The Island

"Yes Sir," Price stated acknowledging the transmission. "I'll see that he gets it … Uh huh… Yes Sir …Understood… I'll let the General know at once …roger… I understand… Price out."

Well, that's that, the man thought as he killed the power to the com device. And just to be certain …He paused and dislodged the tiny circular jammer he'd brought. He bent down and attached it to the under-face of the machine. Next he twisted it slightly, pressed it flat, and the silent blocking signal dampened everything within inches of the machine.

"There, that should do it just fine. As far as they'll know, it will just be interference in the atmospheric conditions. Now that or any other messages will never reach anyone, unless I want them to" The Corporal stated with smugness.

"What are you doing, Price? What's that thing you just attached to our com link?" Staff Sergeant Max Peterson asked. From his tone, the man sounded as if he knew exactly what the answer was. "Hmm, surprised to see me, Corporal?"

Price jumped around and flinched as the sound of the abrupt voice completely startled the man. He'd been sloppy and gotten too relaxed. "Max, you shocked me …I was just um, adjusting the equipment. There was some atmospheric interference and I thought maybe I could cut through it by…" The man began to lie in a friendly tone.

"Shut up Price …If that even is your name at all. And spare me that flimsy, dim-witted, demeanor you always seem to display. I'm tired of that constant babbling mouth of yours. Do I look stupid to you? I've had my suspicions for awhile." Max explained. "You seem to duck away a lot and you're much too familiar with the relics for some dumb infantry grunt. Things seem to go wrong when you're around, too. I knew if I gave you enough rope you'd eventually hang yourself. That's why I asked Major March to have you replace the …ailing… Private Willows on the radio. Willows is fine, but suddenly, you're not looking so good …old buddy."

"Come on, Max. Listen to yourself. It's me …" Price replied as he started to approach the man.

Sergeant Peterson leaned forward slightly and pointed his pistol a little higher. "I said to shut up. And stay right there. You're through pal. I did some checking. No one in the 45th ID has ever heard of you. Well not of you in particular anyway"

Price looked a little confused and for the first time his face conveyed an appearance of worry. His usual friendly, hillbilly, smile was replaced with a quite serious stare. He was slightly angry with himself for not noticing that Peterson had been shadowing him. Alright, the man thought as he reassessed his situation. Obviously he's on to me. I just let him finish and then I'll make my move. I knew this might happen and I can still get out it.

"Yes Price, the 45th. Not all of them died. The unit was scattered in the attack. One officer and three enlisted personnel survived. One was a female from 1st Platoon, 3rd squad. Pretty ironic, eh? ...that's your old squad. She knew a Corporal Price. But he happened to be a black male. You're white, Price. Or maybe you've just been out of the sun too long. Yeah, maybe that's it. Besides she also said she watched him die when the monkeys tried to take New Washington." Max explained.

Sergeant Peterson carefully moved to his left and grabbed Price's rifle. He threw it to the side and waved him towards the door with the pistol. "Move it. Pretty convenient cover story for you except you weren't aware of any survivors, were you? Now we're going to take a walk, Price and visit the General. He can decide what to do with you. But I'm guessing he shoots you on the spot. Maybe he'll even let me do it. I'd much rather be shooting apes but in your case I'll make an exception."

Ironic indeed! Price thought to himself, Of all the dumb luck. There was no point in carrying the charade any further. This man had certainly done his homework. But Price had come too far and failure was not an option. If he was unsuccessful it would certainly mean his life. Regardless, if he didn't act now he was going to die anyway. "Ok" Price said raising both arms as if he were surrendering. "You're all finished anyway. Do you think this rag tag bunch of Neanderthals was ever any match for our Empire? Do you idiots actually believe that muskets are going to stop our tanks and mechanized infantry?"

It happened quickly. A simple flinch in Price's wrist and the tiny dart was away without any notice. "Sorry to disappoint you, Sergeant, but I'll have to decline your invitation". He added disdainfully.

