This is my new story. It's not Bioshock related, just a Sci-Fi. Enjoy!
“They came from the stars. Without warning they came with fire, and burned our cities. We watched as their ships turned one shining metropolis after another into ash strewn wastelands. We never learned their names, their origin. They never spoke, only destroyed.
“When we’d imagined our first contact with life from another world we had always pictured them as more advanced. Better technology, more evolved. But we never took that next step. We never imagined that they could outthink us. That they would be smarter than we are on a fundamental level.
“The visitors who destroyed so much of our world are smarter than us. That much is abundantly apparent. They are ten steps ahead of us at every turn. Every moment of this war has been dictated by their actions, not ours. We see an opportunity and greedily go running to it, only to find another trap, another pitfall, another killing field.
“Every encounter demonstrates their ability to outwit us. By the time we have understood what went wrong, they’re preparing their next strike, our weaknesses already assessed, and every possible outcome hypothesized and scrutinized. So how have we managed to fight them off for four months? How have we survived their limitless mental prowess, their infinite technological capabilities?
“We’ve survived the same way we have through plagues, famines and wars. The way we managed to hold onto this rock even after global pollution, world wars, and our own self destruction. We are, if nothing else, tenacious. We persist through the worst, we endure, we live for the pure sake of living.”
-Excerpt from Dr. Lee’s Essay on the Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence First Strike.
As the Stryker bucked Lieutenant Catharine Baker put the Compiled Essays of Dr. Lee back into her front shirt pocket. As the Infantry Fighting Vehicle tipped sharply to the left, she climbed out of her seat, and went to the cockpit. “How long until we reach the Blood-Hound?” She asked the driver with an air of command.
“Just a few more blocks-” The driver abruptly stopped speaking as a projectile ripped through his trachea. More rounds slammed into the exterior of the vehicle, alien ammunition punching through the nearly impervious alloys. The Stryker was rocked by one projectile after another with enough force to throw the Rangers to the floor.
Even through the hardened armor, Baker could here the tires squealing as the armored I.F.V. skidded across the pavement under the unrelenting onslaught of sheer kinetic force. “Out, out, out!” Catharine shouted, trying to climb her way to the back hatch as the Stryker lurched and rolled under the repeated hammer blows. Sergeant Newark, ignoring her orders, put his SAW through the nearest of the still smoking holes in the Stryker and let loose a controlled burst. “I said get your ass out.” Grabbing him by the back of his vest, Baker put her foot into the sergeant’s ass and pushed him from the death trap of a vehicle.
Climbing from the ruined I.F.V., Baker found herself in a world of grey. The skies had darkened with clouds that matched the cold steel and concrete Houston’s buildings. Ducking around the rubble and ruins, her platoon sought cover from the unrelenting, and seeming endless attack. The futility of that act wasn’t lost on the Lieutenant, after all if the alien rounds had punched through hardened armor then it would cut the rubble like a hot knife through butter, but the need to something between her body and the attacking force was all but overwhelming. As she dove behind dumpster, Catharine glanced at the opposition.
It seemed to gracefully spill down between a pair of low industrial buildings. Crawler, she thought, watching the strange alien weapon tumble down still spitting glowing projectiles. At its center, made from the same black metal that coated the entire machine, there was a Volkswagen-sized orb, which housed the single barreled weapon that was the source of the devastating attack. Sprouting from this central structure seven arms reached out to stick into the walls of either building. As though it was driven by some kind of crazed chimp the alien machine would let one leg slip from the building, and for a brief moment it would tumble downwards, before the other legs caught on and held the craft. Then it would do it all over again, all the while its center would never waver in its fire, never cease its assault. All the while the Rangers let loose a deadly attack of armor piercing rounds, that while punching dozens of holes in the Crawler, failed to land the critical hit that would bring it down.
As the alien machine fired another burst of armor piercing rounds at the crippled Stryker, apparently unsure of the vehicle’s combat effectiveness, Lieutenant Baker turned back to her squad. While her nine Rangers were more than a match for the Crawler, if it decided to turn its attention on them, they would assuredly take losses. With that in mind Catharine slowly pied the corner of the dumpster. This involved pointing her muzzle just past the edge of the dumpster and pivoting around the corner, creating a metaphorical pie, letting her slice the corner into manageable pieces.
When her sights at last fell on the Crawler, the machine was ceasing to fire on the Stryker and turning its attention on the Rangers who had opened fire on it. Just before she squeezed the trigger some part of Baker’s mind had noticed the small, grey sensor that sat just over the barrel of the alien weapon. It had turned its focus from the I.F.V., which was little more than a pile of melted slag, to her squad. With a happy thump her under-slung M203 grenade launcher sent a high explosive round to slam into the Crawler’s leg. In reality the grenade hit the building just under where one of the legs had pierced the concrete and steel. A casual observer might have thought this had been a miss, but Catharine felt a grim smile crawl over her features.
As she had hoped the Crawler lost its grip and was abruptly yanked from the air by its own weight. Belching black smoke, and making as noise that sounded like a dying animal’s last roar, the alien war machine slammed into the street, the impact resonating in Baker’s chest. “Pour it on!” she shouted. With an animal roar, the Rangers pulled themselves from their cover and the sudden roar of nine automatic weapons filled the streets. Had it been three months ago, when the E.T.I.s had first appeared they would have counted themselves lucky if even one of their bullets had punctured the alien armor. But things had changed since then. Where Catharine’s M4A1 Carbine had once fired the 5.56 NATO round. Now it used the experimental 6.8mm Organic Armor Piercing round, a titanium core wrapped in a tungsten alloy shell, that was particularly proficient at turning the alien war machines into Swiss cheese.
