Later on in the week I was on the telephone arguing with a supplier, he absolutely refused to supply chemicals we needed at a reasonable cost. It had been an unpleasant surprise to find out just how much of an outflow of cash we had. I was just about to tell this guy to take a flying leap when one of our engineers, a talented young engine builder name of Glenn Curtiss opened the door to my office and said in an urgent, clipped tone. “Something horrible has happened, come quickly.”
I hurried after him to one of our radio rooms, people were rushing in as an incoherent message filtered in.
It was from one of our pilots, an old duffer, name of Kelvin Ross. He had been ferrying a ship bought by the Italian government when he had been distracted by a burst of light and he was redirecting from Turin to investigate. The message came, “this is Ross on the Grimaldi, have neared the source of the flash. It’s Venice, or it was Venice, it’s gone, repeat, the entire city of Venice is gone. There is nothing left here but marshes and a great big expanse of water. I don’t see any casualties, wait, there’s a ship, it’s tiny, what the heck, it’s got Japanese markings, a great big red ball on that tail and really short straight wings. Since when are the Japanese building ships, how did it get here?! Am moving to engage.”
I grabbed the microphone, “negative, negative Grimaldi, do not engage. If that thing killed a city we don’t know what might happen to you, return to Turin immediately.”
“Kelvin I don’t want you and a 400,000 dollar bird turned into a cinder, return to Turin right now!”
“Roger, copy, returning to Turin.”
I looked at the group of scientists, engineers and aliens right behind me and asked. “Does anyone here have any ideas why the Japanese might decide to incinerate the city of Venice. Anyone, anyone at all, don’t be shy.”
Boudicca sheepishly raised her hand and stated, “I think it might have something to do with that letter from the core.”
That got everyone mumbling, I explained what had happened and told her to run home and get the letter. She ran back at a speed of at least fifty miles per hour and as the rest of us were trying to figure out what had happened she came running back in with the letter. As soon as she held it up to the light she noticed something, there was a watermark on the paper, it held the image of the winged lion of St. Mark, the insignia of Venice. But there was something else in the watermark, another note.
“I imagine I have your attention now if you are reading this part of the letter. I figured out how to adapt my nanotechnology to this planet shortly after my arrival and I am able to spread fragments of my consciousness to anyone I came into bodily contact with. I have a number of agents under my control who will strike in increasingly larger attacks with increasingly powerful weapons until your entire planet is a smoking ruin. Your people will rip themselves apart with continuous war until I am restored to my position with the German government. Once I am able to control the fragments of myself I will return to my plan of assuring eternal peace between your nations. By incinerating Venice I have probably done you primitives a favor.
With peace and love, The Core.”
I could feel my jaw working, but I couldn’t get any words out, just awkward squeaking noises. I managed to work out one word.
I pointed at Curtis, “I want you to take one of our ships, any one, I want you to go to Venus, get the pod that the core is being kept in and bring it back here. Then I will personally torture him until he tells us how to unwind this plan.”
Boudicca piped up, “Ryan, that plan won’t work for several reasons. First of all Venus is not in alignment with earth, it would take who knows how long to get there. Second, the core is able to withstand damage that would kill a rhinoceros, he would probably just get sexually excited by whatever pain you inflicted on him. Third, how would we know that the information he gave us wouldn’t just lead us into a trap? fourth.”
“Okay, that’s enough, I get the picture, but if anyone here has any better ideas I would love to hear them?”
She smiled and said, “I’m going to use our tracking device, I am going to find all those infected, and personally fry them!”
For dramatic effect she held up her right hand and started arcing electricity between her fingers.
I smiled and replied, “now that’s a plan!”
I went with her back to the storage compartment where her device was stashed. It was a bit dusty but it still worked, it was a crazy machine, a strange mangling of earth and Eutopian technology, about the size of a trash can. I plugged it in and she started calibrating the device, “huh, that’s probably not good.”
“This indicates a signal heading for our position, at a tremendous velocity.”
I shouted through the building, “we are under attack, get the birds up right now!”
Engineers, technicians and the handful of professional pilots in the factory ran to their craft. I started running towards the Baltimore but before I could get halfway down the hallway to the exit Boudicca grabbed me like a sack of potatoes and carried me to the ship. Katy was already there getting it up and running, I jumped into the pilots seat and asked if the ship had any weapons.
“2 Gravity guns online, one disintegration missile.”
“What about the turret?”
“There aren’t guns in that anymore!”
I recalled the 20MM cannons being removed back on Eutopos and replaced with robotic arms to facilitate work on things outside the ship without putting on a spacesuit. The Eutopian’s thought our gun turrets were silly and quaint, completely useless for space combat. I growled at the memory loudly and shouted, “brace for takeoff!”
I throttled up and brought the ship into the air, I told Katy to look around in the turret for anything unusual. Boudicca pointed off to the left and asked, “that unusual enough for you?”
It looked like an egg with wings, a small craft with no horizontal tail and elegant swept wings that blended with its fuselage that looked like it was going absurdly fast. I pushed the bird over to turn into the attacker and it fired, fortunately it’s cannons could not penetrate the Eutopian armoring of the Baltimore’s bow against space detritus. Unfortunately one of the gravity guns malfunctioned and all of our shots missed. The enemy bird passed underneath, I brought our bird around and got a good look at the enemy craft.
It was pretty, it was all smooth lines, I vaguely remembered the Germans using something like this during the war, but this thing was covered with American markings. They did everything short of painting it in red and white stripes, with a fringe of blue and white stars.
It didn’t matter if it was an American, a German or a Hindu flying that thing. It was hostile, so it was going to die. I fired the operational gravity gun at this craft, it was maneuvering close to the ground. A spray of flechettes went into the farmland, then the damn thing pulled up and looped over us maneuvering to do a strafing run on the factory.
