Battle of New HavenEdit
Daniel looked at the unbelievable with alarm, and subconsciously held Sarlena even closer to himself, even as his jaws fell open. Sorry, Sarlena, but I'll have to wake you up now, he thought, then shook her just enough so that she broke out of the sleep she had just fallen into. "Huh? What's--?" she began, but became much more awake as Christopher got up and ran toward the nearest bunker, waving his arms and calling out, "Ring the alarm! Ring the alarm!" Behind him, a stunned and terrified Sarlena suddenly felt incredibly uneasy as she realized that she was nowhere near her armor and weapons. She quickly chased after Christopher back to safety's abode.
"Ring the alarm! Ring the alarm!" shouted Daniel at the top of his voice from within his room, watching as a tide of lisks appeared on the horizon. The guards immediately complied, and within moments everyone was wide awake, even the tired soldiers.
"Guys, guys!" Daniel strove to get the others' attention. "We're not holding this city. We're moving out! Now everybody, get your belongings, and I mean now!" There was a storm of movement, a flurry of activity swirling out from the village's residential areas to the central platform where a squadron of dropships had begun to land, just as expected.
"GET BACK TO THE DROPSHIP AND HURRY!" Daniel shouted to everyone who bothered to listen. Then he turned around and stomped to his own dropship, wondering, just what is going on?
The rush to get on board, and the ensuing battle for space to hold one's less-prized, but still valuable, belongings, claimed more than a few lives. The sole frigate was large enough to hold the entire town population, but meant that there would be next to no breathing space left. It took longer than anyone would have hoped for, but nevertheless, the civilians had evacuated, all 3,000 of them, thought Daniel, as the Quantradyne engines of the transport frigate flared to life, rising high into the sky, leaving a golden column of smoke in its wake.
A minute later, they were all in the high skies. "Shall we be departing for Los Andares?" asked Cory.
"No, we shall stay here, and watch as the lisks progress."
"What! You can't mean to risk all our lives on their finding and hunting us down!" protested a citizen.
"I believe that there is much we can learn about their ways," countered Daniel affirmatively. The others at first looked at him as if he were crazy, then complied, and the warrant officer decided to keep the vessel far above the town, but not leaving for any destination.
"So, is anyone going to tell me about the vulture speed-bikes' new spider mine technology?" asked Daniel.
"Yeah, I believe that this is something best shown with a video," replied Christopher. "Watch." He placed a data disc into the monitor, and Daniel sat back as the video appeared. It was the visible-spectrum bird's eye view from telsat that Daniel had become accustomed to.
A vulture speed-bike was rushing through the barren landscape, with fifty lisks in hot pursuit. But the speed-bike was way too fast for them, rushing along at nearly three hundred kilometers an hour. It spun around, rushing past them at an acute angle, and the front of the craft launched a single fragmentation grenade at the horde of lisks, detonating in the crowd and instantly shattering the bodies of half a dozen of the creatures, and injuring several others. Ha ha! Got ya there, thought Daniel.
The lisks continued their chase, and the speed-bike took off again, and from some distance away launched three grenades in succession. One hit the left, one hit center, and one hit right. Each hit took out a handful of lisks and spewed blood and smoke across the field. The vulture then plowed straight through the stunned lisks, and as the lisks jumped up at the driver, he spun around in a circle, the sheer momentum of the spin throwing the lisks about like a spinning top. Several of those which were thus knocked down did not get back up. Another grenade. Daniel was laughing, as was Michael, and Sarlena was looking on with glee.
The speed-bike rushed through the crowd of lisks again, driving straight over several of them, crushing them underneath. Rice-paper. Another grenade. The lisks spun around, looking around, thoroughly disheartened at their quarry. Oh, it was hilarious! As the lisks regrouped and pursued their elusive quarry, a spider mine sprung up from the tracks of the speed-bike and detonated right in the center of the lisks, sending many of them into the air in a fantastic explosion. The lisks had finally decided to retreat, and the speed-bike now became the pursuer. Only this time, the predator would win. The grenades found their target, as the driver circled around the lisks, taunting them. Explosions rang out across the massacring field, plumes of smoke spiraling outward. Those who were there were either watching or on the verge of doing so, so interesting was the conflict...
"So. Interesting, but tell me more about the mines."
"They burrow into the ground and then when the enemy comes close they pop up and detonate their metallic shell, killing enemies instantly," replied Christopher, trying not to seem too full of technical jargon.
"Do they do anything differently?"
After a moment of pondering, Daniel came across a conclusion. "Then the spider mines won't be all that useful being left alone like this, when it comes to defending Los Andares."
"What, do you have a plan?"
"No, not yet, but I'll need one soon. I first want to find out what intelligence our enemy has. That all right with you guys?" Plenty of nodding from the thirty-odd soldiers in the dropship.
"Strap yourselves in boys, we're in for some chop," notified the warrant officer, the pilot. Daniel looked out one of its many windows and saw an extensive sand storm rolling in like the spreading of muddy water, billowing, from another direction.
The readings indicated that the forty marines set to defend the town were placed in the four perimeter bunkers that had been built over the course of the night. He sighed, knowing that he was consigning them to their fate. But he also knew that it was necessary, because it would be devastating to the morale of the planet's citizens should the town fall without a fight. And it was important that the aliens saw that humanity could put up stiff resistance, for that might stay the invasion forces for a while. At least he had concentrated plenty of the sown mines around each of the bunkers, but he knew very well that they would not be enough.
