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a slice of sweet

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Dirk sat back in the hide, patient, enjoying the fact that the enemy had still not figured out how to crack human encryption. Of course it probably helped that he and AR were jamming in thick slang, something these aliens who seemed to have learned English off of old old broadcasts couldn't manage to make heads or tails of, dropping sick sick fires red-hot with not a word meaning what it normally did.

This shit was so ironic it was meta.

There was a slight soft not-ting as one of the silly clowns found the tripwire and the manjacks--silly simple robots, child's play for Dirk--fired up, motors humming softly as the 'eyes' oriented them to the trolls, that sound buried under the rattle of the miniguns and carnage.


Alright, alright, alien clowns, dangerous if they had a clue what the fuck they were doing and were not, on the whole, currently going to have a much easier time fitting into a clowncar… Dirk toggled the system off, the roar of the miniguns dying and the weak AIs reporting back on how much ammo they had left. Fucking their clowny shit was worth the ammo but he was no troll-brained idiot; he would make sure all the automatic systems had their reload.

Not quite immediately, of course. The fuckers had weird psychic shit—reports from humans who weren't totally see-alien-kill-alien (not that anybody cared to keep around idiots who were so empty-skilled to have forgotten what the last alien fuckers did) said that the clown fuckers had something their kind called 'chucklevoodoos.' It would be more than just an annoyance if it wasn't pretty fucking easy nowadays to just set up your hide nice and safe and out of range of where the clown fuckers would hit the killzone.

He turned half-lazily at the soft crunching of approaching feet through the snow. They'd been stationed up in these ancient caves—Jake said that it dated back to before the last invasion, and they all trusted him when it came to ruins—for the winter, and while nothing explicit had been said Dirk was certain it was mostly to keep them out of the way. Dirk knew that normal units had people older than, well, him, and his little brother was barely old enough to have been drafted. That half their station was that age—never mind that they ended to not be so inclined to stick family groups together—suggested that they were supposed to be backup, in case the manure hit the rotary oscillator. The stations elsewhere on the line they were on were similarly staffed, nobody much into their late teens.

He waved lazily at his brother once he was close enough, amused (not outwardly showing) by Dave's (outwardly showing, though barely) surprise at being noticed so soon. Wasn't like the clowns were that noisy with their death rattles…

Wasn't like there was much to worry about anyway, their station was above the snowline and these fuckers weren't into mecha and walking tanks. Dirk knew from the 'net that they weren't much for the mechanistic technological approach, and some of their tactics just fucking screamed like a young virgin who got caught by one of the packs of deserters that these damn trolls just didn't have a fucking clue how to cope with Earth's weather, no less how to handle fighting an enemy that was not so damn stupid as to fall for the Friendly Peaceful Shit act that their Imperial Bitch had pulled.

Humans got burnt hard once, and learned their lesson. Sure, those fuckers managed to wreck their shit enough that even with the backwards engineering they'd managed on those ruins they didn't have spaceships (yet), but when this bunch of troll fuckers turned up, it didn't take long for humanity to get its shit together and drop the infighting.

These fuckers had spacecraft.

These fuckers had no fucking clue about the shit they'd missed.


Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em so fucking hard, then fuck their shit up so seriously that they couldn't wreck it—and make it theirs so they could go fuck more aliens' shit up. They still had the last round of alien invaders to get back for wrecking humanity's shit, after all…

Dirk preferred this summary of the Boring Rousing Speech that was regularly played back, whenever the higher-ups decided that enthusiasm for the war could stand fanning. It skipped all the shit about standing together against Evil Aliens—except Dirk couldn't help having the vague feeling that their Glorious Leader really didn't think that there was ever going to be any other sort of alien—and bluh bluh bluh sins against humanity that were not to be forgiven. Even if they hadn't insisted on drafting everybody once they were legal adults—or at least hadn't scrapped the plans to raise the age back to what it'd been before humanity got sent back to the Dark Ages again.

Five more years of childhood for Dave—instead of him being drafted the moment he was a teenager—was not too much to have wanted, right? He was mostly alright with how his career had gone, it made sure he was able to put food on the table for Dave—and he hadn't had anybody but Dave 'til…well, Jake would be waiting for them and Jane would be working in the kitchen (yet another day in the life of a medic with no patients except herself) and Roxy would be working with their computers seeing what lines of communication were secure today and which weren't…and Dave and his friends (John and Rose and Jade) had their jobs too…

That was probably the only good thing about this damn war, too. Even if neither Strider had been used to snow—it was so damn lucky they had the Lalondes and John & Jane or else none of them would have anything but intellectual knowledge of the stuff. The Cascades weren't bad but…

Dirk was rather certain that he and Dave would have just gotten the fuck out out of there and to hell with humanity and this war, if they'd not had those two. They had grown up in the area—and oh fuck did it pay, he could see it so easily when it was time to go visit any of their neighbors from how well the stations that didn't have any locals were doing.