After only seconds, the Crawler gave another belch of smoke, and seemed to cough up a yellow oil before at last lying still. Lieutenant Baker gave the cease fire signal, waving her arm in a chopping motion, until her squad, at last, stopped pumping rounds into the fallen alien craft. Despite the sudden silence, the streets still echoed with distant weapons fire. Houston had become the wild west in the months following the E.T.I. first strike. Every time the U.S. military took control of a section of the city the E.T.I.s would counterstrike with violent ferocity.
Looking from one street to another, Baker fought to keep her teeth from grinding together. Where the hell are we? she thought trying to find her bearings. “Map!” she shouted to Sergeant Newark. He scrambled over the rubble to hand her a laminated sheet of paper that showed Houston’s downtown in greater detail. Her first instincts proved futile as Baker looked to the nearest street post only to find it without an actual sign. “Where the hell are we?” she voiced in a stage whisper to her second in command.
Rather than answer Sergeant Newark turned and shouted to the squad’s Designated Marksman, and shouted, “Louise, street sign.” For a moment the man just stared back blankly. Then he looked down and found the street sign at his feet.
“Webster,” Specialist Louise responded, moving closer. “We can’t be far, Ma’am, I can hear her.” Baker nodded, looking back to the map. The Blood-Hound’s 120mm cannon was clear over the ambient noise of battle that filled the narrow streets.
Pointing in the direction of the fallen Crawler, Baker said, “Two blocks up, and one over.” She returned the map to Newark, before climbing over the fallen machinery. “Let’s move.” Knowing they would be behind her, Catharine pressed towards the Blood-Hound, her rifle at her shoulder, ready for whatever lay around the next corner.
As they rounded the corner, however, The Rangers found themselves at a scene of brutal chaos, a maelstrom of terrifying violence. The lone M1A1 Abrams tank sat, dead center of the street surrounded by bodies and still smoking machines the Browning fifty caliber machine gun firing continuously. It stood between the Rangers and several dozen Creepers. These dog-sized, alien war-machines, were in the vague shape of a ladybug, and strapped to their backs was a triangular barrel that spat out a smaller version of the armor piercing projectiles that had shredded the Stryker.
With a wave of her hand, Baker and her squad advanced on the Blood-Hound, using it to cover their approach. Opening fire on the approach would have been a bad idea, and her squad knew it. It was just as likely for the crew of the tank to fire on them, mistaking the rescuers for incoming hostiles, as the alien machines. Climbing onto the back of the tank, and singeing her hand on the burning exhaust port, Catharine banged her hand on the hull, shouting, “Friendly!” The Marine behind the heavy machinegun didn’t respond other than to grunt. “Sit.-Rep.!”
“One-Twenty’s fine, but the treads are gone, and the engine will be out soon,” the Marine responded between machinegun bursts. He lit one target after another with heavy rounds, turning the skittering machines into shrapnel.
“Where’s your C.O.?” Baker asked firing into the Creepers. Between the fifty cal. And her squad they had been reduced to piles of trash in short order. The stench of the alien oil and human blood that had been burned by weapons fire filled the street.
“Which piece?” the gunner responded, with a grim laugh. Catharine stared at the Marine for a moment. ☺☺☺☺ing jarheads, she thought harshly. All the same she could see the blood that had been smeared across the turret, smell the stench that wafted up through the open tank hatch. He must have been standing right there. Looking at the Marine she realized that only moments ago his C.O. must have been alive, talking. And then he had been turned into paste by some alien weapon.
As though it had been reading her thoughts, a massive form suddenly appeared from behind one of the ruined buildings. Feeling the thundering clump of metal on concrete in her chest just as much as in her ears, Baker watched as the Walker casually strolled around the corner. The similarities to the Crawler were unmistakable. It had the same black steel, the same basic outline, and structure, but unlike it’s smaller cousin, the Walker was utterly massive. It strode upon five, long, spindly legs, each ending in four delicate looking “toes,” and a massive pylon that stabbed into the earth. Towering nearly three stories over the streets a bulky fuselage, leaned over the broken Houston edifices. Out to either side of the centerpiece were a set of fins and under each fin, sat one of the triangular cannons that had turned the Stryker into scrap. But what dominated the structure was the massive weapon that seemed to have almost been an afterthought. It was an under slung creation that protruded before the machine like an overlong nose. Catharine didn’t need the briefings or field reports to tell her that the thing on the front was a powerful weapon, capable of turning her, the tank, and any of the nearby buildings into northing more than a fine pulp.
Stepping fully into the street, the Walker fired it’s primary weapon down the road it had just stepped from. There was an explosion, and Baker could see a fountain of dirt and rubble spear the sky over the buildings. “You put a Sabot up that thing’s ass, soldier!” The lieutenant shouted to the Marine at her side.
Staring at the lumbering giant that began to turn its attention on them, the Marine ducked into the Abrams with a shouted, “Ooh-rah!” Even as the barrel of the tank’s 120mm cannon raised the Walker turned and sighted the tank with a seeming maliciousness, that brought a chill to Catharine’s bones. The alien war-machine had taken a great deal of battle damage. That was apparent. The small orb that housed the artificial eye that looked over the end of the massive cannon had been cracked and blackened. That must have been why, when it fired its primary weapon, the round slammed into the street next to the tank, instead of hitting the armored vehicle dead on. Despite that it was a miss, the projectile slammed into the road with such force that it made the whole tank jump, like a startled cat, and it sent Baker tumbling to the ground.
At long last the tank barrel found its target and fired. Unlike the Walker, the tank crew’s aim was true, and the depleted uranium dart slammed into the massive alien war machine with a horrendous explosion. The Walker fell backwards, its fuselage in pieces.
