Authors: Nick S. Thomas
Battle Earth XI
By Nick S. Thomas
Copyright © 2014 by Nick S. Thomas
Published by Swordworks Books
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
From Colonel Mitch Taylor's personal journal -
Uncharted space, Day 62
We came out here to run and hide. That almost failed, and then the most surprising of encounters. Once again I find myself facing an alien race I had never heard of or known of their existence. At first they attacked, as we have come to expect from aliens, but now there is silence. We fought a common enemy when we were forced to do so. They let us leave their planet without bloodshed, but will they join us?
It's been a month since we drove the Krys forces out of the system, and still we wait. Not allowed to set foot on the planet, unable to move on without risk of defeat at the hands of Erdogan's fleet. We cannot see them. We do not know where they are, but the threat looms over us all the time. Everyone knows our fate lies with the decision of an alien race we cannot even come close to knowing or understanding. Nobody says it, but everything thinks it. How can we trust this alien race? How can we trust them to be any better? But what is the alternative?
Kelly sat at a desk, looking at data that both bored and worried him, food, water, and ammunition. The Drachenburg was well stocked, but they had been expending the resources at a great rate. There were no easy answers to the problems they faced. He rubbed his brow and tried to think of how they could access more resources. He wore a full Reitech suit, and his rifle lay on the desk beside him. He was sure to be ready to fight at any time he was awake.
"Not easy, is it, Sir?" Lieutenant Engel asked.
He shook his head. Resources in against resources out, easy enough to calculate what we need, just not how to get it," he replied, "Any ideas?"
"The land continues to provide much of what we need in food and water, but ammunition will not be easy. We must soon venture out far further afield. Military bases, storage depots, we will have to reach them."
"Most of them will have been flattened, or watched at the very least."
She did not reply.
"I don't suppose we have a choice, do we?"
Engel shook her head.
They could hear a flurry of activity outside, and Kelly could tell he needed to get out there and deal with it. He jumped out of his chair, snatched up his rifle, and headed for the entrance to the open air where they had first arrived and met Becker. They saw two vehicles coming into view, and one was already parked outside with several personnel rushing to assist the crew. Even through the crowd, he could see the familiar scorch marks on the vehicle that were caused by Krys pulse weapons. Screams rang out from the wounded.
Shit, this doesn't look good,
Two crew were hauled from the vehicle. A woman, whose face and shoulder were burnt and her armour heavily damaged. The other a man; his left arm was missing, and he had shrapnel embedded in the flank of his armour beneath the limbless joint. One of the other vehicles slid to a halt beside them, and Becker leapt out. His own truck had also been hit, with half the roll cage gone as well as the tailgate.
"What happened?" Kelly demanded.
"They were waiting for us. Reeled us in until we were right where they wanted us. We didn't stand a chance."
"You fell into their trap?" Kelly asked sceptically, "Did you get away clean?"
Becker shook his head. "I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know? You don't know? Captain, the secret location of this facility is the number one most important thing in our lives!"
"I said I don't know, okay!" he yelled back.
Kelly looked around to see that no one else was coming up to join them. There was a vehicle missing and several personnel.
"Casualties?" he asked in a calmer voice.
"Fredrickson, he didn't even see it coming. Vehicle was a fireball before we even knew they were hitting us."
"But did you get away clean?" demanded Kelly once again.
Becker ignored the question and continued around his vehicle, helping out his driver who was also wounded. Kelly could tell the Captain really did have no idea. He shook his head. He already knew the answer wouldn't be good. He turned back to the entrance to the bunker, where several of his people stood awaiting some response, while others continued to give medical aid and haul the wounded inside.
Kelly opened his mouth to speak, but he could not think of anything to say. He turned away and thought for a moment. Before anything came into his head, he noticed a red flash of light come from behind him and turned to see the silent warning beacon light flash beside the bunker.
"They're here," he said to them.
Many of them looked worried. Even a few attending the wounded stopped and looked to him for answers. Before he could say a word, one of his own people point the finger at Becker.
"You led them here. You've killed us all!"
"We were out there fighting and dying today for all of us!" Becker shouted back.
"We should have gone ourselves; piss poor excuse for soldiers this lot!"
Kelly leapt forward and stood between them as the two men rushed at each other, ready to start an all out war among themselves.
"Pack it in!" he ordered.
They backed off and all went silent, waiting for him to continue.
"Whatever is coming for us, we aren't done yet! I told you the only thing we exist to do now is kill as many of those bastards as we could in the time we had left. So they're coming for us. Targets for our guns, a chance to up our kill count. You all know what to do. Take up positions!"
Nobody moved for a few seconds, and then suddenly they leapt into motion as if responding with muscle memory.
"Lock this place down!"
Becker was rushing past him, but Kelly reached out and stopped him.
"Finally time to put that armour to use."
Becker nodded in agreement.
"Not exactly what I had in mind, but we'll do our duty."
He reached for the foliage covering his tank, dragging it away to reveal the vehicle all ready to move as the rest of his crew climbed aboard. He leapt onto the hull and looked back to Kelly one last time.
“You know this is the end, right?”
“Yeah, maybe. But, Captain, I’ve heard that so many times, it is starting to get a little boring. Maybe I don’t believe it anymore. Maybe we really are immortal.”
“Like Colonel Taylor and his hooligans…the Immortals? Maybe that nickname was given a little hastily.”
“Yes, and maybe they are still alive up there, somewhere. If I know Taylor, he’s probably kicking back and enjoying himself right about now. Taking in a new life somewhere far from all this.”
