38 – THE SIEGE
A sonic roar thundered outside as Richard Face, the Grand General of the Green Army, watched the video feeds of the city in horror. A cylindrical wall of computer monitors surrounded him in his suite's viewing room, each picture showing another scene of desperation. The two Purple cruisers descended towards the city, covering much of the sky with their bulk. How did they get past Yellow Command, The Grand General wondered. He had been trying to contact the orbital station for a full minute now, but they were not responding, which did not bode well for the survival of Bradley and his men. To make matters worse, a fleet of drop pods was emerging from both of the cruisers, and already reports had begun to crop up of Purple foot soldiers marching in the city streets. Vorennius indeed meant business, for this was an all-out siege.
The Grand General heard footsteps behind him and turned to find the Lord Commander of his Elite Guard standing in the doorway. "Sir, we need to get you underground ASAP," he said. "Entire buildings are being destroyed. It is not safe for you to be here."
The Grand General nodded, but then gave slight pause. "Is the underground safe? When the Oranges launched their own attack…"
The Lord Commander nodded. "All the necessary countermeasures have been taken to ensure that the Oranges will not return. A suite has been set up for you at the very bottom of the depths of the city."
"I will need a viewing room and a war room set up for me by the time I arrive," said the Grand General as he began to follow. "Oh, and what of Lime and Lemon Squadrons?"
As the two of them moved out into the hallway, the Grand General heard the other members of the Elite Guard fall into step behind him and the Lord Commander. "They are still alive," said the Lord Commander. "They have left their suite and are currently on an access bridge, heading for the main level of the city. Shall I have them sent for?"
The Grand General shook his helmet. "That is not necessary." He opened up his tacpad.
"MOVE!" shouted Hester as every member of Lime Squadron ran as a group along the street. The lanes were all packed with abandoned civilian cars. They were on one of the access bridges, which stretched far above the main level of the city. After seeing the city come under attack, they had all decided to abandon the suite and make for the center of the city. The fastest route to get there was across this bridge, which slowly inclined downwards until it reached the main level.
The air around them was filled with dust and smoke which rose up from underneath the bridge as though the city were on fire. It was dust from the several buildings that had been blown to pieces from the coilguns of the two Purple cruisers. The bridge they were an was somewhat of a victim in all of this as well, for parts of it had been nicked by the coilgun slugs as they had traveled down to meet their targets on the main level. Everywhere, pieces of debris littered the street, covering it in layers of shattered stone and cooling puddles of metal. From far down below them, Lime could hear sounds of gunfire that echoed across the city.
Skope and Nome heard the sound of humming motors above them and looked into the sky to find a dropship coming down to land on the bridge. The group stopped, the others soon catching on as well, and the entire group began to slowly approach the dropship with weapons raised. A Warthog thunked to the ground, with a Purple driver and gunner. A sound was heard from Hearts' sniper rifle, after which the driver tumbled out of his seat and onto the ground. The gunner had a chance to get off a few rounds from his chaingun before Wren ran up to him and inserted a combat knife into his back.
But the dropship wasn't done, for no sooner had the inhabitants of the Warthog been taken care of when a dozen more Purple soldiers levitated down the gravity lift of the dropship, landing in perfect formation. Lime let it loose with their weapons, but only one of the Purples was felled, for the others all took cover behind abandoned cars. At the same moment, a transparent dome, glittering like the surface of a soap bubble, flashed into existence around the Purple platoon, centering itself upon the dropship.
"What the hell?" Jess asked.
"They're idiots," said Kenny. "They can't shoot at us if they're inside a shield—"
A flurry of bullets came whizzing out at them. They all ducked on instinct. Amber returned fire, but her 14.5 millimeter rounds pinged off of the Purple's energy shield as though it were a wall. "It is a one way shield dome," shouted Nome as everyone found a car to take cover behind. "Yet another one of Vorennius' new inventions, no doubt."
"Ah, fucking perfect!" shouted Deryn.
"This complicates things, if they can shoot at us be we can't shoot at them," said Skope.
Mr. Boom suddenly stood up. "Um, what're you doing?" asked Kevin. Mr. Boom was mute, and so did not respond. Instead, the large Green hoisted up his rocket launcher onto his shoulder and began sprinting towards the Purple platoon. He wove in between cars for cover, sometimes diving or rolling in order to stay alive.
