Monday, 26 November 2012



Lloyd thought he was hallucinating when he first saw one of the plastoids. A little green man wielding a knife; that was the stuff of his drug fuelled nightmares. 
Then Chen smacked it in the face with a pipe.
The three of them had fallen back into the science section of the probe, Chen explaining it would be easier to defend, that the marine would be tasked with securing the probe intact, so they needn't fear heavy weaponry. Lloyd had cowered at the back of the room, using every trick he knew to try and break through the electronic defence and get through to the marine. Plead their case. This left Chen and Kel to defend the large jagged gash in the side of the hull. Chen took to it with aplomb, batting the plastoids away with raw aggression. Kel was not a natural, but his instinct for self preservation kicked in when faced with a long knife, pushing the plastoids away from the hull with the long metal rod he'd pulled out of a wall cavity. 
Chen struck the next one through the hole so hard that it dropped the knife, which skittered around at their feet. The  drone kept up its attack, clawing at Kel's suit, but unarmed Chen was able to knock it off then batter it into a gooey mess. Kel picked up the knife and had an idea. In the tool pack on his suit thigh was some industrial tape, which he used to attach the knife onto the end of his rod, ready for the next assault. 
"Hello? Er, Marine, can you hear me?" Lloyd attempted his latest bypass, and was again greeted by static. Except this time that static warbled into something approaching a voice.
"How the fuck did you get through?" the voice sounded a nasty mix of confused and pissed off. 
"Please, we, er, come in, er, peace"
"Well you're going to be leaving in pieces" the com link was severed. 
"Shit" said Lloyd
"Never mind Lloyd, it was always a long shot” Chen stated, before clattering another plastoid away from the hull. 
"She was not nice, dude"
"Worth a try though, bought us a little time maybe" Then Chen made his mistake; he turned to look at Lloyd. 
The plastoid that Mason had sent to climb round the top of the hole jumped down, knife pointed at Chen's head as it fell. While Chen hadn't seen it, the movement had caught Kel's eye who swung his rod up instinctively. The knife at the end of the rod skewered the plastoid through its head, which then slid down the rod leaving a trail of greenish polymer slime as it went. 
But the plastoid wasn't done. It swung its knife wildly, the movement and the weight making Kel lower the rod, the plastoid dangling like a grim piƱata. Chen would have liked nothing more to take a swing at it, but instead had to contend the next two plastoids that Mason had rushed into the breach. 
"Gonna need some help here" Chen yelled through gritted teeth. Kel swung the rod back round, the impaled platoid still swinging via its head. He managed to knock one of Chen's attackers away, but also nearly slashed the pirate-scientist as well. Chen had to quickly jump back. 
"Sorry" Kel broadcast.
"Behind you" Chen wasn't bothered about apologies right now, he was more concerned about the final two platoids jumping through the gap. "Lloyd, forget coms, we need you over here"
"Uh, ok" Lloyd nervously picked up the bent wall strut that Chen had given him earlier, and moved forward to join the others, muttering about little green men as he went. 
Kel was getting overwhelmed. The weight of the dangling plastoid on his rod was making his arms and shoulders tired. Each defensive swing he was making was that bit slower, making it harder and harder to fend them off. Lloyd had gone towards Chen, and the two of them were now fighting a plastoid each in pitched combat, leaving Kel on his own against the other three. One of those grabbed his rod just above the knife end as he made a tired and desperate lunch. Kel tried to pull it free, but was so tired and the plastoid remained holding on. This allowed its partner to come at Kel from the side, prompting him to drop the rod and move back. The two free plastoids started to come towards him - he would swear they were smiling - their impaled brother was struggling to get up off the floor as one end of the rod had got trapped in some wrecked equipment at the side of the room. 
Just as Kel was waiting for the final rain of knife strikes, the two plastoids stopped. For second they just looked at him. Then they swung back to their trapped brother, one holding the rod up while the other hacked away at impaled plastoid's neck, severing it in three strikes. Kel's eyes widened as the headless plastoid got up. And then watched as it followed its full bodied brothers out of the hull breach, along with the two that had been fighting Chen and Lloyd. The headless plastoid briefly paused at the gap. 
And gave them all the finger. 
It then jumped over the side and out of view, the three humans were left alone to stand in confused silence for a few seconds. 
"Er, did that thing just..." Lloyd began.
"Yes it did" interrupted Chen, "But that isn't important right now. We need to regroup for their next assault"
"So they weren't giving up then?" Kel asked doubtfully.
"Highly unlikely. Go get your rod back" Chen instructed, as he moved to stand guard back at the hull breach. 
Kel slowly retrieved the rod, rubbing aching shoulders first and cursing under his breath. With the rod in hand, he rejoined Chen and Lloyd at the side of the room, looking out onto Europa through the large gap in the hull. He turned to look at them, each were staring into the sky. Kel slowly followed their gazes up. 
"Oh. More shooting mean meteori.....oh bugger. Not more drop ships?"
