|Possible ebook cover (too soon?)|
Night of the Second Day
The US Army General climbed aboard the helicopter as the base was evacuated. Many of the personnel and soldiers had already died, their bodies dismantled and absorbed by the massive swarm alien robots. Already there were reports from other parts of the world about the same thing happening where the arrow-shaped landing vehicles had been allowed to burrow deep into the ground.
The alien soldiers of the second wave invasion had been a distraction!
The JH-60X Jethawk helicopter hovered high only momentarily while the jets kicked in and pushed it forward, the blades stopped spinning and acted as wiglets. The helicopter with the jet nacelles was able to move forward at speeds of 800 kilometers per hour.
The mass of tiny robots moved like a rug over the parking lot, leaving nothing behind. The buildings were left as concrete empty husks. The soldiers who were killed or wounded and unable to be rescued were consumed the same way.
The General opened a channel with the Pentagon. “These robot swarms must be collecting resources to manufacture more robots or weapons. I don't know at what point something like that becomes unstoppable. We need to launch Operation Doolittle as soon as possible!”
As the swarms of robots and the larger robots protecting them grew exponentially, even aerial bombardment was was unable to turn the tide. They were almost all deep inside civilian population centers, although cities in their paths were calling for evacuations.
The Pentagon itself was preparing for possible evacuation. The lowest level employees were already being told to get out of the area of the swarms. NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain was being put in charge in case communications went down.B-2 bomber sorties out of Whitman Air Force Base in Missouri were tasked with dropped ground penetration bombs where known alien ships had burrowed into the ground.
Captain Joel Cochran was at the controls of one of these flights, the other member of the crew was Captain Roger McDaniels. Flying just below the speed of sound at fourteen thousand members, their aircraft carried a payload of a single 14,000- kilogram bomb. On the display screen they followed way-points to their target, one of the alien landing ships burrowed deep in the ground.
The weight of the bomb and it's aerodynamic shape would build up quite a lot of speed being dropped from that altitude. The GBUX was designed to open the earth in front of it on impact and slice through the ground to a depth of up to 70 meters. This was not a huge improvement over the MOP or GBU-57 except that the warhead made up much more of the weight, nearly twice as much.
The US Department of Defense had only purchased two-dozen of the bombs, thinking they were overkill. Now there were twenty in the arsenal and all of them were being carried by the remaining fleet of B-2 bombers.
When Captain Cochran loosed the massive bomb at one of the alien ships burrowed deep in the ground near Alice, Texas just north of Dallas, the enemy robots had no idea what was about to happen. The explosion could be heard for many miles, windows were said to rattle in parts of downtown. Although this was unlikely. A large crater was left behind that would one day become a small lake.
While the destruction of many of the burrowed vessels could be considered a victory, the real damage was being carried out by growing swarms of robots. Entire major cities were being evacuated, as they seemed to be the main targets.
Aerial footage of the Pentagon being dismantled and digested by the swarm of robots showed that the world still had a long to go before victory over these aliens could be achieved.
Sgt Frank Gore, Lieutenant Pete Lowery (Royal Marines), Lieutenant Max “action” Jackson, Lieutenant Kim Lu-Hyun (Republic of Korea), Senior Lieutenant Igor Kerensky (Russian Federation) and Lance Corporal James Arlen had been briefed. They knew what was going on around the world. They also knew that the outlook was bleak. They all jumped at the chance to go on the first mission to Nemesis.
The ship would fly itself, they were passengers. The passenger compartment on the small shuttle-like vehicle was cramped, to say the least. First they would have to endure the launch. The Falcon HL2 was the largest and most powerful rocket since Saturn V, as was its predecessor. The XSR-75, looking a lot like a silver can with wins and a pointed nose sat on the top of the rocket, not latched onto the side like the old Space Shuttles.
The rocket itself was actually the main one at the center where the ship and the smallest rocket stage was attached instead of a nose and then there were four more rockets strapped to that one. Once in orbit the small remaining rocket stage would put them on their journey to Nemesis.
“We don't have time to give you much training. The ship is on automatic, it will get you there. You are soldiers, that part you can handle.” The Mission Director and a US Marine Colonel.
It was just a formality that Senior Lieutenant Igor Kerensky was appointed the leader of the mission. He did have experience fighting the Jihad in the Ural mountains. He was also familiar with the Russian equivalent of the backpack nukes.
“Find a good place to set off a nuke.” Lt. Jackson said sarcastically.
“Exactly, wherever it hurts them the most.” The Colonel said. Some lower ranked officers were conferring in a corner near the exit. Then one of them approached and handed the Colonel a slip of paper and whispered into his ear.
“The enemy is approaching. You will need to put on the uniforms we provided and climb aboard the ship for immediate launch.” The Colonel told them. “There is a swarm not more than six miles away headed straight for us.”
The six men entered the next room and took a look at the hodge-podge uniforms waiting for them.