"Could someone please explain to me where he's going?" Patton shouted.
"No idea!" Skope shouted back.
Mr. Boom was now inside the shield. He raised his rocket launcher and fired at the dropship's engines. The shot went straight into a porthole, and the hovercraft ignited. Mr. Boom took cover just as the back end of the dropship exploded. The front half floated slowly to the ground and then shattered into pieces. The energy shield then dissipated, leaving the Purple soldiers exposed.
"Very impressive, Mr. Boom," said Hester. "I'll have to keep that trick in mind."
"Well guys," Hearts shouted. "Let's get 'em!"
Every member of Lime and Lemon got up and opened fire. Some of the Purples went down, others quickly relocated their cover. It was a quick gunfight for the remaining Purples, for now they were outnumbered. Lemon also had considerably more experience, as was shown by how quickly Lemon picked them off, with help from the Greens as well. "That was a good fight," said Patton as he reloaded Lucy.
"It is only the very beginning," the others head Nome say, in a tone of dread, from the edge of the bridge. The medic was standing at the railing and looking down below, to the city beneath them. The others gathered around him and watched alongside him. A steady stream of dropships and drop pods could be seen raining down from both Purple cruisers. They landed in one particular section of the city, right below the cruisers, which was near the outskirts. Like a bath of little soap bubbles amidst the fog of dust, Lime and Lemon could see thousands of shield domes, just like the one Mr. Boom had taken out, glittering in that sector. They were all moving in the direction of the Capitol District. A fury of gunfire rattled from the direction of the horde, a clear sign of the conflict at that location.
The cruisers themselves were no less a part of the battle. An inverted rainstorm thundered up, the defense turrets of the city having targeted the cruisers. But all their shots just bounced off of the cruiser's shields with flashes of blue light wherever they hit. At the same time, terrible flashes of lightening and crashes of thunder could be heard from both cruisers as their coilguns released volley after volley. Buildings at the main level were annihilated into little pieces of flying debris, in sync with every instant the cruisers fired. With one sector of the city already lost, many buildings destroyed, and no damage done yet to the cruisers, the fight was suddenly starting to look desperately one sided.
Everyone's tacpads started beeping at the same instant, the sign of a group wide calling signal. It turned out to be the Grand General. "Sir!" Hester greeted.
"The city is in grave peril," same an exasperated sigh from the other end of the transmission. "Out of concern for my own safety, I have moved underground, and am currently in the process of setting up a base of operations at the same location that Green Team fought the Orange Army a few days back."
"Don't worry," the Grand General answered, sensing that many of the Greens were about to butt in with a question. "I have taken all necessary precautions to ensure that the Oranges cannot teleport into this city again. Of course, at this very moment, we have far greater concerns."
Nome said: "Sir, at this instant we are all at an access bridge leading into the city. We have a panoramic view of the situation down below, and it does not look promising by any elaboration of theory. The two Purple cruisers are dispatching soldiers into the Western District at a rate of several contingents per minute. At present, there are at least three thousand Purples within the city, all situated within the Western District, and all of them are swiftly moving towards the Capitol District."
"Yes, I know," came the terse reply over the COM.
"What about Yellow Command?" Patton asked.
"They are not responding to any hail," said the Grand General. "I am sorry, Patton, but at this point we do not know if the station still remains, though my hopes are with Bradley and his men."
"He's alive…" Patton whispered to himself. "I just know."
"What do you need us to do, sir?" Hearts asked.
The Grand General cleared his throat. "Okay, people. Here are all your various objectives: Lemon Squadron, I need you on the front lines. My forces there are losing badly. We need come expertise to help turn the tide."
"Yessir!" shouted Hester.
"Nome, Skope, and Amber, I need you three to head for the defense turret lines. I need Nome to help repair them, since according to his file he used to assist at Avalanche Base, which is good enough experience for my concerns. And the reason I need you there, Skope and Amber, is to take up sniping positions along the turret lines and take out as many soldiers as you can. You will find ammo at the designated location to supply your rifles."
"We got it, sir!" said Skope as he looked over at Amber, and then Nome.
"And everyone else, I want you to assist Lemon Squadron in any way you can. Head to the front lines, but do not actively engage the enemy at a personal level, for that is going to be Lemon's job. Instead, you will play the support role, both for Lemon as well as any other friendly soldiers who need assistance."
