No announcement yet.

The Spartan Chronicles

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #61
    Near Plex Anthill
    08:24 hours SMT

    Spartan Air command reporting that due to the imminence of hurricane weather we are dispersing needlejets to home bases. Fort Superiority cannot safely accommodate more than one Penetrator and one Interceptor under secure cover.
    Air support will be suspended for three days

    It was the best news Colonel Thomilson had heard in a while. It had been raining for the past two days, and today it actually felt like this storm could be part of a hurricane, however they were somewhat inland and protected from the full fury of the storm. For the past three day, the Hive 32nd bomber winger had been pounding the 469th. Unfortunately, they were out of range from the interceptors stationed at Fort Superiority, and the Hive enjoyed complete air superiority. On the first day of the air attacks, a platoon from Delta Company was caught out in the open and suffered heavy casualties. After that they dug in and traded off mobility for safety. That didn’t stop the Hive from attacking any targets of opportunity they came upon. They strafed Zeta Company destroying two chaos drop rovers. The Hive bombers also provided close air support when forward element of the Hive 12th Infantry came under fire from Caffeine Company.

    The bad weather was good news. According to the transmission from SAC at Fort Superiority, bad weather would ground all flights for three days. That would effect the Hive's bombers as well. Thomilson guessed that the hurricane would also make it impossible for anymore reinforcements to arrive at Plex Anthill across the narrow land bridge. So now was the time to strike, and General Lockhart had an audacious plan for doing just that.

    Caffeine Company would try to use the bad weather and constant hit and run attacks to make it appear like the 469th was holding positions. Then the rest of the division would sweep around and attack the 12th infantry on its flanks. The latest word from recon was that the 12th Infantry had taken up positions along the road just outside of the Great Fungus Wall. The four Marine Brigades and the Hive 118th Mechanized Infantry Division (Anti-air) were maintaining their original positions outside of Assassin’s Redoubt. However the Hive 3rd Armored Cav Division “Hell’s Horses” were an unknown variable. Instead of advancing to reinforce the Hive forces near Assassin’s Redoubt, or advancing along with the 12th Infantry towards our positions they had apparently headed into the Great Fungal Wall. It was unknown why they would do that. There wasn’t any know Spartan forces operating in that area. It was possible they were trying a flanking maneuver but that was unlikely since advancing through the fungus would really slow them down. Recon could not give assurance that they couldn’t reinforce the 12th, but they did say it was unlikely.

    Near Hive lines
    13:16 hours SMT

    Captain Nathan Gatesly was having a hard time deciding which was worse. Laying in the mud under camouflage netting and not being rained on, or being able to stand up (yet still in the mud) but being rained on. Actually it was more than rain, it was a downpour. He hadn’t seen it rain like this since being a child with his father in the Monsoon Jungle. Not that being wet and muddy bothered him. It was just a random thought that had came up. When he took in how hard it was raining, he decided that being under the netting was the better choice. He chuckled to himself. A long time ago his mom told him that if he had any sense at all he’d come in and stop playing in the rain. It was funny that the all these years later that nobody he knew he had enough sense to stop playing in the rain. In fact, General Lockhart had decided that because it was raining so hard it’d be a perfect time to attack. It was completely comical. Only two more hours before he was supposed to have his company start the diversion.

    He knew he had to wait that long, otherwise it would interfere with the plan. He just didn’t want to wait that long. He was ready to go now, he could feel adrenaline flowing through his system, but he managed to stay restrained. Not much longer he told himself but he could barely wait.

    [This message has been edited by korn469 (edited July 19, 1999).]


    • #62
      The Cyborg was grounded. Fierce winds kept all choppers down, and most people inside. Hendrikus' fusion chopper was in the hangar, but the big man himself was scaling the cliffs outside town. North Fleet was due in, and he wanted to see with his own eyes whether the Lycurgus would make it.

      From a high-up cave, using a telescopic visor, Hendrikus could indeed make out the small convoy heading into the coast, the Lycurgus one of them. As the ships turned into the lee of the rockface from which Hendrikus was peering down, he lifted his visor and made to leave. It was the merest of movements that made him slam down his visor again and peer down at the Lycurgus.

      Damn you, Salvador St James, he thought. You still had Lindly on your mind, after all.

      Squeezing out from the little convoy and disappearing into the fungal fields, no longer hidden from view by the superstructure of the Lycurgus, for one brief moment there had been a sight that had brought terror to the hearts of sailors ever since the first unity foils had taken to the waters. A demon boil Isle of the Deep broke off from North Fleet - of which it was, to all appearances, a part. And from the size of its wake, it was ferrying cargo, as well. Worms. Had to be worms, Hendrikus' thoughts raced. Somehow worms and isles were fighting for the Spartans now.

      Moving South.

      But going where?


      Numquam turbae misceri

      [This message has been edited by Tokek Belerang (edited July 20, 1999).]
      Numquam turbae misceri


      • #63
        18:46 hours SMT
        16:46 MFN (Morgan Financial Time)

        The light on the tap began to blink slowly. "Battery Charged. Please Remove from energy souce..."

        "Bout Time" Adam sighed.

        Suddenly there came a blinking from the top of his helmet-mounted HUD. PsychOps flashtraffic.

        "Dammit, this can't be good."

        The message opened in his HUD:

        Communications Init...
        Recieving message...

        PsychOps Flashtraffic

        Situation Update:

        Outlying areas of Plex Anthill destroyed
        Peacekeeper probe incursion discovered but eliminated
        A large Hurricane has formed over Northern Hemisphere
        Air support at Fort Superiority Suspended due to Hurricane
        Large Hive fleet assembling near Laborers Throng
        Peacekeepers have signed Pact, Ops teams dispatched to monitor


        Proceed to Morgan News Complex
        Find Spartan operative that is being targeted by Hive Intelligence
        Extract Spartan operative and return to Admirality Base
        Be aware members of the Ashaandi Circle may be involved in the operation

        Message Finished...
        Terminating Uplink...

        Twain sat back. Ashaandi Circle. Deadly bastards. Some of the deadliest.
        He heard about some of their exploits before, the assinations, bombings and other terror lead by an operative named "Sand". "Sand" had killed enough people to fill a graveyard. If he were ever caught, there wouldn't be a soul in the Federation that wouldn't kill him.

        "Time to get to work"

        And with that, Twain packed the tap back in his bag, dropped his cigarette, stomped it, then set out down the access corridor.

        [This message has been edited by Timexwatch (edited July 19, 1999).]
        If you look around and think everyone else is an *******, you're the *******.


        • #64
          Salvador St James ran into the outrunners of the storm a little after sunsup. His plane, little more than an ultralight needlejet, would be blown straight to Deianira if he stayed up much longer, and after a hasty downwind reconnaissance he put the plane down in a hollow and got out to camouflage it with fungal stalks. He had actually found the very spot his own Cyborg had sprung out of to evac Gung Ho Wells and his party, but he wasn't aware of that.

          He had been preoccupied a lot, lately. Not the Signature business - he was under no illusion that other factions would not learn to tame and nurture worm broods as well, and the advantage would only be fleeting. Only the Gaians could perhaps have gained a deciding advantage from psi warfare, if they had only used their psi empathy more rigourously.

          His own fate was what had been on his mind. A warbird by nature, he was now coming around to weaker, softer notions. It used to be that Gavin, Googlie, Dread and he swore sacred oaths not to allow each other to be captured. Right now, perhaps only Dread would still feel that way.

          These days, he found himself thinking like a Gaian, a Peacekeeper, a Believer even. And the meditative notions of the Chairman were beginning to have an appeal to him. Perhaps only the Morganites failed to impress him in any sense at all - too shallow, too easy.

