Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Second Front: Chapter Nine

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three  
Chapter Four 
Chapter Five 
Chapter Six 
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight 

Chapter Nine
Just Move

No f---'n way!” Sgt Gore exclaimed.

Even though they could hear each other they had agreed to use their suit radios while passing through the alien city, neck-deep in murky water.

Keep it down, Sergeant.” Lowery told him, looking around.

Launch must be closer than we think.” The Korean soldier said. “We should move faster.”

Maybe we should get out of this muck and double-time it to one of the gates.” Lt Max Jackson suggested. “Although we'll have to fight our way out.”

The soldiers here don't seem to be wearing the armored suits. We might be able to actually make it if we could move faster.” Kim Lu-Hyun said, “Not stealthy at all, of course.”

Well, bloody hell, Kerensky already has blown any secret there is about us being here.” Lowery pointed out. “Let's go for it.”

Lance Corporal Arlen broke into the channel. “Since everyone is out of range of my guns, I'm going to head back up the vent shaft.”

Let's run for it.” Sgt Gore agreed, “Got that grenade launcher handy?”

Of course.” Jackson answered, “Twelve rounds loaded and raring to go.”

Lowery led them to the edge of the canal-river and they looked around. “It looks deserted.”

Kim Lu-Hyun checked the drone feed. “Yeah, it does. Civilians must be inside the columns for shelter when a launch is imminent. Soldiers must be heading toward where Kerensky is.”

They climb out of the muck carefully, check their weapons and then -after one last look around- they took off toward the nearest of the gates. The four men moved as fast as their weapons and backpacks allowed them to. Their footsteps echoed on the black rock pavement.

Kerensky had found a big open space. He stopped the small alien vehicle and checked the nuclear bomb sitting in the back. Then he shrugged. It was as good a time as any to set the timer. He turned his radio on, wondering if anyone else was listening.

This is Senior Lieutenant Igor Arkadyevich Kerensky of the Morskaya Perkhota. I am setting the timer for ten minutes. Everyone who can move needs to get outside of this underground tomb.” He said into the radio, which he then shoved into a pocket. He felt fortunate that he could rub his face and eyes as he punched in the codes and set the timer. None of the others had voluntarily removed their helmet when his had busted. They still had some stupid hope of going back to Earth. Idiots.

Then he wondered whether it made any sense to try and get out because the alien soldiers obviously had him surrounded. He didn't know what they were waiting for, maybe they were shocked to see a human there on their world. Maybe they were shocked to see an enemy wearing their armor. Apparently the home gvardiya here didn't even get the armor. They might not have considered that it might be necessary.

Kerensky laughed.

He could see the aliens looking around the corners of some of the buildings and stalls at him, as if they were mere observers gawking at a circus act.

Come and get me, fools!” he yelled in Russian. “What are you waiting for?”

After a moment he began to worry. These guys were lightly armored but they were still soldiers or at least politsiya. They were watching and waiting. Waiting for what? Knowing some of the stuff they had sent to Earth, the Senior Lieutenant was suddenly a bit nervous.

Lance Corporal James Arlen had expended nearly all of his ammunition. Now he was running uphill inside of the vent shaft. “Ten minutes.” he had told himself when Kerensky had sent the warning, “Ten minutes.”

He knew that the top of the plateau might collapse when the explosion occurred. He thought that he might be able to reach the ship by then and that he could glide down to the surface level with the big glider-like parachute.

It wasn't much of a plan, but he hoped it would work. That ship was the only bit of home they had left, even if it wasn't designed for this or could never go back. Besides , it was his only chance to get down there if he didn't want to go through the city. Now there wasn't even time for that.

Arlen's energy was already starting to sag. He hadn't even rounded the turn built into this vent shaft at about half-way. His mind was telling him that he would never reach the ship before the detonation, but it was his only chance now. He knew there was a risk when he volunteered for this mission any way.

Lieutenant Max “Action” Jackson fired off the grenade launcher at the first alien soldiers, or possibly some kind of police, as they came into view. The explosion tore through some of the sheet metal street stalls they had seen, and the aliens.

Oorah!” he yelled. Moving and shooting like that was what it was all about. The explosion would attract attention, but that no longer mattered. He had eleven more grenades in the launcher and a 50 cal machine gun strapped to his back. He was going to go out fighting like a Marine.

Not that many years ago when he was playing high school football, he learned he was different. He hadn't looked any different, but it was apparent to Max that he did not want to be like most of his teammates. Most of them were on track to become thugs and gang bangers. Max was in school to get away from that, he wanted to get his grandmother who raised him away from that.

He had read that the Army had a gang problem. That some gangs were using it as a training ground. The Marines didn't have much of this problem. The Marines had their own culture, the Marines replaced any kinship to a gang with a kinship to the corps and to each other. The Army should be more like the Marines.

Oh crap.” Kim Lu-Hyun exclaimed and held up a hand. “Oh my God, look at this.”

They all pulled up the image on their helmet HUD. Some sort of very large robot was headed toward Kerensky's position. It was as tall as a three-story building and walked on two legs.

