The Stupidest Invasion, Pt 2 Chapter 11

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It had been a couple of days since I’d seen the LT. I knew some shit was going on because she was spending a lot of time with Powell and that intel guy, Burchmann. Then, without any warning, she popped up during PT, joining in with the platoon. Afterward, she pulled me aside to talk.

“Hey, C├ęsar, I know I’ve been MIA for a couple of days, but things are happening and I want to let you in on what I can.”

I shrugged. “No worries, LT. I’ve been doing this long enough to know how things work. So, what’s the poop?”

She looked around and said, “Not here. Meet me at the D-7 hooch in an hour.” She looked away, kind of sheepish. “I need to go see Zoe. She may be mad at me.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much if I was you. She’s like me. Been doing this long enough to know shit works,” I said, smiling. “Go take care of your business and then we’ll talk.”

Shit’s About To Get Real

Three weeks later, we were sitting on an LZ, strapped into three V-280s, and I wasn’t sure any of us would make it back from this mission. We’d already been whittled down a lot since the shit started. The Skinnies might be incompetent as fuck, but there was a shit ton of them, and they didn’t stop coming. You’re going to suffer some losses going up against an enemy like that. I was in the D-7 crew’s stick, along with a few other platoon members who had skills necessary for the mission. We’d be going in with Powell and Co. while the platoon covered our asses. None of us were quite believed the Llesote’s guarantee that the Skinnies would just let us steal their shit. I looked around the ship and thought, well, if I gotta get greased, this is a good crew to do it with.

Taking the Ship

The ramp lowered as we landed. We piled out as soon as we touched down and, god, was I glad to be off that fucker. I’m not a nervous flyer, but we’d come in nap-of-the-earth at a breakneck speed, and I was ready to feel terra firma under my feet. I gathered my squad, unlimbered my bhuule, and headed for the door, yelling, “Come on, you apes! Do you want to live forever!?”

My first thought on actually seeing what we’d come for was that it was weird. Okay, not necessarily weird, but awkward. Like everything else the Skinnies made, it worked but in the most clunky way you could think of. Tall and squared off with not a curve anywhere on the thing, it had these short, stubby wings that looked like they couldn’t lift a kitten, much less a squad of troops (we found out they could extend to provide more lift). The doors on it were tall and narrow which, thinking about Skinny physiology, made sense. But they would definitely make it hard to unload in a hurry. That didn’t bode well for us, though, because I had a feeling moving around the interior was going to be a challenge. I wasn’t wrong.

The other 280s, containing the platoon and the pilots along with their security detail, landed alongside us. I could see the LT deploying the troops as the Valors took off. We were all supposed evac on the Skinny ship and I hoped that shit worked. I know what the intel guy had said about the enemy ignoring us, but hanging around longer than we had to seemed like an unnecessary risk. I understood but I wasn’t happy about it.

As I watched, Jackson, the D-7 tech geek, came up and attached some shit to the door, bypassing the lock. The door hissed open and I led my people in. Immediately, I saw three Skinnies standing over a screen. They looked up when they heard us and started gabbling in that funky-ass language of theirs. It was hard to tell if they were freaking out or pissed off. It didn’t matter, though, because we went right at them. The interior was just as crowded as I expected and moving through it wasn’t easy. Thank god we’d cut our bhuules down to pretty much the blade and a handle. Using a full-length in that space would’ve been a nightmare.

“Davey,” I yelled, “Left! Tommy, right!” I took the middle one. They had weapons at hand but never made a move for them, just stood there and got sliced up. I took the head off of mine, while Tommy stuck his through the middle. Davey, who was the best of us with a bhuule, executed a perfect kesa giri and sliced his in half from its shoulder to its hip.

“Nice,” I said, watching the pieces falling neatly to the floor.

As we took these two out, Zoe’s section passed us and entered the cockpit. There was a brief scuffle and they came back out, hauling a pair of Skinnies with them. Once they were clear of the controls and any sensitive equipment, these two fuckers were taken care of and we tossed all the bodies out the door. Powell came up with his crew, covered gore like the rest of us. He leaned out of the door and waved the pilots in. And, that’s when things got interesting.

In the Toilet

The LT came over the radio, “7-6, we got trouble!”

“What’s up, 2-6?”

“We got movement to our front,” she said. “A lot of movement.”

“Copy,” Powell replied. “Sending you all I can spare.”

