The way through
Lance Corporal James Arlen had the alien in his sight. It had stopped the small vehicle and was checking some kind of mechanical box. All he needed was the go signal. The conversation that just took place was still in his mind. Every second and a half two counter rotating blades from the large vent fan blocked out his sight for just a brief half second.
“I'll take the motorized vehicle and the bomb.” Senior Lieutenant Igor Kerensky had told them, “The rest of you need to get out. Either up the vent or through the city in that stream or sewer or whatever it is.”
Kerensky no longer bothered trying to wear the helmet. He would stand out to the alien population, they might even completely shocked at seeing a human on their world.
“I think we should all stay together.” Sgt Frank Gore said, “Marines don't want to leave anyone behind!”
“I agree.” said Lt. Max “Action” Jackson, “But these circumstances are quite extraordinary.”
“To say the least.” Lieutenant Pete Lowery of the Royal Marines replied, “I think the Senior Lieutenant can make up his own mind. He is the one who has been exposed to unfiltered air and whatever germs might be infested in this underground city.”
“Whatever we do, we need to do it quick.” Korean Kim Lu-Hyun said. He wasn't about to take a side on this.
“You guys will need sniper support.” Lance Corporal Arlen had said. “I'll stay up here and give you as much as I can.”
“Not you too!” Sgt Gore said, “We have a better chance to survive if we stay together! We can leave the bomb in the dark stream. It does have a timer, doesn't it?”
“Of course.” Kerensky told him. “If we just set it down and leave, I think they'll destroy it or keep from exploding somehow.”
“I don't know. They haven't used any advanced weapons that makes me think they could or have built nukes of their own.” Kim Lu-Hyun said.
“They might. They did have the ability to steer their planet, didn't they?” Lowery asked. “They survived and now they are here. I don't think it is an accident that they chose Earth, either. They turned a planet into a starship.”
Kerensky had described a plan where Gore, Jackson, Kim and Lowery would take the wet route through the city, hopefully not being spotted. Kerensky would take the vehicle (after Jackson loads the bomb) and be as distracting as possible. Arlen would give some sniper support from the perch behind the big fan. Kim Lu-Hyun would give them a birds eye view of “ground” activity inside the underground city.
The alien soldier rode the tiny vehicle another third of a kilometer and stopped at another small metal box jutting from the ground. Ground vehicles were exceedingly rare in the underground city from what they could see, so a human driving one would attract a whole lot of attention.
“Now!” Kerensky ordered.
Lance Corporal James Arlen had a good read on the target, the large round left the barrel of his gun and tracked to the target. The advanced 50 caliber round could change course slightly but only once on its short but deadly journey. It wasn't necessary, the round penetrated the soldiers neck and he dropped like a stone.
Immediately Lowery, Jackson and Kerensky, who had been standing against the wall took turns jumping through the moving blades. They all made it through unscathed, then began to scramble down the side of the building. They moved toward the vehicle and got a good look at the controls.
“Do you think you can drive that?” Jackson asked Kerensky as Lowery was checking the safety harness and the air flow in his helmet.
“Looks simple enough.” Kerensky said looking through the high-tech binoculars and even snapping some pictures of the vehicle with it before handing it back to Lowery.
Jackson and Lowery already had both parts of the nuclear weapon laying out, they were preparing to assemble it. The others were gathering together to plan their escape route through the muddy river that went through the whole city and then, apparently, close enough to one of the giant metal doors to get out.
Lance Corporal James Arlen wasn't planning to die, he hoped he could get back to the top of the plateau before the blast occurred. It was probably a long-shot but he hung onto it.
Igor Kerensky managed to get through the turning blades of the very large fan and then lower himself down the side of the wall with one arm before dropping the rest of the way. His ankle hurt but he kept low and moved toward the alien and cart. Finally he raised his good arm and gave the signal.
Then alien soldier had been looking at something in the metal box, but suddenly his scalp vanished in a reddish cloud. His body collapsed immediately and Kerensky used his good arm to drag it several feet to a spot where the ground was lower. Hopefully the corpse wouldn't be seen from the city.
