Chapter 5: Artemis The Goddess Of Hunting

Jones and Valentine turned another corner of a street; both with their military experience were struggling in the jackets and the heat.

"If we go up this road it'll lead up the hill and we can at least see headquarters and the rest of the city"

Jones nodded and puffed in reply. As they continued their run he began to undo his jacket, it was heavy and hot and he thought about ditching it altogether but he knew it was possible he'd be disciplined for such an action.

They ran up the hill and continued even though their legs were getting tired and aching, in need of rest.

Valentine taking the lead yet again, he was desperate to reach to top of the hill. They could hear the sounds of cannons firing and the city burning. Ben wondered how the other cities were fairing seeing as they didn't have the Macina that they had. He had to shake of the feeling in fear of losing all hope of winning the war. This was only the first battle he'd have to stay strong.

They reached the top of the hill and the site that greeted them was harrowing. The Macina were fighting with the Martians, effectively. However there were at least ten tripods still standing.

The Macina were back to back almost, as the tripods hounded in on them. One of the Macina's guns spoke hammering in the legs of one tripod's. It buckled and toppled into a large building. The building crumbled under the weight of the massive war machine.

The two lieutenants stood in horror at the next few minutes, as the cannons of the Macina could not keep up a constant barrage against the oncoming horde of tripods. Using their shields as make shift weapons the Martians hammered into the side of the Macina. Several of the tripods pushed and smashed the humans fighting machines. Within minutes one was descending slowly being toppled of it's legs. It hit the ground with a thunderous crash. Followed by and explosion so large in destroyed two of the tripods around it.

Ben and Valentine were forced to look away as the light was so intense. It was painful to even just close their eyes they had to turn fully away until they could no longer feel the warmth on the back of their necks.

When they returned their vision, they couldn't believe their eyes the remaining Macina had taken the blast fully in it's leg crippling it and as the soldiers on it's deck tried to regain control it took a nosedive onto the city below. Landing face down directly onto of the building crushing in to dust under it's massive weight. It didn't explode but the surrounding Martians began to stomp on the poor machine making sure it wouldn't get up.

Ben almost let out a whimper, what were they going to do now? There was nothing left between them and utter defeat.

He looked at Valentine, "What are we going to do now?" he asked the other officer. Valentine didn't hear him he was staring off to his right.

Jones impatient, by his fellow officer's ignoring off him. Continued, "What are you looking at?"

Valentine didn't reply he just raised a finger pointing into the distance. Ben follow his finger, there in the distance was where their headquarters a good ten miles away. A plume of black smoke above it. The fire was so big they could see it from where they were.

"God help us." Ben muttered.

Valentine span and looked right at the other officer.

"I'm heading to Edinburgh." He said in a matter of fact way.

Ben was fazed by this and looked at his colleague as thought he was trying to be funny and failing.

"What?" he asked

"My wife and children are there. I'm going to be with them. If we die…I'm going with them" he said and span to walk down the hill rifle in hand.

Ben reached to grabbed his shoulder, "Wait!" he gasped.

There was a sound like thunder followed by a whoosh then a rumbling as something fell out of the sky and landed in the city. It was followed several more time by more of the same.

"What the hell, more" Ben said looking around, one slammed into the ground near the crest of the hill in the city. Ben could see it from where he was, it was smaller than the others, by at least half. Valentine had paused but then continued walking away from him. Ben ran down the hill and grabbed his new friend on the shoulder and span him around.

"That's not a journey you can make" he paused, thought then added "by yourself"

Valentine frowned at him. "Is that you offering to help me?"

Ben nodded, "Come on, we better go I don't like the look of the new cylinders."

Valentine slapped his friend on the shoulder and the two set off at another run this time down the hill away from the city and their command.