“Hoo-ha! Mother☺☺☺☺er!” Private Wren shouted over the noise of the Walker’s downfall. Baker slowly brought herself to her feet, still shaking, as the adrenaline slowly began to subside. Wren approached the lieutenant and held out a hand. “You okay, L.T.?”
Catharine nodded. “Get C.Q. on the horn, and tell them we have the Blood-Hound secured,” Lieutenant Baker commanded, observing the wreckage, and the surrounding area. “Tell them to get the combat engineers in here.”
“Looks like we don’t need to.” Baker turned to the sergeant ready to start shouting at him, when she saw the pair of F-22s suddenly flash overhead. With a screech, they released their ordinance to plow into the street ahead of them. There was a roar and a blast of warm air as the buildings a block away were leveled in a fireball. Suddenly the air was alive with helicopters. One Apache after another whirred by overhead to unleash their munitions on unseen targets.
“If they’d been here ten minutes ago he might still be alive,” Catharine said quietly to herself, thinking about the Stryker driver, and the Abrams’ C.O. As a Blackhawk set down, unloading a batch of fresh soldiers, Marines by the looks of them, Baker made her way towards the still humming aircraft.
“You Lieutenant Baker?” the door gunner asked over the thump of the rotor. Catharine nodded, her simmering contempt slowly beginning to abate. “We’re your ride out, you and your platoon are due back at base.”
Turning, Baker shouted, “Second Platoon, on me!” She waited for all of them to board the helicopter before following them, and taking her seat just behind the copilot. As the UH-60 Blackhawk lifted into the air, she looked back at the city. Despite that Houston had not been hit by the E.T.I. first strike, the sprawling metropolis had been reduced to little more than a massive trash heap, dominated by mountains of ruble.
Tell me what you think.
Last edited by kdn003; 01-18-2011 at 05:41 AM.
Not bad, not bad at all. And it takes place in Houston! Don't know whether that's good or bad...
Meh, I already wrote something about zombies in Houston. Why not aliens? :P
Originally Posted by Vito_Lucente
Thanks for reading. And a note on the location... I needed someplace that was moderately warm, that could receive rain, and was close to the water. Naturally my first inclination was LA. Unfiortunatly there is a movie coming out called battlefield Los Angelos, about an alien invasion of said city. Next I thought maybe San Fransisco... But there was a movie called Sky Line... also about aliens. Then I thought maybe I could have it in New Jersey... Damn you Tom Cruise!
Originally Posted by Invader
So Houston it was. Also I'm moderatly familiar with the area, and like the culture there.
I liked it, had a ODST/REACH feel to it. Are you going to continue?
Invader posts in a thread called Invasion.....
Originally Posted by Invader
Thank you. I do intend to continue.
Originally Posted by rchris48
“Because going on about what we don’t know is in no way useful, or even mildly helpful, the only discussion left to us, is what we do know of the E.T.I.. Soon after their infamous attack the E.T.I. fleet retreated to the oceans. Either they have a fondness for the water, or that is the only place they feel their fleet is safe.
“Our military thought this might be a weakness, they made their first attempt to strike back at the E.T.I. fleet with a carrier group. I could list the figures for the losses that day. I could explain how the light from that battle could be seen from space. I could even talk about our ships that limped home afterwards.
“To give you an idea of what happened let me put it this way: After eleven seconds of contact with the enemy fleet, seventy six percent of the carrier group was on its way to the bottom of the ocean. Eleven seconds after contact thirty-six thousand men and women were dead or dieing. Twelve seconds after contact the carrier group was in full retreat.
“This was our first lesson when it came to fighting the E.T.I. Brute force would not push them away from our borders. We learned that we would have to outsmart them, bring to bear our mental prowess, our centuries of experience in fighting. Very soon we would learn another hard lesson about the E.T.I.”
-Excerpt from Dr. Lee’s Essay on the Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Strategies and Tactics
As the Blackhawk pulled further away from the center of the city, it offered a better overview of the situation. Sergeant James Newark couldn’t help but staring at the unfolding scene of chaos below. He was reminded of a point in Iraq when he had seen the bulk of the U.S. Navy ready to strike at the heart of the Republican Guard. Except these weren’t ships that had been built by man. In the south, just visible over the hundreds of half destroyed Houston homes, sat a fleet of alien ships. They had crowded into the Galveston bay, half a dozen of what high command had called command ships. Each one resembled a low, squat hornet’s nest, not only in shape, but in the active swarm of smaller ships that buzzed around them.
At the same time, on the other side of the city, the US Army was swarming into Bear Creek Park, assisted by a small swarm of planes at the West Houston Airport. Looking at it all James couldn’t remember a time in the last three months that he’d seen so much activity. What the hell has both of us so damned stirred up? He asked himself.
Already the Blackhawk was beginning its decent towards the improvised Command Quarters that had been set up in the park. The C.Q. was a small assortment of tents, tanks and armored vehicles, a small epicenter of activity. Their UH-60 was one among many birds that flitted to and from the impromptu military compound.
As the chopper blades kicked up dust, and the helicopter set down, Second Platoon disembarked. As they did they were flagged over by Colonel McKnight for a debrief. Despite his best efforts James found himself zoning out of the debriefing. It might have been exhaustion, three days in the heart of Houston with little rest, or it could have been that he’d heard it all before, “Good job Rangers”, “You made this operation possible.” Whatever the reason Sergeant Newark set himself into the “at attention,” stance, and let his mind wander.
As usual it went to one place: Lieutenant Baker. More times than he could count, James’s mind would try to imagine what his L.T. would look like without her clothes on. In fact that had been his first inclination when he had first met the woman. James would have most likely asked Baker if she wanted to find a cozy spot and see what happened. But moments after he had run into her, which also happened to be the day before he’d requested to be transferred into her platoon, Lieutenant Catharine Baker had planted six inches of steel into an enemy combatant’s stomach and then disemboweled the man. Whatever thoughts had been going through the sergeant’s mind before she had killed her attacker was instantly erased.
