Infranite War Journal

Written by Tim Griffin (tmgtchr@aol.com).

Onyx, the Neikee war leader, had come to respect the Oths for their courage and prowess, if not their judgment. So far, Operation Jackhammer had been an unqualified success. Rather than divide her troops in the face of an unknown enemy, she had moved for the equipment drop zone with her entire force. The Oths in her platoon had complained loudly, wanting instead to storm the machine base immediately. Strangely, the Oth shaman known as Masada had agreed with Onyx's decision.


Masada stepped away from the arguing soldiers to commune with the gods. He waved his rifle at the sky and cried, "Amethyst, aid me! Me troubled and need help."

A nearby boulder spoke. "Masada, most favored of my sons, be not troubled. The Neikee woman speaks true. Go with her and retrieve the supplies. Then shall you attack the base together."

Masada hesitated. "But me want glory. We Oths attack now, take base without silly Neikee!"

The boulder persisted. "Masada, the gods themselves honor your courage. But is it not written that, 'when thou attackest thine enemy, thou shalt not neglect thine artillery?' Get the ammo drop first. There will be glory for all in good time."

"Bah. Very well, we go get ammo first." Grumbling, Masada went back to the troops to announce his decision. Reluctantly, the Oths agreed.


It was the right decision. A large force of Machines was moving in on the supply drop by the time the Infranites arrived. The battle was short but fierce, with the Frog BAP and an extra Frog trooper raining death down on the enemy. Casualties were minimal: two Neikee soldiers, and one Oth Berserker who tried to show everyone how brave he was by charging the entire Machine force in open terrain. Alone. One less idiot for Onyx to worry about.

But now she had a real problem. Having wiped out the Machine patrol, her force was now fully equipped and prepared for battle, but so would be the Machines by now. The approach to the Machine base would not be easy. She had traded surprise for firepower, and now she would find out if it was a fool's bargain.

"We have to use what cover we can," she told her troops, studying the enemy-occupied valley from a hilltop encampment. She pointed to a small forest near the just-visible base entrance. "There. We'll advance through those trees."

"Guh. Gunnh!" The Oth shaman was choking on something, standing up and trying to claw at his own face through his armor. "Grrahh!"

Masada flailed his arms around, spinning like a top for a moment. Then he dropped the ground and began flopping like a fish out of water. Onyx, near panic, looked around to try to find the cause of the seizure. Was this some new Machine weapon?

But the Oths did not seem alarmed at their shaman's behavior. They merely watched him closely, as if waiting for something.

The convulsions subsided into severe twitching, and a strange voice began to speak out of Masada's mouth.

"Nnnoo... forressst baaad, baaad. Daannger inn forresst, nnot go forresst. Maaanny baaad trouubble in forresst. Arrr, youu go wesst, arounnd badmanybadforest. Gooood way."

The twitching stopped. Masada opened his eyes slowly. "Uh. What me say?" He got up and dusted himself off.

Onyx shook her head. "He's insane. We'll go through the forest."

"My leader, look!" One of Onyx's Neikee was pointing at the ground where the shaman had thrashed around in his seizure. "The dirt. It looks like some kind of picture!"

Onyx studied the disturbed earth carefully. No, not a picture. Not a picture at all.

A map.


Later, Onyx had to admit that the shaman had probably saved their lives. The Machines' ambush would have been perfect if the Infranites had been caught in the forest. Whatever those demon-dogs were, they were easy pickings out in the open. The attack was incredibly costly: two thirds of her force, including both BAP's, were now dead. But the attack was successful.

And the gods care only for success.


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