The contaminant in the small projectile acted with Peterson's blood immediately but with one negative effect. The man's muscles contracted. He clenched the pistol tightly and squeezed the trigger. The weapon discharged and the small slug punched into Price with intense force. It settled in the upper portion of his chest and sent pain shooting into his shoulder and neck. He spun backwards and knocked over the equipment. He was light headed and could feel unconsciousness creeping in.

The meds his mind cried out as he slapped away at the pocket on his olive drab blouse. He drank the small vial he was carrying and let the stimulant course through his body. Holding the wound, he exited the tent through a hole he'd cut in its rear. As he stumbled out as several other bodies spilled in.

"What's going on?" Lieutenant Craig shouted as he looked at the mess. His eyes were fixed on the convulsing body of Sergeant Peterson. He began to call for the medic when something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. Thump, thump, thump – the small object sounded as it bounced across the harden dirt and bumped into the side of his boot.

"Grenade" he shouted, but it was too late. The com station and everyone within its range was blown apart. All of the equipment and associated supplies went up with it as secondary explosions echoed throughout the air. Off in the distance the military leadership heard the screams, the detonation, and witnessed the rising cloud of smoke.

Always when I have coffee. Hayes thought to himself as he looked at the black cloud rising in the distance. Someone up there is dead against me ever enjoying a cup of it in peace.

"What in the world now! That's the main communications site" Grazot stated. "I told Lieutenant Craig to be careful with that equipment. …I should have assigned my apes to the task" he added with a mumble.

A squad of soldiers ran ahead to check out exactly what had happened. Moments later the short range com device Grazot was carrying crackled with the bad news; General, this was no accident, Sir. We've been sabotaged. Just about everyone is dead and we have wounded. Whoever did this is still alive. …or they were anyway. They appear to be severely injured. There are footprints leading into the woods and a trail of blood too.

"Price!" March whispered. "Peterson must have been on to something."

He looked at Grazot and said, "General, I think what we discussed earlier is actually true. We have a spy in our midst. We spent a lot of time here. We know the woods and the terrain. I think we could track him"

"Go ahead," Grazot answered. "Someone has to. I might as well be you. But I don't want him alive. You put a bullet in his head before he does anymore harm. Dead spies tell no tales. Am I clear?"

March nodded and turning to Hayes he said, "Jonny, grab a rifle and come with me. If he went into the woods he'll be heading for the old ranger's station. We can flank him if we move through the old ruins to the south."

Hayes shook his head as he tipped his cup and watched the hot brew splash downward and soak into the grass. He then picked up his weapon and followed after Tom.

Senatorial Court – New Eden

The dispute had been going on since noon and it was now getting into the evening. The Emperor had ultimate authority but at times a united Senate was known to stalemate his rulings. It was uncommon and risky but it had happened. Senator Ghent had pulled the governmental leadership together as soon as he'd heard of the failed attack. He'd lost two sons in the fiasco at Tepoc. His Excellency was not a man to be trifled with but a blunder such as this was just too big to ignore. Ghent was filled with rage and had formed a supermajority. Many of the Senators had also lost loved ones in the attack. And more than a few had spouses, sons, and siblings serving abroad. Sending criminals or those who were condemned, on probing raids, was often used in Suicide Missions; just as it had been in the raid of Sigma Twelve, but this was different. These were 'real' losses. The only similar failure had taken place, eighty years ago, during a border skirmish with the Kirin Republic. Those bastards had caused irreparable damage before they were ultimately thrown back.

The public was of one mind; Any further attacks were to be discussed and approved by the Senate, before a single man or ape was dispatched. Though the isometric images from Raven were considered classified, Ghent had made certain to flash them everywhere. The Imperiam News Syndicate also had mysteriously been transmitted a copy by an aerial imaging link. The broadcast personnel were puppets of the Imperiam intelligence, who were pawns of the Emperor, but Ghent had his sources too. He'd made certain those images showed up on the daily broadcasts. Everyone in the Kingdom was now aware of what had taken place. Even the Emperor couldn't dismiss it. But he was still the ultimate authority and neck deep in the mix of it all.