          The Spartan ideology still rang true - be thine own master - but over time, he had ceased to feel that it could not coexist with other visions. His tolerance for what was different was on the rise.

          He looked up at the sky, and saw only leaden darkness. Sand would not be pinned down, now. This was what his father would have called thieves' weather. He finished the camouflage job, and went to find a sheltered place higher up. Hopefully Gavin would come, moving under the cover of the storm. There was a chance to trap both Sand and the Hive invasion force now.

          After this. After his last fight.


          Numquam turbae misceri
          Numquam turbae misceri


          • #65
            With Kinjiru's permission, I have been given dictate over the fates of Captain Elyias and his XForce (1st Expeditionary Force) near the Ruins.

            Chapter the Second

            The way gives them life
            And virtue rears them;
            Things take shape
            And vessels are formed.

            Hence the myriad creatures all revere the way and honour virtue. The way in being revered, and virtue in being honoured are constantly so of themselves without anyone bewtowing nobility on them.

            The way gives them life and rears them,
            Brings them up and accomplishes them,
            Brings them to fruition and maturity,
            Feeds and shelters them.
            It gives them life without claiming to possess them;
            It benefits yet exacts no gratitude for this;
            It is the steward yet exercises no authority over them.
            Such is called dark virtue.
            --Lau Tzu, Te Ching, 14

            Ishmael Skye pondered the situation before him. Through telepathic link with a mind worm, he could see the troops of the Spartan First Expeditionary Force settling on the edge of the fungal bloom that engulfed the Ruins. Not "see," really, for mind worms did not have the visual sensors that humans did. Nay, they perceived the world through a much more primal medium: that of the raw thoughts of the sentient being. Ishmael could feel the very emotions juxtaposed like the shadows that followed every being. The air seemed to teem and almost vibrate with the pheremones of group consciousness. At times like this, he almost wondered at how these lesser humans could be so blind to it.

            Thoughts meandred in and out of the consciousness of space time. Tangent upon tangent, Ishmael followed the ramblings of his mind. He could feel the secrets of clairvoiyance just within his grasp. But to no avail did he toil to that end.

            Jostling himself out of his reverie, Ishmael opened his eyes to the dark world that surrounded him. The huge chamber lay underground at the centre of the Ruins. From this great hall there extended many passageways leading into the unknown. The air was icy cold but stale, far from the intense heat of the Great Dunes that lay only a few hundred feet above. In the distance could be heard the steady drip drip of water.

            The huge cavern glowed with a dull luminescence, the source of which no human eye could trace. It seemed that the air itself glowed independently, without any central source. The entirety of the chamber was made of a smooth, black rock. The great ceiling was roughly dome-shaped, yet, upon closer inspection, the twisted curves and lines that marred the ceiling could be made out. In contrast, the floor was smooth and without blemish.

            The central figure to this daunting image was what, in all appearances, looked like a throne. It was situated hundreds of feet from the floor and could be reached through a grand flight of stairs. The whole structure took up a good sixty degree arc of the entire chamber perimeter. The throne itself was huge, made for a big human. It was made of the same black stone as the rest of the chambre. It had a tortured and sharp look to it. On the back of the throne could be seen the engraving of a dragon claw holding a planet in its grip.

            Ishmael could never tell whether that planet represented Earth or Chiron. Look at that monstrosity. Made precisely to fit earthbeings. And yet, it must have been constructed millions of years ago. How did Planet know? How does Planet know? Ishmael stood at the base of the stairs, watching the throne with a curiosity tinged with a morbid sense of dread.

            Until the Gods themselves we become, not can we rest our efforts. Not until the Chosen Ones transcend the flesh and join the ranks of the divine. Not until the dirty pagans have been purged from our Planet can it truly be ours! Ishmael's thoughts returned to the Spartan Expeditionary Force lingering around the Ruins.

            There will be time for genocide. For now, we must tread this dangerous path carefully. Ishmael extended his awareness to the life all around the Ruins. Here resided the most powerful mind worms that Ishmael had ever seen. There was at least one Great Boil, he knew from personal experience. When Planet had first lured him to this sanctuary, he had found himself faced with a huge Great Boil Mind Worm whose collective length was at least 100 metres. He was greeted with immense pains that flooded his whole body. In retrospect, the psionic power that the Great Boil was capable of was almost unbelievable to Ishmael. But at that moment, he had not time to think of aught but the pain. As Ishmael started to feel his sentient being transit from his body--and his brain almost bursting from his skull--the pain dulled to a slow-tempo song. A Voice had spoken to him: welcome to the Ruins, earthishmael, we have been waiting...

            Now that he thought of it, Ishmael realised that the Great Boil carried in it far more power than it had showed him, and that only a small fraction of its psionic energies was needed to bring him to his knees. Planet had even given hints to him about even greater mind worms--Daemon Boils, they were called--that lurked deep within the fungal forests of Chiron.

            After skimming the native life around the camped troops with his mind, he latched onto one particular hatchling to take a closer "look" at the soldiers. XForce, they called themselves, led by Captain Elyias. This will be far more difficult than that lone Peacekeeping scout. We had managed to destroy it before it sended out any signals to the U.N. Destroying an entire expeditionary force would arouse suspicion. They must survive, but they must also not be allowed to reveal our position. Not yet. Perhaps...

            Ishmael decided upon what course of action to take, however, he was unsure as to what forces he should marshall. If I send the Great Boil at them, will it listen to me? Even if it does, will my Empaths be able to handle even being in its presence?

            Ishmael Skye sent out a telepathic message to the worms.

            Captain "Paco" Elyias was in his bed chamber when a loud crash woke him up. In the next instant, he could hear screams of pain break the ghostly stillness of the night. He immediately rose and donned his combat suit. In such uncertain places like this--the Great Dunes--he was never far from it. Keeping his shredder pistol at hand, he stepped out into the desert night. Immediately, he fell to the floor, clutching his head and screaming. Immense pain flooded through all corridors of his being. Through the corner of his eye, he saw a huge mind worm boil--at least 150 metres long--tower above him. Quickly, the voracious mind worm larvae jumped off the great boil and eagerly onto Elyias's writhing body. He could see his men, throughout the camp, falling under the same fate. He remembered the scientific studies that he had read on mind worms--only in passing, during one of his lazy searches through datalinks. He recalled reading that they burrowed into the brain, injecting their ravenous larvae. Elyias would be food. He readied himself for death...

            ...But it did not come. Elyias's convulsions were brutally stopped as the larvae completely covered his body in the frozen form of a semi-boil. As the pain in his head became more and more intolerable, his muscles screamed to move. He wanted to cry out, but the mind worms had choked his throat and covered his mouth.

            Through the pattern that the larvae had woven over his face, he could see three men dressed in dark Great Cloaks traversing his camp. As they passed by soldier upon soldier, the larvae released their hold and scurried into the protection of the fungus. The soldiers lay there, unconscious or dead. As the hooded men approached Elyias, the excruciating pain eased, and he could feel a voice in his head. Forget your pains...forget your glories...forget this place, earthelyias...

            Captain Elyias fell into dream.

            [This message has been edited by Veracitas (edited July 19, 1999).]
            [This message has been edited by Veracitas (edited July 22, 1999).]
            No Information Provided


            • #66
              2nd Armor Division 'Rolling Thunder', Spartan Faction, Great Fungal Wall, Rover Lightning

              "Good morning, Mary," Markus said from his sleep cubby.

              Mary quickly finished putting on her utility jumper, touch sealed it, and turned toward Markus. "You had a rough night," she stated, grinning.

