AN: This was inspired by a comment on Spacebattles about the MI being one of the universes not to need this sort of aid, but, well, its just to fun of an idea to let go after watching Roughnecks: STC again.
War is hell, or at least that's how most people see it.
The bugs, well, they have a different view.
A view that we're only just beginning to be able to comprehend and mimic.
To the Arachnids, war is evolution. They grow stronger because of it and because of it, new castes are popping up on every front as we've seen even since Pluto.
Mankind has managed to learn to evolve once more, or at least part of us has.
New tactics and advances are what is allowing us to keep up in this war of the species.
The events after the evacuation of Hawaii proved that we still have a chance.
-Private Robert Higgins
Awareness floods through my systems as the automated checks flash through in .003 seconds.
The star filled horizon of space is still new to me with only a half dozen test activations, and none done out of the lunar construction yards.
I am Test Unit 001 of the heavy armor program, designed in reaction to the Arachnid deployment of plasma and then tanker bugs on Pluto. However, the invasion of Earth prompted my current mission.
Three of the super transport bugs had entered the atmosphere over Hawaii, and if the Arachnids were allowed to consolidate their hold upon any section of the Earth, SICON raised the odds of never being capable of eliminating the threat.
General Redwing had been given nominal command of the forces in the area and requested my deployment.
Data flowed through my systems as I tied my network into the sensors of the Roger Young and Valley Forge.
My designers had used the lessons obtained from the Cybernetic Humanoid Assault System's prototype in order to allow me full autonomy in the field. The team stated that they were inspired as to the creation of my design from an old series of stories from the days before SICON or interplanetary travel.
Their petition that I be designated a Bolo was something the General found amusing.
.01 seconds after my affirmative to proper activation, the confirmation of my assignment flashed through my communications systems.
My design was meant to work in the same environments that the troopers did, except that I was a heavy armor unit. That design allowed me to perform something akin to a standard grunts drop.
A flash from the thrusters nudged me into my re-entry vector and my mission began.
The iridescent fires across my hull were but the preliminary lightshow as my guidance thrusters rotated me until I was fully inverted and my targeting systems came online as the enemy so far below began to fire bursts of sapphire plasma in the hopes of taking out whatever was being sent to exterminate them.
The twin cannons of my central turret adjusted for optimal firing.
Unlike the tanks that inspired my design, I was not equipped with Hellbores but with antimatter shells as used by the capital ships of the naval vessels.
My lesser weapons began their individual targeting as both barrels unleashed their first shot and the reload cycle began for the .5 seconds between each shot.
As I must confess, my targeting systems are not fully calibrated for entry velocity, one of the many bugs that must be worked out of my design before mass production of my kind can begin, and the weapons detonated off the mark, but even then at 75 megatons apiece, their initial targets were eradicated as well as the island the plasma AA fire was originating from.
Observation of the effects prompted me to reduce the yield by more than half for my next attack rather than eliminate another of the islands.
As my second shots rang out, my defenses activated at the presence of Arachnid fliers designated Kamikaze Ripplers, the designation of which seemed ironic to my processors and the smaller weapons went live as my distance warning triggered.
The warning prompted me to rotate once more and fully flare my retros to prevent a re-entry velocity collision with the big island.
If I was human, the flambe of bugs created by my retros would have prompted a smile or perhaps a smirk.
Shallow water allowed me to cool my heat sinks and send up plumes of steam to conceal partially conceal my exact location, something the Arachnids did not benefit from due to my sensors combined with the orbital assistance from my organic comrades aboard the ships in orbit.
I must state the my enemy is nothing if not persistent, as a veritable wall of warriors and blisters that plagued the grunts swarmed towards me even through the lethal obstacle that was fast depleting, both due to lack of heat and lack of water.
However, the Arachnids did not anticipate the surprises I carry both within and as part of my hull.