Daniel knocked on the ship's skeleton. "She comes fully equipped with the standard scanners, right?"
"Yes," said Cory, over his shoulder.
"Then turn them on. I want to get a good video tape recording of what's going on down there." In a sandstorm--wow. I wonder if the lisks can make it through and not bump their heads against any walls...
While they waited for the offensive to begin, Daniel challenged Christopher to a game of chess (with four sets that were fortunately brought on-board), a modified version that was performed in three dimensions... And won, and lost, and won, and lost... Time passed quickly enough, as each battle lasted roughly half an hour.
"Well, I must say. It looks like another tie--two to two. But look--the lisks are practically here!"
Soon enough, the lisks swarmed over the hill on which the village had been built, and the automatic cannons emplaced in the bunkers, as well as the manually fired gauss rifles, roared to life, though from where Daniel and company were--miles high--they heard nothing of what proceeded below. The vulture speed-bikes left down below joined the battle, their drivers steering them across the battlefield and tossing high-density fragmentation grenades into the fray, but swiftly being overcome from the first wave of hydralisk fire.
Many of the lisks faltered, and died, contorted shapes spinning lopsided to crash down into the ground, breaking into pieces; but others came up close, and claws broke apart the defenses, while needle-like spines burst forth, converting into a super powered acid, shredding the turrets and field guns and corroding their plating. One by one the bunkers fell in swift succession.
The creatures rushed onward, hacking through the defenses in every direction, taking the lives of those within the collapsed structures, rushed past the first layer of defenses--then gave pause.
Pause?? What could that be for? And then the answer struck them immediately, even as they watched the infrared display of the pseudo-battle. There's too few defenses for a town, and the bunkers and streets are empty of life. Would they go further in? Or had they sensed a trap?
The torrent of lisks rushing the defenses showed down to a trickle, with the majority of the army remaining in the rear. Those that went in began exploring the town, until the first skittering of the spider mines across the ground and subsequent detonations and bloodshed caused the seemingly enraged alien forms to rush into the town, shooting all around, all over the place, unleashing upon themselves more casualties and fatalities...
Queer, it seemed; from up here, all was silent; it didn't seem like there was a battle at all. Down there, the billowing winds pulled the desert sands along, blotting out visibility. Yet the aliens managed to traverse the landscape, not bumping into anything, and definitely not mistaking each other for an enemy--
The buildings slowly collapsed under continuous barrage from hydralisk acid, and even some of the spider mines were destroyed by the acidic crossfire. Others detonated in ephemeral blossoms of flame. The pigs tried futilely to escape, while the creatures pounced at twelve kilometers an hour, shredding them to pieces and sending blood spewing in all directions. It's certainly over for the pigs. Just--hopefully it isn't over for us. The lisks were converging from every direction, offering the pigs no means of escape.
The lisks seemed to be getting accustomed to the spider mines, as well, and thus avoided the centers of the paths, deciding instead to go around the edges. And what was more, once this technique proved effective, all of the lisks adopted it, even if they couldn't see each other, doing so nearly simultaneously.
There is definitely a mastermind at work here. Daniel's sense of dread continued to rise...
"Well, I suppose you've seen it for yourselves now. Don't try to pull the same tactics against the aliens and expect them to be stupid. They won't be."
The others, not having had the "luxury" of constantly having a computer showing the battles of the last two weeks, were stunned by the clarity of the destruction, seeing the havoc with their own eyes. They were all struck agape by the conclusion of battle:
Within a few minutes, New Haven was nothingness. And definitely not a haven.
"I-I think we can go now, warrant officer."
Unbeknownst to the lisks, the surveying frigate forty thousand feet high suddenly sped at near the speed of light toward Los Andares, the planet's final target.
The unsettling news had reached the city ahead of Daniel's dropship, having been transmitted to the military by countless computer monitors from an orbiting Televista satellite (Telsat), and now the populace was beginning to get worried. The influx of aliens seemed to have no end, and none of the satellites have been able to find the location, or locations, where the lisks were coming from--the result of too little satellite coverage.
The military had spent the last two to three weeks priming themselves for battle, preparing contingencies, mass producing land and spider mines, constructing bunkers, erecting barricades, and calling to Tarsonis for reinforcements--the last one with little success. It seemed that the Confederacy had given them entirely up to the aliens. Much like the sacrificial pigs at New Haven, as Michael rather clumsily tried to make a joke about...
To make matters worse, during the descent down to the city, the squadron had been helplessly watching another few marines get killed by a much larger force of hydralisks, broadcast from the sights of another telsat--and the tormented soul immediately lapsed back into "RUN Away! RUN!!" before bursting into uncontrollable terror and grief, requiring several other marines to restrain. They were all shocked by what trauma had overcome him...
Everyone, it seemed, was busy preparing defenses at Los Andares. What a long way they had come from idly watching skaters on Air Los Andares, Daniel realized. Something was awfully going wrong... "All right guys, we've gotten plenty of money from our recent--what shall I say, eh? --flurry--of promotions--so use that money and go buy yourselves some good weapons and armor! And don't lose the alien carapace!" Daniel's loud voice, which he had just begun to get into the habit of using, belied his internal conflicts at yelling at other soldiers who just might have included him, some time ago... It seemed to quake, his voice, but he ignored it, allowing the soldiers' replying roar of agreement and anticipation drown out his discomfiture.