Authors: Nick S. Thomas
Battle Earth XII
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.
For years humanity had fought to protect Earth and her colonies. Millions died fighting the first war against the Alien Lord Karadag. Millions more suffered the same fate against Demiran as humanity faced its second invasion. The forces of Earth fought Demiran to a bitter standstill and finally destroyed his fleet, stranding the aliens’ armies on Earth where they could eventually be destroyed.
But that wasn't the end. Erdogan, the most powerful of the Krycenaean Lords, had yet to make his move. And when he did, it came in with brutal and ruthless effectiveness. The power, resources, and tactical prowess of this alien leader made Colonel Mitch Taylor wonder if they had ever made any progress against their technologically advanced and relentless enemy.
All hope for Earth was lost in just a few short weeks of brutal combat. Those who could, fled from the planet in a desperate bid to save humanity. Just three million souls managed to escape the Solar System. Among them the remnants of Colonel Taylor's Inter-Allied Regiment.
With dwindling resources, and an ever-present risk of pursuit by the enemy, the most unlikely of encounters occurred. Another race was discovered - The Aranui. A race more advanced than both human and Krycenaean, but with fewer than one thousand population. The threat of Erdogan eventually forced humans and Aranui into an alliance against their common enemy.
Access to advanced technologies seemed to give hope of taking Earth back from Erdogan and his vast armies. A first mission to Earth proved successful, but when Taylor learnt of Commander Kelly's capture by enemy forces, he was compelled to act. A successful rescue attempt appeared to pave the way for victory, until a horrifying fact was revealed in a bloodthirsty fashion. Kelly and the hundreds of soldiers rescued from Earth were not who they appeared to be, but were enemy clones. Taylor had been deceived and paid a dear price.
Eli Parker died before his eyes, and many more of his comrades fell as the clones were revealed and butchered them, including the Admiral of the fleet and his command staff. The clones were defeated, but not before inflicting a crippling blow to those who thought they had escaped Erdogan's reach.
It was clear to Taylor that there was only one way the war could be ended - kill Erdogan, and he was willing to sacrifice anything he had to achieve that goal.
"You ready to kick some ass?" Silva screamed.
The marines all around him roared with enthusiasm to have their blood lust fulfilled.
"Are you ready to wade in rivers of blue blood?"
The volume only increased as the Sergeant Major psyched them up for combat. He looked around and smiled as he could feel the atmosphere was thick with enthusiasm. There were just twenty-five marines aboard the Eagle assault copter, but their response in the confined space was electric. He closed his eyes for just a few seconds and listened to the enthusiastic cheers echo in his eardrums. For just a moment he could suspend reality and imagine he was at a stadium before a big game. Then he opened his eyes once again and caught sight of Colonel Taylor.
The Colonel's face was deadly serious. He seemed to stare into the distance in complete concentration or a daze. Either way he was in his own world and appeared to have missed everything Silva had said. He was a different man since Eli Parker’s death, and that was plain for all to see. Light flooded in through the cockpit as they passed through the atmosphere and into a gleaming bright blue sky.
There was no way Taylor could not have heard the roar of Silva's voice, but he seemed so distant it didn't seem that he was deliberately ignoring him. Even so, it was a worry for Silva, as he needed to know he could rely on their leader. He pushed his way through two marines to stand in front of him. He slapped one hand down on his shoulder hard enough that it forced Taylor to turn slightly and take note of him. He glared at him as if to burn him for daring to put a hand on him. But Silva still wasn't sure if that was scorn or merely a vague blankness.
"A distracted marine..."
He waited for Taylor to finish his sentence, but the response never came.
"Is a dead marine," he added.
Taylor made no sign of acknowledgement at all.
"Come on, Colonel, give me something. I need to know your head is in this, in the right place."
Taylor slowly shook his head.
"This is the only place I have left," he replied, "All I have is the need to fight. I am not distracted. I am more focused than I ever have been."
The statement took Silva back and scared him a little. He could see Taylor had become a little unhinged. It reminded him of Jones after he had come back to them from being a captive of the enemy, but he dared not say so.
"ETA two minutes!" Rains called out.
