Villiersdorp had long since been abandoned. Its battles had already been fought and its citizens had already fled a year and a half ago. It was an old battleground, and driving our Anti-Durandal Guns through the empty streets felt like we were passing through a temple. If I was still young, I might have expected a ghost to pop out from behind one of the empty buses and scare us all. That didn't happen, of course, and I told one of the men to be quiet when he joked about that. Maybe I was scared of the ghosts, but I'd like to think I'm more mature than that now.
I had the men drive their ADGs into a few alleyways and find anything they could to conceal themselves better. I felt worried. One Durandal on its own might not be enough to punch through the armor of an ADG, but two or three focusing their fire definitely could. Fortunately, the supply convoy we were supposed to be ambushing wouldn't have a heavy escort, so we could count out anything like LAVs or anything more than three or four suit jockeys. There would be a few other armed infantry, yes, but an ADG is also a very effective anti-infantry tool. A 30-millimeter rotary cannon was nothing to fuck around with, even for a suit jockey. An ADG's armor seems rather thin at first, but the metal that protected the people inside was more like a secondary armor; concealment was their primary source of protection.
After finding a building I could get into, I set myself up near a window, waiting with binoculars. It would still be about an hour or two, I thought, so I ordered the men into radio silence until I ordered the attack, and then we waited. Right on time, I saw five trucks moving towards us slowly -- well, that isn't quite true, I heard them before I saw them -- being escorted by a light infantry complement and three Durandals. The one in the front was either special or stupid, I thought to myself as I looked through the binoculars. He had modified the original desert camouflage with some disgustingly gaudy and unsurprisingly ineffective colors, like more vivid greens and brighter yellows.
Durandals were first put into service by the Great American Army, and you can think of them as, essentially, powered armor. They were the first powered armor to be deployed in a real conflict, albeit after heavy modification from the initial prototypes. There are several different types and models, but for the most part, they all share a few core traits. They're all full-body armor systems that enhance a soldier's reflexes, strength, and the senses of vision and hearing with built-in digital binoculars and microphones. They also feature full communications suites and tactical uplinks -- though a suit jockey can turn them off -- and several recoil control systems and targeting systems. They're also very well-armored, giving an average wearer much more survivability over time. All of them also have to be entered while completely naked; this is because upon donning the armor, tiny spray nozzles inside the suits coat the wearer's skin in a smart chemical polymer that will adhere to bare skin, but not thick hair, such as on the head, or eyes. The polymer solidifies into a sort of form-fitting body armor with about the same capacity for stopping a bullet as a Kevlar vest. This may sound overly complicated, but this cuts down on the bulk and weight of the suit significantly, allowing for better maneuverability. A Durandal looks fairly similar as to what it sounds: a big person-shaped hunk of metal covered in ammo pouches, painted in camouflage, and with three green camera "eyes" on the front of the helmet piece, which fully encloses the wearer's head.
That all said, they're generally armed with rifles in too large of a caliber for normal infantry, and are often deployed in defensive roles and as escorts, but you can also see them on the attack fairly often too. I saw the 20 millimeter rifles they were carrying and looked worriedly towards one of the ADGs hidden in an alleyway. They were heavy and didn't have the greatest rate of fire, but when you're firing a 20mm gun, you don't often need a high rate of fire. Their thick armor also protected them from most small-arms fire, which is why we have ADGs. Their armor could only withstand a second or so of continuous fire from an ADG before the rounds would break through the armor -- sometimes even sooner. Essentially, it was a case of 'whoever shoots first wins'.
When the convoy began to pass through the line of hidden ADGs, I gave the signal. The loud buzzing of their cannons was deafening; I felt my heart drop a bit as the 20mm guns joined in the noise above all the other small-arms fire, sounding like the pounding of drums. I heard shouting and bullets whizzed by the window I was taking cover near, and engines starting and stopping and more gunfire and more drums. Eventually, I dared to peek my head out. I saw the bodies of at least a dozen dead men, and three defunct armor suits. The trucks they had been escorting were riddled in bullet holes, dents, and blood, and the air smelled like brass and sulfur.
ADGs have enough frontal armor for their primary role, but their rear armor stands up to the 20mm rifles that suit jockeys use like a wet paper bag. We lost an ADG in the ambush because it'd been caught from behind when it was engaging the jockey with the stupid camouflage, and the rounds had ripped through the vehicle and killed the men inside. Unfortunately for Durandals, we had brought more than enough firepower to deal with only three of them, and I spit on the dead hunk of armor and metal covered in gaudy colors, full of holes with blood pouring out of them.
I had a man collect their dog tags and I stowed them away safely, promising the soldiers still alive that they'd have a proper funeral. I had another man round up the other dead men's dog tags and said the same thing, word for word. I took a moment and turned to the men under my command. I ordered them to take what they could and to destroy the rest. We'd be eating well tonight.