              "Yah, hope I wasn't too much trouble," Markus replied.

              "I'm just glad your bett…" Mary started, but a lurch by the rover threw her off balance and she caught herself on the autokitchen frame.

              Markus made a move to help Mary, but was too far away and he gave up. "I almost hate to ask, but where are we going?"

              "New orders. Looks like our mindworming and pod popping days are over for a while. The Hive has punched through the Great Fungal Wall and is nearing Assassin's Redoubt. There are also some marauding Hive rovers in The Wall. Also, it looks like the 469th got the jump on us," Mary paused so Markus would get the pun. He just waved his hand in front of his face and scrunched up his nose. "They and the Northern Expeditionary force discovered a Hive base on the other side of The Wall. I don't recall its name right now. They are busy creating all sorts of havoc. Typical. " Mary continued.

              "The COs don't tell us grunt engineers everything, but it looks like Lighting, Knife Strike, and Blue Death get to go exterminate some Hive infantry near Assassin's Redoubt. Rumble, Deth Shock, and Firestorm are setting a little trap for Yang's psychopathic minions," Mary finished.

              "Sounds a lot better than worming," Markus commented. "Mary, what happened? The last thing I remember is Marciel's body being thrown through the hatch and Rao pushing past me."

              "Markus, Marciel is in real bad shape. He lost it in the pod, and started firing his taser randomly, all over the place. Rao tried to calm him down, like they tell us to do in training, but he was gone. He started screaming and running around frantically. He fell through an open hatch into the cargo bay. Rao said he bounced around a lot on his way down. Rao throwing him into the rover bulkhead didn't help, either. Luong and Trav fixed him up as best they could, and Aardvark 2 put him in co-pilot and evaced him to Assassin's Redoubt. Last I heard he'd be out for at least a month. We are OK. Rao and I have fixed all of the hull and electrical damage, but we're at 70% until you are up and running again and we get a replacement for Marciel.

              Mary paused. "The mindworm attack got pretty ugly, Markus. I went up to help Lou after his confused message to us. When I got there he had already partially destroyed the turret console and was yelling something about worms. As soon as I was through the iris valve he ripped the back of the chair off and starting attacking me with it. I've never seen anything like it." Mary looked up in the general direction of the chaos turret. "It's like our Lou wasn't there. All I could do is put up my arm, but he just kept hitting me with it. Then Rao burst through, and make short work of Lou. Dropped him like a sack of fibrefungus."

              "Then the worms came. I always though worms boils rolled. I was wrong. I saw the worm from near the pod flow around the base of the pod and toward Lighting. From the other side of the turret I saw the huge worm south of us morph through the fungus. They didn't disturb one fungul stalk, Markus. It was like the fungus wasn't there, and they were so fast. Then the chittering started and grew louder and louder. Not the sounds they use in the Morgan vids. It was like a combination of a cricket and a rasping saw. I couldn't move a muscle. I don't even remember breathing.

              "Rao pushed Lou aside and tried to activate the chaos gun. It didn't work. I thought we were dead.

              "Then the worms flowed over the base of the rover, then even over the turret dome. They were less than half a meter from me," Mary shuddered, "the dome was pinkish grey, then it was dark.

              "I heard some tearing and a sound like glass breaking, and Rao grunted. The hair all over my body started to stand on end. Then I heard Rao say, 'Don't move. I've electrified the hull, if you touch anything you might get electrocuted.' I remember thinking that was a silly order, since I couldn't move, anyway. A little light started showing through, and some of the worms were crisped. The power started to fail and I could smell smoke from an electrical fire. Worms covered the dome again, and it was dark.

              "There was an explosion, I don't know where from, and the rover listed. Then some flying fungul debris impacted on the turret dome and scraped some of the worms from the dome, and I saw Aardvark 2. Markus, I've never been so happy to see that obsolete piece of junk in my whole life. More of the worms fell away and I heard more missile impacts. Then I heard the #TuTHOCK#TuTHOCK# of chaos guns in the distance. The rover lurched again.

              "The next thing I knew Trav was herding me down from the turret, looking me over. He looked me straight in the eyes. I blinked and said, 'Trav?' Then he smiled, slapped me on the back and disappeared into the smoke. Then I wandered down the passage and saw Luong helping you.

              "Markus, Luong noticed your tattoo," Mary stated hesitantly. Markus sat up, looking concerned. "She didn't know what it was, and said something about ivy."

              "Ah, tattoo?" Markus said as he unconsciously touched his right upper arm.

              "I'm not really sure what it means, but you've gone to a great deal of trouble to hide it over the years. Tell me if you like. I thought you should know.

              Markus thought about it for a while, and then looked over at Mary. He decided if he could trust anyone, he could trust his best friend.

              "I'm not all that sure, either. My parents," Markus stopped abruptly and closed his eyes. He started to breath fast and shallow.

              "Markus, what's wrong?" Mary approached Markus' cubby.

              "When the mindworms attacked I remembered Fluffy. And that my parents abandoned me," he explained.

              "What are you talking about? I've met Sarah and Mickael. They're mechfarmers outside of Assassin's Redoubt. You couldn't ask for more loving, if rather strict, parents," Mary explained.

              Markus shook his head. "No. I just remembered. I don't know how."

              "Worms can induce hallucinations, maybe," Mary suggested.

              "No," he interrupted, "it was too real. Like I was there." Markus stopped and closed his eyes, remembering. " I remembered that my real Mom and Dad were very tall, with long dark hair tied at the back of their neck. They wore a wrap around their waist that was kind of green and pink, but was very soft. They were really tan. We lived in the fungus.

              "We went to visit some strange people who lived in a stone house. We traveled a long way, may days. Everything in the house was hard cold stone and metal. They gave us lots to eat. I was so hungry! The strange people were Sarah and Mickael, Mary. I remember my Dad picked me up and hugged me, told me he love me and that everything would be alright. Then he put me in the arms of the really big woman. She held me tight and was crying with a big smile on her face. Mickael gave my Dad a really big bag and told him something. Dad shook his head. Mickael said something else and he nodded. Then both Mom and Dad got up and walked away into the fungus. My Mom's head dropped and her shoulders were shaking. Dad put his arm around her. I started yelling for them, but they didn't stop. They didn't stop…

              "I don't even know their names. But I do remember Fluffy." Markus smiled, and then the smile disappeared.

              "It sounds pretty strange. Doesn't it? Who is Fluffy? A pet?" Mary asked.

              "Ah, yes. He was my," Markus hesitated, "my mindworm. My Mom gave him to me."

              "Now I know it was a worm dream," Mary ventured, "a mindworm? The same things that would have happily devoured us both if Aardvark 2 and Blue Death hadn't arrived?"

              "I can't explain it. I just know it's true." Markus' face hardened.

              "OK, I believe you. You could ask your parents. They're good people and wouldn't lie to you."

              "All they ever told me was to keep my tattoo hidden, but they didn't explain why. Whenever I brought it up they changed the subject," Markus mused. "I don't want to send them a vid, since the censors will get at it. I'll have to wait for my next leave. Who knows when that will be now that the Hive needs another pounding."

              "Well, I might as well tell you that you are tethered right here for at least another day," Mary ordered, "give me your medbracelet."

              Markus raised his right arm and presented an inconspicuous white band that was around his forearem. Mary raised her datapad and pressed it against two contacts, and read the results on her screen. "My autodoc says your blood sugar is a bit low, but you're fine otherwise. It says to tell you to eat well and get lots of sleep. These programs are such a help," Mary pronounced, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

              Mary placed her left hand on Markus' chest and pushed him into the cubby bedding. She leaned forward, real close to his face. Her breasts touched his chest. He could smell her breath. Markus was confused, but didn't resist. "Lay down and rest, and don't let your macho stupidity get in the way. I'll get you your breakfast. I have about 10 minutes before my shift starts. You will be happy to know that I am getting rover pilot lessons from Rao." Mary stood up and sauntered over the autokitchen, and looked at him sideways as she programmed the autochef.