But a dozen of my birds rose to challenge him, so he angled away, to the east, back to the open ocean.
Fighting a craft so maneuverable in something like a Heron 3 research/bomber craft was like fighting a mosquito with a sledgehammer. But as soon as the enemy was going in a straight line I felt that I had him. Although he was very fast, going so fast that the air pressure was causing the weakened glass to fracture. But I wasn’t letting him go, I fired my disintegration missile at him. He dove into a grove of trees and the missile hit one and detonated. By now the rest of my people had caught up to us and we were all firing at him, he was toast.
Then something odd happened, something flew out of the enemy bird, it stopped maneuvering madly. I told everyone to hold fire, I throttled up a little more. The pilot had left his bird, someone radioed, “I see a parachute, the bastard bailed out.”
I throttled back and turned hard, squeezing us all into our seats. I told the crew of the ship Pelican to keep a tally on the now unmanned fighter. I went back to the spot where I saw him bail out, I saw the parachute, a big yellow thing. I looked over at Boudicca, “I just got a really silly idea.”
I slowed down into a hover over the chute, he was about to hit the ground. I opened the airlock and Boudicca dropped straight onto the villain. I landed on a road nearby. Katy and I ran over to the site of the parachute as fast as we could. Boudicca had her hands on the guys neck, his body was twitching with electroconvulsive force. I screamed, “let go, we want him alive!”
The guy broke free and slugged her in the face hard enough to knock her down. He ripped off his helmet and hurled it at Katy with one fluid motion. It hit her pretty hard, knocking her to the ground.
I looked at his face, he was indescribably German, his head was shaved and he had a great collection of dueling scars. I drew my revolver and asked, “who are you and what do you want.”
He stood up to his full height, “you don’t need to know my name. You got the letter, bring the core back to Earth or things are going to get much worse. This was just a demonstration, something to keep you off guard. But we will hit you harder and harder until you break.”
“We, who is this we?”
“Who are we? we are legion.”
There was a massive flash of light, Boudicca was up and she was pissed. He was being cooked from the inside out by thousands of amperes of energy. She shouted, “die you fuck!” and just for extra effect she clapped her hands on his skull, collapsing it.
The German was dead, extremely dead, his blood had boiled in his veins. The Yonth technology may have granted him abnormal strength and speed but it couldn’t handle that kind of energy. I looked over to Katy, she was sitting up, she had an ugly head wound, bleeding all over her face. Boudicca didn’t take it well, she screamed in terror and begged for help. I shouted, “lets get back to the ship, everything will be fine.”
Other ships were landing nearby, Tesla was in command and telling people to disperse through the woods to look for wreckage. I made sure that Katy was taken care of and started heading back to the dead German. Tesla made an unkind comment that he wanted to skin the bastard who sent a cannon shell into his laboratory, alive.
As we walked up to the body I quipped, “that might be a bit difficult Nikolai.” He made a chuff noise at the sight of the corpse, kicked it a bit and asked, “he say anything before Boudicca turned him into an ugly stain on her boot?”
“He made some kind of comment about this being a warning to bring the core back. Also that he and his little friends were legion.”
“Well, I think we can assume that these freaks aren’t a biblical allegory for madness.”
“You sure about that? they seem pretty maddening to me. Also I don’t think we can discard the fact that these bastards seem to be absurdly powerful.”
Tesla looked down at the German, “Ryan, I don’t think these fools are going to be a priority for us for the foreseeable future.”
“Something is coming for us, I have been busy with my latest project, but one of my assistants told me this morning that he has been picking up some weird radio signals. The signals appear to be encoded in a way I can’t crack but all that matters is that the signals are coming from between here and the moon. The signals are too numerous and powerful to be the normal chatter between Eutopian and colonial vessels.”
“Ugh, we can’t escape this crap!”
“Apparently not, so what do we do next?”
“Have one of your doctor friends autopsy this poor bastard, fix the Baltimore’s front windows and lets go to wherever these signals are coming from, find out who they are and what they are up to.”
When we got back to the Baltimore I found that Boudicca had made sure that Katy was alright. She was wiping off the blood and brain matter that had splattered onto her when she clapped the Germans skull. The Pelican was landing nearby, it’s pilot, Curtis reported that the Germans bird had ignominiously gone into the drink. Wreckage from it was still floating on the Atlantic Ocean not far from here. I told everyone about the Germans little legion speech and about the signals that Tesla had picked up.
Boudicca nodded at all this and asked to see Teslas notes. Then she took one of her little tele-screen devices out of one of her many pockets. She said, “can you hold this for me?”
“Um, sure, why?”
Everything went black.
She had knocked me out, I woke up in a pile of my coworkers, Katy was holding my head, I asked. “What the heck happened?”
“Boudicca knocked you, Nikolai, Curtiss and that engineer Samuels out with a touch. Then she threw the crew out of the Pelican and took off in it. I don’t know what she is doing.”
It took longer than I thought to clean all this up, miraculously no one had been killed in the attack except the German. Though it wasn’t for a lack of trying, several farm animals had been vaporized by errant rounds and thousands of dollars of other property had been destroyed. Katy was fixed up, although she was going to have a ugly little scar which would hopefully be covered by her hairline.
The Pelican was a model 3 Heron intended for sale to the Dutch government. It was a raw craft, without paint or crew comforts, but it would be enough for this little mission, so Boudicca stole it. I turned on her little tele-screen device and it showed a live feed of a camera in Boudicca’s googles. I talked into the device, “Boudicca, what the hell are you doing?”
“We need to find out where these transmissions are coming from, I am virtually indestructible, but I knew you would not let me come up alone. So I knocked you guys out, don’t worry, I will be fine.”
“When this is all done we are going to have to have a talk about your newfound impulsiveness.”
Suddenly the feed became broken and inconsistent, “sorry… didn’t… if you want to…. going on you have to shut…. t….. ell….. up!”