We can't help him.” Lowery said, “We'd never get there in time.”

I wondered if they had any kind of armor.” Gore said, “Looks like they do.”

That must be what they were loading into those ships.” Lu-Hyun said, then he glanced at the chronometer on the HUD, “We need to move faster.”

The gates seemed to be within reach but they were so large it was hard to tell distance. The gates were nearly completely closed too.

More soldiers are heading in this direction.” Lu-Hyun told them. “Get that grenade launcher ready.”

Oh, it's ready.” Jackson answered as they began running toward the gates again.

Kerensky heard it before he saw it. When he first saw it, it was over the top of some nearby buildings an the sight made his stomach fall. One arm was useless and all he could really use was the pistol on his hip. The rifle was still in the vehicle. He glanced at the nuclear weapon. More than seven minutes remained on the timer.

He briefly wondered if that beast would take a prisoner? Then he pulled the rifle from the vehicle and rested it on the top. Better to go down fighting. He could feel the ground vibrate as the giant metal beast walked toward him, stepping into the clearing. There was probably an alien or two driving it, he thought, must be the alien version of a tank.

Senior Lieutenant Igor Kerensky took a deep breath, and squeezed the trigger “For Mother Russia!”

Lance Corporal James Arlen was panting and trying to get air into his lungs. Something was not right with the suits filter unit. Might be clogged with some of this sticky alien dirt. It felt like he was trying to breathe through a straw. He could see the light at the end of the shaft up ahead. If he could reach.

He gagged. “F--- it!” he thought and unstrapped his helmet. He put it down and sat on it. Finally he could breathe again, even if the air on Nemesis seemed a bit strange and slightly sulfuric. He had already been able to smell that, even through the filters. The oxygen in his lungs gave James Arlen some energy again and he carried the helmet as he jogged uphill again.

When he reached the top he realized his error. The wall was a bit higher than he had remembered when he had buddies to help him get down. He might be able to make it, but it would mean leaving his pack and most of his gear behind. His modified sniper rifle, his baby, would be left behind too, but it would perform one last useful function.

It was strong enough to hold his weight. He would put the pack on the ground and then put the gun, barrel down, on the pack and use it to boost himself up. He climbed up but couldn't reach the top, so he jumped and managed to get some finger tips over the top of the wall. He could do this!

Just keep on bloody moving!” Lowery yelled as alien soldiers came into view. Gore fired some rounds from his guns, but the grenade launcher Jackson carried did more damage. They were going to make it, Peter Lowery could see that. If they could get out of this wretched underground chamber there was a chance of surviving the nuclear explosion.

The Korean Kim Lu-Hyun was the one having a little trouble now. The technician was trying to see what lie ahead while moving. Lowery shook his head. “Lieutenant Kim! Keep up!”

Yes, sir.” The man said, looking around as if noticing things for the first time. They both slowed down only momentarily, “We just need to get by one larger group of soldiers, a guard post and then find a way out.”

Then they ran to catch up to Gore and Jackson.

Lance Corporal James Arlen rolled over the top and laid there looking into the sky. Just for a few seconds, he promised himself. It was afternoon or something on this world. In the evening you could see Nemesis in the sky on Earth, so you must be able to see Earth from here in the mornings he guessed

Then he stood up and looked around. The ship was probably over there. He forgot how far it was but he could see something in the distance that was probably it. Free of his gear and helmet he took off running, feeling some kind of liberation.

The rifle fired, but it jumped out of his grasp. Cursing his useless arm, Kerensky struggled to get it back aiming in the proper direction. The large robot was now right in front of him and the first shot had bounced off. Now there was some sort of humming coming from the alien machine. He glanced at the timer.

Five and a half-minutes.” Was the last thought Senior Lieutenant Kerensky had.

Voosh! Voosh! The M32 grenade launcher sounded like that when it fired rounds into the enemy formation in front of them. The explosions ripped through the enemy, but some of them continued to fire at the pinned humans.

We don't have time for this!” Lowery yelled, firing his own weapon at the aliens and ducking back behind the low wall.

Sgt Gore rolled away from the wall on the ground and spat out a couple dozen rounds from his machine gun. At least two or three enemy soldiers fell to that burst. They could hear enemy rounds whistling past their heads or pounding into the wall they were behind.

Then Jackson stood up again and fired three more grenades into the enemy ranks. When he dropped behind the wall the three explosions had decimated enemy lines. Lowery noticed that Jackson had punctures in his suit on the left shoulder and that his helmet faceplate was cracked from shrapnel or bits of the black rock everything seemed made from thrown up.

Fortunately these soldiers weren't armored. These must be like the reserves.

That gate will be closed in less than thirty seconds.” Kim Lu-Hyun estimated. The gate was enormous, towering over everything now and the noise that it made when moving was starting to become deafening. They just needed to get outside of that before the detonation.

-------------- Chapter Ten

I wanted to mention that this story has now passed 20,000 words in length. So it is already longer than Oasis, and as you can see it ain't over. You can also tell that I haven't lost interest. Also, I have had some good ideas for improvements for the second draft. I might even totally rewrite the prologue soon.

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