              Rover pilot? Markus snorted in derision.

              "Don't think I can do it? Ingrate." She gave him his breakfast by throwing it at his chest. He barely caught it. As he ripped off the hot covering he looked up at Mary.

              "Thanks. I mean it," he said simply. His eyes followed her as she left the livquarters.

              "Don't mention it," Mary said as she cycled the iris valve to the main cabin. She was smiling beatifically by the time the valve closed behind her.


              • #67
                Miles Cavenagh was a beaten man.

                As he was hustled between his captors in a veritable posse of Hive troops, he tried with futility to summon his mindreading ability. He caught vague snatches of his captors thoughts, but learned more from listening to their conversation than ever he could from reading their thoughts. There were six of them, including Bert and Alvin, who seemed to have a personal score to settle with him.

                He knew that his neural graft and implants were malfunctioning. His headaches told him that. With his hands tied behind his back, he couldn’t activate his nosepick trigger, but in any event he doubted that it would be effective. Although he had been able to induce the trance prior to the grafting procedure, so maybe… But that only let him project, not intake.

                They were moving west, to the coast, to a small bay where the Hive had set up their excursion base.

                The winds had picked up considerably over the last two to three hours, and from the scraps of conversation he did hear they were fast tracking to a small forest to gain shelter from what seemed to be a major storm coming, of hurricane proportions.

                ‘Maybe’, he pondered, ‘if I delay things we’ll get caught in the open. There might be a chance to even the odds a bit and maybe get out of this mess.’

                They reached a rocky patch of ground, skirting a fungus patch. He stumbled, and fell, making sure that he hit his head convincingly on a boulder, and feigned unconsciousness.

                The posse ground to a halt. The sergeant, a bull of a man, came back to see what was amiss.

                “Get him up, let’s get moving”, he rasped. “We haven’t got all day. It’ll be touch and go whether we’ll make yon trees before the hurricane hits, so let’s get moving.”

                Miles felt a boot in his kidneys. “Wakey, wakey”, came Alvin’s sneering voice. “Time to go, no time to sleep.”

                Then he heard it.

                In his mind.

                The chittering of mindworms.


                At least three or four, judging from the neural commotion they were causing.

                He reached out with his mind, untranced, but still powerful.

                ‘Help, Here, Come, Attack’ he mentalized.

                The chittering paused, then reoriented itself, focusing, getting stronger.

                Miles felt another prod in the ribs, then gasped as some water was thrown over his face.

                He opened his eyes. Bert’s face was leering at him.

                “So, we’re awake are we”, he said, emphasizing his words with another kick in the small of Miles’ back.

                “Holy Zak”, said one trooper, eyes widening in horror as he spotted three mindworms emerge from the fungus at an astonishing rate.

                He unslung his flamer, but even then was too late as the mindworms massed their attack. Miles could feel the psi-power emanate from the worms as the men around him dropped to their knees screaming in agony.

                Bert’s face was close to his, contorted in agony.

                Miles said “Untie me – I can control them. You’ll live. I guarantee it. I can’t help the others, but stay close to me. Untie me.”

                Bert looked at him. ‘Through his pain he thought ‘This might be true. I’ve nothing to lose’. He slipped his knife and cut Miles’ knots.

                Miles turned to look at the scene of carnage, his own head splitting with the induced pain and the effort of trying to hold on..

                The three mindworms had each chosen a target, and as he watched, the larvae detached themselves from the brood and began their burrowing into the ears, nose and mouths of their victims. Their screaming was piercing and haunting.

                Miles picked at his nose, and forced the trance on himself. He went in and out of it as Julia’s face superimposed itself over Lisa’s but as he relived the experience, towards climax, Lisa’s prevailed, and he felt the pain subside.

                A cold deadly rage took over. He took Bert’s flamer, and turned it on the pack of humans and mindworms. The screams of the men intensified as the physical agony of being flamed mingled with their psychic agony.

                He incinerated the group of three mindworms and three troopers.

                He turned to Bert, pointing the flamer at him.

                Bert was on his knees, pleading for his life. “You promised’, he begged. “You guaranteed I’d live.”

                “Tie up your buddies” Miles said. Bert hastened to reply, trussing them back to back with hands behind their backs and feet tied together. Miles gathered in their weapons.

                He changed from the flamer to a shredder pistol, and poked Bert in the back. “keep your hands high where I can see them,” he snarled. “Now let’s veer north to that patch of trees on the horizon’.

                “What about Alvin and Peters?” asked Bert. “Won’t the mindworms get them if the hurricane doesn’t?”

                “Do you care?” asked Miles. “Do you want to join them?”

                “Hell, no.” was Bert’s response. “Let’s get moving.”

                The hurricane was almost on them as they reached the small forest of trees.

                They barreled into the center of the copse, as the winds howled around them and as the tops of the trees swayed wildly. The undergrowth thickened, slowing their progress.

                They stumbled into a small clearing, with a thick canopy of branches covering it, meeting overhead, relatively sheltered.

                “This’ll do”, said Miles, flopping to the ground, exhausted. Bert joined him.

                Suddenly there materialized around them four hooded figures, appearing out of nowhere, wearing a sort of camouflage suit that blended them into the trees and surrounding shrubbery. They were pointing strange looking pistols at the two. Longer than a shredder yet shorter than a rifle.

                One spoke.

                “Don’t talk or make any aggressive moves.” He gestured to a companion. “Get their weapons”.

                He came over and took the various weapons from Miles that he had been carrying into the clearing.

                The first one spoke again.

                “So, a Spartan and a Hive soldier, travelling together. Sand will be interested in what we’ve found.”

                [This message has been edited by Rynn (edited July 20, 1999).]


                • #68
                  Corazon Santiago got up groggily and took the proffered commlink from her aide.

                  "No visual" her aide warned. "Only primitive sound of not very good quality."

                  "Santiago here", she rasped.

                  The voice at the other end snapped her to full awakening.

                  "Deirdre Skye here. How are you Colonel, if you have not restyled yourself in the meantime?"

                  "Why my dear Deirdre. I had thought you dead all these years after Yang ran you off the southern continent. I'd heard that some of your supporters had escaped, but didn't realize that you were among them".

                  "Most certainly," Deirdre replied. "We have found ourselves a sizeable island and have commenced the rebuilding of our own preserve, honoring Planet as I have urged all of you to do."

                  "Yeah, yeah, good for you", was Santiago's bored reply. "Surely you didn't contact me just to lecture me again on the benefits of loving the worms and tasting the fungus? You did enough of that in Council before your untimely tiff with Yang."

                  "No, Colonel, indeed no," was Deirdre's hasty reply, fearful that Santiago would just terminate the link.

                  "I contacted you because I have a proposal to make."

                  "I'm listening."

                  "I have something you want, and you have something I want. Let's trade."

                  "Continue," said Santiago.

                  "I have in my possession one Wing Commander Scott Allardyce, a guest in our preserve, and I am willing to return him to you in exchange for your needlejet technology. Specifically a working needlejet and the documentation and specifications that will enable our engineers to manufacture them."

                  "And if I refuse this request?" asked Santiago.

                  "Then Wing Commander Allardyce will live out a happy retirement among us Gaians and I am sure will be persuaded to give us the benefit of his not insignificant military wisdom. But I was relying on your friendship with him. Was he not one of the original settlers who landed on Planet with you?"