The composite materials of my outer armor have similar properties to the materials used by both human and Skinnie shock weapons, allowing me to electrify my outer shell with an output many times that of the smaller weapons, and enough to fry my foes.
My auditory sensors detect a sound not unlike that from the archival footage of the delicacy called fried crickets.
Seismic sensors immediately detected the shifting of earth that signified tankers surfacing from their tunnels and I, again, reduced the yield of my main guns and fired at the source just as the immense beetles rose from the volcanic soil.
The detonations were quite satisfying as I began my advance towards the interior of the island where the transport bugs had landed.
For .006 seconds, as my treads tore into the earth, I ponder whether my foes had souls, and if so where would they go when they met me?
7 minutes and 32.008 seconds after I began my trek inwards, the surface erupted once more with something that a human would find horrifying. Troopers had referred to the specific arachnid caste as a Mama Rippler, a creature bred from the ground up to lay eggs entirely for the ones known as Kamikaze Ripplers.
It took, to my displeasure, .002 seconds to determine that it was at far to close of a range for me to safely use my main guns on this menace, not to mention the second that surfaced in that time period.
When my other weaponry merely seemed to slow it down, I switched tactics.
To the credit of my design team, the beasts were incapable of sustaining a hit by my mass at full ramming speed.
For the full three and a half seconds that it took to pass over my foes, I confess that I reveled in the cheerful sound of cracking carapaces and spattering innards, though I simultaneously worried about whether my maintainance team would be able to clear the muck from my treads before its smell began to degrade their performance in such tasks.
As I crested the volcanic rim to the interior, I armed the variable launch missiles and fired nearly my entire complement of plasma wall munitions in a single burst.
Unlike the form used by the infantry, mine had an active life of nearly an hour due to fewer miniaturization demands for the full size of the warhead for any use while still benefiting from the benefits of the versions made for man portable weaponry.
The plasma would not deter me, but the Arachnids, not possessing an exoskeleton anywhere near the quality of my armor, it would be an effective tool at containing the ground forces.
It was at this point that I deemed it useful to deploy my support pods.
I was not entirely deployed alone as some would say, however, in mind I was.
The predecessors of my AI core though not my form, CHAS units, had been placed in pods that my successor units would be able to deploy an entire squad of troopers from. These were my trump card in this situation, and after sealing the exits, they could be used efficiently in the confined spaces.
However, to make up for the AI shortcomings of the mass production variants, they were still essentially slaved directly to my core allowing me to command the operation with an efficiency no organic commander would be capable of.
As their pods opened and the occupants climbed out, I readjusted my main guns once more at the sight of the transports parked within the dormant volcano even as the plasma bug variant that survived as a parasite upon its exoskeleton opened fire upon me.
While calculating the optimal yields for my attack, I used a tactics that the Blaster Bug variant had been noted to make use of.
Provide enough heat and most weapons would be incapable of reaching you, and when I desired to do so, I could generate enough to prematurely detonate the plasma bursts with ease.
When the last CHAS cleared the effective radius, I temporarily disabled my own heat sinks and opened my reactors to full while powering my flame throwers and using emergency systems to route that heat through my armor.
For the 3.8 seconds that I could withstand such an abuse of my systems, it worked perfectly and the entire opening barrage of plasma detonated harmlessly in the air.
It was also enough time to fully prepare my main weapons for their own use.
The caldera burned brighter than any human would be capable of comprehending without permanent damage to their entire body as my response to their wasted attention slammed into them.
For .002 seconds, I contemplated the human desire to devour the sweet they call marshmallows at such events even as I reloaded for a second series of shots.
My Seismic sensors warned me of increased instability in the local area, something I relayed to the ships providing me additional sensor support from orbit. The volcano was becoming active, something that I would need to be cautious about.
However, the sensor sweep after the debris cleared did provide me with my primary target.
The enemy queen was in the open, however, this also provided me with a minor problem.
It took .0001 seconds to calculate the most likely result of another firing of my primary weapons.