"Enough" Marcus shouted at Ghent "Are we so naïve to think we'd suffer no causalities? No losses? The southern Ape nation lost a major logistics outpost. They had an entire artillery battalion housed at that location. And with that gone, we now have nothing stopping us from marching right into the belly of their territory. Our reports now state that their military presence in the area is now almost nonexistent."

The last statement was fact but the orangutan refused to stand down. "Sire, they have an orbital defense system stopping us. Or has that escaped your attention" Ghent answered dangerously. He'd been getting bolder and bolder with each exchange. His wife hadn't survived the transition and without his children, he was now completely alone. Dying was becoming a comforting thought. "Three missiles, Majesty, that's all it took to wipe out hundreds and vaporize our equipment; Equipment not easily replaced. Imperiam Intelligence estimates they could have up to a fifteen hundred projectiles spread across five orbital delivery platforms."

The ape paused and looked back at the Senate and then at the military leadership and went on, "Fifteen hundred warheads, gentlemen. Isn't it obvious? Any attack while that thing is operational is nothing less than suicide. Hell, we have proof of it twice over". Losing himself further in his anger he turned to Marcus and let his personal feeling burst through. "Not only that …it's reckless stupidity to think otherwise. That attack was a gross lapse in judgment. All did was weaken our resolve and kill our children. We lost hundreds for …nothing. …Nothing" he shouted in repetition. "You'll be the death of us all, if you're left unchecked."

The ape had gone from arguing to pungent bantering. That statement nearly cost the Senator his head. Marcus was beyond spoiled. As the sole law of the land and he considered himself superior to everyone and anyone. Emperors were not deity, but they were a close second. No one had ever told the man 'no', let alone stood up to him in such blunt honesty. And as a spoiled child would, he naturally erupted with rage, shouting for security. "You'd be wise to hold your tongue Senator Ghent or I might just have it removed …along with your head. I'm the Sovereign here, Senator, not you. I won't be lectured by the likes of you or anyone in this legislature"

Next, the Emperor threw the e-pad he was holding and jumped to his feet ranting treason. The device struck the ape in the shoulder and glanced to the side. It hit the floor and broke into several pieces. The Senate and military personnel murmured amongst themselves adding to the chaos. As the royal leader went on with his tantrum, Cade saw a golden opportunity. It was obvious these people were looking for answers and he had them. They desperately needed someone to provide sane guidance and sheep always needed a shepherd. He rose to his feet and in a futile effort, tried to calm the mob. Once he determined it was pointless he discharged his pistol into the polished wooden floor. The acoustics in the chamber amplified the blast by several decibels. Apes and humans alike instinctively jumped and coved their ears. The Emperor's personal security nearly cut the ape in two as every weapon in the chamber became instantly fixated on the General.

"Citizens of the Imperiam, listen to me." He shouted loudly. "Are we an Empire or a savage pack of wolves? Lords and Ladies, everyone is on edge and throwing around accusations is a waste of time. We've all seen the images. We all know what happened. We have got to move past this!"

He walked over to Ghent and put a paw on the ape's shoulder. He tiled his head and added a small smile signaling for him to sit. It was one of the few times Cade was actually being sincere. Ghent took in a deep breath, but the pause was enough for him to relax and regain control. He reluctantly obeyed. Cade then turned to the throne and went on; "Sire, Senator Ghent lost his only sons in the attack. His wife is also dead. The ape has nothing of value. No heir, no family. He is not thinking clearly and thus his comments need to be looked at in that light. The ape deserves very broad latitude here. I know what a wise and merciful man you are; we all do. If you will allow me to address the assembly I believe I have a solution that can deal with the missile platforms in orbit and accelerate our deployment timetable considerably. We lost a lot in that attack, but we can still use it to our advantage"

Marcus still looked as if he we wanted to choke the orangutan personally but he could be dealt with at any time. And you will be Senator, you can count on it, the Monarch promised himself. He babbled a few half apologies and addressed the remarks of Ghent. The man formally dismissed them but only to save face. It was clear to him that the majority of his people were united on how they felt with reference to the attack. Once he was done with his long winded chattering, he gave Cade the floor.