I stopped talking and let her fly out to the suspected location. The signal became clear again, but there was nothing at the coordinates. No aliens, no asteroids, no bizarre phenomena, no monsters, nothing. She got on the radio and called out if there was anything in the area. No response, the radio signals were gone, so she opened fire with the ships rail guns. They struck something, sparks flew out of nowhere and the radio suddenly chirped to life. “Knock that off!”
The message was in clear English, Boudicca told whatever was out there to show themselves. Suddenly the distinctive form of the Revenge emerged out of the ether. she asked, “what is your business here and how are you invisible?”
“We are here to defend you from yourselves. I know this signal is being repeated and listened to by receivers on Earth so listen carefully, your planets governments increasingly erratic and criminal behavior has forced us to commence an operation that we have been wanting to avoid for years.”
“And this plan is?”
“We are not going to tell you.”
“Listen, whoever you are, is this captain Grolik? you sound like Grolik. I cannot tolerate the existence of a hostile ship in the vicinity of Earth. Something really nasty will be coming this way to investigate in awhile, so please go away. The humans may be busy with trying to slaughter each other at the moment, but if I tell everyone what you are up to I think they can put aside their differences for a couple days and focus on wiping you out.”
The voice became cool, “you might want to look behind you”
She turned the Pelican to face broadsides to Earth and the Revenge. It was another Eutopian ship, bigger than the Revenge, bristling with weapons. With the craziest hull architecture I had ever seen, although it showed the clear maritime influence of the English warships. The voice concluded, “you can try to escape, but I would not recommend it. Come aboard, disarm your weapons and relax, this will all be over soon.”
I asked Boudicca, “do you recognize that ship?”
She shook her head, she took off her goggles and she had a look of terror on her face. She squeaked out, “I don’t know what’s going on, I’m scared!”
I told her, “just go aboard, they probably won’t hurt you, and if they do, make them live to regret it!”
Once aboard she was brought up to the bridge of the Revenge, not handcuffed but guarded and disarmed. It was made clear that she was not to pull anything fancy or she would be killed. The feed continued as she was marched up to the bridge of the ship, it was clear that we back on earth were all supposed to see this. Standing in the middle of the vast command center of the ship was Captain Grolik, resplendent in a blue and gold uniform. I had met him during the initial joint mission to Mars, Grolik was descended from a line of Martian bureaucrats. He was a respected commander of exploration missions on Eutopos, but I found him to be an extremely disagreeable fellow. Short tempered, abrasive, haughty like few of his species, which probably came from his years of being in command of deep space missions. He was standing in front of the great transparency that made up the nose of the Revenge looking into a great sphere with dozens of different images on it, what looked like footage from many different Eutopian cameras feeding live into the sphere.
He looked down at Boudicca, she asked, “so, what are you doing here?”
“Making sure that this planet’s pesky little governments don’t ever bother us again.”
“Care to fill me in on the details of your plan?”
He replied, “turn of your transmitter for a moment. I want this to be between the 2 of us.”
The screen went black, seconds, then minutes ticked by. I was nervous as hell, then the feed came back on again. “My plan? it’s your little human friends plan, when the time comes we will deploy our drop pods and kidnap all of the leaders of your planets most powerful nations, then we will, convince them to see the error of their ways. Once we get them to sign documents to dissolve their governments once and for all they will be released and we will go home.”
“You have to know that won’t work, other governments will form, people will continue to pay their taxes, even if it is to some warlord.”
“I don’t care, with the Earth’s empires broken those savages will be too busy cutting each others throats to bother with us, that is all that matters. We have been trying to teach them to see the error of their ways for years now and they are worse than ever.”
I was really getting tired of aliens who seemed to believe that the human race was only useful for mass murder.
He stopped speaking and looked up at the ball, he isolated one image and enlarged it. “This is what we were waiting for, our facility in Marseille is about to come under attack.”
The image showed dozens of Eutopian’s and hundreds of local workers dug into fortifications in anticipation of a huge French army that was marching up the road to the factory. The camera would zoom in now and then to reveal that the approaching army was conventionally equipped with bolt action rifles. But every last one of the workers, their wives and more than a few children were holding variants of the liberator rifle. Those guns probably hadn’t even existed a week ago.
The military force was massive, backed up with armored cars and artillery. The view must have been from a surveillance craft flying high over the factory. Then the view switched to someone on the ground, a French officer was walking up to the cameraman with a proclamation. The officer began reading in French, audio quality was spotty but Tesla could understand enough of what was said to furnish a translation, “you are in arrears of millions of francs of taxes and in a state of rebellion against the French Republic. This is your last chance to surrender.”
Someone shouted back something like, “leave us alone, this isn’t going to do anyone any good.”
Then the officer bowed, and walked back to his lines moments ticked by, then an armored car came rolling up with a dozen French soldiers walking alongside. The cameraman withdrew behind some barricades, the camera now appeared to be affixed to a long flechette rifle.
“And that is that,” Grolik announced, he activated his wrist mounted communication device, in Eutopian he said something like, “all units, the French have gone ahead, you are cleared to engage. Code word is salamander, repeat, code word is salamander.”
The steady pelting of bullets against the cameraman’s position was now met by a fusillade of steel darts from the cameraman’s rifle. And the odd coughing noise the liberators made could be heard as well. All liberators had integral sound moderators and it sounded like the factory workers were firing harsh coughs at the army. The army could not stand up to this, they were falling and running away.
Then there was a sound, like a furnace door opening and a bright flash. The camera recorded that the area where the French army had been standing was completely incinerated. Later on, reexamining the recording, a French electrical ship could be seen approaching. With that the factory workers had decided to use a high powered heat ray and vaporize their attackers. It brought back memories of the first engagements with the Martians. Except for the fact that this was technically a defensive action.