                  "Indeed" was Santiago's gruff reply.


                  "If I agree, how will we get the needlejet to you and how will you get Allardyce to us?"

                  "Our island is really two small continents, connected by a small isthmus. The upper continent contains a large monsoon jungle. In a clearing in the middle of this jungle our engineers will construct a landing strip, about half way between your Admiralty base and our new base of Velvetgrass Point. We will have a supply of fuel there for you. Wing Commander Allardyce has explained that your newer jets are powered by Ionized Deuterium. We cannot supply that, but enriched Uranium is within our capabilities, so your 'gift' would need to be one of your older fission needlejets, not a fusion one. We will send your pilot and Allardyce back to you the same way we brought him here, transported on one of our indigenous units that we call an Isle of the Deep. It would take around three days for them to make the journey to your Admiralty base"

                  Santiago made a snap decision.

                  "Agreed", she said. "Have your technicians send the co-ordinates of the landing strip to us when it is ready for use."

                  "Agreed", said Deirdre. "Walk with Planet, Corazon."

                  "Yeah, you too, Deirdre. Santiago out".

                  She cut the commlink, and turned to her aide:

                  "Ayola", she commanded, "Tell the unit commanders that Googlie will be back at his desk within the week. Make sure that the SAF gives this Isle of the Deep, or whatever, adequate coverage as it gets within range. See if Southern Command has a naval vessel that can play sheepdog with it."

                  Ayola hastened to comply.

                  Santiago pondered how she could keep her part of the bargain. She dialed up Brewster on her commlink.

                  "Hello, this had better be good, calling at this time in the mor…. Oh, Good morning Colonel. I was not expecting a call from you so early. Actually I was not expecting a call from you at all. What can I do?" Brewster prattled on.

                  Santiago quickly briefed him on her talk with Deirdre and the decision she had made.

                  "That's great news," said Brewster. "It'd have to be one of our two fission interceptors, as all our penetrators are rejigged as close support for the Rolling Thunder Division. And we're short of crew right now with your niece out somewhere dodging Hive troops. But I'll see what we can do. I'll get Slats Miller on the commlink right away".

                  'Ah, yes. Julia', thought Santiago. 'I wonder what she's doing right now.'


                  Julia woke up as dawn first peeked over the horizon. The rover was comfortable enough, with crew bunks to sleep on, and it certainly beat the three nights of sleeping in the open when she and Googlie had first been shot down.

                  She had traveled south east until she had reached the coast, then turned east to follow the coastline to Admiralty Base. The problem had been the base itself. It was offshore, the first sea base the Spartan Federation had built, and it was about three clicks offshore. She doubted her ability to swim that far, and in any event to abandon the rover was criminal, as it would surely fall into Hive hands or become infested with mindworms if left too long unattended.

                  So she struck north east, following the coastline, round the two or three bays that delineated the eastern shoreline of the continent. She had stopped last night about halfway between Pointa Sur and Blast Rifle Crag in her estimation. She reckoned she was about a days long drive from either one. BRC had an airstrip whereas Pointa Sur didn't, so that made up her mind for her.

                  Her drive north was uneventful, and soon she was rumbling past the outlying farms of the base. She had commlinked ahead to advise of her coming, and had been told to go right to the airbase, which she did, and reported for duty.

                  Morales, the Duty officer greeted her:

                  "Flying Officer Santiago, welcome. I expect you would like a long shower and a change of clothes. Allow me to offer you the hospitality of my humble home - we have had your sizes advised us, and a fresh uniform is being readied right now. After you have washed and eaten, now that our storm has abated you are to fly our small training aircraft to Fort Superiority where Alan Watt awaits you with fresh orders."

                  "Thank you", said Julia. "I have been out of touch for several days. Has Wing Commander Allardyce returned?"

                  "No, but he will shortly. If I may be so bold I think that you might have a part to play in his return."

                  'Hmmmmm' thought Julia. 'I wonder what the old galoot has been up to.'


                  Googlie sat across the table from Deirdre Skye and raised his glass in a toast.

                  "To the confusion of our enemies and the friendship of the Spartans and the Gaians".

                  "I can drink to that", Deirdre replied.

                  The meal had been frugal, but the distilled spirits were passable. Not quite up to Morgan Breweries standards, but still left a buzz on the palate and in the head.

                  "If I may ask a favor, Lady, I would be in your debt", said Googlie.

                  "Ask", she said. "Whether I have the power to grant it is another."

                  "Oh, it is simple. I would like to use one of your recording devices to put down my thoughts and impressions of the last few days while they are fresh in my memory."

                  As he said this, he ruffled the tendrils of the passive mindworm bunched at his feet. It wriggled with pleasure, and the thought came hesitantly into Googlie's mind

                  'muchlike….enjoy company earthgooglie….sad to part'

                  "Yeah, me too" he said audibly.

                  "Pardon?" queried Deirdre

                  "Oh, just talking to old Alphonse here," he replied. "That's part of what I want to record."

                  Lady Deirdre smiled at him.

                  "Yes, Scott, we all felt strange when the indigenous life forms started communicating with us, and we with them, but it seems so natural now. Of course you may have the recorder you need. It is important that planet's story be heard by as many of us interlopers as possible. Now if you'll excuse me I need to go and look after some affairs of state. Ask Steven for what you need."

                  She rose from the table, bidding him goodnight, and left for her study.

                  Googlie went to find Steven to get the recorder.

                  [This message has been edited by Googlie (edited July 22, 1999).]


                  • #69
                    Sheila Cartesius re-read in her mind the instructions the Gecko had left her, and shook her head. It just didn't add up. But here she was in an anteroom of the CinC's cabinet, waiting until the cabinet chief's interview with the XO was over, wondering what the hell was going to happen next.

                    Meanwhile inside, the XO was facing some tricky questions. What could he tell? What he knew? Tricky, indeed.

                    His contact at Morgan News had asked him for a comment on the unexpected reappearance of the Gaians. It had taken all of his experience with journalists, chopper jocks and other bloody maggots to keep his wits about him and come up with a credible semblance of amused surprise. He had chatted amiably with the journo for a couple of minutes, then terminated the link. Right away the link bleeped again, and the gold and black emblem of CinC cabinet flashed - the chief of cabinet requested an interview. Please to attend. End of communication.

                    The XO had gotten onto a contact in Command, close to but not inside the cabinet, and learnt many things - after a promise of delivery of assorted Unity spirits.

                    Deirdre had indeed officially popped up again. Allardyce was with her. There would be a trade of some sorts. The XO had been flabberghasted to learn that CinC had not known about the Gaians' continued existence. He himself had known about it for ages, only had been sworn to secrecy by the Gecko. The Gecko had told him there was a secret Spartan/Gaian pact.

                    The thought of the Gecko keeping information from CinC was utterly incredible. He had told him himself how he had encountered a young Spartan in uncharted territory, a pilot of Allardyce's Fourth Wing. Stephen Cartesius, indeed Sheila's brother, had crashed more or less right into Pholus Ridge, and had survived. And he didn't want to come back to Sparta. He had been taken up by Gaian refugees, and he lived with them now. This was how the Gecko's contacts with the Gaians had started, and until now the XO had always believed that he had filled CinC in on every detail. And Trawler McMillan? In on it as well? Also fooled by the Gecko? Incredible.

                    But either CinC indeed hadn't known, or CinC cabinet was doublechecking stories. What to do? They would interview Sheila next, and she knew enough to give the game away. He could not take the risk. The XO resolved to tell everything.

                    Except about Lindly. He hoped to god Sheila didn't know about her.