The ape gazed at his military staff as he began to lay all his cards out on the table. Tods whispered into his ear. He knew the ape well and could see where his boss was headed "If he doesn't go for it, Sir were finished. Keep that in mind." his XO stated.

Tods was right. Until now they'd been working in secret. That was the real act of treason and Marcus had no idea it had ever taken place. But this opportunity might just give him the official support of the Government. He leaned towards his XO and whispered, "Watch and learn, General, as I bring our beloved leader on board and make him believe the whole thing was his idea."

He twisted the facts but clearly explained the advantage and safety of launching the nukes at the ODN. A week ago he would have been drummed out of the procession for even considering their deployment but everyone was weary and they simply listened. He embellished the speech with talk of extreme circumstances requiring extreme measures. Cade explained that there would be no fall out and no radiated earth. He stressed that once it was successful the military could attack in force and at his will. In the end, he'd won the support of ninety percent of the government. Once, Marcus bought in the other ten percent fell right into line.

"Eminence," Cade concluded. "I'd be derelict in my duties if I didn't develop multiple scenarios. With the proper support and supplies, I can have this plan ready in three days. We could begin the advance on the forth. There's a large staging area already in place in the East. They're just waiting for the orders."

Hours later …

Cade was exhausted but once again he'd won. Emotions had been high and no one put up that much of a fight. He smiled inside as his arrogance patted his ego on the back. He now had the full backing of the entire regime. In the morning he'd visit Chapman and have those weapons brought on line. But now it was time to head for home and sleep for the next six months.

As he approached his vehicle he could hear the click-clack of footsteps and the all familiar sound of someone calling out his name in panic. He was very close to his automobile and contemplated getting in and driving off but reluctantly he paused. I'm sure I'll regret this, he thought.

"Sir … Sir" the woman chasing him huffed out. "I'm sorry to bother you but we have an emergency transmission from Monarch eight one; Code 16-Q."

"Eight One…" Cade thought as he forced his brain to think. "That's Captain Summers, isn't it? He's embedded with the unit that's trying to link the missiles into a global isometric array ….16-Q?" Cade echoed "That's a signal for an immediate wide angle strike. They must be close to completion."

"Yes General" she replied "And we picked it up over two hours ago"

"Two hours?" he echoed once again. Only this time the ape's tone was all the more serious. "Tell me you brought a recording." Cade was irritated. He was exhausted and his patience was wearing thin. "Why am I hearing about this now? Why wasn't this handled by the senior officer on duty? I should be getting news that 16-Q was completed, not requested two hours earlier"

The woman held up an e-pad said "Sir, I'm just the messenger. I just found out myself minutes ago. Everyone was at the assembly and the V.V.L. operator didn't want to disturb anyone. Here's the communication, General. Play time index twenty hundred and sixteen. Monarch eight one"

This is Monarch eight one. Request Code 16-Q upon receipt. Sending coordinates now. Enemy radar site located. If it becomes operational the enemy will be able to target the Imperiam mainland. …. I'm compromised. Request Code 16-Q immediately. bam - bam … static …

"Didn't want to disturb anyone? What part of immediately does the RTS operator not comprehend…" the ape never finished the thought. He immediately opened a line with his V.V.L. "This is General Cade, authorization Golf, three, three, six. Launch Raven, Code 16-Q, at these coordinates …" Cade synced the two devices and filtered out the obsolete data. Once that was done he sent the information. The officer of the day on the other end acknowledged. He then forwarded the message directly to Raven's hanger.