That streaming data was moved back into the random collection of images on the sphere. It was hard to tell but they appeared to show scenes of dozens of battles in palaces, luxury apartments, the headquarters of great corporations and of course government buildings. Boudicca shouted, “there’s something you don’t understand, there is something you don’t know about that will ruin your plan!”
“Oh, and what is that?”
She filled him in as fast as she could about the fragments of the Venusian core, she had just gotten to the part about the destruction of Venice when he looked back at the sphere and zoomed in on another stream. It was Potsdam, I would recognize that architecture anywhere. Eutopian’s were fighting it out with something that looked like Prussian royal guards, but they were too big. They were armed with extremely heavy weapons, suddenly the screen was filled with a German battleship that blasted a drop pod out of the air like a hunter would blast a pigeon. There was sound again, the sounds of dozens, perhaps hundreds of Eutopian’s fighting a losing battle against these monstrous Germans.
Grolik looked up at the screen, then looked back at her, he told the attackers to retreat, he was going to try something else.
An alarm went off, the sphere went away replaced by the view of space. The glass magnified the image of at least a dozen German battleships climbing rapidly towards an Eutopian warship, probably the one that had dropped the pods on the imperial palace. Grolik confidently alliterated, “you may be concerned by crazed conspiratorial cultists, but we have countermeasures for any such kookiness.”
Before the German ships left the atmosphere seven points of light emerged out of nowhere and converged on the Germans. The Eutopian fleet was firing, but they were effectively invisible. The German ships sheered off before they took too much damage. That was oddly pleasant to see them running away again. I felt myself breathing again I whispered in Boudicca’s ear, “tell him, if you kidnap or destroy every government in Europe, but fail with the Germans they will be handing the continent over to the Kaiser on a silver platter. And if you think my people are insane they are..”
She started quoting me directly, but he cut her off, “I am aware of the danger of the Germans, so I am deploying my secondary anti politician weapon.”
All of a sudden the sphere reemerged, the screen was black, he proudly announced, “I call this the king killer, I have been working on it ever since I saw the missiles invented by your friends Whelen and Tesla. It’s a projectile that is targeted to the exact bio resonance frequency of the Kaiser. It’s as big as a locomotive, and much harder to stop.”
Suddenly the sphere displayed an image of earth, the weapon clearly had a camera onboard which was sending telemetry back to the ship. The Earth was growing bigger and bigger with each passing second, the missile must have been traveling at a prodigious velocity. But before it entered the Earths atmosphere it struck one of the German battleships and the screen went blank.
By now she was standing next to captain Grolik, he had a puzzled look on his face. He asked his communication device, “is target Allemande destroyed?”
“Negative, target remains.”
She asked, “you said that this weapon was targeted to the Kaisers biological resonance. Did you know that he has had his body highly modified by the Venusian core? You probably just killed his brother, who is an admiral in the..”
“Shut up bitch! someone tell me why my bomb fell on a ship!?”
A siren went off and the sphere dissolved once more, the German fleet was rising from the atmosphere again. Grolik looked delighted now, “back for more eh? All ships fire at will, no quarter!”
The Germans fired first, striking accurately at the invisible ships. Panic washed over Grolik’s face, “what the hell is going on! how can they see us?”
The bulk of the German fleet became engaged with the no longer invisible fleet. 2 German ships broke off from the fray and started coming at the Revenge at tremendous speed. At this rate they were going to cover the distance within a matter of minutes. Grolik hyperventilated and shouted, “fire! fire everything, smash those bastards!”
The Eutopian weapons were hitting, but not doing enough damage. I whispered harshly for Boudicca to run, she had a dash of at least a half a kilometer ahead of her. She made it to the door to the internal dock before the first impact thundered through the ship. I screamed for Boudicca to get the ship running. There were dozens of Eutopian androids in the dock amongst their light fighter craft. She screamed to them, “abandon ship!”
She made it to the Pelican, but she still had a great armored metal door blocking her escape. There was another massive explosion, then another, the fourth one blew a huge hole into the dock, a hole big enough for the Pelican to escape through.
Once she was out into space I saw that there was one German battleship left. It was heavily damaged but it was pouring fire into the Revenge, she drew a bead on it’s bridge and I quietly said to Boudicca, “kill them all.” Fortunately the Pelican had been overloaded with the most powerful weapons at hand.
This time the disintegration missiles worked as advertised, the great grey shape of the German battleship broke in 2 and exploded. I looked around, there was a flow of a few small craft leaving the Revenge. Boudicca called out on their frequency.
“Pelican to Revenge, is anybody still alive over there?”
“Pelican to Revenge please respond.”
“This is Grolak, [coughs, spits and groans] we are done for. We still have power, but the engines are shot through, and we are leaking atmosphere, it looks like we are trapped in the gravity well of the moon and are going to crash into it. For what it’s worth I am sorry we went ahead with this, could you be so kind as to escort the survivors from this ship to Earth?”
She replied, “affirmative captain, will do. All survivors form up on my ship and follow me to Earth. Is there anything else you would like to say captain?”
He sighed and replied, “I will attempt to land on the moon, tell your colonists to expect me. Hammond, I know you can hear this, take care of her you lucky bastard.”
As she neared earth I saw that there was massive amounts of wreckage in very low earth orbit. It took considerable skill and no small amount of luck to make it through this mess. The wreckage was so thick that I had doubts that space travel to or from Earth was going to be possible for the immediate future.
One of the Eutopian drop pods Boudicca was escorting was heavily damaged by this debris and did not survive reentry. She brought the survivors from the Revenge and a few survivors from other friendly ships down to the factory. Many had been killed in the battle but Eutopian ships were built so well with so many layers of safety precautions that there were many survivors.
