I Bet They Eat Meat Too Part 1

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January 2186

Dichen still couldn't get over how green the terraformed land under the helicopter was. Green grass, green woods, even green wheat, its leaves rustling around the slightly yellower seeds at the top. So unlike Haraway where the forest was a rainbow of blues and reds as well as green, and where there was always the cobalt ocean visible in the distance. The plain spread on either side, rolling gently for as far as she could see, only the aerodynamic fuselage of their own helicopter and dots of other helicopters, aerodynes and UAVs poking the cloudless different blue of the sky. Late twentieth century rock played out of the aircraft's speakers.

"Hey Soo-jung. The buildings down there look as old as your music." Dichen zoomed in on a set of wood and metal buildings ahead, shouldering her payload rifle more comfortably. She still wasn't used to the Londenium design without a shoulder link. You had to keep a slightly weird two handed grip on the thing. "What the fuck is with these people? Has the technology of carbon not made it to Wean yet?"

"They're Neo-Primativists. They don't believe in using technology when a low tech solution exists. They don't like the EU bringing all kinds of polluting industry to Wean or some shit."

"And that means wooden buildings? That's some kind of shit. I bet they eat meat too." Dichen made a face under her helmet. "Why'd they ally with progressive forces like us? Seems like they'd love the EU. They'd fit right in." ZCM had dropped on Wean three months ago, and easily overwhelmed local regular units. More than a few of those had retreated into the colony's outer areas and continued resistance from there. The local population also appeared at best sullen, and at worst openly hostile. Dichen didn't understand why anyone in the outer colonies would want to stay in the tyrannical EU, but maybe baselines were just stupid. They were certainly slow as hell.

"Dichen you are such a fucking misan lander I can't believe you can swim." The scout's other observer, Saki, laughed.

"Better a lander than a fucking carnivore. I just hold the line at ingesting some thing's dead flesh." Dichen shook her head then magnified her vision and aiming the sensors on her side "I think I've got the target coming up on our right, West one thousand meters, farm with four large towers around it." She fed the pilot the coordinates, which didn't quite match the GPS they'd been given, but were within a few hundred meters.

"Ok, I'll call it in." Soo-Jung let the co-pilot, Datti take control as she called into the high flying command plane directing this sector "Overlook this is Sierra-Two-Two."

"Sierra-Two-Two Send." The voice was female, but with a distinct Londenium accent. This was a multi-national force after all.

"We have eyes on a farm with four large towers at "Blue-Seven-Five Seven Seven-Eight Nine, X-ray. Interrogative: Is that the farm we're looking for over?"

"Wait one Sierra-Two-Two." There was a pause then: "Sierra Two-two, that's the place. Move in and extract Indig friendlies at the site, then RTB."

"Roger, Two-Two copies on all." Soo-Jung switched out the frequency and the music rose slightly again "I'm happy to play taxi for you command." Soo-Jung shook her head slightly "I guess we don't have actual transport helicopters anymore."

"They probably don't wash properly either." Dichen said with some relish "We'll have to wash the crew compartment out after they're gone."

"Eh, hold that down. They are our allies after all, or supposed to be." Soo-Jung adjusted the controls and the scout zoomed off low and fast towards the farm, its rotor blades rustling the wheat.

Dichen looked across the farm below as they approached, wooden buildings with metal roofs, a windmill and three other large towers, perhaps grain silos? "Looks pretty still down there. I don't see anyone." She cut in terahertz wave radar "nothing on T-wave either."

Soo-Jung circled the helicopter around slowly, both observers looking out. "If they're down they're hiding in the basement or behind some shielding." Saki sighed.

"Guess wood's not so bad to build with uh Dichen?" Soo-Jung asked.

"Bravo, do we have a frequency for the indig element?" Datti asked the helicopter.

"Searching. Frequency and call signs found." the computer commented, it's voice neutral, the information scrolling across the four's displays.

"Asp, Asp, this is Sierra-Two-Two, come back."

There was a long pause then "Sierra-Two-Two, this is Asp-Six. What can we do for you over?"

Soo-Jung paused a moment "Uh We're currently orbiting your pickup location. Please advise as to LZ over?"

"Oh. You're our pickup?" There was a pause "We're popping smoke."

A moment later Saki called out "I see orange smoke! Three hundred meters to our East."

"Asp-Six, we see Orange Smoke." Soo-Jung said.

"Copy, that's us." The smoke was rising from near the windmill tower, in a large yard. "Put put down in the yard." Dichen could see two men standing near the smoke bomb, one waved at them cheerfully.

"Uh, Asp-Six, that yard's too small... we'll uh... circle around and land in the clearing to the..." Dichen ceased to here the pilot's voice as she noticed movement on the tower. A man, tan skinned and heavily bearded stepped out on a balcony near the windmill and raised a tube to his shoulder. Dichen's reflexes pulled the quad rail payload gun up to her shoulder and she felt the thump as she fired.

"CONTACT! PANZERSCHRECK!" She called belatedly. The rounds had crossed the distance before the words were out of her mouth, and their smart fuses had detected a soft target and burst into a spray of high density liquid, ripping the man and the wooden tower on which he stood to pieces.

"Sierra-two-two! Blue on Blue! Don't engage us!" Dichen almost couldn't believe the cheek of whoever Asp-Six really was, to keep up the rouse as rounds began to whip in at the suddenly racing scout helicopter from all angles.

"Fuck you Yurp! Bravo, cut Asp out of our communications! Bravo-Gamma, Unsafe! Unsafe! Unsafe!" Soo-Jung called, and the drone guns mounted beside each observer unsafed and opened fire, ripping into the farm now coming alive with gunfire, RPG and Panzerschreck trails. Splinters and fire sprayed upwards from the HV rail guns impacts as the scout zoomed away at maximum speed, gaining altitude. Then one of the big multipurpose missiles from a Panzerschreck slammed into the hull on Saki's side and blew. Dichen felt herself lifted and hurled forward as if by a great hand, then the brief sensation of free fall, and then her armoured body slammed down through something that turned to splinters and she rolled and landed with a crunch. There was a cold sting as the armour hit her with a stimulant, pulling her away from unconsciousness and she looked up in time to see the scout spiralling down in flames.

"Mayday mayday! Sierra-Two-Two is going down! Sierra-Two-Two is..." Datti's words cut off to static as the scout ploughed into the field. Whimpering Dichen began to pull herself into the concealment of a shed near where she'd come down. She'd crashed through a fence.

"Sierra-Two-Two-Four to any call sign? Can anyone here me?"

"Sierra-Two-Two-Four, this is Able-Six, SAR is on route, sit tight. Uh, do you have any idea of the condition of the rest of the crew?"

"No. I... I fell out." Dichen heard harsh voices and fell silent. Heavy footsteps pounded past and she drew her pistol as two men wearing work outfits and clutching old style assault rail guns ran past towards the crash. Dichen raised her pistol, sighted on the trailing man and fired, the heavy round blowing through under the plates of the vest he was wearing under his jacket and sending him spinning forward. The other turned, surprised and Dichen shot him too, putting four rounds into him. He dropped, a fist sized hole blown in his head.

She got up and began to head towards the crash site herself, each step lanced agony through her left leg where she'd landed on it. It was probably broken, only the armour kept her moving. She ran as best she could, stumbling as she saw more helicopters, and aerodynes approaching... and then a dark form rose up by her and there was the bright flash of an electrolaser. Dichen's armour seized up and she sprawled forward. Someone grabbed her helmet as she tried to rise and yanked it up, and then a heavy pain slammed across her face.