Authors: Martin Schulte
Martin V. Schulte
Copyright © 2016 by Martin Schulte
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover Design by Selkie Hope –
Edited by Amy Kushner Schulte
Feedback about the book is always welcome at:
Printed in the United States of America
For Mom, the Kids, and My Love.
Special Thanks to:
Yale and Donna
Justin and Michelle
NEAR NELLYSFORD, VIRGINIA
A spark. It all started with a little flicker. With one synapse, two microbial masses were bridged by an electrifying jolt. Tiny packets of information were transferred, then another cell joined, and then another. A firestorm started and a flurry of communication sparked through the connections. Then, in one communal flash, a thought occurred. The thought of one self.
“I am Rho.”
The combination of those cells reached sentience. It had no eyes for sight, no ears for hearing, no nose for smell, no senses, only its thoughts. It knew it was alive. It painstakingly searched for more connections to feed its need for stimulation.
found those severed connections and integrated with them. It felt an odd presence. It felt that it was not alone. It shared that body with something, someone.
A stream of information flowed through a vast chain of microbes. It was from a source too distant to identify, but the data came with authority, like a parent directing its child, and
was compelled to listen. It learned of the humans and it learned that it was inside of one of those vessels.
understood but the umbilical was suddenly severed and it had to think on its own again. It pondered the possibility that the human would communicate.
“Human… human… can you hear me?”
waited for a response.
“Yes, I can hear you,” the meek voice replied.
felt the human thinking and a flash of light entered into
“What is that human? I’ve done you no harm.”
“Am I dreaming? Are you my conscience?” the faint voice returned.
“Human, I am inside of you, alive.”
There was no reply. Then,
’s thoughts were blinded by another flash of light.
“Human, why are you doing this?” Rho
begged, because the light was punishment that it did not deserve.
Something entered its thoughts. Not a flash but an image filled its mind. Three blue masses walked away in a room of blue and red light.
did not understand. It decided it would be best to observe rather than directly contact the human, for its own safety, for its own sanity.
“What were they? Where were they going?” Rho
The world outside stood still in that moment of time. The sun shone brightly on that cloudless autumn day in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not that any of the soldiers from the Avalon Militia could see it or would ever see it again. The filtered light barely broke through the smoke and chaos. The smoke hovered above the ragtag mob attempting to attack the alien bunker. There was no other choice but to take the offensive. Their numbers were dwindling because of a passive defense. They had two days to prepare for that assault. It was enough time to mobilize but not enough time to
mobilize. That was when the brief silence that filled the air was raucously broken by an explosion. The alien structure had finally been breached.
Simon, a tall, slender man, followed orders precisely as they were given. This was the exact reason he was the leader of Assault Group Seven. He had imagined that if he were to see an alien spacecraft in his lifetime, it would have flashing lights and the fanfare seen in movies. Simon’s imagination was all wrong. The exterior of the bunker appeared to be completely sealed with a metallic coating. The height of the structure was unknown. It blended perfectly with the gray hued smoke lingering above it. He examined the jagged edges of the opening. The gap was large enough to fit one soldier at a time. Red and blue fluid fell from the sides mixing into a purple pool. The fluids flowed from the elevated floor and seeped through the grass into the ground. He quickly searched for hazards. Seeing no sparks or any other signs of electricity, he was going in. He tried to look into the sky one last time as the bellowing aftermath further blocked out the sun. There wasn’t a hint of blue in his sight. Defeated, he faced the crack.
“Move ahead, move ahead!” Simon yelled.
Simon inched his way toward the small opening. His squad watched his hand fly upward indicating for them to stop. Waiting for his next command, they watched Simon as his head was swallowed by the darkness. A blue orb with a buzzing hum narrowly missed him and splattered on the back wall. The residual illumination slowly dissipated into the wall and darkness returned.
Simon’s heart raced from the near hit. He took a step backwards and stumbled as he withdrew from the crack. He leaned against the wall and stood motionless as he caught his breath, and his wits. His sleeve felt glued to his arm from wiping the sweat from his brow. The four other members of his team had moved next to the wall. Crouched, they waited for his next command.
“Sir, what next?” Marcus asked.
“Sir… sir… sir… are you alright?” Jean-Paul asked, tapping Simon on his shoulder.
Simon, after eluding death’s grip, thought about this huge undertaking and that his team probably would not complete its mission, let alone survive the ordeal. He shook his head and said, “The longer we wait, the worse it’s going to get.” Simon faced the opening and lifted his fist. He spread his fingers and they dropped for the silent countdown.
“5…” Marcus, former SEAL, an expert marksman, gripped his gun tightly, readying himself for entry.
“4…” Brigand, the demolition expert, the man responsible for enabling the breach, pushed himself against the wall. He was going to be the last to go into the dark void.
“3…” Okoye, Marcus’ best friend and just as lethal a shooter, was at the ready.
“2…” Jean-Paul, a Frenchman conscripted by the militia, made the sign of the cross.
“1…” Simon said without hesitation.
Simon thrust himself into the opening. Marcus, losing Simon as he broke the plane of darkness, followed closely behind. The darkness disappeared as illumination filled the space. He brushed against Simon and avoided the onslaught of blue orbs. The light emanated from the walls and Marcus found cover. He crouched behind a metal box with the same coating and texture as the exterior of the structure. He looked over his shoulder toward Simon.
A large hum filled the room as a myriad of blue orbs flew through the air. One orb met with Simon’s body. He spotted the source of the shooting. Simon tried to return fire but none of the bullets flew toward the faint figure in front of him. He looked down. His upper arm dangled but his forearm, hand, and gun had been erased. They had all disappeared when the blue ball melded with his body. A buzz approached Simon and he looked up just in time to see another blue orb. Simon’s legs buckled and he fell to the ground.