Making matters much more complicated was that excepting Germany the first part of the plan had gone off like clockwork. The leaders of every major European country, excepting Switzerland, the emperors of China, Japan, the Ottoman Empire, the presidents of Mexico and many other central and South American countries, even president Coolidge and the leaders of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and a few other places seemingly too small to bother with had their political leaders kidnapped.
The Eutopian plan had been to withdraw in their drop pods back to their cloaked ships. But now there was only one left, the improbably heavily armed ship that had snuck up on the Pelican whose name roughly translated into English was Valor.
The Valor had triumphed over the German ships, but at a terrible cost. It had descended into the atmosphere over Russia, collected the drop pods with almost all the worlds leaders aboard and crash landed in a remote part of Siberia.
As Boudicca brought the Pelican back to the factory she was leading hundreds of triangle shaped Eutopian fighters, shuttlecraft, and even a few Drop Pods. Down to the safest place on the planet for them at the moment. Many of them were damaged, it was a heartbreaking sight. Boudicca hugged me and after a debriefing with the rest of the factory staff once we were alone I asked what she and Grolik were talking about when the transmission was broken.
“Grolik is what you might call a eugenicist, but our concept of such things is a little more sophisticated. Factoring in a spiritual element, that’s not to say that eugenics is a good idea. He believed that my survival on Mars meant that I was made of stronger stuff than normal. He wanted to have children with me, and he said so directly the third time we met.”
She sat down on a bucket, “we dated a couple of times. But all I could think about was you, I suppose he never got past it. He was such a strong guy, way too intense for me, he should have just gone on with his life. There must be hundreds of girls back home who would fall all over him.”
I replied, “his language suggests that he might have had unkind intentions towards us.”
“Oh please, even if he wanted me dead you think his crew would have been willing to see me killed or harmed for no reason?”
“I don’t know, people on this planet get killed over a lot less. Anyway it sounds like he won’t be a problem anymore.”
“What do you mean.”
“While you were coming back we picked up a signal from an English lunar colony. They witnessed the Revenge crash into the surface of the moon. There were no survivors.”
She teared up, “no, no he can’t be dead, if I could survive he survived.”
“You died in a flood, he was on a ship that crashed into a space rock in a vacuum. Even if he transferred his consciousness to something else there is no guarantee that the colonists will be able to find whatever his consciousness bonded with.”
She started crying and physically pushed me away, she stood up and started running off among the continuinous rain of spacecraft.
I went back to the radio room, the Kaiser was making a speech on the radio about how he was going to eliminate the Eutopian threat once and for all. He was calling upon all the nations of the world to join him in building a new fleet to meet the outrageous Eutopian threat. Even if the world did not rally behind him he would personally lead the Russian and German militaries to rescue all the worlds leaders from their alien captivity.
As the maddening speech was tuned out I observed, “great, just great, our Eutopian friends little attempt to destroy compulsory government might have just delivered this entire planet, perhaps the entire solar system bound hand and foot to the Kaiser. Who will probably be calling himself the emperor of the Earth within a couple of years.”
I looked around at my people, I felt crushed under the weight of all this. Everyone was silent, except for the sounds of ships crash landing outside and the radio squawking with the sound of the Kaisers bombast. I stood up and asked, “we need to unwind this mess, any ideas?”
A consensus emerged, we had to get out to Siberia, negotiate a surrender and the release of the politicians. However this was going to be difficult as our facility was now choked with Eutopian fighters and drop pods. I would have scarcely imagined that they would have had the crew to man all of these. Moments later we found out that the fighters had a crew compartment they were unmanned, possessed by the spirit of a Eutopian consciousness. Unfortunately this meant that each one of these ships was technically a living being, it was incredible to hear them complaining, screaming in pain or crying about their friends being killed. It was enough to make a person question their sanity.
We managed to get five ships, and a dozen fighters off the ground. I was onboard the Thomas Knapp with Boudicca, someone had managed to get a message off to the newly formed United States Army Air Corps, the Dutch, Belgian, French Army of the Air and the remnants of the English fleet of our intentions to rescue Earths political elite. I hoped that they would be able to mobilize, but I doubted it. I had little faith in their ability to act independently of top down command.
As we blasted across the Pacific Ocean the small Australian and New Zealand fleets caught up with us. The Australians had invested in building just one big ship as opposed to the collection of small ships that the New Zealanders had. It was a big ugly thing that looked vaguely like an English warship but not as heavily armed, called the Darwin. I don’t know if it was named after the city or the biologist and I didn’t care.
As we were about to enter Russian territory the mysterious Japanese fleet joined our force. They had an odd little collection of craft consisting of 2 electrical ships, a force of odd looking fighters with short straight wings and three massive winged bombers. The Japanese had been reluctant to join in the colonization of Mars, although some of their ships had been seen lurking in the space around Venus. Their bombers hull architecture was breathtakingly beautiful, a short straight wing right behind the crew compartment in front of a massive wing with strange looking drooping wingtips. The hull of that ship must have had enough room to hold its own fighters. It seemed to be a reflection of the Japanese engineering tradition of copying, then improving other people’s designs. Making the most of the data they stole from us.
The Chinese force was written off, they only had one known electrical ship and their country was devolving into civil war.
It wasn’t hard to find the downed Valor, the ship was giving off distress signals for any Eutopian ship or survivor to home in on. Not to mention when it had crashed it had torn a gigantic scar into the Siberian wilderness. Between the Stony Tunguska and Lower Tunguska rivers. I radioed to the rest of the fleet,
“okay, I am going in, I am going to have Boudicca try to negotiate a settlement. If the Germans show up fight them as long as you can, we can’t afford them gaining legitimacy from this rescue.”
The Darwin orbited slowly over the crash site. I started walking towards the downed ship, nervous as heck. Though the ship was crashed I could see that they could still operate some of their heavy weapons. When we reached their half buried airlock I shouted, “come out and talk to us!”
