Tyrannis: They Landed Last Week

– by Crefakis

They landed last week. Already the command centre was built. I could see multiple defences, all of which were trained at the sky. I settled in to the foxhole as my spotter called the relevant information.

“Wind, twenty. Elevation, twelve metres. Distance…”

Olach paused as he measured how far across the plains from our vantage point within the tree line overlooking the construction site. The blue glow of the screen he peered into illuminating his face.

“Approximately seventy-five clicks”.

“Twenty, twelve, seventy five. Roger.”

I adjusted my sight to the specific data, and peered into it.

“Target spotted,” I mumbled.

“Fire at will Jak,” Olach replied.

I squeezed. The recoil hit my shoulder like a fist, the projectile’s shockwave bent the dry grass around the muzzle of the metre long barrel. The head of the construction foreman effectively disappeared.

“Hit. Let’s move Jak.”

“Yessir,” I folded the bi-pod on the rifle and slung it over my shoulder, crouching as low as possible and we moved away from the carnage and alarms, audible even over the massive distance.

*

They landed last week. We all knew about the small station orbiting the moon that we saw at night, we saw the flashes of light and temporary stars of explosions and saw the holo-reels that described what happened above but it all seemed so distant. We experienced nothing of the wars that raged in the heavens, except for perhaps slight inflation or deflation of the prices in the taverns as blockades were enforced or broken depending on who was winning. We didn’t even know who was fighting, we just knew that every now and again some people hit the jackpot as they stumbled upon the wrecks of frigates and cruisers that had dropped out of orbit and buried themselves in the countryside.

Wars happened down here too, but not as often and never as wide scale as what happened above. My name is Jak Winder, and I am an alcoholic. We all are. When I say we, I mean our regiment, it is the only way to stay sane. Wars here happen between the major city states, and we are tasked with Magil’s defence, normally against the cities of Pleth and Viper, but now? Now we’re all in the same boat.

B-company, second regiment. Sniper teams. Used to sitting in specially constructed positions atop of our tallest buildings, effective to one hundred kilometres, with the standard nano-projectile rifles. Our motto? “Dead before you hear the shot”.

They landed last week. A freighter, accompanied by a wing of frigates made touchdown around two hundred kilometres outside Magil’s city limits, and as we – Sergeant Olach Illumu and I – watched through our sights as the huge, kilometre long craft settled into a columns of of dust, wondered what the hell was happening, the frigates roared overhead, dropping thousands of pieces of paper towards the streets. Olach stood and caught one, what it said was thus:

Greetings, citizens of Mi Prime!

You have been chosen as part of a campaign by the Alliance of Betters to play host to our new corporate venture! Troops will be arriving soon to conscript your males to work in this venture, so pack your bags boys, you will be part of the AoB in a short while!

Please note that any resistance by either your armed forces or by citizens Levée en masse will be met with utter destruction from the Titan-class ship that you see above you!

Your cooperation in this matter will be appreciated!

As we craned our necks we saw the massive Avatar, visible in geostationary orbit even from the ground, I remember glancing at Olach as our comms unit chimed with the emergency rally command.

*

“Teeeeeeeen-HUT!”

The sound of fifty combat boots sweeping together made a sound like an incredibly short drum roll as the Major walked in. He was young, perhaps thirty – although high enough up the chain of command to make it to at least a hundred, perhaps older. In the correct circumstances, of course. Now though, it didn’t look like he would make it to forty. Dark rings under his eyes, unshaven and sullen he straightened to address us.

“Gentlemen, at ease,” the room collectively relaxed their stance, “As you know the Mayor and the council has called for a ceasefire with the other cities. They are in the exact same situation, otherworlders landing less than three hundred kilometres away, we assume to conscript man-power. Each city has a titan in geo-stat with its weapons primed and trained directly at the centre and each city is thinking the same thing. What are we going to do? Here is the plan, you will all take a pack,” The Major gestured behind us, where huge rucksacks were being brought in, “And you will leave.” At this there were confused mumblings among the rest of the company. The lieutenant stepped forward.

“What the Major means is that we are initiating a guerilla war. You will have no visible markings or outward loyalties. All you will have are these infra-red beacons to distinguish yourselves from the enemy, and two months of rations. You leave in ten. Get ready boys, this will be a battle for survival. Not just for Magil, but for all the cities, for Pleth, Viper, for Innar and Gae – This is our planet. Keep it that way. Dismissed”.

*

They landed last week, and I haven’t slept since. We were running north, my legs were aching horribly and the rifle was a dead weight on my back as Olach and I sprinted through the trees. Our exit was obviously not as clean as we thought, it took minutes for a drop-pod of twenty marines to crash into the woods behind us. I looked to my right and saw Olach sprinting through the pines, silhouetted against the light of the city a hundred kilometres to the east, yellow and orange against the mountains that circled the Magil plains.

Shots whipped through the trees and branches exploded to my left, but it did not faze me – we were almost there. I glanced at Olach and he nodded as we jumped through the open trapdoor of our foxhole and locked it from the inside. Panting we sat still as we heard the marines sprinting overhead. I closed my eyes and relaxed.

It was five minutes before we heard it, like a giant electric motor spinning up and increasing in revolutions. We both moved to the eastern side of the den we had built ourselves and only just caught in time the gigantic flash of a massive explosion about a mile above Magil.

“Oh… Oh no, shit, no!” uttered Olach, “They did it, they really did it. They fired the Titan.” Olach looked at me with an expression that chilled me to the bone. “There’s nothing left.” He slumped down against the wall with pure hopelessness.

I sat next to Olach and picked up the bottle of whiskey I had stashed in my pack, took a swig and handed it over, Olach accepted it still staring at the city, now laid waste, with fires and smaller explosions highlighting the skeletons of skyscrapers.

*

They landed last week.

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