“You’ve earned a respite for the time being,” McKnight continued. Sergeant Newark brought his attention back to the present, realizing that the debrief was almost over. “Rangers lead the way.” Second Platoon gave a quick “Hoo-ha!” in response. “Dismissed!”
With that the collected Rangers disbanded into a ragged and worn bunch that drifted towards the barracks. It was little more than an oversized tent where some fifty soldier could be packed together like sardines in a can. But as the sergeant approached the urban grey tent, something dragged his attention away. It was another helicopter, this one, a CH-47 Chinook hadn’t fared as well as Second Platoon’s ride. The back rotor wasn’t spinning in sync with the front, and every time the blades from one rotor crossed with one from the other the bird seemed to start or stop. With a lurching thump, the helicopter more or less slid to a stop, tilted up again and finally slammed back to the ground and went still.
While something as large as a Chinook could easily carry a decent sized company worth of soldiers, only a small number walked off. Double the walking troops had to be carried off on stretchers, and the rest… James didn’t want to think about the number of body bags that would mean. As the soldiers from the Chinook, a combination of Regular Army and Airborne, Newark slowed his pace to let them catch up to him. “What happened?” he asked. The soldier in question looked like an N.C.O. like James, but it was hard to tell under the blood and dirt that was caked into every layer of the man’s uniform.
The soldier looked at James through eyes that seemed hollowed out, like a mask sitting over something that had broken. With a shaking breath the Army Reg. seemed to remember how to speak. “They were waiting for us. There was an Eddie on the ground. F.U.B.A.R.” James looked away. ☺☺☺☺ed Up Beyond All Repair. It seemed to define the last few months. And to make it worse, and actual E.T.I., or Eddie, had been spotted on the ground. No one was sure on whether the war machines on the ground were remote controlled drones, or some form of advanced A.I., but no matter how bad they were, an E.T.I. on the ground always spelled disaster. “I don’t think half of us made it to the ground.” After that the N.C.O. couldn’t seem to bring himself to continue. He put a hand to his face and turned away, but James could hear the telltale gasp of air that was his sobs. Putting an arm around the bloodied soldier’s shoulder James led him into the barracks.
As they entered they both stopped to touch the base of the memory wall. Every barracks, sleeping quarters, and command point in the world had some variation of this memorial. The Joint Operation barracks in Bear Creek’s memorial was over thirty feet long, and went from the floor to the ceiling. A hundred thousand photos, and letters. “Have you seen me?” or “Lost,” or “Remember me,” were the theme. The most prominent, the one that Newark could find every time he walked into the barracks, no matter how many times they moved, or how long he’d been away, was the photo that had been dubbed Hudson Street. It was a simple Polaroid of a man kneeling in the streets alone, cradling his dead child in his arms. James wasn’t much in the way of words, ☺☺☺☺ing tragic, didn’t even begin to describe the torment and anguish on the kneeling man’s face. The horror and shock of losing a child couldn’t be put into words. I guess after the First Strike a lot of mothers and fathers were burying their children. The First Strike had been such a crippling blow. Half the world’s armed forces destroyed in a single unified assault. Too many had died in those first few moments of war.
Turning away from the wall, James found himself face to face with an E.T.I., a training poster, a cheat sheet for anyone who forgot how to kill Earth’s latest enemy. Each Eddie, as they were called, was around six feet tall, human sized, and they had two legs and two arms, that vertical symmetry, just like humans. The one thing that always stood out, like Hudson Street against the wall, was their eyes. Unlike human eyes E.T.I.s had grey, marble-like orbs, that seemed to see nothing and everything at once. Almost as if to make the illusion of marble more complete each eye had golden cracks running through it, as though they were, in fact made of stone, and had been chipped open to reveal something more beneath. These soulless orbs sat inside a bulbous head that was wide, but flattened, like a crab whose legs and claws had been taken away. The Eddies’ skin was a light grey, the color reminding Sergeant Newark of a shark’s fin.
The soldier from the all but ruined helicopter turned away from James to help one of his team hobble to the medical tent. Watching him go, Newark was reminded of his own platoon, and went to find his team.
All nine of them had camped out in one spot or another near the rec. area. As usual his first thought was back to Baker, her nose buried in the Compiled Essays of Dr. Lee. He let his eyes his eyes linger on her curves for a few moments before turning to find Private Herald “Nap” Carson, the platoon’s field medic. James had once asked Nap where he’d gotten his nickname. The man had responded with a half assed, “It involved my last C.O. and that’s all I really want to say about it,” and changed the subject. Knowing that Baker had handpicked her platoon from a roster of applicants, Newark wondered what she knew of this prior.
Staring at Wren with a blush Newark had only ever seen on a school teacher, Carson busied himself with cleaning his weapon. Wren, the obvious source of the red in Nap‘s cheeks was grinning evilly, the way James thought sharks must grin as they neared a wounded seal. “Wren what are you doing to him?” James asked plopping himself next to Nap, on the medic’s cot.
“I just asked him to draw me naked,” Private Kimberly Wren responded innocently. As Carson’s blush deepened James fought back tears of laughter. If Second Platoon was a cliché in a bad movie, Wren would be the jokester of the group. James knew that, unlike some simpleton from a cliché, Kim used her comedy to keep others at arm’s length, keep everything superficial. Of course James would never say anything like that to Wren. Rank or no, she wouldn’t hesitate to beat the piss out of him if he so much as hinted at her that she might be shallow. And when she was done he knew Baker would kill him, bury him in the desert, and claim M.I.A. “I’d ask you, Sergeant, but I’m afraid you might actually take me up on it.”