"Does blowing things up with my rocket launcher constitute supporting?" Kenny asked.
"Do whatever will help keep Lemon and other fellow soldiers alive," the Grand General replied. "If that means taking out the enemy, then do exactly that."
"More than happy to, sir," said Kenny gleefully.
"Now, do all of you have your tasks down?" the Grand General asked. Everyone tapped the CONFIRM option on their tacpads. "Then get to it!" the Grand General shouted. "Just hold out. In a very short while, the entire city will be getting some major assistance."
The Grand General disconnected, and everyone on Lemon and Lime hurried off to carry out the tasks they had been given.
The cargo elevator finally ended its long descent. The Grand General felt slightly heavier as the car came to a stop, which was worth keeping aware of considering the massive amount of protective armor he was wearing. Once the car stopped completely however, this feeling abruptly ended as soon as it had come. Now feeling all business, the Grand General strode through the doors of the car before they had even opened completely. His Elite Guard followed, making sure to stay close to him with every step that he took.
"Is my war room set up yet?" the Grand General asked the Elite Guard's Lord Commander.
The Lord Commander briefly scanned his tacpad. "Almost, sir. We are nearly upon it. It should be set up well enough to function by the time we arrive."
A location designation appeared on the Grand General's heads-up display. "Excellent," he stated. "Every second we doddle gives the Purple Army an advantage. I will need to get to work commanding the defense force as soon as possible."
They were walking down a large hallway that was composed entirely of stone. The chambers were lit by florescent ceiling bulbs which further enhanced the light tan coloration of the surroundings. The group took several turns in corridor, until eventually they came to the chamber that had swiftly been repurposed as the Grand General's war room. A holographic console had been set up in the center of the box-shaped space, and along the edges were arrays of terminals hooked up to video feeds of the city.
The Grand General walked up to one of the consoles and tapped a few buttons. A short moment later, one of the video feeds showed the visor of a Green soldier with many a medal strutting out on his chestplate. "Captain Halcor," said the Grand General. "How far from the city is the Grand Castellan?"
"Just a few minutes now, sir," said Halcor. "I altered the ship's course the instant I learned that the city is under attack."
"The two Purple cruisers are destroying the city," the Grand General exclaimed. "Make haste."
"Of course," said Captain Halcor. The feed shut off.
The Grand General then turned to the central holographic console and brought up a three dimensional display of the city, with icons representing friendly and enemy forces. He had little doubt that Hathrow Vorennius was staring at a console just like this right now. Two could play at that game. It was time for the Grand General to start leading his forces in the same way that Vorennius was leading his own.
Johnson Avery, Miles Adams, and a team of other Yellow soldiers raced down a narrow metal corridor bathed in flashing red lights. "Let's move!" Avery shouted. They needed to get power back to Yellow Command ASAP. To do that, they had to head to the reactor core at the very heart of the station and manually restart it. The journey through Yellow Command had been very long since, with the power out for most of the station, doors and lifts were out of order. After perhaps fifteen minutes of crawling through ventilation ducts and sprinting through cramped hallways, the group had finally reached their objective. They sprinted down the access corridor to the reactor room. It would take several soldiers to pry the door open, a massive slab of steel half a meter thick. Avery took off a device from his tool belt and slid it into a compartment on the door so that he could manually override the lock. Then everyone took hold of the door and heaved as hard as they could. Slowly and reluctantly it slid to the side. The space beyond was probably the largest chamber on the entire station. The team raced into it. The room was both wide and long. At its front were two rows of red-screened control consoles. From them, a pair of stairs on either side of the room led up to the back section, which had a long semicircular walkway surrounding the core itself.
The team wandered through the sea of consoles. Avery addressed the engineer they had brought with them. "So, what do we need to do to get the reactor going again?"
The engineer strode up to one of the control consoles and started hitting buttons. "We need to manually reactivate the particle accelerators." He stood up after hitting a few more keys. "Now, I need to mention that the reactor was never designed for this. I don't actually know if it will work. But it probably will." He pointed up to the semicircular walkway. "There are a series of switches that will need to be thrown at the same time. I have just set things up down here so that the reactor's systems will basically reboot once the switches are thrown."
Avery nodded. "Okay. Men, let's get up there!" The group raced up the stairs on the left side of the room. The semicircular walkway was like a kind of promenade, which looked upon the reactor it surrounded with intense focus. Hanging in the distance was the reactor itself: a conglomeration of huge electronic parts which was dominated at its center by a great blue light.