“And you really believe that?”
“I like to think so. If only because it makes me laugh to think of him living in defiance of these bastards.”
“Isn’t that what we’re doing?”
“Yes. Let’s focus on that living part. We might get out of this yet.”
Becker laughed as he climbed into the top turret and pulled his helmet on. Kelly left to go about his business. Even over the sound of the tanks firing up, he could hear the roar of Mech engines in the sky and explosions half a kilometre away at their outer perimeter.
Kelly wanted to go forward with them to the front, but he knew he had to stay put. Everyone knew their part, and they were promptly falling into place. Becker rocked as his driver rolled the vehicle forwards and quickly accelerated to the northern entrance. The thick forest and rocks kept the bunker well hidden and funnelled the armour down a few narrow corridors. But Kelly was certain it would not be long before airborne infantry hit them.
As he stepped back into the bunker, he headed for the anti-aircraft control room. He stepped in and found a man and a woman sitting at the controls. They were little more than screens and joysticks; the guns on the roof were remotely controlled from deep within the reinforced roof of the facility.
“Ready?” he asked them.
He didn’t know either of their names, but it didn’t matter anymore.
“You used these systems before?”
“Not in anger,” replied the woman.
“You will soon enough.”
* * *
Becker could hear the fire loud and clear now, and as he ducked down inside the turret, a pulse raced just a few metres overhead. He quickly hit the hatch switch so that it slid across above him, and finally he was encased in the turret’s armour. It was comforting to be within the vehicle, but he also remembered all to well how fearsome the Mech weapons could be.
Two of the vehicles in his squadron were already positioned ahead in hull down positions they had dug out weeks before.
“All right, boys,” he said through the comms system, “Weeks of pissing about in soft skin rubbish, time to bring out the big guns. Let’s show them what we’ve got.”
His driver brought them right up to the defence lines without him having to say a word. They all knew the plan well enough. Before they had come to a halt, a Mech vehicle came into view, and Becker looked on his display screens. The gunner had already taken aim with their stabilised gun.
“Fire!” he shouted.
The shot rang out just as they came to a standstill, and Becker watched with glee. The powerful round struck the lower hull of the enemy vehicle and went through it with little resistance at all. Even though he could see it was one of their lighter assault vehicles, it still brought a smile to his face.
The auto-loading magazine fed cannon was good to go in less than two seconds after the impact, and Becker was already looking for targets. The commander's seat in the turret viewed a display screen a metre tall that showed their surroundings. It almost gave the impression he was all alone out in the wilderness. Up above him were four screens giving a view overhead. He looked up to see Mech aircraft passing overhead.
“Damn, that didn’t take them long.”
“Why don’t they just bomb us to hell?” asked Cody, the driver.
“Maybe they fancied a fight, just as we did,” replied Becker.
He knew it was an unlikely reason, but he couldn’t find anything better to say. He caught a glimmer of movement on one screen and looked carefully at another Mech vehicle passing through the foliage up ahead. The armour-clad warriors at its flanks surrounded it.
“All right, you sons of bitches, let’s take that mother down!”
His gunner quickly traversed the gun, and Becker yelled, “Fire!”
The shot glanced off the sloped frontal armour.
“Shit,” Becker said to himself.
He opened his mouth to voice further commands, but the gunner was already ahead of him. He had taken aim low on the vehicle’s hull. Becker nodded in approval.
The shot rang out, and their target ignited into flames, causing the troops either side to scatter.
“Hell, yes! Must have hit something serious!”
Pulses flashed out from the vehicle in all directions as if the ammunition had gone off.
“Another few of those, please!” Becker called out.
He grinned to himself and studied the scene before them again, as Cody opened up with the two hull-mounted Reitech machine guns. They tore through the Mechs who still advanced on them, despite their losses. Becker reached across to his controls and hit the play button on his own personal choice of music. It was classic German metal, and he cranked it up loud. He nodded, taking in the atmosphere and shouting, “Fire!” as another enemy vehicle came into view. Just as before, they aimed low, and it burst into flames.
He could see more aircraft closing in on his screens overhead but knew he had to rely on others to deal with them. He looked back to his screens and smiled. Just as Becker was starting to enjoy himself, a huge flash burst on their right side. He was forced to look away from the screens to avoid being blinded.
As the light faded, he saw several of the side cameras of their vehicle had been destroyed, and all he could see were a few wisps of smoke at the edge of the front and rear cameras. Despite being unable to see the carnage for himself, he knew the vehicle beside them had been utterly destroyed by a devastating hit. He shook his head; he knew every one of the crew well. But he quickly turned his attention back to what was going on ahead.
The gunner, Christian, was aimed on target and awaiting the command to fire.
“What are you waiting for?” he demanded, “Fire, and keep firing!”
The turret immediately rocked as the gun sprang to life. Becker turned his attention to movement at the top of the screen in front of him. He could see a large and bulky aircraft dip and begin a strafing run towards them.
He knew they could do nothing against aerial targets but hope their armour was sufficient, and that their allies were covering them. Barrels on the wings flashed from pulse cannons firing, and the shots landed all around them. Tracer fire rushed towards the craft as the bunkers' weapons fired back, but they seemed to have little effect.
Becker saw flashes beneath his feet where a pulse ripped into the hull of the tank; he knew Cody could not have survived it. Another few pulses struck their tank, throwing shrapnel about the interior. One piece embedded in Becker’s helmet, and the force of the impact snapped his head back into the padded cushion behind.