Part 4: Chapter 6: Battle

War. War never changes. Patrick’s ill-equipped army arrived at the Northern front on the East and without hesitation started to rip into our troops. The advantage in superior equipment that we had was negated by the sheer numbers of the enemy.

It was carnage and many of our troops suffered what I could only assume were real deaths. Their signatures were ripped apart and seemingly destroyed. Our defensive shields were no match for the adaptive pulse energy weapons that the enemy were predominately using. Whilst the shields had been effective in training under fire from two or three pulse weapons at once, they were no match for five or ten. Soldiers were torn apart and their energy signatures were disintegrated. They were dead.

I ordered a full retreat from the front line and sent twice as many troops to the reinforce these retreating troops. I mobilised the resistance and ordered the cells from a neighbouring zone to double up.

The Southern front where the refugees had shown up was showing no signs of any attacking forces. However, I was now receiving reports of another wave of enemy troops approaching from the North-East.

I panicked.

I ordered all forces from the West and the South to head North. I was leaving those areas massively exposed, but I felt that it was a risk worth taking. A risk that I had to take.

Patrick’s troops entered and occupied the zone that I had relinquished control of. I had to strike fast and as hard as possible. I sent instructions and blueprints for a modified version of Eric’s Von Neumann machines. The Tech team had created a bomb that would release a horde of the tiny machines. The modification was a fluctuating energy signature that would make them hard to destroy without a weapon that changed frequency with every shot it fired.

It failed. Miserably. As Patrick’s troops regrouped within the zone, the cell that had received the blueprints first had somewhat jumped the gun. They planted the device in a vehicle that was being used to transport the infantry across the zone.

When they activated it, nothing happened. The device exploded and slightly damaged the vehicle by flipping it over, but the Von Neumann machines did not have any effect on the vehicle at all. Instead, they converged on a nearby building and were about to feast on it before the cell responsible issued a kill code. I had been naïve to think that Patrick would fall for the same trick twice and had realised too late that any equipment or machinery may now be enclosed in some form of Von Neumann resistant energy. Which is what he had evidently done.

I had lost this cell. The failure of their attack had brought them to the attention of the enemy and they were tracked down and captured. There were three more cells in the occupied zone to my knowledge. I sent orders down the chain of command for them to stay put for now. They knew that it was their choice to fight in the resistance. They knew that when the time came that they would be taking huge risks for the cause and they were now more than fully aware of the wider dangers of failure.

Patrick’s forces were taking up camp at the front line. They were prepared to wait and recover whilst they replenished their equipment. Our productivity had been greatly hit and ideas were drying up at an alarming rate. If ever there was a time that a flash of inspiration was required it was now. And it needed to be a big one.

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