Authors: Nick S. Thomas
Battle Earth IX
By Nick S. Thomas
Copyright © 2013 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.
The outbreak of war on Earth between human adversaries shocked the foundations of the alliance of nations that had fought so desperately to keep Earth free and the human race alive.
Mechs now serve openly beside humans in the UEN armies, and the use of clones is a poorly guarded secret that came to light too late to make a difference. When the forces of the UEN took control of the Earth Defence Grid, with the intention of turning it on Earth cities, it became clear that peace was no longer an option.
Taylor was the man for the job, to save Earth from the devastation of its own weapons, but he had a choice - save his friends or save the planet. Unable to let his friends die, he compromised and destroyed Earth's defences in the process of making them all safe. Taylor only ever had the best intentions, but has his unwavering loyalty to his friends put Earth in the greatest danger it has ever faced?
Taylor's eyes opened slowly, but he couldn't see much at all. His sight was blurred, and his head was pounding. He could just about hear an occasional drone that sounded like metal on metal. He could taste his own blood, which was never a good sign, and the air was stale. A face appeared before him, and even though he could not see clearly, the outline was enough to tell him it was Eli.
For a moment, he had no recollection of where they were or why, but as he looked around and saw the body of the ship's XO strewn across the bridge, it began to come back to him. Parker had still not said a word as she looked at him in amazement. She finally turned to someone else beside her.
A huge figure stepped up and loomed over her. It was Jafar. He reached down and hauled Taylor to his feet, without checking to see if he was injured. His back clicked and his joints crunched as he was hauled upright, but he had no choice other than stand on his own two feet. He shook his head at the lack of finesse, and it too clicked as it loosened up.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like shit, Parker."
"Can nothing really kill you?" Herbert asked him.
Taylor looked over at the Sergeant. He had a bandage wrapped around his head and covering his left eye, yet seemed unbothered by his injuries.
"I wouldn't be so sure."
His sight was coming back as was his hearing, and yet the pounding of metal on metal had not stopped. Every impact felt like a hammer to his aching head.
"What in hell is that god awful pounding?" he asked.
Parker's face turned from the relief and hope from when he had awoken to despair and fear.
"What is it?"
He looked to Jafar for answers, knowing the alien would give him a straight response.
"The remained Mechs aboard are sweeping the ship and eliminating all humans."
"All? The crew as well?"
"As far as we can tell, yeah."
"So the wolves are at our door?"
"That about sums it up, Sir," Herbert replied.
"Any word from Jones?"
"He survived the crash but no idea now. Last contact, he was going radio silent with hostiles nearby."
Taylor looked around to see what assets they had at their disposal. A dozen of them were still on their feet. Several others lay dead, and three were conscious but unable to walk. The survivors of the bridge crew were huddled in one corner and under guard by one of his own. As he tried to think, the banging on the door interfered with his every thought.
"What do we do?" asked Parker.
"Make that goddamn noise stop!" he yelled.
"You want to open the door? We have no idea how many are out there. They've been hitting it with everything they’ve got for the last ten minutes, to no avail. We're safe in here."
"On a sinking ship?"
The thought hadn't crossed her mind. The wave of Mechs beating at the door had been the focus of their attention. Taylor strode over to the prisoners. They looked just as terrified as Parker did when he first awoke.
"Those aliens want to rip everyone of us apart, you can see that, right?"
They nodded cautiously.
"This war is human versus alien, always has been. You can either stand with us and fight your way out of here, or die at their hands. When we get clear, you can stay with us, or hand yourselves in as POWs, but right now you have a choice. What'll it be?"
"We'll fight," said one of them, without hesitation.
"Release them, and get whatever weapons and ammo you can."
His own people looked uneasy with the situation, but they dared not oppose him.
"We're gonna get ourselves out of this heap, if we have to rip it apart with our bare hands."
* * *
"Run!" Jones shouted.
Gunfire struck the ceiling above him, and a panel smashed down over his head, but he kept moving.
"Where the hell are we going, Captain?" Herrera called out, breathlessly.
"I got no idea, away from them!"
They passed a few Navy crew, who did not even notice who they were, but as they reached an intersection ahead, Jones was brought to an abrupt halt when he almost fell over a line of German Marines. They raised their weapons at each other, but neither fired - it was a standoff. No one said a word as they tried to work out what to do. They heard gunfire off to their flank, Jones and Herrera turned ever so slightly to look. Twenty metres down, Mechs were stomping on past at another intersection, and bodies were dropping around them.
"You see that?" Jones asked the man at the front, "They're killing every human they find. It's us against them now."
The German didn't respond. Jones could see he was a Sergeant called Lang, but he looked newly promoted and was young for the rank. Charlie doubted the man had ever seen combat until that day. He lowered his own rifle, revealing Taylor's nametag. It immediately caught the man's eye. It was a lie to continue on in the persona of the Colonel, but he wasn't going to forgo any advantage he had.
"I don't want to fight you, Sergeant. That’s the enemy, right there. They are the ones tearing your friends apart. Come with me, and let's get out of here together."
The Sergeant looked back to his men. None of them looked keen on a fight. He slowly turned back and accepted.
"Okay, we will fight beside you."
"All right, where are we right now, and how do we get to the bridge?"