                    He started explaining how a demon boil Isle of the Deep, carrying six mature mindworm boils, could have come in the possession of Sparta's North Fleet, and was now heading to the Hive front under the direction of their brood trainer, Stephen Cartesius.

                    What the hell was going on? Was there a fifth column? Was the junta edging out Santiago? Was it just the Gecko? Burge? Nothing had been heard from Burge in ages. Dread? Gone completely underground. Allardyce? Hobnobbing with the Gaians! Atreus? Zak knew what that old battle-axe could be up to. From what old soldiers told of him, Atreus had been just to the right of Attila the Hun on the Unity, and had only joined the Spartans because there wasn't anything MORE militaristic.

                    The XO tried to keep a grip on himself. He concentrated on the chief of cabinet's sober, investigative questioning, and kept his answers on the level and to the point. Carefully omitting Lindly.

                    Numquam turbae misceri
                    Numquam turbae misceri


                    • #70
                      Club Lucifer, Morgan Metagenics

                      god money i'll do anything for you.
                      god money just tell me what you want me to.
                      god money nail me up against the wall.
                      god money don't want everything he wants it all.

                      no you can't take it
                      no you can't take it
                      no you can't take that away from me
                      no you can't take it
                      no you can't take it
                      no you can't take that away from me

                      head like a hole.
                      black as your soul.
                      i'd rather die than give you control.
                      head like a hole.
                      black as your soul.
                      i'd rather die than give you control.

                      bow down before the one you serve.
                      you're going to get what you deserve.
                      bow down before the one you serve.
                      you're going to get what you deserve.

                      god money's not looking for the cure.
                      god money's not concerned with the sick among the pure.
                      god money let's go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
                      god money's not one to choose
                      no you can't take it
                      no you can't take it
                      no you can't take that away from me...

                      Head like a hole, NIN

                      Kali rubbed her bloodshot eyes and took a drink of water. She was playing a very old song yet she liked the feel of the song. The lyrics were perfect for the hedonistic society she lived in, it's only concern was wealth. She knew too many people that were either self absorbed or were consumed by money. She didn't know if it was day or night, in fact she didn't know what day it was. All she knew was that she had been awake for over 36 hours (maybe it was 48) and that she wasn't about to fall asleep. She was tired but couldn't sleep, some of her sences were razor sharp even now, while the rest of her body had almost shut down.

                      Above her music pulsed and droned back and forth. The party never ended never slowed down. It didn't matter what day it was, it didn't matter what time someone was always in the club. Morgan Metagenics was known for its entertainment and tourist form all over Chiron treked here. However Club Lucifer was in a section of the city that few tourist ever saw. Drone riots were common in this part of the city and many of the buildings looked burnt out. However inside of the ruins (or down below like in this case) there was activity.

                      Morgan Metagenics had one of the largest recreational drug industries on Chiron, safe and enjoyable was the motto of the industry. However here among the drones many controlled substances were widely available. Kali was on the backend of what the drones called an orgy, that's what they called it when a group had CEX. CEX was one of the most popular drugs among the drones. It was a stimulant that simulated various opiates in the body. It also had pyschoactive properties, one of which was increased empathy. The basic effects on a person was increased energy levels, decreased stress, increased sensitivy to stimuli, many often had mild hallucinations, and then most striking effect was the mild ability to read minds. It wasn't real mind reading but you could project your thoughts and others coulds feel your emotions and a few people with innate natural ability could actually read minds. Usually an entire group would "blitz" at the same time, and they would all experiance each other blitzin.

                      Everyone who had started blitzin with her were upstairs in the club but she could still feel them, and if she wasn't concentrating so hard she could have stayed in complete harmony with them. She was concentrating, trying to keep them out of her mind, but it wasn't working that well. She had important things to do, she was after all a Major in the URF (University Resistance Front).

                      A long time ago she'd been been a two year old right before the Spartan Armed Forces overtook Zolto-Gold (they renamed it Fort Superiority) her father had escaped with her but the rest of her family wasn't as lucky. Her mother had been butchered by the Spartans and her older brother was brainwashed by the evil Spartans (proof of that was he was a member of the Spartan Army). Now as an ex-patriot of the University she was fighting back. As a member of the URF she had vowed not to stop until each and every bit of University territory had been liberated. Except at times she felt more Morgan than University.

                      Her fingers did the fighting. Finally! The screen open it's secrets, it went from the Access Restricted screen to the Access Accepted screen. With a few quick keystrokes she caused the network node at Jannisary Rock to completely shut down and lock itself into a high security mode that only she knew the password too. The security protocals were new but now that she saw how they worked she knew it could be repeated until they instituted new protocals.

                      Suddenly she felt like she'd been poked really hard. In reality it was just Devin reaching out to her, he was probably a natural empath. He started blitzing her with images of the lights upstairs and she sat back and just enjoyed what he was projecting to her...
                      [This message has been edited by korn469 (edited July 22, 1999).]


                      • #71
                        The Gecko received the message during the dying moments of the storm. It was a pre-arranged signal - an empty message, just a bleep, just enough to flush the commlink screen blue. Code blue. Return immediately. It meant that something had come up that was more important than what he was doing now. Therefore, XO was of the opinion that Googlie Allardyce could wait. The Gecko got down from his shelter, and quickly cleared the camouflage from his needlejet.

                        Keeping the jet low, the Gecko's thoughts unavoidably turned to Lindly. What else? What else would XO consider more important to him than Googlie's life right now?

                        Numquam turbae misceri
                        Numquam turbae misceri


                        • #72
                          The line spat and sputtered with static. Nothing more.

                          Gavin tinkered with the wiring a bit, then threw his hands up in disgust. He drew in a deep breath and started for the umpteenth time.

                          Private Lewis nearly came out of his chair at the Fort Soup monitoring station when he picked up the signal.

                          "This is...eld Ma...hal Gav.....Burge.....o anyone.....Spartan Co...and....hear me....the 47th division is....ct, I repeat....act...."

                          There might have been more to the message, but it was impossible to boost the gain enough to hear with the storm's distortion, he couldn't quite make it out.....did he say they were under attack? The storm made it likely that the battle sounds would be masked, but even Yang would be hard pressed to force his men to the offensive in all this.

                          He chewed his bottom lip for a moment, wondering what to do. Ultimately, he decided it was better to be safe than sorry, and he all but sprinted from the room to get Captain Hyler.

                          " least we tried." Gavin said heavily. Damnned thing's all shot to Hell and back.

                          "It'll be'll see." Elizabeth Thompson told him. " And all the strangeness we've encountered in this storm would make quite a story someday."

                          "Harumph." Was about the best he could do for a reply. "Have the Dragons gotten back yet?"

                          She shook her head.

                          "And still no way to find out where my other commanders are? If we've got the entire division rallying at Fort Superiority?"

                          "No. Not til the storm ends. We've always known that the fungus made radio communications a little garbled, and it seems Monoliths do the same thing on a larger scale."

                          He nodded absently. "Well, when they get back in from their rounds, make sure they understand my standing order."

                          "Don't touch nothing." She said, trying his voice on for size, and not doing a half bad job of it.

                          He grumbled, trying to cover the grin that threatened (it was always so difficult to stay mad with her around), and went to find his cot. Nothing worse than being cooped up for two solid days. In a creepy alien place, no less.

                          He was an old man. Should have been out fishing, not that this was any weather for it.

                          Watching Morgan News then, or some re-runs, or something, but inside a Monolith? His days of adventure were over.

                          He shook his head, not quite sure which was worse. Being cooped up in here, or the flack he'd take for having gone mysteriously missing all during the storm.

