The sirens wailed around the camp as the Martians came into sight, looming large on the horizon. Too many to accurately count, but there were a lot. Of course, we knew why they were coming. Standing firm in the middle of our forward camp stood the Ironclad. She had arrived late last evening, in preparation for a push against the Martians. But it was the Martians pushing this time.
The morning sun shone brightly over the plain and sirens continued to wail as the black dust cannisters fired high from the Grenadiers landed around the base. A unit of Doughboys in the trench never saw it coming, and were too late to get their masks on.
And the Martians kept coming.
Out of the Quonset huts came the crewmen of the Ironclad, racing for the monster machine in the middle of camp. Around them, the camp burst into life to repel the invaders. Some of the tank crews must have had a feeling, because their machines raced into action from behind the trench line, and shots were fired. Two Scout tripods took hits, along with one of the Grenadiers but they kept coming.
The Martians continued to press the attack and fired with a combination of heat rays and black dust. More success as they took out a Mk III tank and one of the machine gun crews. The rest held firm whilst the enemy fire went dangerously close, and at least one tank was going to need a new coat of paint after the battle. If it survived…
A cheer went up around the camp as more tanks appeared from behind the lines. But this was short lived as they pressed
the attack. The Scout tripods had always had a reputation for being nasty little monsters This one machine came under heavy fire from no less than eight Mk III tanks and the remaining machine gun crews. Guns roared and the target was shrouded in smoke. When it cleared the monster stood tall with only minimal damage. What will it take to bring these down??
But on the other side of the field, a Scout faired less well and was hit by a platoon of Mk IIIs. It swayed, and crumpled to the ground in a heap of twisted metal.
Buoyed by their success the Humans attacked with a renewed vigour in the centre and on the left flank. The Scout that had proved so hard to even scratch in the last salvo was hit again by a unit of Mk IIIs, and this time they came up trumps. The machine toppled backwards under the salvo of shots, then erupted into a ball of fire. Another Scout was hit by the tanks and the machine gunners found their mark again, this time turning the Martian into a small sun in the middle of the chaos. And then there was a loud roar as the massive 12” gun of the Ironclad opened its account. The Assault tripod carrying a black dust launcher stood no chance, and instantly went critical. The rest of the guns opened fire, now that the crews had found their way to their stations, and there was huge puff of smoke from the stack as the ironclad woke up. On the other side of the field, the tanks were chipping away at the enemy but with no great success.
The Martians continued their push, but the tripods were still finding it tough going. Not so the Drones though racing in behind their larger comrades. With their master directing them, these nasty little critters laid into the tanks. Two Mk IIIs then two Mk IIs were left burning on the batlefield. Then the clamp tank, having received orders to take on a tripod exploded under the fire of the Drones before it could do anything. Finally a couple more Mk IIIs became smouldering heaps of metal. Up on the rise between the trenches and the main base, the Howitzer that had been popping off rounds at the Grenadiers in the distance burst into pieces as the Grenadiers took their revenge. And the bombardment hadn’t finished. With more tanks exploding around it, the Ironclad was hit by shock cannisters. The behemoth rocked and armour shattered, but it held firm. As the Martians continued their advance some of the hardest hit units turned to run, their crews eventually baling out in panic. Some 16 tanks were left smouldering or deserted.
Now, with smoke billowing around it, the Ironclad sprang into life moving forwards towards the Martians. As it did a Scout tripod to it’s left reeled and lumps of metal flew from the hood as it took damage, as the rest of the Humans responded. Then the Ironclad’s guns spoke again. The 12” gun crew, having taken down one Assault tripod already, turned their attention to another, and again found their mark. The machine exploded violently and took with it a nearby Drone. A second Assault tripod was also damaged in the explosion, but remained upright. Not wanting to be left out, one of the 4” crews hit another Assault tripod, producing another explosion, and then a third blast rocked the field as one the Scouts, having soaked up huge amounts of damage succumbed to the inevitable.
Still the Martians pushed forwards with the Drones taking out more Mk IIIs.
And then something strange happened. Survivors of the battle are still at a loss to explain what happened. A Scout close to the bow of the ironclad held it’s heat ray generator high in the air and fired. And missed! Maybe it was suffering some unseen damage, but it is unclear how it missed the target right in front of it. A second Scout wading through the base also targeted the ironclad, but again missed. But this time the heat ray didn’t shoot harmlessly into the air – it hit the first Scout! With a deafening roar the tripod exploded, the blast hitting several Human units. The ironclad rocked again, but it’s heavy armour saved it from further damage. The nearby Mk IIIs wasn’t so fortunate and exploded. A number of Doughboys ceased to exist as the blast caught them, and the rest panicked and fled. The Rough Rider squadron racing through the camp to help out took the blast full head on, and the entire unit was vapourised.
The Ironclad continued to take fire from another Assault tripod, and again more armour was sheared off the hull.
The Humans were pushing hard now, and the Ironclad led the attack. Partly due to the ferocity of it’s firepower so far, but also due to the lack of tanks remaining to support it. The 12” gun took out another Assault tripod in a fiery ball, which then repeated the effect on one of its comrades. A third tripod took damage in the secondary blast. But more importantly for the Humans, both Slaver tripods came under fire from the forces that were left fighting, and both tripods went down. And just like puppets after their strings are cut, the remaining Drones slumped onto the ground and remained there.
Realising that the supporting units were wearing thin, the Martians turned their attention to the prize in the middle of the field. The remaining Scouts, an Assault and four Grenadier tripods all opened up on the Ironclad with heat rays and shock cannisters. The Ironclad rocked again and again, taking damage. Then an explosion inside and the smoke coming from the stack seemed to falter and grow thinner. This was followed by two more dull thuds from within. The enormous vehicle slowed, and then started listing slightly to one side.
The remaining Humans retaliated, and the Grenadiers rocked as they were hit. The last Scout tripod went up in flames, and in the middle of the field a squadron of Rough Riders raced towards an assault tripod. Their tow cables flew towards the Martian, and one held, snaring the monster. The Rough Riders sped away towards one of the Grenadiers.
More Martian fire raked the Ironclad, and there was another ominous thud from within. More armour melted from the hull and the thinning trail of smoke from the stack ceased as the leviathan stopped.
The bombardment continued and the Ironclad seemed to reel, punch drunk after each hit. It was definitely listing quite heavily to one side, and several of the guns now seemed to hang limp. More armour was peeled away. Towards the rear of the Martian lines a couple of tripods seemed to be moving erratically away from the fight. Now what was left of the Martian force started to pull back. A couple of surviving Rough Riders fired on a Grenadier, and the tripod must have already been badly damaged. In a final act of revenge it exploded taking the motorcycles with it.
The last Martians withdrew from the field leaving it pockmarked with craters and smoking hulks that were once tanks. The vast majority of the Human forces were gone, and the Ironclad sat mournfully quiet in the middle of the decimated camp. It certainly didn’t feel like a victory.