Preparing for Engagement

A runner came from regimental headquarters. He talked with Major Kestel. Major Kestel nodded and turned to the unit, “Word from Brigade. Mortars are to fire as before, but from second line. We are to hide until the armored beasts get on top of us. We are then to pop out and engage the infantry that Intel says will be coming behind them. After, we are to take out any of those things nearby by opening them up and dropping grenades in. The Regiment holding the second line will be fighting. Ideally, they will take the fire from the beasts and leave us without heavy casualties. Right now, I want everyone to start digging grenade sumps. Even if they think our line is abandoned, they will likely be smart enough to drop grenades in. In about ten minutes, I will be blowing the retreat command. Do not follow this command. The other companies and Battalions are getting this order as well, so do not worry, we will not be alone out here.”

She paused for a moment and smiled, “Now, I know many of you are frightfully scared. We are about to engage in close battle with the foe. But this is not the 202nd’s first dance. To not make this a long list, I will just call to mind the Battle of the Crater. We held then. And we will hold now. So, everyone. Fix Bayonets. Prepare your entrenching tools for battle. And Lane,” She paused and looked to her personal assistant, “Fetch my saber, I believe I shall need it before the day is through.”

Evans could see the fear turn to momentary excitement. Major Kestel knew how to excite the troops. If it weren’t for her insane belief that a Noble’s place was at the front, she would have been doing a circuit of Ethslin campaigning for war bonds.

Shrugging, Evans got out his entrenching tool and started to help dig a sump along the front of the trench. Grenade Sumps were a simple thing, oft forgotten because they didn’t provide protection from the normal dangers of combat, but when the enemy attack finally came, they were invaluable. The regulation sump for a trench was 30 centimeters wide from the back of the trench, ran along the whole line, and was 50 centimeters deep. When a grenade dropped in the trench, the nearest soldier would kick the grenade into the sump. The walls would then direct the blast upwards, hopefully sparing the soldiers in the trench. If they had more time, the whole floor of the trench would be angled towards the sump, encouraging grenades to simply roll into it. But this was clearly not the time to rearrange the whole trench. With the rumbling growing louder and louder, it was very clear that the Vledscans would be at the trench within the hour. Hopefully they would fall for Brigades ruse. No way to know until it happened though.

The Ethslin Artillery Corps opened up with artillery fire once the Armored Beasts were about a kilometer out, and the second lines machine guns soon after. And, it seemed, that the return fire was directed at the second line, so the plan was somewhat working.

Now, the 202nd Infantry Regiment waited.

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