Chapter Six

Convincing the prom queen to go on a date

3rd Lieutenant Constance Harper had not known what to expect the first time she would be leading her very own troopers on to a bug infested planet. One thing for sure it had not been a shuttle landing to a prepared runway carrying their bags with them. She had thought it would be more like the other drops she had made. Full combat gear and drop capsules and having to fire to clear a space to land among a sea of deadly Arachnid Warrior Bugs. Heck when she and her troopers had gotten off the shuttle after a smooth landing, there had been a welcoming committee to give them directions to their barracks and an orientation briefing.

Of course after the last week aboard the Anthony Wayne she should have expected nothing less. 3rd Lieutenant Constance Harper had been planning her training program and course of action to have her very first platoon be a complete success. Her entire program had been based on everything learned in ten years of warfare with the bugs and more importantly based upon the experiences she had had while fighting that war.

All of that had been completely thrown out the porthole by one lone non-commissioned officer. Not even her new Senior Sergeant, Van Horn could compete with Sergeant Walker and the ideas and tactics he kept throwing at them. Everything she knew how to do and had been doing for years was challenged. Lieutenant Harper could not decide what the most annoying thing about Sergeant Walker was. It was either the way he presented his new ideas which was to say never rudely, never excitedly and never wrong. He just approached her properly and stated what he wanted just like the first time he had approached her.

Thinking about it a little bit she realized it must be the never wrong part. Everything he suggested or demonstrated was truly better then the tried and true ways she had learned. No, that could not be it. The most annoying thing is was that he never ever even the one time she had ordered him to tell her anything about where he had learned or dreamed up all of the new tactics he was teaching her and the platoon.

No she finally had it. The truly most annoying thing about Sergeant Walker was his shooting ability. Aboard the Anthony Wayne in the simulator training he had made some shots the technicians running the damn thing said could not only be made but would never work on the Arachnids. Sergeant Walker never got mad or cross or upset. He just told them the shots would work or they should change the parameters of the program.

The point he had been trying to make was and she knew this fact from hard experience Mobile Infantry Troopers usually used hundreds of rounds of ammunition to bring down one bug. Sergeant Walker claimed and often tried to succeed despite the simulator restrictions to bring down Warrior bugs with just one round. He often said anyone could learn to do it. The Mobile Infantry trained troopers wrong just to keep the peddlers of ammunition in business. Constance did know one thing. She had seen the remains of a lot of troopers whose positions had been overrun when they eventually ran out of ammunition no matter how much they had started with. The bugs never seemed to run out of bugs.

Waking up in her private room in Officer's Country she had been able for about two minutes to put all thoughts of Sergeant Walker out of her mind. Waking up in a real bed on a real planet with real air for the first time in months she had allowed herself those two minutes and just remembered what it was like to wake up when she was a child at home in Idaho and not have anything to do that day. Unfortunately she had a lot to do that day and 30 troopers waiting for her to tell them what to do with their day. No more time to lie in a comfortable bed and relax.

As soon as 3rd Lieutenant Constance Harper walked out of the Officer's barracks on her way to make sure the troops had eaten breakfast she found quite a surprise. Her entire platoon was standing in formation apparently waiting for her. In front of the formation stood her Senior Sergeant Van Horn and of course Sergeant Walker. Both of them saluted as soon as they saw their commanding officer. Letting out a sigh, Lieutenant Harper marched straight up to Senior Sergeant Van Horn and saluted quickly. Dropping the salute she asked, "Good morning to you also Senior Sergeant. Why is the platoon here to greet me?"

Senior Sergeant Van Horn also dropped his salute and then stumbled for a moment looking for words and then said, "Good morning to you also Herr Lieutenant. Fourth squad leader Sergeant Walker had a particular concern he felt required your immediate attention."

Turning from Senior Sergeant Van Horn to the main frustration of her existence, Lieutenant Harper asked, "Sergeant Walker what do you feel needs not only my attention but the entire platoon's attention on our first full day on planet?"

Sergeant Walker, who had dropped his salute with Senior Sergeant Van Horn's, turned his blazing eyes on her and simply said, "This base camp is going to be attacked within the next four hours."

Looking around her, Constance only saw the regular activities of troopers going around doing regular things. No one seemed to be rushing to prepare for an attack that would be starting very soon. A week ago this statement and the actions of her platoon would have had Constance calling for a Military Discipline Review Board and for lashes given to the offending troopers. After the week she had spent listening to and working with and seeing his ideas she was willing to give him at least a chance to explain this statement.

"Before we go to the Duty Officer and but the Quick Reaction Force and the entire base on full alert could you tell me how you know something no one else around here seems to know?"

Sergeant Walker kept his face perfectly straight and said deadpan, "I have already taken the liberty of informing the Duty Officer. He has taken it under advisement and sent out additional patrols to stop the attack."

A little confused Constance waited to see if Sergeant Walker would care to explain what was going on. He did after a moment.