Fortunately, we planned for this despite Burchmann insisting it wasn’t necessary. Every good soldier knows you’ve got to have a go-to-hell plan because all too often, things go to hell. The covering force, led by the LT, had their full load out plus a couple of mini-guns with a ton of ammunition and a couple of mortars. They’d also been equipped with something new: an entrenching charge. A long series of explosive-filled mats, they could be rolled out and detonated to construct an instant trench. It wasn’t perfect since you still had to do some digging but it was better than nothing. I had heard the thuds of them digging in as I entered the ship. The other part of the plan was that everyone not essential to getting this gooney-ass bird ready to go would join the covering force on the line. And, me and my guys weren’t essential.

“Hey, LT,” I said as I slid into the trench next to her.

Zoe popped up on the other side, saying, “Hey babe. The cavalry’s here.”

“Yeah, all 8 of us,” I said.

“Shit,” the LT said. “I’ll take all the help I can get. I mean, did you see those fuckers out there?”

I took a peek over the berm and saw at least 1000 Skinnies forming up. “Fuuuucckk,” I said. “This ain’t good.”

“Yeah,” Zoe said. “I thought they were supposed to ignore us.”

“That Burchmann fucker didn’t know what he was talking about,” I said, shaking my head. “Who made him the goddamn Skinny expert?”

The LT and Zoe looked at each other before the LT blurted, “I can’t say. Don’t ask me again.”

“Okay,” I said. I looked over at Zoe. “Can you help her with her poker face? Cause it sucks.” Zoe laughed and started to reply but was cut off.

“Here they come!” one of the lookouts shouted. I pulled up the berm and brought my weapon to bear.

“One thing about it,” I said. “Ain’t no lack of targets.” I wasn’t lying. Skinnies covered the ground in front of us like a giant carpet. A giant purple creepy-crawly carpet. The mortars began chunking out bombs and then the mini-guns kicked in, mowing down the Skinnies in waves. They kept coming. When they were in rifle range, everyone on the line opened up and it was pure carnage. About thirty seconds later, division artillery started dropping on them, finally breaking them. For the moment, at least. They pulled back to regroup and the LT called Powell to see how much longer.

“A couple of minutes,” I heard him say over the radio. “Things aren’t exactly like the manuals said.”

She paused a moment, taking in the unit’s reports. “I’m not sure we’ve got a couple of minutes, Chief. That first wave put a serious dent in our ammo.” She looked at her watch. “And, isn’t air and artillery supposed to start any minute?”

“Yeah,” he said. I could almost hear the sigh he was too professional to broadcast. “I’ll push these motherfuckers a little more.” He paused. I hope it was to kick those Zoomies in the ass. “Be ready to fall back here any second.” The LT gave the order to prepare for evac. Whatever we couldn’t take with us would get destroyed with thermite grenades. No sense giving the Skinnies any of our tech while we stole theirs.

Before any of that could happen, though, the Skinnies made another rush at us. And, they were smarter about things this time because, after a second or two, we realized their goal was to pin us down while another group went after Powell and the ship. The LT got on the horn. “7-6, you got movement on your right.”

“Roger that. Can you handle them?” he said.

“Negative. I’ve got all I can handle to my front.” She looked over at me while squeezing Zoe’s hand and I wondered what was going through her brain. After a second, she told Powell, “As soon as you’re able, get out of here.” She was basically condemning us all to death and she knew it but the mission came first. As much as I hated it, I knew she was right. The Skinnies were wising up and Earth needed the advantages that the ship would bring. Powell, however, wasn’t having it.

“Negative, 2-6. We’re not leaving anyone behind. Take care of what’s in front of you and I’ll worry about this flanking movement.”

The LT shook her head and was about to respond when Zoe keyed up her mike. “Don’t be a dumbass, Chief. Everyone out here knew what we were signing up for. Take that fucking ship and go!”

The LT looked over at her and said, “That wasn’t proper radio procedure, you know.”

Zoe laughed as she fired off a burst and three Skinnies fell in a heap. “Oh, like you’re so perfect. You slip in and out of “proper procedure” like I change my underwear.”

The LT shook her head and softly said, “Thanks.”

“For what?” Another burst and more Skinnies went down. But before the LT could answer, Powell’s voice came back over the radio. I could hear the resignation in his voice and knew what he was going to say.

“Copy,” he said. After a pause, he continued. “Hang as long as you can and we’ll come back for you. If not,” there was another pause and I thought I heard his voice break a little as he said, “Take as many of the alien motherfuckers with you as possible.”

I heard the rumble of the ship’s drive increase and looked back over my shoulder to see him standing in the doorway, saluting us as the vessel lifted off. I watched as it turned toward our lines and flew away at an incredible pace. Then I hunched back over my weapon and tried to sell my life at the dearest possible price.