The hatch creaked open, the ships captain and 2 guards came out. Captain Ganpachi Dorcas, a legend among Eutopians for his organizational skills and heroic constitution. He was in a cyborg body that looked like a brick wall. He towered over Boudicca and I at a height of nearly seven feet.
I addressed him stammering with fear that he might punch my head right off my body.
“listen, mr Dorcas, the jig is up. You are not getting off this planet without our help, hand over our politicians. I can understand why you did what you did, and I must admit I appreciate it your efforts, but your ship is smashed beyond any repair, let us help you.”
He leaned in, inches from my face and in a horrifyingly coy tone he asked.
“And if we refuse?”
“Then in an indeterminate amount of time the German fleet will show up, blast the bejesus out of you and either use the prestige gained from rescuing all the worlds politicians. Or just kill everyone here and use their position to crown themselves as the overlords of earth.”
Dorcas smiled insanely and replied, “well, how can I turn down an offer like that?”
Before we could enter the ship Boudicca stopped and said, “shit, the sensors are going nuts, they are coming!”
She took a moment and related, “six battleships, two smaller vessels, at least 40 fighters.”
I shouted to Dorcas, “get the swine out of your ship immediately. Everyone else take defensive positions, this is going to get really ugly really fast.”
I started walking back to the Knapp, I checked my revolver, I had some kind of plan to grab as many politicians as I could. Cram them into the Knapp and get them out of the area. Boudicca had a better idea, fight back the Germans, rescue the politicians under more controlled circumstances, leaving them inside the shelter of the Valor and record the entire battle for later showings at theaters to illustrate the dangerous warmongering of the imperialist Germans.
I agreed to this plan and as she was starting to transmit this to everyone via her internal radio when the Darwin fired a broadside. A blinding blast hit her moments later. I ran back to the Knapp to get it up and running. The Valor’s weapons started blasting right over our heads, we couldn’t take off without flying directly into their fire.
Our fleet maneuvered wildly, the Japanese pulled back, my ships and the Anzacs attacked the incoming Germans with everything they had. I armed every weapon we had and prepared for the Germans to obliterate us.
But they didn’t, a crimson bolt of lightning destroyed the primary weapons of the Valor and a huge German battleship swarming with enemy fighters hovered over us. Boudicca asked, “why aren’t they firing!? They have us at their mercy, they fire and all their problems are solved.”
I replied, “they don’t want to kill us, they want us alive. Look!”
Smaller ships were approaching, they looked like great shoeboxes with random bumps of things on them to make them marginally streamlined. They fired a burst of grenades in all direction blasting out landing sites and they came down about a quarter mile from our location. I grabbed a set of binoculars and tried to get a look at what was happening.
The ships had large side doors which swung down and began discharging, well, they looked like soldiers, but they appeared to be very heavily armored. Big bulky armor in ugly camouflage colors, it kind of looked like Eutopian battle armor, but much less elegant.
I spooled up the Knapp’s engines, and aimed the ship in the general direction of the Germans. Then I fired, everything I had at them. I was entertaining thoughts of escape when a bolt of energy scythed through the back of the Knapp from the battleship overhead. We fell about 20 feet back to the earth, landing with a thud into the cold Siberian dirt.
By the time I realized where I was again Boudicca was out of her copilots seat and grabbing weapons. As soon as I got up she thrust a flechette rifle and a bullet proof vest, heavy with magazines of ammo into my hands. Projectiles were impacting the hull, we exited the ship and went running for cover.
As we ran the short way between the Knapp and the Valor I looked up to see what appeared to be marksmen taking positions on the German battleship. They had smaller weapons which would kill us without killing everyone on the Valor.
There was a series of massive explosions which knocked me to the ground. It was the Japanese, they came streaking in and were releasing huge bombs into the German ship while their fighters were distracting the smaller German craft. It may not have killed the German battleship but it certainly killed all the marksmen who were about to shoot us.
The battleship moved to evade the Japanese attack. But before they left a swarm of German infantry came pouring out of the forest. I fired my rifle in their general direction as I ran towards the Valor. I dove into the airlock and as soon as I was clear Boudicca started firing an insane weapon, some kind of a heat ray as big as a fire hydrant at the German soldiers. My jaw dropped, I had seen her use it once before to kill Martian walkers in a nightmare.
One of the Eutopian guards looked out at the Germans and shouted to Boudicca. “That won’t work, they have some kind of armor that is resistant to heat rays and disintegrators.”
I asked, “how do you know this?”
“If we had been able to defeat those armored asses back in Germany don’t you thing we wouldn’t be here now!?”
I looked up and saw what he meant, there were dozens of armored infantrymen and a couple of vehicles moving through the toxic energy of the heat ray. One of them was raising a weapon so I shouted at Boudicca to cease fire. She stopped and asked, “why?”
I grabbed her leg, knocking her to the ground, just before a spray of bullets came flying over.
The Germans were armed with heavy machine guns, and they were firing controlled bursts at us. Boudicca and the rest of the Eutopians may have been heavily armed, armored and capable of superhuman strength. But the sheer mass of lead these armored soldiers was putting out would kill them within minutes. The Valor’s heavy weapons were shot to bits, we were surrounded. Then all of a sudden the German battleship came back, I imagined that those big, pretty Japanese craft were just smoldering piles of rubble in the wilderness now.
Captain Dorcas came running up from inside the bowels of the ship, I asked if he could see what was happening out there, he nodded. “I think we should surrender.”
I replied, “much as I hate to say it I agree. We aren’t shooting our way out of this, any idea how to get the message out, I don’t think they will allow us to fly a white flag.”
Boudicca picked up a radio, tuned it to a commonly used German military frequency and was just about to start talking into it when the German battleship suddenly blew up. The entire tail of that monster was blasted clean off, there was only one weapon I knew of that could do that.
