Okay, so, first the blurb again and a the first chapter from Elder Offensive! Be sure to order your copy from Amazon today ~ * bow * ~
Also look to my Twitter feed for links to my fellow brilliant indie authors –
© 2018 Jon Corres Pirate Poet
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the copyright holder, except where permitted by law. This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously
Venoshia 3 –
It’s been 10,000 years since the Unified Earth Alliance had been established. 20,000 years since humanity has taken to the stars to fight overcrowding, petty warfare and human created famine and disease. Multiple solar systems had been claimed, fought for and settled in the name of the old countries for which they represent. The Empire of the Human Race was teetering on the brink of all out civil war and rebellion… until now.
On the last planet on what was supposed to be the first system of multicultural existence an ancient alien people are discovered to have existed. An alien race older than humanity had lived here and told of a great catastrophic event that had occurred and could happen again. A disaster brought upon the universe by the Elder Ones or Gods, survivors of a previous incarnation of the universe. However, little did the new Earth government know that supporters/worshippers of the malignant beings of the previous incarnation of the universe still existed. They had waited for aeons in the shadows to act and were almost on the brink of extinction until the discovery on Venoshia 3. In a last ditch bid for power, a cult of those beings that began on old Earth quietly waited for an opportunity. Then, as if the Elder Gods that they worshipped had heard them – a key was found. A device that once activated called across the fabric of time and space and not only activated its twin in another dimension, but awoke the ancient evil that is the Elder Ones or Elder Gods ruled by Cthulu.
Now, the race is on for a small group of Unified Earth Rangers and Special Forces to find and destroy a total of 52 keys in 30 days before a great gate is opened and the host of dark forces led by the Elder God Ammutseba would once again spill forth into our universe and destroy all in their path. Everything depends on Sergeant Arthur MacReady, Captain Pisti Aklonkonous, the alien beings – a Quartal named Ahk – Setnusam and her half – dragon and half – gryphon friend Ornaclan and the people in their command to navigate an entire planet, survive armies of horrific creatures and human collaborators and stop this ancient evil.
Chapter 1: MacReady
An empty room. Another one after. The entire floor was nothing but vacant space. The hall echoed with heavy sounds of marching boots, military to be precise.
This was the fifth building of this nature, and yet sergeant MacReady of 43rd platoon, beta battalion, 4th Regiment, advanced scouts/rangers aka the Elite Wraiths, was definitely feeling even more uneasy about this reconnoitre. Maybe because it was an Asylum? The sign from the flight in mentioned the name of the place was Pendragon Asylum for the chemically, emotionally and psychologically disturbed. Yeah, that was it! The idea of running into a loon with an axe, no fear or pain receptors wasn’t very encouraging.
In regards to offensives, the whole thing was a bad job in his eyes. No visible enemy to shoot at and everything in pristine condition. Here however, if what he read on the outside was correct, in an asylum of all places, there was a strange presence in the air. There was no other way to describe it. When they landed on the roof, all dozen in the initial debarking squad in his command stopped in their tracks and took defensive positions before the other dozen rangers came up behind them. None could see anything out of the ordinary, but all felt as if the they were being watched and a couple in the rear guard could swear there was movement.
The air was thick with fear and dread. Once, not so long ago, say about five months prior, this was a vibrant colony of humanity. Venoshia 3 was colonised in the Centurion Decade of the fourth cycle of the Emperor’s year – Kashimai. That was five years ago.
Terra-forming revealed this was once populated by a now long extinct or emigrated race of reptilian people ( or was that amphibious?). Arthur MacReady only knew that they lost contact and it was up to the United Earth Alliance Armed Forces – Special advance scouts – to assess the situation and render aid.
None of the previous comm traffic was available to the soldiers. All the sergeant was told was to be on guard and keep to the prescribed arsenal provided. He wondered for a moment what would make his superiors think that plasma cannons, fission grenades and silver ( yes, silver) bullets were in order. It was daunting enough to have to carry his rifle; the Armbrister 900 with a bull-pup configuration, front clip and belt feed with over and under barrels to accommodate the different sized rounds. Perfect for overkill or crowd assault. It looked like a sleeker version of the old helicopter guns, less bulky and only slightly awkward to use. On the other hand it weighed a freaking tonne! The good news was the grenades were light. The bad news, you throw one, it had better be at least 20 metres away or else you wind up vaporised! Yup, it was a mini tactical nuke you could throw like a baseball or cricket ball. He, Arthur, was almost afraid to use the silver bullets due to the price tag. What in Gods name is it that’s so unique and dangerous you need very expensive bullets for?! He thought to himself. A shrieking sort of static came over on his wireless headset. It was Dokens and Royker, two of his seconds in command.