Lowery and Jackson had to time getting through the spinning blades with the 23 kilogram nuclear weapon precisely. Lowery climbed down the wall to the ground and Jackson lowered the weapon to him before joining him. Meanwhile Kim Lu-Hyun and Sgt Frank Gore were getting ready to follow them but to head directly for the water. At least, they hoped it was water.
Lowery and Jackson hoisted the weapon into the back of the light vehicle while Kerensky tried to figure out how to drive the thing. Once the weapon was pretty secure they saluted the Senior Lieutenant who saluted back. “I am proud to have known you, now get the water and get the hell out of here while I set the timer. I'll start it once I get as far as I can into the city”
The two quickly made their way to where Gore and Kim were already waiting and testing the water.
“That lightly sulfuric smell is bugging me.” Sgt Gore said as they approached. “It's more noticeable around the water.”
The canal was about four meters wide and two or three deep. It was still a bit darker in the city than outside so it was hard to make out the color. Then Sgt Gore shrugged and climbed into the water first.
“Not as cold as you might think.” He told them as they followed.
“That's warm, like someone just pissed the pool.” Lowery said, “There is some higher grass n the side of the water nearer the city. We just need to try and move as quickly and as quietly as we can.”
“This does not feel right.” Kim Lu-Hyun said quietly as they began moving toward the city with just their heads above the water. His electronics and gear were all stowed in his water-proof pack except for his sidearm. Sgt Gore had kept the 50 cal slung to his back, even though the water might affect it. He'd rather have the gun than not.
Kerensky managed to figure out how to make the vehicle go, stop and turn from side to side. Then he pushed, pulled, wiggled and cursed the alien ignition widget. Finally he assumed the alien must have some sort of key so he walked back to the corpse and searched it. He found some kind of metal device that might be a key along with some sort of metal sheet book. Kerensky took that too.
Once back in the vehicle he looked at the small alien device and it glowed softly in his palm and the vehicle had already started up. Apparently anyone who had the device when they approached the vehicle would be able to drive it.
“Looks like most of the locals have gone indoors.” Lance Corporal James Arlen told Kerensky over his radio. They were to use it as little as possible, but he thought it was an important point. Launch might be imminent in who knew how long.
Kim Lu-Hyun still had his helmet HUD and used it to control the small drone. He had already noticed that the aliens were moving indoors, even the ones who were apparently running outdoor shops and stalls. In a way this would be good for them since they were hoping not to be noticed. On the other hand, if the rockets launched before the nuclear weapon was detonated, then who knew what kind of problems Earth would face.
The rows of columns that rose from ground to ceiling were teeming with aliens. Who knew how many of them might take a glance outside and see these humans in the waterway? The waterway would go right through the center of them, dominating them. In a way these towering behemoth columns reminded him of downtown Seoul.
Kerensky got the strange vehicle moving. The slightly sulfuric air started brushing his helmet-less face as he controlled the steering with his good arm. He knew there was no chance he could drive this glorified golf cart and shoot the gun that sat on the seat next to him. Without his helmet he would be instantly recognizable as an alien on this world.
“Let them see my face. Let them know what I do here today. Let them know that the humans on Earth aren't as easy to defeat as they might hope.” Senior Lieutenant Igor Kerensky told himself. A part of his mind still thought about escape routes once he abandoned the bomb after starting the timer. The more rational part of his mind looked on this with some pity,
Lance Corporal James Arlen kept checking the soldier patrols in the city and the military areas to his right and left. These soldiers had not yet sought shelter from the launch. That made him worry more. Maybe the gates would be closed first and sending the civilians to the shelters was just a precaution, but meaningless.
That might block the others from getting outside before the blast. They could all die here after all.
Then he tried to anticipate the route of the small silvery vehicle that Kerensky was driving to see the reaction of the alien soldiers. They hadn't yet seen this yet, but he wondered how the shock would register on the bat-like faces of the aliens when they realized a human was driving it. Would they just start shooting or would they attempt to chase and capture the Senior Lieutenant?
The plan was that once Kerensky had been noticed, Arlen would take out as many alien soldiers as he could. Not just from the ones heading toward the vehicle but all over the city. He needed to cause chaos and confusion as much as possible.