                          [author's note: Yes, I know....shoot me, I've been away.....there will be more, but I wanted you guys to know that I was still alive....] :-)
                          The list of published books grows. If you're curious to see what sort of stories I weave out, head to and do an author search for "Christopher Hartpence." Help support Candle'Bre, a game created by gamers FOR gamers. All proceeds from my published works go directly to the project.


                          • #73
                            2nd Armor Division ‘Rolling Thunder’, Spartan Faction, Rover 21 ‘Lightning’, Great Fungal Wall

                            ‘I’m going crazy,’ Markus thought, ‘I’ve been resting in my cubby for only an hour, and I am going nuts!’

                            Markus looked around the livquarters of the rover in irritation. His cubby was a little less than 2/3 of a meter in height and a little more than 2 meters long, barely enough to roll over in and not nearly enough space in which to sit up. There were three cubbies in a single bank along the left side of the iris valve entrance. The far wall contained the retractable table and chairs and autochef, and the right wall consisted of storage lockers and spare parts. ‘Very Spartan,’ Markus thought ruefully. ‘Still, I have it a lot better than the infantry grunts. They have to live and sleep in the fungus and mud. Some of the poor bastards even like it. Well, maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.’

                            ‘No, I hate it because I’m board stiff. I can’t sleep, and I’m board,’ he thought as he tried to lie back in his bunk and relax. He stared at the top of his cubby, which was the bottom of Mary’s cubby. Markus started to fidget.

                            Unable to stand it any longer, Markus rolled out of his cubby to walk around the three whole square meters of floor space in the livquarters. He walked over to the iris valve and briefly considered reporting for duty, and immediately dismissed it from his mind since Rao would eat him alive. He didn’t want to think was Mary would do to him. Reproach? Disappointment? Scold? Cold shoulder? Brrrrr. Not worth it. It was a little amusing, he thought to himself, that I am more concerned of crossing Mary than Rao.

                            He walked over to the over side of the livquarters and hit the wall stud to activate the table and bench, which folded silently out of the wall and stopped with an audible click. He sat down on the bench closest to his cubby. ‘Well, I’m not hungry since Mary gave me my breakfast by throwing it at me,’ Markus reminded himself with a smile.

                            “I’m avoiding the obvious,” Markus said aloud, reproving himself. A lot had happened, and he usually didn’t have the luxury of time off to think about it. Those blasted mindworms had made him remember some deeply buried childhood memories. Why those memories? Because they were intensely traumatic? He knew mindworms played on your deepest fears, so that might be it. How old was I? Four, maybe five? And who were my parents, and why did they abandon me? Markus felt hurt, even though the only parents he had ever known he knew loved him deeply and were back on a mechfarm at Assassin’s Redoubt. These other parents were shadows, but it still felt like something was missing. All he really had were questions. And then there was his tattoo – a link with his past.

                            ‘Well, maybe I can do something about that,’ Markus thought as he activated the rover datalinks. ‘These datalinks are pretty limited, but they may help pass the time, at least.’

                            *Rover 21 datalinks activated. Turn toward the optisensor for retinal scan* a pleasant voice requested.

                            Markus turned toward the optiport and opened his eyes for the scan.

                            *Identity Lieutenant Markus Aurelius confirmed, pilot assigned to 2nd Armor Rover 21, under the command of Captain Rao Kosarau. Select datalinks interaction mode:
                            * Manual/verbal
                            * Eye-cursor
                            * Eye-cursor and manual/verbal
                            * VR
                            * Direct (warning – restricted equipment required for direct linkage)

                            Markus didn’t want to bother getting out the VR gloves and goggles, or the eye-cursor focus, so he selected manual/verbal.

                            He presented his bare upper right arm to the optisensor. “Identify the image on my upper right arm.”

                            *The image on your upper right arm is 93% probable to be a tattoo representing intertwined rose stems with red rose blooms*

                            “Use this image to perform an image and subject search,” Markus commanded.

                            *There are 435 records and images directly related to this image* the datalinks computer responded.

                            “Display the three most highly correlated records and images,” Markus said as he turned toward the wall. Three images and text appeared in a series of small panels on the wall above the table.

                            Image 1 showed a rose bush with red blooms, which rotated slowly to show all angles. A female voice said, “Any of the genus Rosa, a prickly or thorny shrub native to Earth with pinnate leaves, which are frequently doubled. Blooms are delicate and come in a multitude of colors, some of which are bioengineered to…”

                            Image 2 was a geometric figure, accompanied by the explanation, “A plane curve which consists of three or more loops meeting at the origin whose equation in polar coordinates is in the form…”

                            Image 3 was a picture of a strange city and a beautiful but ageless woman walking in a stand of white pines, “The red rose intertwined with rose stems is the symbol of the presumed exterminated Gaian faction that once colonized Planet. This pacifist faction was lead by the Unity biologist and geneticist Lady Deirdre Sky, who took environmental and planet protection to militant extremes. She and her weak faction were eliminated during military action by the Hive on M.Y. 2175…”

                            Markus caught his breath. Gaians?!! Is that what I am? A Gaian? Markus was stunned.

                            Images from his dreams/memories raced through his head: playing in the fungus, the strange buildings that were made from or were fungus, his pet mindworm Fluffy, the strange clothing. It did make some sense.

                            Still, I am a Spartan. I was raised a Spartan. I was taught to be a Spartan. Everything I love and honor is Spartan. Yes, I am a Spartan, Markus reassured himself.

                            Am I?


                            • #74
                              "The storm seems to be blowing itself out, sir." Elizabeth said quietly, looking out through one of the *portholes* at the side of the Monolith.

                              Gavin grunted in response. "Good. Been cooped up in here for a helluva lot longer than I’d wanted to be."

                              She smiled at him. "You know you’ve loved it."

                              "Oh yes, about as much as I enjoyed.....well, never mind." He blushed, and she giggled.

                              "Dragons are back." ‘Sparks’ Wheeler called in a too-cheerful voice.

                              "Good man, and about time, too. Thought you might have turned into worm food."

                              He shook his head. "No sir, but we did manage to scout out the rest of the Fungal Wall. No sign of troops anywhere here, but we did find the blasted out remains of a Hive Recon Rover."

                              Gavin nodded. "That makes sense. No big surprise that a little vehicle like that could get bogged down in here....we would have had a helluva time getting in here if not for the Pile Drivers."

                              As if summoned by the mentioning of his pride and joy, Huey Brinkman came in, all smiles. "Did somebody mention my Pile Drivers? See, I told you they had great military, if we could just get the rest of Sparta Command to listen to reason...."

                              "Yeah, yeah.....that’ll be the day." Gavin sighed heavily. "Sometimes I feel like the whole system is breaking down. The Spartans stand for strength and honor....both good things, that is true, but the command structure is getting all shaky. Too many Independent Princes."

                              "Aren’t you one of those?" Elizabeth asked playfully. Too much time cooped up together. It was making them less than formal. That would have to change. Things were dicey. Too many unknowns.

                              "Yes, perhaps I am. But right now, we need to get it together people. We don’t know precisely where the Hive forces are, or how many may be inside Spartan territory. About all we know for sure is that none of them have come back this way to leave."

                              "What’s the plan, Sir?" Sparks asked him, the training and professionalism kicking in automatically. That was good to see. A good sign.

                              "I want to try something a little bit different. Bring the other company commanders in here."

                              They were assembled within two minutes.


                              " secret that we got hammered by that sudden storm. Radio’s all haywire, and we’re working on that. Soon as the storm’s over, we’ll send a team out to our side of the Fungal Wall and radio our current situation. Until then, I want to make the most of our unique position. We’re gonna do what we do best.....improvise a little."