“ Say again you morons! I can hardly hear you!”
MacReady shouted into his microphone. A distinct cockney accent took to the airwaves.
“ We’re on the third floor… just across from the operating theatre… you have to get down here… as in now sergeant! There’s a weird energy vortex.. got Royker… barely pulled him free.”
MacReady whistled and the other 21 came double time and gathered around him.
“ Okay ladies, quick time to the third floor – and yes Jennsen that’s 20 floors down!” The Irish corporal just bit back a response and stewed in silence. He hated when his sergeant read his mind like that. Before any other protests could erupt, the six foot four inch, 250 pound non – com was already at the door to the stairs kicking it in and making for the lower levels.
They got one floor above when an explosion rocked the building! Coming through to meet the platoon were the corporals. Royker was being carried by Dokens who was sprinting like his arse was on fire! An anxious moment as their medic met them half way when a roar to beat the band echoed up to the stunned sergeant and his men.
He took a deep breath, cursed silently and hand signalled his men to follow and fan out. He just turned the corner of the corridor that the two corporals apparently ran down when he saw something that made his jaw drop! It was half human and half fish plus a bit of lizard tossed in! And it was roaring in pain as apparently part of it had been cut or shot off, the tail to be precise.
The head was fish, that much was obvious, but the lower body was human female from the neck to the hips and the legs looked reptilian. It crawled in agony. All told it appeared it was as tall as the ceiling, a good 3 to 6 metres in height, if it were to stand up.
He brought up his Armbrister 900 and prepared to fill it full of silver when another roar, much loader and fear inducing rent the noise and caused an even bigger explosion and the structure to shake. MacReady’s ears were bleeding and his head was spinning now as the he couldn’t hear anything any more. He hadn’t lowered his weapon, but on the other hand he was now cut off from his platoon! The fish woman was nearer now and looking at him, almost pleadingly.
A giant tentacle armed with hooks in it’s suckers flailed about as if searching for something by touch. Arthur decided that it would be best to go after the larger of the two evils and hope he wasn’t wrong in his line of logic. He pulled one of his grenades and motioned for the fish woman to come closer to him before he threw his lethal surprise.
Oddly enough, she or it understood him and was barely able to avoid being mashed like a giant potato. Arthur took a deep breath, pulled the electronic pin and threw for all he was worth at the tentacle. Thankfully the tentacle took the explosion and was actually atomised by the blast.
However, there was bad news as two more seemed to come from nowhere and began angrily thrashing about! Just great, the floor structure was already dicey enough as is, Arthur thought to himself, now this overgrown kraken is trying to finish the job.
He got on the radio and did his best to get aid and his rangers out of this without further damage done. When he turned to see to the fish woman, she was now much smaller and more human – especially the face this time. She or it had grabbed an old lab coat that flew out of the room nearby when the tentacles went on a rampage. She spoke, or it spoke, in perfect English! She even knew his name!
“ Sergeant MacReady, if you would help me up please. My apologies for scaring you, but there’s a reason I’m here and if we don’t clear out soon the structural integrity will be the least of your worries. I can help get you to your men. However, we need to exit! The portal is unstable and there’s no danger to the surrounding area… please?”
Arthur took a second to curse up a storm before he acquiesced to the request of whomever this was. He helped the female appearing being up and, as if by magic, they wound up on the opposite side of the rubble.
“ United Earth Alliance Advance Rangers, we are LEAVING! NOW! Up to the transports ladies, hustle like there was no tomorrow because there isn’t!”
All of the soldiers were taken aback for a moment as the former fish woman stuck to Arthur like glue. The building shuddered and shook as roar after blood curdling roar echoed. Command was on the frequency demanding to know their progress and what the source of the energy build up was. The sergeant ignored his superiors requests for now and practically sprinted up to the roof!