Avery searched for the levers, but he was distracted for a moment by the curious sound of skittering from somewhere else in the room. He swiveled his helmet, but on a quick scan didn't see anything. It could possibly have been fizzing from circuits harmed by the EMP blasts, but it sounded quite a bit different than that. He decided he couldn't worry about it right now, and approached one of the switches along the walkway. He had raised his gauntlet to it when he heard a scream from behind him. He swiveled around quickly and saw one of his soldiers on the ground…with some thing standing above him.
The creature, or machine, or whatever it was, looked like a spider from Hell. It was colored in dark purple and indigo, much like the alien technology Avery had heard reports of. But at the same time, it also had metal and wires coming out of it. In fact, it looked as though it was alien technology combined with robotic technology. Like a spider, it had legs which protruded up and then downwards from a relatively small midsection. Each leg ended in a very sharp point, making each leg look like a razor or spike. Also connected to the midsection was a smaller head-like section, with one purple-glowing eye.
Before the downed soldier could do anything, the Spider Mech raised a leg directly over his chest…and then brought it down. Avery was in the middle to taking cover as the soldier let out a last, horrified gasp. His men had also taken cover. Avery shouted: "Man down. Repeat, man down!" The other Yellows started peppering the Spider Mech with gunfire, but most of the rounds simply pinged off its surface, which was plainly packed with armor. Avery was still pondering just how many new horrors Vorennius had devised during his exile, when to his dismay he saw several more Spider Mechs skittering their way down from the ceiling. They left small holes in the walls as they moved, trails where they had stabbed the wall's surface with the tips of their legs in order to cling to them.
Once they had all reached the ground, they stared at the Yellow's cover spots, and their single eyes suddenly glowed much brighter. Then the room was filled with brilliant light. Purple particle beams erupted from the heads of the Spider Mechs. Most of the Yellows were in good cover, but one soldier was not. He made a mad dash across the walkway, seeking better cover from the newly revealed Spider Mechs. But one of the particle beams caught him across the chest, and he went down screaming a horrible scream, his chest plate glowing orange and starting to melt.
Avery cursed. Then he opened COMs and shouted: "Adams, do you see any way we can get around these things?"
"That's a negative, sir!" Adams replied via his mike. "These things have us pinned down!"
One of the soldiers shouted: "I can get past them!" Avery and Adams looked in the soldier's direction, realizing that there was a Spider Mech standing right in front of the supply crate the soldier was using for cover. The soldier couldn't see it from where he was sitting and when he peeked his helmet out, the Spider Mech saw him. The soldier retreated back into cover instantly upon seeing the hybrid, but it was too late. The Spider Mech climbed up over the supply crate, then descended down upon the poor soldier. There was a scream of "No stay the hell away from me!" and then a helmet with a head still in it went sliding across the walkway grating.
The Yellows were now trapped, and the situation was only worsening as things went on.
The sound of gunfire became massively louder as Lemon Squadron, as well as most of Lime Squadron, sprinted for the front lines. The Purple Army was now only about two kilometers from the western border of the Capitol District, and it would not be long before the city center fell, if things kept going the way they were. The tide needed to be turned, and fast!
Abandoned civilian cars filled the streets, just as they had along the access bridge the group had come from. Debris from shattered buildings was all over the street was well. Huge chunks of stone sat in small craters of smashed concrete where they had landed after the buildings they used to belong to had exploded. And the fog was now omnipresent, covering everything in a suffocating cloud of dense mist. Many within the group had to activate the infrared settings in their helmets in order to see, since visibly the fog made the goings ahead unseeable. Every so often, civilians would come running out of the fog in a panic; in the chaos of the attack on the city, evacuations had not gone perfectly smoothly, or anywhere close. Off in the far distance, more tremendous roars of thunder could be heard, as more buildings were annihilated by the coilguns of the two Purple cruisers.
A sign indicated that they had just passed the border into the Western District. Upon seeing giant pockmarks in the road further on, Hester instead chose to lead the group along a side street, which took the group through a giant hole in a brick wall. They were now in the lobby of what had once been a hotel. "Place could use a bit of a fixer upper," said Ryan as everyone looked around. Nearly everything that could possibly have been shattered, had been shattered. There were no longer any complete glass fixtures: the windows were all gone, and glass pieces were everywhere upon the floor. The walls had become cracked, the chandelier had fallen, and large chunks of many of the walls were missing.
