Friday, June 10, 2011

Ennik Backstory: TN1930

The camera was set up, and so were the lights. The man sat in darkness for a while before everything was ready. The lights went up. Ennik was sitting in a comfortable looking chair, a small table with a glass of water and an ashtray was placed to his left. He looked a little older, face a little more lined, hair a bit thinner. But his eyes still betrayed the same youthful exuberance that came with the braids of a Desert Wolf.

“State your name for the record, please,” a voice tinged with a Southern accent spoke.

“Ennik Kazzov. I’m 40 cycles old. I’m originally from a ranch outside of Prince Gable, in Cauchan Homestead County.” Ennik looked down at the ashtray sadly, and then patted down his jacket for his cigarettes. He took one out.

“Sorry, can’t have you smoking.”

“Sure you can, miss,” he lit the cigarette, smiled, and inhaled deeply. There was no protest from off-camera, so Ennik continued. “In 1913, the keff dropped in the Barrington Basin. I was 23, just about to graduate from school, and the very day the keff showed up in Cauchan Homestead, I was herding springers. I got caught in the dust cloud of two Predator tanks, the old ’68 models. Let me tell you, it was hell finding all those springers that day. Boy, were they spooked.” Ennik chuckled.

“My family got rounded up, put in a camp." Ennik stopped, and swallowed hard. “The camp was brutal. I was the only one of my family who survived. That’s my parents, three older sisters, and three younger brothers. I was smack dab in the middle. Anyways, I escaped, and drifted east on refugee caravans. Eventually, I joined up with a rover group in the Pacifica Mountains, near Kolmar Pass. Hussan’s Hellcats. By then, Paxton had already started the network that was gonna become the Peace River Army, so we knew that if we encountered any keff, we were supposed to harass and kill, and report it to the Riverans. And encounter the keff we did.” Ennik took a long drag from his cigarette.

“By early 1916, Baja was the clearing house for Paxton guns and equipment for the partisans in the area, and it was a major supply hub for Republican and Humanist units operating against the keff. Anyways, we would roll into Baja to trade for weapons and ammo, and exchange intel, since there were a bunch of keff scouting units trying to get through the passes in the Pacificas. We didn’t quite figure out why they were in the Pacificas until the CEF dropped eighty thousand GRELs and the Parakommando on Baja. We barely got out of the city in time, and went to ground in the MacAllen tunnels in and around the city. That was hairy. We hadn’t fought the keff for real before then. You know, hovertanks and artillery. It was a mess. We went from about forty guys to just fifteen. And no gears neither.

“You know the story. If the CEF had broken out of Baja that would have been the end of it for Terranova, and we’d all be speaking Siberian. We figured that out at the time, and we knew that Baja was going to be it. When the 2nd Armoured arrived one morning,” Ennik took a sip of water, and butted out his cigarette, “we volunteered as guides. Those Westerners with their tanks and gears were a welcome sight. But you had to see how the Westerners and the Southerners got along. Like dawgs and long fang hoppers. Most of the time, we worked with the Westerners, but occasionally there’d be some Southern Legion Noire ‘special ops’ type along for some shady reason or another.”

“We ran a whole gamut of missions. Most of them involved sneaking into the outer ring of Baja to blow something up, or cause some distraction, or occasionally to make contact with the partisans operating inside the inner ring of the city. I learned the finer points of gear piloting in the Baja sewage system, but we mainly operated on foot. The trick was doing what we had to do without the keff ever knowing where we came from or where we went afterwards. The underground was the key. By then, we had the MacAllen tunnels mapped out pretty well. The keff had tunnel fighters, but they usually just blocked off tunnels, or mined them with sensors and drones. There was one time they dropped gas bombs into the tunnels.”

“The resistance operating in the inner ring had it rougher. They had no supplies to speak of, no weapons, and the keff was always around. We hooked up with their tunnel rats a few times. We were shocked to discover that their best guys were kids! See, this wasn’t like down in the occupied South, where every beret-wearing Republican professor on a bicycle was supposedly a Resistance leader,” Ennik cackled. “We were all dirty, grimy kids, and none of us expected to live to see the end of the War. But those kids in the inner ring, they had it worst of all. I remember the first time we met up. It was for some intel on keff positions inside the wall. One of the kids—Koravan, I think his name was—not older than 16, was looking miserable. So I gave him a piece of chocolate from my rations. He wolfed it down, and looked at me like I was the Prophet himself. So I gave him the entire bar, and then the rest of the guys donated their chocolate to these kids. They were suddenly laughing and giggling, there in the shit-filled sewers under Baja.” Ennik stopped talking for a bit. His hands shook, and he fumbled for a cigarette.

“Please, why don’t you take a break,” the Southern woman’s voice was gentle.

“No no. It’s ok. Dammit,” Ennik wiped his eyes and shook his head. He lit his smoke. “There’s not much else to say about Baja before the battle itself.”

“Why don’t you tell us about that?”

“Hmph, well, we got wind of some cock-eyed plan the keff commander had concocted to break the siege. That sent the brass in the Legion and the 2nd Armoured in a tizzy. It was now or never, I guess. Well, 34 Summer, TN1916. You know the date. That’s when it went to hell. Some of the partisans were guides for the armoured units that were going to have a tough time navigating the city. But we were ordered to attack a communications relay in the outer ring. There were twenty-two of us on the 34th, by the 36th it was seven of us. I thought the camp was bad. Hell, at the beginning of Baja I remember thinking ‘well, at least I’ve got a fighting chance.’ Well, I didn’t think that way by the end of the first day.”

“But you made it through.”

“Yes. Prophet-knows-why. Look, I wasn’t half the soldier of any of the thousands of Legionnaires that died at Baja. Why did I live when the Woof-Pees in their Razorbacks were cooked alive by Earther particle accelerators? Baja taught me that I was dead. We all knew it. It was just a matter of time. It made getting through it easier, I guess.” Ennik lit a new cigarette. “And I know that if I die tomorrow, it’s just the Gentle Spirit settling the account that I opened at Baja.”

There was a long silence. “Is there anything about Baja you’d like to add?”

“Just that the GRELs were just doing their jobs. I know that sounds like I’m giving them a pass. But they were bred and trained to fight. By then, we all knew what to expect from GRELs. I can’t really fault them. The Parakommandos,” Ennik took a long drag off the cigarette and looked directly at the camera, “they were another breed of dawg. I saw the worst of humanity when I fought them. Let me state for the record that the only good Parakommando is a dead Parakommando.”

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