It was James’s turn to blush, though he did it through another chuckle. “Well, maybe not you, the L.T…” James turned to grin at Baker. As usual she didn’t respond other than to give him a bored look, and return to her reading. Just like am officer, James thought with a smile. She’s above it all. “Well, I can dream.”
Carson opened his mouth, probably to snap at Newark that no one in their squad wanted to hear about the sergeant’s dreams, but he snapped it shut as a shout roared over the din of the barracks. “God damn it Mary! You put her on the ☺☺☺☺ing phone!” James wasn’t alone when he turned to look at the call area. Standing among the collection of hastily erected phones, Specialist Dean Louise, put the phone aside and dipped his head as he fought to control his emotions. Biting his tongue James looked away, trying to give Dean some measure of privacy. Everyone in Second Platoon knew about Dean’s less than perfect marriage. In a voice that was quieter, though still edged with steel, Louise asked again, “Just put Jenny on the phone, would you?”
As James pulled his armor off, giving his hands something to do, and making it slightly less obvious that he was eavesdropping, he couldn’t help but notice, that while she didn’t look like it, Baker was listening to the designated marksman’s phone call very intently. Does she ever turn off? Newark thought, knowing that the lieutenant was gauging the conversation to determine if Dean would be combat effective on their next mission. “Jenny, j-… just listen to me okay?” Louise asked the receiver. “I got leave soon, okay? I’ll be able to see you.” The specialist’s voice broke for a moment. “I want to see Sarah.” Stopping to listen, Dean’s face twisted into a frown. “No, you listen to me! She needs a father. Don’t you take her away from me.” There was a pause, and it seemed like the barracks held its breath, waiting for the response. Whatever it was, it was short. “Okay I’ll see you then.”
As Louise put the phone back on the receiver, Baker stood. James hadn’t noticed the group of Rangers who had been all but gawping at the D.M. during the call, but all at once the L.T. was there, talking to them in a hushed voice, the group of men looking like school children being scolded by their teacher. When she returned to her cot, her face as calm as a stone, Baker picked her book back up and went back to reading as though nothing had happened.
“Sorry Lieutenant,” Dean said as he sat at his own cot. “I didn’t mean to drag my ☺☺☺☺ out in front of-”
“Don’t worry about it,” Baker interrupted. With that the barracks went back to its own calamity. Freed of the heavy plating, James went to work on cleaning his S.A.W. While every other weapon in the service fired some monstrous round, the 6.8mm, the M249 still used the 5.56, though it was O.A.P. rounds instead of the old fashioned NATO. The other light machinegun in the platoon was under the steady hand of Corporal Frank “Lem” Gonzalez. As he pulled the barrel from his M249 James felt a sly grin pull at his lips. Lem had gotten his nickname from an incident that had, at the time, been the biggest news in the Rangers. Some time before the First Strike the man had leapt off the building to avoid enemy heavy weapons fire. Someone had remarked that while diving for the Earth Gonzalez had looked a lot like a lemming, which was a rodent that was rumored to throw itself off cliffs in the face of danger. Evidently the nickname had stuck, though every time James looked at Lem he wondered who would have the iron clad cojones to tell the giant of a man that he resembled a rodent.
With his rifle cleaned and ready for another prolonged visit to the heart of downtown Houston, Newark went to the nearest ping pong table to watch the match between Everett and Gleeson. Corporal Connor West watched from the sidelines, looking up from what looked like a Cosmopolitan magazine. If anyone who wasn’t from Second Platoon looked at the situation, they might have jumped to some funny conclusions regarding West. James knew that in the near future Connor would be looking for a church of some kind to make his girlfriend his wife. It seemed like every time they returned there was a fresh stack of letters for the corporal, the most famous of these was the ultrasound of his soon to be son.
“Do you trust your coworkers?” Connor asked, reading from the Cosmo he must have received from his fiancé. James took a seat, curiosity overriding his general dislike for the corporal. It might be worth listening to how bubbly he is about being a father if it means killing the next five minutes, James thought as the ping pong match ended. “A test to see if you can trust the men and women you work with.”
“Put that ☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺ away,” snapped Gleeson. Private William Gleeson was the type of person born to be a soldier. He was somewhere between ninety and a thousand years old, and looked like he would kill a person as soon as look at them. Even though James was certain that Gleeson had been in the military for an ungodly amount of time, the old man had never risen above the rank of private. In Newark’s mind there could only be two reasons for that, either Gleeson was incompetent, or he’d done something that had put a permanent black mark on his record. Again James was reminded that Baker had chosen who would be in her platoon, and wondered if she knew more than he did.
“Ours is one of those non-applicable type of situations.” Turning to look at Everett, James smirked. Private Thomas Everett should have been an officer. He was young, smart, and thought he knew everything. “You either trust the man next to you, or you die.” Though on occasion, in James’s opinion the boy managed to say something that made sense. “It’s like that evolution thing… natural selection. What works survives, what doesn’t dies off.”
Even Gleeson nodded to Everett’s assessment of the Cosmo test and its applicability to the armed forces, but nearby there was a derisive snort. Turning to look, James found Private Gordon Kline, a small man with sharp eyes that held the scarring of someone who had killed more men than he could count. It was a kind of dulled gleam, that seamed, in James’s mind, to prove that the eyes were the window to the soul. “Except that we train soldiers, we breed out the disloyalty, and we guide them to become trustworthy. Almost as though there is some kind of intelligent design behind who we put onto the battlefield.” As he finished his sentence Kline grinned at Everett, who in turn missed the ping pong ball.
“☺☺☺☺ it.” Newark stood, moving away from the ping pong table. “You guys have your philosophical discussion, I’m out.” As he made his way past Gleeson and Everett, James moved away from Second Platoon to exit the barracks altogether.