Cade turned to the woman and said "I want the man or ape who sat on this message shot ...tonight …That fool may have cost us all our lives."

Sigma Twelve

"They're gone Colonel." St James said frankly "And trying to have prevented it would have just been pointless. If the Territorial Commander wants to commit suicide I'm not about to stop him."

"We have orders, Sir." Plateaus shot back. "We spent weeks making these plans. He can't pull an entire Contingent out of the theater of operation like this. And what about the vehicles he left in? We need those, as well. We can scout and recon ten times the area with those machines and now they're gone. The Alliance won't stand a chance sitting here blind."

Theater of operation …St James smirked at that. How quickly these musket totting cave trolls picked up on modern terminology. But they had a lot more to learn. They hadn't experienced a real war in decades. And they certainly never faced an enemy with type of technical expertise at their disposal.

"They lost an entire city, Colonel. The weapon used scorched everything for several Kilometers" The General explained. "He lost vital defenses …artillery as well as his water reserves for that region. They're exposed and when this bloody Imperiam Monarch is done probing our provinces, they're going hit us like Zeus."

"Zeus?" Plateaus asked.

"An old fabled god … it's not important." The General answered. "But getting back to Polk…I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing if they attacked our homeland. Besides, I agreed to let him take the tracked vehicles. He wouldn't stand a chance without them. At least it kept him from asking for those Imperiam buggies. I have some plans of my own for those things."

"Yes… the buggies" Plateaus stated smugly. "We can get to that in a minute. But they've attacked my homeland too" "And we didn't go marching off into the Banned Territories looking to get ourselves massacred"

"According to your Leader, you sent an entire Division into it over two men who crashed into Arum." St James said now beginning to feel a bit aggravated. "Look, there is a ray of sunlight in this. They're transmitting a signal. If they come upon any Imperiam elements, I can target their location. Who knows, we have reports that there's a massive staging area out there somewhere. Maybe they'll find it."

Plateaus thought for a moment and said, "Target their location? You mean drop that black powder from the sky on them…Kill them, just like that?"

Now the ape's ignorance was surfacing, the General contemplated. He'd gone from theater of operation to black powder from the sky. And yes, the man thought, he'd kill Polk and his apes without losing a minute of sleep over it. He also knew that if things were reversed, the Major wouldn't hesitate to eradicate him and every other man on the planet. What was even worse was that this ignorant gorilla didn't realize that once that was done, Polk and his Army would move in here and rape this area of every resource it had. After all, under different circumstances, he would have done it too.

"No, not just like that, but if they endanger us, I might have to." St James lied. "The ape is no fool, he knows the stakes involved. Besides, Polk is a smart officer; one of their best. He knows we're tracking them. In fact, it was his idea. He'll find a way to make sure that doesn't happen."

It was as if the man had intentionally walked into it with that last sentence, Plateaus thought. "Oh he's resourceful." The ape said in an unusual tone. "And I think he already found a way to make that happen. Follow me General and I'll show you just how smart of an officer Major Polk is."

They mounted a couple of horses and headed out to the fenced in region where the RS7s and the Imperiam Quad were being stored. The gears in St James's head began to turn as he rode up to the site. "Where are the guards? Why isn't anyone ….oh no, He didn't …damn that furry little son of a …" the man said. He was so angry he couldn't finish one thought before the next one sprang up. "How could he have?" he continued as he dismounted and pulled open the doors to large building where the vehicles were housed. The area was empty except for three old tracked APCs belonging to the Coalition. On top of the last vehicle was the tracking sensor Polk had asked for.

"They're gone General St James …all three of them" Plateaus said stating the obvious.

"Do you mind telling me how this happened and why I'm just now finding out about it?" The General asked.

Out in the Banned Territories …

Polk was perplexed. He had maps but everything was too level and barren. Whatever had been here when these documents were created changed significantly over the years. The farther they traveled the less vegetation and growth they found. There were a few stones, bricks, and scraps of metal where civilization once stood but most of the area was just sand and rock. There weren't even animals or insects present.