“Hang on a minute. These are modified pressure suits, with alien armor over the chest!” he said lifting one up for closer inspection. “The last thing to wear this is dead.”
Lance Corporal James Arlen wondered if such a thing would hinder his sniping abilities. The gun he brought with him had a small display as a back up for the scope. If he had to wear a space helmet, the scope would be impossible.
The suits were not as heavy and bulky as the ones NASA and the others wore in space. These were not designed to be used in space. They were designed to be worn by astronauts for launch and landing. The team would wear them during the entire mission, because there was no room to change inside of the XSR-75.
Lance Corporal Arlen slung his modified sniper weapon to get a feel for it while wearing the suit, he saw Sgt Frank Gore picking up his 50 cal machine gun and the M32 grenade launcher. It looked cumbersome to say the least. It did not look as cumbersome when Lieutenant Jackson did it, he was a much larger and muscular man.
Soon enough the men were wearing the armored pressure suits and riding the elevator to the top of the massive rocket. Lance Corporal Arlen tapped the control on his helmet visor and got a closer view of the ground outside the base fence. A bus had just seemed to crush in on itself, but as he looked closer the carpet of silvery robots was noticeable.
The enemy was minutes away.
They climbed into the cramped quarters one at a time. There was no room to stand up, they simply found the person-shaped padded areas and strapped in. It felt like crawling under a house except there was a small porthole for viewing for each of them. As well as a flat screen against the extremely low ceiling.
“I feel claustrophobic already.” Sgt Gore grumbled.
“Not much room to scratch an itch.” The quiet Korean soldier said. It was pretty obvious that he was trying to sound more like the others. It was also obvious that the Russian could not care any less about fitting in.
“It will take a few days for us to reach Nemesis.” The Russian guy told them, “Try not to pukat, ladies.”
Lt. Lowery shook his head, “I'll be keeping my helmet on until after launch.”
Indeed they could all plug their breathing apparatus into the ship. There was no room for comfort but there was life support. Although the vast majority of the weight of the thin-walled ship was fuel. New composites allowed them to make the vehicle itself very light, but the fuel was a different thing altogether.
There was a bare few feet at the front of the ship for the crew and a few feet more for the life support in what was called the capsule. It was shaped a bit like an old space capsule but it was melded with the big booster and small wings were added to give it some maneuverability after re-entry so it could find its way to a landing site. A very large square parachutes would deploy and the computer could control their direction and descent.
Theoretically. It had never had a manned flight before.
There was no countdown, they were simply given a ten second warning. Then the incredible noise and vibration shook them until their teeth rattled. The rocket lifted off. Slowly at first and then gained speed. After about a half a minute they were pressed down by the thrust so hard that the built-in “beds” were a good seven inches underneath the “floor”. When the noise died down, they had passed he speed of sound, but the vibration, the sound of the air hitting the ship and the buffeting kept them wary.
The sky outside was replaced by pitch black, then they could see more stars than anyone on the ground could ever see. These were not twinkling. They could see the moon. It looked like a postage stamp while reddish Nemesis, although much farther away, looked more than twice as big.
Then the noise stopped. It was dead silent except for the murmur of air circulating fans. Suddenly the final stage booster shifted them sideways and aimed straight for the red planet. Normally you aim for where the target was going to be when you arrived, but Nemesis was still in relation to Earth.
The booster fired again. It kept firing until the fuel ran dry. Then it decoupled and separated with a wisp of air in reverse. It was now no more than space junk. The XSR-75 continued on its way.
“Okay.” Igor said tapping his flat screen. “Here is all that we know about the surface and possible underground cities of the aliens.”
Lance Corporal Arlen and the Korean Kim Lu-Hyun shared a look. How in the world anyone determined possible locations for underground cities on these maps was beyond them.
“Where is there any indication of the cities?” Lu-Hyun asked.
The Russian clicked through some more of the sensor and satellite images. “We think we detected a hive of launches around this rugged plateau. The so-called experts think this indicates there could be a city directly under this plateau.”
“We can detect launches on Nemesis?” Lt. Lowery asked, “Since bloody when?”
The Russian grinned. “Once the satellites arrived, we did it the same way we did when Americans launched things. The same way Americans watched us.”
“The aliens haven't destroyed the satellites?” Sgt Gore asked,
“A few have been lost to unknown causes but it seems like they are not shooting them down. It I possible they don't see them as a threat. Remember they evolved and think differently than we do, it might not have ever occurred to them that satellites are spies.”
Jackson spoke up, “If we make it to Nemesis. The chances of getting back are very thin. You gave me an idea, though. I wonder if we could steal a ship, maybe they never had thieves on their world and won't see it coming.”
Sgt Gore laughed, “Not exactly a joy ride.”
“Oh, if we are able to live through this and catch a lift home, I will be feeling joy.” Lowery replied.
This ongoing blog story will be updated now and then. You can help support this blog with a small donation or by buying a copy of New Arrivals.