Outside, as the sun began to peak out from behind the clouds, the sergeant found the last two members of his platoon. Private Jacob Mellish sat with his back against a parked Humvee, smoking a hand rolled cigarette. Next to him, Private Stewart Clarkson was lying on the ground a few feet away staring almost angrily at the sky. The HMMWV seemed to provide enough shade from the already glaring sun, and Newark decided to join the two. If he was honest with himself, and James wasn’t the type to really enjoy self delusion, he had to admit that out of just about everyone in the platoon, he’d rather spend his time with Mellish or Clarkson. Unless, of course, it was some alone time with the L.T. That’s the third time in less than half an hour, James mused. I must be obsessed.
“Thinking about the lieutenant again, sergeant?” Clarkson asked slowly. It was a quiet kind of conversation. Nothing rushed, no hot tempers, or bad moods. Just small talk. Rather than ruin the silence, Newark simply nodded. He knew his advances on Baker were viewed as something as a joke amongst Second Platoon, hell if he was honest it was probably a joke with the entire Ranger regiment, but it was a joke he could laugh at too.
Maybe when the ☺☺☺☺-fire of madness that was the E.T.I. invasion was over he could do something about Catharine Baker. Until then he was content with watching the Air Force send plane after plane over the Houston area.
Last edited by kdn003; 02-06-2011 at 08:22 PM.
Sorry that took so long. I'm hoping to put one peice a week.
it is veary good i can't wait to read the reast. now here is a real bad AZZZZ drawing http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs48/f/20...y_FujiiWho.jpg
“As the war has progressed the question of the E.T.I. war machines has come to light over and over again. Are they alive? They bleed, they walk, and they even roar, yet at the same time they do not seem to have a will of their own. Already we know that the majority of the machines are not piloted, they are drones, empty of the true enemy.
“But the question still remains: are they alive? Could it be that the E.T.I. somehow bred these creatures into becoming remotely controlled mindless killing machines? Or could it be that their inanimate workings merely resemble life to the degree that we mistake it for life?
“The so called organic armor has been shown to regenerate over time, but needs no sustenance to do so. And yet at the same time we have documented cases of the E.T.I. repairing what would have been called dead machines. So what does this mean? It may be that it is time to redefine what is alive. Perhaps the ETI machines fall somewhere between the living and the inanimate.”
-Excerpt from Dr. Lee's Essays on the Extra-Terestrial Inteligence Technology
“Lieutenant!” Catharine tore her eyes away from the book to see McKnight standing at the entrance to the barracks. When he saw that he had her attention the colonel departed. She dog-eared the page she was on, before following the colonel. In the seven years she’d known Walter, she’d never seen the colonel as nervous as he was as he ushered her into the Joint Operation Command Tent As they walked McKnight spoke quietly but urgently, “I need your team to be ready to go inside of five minutes.” The lieutenant nodded to this statement, not wanting to interrupt her C.O. as he quickly explained the situation. “Just keep your mouth shut, and nod, you copy me?” As she held the tent flap open to admit him, Catharine nodded again.
Inside she discovered why he was on edge. Seated around a tactical map of the Houston area was the biggest collection of brass she’d seen in her career. One of them, looked to be a rear admiral from the Navy, while another was a two star general. The third and final member of the command group wasn’t part of any U.S. military service. Baker recognized the sword and wings insignia on his uniform almost instantly. He was British Special Air Services, a unique covert ops group that was something akin to the SEAL teams, First Force Recon or Delta Force. The man who sat before her was trained not only for combat, but discretion, and anti-intelligence.
“Gentlemen, this is Lieutenant Baker,” McKnight said hurriedly. “She’s the best I’ve got. If anyone can pull this off, her team can.” Standing at attention Catharine felt her chest swell with pride. She’d never heard McKnight give out praise so easily, and he’d never said anything to her about being the best.
The man from the S.A.S. nodded with a grin, before standing up to point at the map. “We need you to take a little trip into downtown Houston to grab a little package we lost.” With his finger still planted firmly in Houston metro area, somewhere behind enemy lines as far as Catharine was concerned the S.A.S. operative continued. “You’ll meet my team here, at the corner of Bishop and Roanoke. From there You’ll extract the V.I.P. and fall back to the extraction point. Easy in, easy out.”
Nodding to the British soldier, the rear admiral stood. “Navy will have your backs on this one. We plan to engage the E.T.I. fleet in the Gulf of Mexico, to keep them busy while you slip in and out.” Already Catharine’s pride had turned sour. What the hell had McKnight gotten her into? Navy, British special forces, and the director of operations for the Army all here under one tent, for one op..
Despite that she had told Walter, though not in as many words, that she would keep her mouth shut Catharine felt she had a duty to her team. She raised her hand, trying not to feel like a child in a classroom. The two star nodded to her calmly, from behind his aviator sunglasses. “Sir, what is the nature of this package?”
For a moment the general didn’t answer, he merely stared at her from behind his reflective shades. “Lieutenant, this operation is classified beyond top secret. There are a grand total of four people who know every detail.” Baker watched as the general’s eyes shifted behind his sunglasses to glance at the S.A.S. operative. “When you get there, your target will be bagged, gagged, and sedated. All you have to do is carry him out, are we clear?”
Sensing a dismissal, Baker stood a little straighter. “Yes sir.” With that McKnight led her out of the J.O.C.T.. As she and the colonel marched toward the barracks she could practically hear McKnight’s teeth grinding together. “I know,” she apologized before he had a chance to chew her out. “I was supposed to keep my mouth shut, and I didn’t.” They both stopped, McKnight staring a hole through Catharine’s skull. “But this stinks, Walter. They want my team to extract a V.I.P. from downtown Huey? This late in the day? And there’s a whole fleet ready to go toe to toe with Eddie to keep them occupied?” she pressed her hand against her mouth like she was trying to rub out the wrinkles. In reality she was keeping herself from shouting something like, What the hell kind of V.I.P. is worth sacrificing an entire fleet over?