"First Sergeant Kamas" Polk said. "Bring me that relic we liberated. And get Desit up here"

The chimp snatched up the ancient device they'd taken from Sullen's office and handed it to the Major on his way out. Shortly after, he returned with the Territorial scientist.

"Turn it on." Polk said handing the device to the ape.

"Oh, and a good morning to you too, your majesty". The old orangutan replied snatching the object violently from his paw. He wasn't military and he wasn't young. He'd protested when Polk had him snatched out of retirement in Ceasera and lugged across the planet to who knows where. The trip had also killed the venerable scientist. Because of that the Major gave him certain liberties when it came to courtesy and respect. The ape was mockingly sarcastic but he was brilliant as well. Polk needed him, so as long as that was true; the Major simply let him rant.

Desit mumbled something insulting about having to show Polk, for a fifth time, how to operate the device. He tapped a few buttons and spoke to the object. "Display nearest location" he said.

The device calculated its position and locked in on the closest signal.

"There," Desit said turning the device towards Polk. "I've bypassed the encryption and authentication protocols. All you have to do …as I keep stating… is to press this and pick an option here. The objects you're looking for are in that direction, but the signal is degraded. There's nothing to lock on to"

"Nice work, Desit." Polk said sincerely. He turned to one of the soldiers in the tent and added. "Get him some coffee and see that he's fed. Then let him rest…comfortably!"

The soldier acknowledged and went on his way to do as he'd been ordered.

"Ok we're just going to do this the old fashioned way." Polk said talking to the First Sergeant. "Get your compass out and put us on an azimuth in that direction there. At least we know were at these grid coordinates here or we'd be totally lost."

"I've got it Sir." The Senior NCO replied. "I've been doing this my whole life. A little flat terrain isn't going to throw me off. Besides, if I have to, I can navigate us off the stars. The landscape may have changed but the heavens have not."

"Everything has changing it would seem; new nations popping up, new enemies' present where only desert once stood, and an integrated culture of simian and human… That just isn't right. And I want to start bringing a little order to the chaos. We have to deal with this Imperiam. Once that's done we can decide how to handle the humans" Polk replied.

They traveled for ten days with little signs of anything except dirt and rock. The last eighteen hours had been spent in a cave, escaping a sand storm that had whipped up out of nowhere. They had taken ample supplies but hauling it along with their equipment and chemicals was slowing things down even more. Polk was starting to wonder if this excursion had been the right choice. Maybe it would have been more prudent to head back home, but that would have involved traveling through the poisoned waste Lant had stumbled upon. No, he concluded. He would have had to circle hundreds of miles out of his way to avoid that. The worse part was that the detour would have taken him into the human territories. No human being was going welcome a full armada of militarized apes rolling through their settlements…ally or not, that would never be permitted.

As Polk sat eating whatever slop the chef had prepared, First Sergeant Kamas walked in with Desit. The old ape had no sarcastic comments. This weather had taken its toll. In fact, the simian was taking a turn for the worse.

"Get him comfortable" Polk ordered. The sentries set the orangutan in an old fold out field chair. The Major followed up by walking over and wrapping a blanket around scientist. He put a paw on the apes shoulder and patted it gently.

What is with these Scientists? Polk thought. Do they all have to be a hundred and fifty? First Emus and now him. I'd give my right arm for a specialist who hasn't reached twenty.

"Get the doctor in here" Polk whispered to a Lieutenant close by. "Tell him to drug him, sedate him …or kiss his boo-boos if he has to, but he's to keep him alive."

The gorilla nodded and went on his way.

"Ok, Kamas, Let's hear it. By that look you're itching to talk. What did the human prisoner have to say?" Polk asked.