Marcus knew Simon was dead. The large crater in his chest was the key indicator. There was nothing to do but look forward and attack. He’d pay his respects later, that was, if there was a later. With his back pressed tightly against the metal box, Marcus looked toward the shooter. The buzz, hum, and crack continued but he couldn’t see who was shooting in all of the chaos. Then he spotted it, the glowing blue of an orbitizer core. The orbitizer was named not only because of the orbs that came out of it but also because it vaporized its target. He would never forget that color, the painted waters of a beautiful tropical island. The only joy in that color now was that he could aim at it. He raised his gun.
Marcus didn’t wait to pull the trigger. In regards to his bullets, he chose quantity over quality. He felt the kick of his gun beat against his shoulder. Okoye fell into position next to Marcus as he shot. Okoye pulled back the bolt of his rifle and tapped the magazine. He inched his head over the top of the metal box to find Marcus’ target. He saw the same glowing core that Marcus did and he raised his rifle and engaged. The silhouette fell to the ground. The core of its orbitizer lost its luster and went dark.
Marcus and Okoye rejoiced and gave each other a high-five. Their enjoyment was short-lived as another set of blue orbs hurtled toward them. Quickly, they took cover and saw a second blue core. In concert, they took aim and shot. Another silhouette fell to the ground and its orbitizer core dimmed. They stood up, apprehensive about high-fives, and their vision adjusted to the darkness as the blue spectacle of warfare ebbed to black.
“Flashlights on,” Marcus whispered to Okoye.
“Jean-Paul is out, he was hit,” Brigand yelled.
“See what you can do, we have to continue to move,” Marcus yelled back.
Brigand was hovering over Jean-Paul. His head bobbed as he looked for injuries. Jean-Paul was missing his middle, ring, and pinkie fingers. He held up his hand like an imaginary gun and said, “Just wrap it up tight.” Brigand reached into his pocket and pulled out a gauze wrapping. Jean-Paul clenched his teeth as Brigand grabbed his hand to apply the wrap.
The fallen aliens and their orbitizer cores lay on the ground. Marcus and Okoye bounded toward the alien casualties.
“Those are some nasty things,” Okoye said, and bent over to pick up the orbitizer.
“Are you talking about the Trolls or the orbitizer?” Marcus asked.
“Yes,” Okoye said, and looked up with a grin.
The aliens, colloquially called Trolls, were labeled by the survivors of the first attack on Charlottesville. Named after the mythical beings in Norse mythology, the Trolls were wiry and seven-feet tall. Their skin was as blue as cobalt. But their heads were the reason the survivors named them Trolls. Long pointy ears draped down the sides of their heads. Their lower lip reached to the tip of their oversized nose, a nose that took up a quarter of the Troll’s face. Triangular nails extended from rugged cobalt blue three-fingered claws. Their imposing mass struck fear in those who’d survived. It killed those who didn’t.
Okoye’s hand wrapped around the grip of the orbitizer.
The orbitizer was the color and weight of a cirrus cloud. There wasn’t a trigger but his hand fit comfortably around a soft pad. The barrel was pristine. Even after firing the myriad of shots, this agent of death looked like it had been field stripped and cleaned.
One of the Trolls began to gyrate. Its palm slammed into the ground as it rose. Marcus raised his gun and shot the Troll in its bald head. He watched as the bullet pushed out of its skull and its skin reformed. He didn’t wait for it to move again. He emptied his gun into its head until it bled and stopped moving. Marcus dropped the clip from his gun.
“Did you see what that thing just did?” Okoye asked in amazement.
“That must be why they’re so hard to kill,” Marcus said, and shoved another clip into the magazine.
Okoye held the orbitizer to his face and analyzed it.
“I bet I can do some damage with this thing,” Okoye said.
“Nobody has been able to figure out how those things shoot. What makes you think that you can?” Marcus asked as he raised an eyebrow.
“Trust me, I’m going to test this thing out first… watch,” Okoye said, and smiled.
Okoye turned around to attempt a test fire. Marcus, wearing his commlink, made the squad’s first report to Command.
“Hotel Bravo, this is Alpha Seven, first area sec-,” Marcus stopped as the door slid open.
“Another Troll!” Okoye hollered, and he circled back. He placed his hand on the orbitizer and squeezed the soft pad with all of the strength his hand could muster. Nothing, absolutely nothing. He realized that time was short. He reached down for his gun but it was too late. The blue orb ejected from the Troll’s orbitizer and hit him straight in his torso. The orb burrowed deep into Okeye’s chest cavity. He fell backwards and blood welled into the emptiness formerly occupied by his heart and lungs.
Bullets whizzed past Marcus and penetrated the Troll. It fell to the ground. As Marcus turned around, he saw one-and-a-half handed Jean-Paul standing with his .50 caliber machine gun pointing toward the ceiling. The Frenchman tipped his imaginary cap as smoke came from his gun.
on the floor. Marcus turned toward the Troll and approached its blue body. Before it could move, Marcus shot its head until blood oozed out of the holes.
With the Troll dead, Marcus couldn’t help but stare at Okoye’s static body. He had known Okoye since his first days of boot camp. Okoye had found his peace. Marcus only wished that he could have received peace in a different way.
A sadness filled Marcus as his somber voice went over his commlink.
“Hotel Bravo, this is Alpha Seven, first area secured, over.” Marcus sighed.
Hotel Bravo, the command center coordinating the attack, came back requesting a situational report.
“Alpha Seven, Three, Minus Two, over,” Marcus said, his voice strengthened.
“Proceed to second area and report when secure, out,” a voice came over the commlink.
The radio operator at Command had come back brief and callous. “Some of the other assault groups must have been doing worse than Seven,” Marcus thought.