X

They had been running a good many miles now, through empty streets. Everyone had gone the only thing that filled the streets was bodies. Not charred ones, this wasn't the work of the Martians; these people had gunshot wounds or knife wounds. Ben remembered back to his history lessons as boy, back in the initial invasion rioting and looting was common. With many getting shot and stabbed in the terror infused clamour to escape. With a sorry eye the pair ran on.

After a few more streets Valentine turned to his friend and said "Break?"

Ben slowed and nodded. Huffing and wheezing he kept his back straight and let his lungs catch up for the previous hour of running.

Valentine sat down on the curb, resting his head against his rifle. The street they were in was completely empty. It was a set of terrace houses surrounding them. Ben walked over to his friend and joined him on the curb.

It seemed as though they were safe for a while here. It had been a while since they'd seen or heard anything of the Martians.

They were many miles out of the city centre and were in a industrial suburb of the city. It probably only just classed as Birmingham.

"You think we'll make it?" Valentine asked.

Ben looked at his friend and coughed, then smiled and said, "Well…not if we run all the bloody way."

Valentine laughed at hearing his well-spoken friend swear.

"If we don't…I mean you think we'll be saved this time?" he replied.

Ben looked around, as thought searching for an answer. He was an intelligent young man but he knew the Martians wouldn't have come unless they had overcome their easy infection of bacteria.

He opened his mouth to speak and then their conversation was interrupted by a scream. A woman's scream behind them, they both stood up and span round trying to figure out where the scream came from. Then it happened again, it was a house a few doors down from where they were sitting. The door was wide open, Ben didn't hesitate to look at Valentine at what they should do. He ploughed towards the house kicking open the gate of the front garden and powered into the house Valentine right behind him. The scream came again but it echoed around the house this time. It was from upstairs. Vaulting up the stairs Ben slammed open the door on his left, it sounded as though that's where the screaming was coming from. It was a small room that was probably a study of some sort with a desk and chair facing a window and a bookshelf. In the room to his disgust was a woman being held down and three men. Two were holding her down and the third was about to rape her. Without hesitating Ben kicked the man who was naked from the waist down straight in his groin. He coiled up instantly the hard leather boot rendering him useless for the coming fight or from having children in the future.

There were rifles leaning against the wall, as one of the men rushed off the still standing men rushed at him he realised they were soldiers.

From his old platoon, two of them were privates the third on the floor was a Corporal.

"Private Jacobs! What the hell are you doing!" he shouted at the man who ran at him. The Private didn't reply but squarely punched him in the face. Valentine was engaging with the other man. The Private had grabbed his rifle before he managed to fire off a shot.

Ben's revolver was still stuck in his holster, he hadn't thought to draw it when he entered the room.

As Ben recoiled from the blow holding his face, he saw another punch headed his way. Ducking Ben avoided the second punch, and retaliated kicking the man in his shin. The man tittered backwards trying to deal with the pain. Ben drove his shoulder into the man toppling him backwards.

Jacobs wasted no time in lashing back though, once on the floor he flailed his leg out catching Ben in his stomach. Toppling into the wall behind him in the narrow room he stood on the corporal. Who was trying desperately to recover, the man cried out in pain. Ben stomped on him making sure he wouldn't get up.

"Jacobs! Stand down that's and order." He yelled.

He glanced to his right to see Private Yeats and Valentine tumble out of the room still clambering over the rifle.

Jacobs got to his feet quickly. "Every disrespect intended, go screw yourself sir. You spoilt our fun, you see it was my turn after the Corp's" The grin on his face was revolting.

"Do it now I command you, otherwise we this is over you'll be dragged up in front of a court marshal." Ben said to him as they gauged each other ready for the second round.

"Ain't 'appening sir, see we're already dead men walking and I intend to have some fun you could have a go if you want."

Ben looked at him with shire disgust, "I wont let you do that" looking out the corner of his eye at the poor distressed woman, he couldn't have been much older that himself. "I suggest you run Miss, I don't want these unruly men getting hold of you if we lose the fight."