Taylor nodded in acknowledgement and turned back to his marines. His platoon leader Lieutenant Matthews stood beside him and Captain Morris. The former MDF officer had struggled to find his place amongst the Inter-Allied, and finally settled as Taylor's number two. He never strayed far from the Colonel, and Taylor was comfortable with that. It was proof that he had at least saved one of Kelly's people. The two Germans, Sergeant Lang and Private Fuchs were behind him. They had become hardened veterans and long earned the right to call themselves part of the Regiment. Corporal Herrera pushed his way forward to better hear what Taylor was about to say, his hand never leaving the grab handle bar above them.
"Still alive, Corporal?" Taylor asked.
"Somebody has to watch your back," he replied.
Taylor nodded. With so many faces having changed over the years, it was good to have marines like him and Silva still at his side. All of them looked weary. It was hard to tell if it was through lack of sleep or a general weariness of war, perhaps both. Taylor could see they would be a hard crowd to get excited about anything, and that made Silva's achievements all the more impressive.
"We hit this facility and we seriously hamper the enemy’s ability to repair their aircraft. Air superiority isn't something we have seen in a long time, and taking this place down is a good step towards getting it back! We've hit their supply lines, and we've hit their convoys and patrols. Now it's time to hit a little harder! When we get down there, I want to see nothing short of complete and utter annihilation of any Mech bastard you find. However many shots you think you need to bring one down, you double it. Double up on charges to destroy vital targets. Stab those fuckers until they are sawn in two! No mercy, let's make them pay for ever dreaming they could have our land!"
The marines roared with excitement, all but Jafar who loomed over them at the back of the copter. He was carrying so many explosive charges on his armour that he looked almost twice his regular size. Taylor nodded to acknowledge him, and he returned the gesture, though he didn't seem to possess the level of excitement and blood lust the others did.
"Thirty seconds!" yelled Rains.
They felt the reverse thrusters kick in and bring them to a halt in what seemed to be almost instantaneous.
"Go, go, go!" cried Rains.
The doors either side of the craft slid open, and Taylor leapt up without a word and before anyone else could move. He went forward with such determination it was an inspiration to all that went after him. As Taylor hit the ground, a pulse landed just a metre away from his feet, and he knew they were in for a hard fight. He raised his shield in front of him, and another shot glanced off the thick armour. He quickly scanned the area for targets and could see fire coming from a tower up ahead. He started advancing and laying down cover fire when a beam struck the tower, and it was engulfed in flames. He turned to see two of the Guardians had landed just thirty metres to his flank.
"Hell, yeah!" Herrera shouted as they celebrated the immense destructive firepower of their allies’ weapons.
God help us if we ever have to fight them again,
He turned back to the fight and rushed forward to the cover of some sort of maintenance vehicle that was five metres long and taller than he stood. He smashed into the flank of the heavy vehicle as pulses landed around him, and Morris staggered and rolled up beside him.
"Thought this was going to be easy?"
"What gave you that impression?"
Morris shrugged. "You made it sound like a walk in the park."
"Compared to some of the shit we've been through, yeah."
Several pulses smashed into the vehicle above them and sent splashes of the burning hot material spraying close over their heads. They quickly ducked down a little lower.
"Is that what we measure things by now? How much better they were than the shittiest times?"
"Seems reasonable," replied Taylor as more pulses smashed into the vehicle at their backs.
Morris couldn't tell if he was joking or not, so he just shook his head. Taylor got up and peered through a head size hole that had been ripped through the upper skin of the vehicle. It provided a convenient loophole from which to survey the enemy positions up ahead. He could see gunfire coming from the slit in the side of a building that was clearly a well-concealed bunker. But before he could say a word, he heard Silva shouting and turned to see dozens of Mech pilots rushing for the craft lined up to their flank.
"Don't let them get to the ships!"
Taylor raised his rifle and took aim. With his first burst he killed one outright and fire began to pour into them, but many made it into the cover of their craft.
Just as he cursed, one of their own craft dropped in low, and a Guardian leapt from it at a height of almost twenty metres. The huge UAV Mech landed dead on the cockpit of one of the enemy craft, crushing the pilot in the process. It was upright and firing just a second after landing, and Taylor watched in amazement as the Guardian blasted the craft and the crews apart before they could get off the ground. A few of the pilots tried to scatter, and Taylor was quick to shoot them down before they could reach cover. Morris couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger.