It's a few decks above us, but why would you want to go there? We need to get off this ship."
"I have a few friends to find first. We stick together, and we double our odds of survival, what'll it be?"
The Sergeant accepted once again.
"Lead the way," Jones ordered.
The dozen marines Lang had with him stuck close at his back, as the Sergeant formed up beside Jones. As they began to move, he swamped Jones with questions.
"Is this another invasion? Is this happening all over again? Did we do this? Did we choose the wrong side?"
Jones didn't want to be the bearer of bad news, but he had no answers the Sergeant would want to hear.
"Just focus on what's before us. Whatever happened two minutes ago, two months ago, two years ago, it doesn't matter now. You can see the threat that lies before you. You put in your all, and that's all that matters."
Lang sighed and smiled a little, at least feeling a little relieved he was not being held to blame. Up ahead, five bodies of crewmembers were scattered across the deck. Lang slowed on reaching them, staring wide-eyed at the corpses.
"Nothing you can do for them now," Jones said quietly.
He grabbed the man's arm and dragged him onwards.
"The bridge, Sergeant, lead the way."
Lang didn't say a word, but he did follow the command. Screams rang out from up ahead, and they stopped for just a moment. More crewmembers were rushing towards them and clearly being chased.
"How many Mechs did you have aboard?" asked Jones.
The Sergeant shrugged. It was presumably information beyond his pay grade.
"Must be hundreds of them," said Silva, who had worked his way up to the front.
How can anyone have ever thought this was a good idea?
Jones asked himself, shaking his head.
The fleeing crewmembers reached them but made no attempt to stop. They barrelled past the troops.
"Where are they heading?"
"Same place we should be, Colonel, the lifeboats."
It was a tempting proposition, but he wasn't going to leave Taylor and the rest of the Inter-Allied behind. He prayed they were still alive, but he already knew Mitch would be at least. Lang went to move forward, but Jones grabbed his arm.
"Where are you going?"
"Who do you think those crew were running from? Take up position, and be ready to fire."
The Sergeant looked sheepish, but he looked back and gave the signal to his section. The corridor went silent for a moment as they lined the corridor, taking what little cover from the support beams they could. Jones' people used their shields for extra cover. A moment later they heard the heavy footsteps of Mechs stomping towards them. It was an obnoxious noise that still sent shivers down Jones' spine, but he’d learnt to bear it long ago.
The Sergeant looked terrified, to the extent Jones wondered if he had ever fired his weapon in anger. He knew the answer was probably no.
"When you see them, you remember they’re the ones who are killing your comrades, you hear?" he whispered to Lang.
The Sergeant nodded and flicked the safety off his weapon.
Christ! He still had it on,
A second later two Mechs stepped into view with their weapons at the ready. They were completely unaware of the gun line they were running into and had no time to respond. Dozens of shots rang out and riddled the creatures until they dropped down stone dead.
As they hit the deck, more stepped past them, their weapons firing. It was the same relentless advance they had gotten so used to seeing from the alien soldiers. Jones felt a heavy impact be absorbed by his shield, and several other shots smashed the bulkhead around them, but to little effect. Just five Mechs passed over the bodies of the first two and were cut down almost as quickly by the volley of automatic fire. Jones could see a look of almost surprise in Lang's face as the corridor fell silent.
"Come on!" he yelled, as he moved forward, expecting the Sergeant to guide him. When they reached the Mechs, he noticed a slight movement in one and fired a three-shot burst into the creature without breaking stride. Lang almost fell over in surprise as the weapon discharged, but Jones pulled him along, in order to have no further time wasted.
"Elevators are out, so we'll have to take the stairs," said Lang.
"Lead the way."
The Sergeant wanted nothing more than to drop back and let someone else do so, but Jones was adamant he should be at the front. Lang took ten steps, then stopped and looked back at Jones, as if asking ‘how much further do I have to do this?
But Jones simply nodded and gestured for him to carry on. They got to the entrance to the next floor. There was no sign of life, just a few screams of either agony or panic in the distance.
"We can't help them," Jones said.
He knew he was asking the Sergeant to leave his people when he wasn't willing to do the same, but the Sergeant complied anyway.
As they turned onto the next stairs, they came to an abrupt halt. They saw a figure on the stairs above them. They quickly raised their weapons ready to shoot, but soon realised it was a marine cowering against the wall. Jones lowered his weapon and stepped up cautiously to the man. He looked terrified and couldn't even bring himself to raise his weapon, simply remaining frozen and sitting on the steps. Jones couldn't see any visible sign of injury.
"You okay, marine?"
He got no response, so he slapped the man's helmet firmly. Life suddenly returned to the man's eyes, and all his attention was turned on Jones.
He shook his head.
"Then get your arse up and get in this fight," Jones spoke to him sternly.
He grabbed the marine and hauled him to his feet.
"We're fighting our way off this boat. You want to join us, or stay down there and die?"
His nametag read 'Fuchs', but Taylor could see no sign of rank. He couldn't be older than twenty and had a boyish face that had never known war.
"Fuchs?" Jones asked.
The marine looked down at his uniform and looked confused, but then turned to Lang who he seemed to recognise.
"It's okay, Private. They're with us."
Jones grabbed Fuch's helmet and pulled him round, forcing him to look right at him.