Creative Corner

Posted: July 13, 2015 by Andi Pants in Uncategorized
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One of the new features that we are adding to Generation Nerd is a monthly short story. A small creative writing post by either one of us, or someone close to us. This month, a dear friend of mine… Who I fully intend to talking into coming on with us full time at some point… Has written a wonderful piece and I’m simply here to share it with you… I hope you enjoy it. I did!

The steady sound of rain falling against the tin roof of the shelter kept them awake. It wasn’t cold. There were enough fires blazing through the planet that cold was a relative term. If they’d been on a transport ship, one of the newer ones, perhaps there would be some climate control. Even their Orbital Insertion Pods had some measure of climate control, right before the outer protective layers ripped apart and the heat from dropping through the atmosphere spikes the internal temperature well into the hundreds. The shelter is a luxury. The rain a side effect of the problems tearing through this planet.

Through this planetary system.

Through this galaxy.

War. It’s always war. Financial, spiritual, physical. There is always a war. This one has been raging for the better part of a century. Discoveries aren’t always for the betterment of humanity. The wheel did a lot for ancient man. So did gun powder. Those two things are about as far away from each other as the sun is from the moon. Advancements that went along with discoveries, again, not always for the betterment of mankind. Jet fuel, liquid O2, excellent resources when looking at missions to our nearest celestial neighbor. Even more so when combined with nuclear power and a manned flight to the next closest, Mars. At the turn of the century, exploring our solar system was as easy as driving your car down the street. The collective of humanity came together and put aside all their differences. The nuclear exchange in the Middle East, everyone said, was not a factor in the decision. The fact that every sovereign nation in that little crook of the world was voluntarily forced to vote for this…’unification of the world’, wasn’t lost on the world.

The majority were powerless to vote against it anyway. So they let it happen.

The resulting five years were a civil war with Terra as the battleground. Desert, wetland, rainforest, major cities. It didn’t matter. Where there was a cell resistant to the United Earth Alliance, there were its soldiers fighting their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. Some call it the last great struggle of the free folk, some called it the first and only genocidal campaign against freedom. Whatever it was, it helped develop strategies that would be useful in the latter half of this century.

One of Jupiter’s moon’s helped keep our dependency on fossil fuels alive. We didn’t care how fast we were pulling it. All that mattered was that it was on its way. Relief. The rich got richer, the poor were swept into the military or homeless. It was a flawless system really.

What brought the galaxy to war was a miscommunication between two agencies within the UEA. One dossier explained further exploration of Saturn’s moons for further useful fuels, cold fusion finally achieved, fossil fuels still had their uses, but the advancement of that as well as a formation of a ‘fleet’ of Navy warships to regulate the routes between colonies on Mars and Venus made the need for the cheap cold fussion greater than that of gasoline. The second dossier, was a seismic scan of another of Jupiter’s Moons. Phobos. Ironically, the moon was named aptly.

It took three years before we broke the ice and metal ore crust of the small moon. It took almost twenty seconds for what it had sealed to break open and for those…things to pour through. At least, that’s what they tell us. Jupiter collapsed into itself, revealing what we came to call ‘The Gate’. The distress calls had come, but they were too little and too late.

They came through the Gate like water over rock. The small fleet we had, miraculously, came through the thick of it. Whether it was their base instincts and animalistic nature versus our ‘higher’ developed consciousness, we came out on the other side, but not without our share of casualties. Mars was annihilated. A combination of experimental technology and their own attack created some kind of reaction. Half of Mars was irradiated from the nuclear and photonic exchange, the other half…half you can’t see with a telescope imploded. Whatever their weapons use reacted with a secret military installation on the far side of Mars. The reaction caused a miniature and unstable gate to form, not strong enough to engulf the entire planet, but enough strength to fracture it to its core. Four crevices scar the Red Planet’s surface. You can see them through any telescope. You can see the magma, much cooler than ours, spewing into the cosmos.

The first decade was touch and go. The initial wave of the ‘Others’ was met with such an overwhelming response, we wondered if perhaps they’d shut the gate behind them with their retreat. The truth of it was much different. They attacked again, a smaller force but much more specific. They headed for the moon. They failed, but we lost most of the lunar colony. It wasn’t a complete loss.  We managed to beat them back, barely, but we did. We also managed to salvage a lot of wreckage. Theirs and ours and were able to reengineer weapons, engines, computers. The following decade saw massive advances in our military…it was almost too little.

Decades followed as they did. War. Invasion.

We expanded. They followed.

Terra burned.