“You giving up on me Baker?” Walter asked, his voice as edged as steel. “It’s a tough job that’s why I picked you for it. You want me to go back in there and tell them I was wrong?” Catharine clenched her teeth. Like hell! There wasn’t a force on Earth, or beyond, that would make her doubt her platoon. “When he said only four people knew about this mission, he wasn’t including me. Now do I have the right team or do I need to find someone else?”
Her back going rigid, Catharine felt her fists tighten into balls, “Second Platoon is your team, Sir.” She matched his gaze with her own quiet ferocity, knowing she was, more or less, volunteering to send her team into the center of hell with no idea why. “Rangers lead the way!”
With a nod Walter resumed his march to the barracks. “Good, dust off in five, make it happen.” That said the colonel took his departure, probably to round up a helicopter for her and her team to ride in.
Catharine looked at her watch, before rushing back into the barracks. “Second Platoon!” she shouted, her voice cutting through the din. “Gear up! Max out ammo and armor, we are leaving in five! Hoo-ha?” Her platoon responded with resounding “Hoo-ha!” and went to work making it happen. Sergeant Newark, and Corporals Gonzalez and West, picked their equipment up, and hustled over to where Baker hastily strapped on her own body armor. They took up a small ring around her, as they donned their own gear while listening to her instructions. “We’re heading into downtown Huey, we’ll be dropped inside the Loop.” Catharine noticed the slight twinge, that was West flinching. “You know, that’s No Man’s Land. But we’re not going far. Two blocks in and we should meet our contact, grab some V.I.P. and hustle back to our L.Z. before dark.”
In the time it had taken her to explain her platoon had assembled themselves, ready to go, full gear. Rangers weren’t necessarily the fast response unit when it came to the Army, but since the First Strike many units had been forced to adapt. The popular saying in the army was: “sleep with your boots on. Because you never know when Eddie will show up to ruin your nap.” With the last of her gear in place, and a quick visual sweep of her weapon, Baker pressed The Compiled Essays of Dr. Lee, and the city map into her front pocket and stood. “Second Platoon, move out!”
As one, they darted from barracks, moving together toward the waiting Blackhawk. Climbing aboard the UH-60 Second Platoon fastened themselves in for a bumpy ride. As her team climbed aboard their radios chimed to life with the pilot’s voice. “Welcome aboard Clean-Sweep One, I am Lieutenant Atkins, and I will be your pilot this evening. For those of you with our plus card, you will be racking up premium miles today on our brief trip into Huey. The exits are located to your left and right, and if you feel airsickness feel free to use them, and get the hell off my bird before you make a mess.”
Baker grinned at the pilot’s cockiness. She turned back to look at him and motioned for him to take them into the air. Atkins nodded and the Blackhawk lifted from the tarmac.
Once the UH-60 had cleared the tents and surrounding trees Catharine was given a bird’s eye view of the city. Despite that she already knew both sides were stepping up operations, it didn’t prepare her for the site that greeted her eyes.
“That’s the Seventy Second Armored,” the pilot explained. Baker glanced at him, seeing that he was watching the same thing she was. “They got hit about an hour ago, now they’re on the counter strike.” Atkins nodded toward the ground, and Catharine followed his gaze.
With a rumble that could be felt even up in the air, even over the roar of the engines and rotors, the M1-A1 Abrams of the Seventy Second Armored Regiment engaged the E.T.I. ground forces. Both sides squared off among the squat buildings that stood outside of the Loop. As one, the six, one-hundred-and-twenty-millimeter cannons fired. The sheer ferocity of each blast kicking the dirt into the air. Each blast sent out a visible concussion wave that slapped the dust from the nearby buildings. And each round slammed into an alien machine, three Walkers and a Crawler were turned into little more than pulpy smears and rotting heaps of black metal. And behind the Abrams a collection of soldiers on the ground unleashed a small cloud of rocket fire. The M136 AT-4s unleashed their HEAT rounds to slam into the alien war machines with devastating accuracy.
Even as Catharine felt a stab of pride and victory, the E.T.I. returned fire. A low slung Prowler slipped into view to open fire on the line of armored vehicles and their supporting infantry. Unlike it’s taller cousins the Prowler was low to the ground, scuttling along on dozens of short legs. This simple creation had only one obvious function, and that was to carry the massive weapon that straddled its back. The glowing, yellow projectile that issued forth from that cannon slammed into the lead Abrams with enough power to turn its armor, weapon, and occupants into slag before Catharine could even fully register that the alien weapon had discharged. Pieces of the tank’s engine and hull were scattered backwards by the force of the blast, turning into deadly shrapnel for anyone unlucky enough to be caught behind the tank when it had been destroyed. Before Baker could see Seventy Second Armored’s counterstrike, Everett suddenly grabbed her shoulder and shouted, “Jesus- Look at the Gulf!”
Though the Blackhawk wasn’t high enough to see all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico, they didn’t need to be to witness the sudden activity. In the distance, beneath the dark clouds that hung over the horizon, Catharine could see what looked like a lightning storm gone mad. Thousands of flashes illuminated the sky, and seemed to turn the clouds about. The Navy had engaged the E.T.I. fleet. What was even more dazzling was the fur-ball that was dancing above and around the darkening storm clouds. At this distance she couldn’t make out friend or foe, but Baker could see the twisting contrails, catastrophic explosions, and falling wreckages that flitted to and fro. And among them shot the faster sleeker trails of missiles, and ordinance both from the air and the from churning sea.
