JOTL – Bradley and the Ants revisited

I wrote this up a while back but was never satisfied with the end result. So, I took it apart, reworked it, changed the solenoid, and this is worthy enough to go inside the story finally.

My name is Staff Sergeant Andrew McCall, I am the senior scout for Bravo Troop 4th Cavalry 9th Regiment. I was one of the first to witness the breakout of the ants and live to tell the tale.

We were sitting on a hill about 300 meters from where the two Bradley’s were sitting on a different hilltop. As I glanced down at the field notes I had been keeping, it had only been an hour since we dismounted from the Bradley. I was leading three other scouts that had set up an observation post to reconnoiter from a distance the tactics and techniques of the insects. We wanted to better get a handle on our enemy.

We spotted a single ant at first. We called in this to the Bradley, and it was dispatched by a single shot from the 25mm Bushmaster autocannon.
At first, we cheered the exploding limbs and punctured exoskeleton of the oversized nightmare. But, our cheer soon turned to dread.

The single dead ant was replaced by a functioning one. This was shot at, but it dodged the shell. The single-shot rapport was replaced by triple thumps. Every time an ant fell, a new one took its place. Before long, it was like the entire hillside was a living carpet of the things. The Bradley spit out shells that tore through the advancing stream of ants.

We observed the Bradley turning its turret, and we knew the remaining scouts refilling the ammunition ready boxes. A dreadful silence fell over the valley until the second Bradley began firing shells. All the while, the line of ants were advancing.

Only a half-hour elapsed between the first wave of insects being spotted and the cannon being permanently silenced. The M240 machine gun mounted next to the 25mm appeared next to useless against this newest threat. It could chop the limbs and antenna off, but it was not strong enough at a distance to puncture the creatures. The ants would continue to drag themselves along the ground in their unrelenting assault.

Now the only sound in the valley was the whining of the engine as the Bradley’s began to retreat. A whine we knew was leaving us alone in enemy country. We had no weapons large enough to defend ourselves, so we were forced to watch.

The ants were faster than the Bradley’s. This was as close as we were going to get to Russian armor flooding through Europe. That world that was gone. No longer was the enemy another human, with soft fleshy skin that was not designed for the rigors of war. Now the enemy came as a biological tank. Fearless and seemingly without need for the logistical train that our war machines required. They were the perfect enemy to our imperfection.

They didn’t require artillery. Although, we had no idea in those early days of the Assyrian Quarintiene and Interdiction Zone, just what kind of rapid advancements the insects would make as we shrank away. They didn’t need aerial support. That would develop to kill us later on. We were desperately trying to flee like water climbing up a straw in a futile effort to escape the gravity of the situation.

From our observation post, the four of us watched as the sea of ants slammed into the Bradley. Doom fell upon it in only minutes. We were fixated behind binoculars and our watches, timing every tear, every shred. Trying to glean as much information as possible.

We listened to the horrid noise that those mandibles made as they crashed against the hull. Catching on bolt heads, shearing them away. Grabbing at the carrying handles for the armor skirt. It sounded like a thousand claws on a large chalkboard. Pieces began to fall off like bark being stripped away from a tree. Viewscopes were torn off as they began focusing on the hatches, having already torn off vast amounts of metal. The few dozen working on the tracks had already severed them, and several ants were pulling away pieces of track. They found every weak point.

The turret was spun in the last-ditch effort, and it displaced a few ants on top of the vehicle. We were able to note just how big they were climbing on top of the Bradley. These ones were the size of large dogs.

Never again would this armored vehicle or its crew of three make a contribution to the battlefield. And we were struck with the realization that we were alone, deep behind an enemy line that almost blurs reality. Can you have imaginary military lines if the enemy owns all the land under your feet?

The only reason we survived was a pair of Apache gunships came in and began strafing them. Once we saw an opening, we popped a red smoke grenade. They landed near us, and as the ants were rushing towards us, we climbed on the weapon wings and did a spur ride out of the area. My asshole was so tight, I didn’t shit for a week.

As we were flying away, you could see the nest that we stumbled upon. There were thousands of them. Now everything was turned upside down.

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