The platoon barely made it to their individual transport vessels or barges to make way to the nearby landers that brought them. Just as they got to safe distance the asylum glowed and seemed to implode out of existence. It left only the basement and a scorch mark circle around the remains of the building.
Arthur took a deep breath and sat down heavily on the cushioned bench of the lander in the debarkation area. The fish woman sat near him looking gravely concerned. He knew he was in for it and now there were more questions than answers. His superiors would ream him a new one, unless they bought his report, which for the record sounded pretty far – fetched even by his standards.
Even if this being with him were to speak up for him on his behalf, he doubted he would be able to sufficiently explain an unknown phenomenon like a phantom portal. He felt a hand on his arm and decided to get this over with.
“ Okay, I’ve got a few billion questions and …”
She put a hand up that immediately calmed him down. She didn’t appear to breathe, but she did appear to be mentally taking a deep breath.
“ All right sergeant MacReady, I’ll give you what I can. That was a portal to a sub dimension.
A sort of dimension within a dimension. I am a Quartal, an amphibious being and shape changer. What was going on was your people discovered an artefact of great power and attempted to use it.
I believe they were physicians and they discovered this item among the possessions of a man who lost his mind finding it. This artefact was actually a key, a key to a place that should have remained closed. It was what destroyed the ancient civilisation that called this place home and drove the people to another star system before your colonists claimed this world. The effect of opening the portal caused an Elder One to stir and consume the population nearby. If you were to search about, you’d find survivors on the outer cities and towns. As to what an Elder One is, I believe, if I’ve read my human mind correctly, you’d refer to it as an ancient god. This is a massive creature that possesses great power and a desire to get more. You have nothing to stop them permanently if the portal had remained open longer than it was! For now, I’m stuck on this planet and this dimension. All I can say is thank you for your assistance. That fission grenade of yours caused enough instability to shut the portal down and nullify the item the luckless doctors activated. On the other hand, my people and I know more of these things are scattered about the planet. I must find them and destroy them as soon as possible before catastrophe hits your universe. Please forgive me, I’m tired and worn out from my own end of the ordeal. I’m sure this will help on your verbal report to your superiors… if I may, I must sleep.”
With that and no further explanations, she laid down across his lap and closed her eyes. This gave him an opportunity to really look at this version of her. She had deep blue and black hair, alabaster skin and, as he recalled when she was awake, ruby red within blue eyes. The good news for sergeant MacReady was the female Quartal had an inner timer so she or it awoke as they landed at the designated rendezvous point. He quickly got her a field jumpsuit to put on as the frayed lab coat was a little distracting. Through the portals of the lander the troops could easily see where they arrived. The field was roughly a mile in diameter and located far north of the city they were investigating first. To the north – west of their position were a series of hills and plateaus before a grand stretch of plains that led to some of the largest mountains MacReady had ever seen. Forest land filled in here and there giving them perfect ground coverage for a quiet encampment. On the other hand, it gave the enemy perfect cover for scouting them out or a sneak attack. The two unlikely allies got up and walked to and up two flights of stairs that separated the command deck from the cargo, embarkation, vehicle storage and maintenance, med lab and computer conference room. The last doubled as a work station and video conference area for tactical discussions between landing vessels and had the appearance of a computer lab at a university, replete with 3 video monitors for conference discussions. The other 23 of his platoon joined him after temporarily setting their lander down a few hundred metres away and remotely launching before putting it on autopilot and sending it into temporary atmospheric orbit.
Corporal Royker and the sergeant agreed that they could consolidate to one lander for the duration of this mission – till they found survivors to evacuate. Then, the second lander could be used for the sole purpose of civilian extraction. Everyone was seated or standing about 3 metres from the comm console on the bridge with the seat of honour reserved for the sergeant. As he expected, he hardly got a word in edge wise at first as his superiors sat safely in their hovering fortresses above the furthest planet in the system. It would seem that his C.O and the big high command decided to bring their vessels and fleets for some odd reason. When he was allowed to give his report at last, to a man and woman, all of them went pale and seemed to confer amongst themselves. Admiral Hiroshi, a female space naval officer from New Hawaii, Vascom 4 spoke for the openly frightened and worried group of admirals and generals. If it weren’t for the fact they were all in combat grey camouflage, Arthur would have bet real money they’d look a lot worse!