                              He paused for a moment, collecting himself. No one had ever suggested a thing such as he was proposing.

                              "I know the fungus itself grows too quickly to give us much in the way of landmarks, but we found this Monolith here, and we can use it as a base point....and maybe that rocky outcropping north of here....even with the fungus all over it, you can still tell where it is. It’s a landmark."

                              Sparks smiled at him. "You want us to make a map of the interior of the Fungal Wall."

                              Gavin nodded.

                              "Brilliant." He said with a smile.

                              "Nawww....not really brilliant, but we’re here, and we’re alone. If we can learn the terrain inside and out, we’ll have a big edge over anybody else that comes bumbling in here. And Brinkman, I want your Pile Drivers to destroy that road. That’s a landmark for them....we don’t need that. Any Hive forces that come through here, I want them to be stumbling around blind. Any of our forces coming through will have the benefits of our soon as we make them, so here’s what I want. Now that we know a little bit about the Monolith, I want both Phalanxes to set up here. We’ll use this as our command post. Dragons and Crushers will be dedicated to mapping out as much of the interior as we can. Banks, as soon as the storm breaks, I want you and the Rovers back on our side of the Wall with the radio. Get word of our position to them and tell them we’ll be checking back every 48 hours for updates and reports. Other than that, we’ll be at radio silence while we’re in here.....not that it would do them any good to try to reach us anyway.....questions?"

                              "Where to you want the artillery support?" Hobbes asked.

                              "The rocky outcropping." Tell you what, borrow one Rover from Banks, and a Platoon from Crusher One. We’ll put Ian Allardyce in command of the platoon, artillery defense. It’s the least I can do, considering the likely fate of his father."

                              The room was silent. He had told them about Sand.

                              "And that’s another thing, people. He may be lurking around in here somewhere. We’ve not seen any troop movement, but Sand would operate alone. You see anything strange, and I mean anything at all, you get back to your unit. I don’t want anybody trying to play the hero....Sand’s a one-man wrecking crew. He’ll eat even the toughest man in the unit for breakfast, and that’s no joke. Understand me?"

                              There were nods all around.

                              "Okay, snap to it. We’ve got work to do."

                              The filed out, leaving him alone with his thoughts.

                              So strange, the last few days.

                              First the freak storm. Probably not so freak, but they didn’t have up to the minute access to weather information in the field, and it had taken them by surprise. The pressure tents were simply blown over, and they certainly couldn’t all fit in the command vehicle, so the Fungus Bed had been the only alternative. Then they found the Monolith. Not only that, but it *opened* for them. And *then* they found out they could fit the entire unit inside, nevermind that it didn’t look that big.

                              When it closed in on them, he had been a little worried, and it had taken them the better part of a day to get the damned thing opened back up again, but he could feel the intelligence of the thing. It seemed to almost be guiding them. Helping them. And yet, he could sense that it was keeping its secrets. Only revealing a small portion of itself to them. He could sense that there was much more to the place than the nearly endless chamber he and the troops were allowed to see, but that was just the thing. The Monolith was almost alive. It revealed only what it wished to reveal.

                              He grunted again, and looked toward the high, vaulted ceiling. “Well, thank you for giving us a dry place to stay, anyway.” He said to the room.

                              Silence was his only answer.

                              "Sir, just got word from the Sparta Command...." Banks was chattering excitedly on her short range to him. It was static-laden and hard to make out, but she was close enough that the signal penetrated the Fungal Wall, so long as he was outside the Monolith.

                              "What’s the situation?"

                              "Seems they don’t know much more than we do. There *are* forces inside Spartan Territory, but no one’s got a firm lock on their position."

                              "That’s an affirmative on forces inside Spartan Territory?"

                              "Yes Sir, and some of them are heading this way."

                              Gavin froze. "Get your people out of there. I want you back here, triple time, understood? And get a force count before you leave!"

                              "On my way, sir. And I can make out eleven different company battle standards. Looks like they’re intending on heading back through the Fungus to wherever their base is."

                              Eleven companies.

                              And he had six. Counting the artillery.

                              He chewed on that for a moment.

                              "Okay, change in plans. Do they look like they’ve seen any action?"

                              "I can see scorch marks on their armor, yes Sir. Looks like they’ve been doing some scrapping."

                              He thought for a moment, weighing his options. They were badly outnumbered, that was true, but they also were in the fungus undetected. Maps or no, that was a strong advantage.

                              "Okay, Banks, here’s the plan. If they haven’t spotted you yet, make sure they do. I want them to see you running parallel to the fungus. Play like you’re having engine trouble or something and it’s slowing you down. Make them believe you’re heading for a unit north of here. They’ll want to catch you before you do, and you’ll make them think they can. I want you to duck into the Fungus for cover, like you’re trying to evade their pursuit. We’ll cook up a little surprise for them."

                              "Yes Sir, Banks out. See you in a bit, Commander." He could almost hear her smiling. She loved a good game of cat and mouse.

                              He spun around in the command chair and got his other company commanders on-line. "Crushers One and Two, I want you up close to our side of the fungal wall. You will make our first line. Banks is coming in fast, and she’s bringing company for dinner. Get ready to receive them. You’ll have the element of surprise, but I don’t want you to stick around long. I want them to believe they’re facing a vastly inferior force. I want them to chase you back here."

                              "Sparks here, Sir. Where do you want the Dragons?"

                              "Flanking position. As soon as they start running in after the Crusher Units, you fall in behind them. Don’t fire until you hear Hobbes’ guns going got that Hobbes. And *you* don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes."

                              "Yes Sir, we’ll be ready for them."

                              "We’re outnumbered, people, and I know that surrounding a larger force is a little unconventional, but we’ve got the terrain on our side, and the fact that we’re fresh and they’re not. I don’t want anybody making it back to Hive Territory. The strength in our position lies in the fact that nobody knows we’re here. Let’s keep it that way."

                              He paused for a moment to let it all sink in, then continued. "Crusher Units, I want you to do a running firefight back to the Monolith, Banks will drive ahead of you. Pile Drivers, make sure they’ve got a good, clean line back, but don’t make it too obvious, if you get my meaning, and then park back here around the Monolith. We’ll use the damned things as cover if we need them."

                              "Pile Drivers already dispatched. I’m on it." Came the crisp reply.

                              Good people, his men. He allowed himself a grim smile.

                              "Okay time. Let’s be sharp out there. No mistakes."

                              The show was about to begin.

                              The list of published books grows. If you're curious to see what sort of stories I weave out, head to and do an author search for "Christopher Hartpence." Help support Candle'Bre, a game created by gamers FOR gamers. All proceeds from my published works go directly to the project.


                              • #75
                                Captain Dimitriov:

                                Though I am sure you have received my official communiqué, let me personally congratulate you on your recent promotion. I have the greatest confidence in you, both as a leader and as a soldier. Let me also personally congratulate you on the commissioning of the 10th NCM Brigade. Your artillery and probe team support units are currently en route to Admiralty base, where you will rendezvous. I have handpicked the personnel, and can assure you that they are the best in the Amp. Corp.
                                I would advise you to keep your troops at the highest state of readiness. An invasion of Hive sea and beachhead bases is currently in the planning stage. This mission is of great strategic importance to the balance of naval power, and to the war effort as a whole.
                                I am sure that you do not need to be reminded that the Spartan Federation accords the U.N. Charter the highest respect. As such, any invasion of Hive territory will be conducted with non-lethal gas munitions.

                                Your Fellow Soldier,

                                General Motohiro Honshu, 2nd Division, Spartan Amphibious Corp.