Arlen didn't know if this plan could work, or whether any of them would survive. He didn't know what the next order of business should be if they did somehow survive. Would they be expected to keep fighting at another city, assuming they could find one, or find a way to return to Earth? That had been discussed by their team, of course, but more as fantasy than reality.
Kerensky was heading toward a small group of the alien soldiers who were just walking somewhere and not even noticing the vehicle. Arlen put the cross-hairs on one of the aliens and waited for any reaction. Would the alien soldiers even look up as he passed?
The Lance Corporal sighed as Kerensky managed to clip one of the aliens as he rushed past them and the others scrambled to respond. He aimed and fired at the four remaining alien soldiers who seemed very disoriented. The first two were head shots, then a neck shot that decapitated the creature and the other two were hit in the chest, where their armor would have stopped anything less than his 50 cal.
Since the shooting had started Arlen mentally calculated how many rounds he had left, all of his magazines were arranged on the ground in front of him. For his particular self he would do what he could before taking off back up the vent shaft.
The vehicle Kerensky was driving moved toward the city now. Arlen targeted an alien soldier on a raised platform, probably meant to keep an eye on the factory workers coming and going from their shifts. Evidently, that one had no armor because the round blew a big hole through its chest.
Arlen spotted a different vehicle moving through the city, it was carrying some kind of greenish vines or roots in the back. He targeted the driver and fired. The vehicle careened and overturned right in front of the one of the large columns that kept the ceiling up. He saw the doors open as aliens scrambled to scoop up some of what must have been food.
The Lance Corporal still felt somewhat sorry for these oppressed aliens.
Groups of soldiers were now leaving the military compound to his far left. They had seen the vehicle Kerensky was driving wildly. One of the alien soldiers was barking orders at the rest, so Arlen put that one in the cross-hairs and pulled the trigger. Then head shot knocked the alien officer back a few feet, spewing blood. The other soldiers had stopped to gape before they started moving in different directions. It looked like panic to the human sniper, so he looked for another target within the range of his modified weapon. Then a loud grating sound was heard.
Senior Lieutenant Igor Kerensky was trying to reach somewhere near the middle of the huge underground city. He had his mind set on putting the bomb somewhere between the four pillar-like columns at the center. If the blast went as he thought, the ruins of the city might be buried by the collapse of the plateau on top of it. Maybe it would some day be named after him.
He did wish the glorified golf cart was a little faster, although the smelly wind on his still felt pretty nice. Maybe he would be awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation medal, whether he lived or not. It was worth a moments thought. That is when the loud noise started up.
Sgt Gore had been cursing like a, well, Marine under his breath ever since he had to climb into the alien waterway and he imagined all of the bacteria and germs that could penetrate the suit he was wearing. So far it had stayed water proof.
They were at least half-way as far as he could see. Occasionally the banks would get low and the grasses thin enough to see street-level views of the alien city. Some of it would not have looked out of place in a third world country. Lowery was getting pictures and video on the high-tech binoculars of anything that looked interesting. Which was pretty much everything.
He had taken point in the move toward the far side of the underground city, as the soldiers had wordlessly fell into single-file.
Lieutenant Pete Lowery followed him. The Brit had been mostly quiet during the trip, probably contemplating the sacrifices of Igor Kerensky and the Lance Corporal. The Korean Kim Lu-Hyun was third in line. He was keeping tabs on the area with his little drone, you couldn't even see the little thing above them. Lt Max “Action” Jackson followed in last place carrying his heavy 50 cal machine gun. There was no telling what this kind of water might do it long-term, but the Marine would no doubt clean his baby properly when the opportunity came.
Then the loud, grating noise had started up.
“What the f--- that?” Sgt Frank Gore asked in a loud whisper.
“Oh no.” The Korean replied, “I think the gates are closing!”
-------------- Go To Chapter Eight
All comments and tips are welcomed, even spelling corrections. You can help me out by buying a copy of New Arrivals or a small Pay Pal contribution through the link button on the sidebar. This is a first draft story, I expect the second draft to have some major changes. Probably even follow other characters on Earth.