"It's a turkey shoot," he muttered.
"Yeah? Well best make the most of it," replied Taylor.
Morris raised his gun and took aim at one of the pilots, but he hesitated, and Taylor fired three shots into his target before he could make a decision.
"You lost your stomach for this or what?" Taylor asked him furiously.
"I've just been on the other end of this, and I prayed for mercy and an end to it. I can't do it."
He looked at Taylor as if expecting him to agree and accept his statement, but instead Taylor punched him in the face. The strike wasn't full force, but it was enough to take him off balance, as much by force as surprise, and he toppled over to the ground. Taylor rushed over to him and forced his knee onto Morris' throat so that he was pinned down.
"You hesitate and marines die. You start feeling for the enemy and marines die. You do anything but your job, and that is killing Mechs, and you will cause marines to die. You let that happen, and I'll shoot you myself."
Morris was shocked by his words, and in that moment realised what a different man Taylor had become. He wasn't just angry and at a loss, he was entirely engulfed with a rage that would have him do nothing else but kill.
"What'll it be? Will you do your job, or do I have to relieve you of your duties?"
Morris finally nodded in agreement. Taylor got off him and offered him his hand before hauling him to his feet.
"No time in this war for compassion. Save that for when it's over," added Taylor.
He went back to the cover of the vehicle and took aim at targets further into the base. Silva moved up beside Morris, and the Captain looked to him for answers.
"Colonel's right," said Silva.
Morris stopped him and grabbed his arm.
"When this is all over, we're gonna have to live with those aliens, you know that, right?"
Silva shook his head. "We don't know what the hell’s gonna happen. But imagining a world where we have won this war is a luxury we can't afford right now, and it won't ever happen while we piss about discussing the possibility." He shrugged off Morris' hand and carried on to Taylor's side.
"King should be here by now!" said Silva.
"Yeah, well he ain't," Taylor said and activated his comms.
"Anders, push that left flank. Robinson, see if you can't breach that bunker."
A salvo of pulses smashed into one of the Guardians. It was damaged in multiple areas and was forced to take cover behind a small hangar building where another joined it.
"Little more resistance that you expected?"
"Nope, Sergeant, just about right. Facility like this was never gonna be an easy take," replied Taylor.
He looked around the corner of the vehicle and fired a few shots for suppression, but he couldn't make out much of a target. As he did so, he noticed another bunker encased in a building as the other had been, and multiple pulses flashed towards him from its location. He was forced to duck back down for cover. Taylor looked over to Robinson's platoon to see they were deploying both a pig for suppressing fire and an AT launcher.
"Think it'll go through that?" Silva asked.
"We can only hope."
They watched as the launcher was fired and the high velocity explosive charge rushed towards the first bunker. It went right through one of the vision slits and exploded. The eruption shook the ground beneath them. The front of the bunker was blown off, and part of the building above it collapsed to the ground, burying whoever was still alive inside. Cheers rang out, but just a split second later a burst of pulse fire struck the man who had fire the AT launcher. His loader hauled him back into cover, and their celebrations were immediately halted.
"Fuck!" Taylor yelled.
He simply couldn't contain himself as he watched the wounded marine being hauled into cover, and his prospects didn't look good. As a medic reached him, the loader went right back to the weapon, put in a charge, and took aim at the second bunker. She lifted the device onto her shoulder and squeezed the trigger. They all watched with anticipation as the shot soared towards the defences but impacted on the surface. The explosion sent a burst of debris and dust out in front of the bunker, but it soon settled and showed only minimal damage.
They all watched in amazement as the woman continued to load another shot, but as she did so, a pulse struck the launcher itself and it burst in two. The medic reached forward and hauled her into cover just before a salvo of fire struck the place where she had been standing just moments before. Then they heard the most horrible of sounds; the rapid fire anti-aircraft Mech weaponry that was like a Gatling gun going off. The shots were coming from behind the bunker positions, and they looked up just in time to see one of their own copters burst into flames and plunge into a nearby hangar.