"My tacpad shows conflict at the other end of this hotel," said Hester. "We should head there immediately." She led the group through a few of the hallways and up a staircase, until they finally came to the place Hester had just referenced. A large platoon of Green soldiers sat camped inside a long chamber that had at one time been a set of suite rooms. Now, the walls dividing the rooms had gone missing (shattered onto the floor), and the wall that had once separated the rooms from the outside had become a series of pillars, since so much of that wall was missing that vertical streaks were all that remained. Lemon found it frankly amazing that so much of the ceiling was still standing, considering its lack of support. The Green soldiers were taking cover behind the pillars, there being no better means of cover with so much of the room already destroyed. Outside, in the hotel's courtyard, a platoon of Purple soldiers were firing up at the Greens with automatic weapons. The same as had happened on the access bridge, these Purples were surrounded by an energy shield dome. Bullets whizzed through the spaces between the pillars, adding to the maelstrom of holes already in the back walls of the chamber.
Upon laying visor upon Lemon and their company, one of the Green soldiers shot up and sprinted over to them, taking advantage of a break in the Purple's fire. His nameplate read Rankev Moora. "Lemon Squadron?" he asked the group. Those who were actually in Lemon Squadron saluted.
"Lieutenant Moora," the Green said. He reached out and shook Heart's hand, as he was the person standing closest to Moora. "Glad to see you. We need help. The Purples have us pinned in here tight. It's those damn shield domes they have around themselves. They can shoot us, be we can't shoot back. We're completely defenseless."
"Have you tried sending someone underneath the shield to take out its generator?" Kevin asked. He briefly described what had happened during the battle on the access bridge.
Moora shook his helmet. "That's a negative. Another major problem is those Purple cruisers above the city. In addition to their coilguns, they also have thousands of turrets that fire all over the district. I've had confirmation from several other contingents as well, that the open ground in this district is a death zone: the instant someone sets a foot out there, they get so many holes in them they look like Swiss cheese. The cruisers have the whole area effectively under lockdown."
Hearts asked: "Is there any point when the cruisers do not have a specific area covered?"
Again, Moora shook his helmet. "The cruisers might cycle through the spots they scan, but there's no way to know for sure, and I'm sure as hell not going to experiment using my men."
Deryn crossed her arms. "Well then, is there any way—"
"SCORPION TANK! EVERYONE GET DOWN!" another Green soldier shouted at the top of his lungs. Everyone in the chamber dived, and none too soon. Several pillars, as well as a part of the ceiling, exploded into dust. An unfortunate Green went screaming across the room and then down below as he fell to the first floor. Above the chamber, crashing and crumbling could be heard as the tungsten shell traveled further into the hotel. At the same instant, the automatic fire from outside increased, and a hail of bullets came streaming in through the newly opened area.
"We are fucking pinned down!" Moora shouted over the racket. "If I saw any opportunity to change the situation, then I would have taken it. But I didn't and still don't!"
The salvo of fire through the new hole eventually subsided, at which point the conversation was able to resume in quieter tones. "There has to be some way to solve this," said Wren.
Suddenly, a rumbling sound from overhead could be heard. Fearing the worst, the group looked up into the sky through the hole in the ceiling. A third starship was descending upon the first two. This behemoth was still smaller than the two Purple cruisers, but still presented itself as massive nonetheless. Of great import was the fact that it was green colored. The group's tacpads informed them that this was a Green capitol ship called the Grand Castellan.
"Reinforcements, at last!" Moora exclaimed.
The Grand Castellan opened fire upon the Purple ships almost instantly. A continuous roar of artificial thunder from the sky symphonied, and glints in the sunlight began to exchange between the Purple cruisers and the Green frigate. But most importantly, the group could see that the focus of the Purple cruisers was now off of the open ground in the city.
"This is our chance!" Hearts shouted over to Moora. "Send your men underneath the shield dome."
Moora nodded. "Everyone, on my mark, drop down to the courtyard and make for the enemy's shield dome. Its generator is the target." He gave a countdown hand signal.
Everyone, Green and Yellow, dropped to main level and ran like hell, the crowd as a whole screaming a battle cry that united both Armies.