I grabbed the radio from Boudicca and tuned it to a British admiralty frequency. There were familiar accents chirping through the speaker. I shouted, “Fischer, whoever is in command, thank you so much!”
“You are welcome old chap, and thank you for getting all these Huns in one place.”
“Can you hit the infantry that is attacking us?”
“If all of you are sealed up in that alien wreck we should be able to crop them back a bit.”
“Then hit them with everything you got!”
Captain Dorcas slammed the airlock shut and took out a small tele-screen, the Germans were almost at the door. Then there was a series of bright flashes, all but the heaviest guns on the British ships were pouring fire down into the Germans. We were so close the roaring of impacts from their cannon were deafening, even behind the armored airlock.
Fischer made one last transmission, “there you go, that should clear things up.”
I signaled for Dorcas to go get everyone ready and able to fight to gather near the airlock. He had already gathered a few dozen Eutopian’s near the airlock in anticipation of our surrender. Weapons were rearmed and Boudicca charged up her weapons in anticipation of whatever was on the other side of that door. It opened with a single fluid motion and she stepped out shrieking a battle cry. But she had to stop shortly after she exited, the British had blown the entire area into such a hell scape that the ground had been lowered by several feet.
The remnants of German infantry and vehicles, so terrifying moments before were not even recognizable now. As I was examining the remnants of a Maxim gun, Boudicca stopped right in her tracks, she was listening to her personal radio. She announced, “that was Franks, there are three herons, one Japanese ship and several other ships of our fleet still in the air. The German fleet is almost entirely destroyed, the one survivor is escaping to the east being pursued by Warspite and Dreadnought, the Iron Duke is coming back to, wait, say again? Is coming back to secure this location, they think the Kaiser himself may have lead the ground assault.”
We started advancing towards the German infantry carriers as fast as the broken ground would allow us. Eutopian marines came pouring out of the Valor to back us up. Somehow a few dozen German infantry had survived the barrage, but they were horribly wounded and in no state to fight. They were disarmed and we kept advancing, until we reached the carriers.
One had been blown into hundreds of pieces, the other had a huge hole dividing it neatly in half. I raised my rifle and told everyone to sweep out and try to find anything that looked like the Kaiser. I signaled for some marines to go into the ship while I went around it to see if anyone was still alive behind it. As I neared the rear I heard the noise of a turbine spooling up, I moved quickly to see what appeared to be the Kaiser. Dressed in shimmering armor boarding what appeared to be a German 2 seat fighter. I was about to open fire but he threw a grenade at me before I could aim.
I dove behind the wrecked ship, avoiding the blast, before I could turn around something ran past me at great speed. It was Boudicca, running to catch up with the escaping fighter. She let out a blood curdling roar that could be heard over the whining engine and leapt thirty feet into the air. She grabbed on the fighter, and stuck to the small craft, probably by magnetic force. The ship was climbing away as she unloaded a flechette rifle right into the fuselage of the ship. She shoved some kind of grenade in the hole for good measure, then jumped off. Leaping through the air, hundreds of feet to the top of the broken German troop transport.
The grenade detonated, blowing the little fighter into a million pieces. Boudicca leapt down from the German ship right in front of me and bowed. I could not help but sling my rifle and clap at this unbelievable achievement. Which was soon joined by all the other Eutopian’s who had witnessed this.
She grabbed her rifle and motioned for us to advance on the wreckage of the bird. She announced, “this guy is infused with all sorts of weird tech, so don’t think that falling a thousand feet in burning wreckage killed him!” The pilots compartment had landed In one piece. In the front seat there was a flaming skeleton, but there was nothing in the rear. We walked around the ship and saw the Kaiser, his armor now looking a bit dented and charred, crawling away from the wreck.
I shouted for him to stop, he rolled over on his back and looked at me. He was a mess, horribly burned and clearly in great pain. But he was laughing at me, I asked him what was so funny, he started to stand up. His wounds were healing at an incredible rate, I heard a shout behind me and swung around. There were about a dozen surviving German infantrymen approaching our position. I shouted for the Eutopians to engage them, then looked back at the Kaiser.
I had been told Kaiser Wilhelm was a silly, petty, venal, weak little man. But this creature standing in front of me was nothing like that. He had to be over six feet tall, with huge arms and legs sheathed in charred shining armor. I lifted my rifle, before I could fire Boudicca placed 2 fingers on my gun and lowered it. She quietly spoke.
“Oh no, no no no. I have been spoiling for a good fistfight with a worthy opponent for weeks now. Grant me this battle my love.”
She ran straight at him, discarding her flechette rifle. She punched him square in the chest, knocking him onto his back. He bounced back up and a titanic battle commenced.
Both of them were in armor, both of them had their strength, speed, reaction time, healing and endurance enhanced far beyond anything any mere human could survive. Every blow that connected delivered enough force to kill a hippopotamus. They were both moving so fast I could scarcely keep sight of their hands and feet. Perhaps because their bodies were made from the same arcane technologies they seemed to be fairly evenly matched in hand to hand combat.
The sound of machine gunfire rang out and I turned around to lend fire to the fight behind me. The German infantry were dedicated to rescuing their leader, but they could not advance through a force of thirty Eutopian Marines armed with flechette rifles and heat rays.
As my flechette rifle ran dry I heard a cry for help behind me. I turned again and saw Boudicca had been knocked to the ground. I slammed in a fresh magazine of steel needles, most of them plinked off of the Kaisers armor. My rifle was almost out of electricity.
That distracted the Kaiser enough for Boudicca to grab a grenade from her belt and threw it into a large hole in his armor. A slightly muffled explosion rang out. Kaiser Wilhelm the second had just enough life left in him to utter the words, “Kai su teknon” before he collapsed to the ground.