"Yup" replied Lloyd "We're fucked", shoulders slumped. 
"But maybe these ones might be friendly? Couldn't that be the case?" Kel directed his question to Chen, who had up till now been considering the two new drop ships in silence. 
"To be honest, I haven't got a fricking clue why they're sending more drop ships down. Doesn't make any sense" Chen sighed. "But if I had to put money on it, I wouldn't bet on them being friendly"
"So what, we hold out here some more? I don't think I got much fight left in me, dude" Lloyd had sat back down. "I mean, what's the point? Even if we can fight them off we'll still suffocate. And you heard the marine I spoke to, she ain't gonna be hanging out the welcome bunting for us any time soon"
Chen turned back to Lloyd as the drop ships made their landing just over the horizon. Kel regard him curiously, was now the time for Chen to give the rousing speech that gave them the strength to carry on? 
"You're right, we're fucked" and with that Chen plonked himself back down. 
"That's it?!" huffed Kel "We just give up? After all the shit we've gone through today?"
"Oh no" said Chen "I'm not giving up. I'm just catching my breath"
"But you said I was right?" asked Lloyd dubiously.
"You are. I'm just getting to like playing the long odds. Nita always teased me for being so, well, scientific about everything. But sometimes you got to look at the shitty situation and say to yourself" Chen paused, Kel and Lloyd both leant in for this pearl of wisdom from the dour scientist. 
"Fuck it" Chen concluded. The manic grin was back. This time accompanied by a rumbling explosion in the distance. 
"What was that?" Kel was always fond of the obvious questions.
"The shitty situation getting that bit shittier would be my guess" mused Lloyd grumpily.
Chen had jumped up and gone back to the open side of the hull, scanning the horizon. A thin trail of smoke lazily curled into Europa's atmosphere about 10 clicks away. 
"I'm going up top to take a look" he broadcast back to the other two, then set about climbing back onto the hull of the crashed probe. 
Kel looked at Lloyd who was still slumped on the floor, but his curiosity outweighed his instinct to try and talk the lanky system analyst and so he set off after Chen to have a look at what was going on. By the time he'd clambered up on top of the probe there had been two more explosions, the second of which definitely felt closer. However, besides from more smoke trails, Kel couldn't work on what had been happening. 
"What's going on?" he asked Chen, who was busy tracking a small blur of movement a few clicks to the east of the explosions.
"I think they're fighting each other - the first marine against the two drop-ships. That's a tac-suit over there" he pointed at the object he'd been tracking, Kel squinting to try and make it out. 
"So the new arrivals might be friendly after all?"
Chen shook his head "I've never really gone with the 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' school of thought. Usually it seems more like my enemy's enemy wants to kill me even harder"
"You're worse than Lloyd" Kel chided.
"Well I'm about to get even worse"
"How is that possible?"
"They've sent Titans" Chen nodded at the horizon; now clearly silhouetted against it were the two large humanoid forms. Two large humanoid forms getting larger as they headed towards the probe. 
"We are fucked" muttered Kel.
"Heh, welcome to the club" Chen gave Kel a companionable slap on the shoulder. 
"What we gonna do?"
"Leg it"
"Staying put against the lowest bidder made sense, but now the big guns have arrived it's time to make haste. Those things are designed to smash large targets to pieces, they aren't so great against smaller fast movers. That's what the tac-suited marine is gambling on too" he watched as the tac-suit moved onto a course parallel to the Titans, occasionally launching a micro-missile, or plasma blast.
One of the Titans stopped, brought an arm cannon up. The weapon fired wasn't in the visual spectrum, but whatever it was made a patch of ground a few metres to the left of the tac-suited marine suddenly decide that it would rather be 100 metres in the air and on fire. 
Chen led the way back down off the probe, stopping at the gap in the side to call to Lloyd.
"Come on Lloyd, time to go" Chen said. Lloyd was still sat slumped where they'd left him. 
"I can't get through to them" replied Lloyd.
"Who?" asked Kel as he joined Chen at the side of the hull. 
"The new guys"
"The Titan's run a tighter security protocol, makes sense that you can't get through to their pack leader" explained Chen.
"No dude, you don't understand. I can't get through cos they ain't there"
"Huh?" Chen didn't understand.
"The first marine, even when I couldn't get through to start with, I at least knew she was there. I could see her shadow in the data flows. These guys don't have that."
"Could just be really good protocols?" although Chen was frowning. 
"Nah man, nothing is that good. These things don't have a controller moon-side" Lloyd's statement saw the three lapse into silence for a few seconds. 
"Must have a ship in geo-sync orbit. Odd though with such fancy hardware" Chen thought out loud.
"Er, excuse me for interrupting" Kel was looking behind him, away from the probe and towards the Titans "But does any of this alter the running away plan?"
"What?" Chen turned to him irritably, chain of thought broken. 
"It's just that if the plan is still the, er, same, now might be a good time to execute it"
"Why?" Chen snapped.
"Cos I think one of them is aiming at us"

No comments:

Post a Comment