“ Sergeant MacReady, you say one of these Quartal people is with you now? She or it helped you and your platoon escape?” She seemed very hesitant, almost apprehensive and seemed she was almost grasping for something that would be considered good news. Arthur took a moment and bit back some disrespectful and rather sexist comments that came to mind before answering.
“ Yes admiral, I did. With all due respect, this doesn’t answer why my men and I were armed with some of the most expensive ammunition ever and why what happened is so…” He gesticulated wildly in the air trying to find the right words, he was so flustered with the lack of information and even less of a reasonable explanation he had to take extra time to check his colourful metaphors.
“ … important. Whatever was going down, it managed to stop itself. Or do you think those other key things are waiting to activate themselves or something?”
Hiroshi seemed to jump back in her chair as the desperation and anger seemed to have crept into the sergeant’s voice and took her by surprise. She turned off her microphone and spoke with her subordinate and then the other generals and admirals in on the video conference. Arthur’s men and the Quartal were in the background listening in rapt attention. Finally, after almost an hour of talking amongst themselves, she addressed the combat veteran.
“ Sergeant MacReady, this goes against protocol, but you and your men are the only thing between us and disaster as we can’t risk more human resources on limited intelligence. You’ll find a computer transmission on your tactical system. It should answer all your questions that your alien associate can’t. All I can say is, may God help you because we can’t. Not until you’ve neutralised the immediate threat or discovered that the inter – dimensional devices are inert, broken or are not in the hands of supporters of our adversaries. All your questions will be answered, it’s on the file marked “ Old Ones”: The Elder Offensive initiative.” She then abruptly ended the transmission.
Quietly, almost apprehensively, he went to his computer station at tactical and called up the file in question. The first line of the operation read simply; Ammutseba Invasion Protocol. Over his shoulder, Dokens and Royker nearly fell over themselves. Corporal Jennsen spoke up from behind them before Arthur could get past the title.
“ Are they effing kidding?!? That’s, what, the dark ones, er, elder gods stuff! The high command are saying these things are real?!?” All looked at him, even the Quartal. She spoke up before the rest of the soldiers or the irritated sergeant could.
“ Yes corporal, that would be true. Now that we’re going to have to work together, a formal introduction is in order. My name, in your language is Ahk – Setnusam. The reason, sergeant, I know as much as I do is partly because of what happened in my home dimension and …”
She collected herself for a moment before continuing. “ .. before this incident, your scientists from your military spoke with the leaders of my people. This occurred a good ten years ago. We tried to warn them of the dangers of ancient technology and mystic items that were scattered on our side and were connected with ones on yours. However, the colony on this planet either never was informed or ignored the warning that this was one of the ancient Old Ones strongholds before it was colonised by the G’tral – a reptilian species that had emigrated from our dimension after an old one decided to invade. Thankfully, they realised the dangers and made a mass exodus from here to a star several million light years away before the elder spawn could arrive and attempt to destroy everything they could. On that occasion, the portal malfunctioned and killed the spawn before they could build a staging area. It would seem that your scientists on this world allowed their curiosity to override their good sense of judgement and presented them with another opportunity. I came as an emissary or good will ambassador on the behest of your government in order to assist in containing this problem before the elder beings took hold here – once again. Before your species evolved, your world was a staging area of sorts.”
She briefly paused for the soldiers to take in what she said before continuing.
“ That was while it was easy to maintain portals and gates. However, after a few millennia, they were driven back to their home dimension – a sub domain of my home dimension to be precise. Whatever it was that succeeded in defeating them, no one was able to find out. All we know is they were sent into hibernation… until now. There were 52 items on this planet that could be used as a key to open up the gates. If all of them – or even the majority – were opened, a mighty gate that would be impossible to close would be activated. Ammutseba, devourer of stars, would lead the charge this time and as I said, you have nothing in your arsenal that could stop him. Killing his followers is simple; thus the silver bullets and other armaments. Not even my people have discovered the significant weakness of the Old Ones to bring down such a massive being as Ammutseba – and he’s one of the lesser threats!”