I ran over to Boudicca, she was badly beaten. Her armor and some of her skin had been ripped off in places. I asked if she could walk, she replied. “I think so, good gravy don’t ever let me do something like that ever again! When I said grant me this battle that should have told you that I had completely lost my mind.”
Her hands were utterly destroyed by the force of the fight. Metal from shrapnel, her armor and bones mixed with blood and flesh in an awful mess of meat and iron. She was cringing in pain as the flesh healed. As we walked back to the Valor the Iron Duke reappeared. Soon followed by a swarm of smaller craft that had survived the battle. The first one to land was the Lysander Spooner, piloted by Tesla himself. As soon as I boarded the Spooner I shouted for someone to get some bandages for Boudicca’s hands. As I did so Tesla pointed at my stomach,
“you might want to take care of yourself chief.”
I looked down to see a horrible injury and a sea of blood gushing from a chunk of metal embedded just below an armor plate I had over my vital organs. I felt lightheaded, the last thing I remember was saying,
I woke up in my bed in Maryland. I wondered for a moment if the entire battle had just been a bad dream. I looked up to see a transparent bag of something white feeding down into a needle in my arm. I saw Katy sleeping on a couch beside my bed, it was night. I coughed and she awoke immediately,
“dad, thank god you are okay, you have been unconscious for 2 days, you lost a lot of blood.”
I couldn’t talk at first, so she brought a cup of water to my lips, I asked in a reedy, broken voice, “is everything okay?”
She shouted, “Boudicca, he is awake!” Then she started to fill me in on the details. But she hadn’t even explained the nature of my injuries when Boudicca dashed into the room. She was as beautiful as ever, wearing a short sundress. Her hands were just fine, healed or rebuilt. Her only imperfection was a splotch of mustard in her hair.
She bent down and kissed me, quite furiously, but all I could say was, “mustard, what’s with the mustard?!”
She backed up and explained, “I’m sorry, I was just making dinner and I must have gotten careless. Are you in pain? do you want to hear what happened to the Kaiser?”
I coughed, and reached for a convenient towel to wipe off the mustard and asked. “Start from the beginning, and tell me everything. I really want to know how they detected your ships, and what on Earth is Kai su teknon supposed to mean?”
The metal in my abdomen and outer thigh had been shrapnel from the Kaisers armor. Boudicca’s grenade had blown it into me, it had been cut with such force and precision that it had turned into an abnormally sharp blade. So sharp that when it hit me I didn’t even feel it go in. I was stabilized on the Spooner by Eutopian doctors and along with dozens of other survivors, flown back to the US where I had been lying in my bed being watched over by Katy and Boudicca. With occasional visits from I.E.C. employees and other friends.
German prisoners informed my people that the Eutopian stealth ships had been detected because the Germans had developed a variety of advanced sensor technologies after The Battle of Delaware. They had been able to detect the heat given off by the Eutopians ships against the cold backdrop of space.
As to the Kaisers last words, there was probably no great meaning to them. They were believed to be the last words uttered by Julius Caesar, the words were Greek, meaning, “and you my child?”
Fischer had taken control of the situation in my absence, shortly after I passed out he fired the primary battery of the Iron Duke’s gravity guns at the corpse of the Kaiser just to make sure he was dead. He had personally escorted the politicians out of the Valor and onto his ships where they were taken to their home countries. Tesla personally witnessed him say to the politicians that this rescue could not have been attempted without the I.E.C.s help.
I commented during this explanation, “so, Fischer is probably going to be the new king, or prime minister, or grand mufti of Britain.”
Katy smiled and commented, “I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Tesla and a few others have already started work on creating a film telling our side of the story. If this works out it could mean the beginning of the end of all coercive government on this planet. Fischer is certainly going to go on in life as a respected man, but hopefully we will not have created an English Edison. In any case the United Kingdom and the British Empire is dead and gone after the destruction of London, he can only be king of just so much.”
I drained the pitcher of water and asked Boudicca, “what about your people, will they be allowed to go home?”
She replied, “the evacuation has already begun, every survivor of this mission will be home in a couple of months. Fischer wanted them to stay and face trial, but that would be impractical, to put it politely.”
“And the German prisoners, what happening to them?”
“Most of them are just soldiers, freakishly muscular, but soldiers nonetheless. It looks like we have sewed up the legion conspiracy. It seems like most of them made up a cell within the German military and that all those infected by The Core were at that battle. They were probably there to make sure they got the prestige from the rescue, or to capture someone who would be valuable enough to trade for the core’s freedom. I haven’t detected a single Yonth signal since shortly after the battle. There was one strong signal coming from Thuringia in central Germany, but it went dark yesterday.”
I mumbled, “probably Jacky destroying the facility where the Germans built the power sources for those accursed battleships.”
Boudicca nodded, “that’s what I believe.”
I relaxed a bit and asked, “so, is there any pressing crises that require my attention?”
Boudicca shook her head in the negative.
“Very well then, I suppose I have been dancing around this for entirely too long. And you have been extremely patient with me.”
I pulled out the drawer on my bedside table, and reached up into a hidden compartment I took out a small velvet box. I asked, “Boudicca Lawarchelt, would you do me the honor of being my wife?”
I unboxed an intricately engraved silver ring with a large lunar star sapphire on it. My fiancé passed out, hitting the floor with a colossal thud. Katy quipped, completely deadpan.
“Nicely done Dad, you killed her. Years of everything in the solar system trying to kill her and you finally succeed.”
I said, “oh come on Katy you know better than that, I could probably drop a piano on her and not kill her, go get some more water. Hopefully that works with Eutopians as well as it does on humans.”
Katy tipped a small cup of water on her face, jarring her back to consciousness. As she spluttered all over the floor I asked,
“I still don’t have an answer from you my dear.”
She grabbed the ring out of my hand, slipped it on and shouted.
“Yes, yes, yes a thousand times yes!”