Just as St. James had stated earlier Major Polk was indeed a talented, competent, officer. He had a head for; tactics and sound strategy. He'd sent the buggies out in the storm to scout. One of the recon patrols had captured an Imperiam scouting party doing the same. They'd killed everyone except a human officer. He'd been subjected to Zolarin. The man had talked, but died from hemorrhaging, shortly after.

"Well Sir, we've got em." The First Sergeant stated with a smile. "Whatever short range tracking they have on their vehicles is linked into their military electronic network. It's the way they determine friendly elements. We tapped the frequency the man provided and used the captured buggies com devices and hit the jack pot, Sir. We found a massive staging area; Tanks, artillery, mechanized infantry, and a ton of equipment, it's all there."

Polk paused. While Sullen and St James were planning their idiocy, he was using his position and rank to grab every bit of intelligence he could. He knew of the plane, knew of the spy network, and just about everything else. The more he uncovered the more his plans changed from that of the Alliance. Once he'd learned of the attack, he decided he couldn't just sit by. Voss had set a series of events into motion. As a result, The Territorial ranks were 1/3 their original size. The humans now had Washington and a vast array of its untapped technology. And they were using it. Where once a single tracked vehicle had been present, there were now several dozen. He had nothing but his wits. But with any luck things were about to change.

They knew units were in Renovo Desert (western United States) but a staging area was too much to pass up. Polk read the rest of the intelligence report and for the first time in his life believed there just might be a Santa Clause.

"This is too good to be true. I almost can't believe my eyes. Christmas may be coming early Gentleapes." Polk said grabbing his belly and mimicking the jolly old ape.

"Ok, opportunity only knocks once," He continued this time more seriously. "According to this report, the entire crews are out maintaining vehicles and supplies. The sand storm is raising as much havoc on their systems as it on ours. They have technology. They have relics coming out their ears. We have tactics, gentleapes …strategy …a plan. I want those toxins we brought put in systems that our mortar units can use. We're going to attack in force and seize that equipment."

The ape rose to his feet and clenched a fist. "Once we have their relics, we're going to shove them down their collective throats. And once the Imperiam is brought to its knees, we'll turn our attention back to the animals that attacked our capital."

000

It had taken hours to synchronize. What made things worse was that there were signs that the wind storm was letting up. Polk had to move now or never at all. If the Imperiam regained access to their bio scanners, he was finished. That why he'd deployed the two stolen RS7s on their flanks. If something went wrong they were to scrap the, attack and seize, and shift to, attack and destroy. Either way, the Imperiam was going to take a major hit. Hundreds of personnel and equipment were here. But if Polk could capture all of that military paraphernalia, he'd have confiscated the largest stash of relics in the entire Territorial history …combined. This was as big a prize as Washington and would certainly put his country back in game.

It was later afternoon and the lead two scouts were reporting that several hundred soldiers were reinforcing the camp while others rotated into the mess halls. "Caterpillar, this is Veranda, over. I estimate that 90% of the personnel are in the open, over"

"Roger Veranda, ok," Polk stated over the radio "Let's do this. Get those Quads ready. The four advanced teams are to move in now. Once they signal the Quads can go. However, if something goes wrong, Caterpillar, you signal the flanking units and we initiate plan Bravo."

The two Imperiam Sand Quads had been equipped with several containers of gas. They were the first wave. They'd drive in find the most densely populated area and release their chemicals. It was a suicide mission. Their second objective was to disrupt as much command and control, as possible. Shoot at everything that moved and create total chaos. They were not to touch any equipment except what they deemed to be communications devices.

Before the Quads entered, the outer security outposts in this area had to be dealt with. The region was much larger than Polk expected and warning posts were scatter around their outer boundary.

Minutes later…

"Unit 3, Bingo" the ape said as he easily twisted the head of the human manning the post. Seconds after that Units 4 and 1 gave the same signal.

"Unit 2" Polk whispered into his mic "What's your status?" He peered through his binoculars and cussed at the elements who weren't cooperating. He couldn't see anything except a gigantic dust ball. He was just about to cuss again when his earpiece echoed with static.