"Sir this will do no good and in fact has weakened our ability to defend against this attack."

Now Constance was really confused and decided to try and get something closer to the point. She then asked him, "Why won't this help us Sergeant Walker?"

Sergeant Walker then went into one of the longest spoken segments she had ever heard from him. Normally he kept things short and demonstrated what he wanted.

Now he said, "Sir the bugs are not going to attack this base camp on the surface or even by air today. They may use some surface units but they will only be a diversion. The main attack will come from under the surface. I have located the primary insertion points. We will need to cover these points with Hel Flamers and Javelin Missile Launchers equipped with Firecracker Missiles. We can then cover the entrance tunnels with the Hel Flamers and then close the tunnels with the Javelins. This will cause the least amount of damage to the base camp. We will need to get this equipment and get into position soon to give the platoon a chance to go over their equipment and prepare positions."

Feeling torn between frustration and a need to do something if this threat is real, Lieutenant Harper continued to ask questions, "Sergeant Walker I ask you again how you know this attack will occur and more importantly where it will occur when no one else does? The base camp has sensors embedded to protect against just such an attack."

Sergeant Walker then looked over to one of the guard towers where Mobile Infantry troopers were many the heavy weapons protecting the base camp. Turning his fiery eyes back onto his leader he explained in his long form, "The camp has not come under enemy attack for more then three months. The troopers assigned here have begun to think the battle is almost over and are not taking things as seriously has they should be. They have positioned the weapons with "safety" in mind. The heavy weapons can not cover the interior of the camp. This is why the Bugs are going to tunnel under the base camp."

Starting to play with the rocky soil with the heel of his foot Sergeant Walker then jammed the heel of his boot into the earth and continued, "Last night I did some basic checking of our protections and found that the underground sensors have all been compromised. I then used knife edge listening to discover the entry points. I should also say I may have been wrong on the timeframe and we should have the platoon in position as soon as possible."

Frustration began win out and Lieutenant Harper rallied herself to continue the questioning. She had to be very sure of this supposed attack. Arming and positioning her platoon in the middle of the base camp could lead to her not only losing her commission before she even got started. Worse still she could find herself drummed out of the Mobile Infantry and returned to life as a civilian.

"Sergeant Walker please tell me as quickly as you can how you know that sensors which are monitored 24 hours a day and have alarms installed in them to prevent tampering have been compromised when no one else knows this."

Sergeant Walker locked up and looked straight ahead then said, "Sir, the cockroaches Sir."

At this answer even Senior Sergeant Van Horn, who had been standing quietly at attention the entire exchange between 3rd Lieutenant Harper and Sergeant Walker turned to gaped at him. Even the members of his hand picked squad seemed a little confused and lost at this answer. Lieutenant Harper mouth dropped open and after a moment just asked, "Cockroaches Sergeant Walker?"

Sergeant Walker kept staring straight ahead and said very quickly, "Yes Sir the cockroaches. They have sabotaged the sensors so it looks like they are working but they are not. The Bugs are coming."

3rd Lieutenant Harper no longer knew who she should think or feel. She knew cockroaches were on every planet where the starships of the Federation had visited. There just wasn't any way to keep them from sneaking on board and then sneaking off ship. Usually in the very crates the colonists brought with them to establish the colony. But to think these ancient Terran insects were cooperating with the Arachnids and had the ability to commit acts of sabotage. The only thing she could really think was that Sergeant Walker had flipped out completely.

He must have sensed or more likely anticipated her reaction because Sergeant Walker continued without being prompted, "Sir there are no Terran cockroaches here on Longanus. All the cockroaches here are Arachnids. They are scouts and intelligence gatherers for them. They are under the control of a Brain Bug. Do not worry I have taken care of them in the immediate area."

This statement had to be the last straw. She had never heard of this before. She did not know what she should do. Looking around she took in her platoon. They were all waiting to see what she was going to do. Taking all of them in and then looking at their individual faces she saw that even with the wild claims Sergeant Walker was making that all of them trusted him. She fixed her gaze on Private Lee. She was one of the youngest and easily most naïve of her platoon. She had noticed she was also one of the most capable of her newbies. Private Lee trusted Sergeant Walker and she trusted her lieutenant to validate that trust. It all came down to that. Sergeant Walker had already earned the platoon's trust. Constance needed to earn that trust too. It appeared the only way she was going to do that right now was to back the person they trusted. Constance just hoped she wasn't throwing away a promising career on a crazy man.

"Senior Sergeant Van Horn go and take 1st Squad and go to the armory. I will let them know we need some heavy weapons for training today. Sergeant Walker you show me where this supposed attack will take place and what you think we should do about it. The rest of you get some food and bring some back for those picking up weapons. On the bounce now Apes."

"And I hope we really get attacked because if we don't there will be real hell to pay for it." Lieutenant Harper thought to herself.