in all directions to deny cover to anyone planning what we had.
05/18 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

Two days away from our objective, Sgt. Polaris thought it prudent we activate our camo sheets - ponchos that covered us from head to foot that electronically mimicked our surroundings, making us virtually invisible. We set a slow pace because they tended to shimmer if one moved too quickly.
The Greens had no technology that allowed them to see that far out, but Sgt. Polaris was a veteran of many battles with the Greens. To never underestimate the savage brutes was the first thing he learned. It had gotten him this far.
05/19 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

Two and a half days later, we were inside the Green’s fortress.
We’d slowed to a crawl once we had reached the scorched perimeter; a shimmer against the blackened earth would have surely been seen.
Sgt. Polaris had spotted a supply convoy approaching the gates. We chanced running to it once the distance between us and it was at its shortest. We trailed slowly behind it, exhaling our relief at not being discovered.
Once inside, the four of us broke into pairs and found cover just as the gates slammed shut.
05/20 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

Along with the din of activity, we heard creaks and cracks everywhere, the fortress having been cobbled together using whatever the Greens salvaged from the towns they annihilated. Stealth was going to be near impossible.
Sgt. Polaris and LCpl. Harikson took the east side of the compound while LCpl. Queeg and I took the west. It didn’t take the two of us long to locate the fort’s commander.
As we neared the west wall’s midpoint, we heard a Green’s voice booming from a raised platform where a makeshift war room sat.
05/21 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

LCpl. Queeg understood why I bypassed the raised war room. This was, first and foremost, a special recon mission to assess and report on the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. Trying to climb the unstable stairs to take out the commander was foolhardy at best and jeopardized the mission.
It was hard enough staying out of the lumbering Greens’ paths since they didn’t walk but rather barreled their way everywhere.
We were collecting intelligence when I saw a Green bump into something. On reflex, it swatted at the obstacle, and it shimmered.
05/22 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

I later learned it had been LCpl. Harikson who had caught the business end of the Green’s backhand. Knocked ten feet from where he’d been standing, his camo sheet shimmered on contact and then seemed to explode with light when he hit a support beam holding up the catwalk running along the east wall.
The Green threw its hands to its eyes, temporarily blinded by the flash, as the catwalk came crashing down noisily on the still conscious Harikson. Fortunately, he’d been unharmed. Unfortunately, the blinded Green started running toward him.
05/23 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

Though I shouldn’t have been, I was surprised to see the Green run headlong toward something it couldn’t see. It just ran in the direction of the explosion of light that had blinded it.
LCpl. Harikson later told me that he’d been terrified of being trampled, so he used the suppression field we each had been issued - a single-use silencer that absorbs a sniper rifle’s noise and muzzle flash - to put a round in the Green’s brain.
From my vantage point, it looked like the beast simply tripped and fell.
05/24 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

When the Green fell, I saw another shimmer and heard LCpl. Harikson shout in pain. The noise of the catwalk falling had already drawn attention, but the sound of a human scream would bring the other Greens running.
I told LCpl. Queeg to start making his way back to base with all of the information we’d gathered while I stayed behind to help Harikson and Sgt. Polaris. Without hesitation, knowing the importance of the mission, he started making his way slowly toward the gate.
I ran toward the elevated war room.
05/25 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

I ran full tilt at one of the corner posts holding up the war room, my camo sheet sparkling the entire way. I went unnoticed as what seemed like the fortress’ complete complement was heading toward my trapped brothers in arms.
I’d figured the support wasn’t secure enough to withstand the brunt of my weight hitting it at speed. I was mistaken. It felt as if my left shoulder had dislocated when the support stopped me dead in my tracks.
I watched as one of the Greens lifted his dead comrade.
05/26 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

I pulled the pins from two of my grenades, tossed them at the bases of two of the war room’s support posts, and ran for cover. Four seconds later, the beams were vaporized, and the war room toppled onto the rearmost Greens crowding around LCpl. Harikson.
From my vantage point, I saw the pin on a Green’s utility belt pulled by invisible hands. I could only assume it was Sgt. Polaris.
Greens were not known for their reliable workmanship and what should’ve been a four-second fuse went off in two.
05/27 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

Sgt. Polaris hadn’t enough time to reach LCpl. Harikson before getting caught in the blast. He was spared the grenade’s destructive shrapnel, having had two large and thick Greens between him and the exploding grenade, but being hit by a Green’s bulk hurled by a shockwave was no picnic.
Aside from being dazed, his right forearm had been broken, not allowing him the ability to pull Harikson from his situation.
The fortress was in a frenzy now. Polaris, Harikson and I communicated freely knowing we wouldn’t be heard over the din.
05/28 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

I’d reached LCpl. Harikson in time to save him from being crushed by the now rabid Greens looking to destroy anything they came in contact with. The fortress was taking a beating as we tried to back away toward the gate, left slightly ajar upon LCpl. Queeg’s exit.
One of their vehicles exploded. We were sure it wasn’t from anything we’d done. Unlucky for us, it shook the fortress with such force that our camo sheets shimmered, noticed by the watchful eye of the base commander.
He looked right at us.
05/29 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

The massive Green base commander yelled loud enough to pierce the uproar and quiet his rampaging troops. Though he couldn’t see us, he pointed in our direction and shouted a war cry that almost split our skulls.
The sound and the rank odors of gas and burning Green flesh were overloading our senses. As a wall of Greens flowed toward us, I targeted the base commander and fired.
We still don’t know if the permeating gases were from compromised fuel canisters or from the burning Greens, but it ignited and exploded.
05/30 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

The force of the blast blew us back through the main gates. We were back on our feet in moments, fear-fueled adrenaline coursing through us. Though Sgt. Polaris was in excruciating pain from his broken arm and LCpl. Harikson had a sizable gash in one of his legs, we ran away from the fortress as fast as we could.
Multiple explosions continued on behind us, but we dared not look back for fear of losing momentum. The Greens’ shouts of pain and anger mingled with the noise of the holocaust.
05/31 Direct Link
Letters from the Front
FedCorp Bank IV Days - M7342.012

We’d lost track of time and distance, none of us able to measure how far we’d run or how long it took us to catch up to LCpl. Queeg. He’d started running after the first explosions. Survival was the only thing on our minds.
A war skimmer greeted us, chancing a recon mission of its own once the fortress fires were visible. It cut its mission short and took us back to base.

I can’t believe that all started ten days ago. We’re lucky to be alive, but the fighting continues.