And here we are. On some forgotten planet, long since raped of its resources to build more ships. Build more weapons. Build more cybernetics to replace body parts that were essential to life. To research replacing lungs with synthetic replacements. Another dead of ours means one less man to hold the line. One less dead of theirs simply allows them to breed themselves into over powering us. The news reports the war is going well. That we are close to destroying our infernal enemy. That we are close to discovering how to cross the gate ourselves and that we are close to breaking their backs with our superior might. The truth is much simpler.

They have the bodies.

We don’t.

There is a single Marine on watch. Their platoon slowly being picked apart since their attempted liberation of this planet. The resources exhausted, it is more of a political target than a military one, but they die just the same. There’s a quiet whir of gears as the guard’s leg clicks and the hydraulics work despite the rust that’s begun to build. The torrential rain hasn’t let up for three weeks. He’d just got the prosthetic after they’d made landfall. He smokes a single cigar, cheap and looks out at the fires exploding up out of the crust of the earth. That was their objective. Ten men and women that had started as thirty. They were to hold this field to allow one of their Harvesters to land and remove the remaining traces of iron ore left on that slab of land.

Ten men.

Two of them control Mechs, it won’t be near enough. The Harvester will land and all fifteen hundred people will die. Because the government needs the deaths to justify even further restriction on resources for the war effort. A war that the military knows it only has a few years left of fighting before we start losing. Before we start being using up more resources than they can find. He throws the cigar on the ground and looks behind him at the sleeping forms of the people under his command.
He’d joined a week before the rest of them. Forced, really. And, as it always is, senior person is in charge. Their LT bit the bucket on insertion, their Stagg Sergeant when they landed. The rest of the company overshot the landing area and ended up burning alive in one of those pillars of fire that shot out in five minute intervals. The rest of his company, the other twenty they’d lost, were from small skirmishes here and there. Communications were down, there was no way to know if there were reinforcements anywhere else on this forgotten rock. There was no real reason to think that the mission was still on. But, when in doubt, do what you were ordered to. In the end, they’d be able to kill a few more of those alien shits before they died.

War.

With a disgusted grunt the Marine turns back and starts waking up those under him. He knows some of their names, they only know him by his rank. They’re from all over, some even forced to serve when the UEA pruned the prisons for able bodied soldiers. Those that hadn’t mutinied and run off actually seemed to show they were worth their stock. Something about making up for the shit they’d done in the past. He didn’t care. If you picked up a rifle and fought next to him; that was all he cared about.

War.

It was a bitch.

They awoke, some slower than others. The Red Giant that served as this planets sun was halfway up on the horizon. Those who were awake enough to look could see their enemy rolling in over the hills. The exhaust vents that fed into the core of the planet would blow, taking out hundreds; perhaps even thousands, and they still looked like a tidal wave of midnight blue. Black acidic skin took a few others as some were cut in half by the force of the vents, but it wasn’t enough.

The planet was a silent witness to the incoming slaughter.

The lone Marine walked out ahead of his peers. He could hear the sounds of weapons being readied, the sound of gears and cybernetics aligning and syncing with the heads up displays on their helmets. Useless in the end, but it made them feel as though they’d be able to dig in and survive. He wasn’t going to argue with it. They’d be dead before sundown, any little bit to give himself and the rest some sort of confidence that they would actually make it that long was a bonus.

“Corporal.” A voice cut through the hot and arid air. The combination of the planet core’s instability and the red giant sun resulted in an overall red haze to what should have been clear sky. An ominous premonition of sorts.

“What is it, Private?” He asks. Voice hoarse from screaming orders coupled with the dryness of the area they were in. There’s an unintentional bark to his question. Annoyance. Not at the junior Marine, no, annoyance that he would die in this backwater shithole of a planet and that those with him would do the same. He didn’t turn to face the Private, there was no need. He didn’t need to imprint the face that belonged to the voice any more than it already had been.

“Thermal readouts show that they’re attacking enforce from one direction. They don’t seem to be expecting anything. It’s like…they’re moving for the sake of moving.”

Smallest bit of good news they’d had since they arrived.

“Then let’s dig in.” The Corporal said. The moved out onto the medium sized plateau. Walled on all sides, there was only one way to crest the edge. That was where those things were headed. That was where they were going to form their perimeter. There was an offhanded remark about sonar picking up what registered the size of a Harvester. So their mission was still a go. Even if everything was about to go to hell.

They all dug in their fox holes. The two MECHs remaining were put into the final protective line. They doubted anyone would get the opportunity to get to them. But crazier shit had happened. Like finding a gateway between two galaxies on the moon of one of the planets in your home system. They felt the ground shaking and saw the waves of midnight blue rolling without pause. They heard the massive engines of the Harvester as the massive ship entered the atmosphere. There were no speeches, no wise words or even final words. They knew they were going to die. They were ok with it.

The business of war was just that. Business.

They were just trying to give their species a leg up in a shrinking market.

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