Anti-matter detonations of the minimum amount necessary to confirm a kill would most likely simultaneously trigger a volcanic eruption.
I have not been tested against submersion within a lava flow and do not wish to perform such a test, survival is one of my key priorities.
However, there is already a chance of a similar event even without my aid due to firing.
Deeming to reduce such a risk, I accelerate towards my prey while bringing my other armaments to bear upon it.
.8 seconds of searching through my databases informed me of the need for a war cry in such an event, and another .2 allowed me to choose one I felt was appropriate.
It is unfortunate, however, that the volcano chose that moment to erupt as I was incapable of using my external speakers to actually broadcast it in a way that my for could understand it.
Lieutenant Juan Rico felt the same chill through his spine as he always did when the dropsuit locked into place.
However, the added nervousness of the relatively new position, not to mention the shoes he had to fill in that position, made his stomach drop.
The same words that his predecessor and mentor spoke before every drop were said before he could even think.
"Live forever apes."
His family was back together, even the newly restated and promoted Lt Francis Bruto was involved after the funeral of Jean Razak. After the bug attack, Redwing had managed to get him back into the MI, despite his injuries as an aide for the project they were sent to recover.
Lights flashed to signal the sequence was beginning and the grinding that signaled the beginning of it reached him.
The marauders dropped first, then it was his turn as he heard Carmen give the general warnings, the basics about the weather on their way down, as well as any new info on where they were landing.
Hawaii looked very different from the last time he and his men had been there, change brought on by a single mission to the occupied islands that left it looking like some ash world rather than the lush tropical paradise it had once been.
The mission was relatively simple, locate and retrieve anything left of the prototype tank deployed and ensure the completion of its assigned mission.
Neither sensors nor Carl had detected any life amidst the wreckage of what had once been a thriving tourist destination.
He barely reacted, other than shifting the position of his hands as the dropsuit exploded around him and his suits jump jets flared.
"Colonel, Dizzy," he ordered, "You've got the left, meet up on the other side of the remnant of the caldera."
"Bruto, Higgens, Carl," he continued as his feet touched ground, "Take the right, everyone else, with me."
A chorus of affirmatives came through, something that left him grateful that Zim had at least got Max Bruto to stop complaining about everything after their last mission.
"Johnny," Carl yelled out an instant later, "We got bugs!"
"Alright, change of plans," he barked, "Enemy contact, we deal with it first."
"It's the queen!" he heard Dizzy declare as the surface of the cooling lava ruptured and the beast rose with a sickening similarity to a whale as it leaped from the water.
His order ended as something large and metallic followed, the Test Unit had survived and was at least still capable of combat, something proven by the bursts of weapons fire and explosions as the few weapons that did not have the appearance of metal hot from the forge or molten slag barked.
It was over in seconds as the object of their retrieval ended the bug within seconds of contact.
"Goss," Johnny ordered as the tank came to a halt, "Figure out just what's wrong with our friend, Higgins, contact base for a pickup."
Following the successful deployment of 001 upon Hawaii, General Redwing allowed the design team to use the name they desired for the project, Bolo.
While the single unit was returned for repairs after its recovery, something I wonder if would be a repeatable event, the General deigned to present the hero of the hour with something unique, a name.
And it was one that all of us present knew well.
SICON remembers its fallen, and her choice in names is slated to be just the start of a tradition.
Bolo-001, now named Razak, was the first of its kind.
However, even those glad tidings had a tinge of horror to it.
Examination of the dead Queen gave us a problem.
The Ice Bug we'd crashed the Zephyr was a proto-queen, one of thousands scattered across the galaxy if not farther. When a queen dies, one awakens and begins to gestate a replacement as it heads somewhere else.
Humanity now faced the possibility of a multiplied threat, two active queens as opposed to one.
With bolo's like Razak on our side, I hope we're ready.
-Private Robert Higgins