"Like hell she will." Jacobs lunged for the woman. Who shrieked and bolted for the door. Ben rushed between them and slammed his fist into Jacob's face. The man's head turned and recovered quick enough to slam his own fist into Ben's gut. The woman however made it out of the door and was gone.

"You'll pay now sir!" Jacobs cried out as he brought both his fists down on Ben's back.

Ben slammed onto all fours and felt a boot slam into his chest mere seconds after. Being beaten up was new experience for Ben he'd never been in so much pain. He hit the wall with a terrific force. Jacobs charged over to finish the job going for another kick to his chest. Ben pushed with his arms and catapulted himself out of the way. Jacob's foot hit the wall and he cried out in pain.

Ben stood up quickly as the man cried out and slammed Jacob's head into the wall. He dropped quickly holding his forehead. He turned round and saw the Corporal standing up he'd hastily put some trousers on and was facing the officer. Ben looked to his right where the bookshelf was. He grabbed the biggest book he could see and launched it at the man. It caught the Corporal square in the face. With a cry of pain he brought his hands up to his face. If he'd paid any attention he would have seen Ben's fist following the book. The Corporal dropped to the floor soon after apparently unconscious from the punch. Ben flicked the pain from this hand and then he heard the gun cock. He span to see Jacobs holding one of the rifles, that were against the wall.

Ben raised his hands slightly in a sign of surrender.

"Looks like the ranks win, I call this a revolution…sir" he spat the last word.

Ben looked behind the man and saw the desk and the window.

"Ever wondered what it's like to be shot?" The Private grinned, and then he pulled the trigger the dry gun merely clicked.

The Private looked down at his weapon in shock. Ben didn't waist the opportunity he rushed forward pushing the man as hard as he could. Jacobs toppled over the desk and smashed through the window. He screamed as he fell to the earth. There was a thud and a crack as he hit the grass of the back garden. Then lay there motionless. He'd landed straight on his back and was either dead or paralysed. Ben hoped it was the later. There were grunts of fighting coming from the hallway and Ben pulled out his revolver and ran out the room.

Private Yeats was onto of Valentine and was about to slam his fist into the man's face. The rifle was cast aside as though both men had given up over it and resorted to the bare knuckle fighting. Ben thumbed the hammer back on the revolver and fired a shot into Yeats back. The man seized up instantly then with a groan toppled of Valentine sideways. Landing with a harsh sound as what air was left in his legs was forced out.

Valentine looked up gratefully at the young man. Ben merely smiled and offered his free hand.

"You beat him?" Valentine asked

"Them" Ben corrected heaving him up with a grunt.

"You took two of them out?" Valentine replied.

"Corporal got up again" Jones replied in a sternway.

"Come on let's get out of here." Valentine headed down the stairs.

Jones followed him, trying not to dwell on the fact he'd just killed a man, probably two. It felt right at the time and now he the adrenaline was wearing off he was starting to feel sick. Right in the core of his stomach, as though he'd eaten a rotten piece of meat. They both reached the front garden, there was no sign of the young woman. Ben leaned over himself and wretched. Vomiting into a once beautiful flower bed.

Valentine only noticed how it had effect his fellow officer as he heard the sound of Ben being sick.

He span round and looked pitifully at his friend.

"You feeling alright?"

Ben spat out what was left in his mouth.

"I'm terribly sorry I don't know what's come over me" he said

"It's fine Jones, I know it's a difficult time at the moment but we need to get going before some Tripod shows up."

As if the God of drama was around, a martian war machine spoke into the summer's evening. "ULLA!"

Ben's sickness turned into a knot of fear instead of guilt. His eyes darted around the skyline.

" Sure…I'm peachy let's get out of here." Ben said as he moved to the garden gate,

Valentine right behind him. It wasn't until now that Ben wondered what was in the smaller cylinders that landed earlier when they saw the Macina being destroyed.

They rushed off down the street further out of the city as though they were foxes in a hunt.