Something caught Catharine’s attention back where Seventy Second Armored was still fighting E.T.I.. A small, alien craft that had yet to be struck by the Abrams or the infantry turned its attention on the Blackhawk. This was walking construction that was bound to the Earth, the E.T.I. war machine that turned to face the UH-60 seemed to float like it had never even heard of gravity. “Jumper!” Baker shouted at the pilot. Like the others he had been captivated by the view out to sea, and had nearly missed the rising predatory craft that set its sights on the Blackhawk.
With the grace of a fish in the ocean the Jumper darted toward the UH-60. Despite that all human science argued that the Jumper should not be able to fly, it did so with a kind of ease that made earthly aircraft seem like crippled birds, barely able to stay in the air. The Jumper lacked wings, or rotors, it didn’t even seem to have any kind of engine. It looked as though someone had take a pair of muscle cars stuck them together at the undercarriages, and then turned the whole thing sideways. This left the nimble aircraft taller that it was wide. Where the cars would have had front windows the Jumper merely had two banks of openings. Catharine had seen these war machines in combat enough times to know the kind of hell those portals could unleash. She also knew that despite it’s fearsome appearance, the black, organic armor, on these fighters was very thin, leaving the contraption somewhat frail.
“Hang on,” Atkins said as though someone had told him there was a bee in the Blackhawk, and all he needed to do was open a window to let it go. The UH-60 dipped to the right, and Baker was thrown against the restraints as the helicopter seemed to almost drunkenly weave away from the sudden onslaught of enemy fire. “Wilkinson you got it?” He asked the door gunner. Despite that the Blackhawk was tilted at an absurd angle and had begun to plummet toward the ground, the man at the door had held to his position, and was actively sighting the Jumper. With the noise of a wet fart the GAU-17/A let out a burst of rounds that turned one side of the alien craft into shrapnel. “Here comes our L.Z.,” Atkins shouted, the strain at last showing in his voice. The Blackhawk righted itself, but continued to drop toward the ground. “We won’t be landing, you’re going to have to jump.”
“Copy that,” Baker responded. “We will not be landing, we will be making a hard landing, Copy?” While she could hear that her platoon responded through their own clenched teeth, Baker could not make out what they said. A low building appeared over the side of the helicopter. She gauged how fast they were dropping, and how far they had to go, trying to get an estimate fixed in her mind. “Three, two, one!”
At “one!” Lieutenant Baker released her harness and rolled out of the helicopter. The drop seemed higher than it should have been, but when she slammed into the ground and rolled she could neither hear her bones snapping nor feel any sudden blinding pain in her legs. Looking back she saw the rest of her platoon pile out of the Blackhawk as it bounced on the rooftop before lifting up and away. As the UH-60 rose away, its door gun alight with gunfire, Catharine could hear the pilot speak over their radio before the distance cut him off completely. “That was pretty damned good flying if you ask me.” Not sure if he was talking to her, or his copilot, Baker gave a curt nod to the already disappearing Blackhawk before turning to her team.
“Everyone alright?” Once she had received nine thumbs ups, nods, or half mumbled swears Catharine motioned for her team to get on the move. Moving down through the building was a nerve-racking experience. While they were certain it was unoccupied there was no way of knowing for sure that around the next corner, or past the next staircase there wouldn’t be an E.T.I. menace waiting to launch an attack. Outside the building was no better. The streets were alive with the barrage of heavy weapons. In between the inconsistent booms of the nearer fight on the ground, the steady rumble of the Gulf could be heard, a never ending symphony of destruction that was miles away, and yet shook the glass of the structure around them.
It wasn’t until they had reached their rendezvous point that Catharine let herself breathe even the faintest sigh of relief, and even then it lasted only a heartbeat before a sudden flash of light brought her every cell back to full alert and combat mode. Turning to the source of the light, Baker found a man across the street from her crouched behind a half ruined door, waving a mirror in her face. With the same silence that had been with them the preceding two blocks, the Ranger platoon moved to the building.
On the man’s arm sat the same sword and wings insignia that had been on the other S.A.S. operative’s uniform, though this badge had been burned and torn almost beyond the point of recognition. “I’m guessing you would be my rescue party then?” Catharine nodded taking in the man’s appearance. Whatever had happened to him, had most likely not been part of the plan. His clothing was in tatters, burns and tears covering his chest and arms, while a rather nasty bruise threatened to close his left eye. “Come on, let’s go meet our little friend then, shall we?”
As he led her into the building, Baker signaled Louise and Wren to stay at the door, while the rest of her team followed her. “I haven’t been told much about this V.I.P. is he some kind of P.O.W.?” Catharine asked.
The S.A.S. operative turned and laughed. “Yeah, I guess you could call him that.”
“Well is he one of ours or one of theirs?” the lieutenant asked, feeling a mild sting of agitation and jealousy about her ignorance of the package.
“Yes,” the operative responded with more laughter. He opened a door on a small room that contained a man bound to a chair. All in all the V.I.P. wasn’t much to look at. For one he was unconscious, and only the fact that his hands were bound behind the chair kept him from slumping to the ground. He had some kind of strange tattoo, five straight, but broken grey lines ran from his neck up the left side of his face to bury themselves in his uneven, short, brown hair. “Rise and shine!” The operative tipped his open canteen over the prisoner’s head.
“You god damned ☺☺☺☺☺☺☺!” the P.O.W. shouted, glaring at the operative. And that’s when Catharine knew why he was so important, why the navy had risked a fleet, why no one knew about the operation. His eyes were grey, like a pair of marble orbs with gold cracks that veined their surface. They were alien eyes, in a human skull.
Last edited by kdn003; 02-17-2011 at 07:25 AM.