"Unit 2, Bingo." He reported. "The gorilla was strong, it took both of us finally put him down. The lanes are clear, out."

"Top" Polk said to the top Sergeant in his unit. "Bingo 4, I say again Bingo 4. Signal green, Send the bikes forward."

Kamas acknowledged and ordered the wheeled vehicles in. They moved at a normal rate of speed and approached the southern portion of the encampment as if they were simply returning from a routine mission. They were covered from head to toe and littered with various pieces of the uniforms of the now dead recon element. The ape waved at the guard and tried to move past but the gorilla put a boot on the front rim of the vehicle.

"Hold it" he said sharply "Your vehicle, it's not giving off a transponder frequency. What are those things you're hauling?"

The driver had no idea what a transponder was so he blurted out "The storm. This thing has taken a beating. We almost didn't make it back."

"Makes sense" he said "But what are those things you're hauling and I thought we only sent out one patrol. The e-roster says Bravo-3 should have reported back over five hours ago. You're all simian, where's Lieutenant Belc… Gaa"

The knife pierced his neck, moved upward and scrambled his brain. The chimpanzee mumbled that he'd have to be a nine hundred pound gorilla and not a seven hundred pound chimpanzee as he pulled the body aside.

"Come on let's move it" the mission commander said. "Storm or not, someone is going to notice us if just sit here"

They removed the rapping on their faces and then donned their chemical protective masks. Once that was done they opened the valves on the containers and began dropping them throughout the area. The poison quickly shot out in all directions and mixed in with the wind.

They were crude but effective. Once the signal was give a wide disbursement of chemical mortars erupted throughout the campsite. It hadn't been easy to convert the projectiles in such a short time but it had been done. Polk knew a direct confrontation would only result in their deaths so he'd already worked out a plan for a chemical bombardment. One on this scale however still took a lot of work. They had to hit the entire area with single volley and it had to be dispersed with enough effect to kill the enemy in mass. Polk was about to see if Desit was worth the effort.

The adverse weather helped to slow down any organization that was taking place but the wind and sand also affected the gas. Yet despite that bodies began to gag and fall over. The apes in the Quads were doing their part to as they all spread out and took up spots, shooting at anyone they spotted. Polk ordered the initial barrage based on Desit's calculations. They fired everything they had and that would simply have to do.

When the initial element signaled; Shutter-fly. Polk sent the remaining elements forward in the Coalitions tracked vehicles. They were armored and equipped with chemical ventilation. They rode forward firing and trampling anything that breathed. They too had been equipped with gas canisters. Infantry elements in chemical gear spread across the wide area. There was slight resistance but the weather and toxic fog had done the trick.

The two RS7s did what they could to keep the enemy boxed in. They fired their arsenal on the flanks and cut down anything that entered their kill zone. The Imperiam had no idea what was happening. Without access to their bio sensors they were left, blind and groping.

Forty Five minutes later, Polk emerged. He couldn't believe his eyes. "We did it." He said in bewilderment. "We actually did it." Indeed he had. They'd lost two APCs and only seven soldiers. And though his orders had been precise regarding the military equipment, three tanks and two personnel carriers had been destroyed in the advance. Some of it from the mortar strike and some of it due to a last minute attempt to organize. One of the enemies RS7s was burning but if it hadn't been engaged there would have been more than two vehicles and seven causalities on Polk's side.

But it was over and he'd won. Not by superior numbers. Not with superior firepower; he just did things the old fashion way - Superior tactics, taking advantage of the terrain, and catching your opponent with his pants down.

The echoing of sporadic gunfire could be heard as squads of apes killed off any of the survivors.

"Top!" Polk stated. "Grab everything we can. Get apes into their vehicles and take what we can. Move to the rally point ASAP. What we can't take, we destroy. This storm is dissipating and I don't want to be here when these armatures realize what happened.