Of course, how much help Jane could be dropped early. That was, really, part of why he felt so certain they were mostly to be a holdback, a last-ditch resistance. Why else would Jane have found everything she would need to have for dealing with an infant in their medical supplies already.

He supposed that he ought to feel a bit guilty, but really, the only thing he felt particularly bad about was that they didn't have shoes that fit her currently. At least Rose had been able to knit her slippers with the yarn Jake had found in the various Golden Ages relics, so if it really became necessary to scram Jane's feet would be at least somewhat protected…and Dirk liked the irony of her being shod in material more valuable than ruby slippers, even if it was simply because that was what they had.

Rose had been rather pointed about wanting more yarn, though. As he and Dave worked together to resupply the miniguns—it'd be Dave's turn to sit watch over them, his turn to get a bit of food and rest once this task was over, and Rose had sent exactly the amount of ammunition the guns would need—Dirk supposed that next time he sent her list in, he'd include some shit about yarn being good for morale. Movies might make the list too, but he wasn't that hopeful; it seemed more likely that what Roxy could snag for them through the network was going to be their best bet for entertainment there, Quality or quality. Maybe he would get the yarn if he hinted that they really did need something for morale and suggested something outlandish? He was certain Rose could dredge up some suitably random books to put on their request sheet so the yarn looked like a much more reasonable request.

He acknowledged Jade's wave as he passed her with a nod—so Jake had traded off, too—and slipped inside. John was helping Jane out—for all that it seemed rather clear they'd expected them to have babies while there they hadn't really quite thought it out entirely when they set up the equipment—and Dirk mentally patted himself on the back for not intending to use John's Piano Request to get Rose more yarn. As super effective as putting a piano on the request list was (everybody else had no trouble bringing their instruments, only John's was so massive) it was really mean to keep raising his hopes when they knew the only way a piano was going to get up there was if they broke down, built a sled, and headed for the nearest proper outpost of civilization and dragged that fucker up the mountain.

On the bright side, John was strong enough that he would probably think it a totally reasonable plan once the weather and enemy were mild enough that the trip would be worth it, but Dirk suspected that they'd be getting notice of being moved to some other place just in time for that. The universe simply was not likely to permit the reunion of John and his beloved musical instrument and that was that. (And oh, he was so fucking glad he and Dave had nice, modern picks and just needed a working computer to drop their sick beats.)

At least John wasn't needing to do much heavy lifting now that they'd gotten the emplacements done, and Dirk was rather glad that none of the shit about 'pruning out the mutants' had gotten anywhere. Even if he wasn't pretty sure that he and Dave (what with their eyes) would have counted, the cousins' strength certainly did and he knew that he and Jake would be opposed to that. Making their contributions to humanity's preservation was not something they really objected to—it was the idea of going the route of donating sperm for use, to never see their offspring, since the donations would be traded to other continents…

How Roxy and Rose's mother had managed to apparently get the same donor twice was probably a testament to whatever she must be doing for the Confed.

Roxy wasn't to be seen—probably she was busy with her mainframe, she appeared maybe as often as her cats, when food or saucy puppet shows were not on offer (and Dirk was not ashamed of those improvs turned scrip-earner) and this was fine since she was the one way they had for getting news from Outside in a timely manner. Rose was sitting at the table in the kitchen; the sound of it, she was getting Jane and John to fill in what supplies they needed for the next requisition request, and…

Dirk supposed that if John was going to stick 'a piano' on himself sans prompting he might as well take advantage of there being a high chance that they'd get the rest of the request's list. It was unlikely they could stick anything more absurd on the list easily.

John and Rose were casual in their greetings—Rose always was, and John was busy with what seemed to be stew—and Jane had a hug for him. It wasn't the most successful hug but Dirk wasn't expecting elsewise.

He settled in his usual chair, the sounds of water in pipes telling him where Jake was (and he'd only needed to have tried surprising Jake in the shower once to learn that lesson) and joined the conversation. Life might not be peaceful, but it was relatively good…and, from the look of what Jane just pulled from the oven, was going to include pie.