Arthur just sat stunned. He hadn’t even gotten round to reading the intel and plan of action on the part of the geniuses that posed as his superior officers and now there’s this little wrinkle. Gee, just stop this virtually indestructible and immortal omnipotent being, take out some of its monstrous abomination like goons and then – head for the tavern for a few pints. The sergeant sincerely wondered why and how he managed to get talked into signing up to be a lifer in the space corps!
Based on the expression on the Quartal’s face, he did a horrible job of hiding his feelings on this matter. Arthur mentally cursed, closed his eyes and calmed down just long enough to try and formulate a reasonable series of queries before he began reading the good news from the high command.
“ All right, so our best and brightest knew about this and decided not to tell us – the ground units and basically cannon fodder. My best guess is that the first little inter – dimensional summat of yours was an accident. You both decided to test the waters here and there and eventually came to an understanding of sorts…” Arthur put his hand up to quell a potential answer or rebuttal from the Quartal. “… no, that’s fine, I’m not going to push for the political mumbo – jumbo explanation. As for you being a good will ambassador; I’m not sure one way or another. I’m not the high command and it’s not my call, however, I’ll trust you – to a point. You saved my life and my platoon’s lives. For that, I owe you one! My feeling on this operation is we’re stuck having to find all the rest of these wondrous pains in the arse devices and destroy them somehow or just make them useless. All I really need to know is; How much time do we have? If this Old One of yours is that determined and powerful, I’m pretty sure he isn’t going to take to this set – back and is going to want a few pounds of flesh, per se.”
Corporal Royker handed his sergeant a hip flask, which Arthur accepted gratefully and practically downed it one gulp. The alien ambassador just seemed to be of forced patience at this point. Arthur’s intuition told him she was trying to act the better person and not yell at or try to rip him apart limb from limb.
She addressed him in a calm fashion, almost soothing.
“ Your assessment of the meeting of the minds was correct. However, you needn’t worry about destroying or neutralising anything; That’s my duty primarily as I have a better grasp of how they work and the dangers associated with them. Mind you, I will defer if weapons can be utilised, but only then. Each item is guarded to a degree. However, if I read your body language correctly – impatience mixed with anger – you needn’t get so agitated as we do have a good amount of time and finding the keys should not be a great problem. On the other hand, your obvious worry about the minions of Ammutseba is well founded. In this case, it’s a mix of groups being employed including a cult made up of people from my home world. I doubt they’d try subterfuge as they’re quite fanatical and lethal without it and they want to be obvious. And before I get too engrossed, I’m sorry you don’t trust me completely, but I see your point. Back to the time table for a moment. We probably, if I recall my local calendar, have 1 month to find the majority of the items to stop the greater portal. If not, we’d better have a damn good plan B as you humans say. If not, you’re going to wish you’d never heard of the Old Ones!”
Arthur rolled his eyes ala his father trying hard to ignore the last, but conceded to reason none the less. He nodded before addressing his new ally on a different tact.
“ So that wound to your tail, I guess that’s what that part of your anatomy was, came from something on your side trying to stop you? I ask for just a tad of clarification. I have a feeling that if that was the Old One we wouldn’t be speaking at the moment.”
Ahk – Setnusam took a breath of relief, or so it appeared, and spoke to address the sergeant’s question.
“ Yes, that was why I was wounded and you were correct on the part of my anatomy. As to that not being Ammutseba – actually, it was. His physical form was too massive to fit through the small portal. He was trying to catch and devour me before I reached you. The site of our dimensional gate was discovered without our knowledge and the Old One himself decided to take matters into his own hands, er, tentacles. That, in of itself, should point to how important it is that we destroy or neutralise the threat of the gate keys. One other point of information that your admiral failed to mention; You, Arthur MacReady, are the human liaison to our people. This means that if we are successful, you will be travelling between here and my home.”
The colour drained from Arthur’s face. He kept his wits about him, despite wanting to vomit or pass out from this lovely news. He wondered what other little surprises were coming his way for a moment till it dawned on him that it just might make things worse for him – thinking about such things. The Quartal just smiled at him, as if she could read his mind and tell he’s conceded to her thinking. She then, after an awkward pause, addressed another probably pressing enquiry by the sergeant. “ I wouldn’t worry myself with ambassadorial duties at this stage of the game sergeant. As to how I was recruited or talked into being the liaison for the Quartal, simply put I was the most compatible – as you are. I was not trained in combat, but on the other hand I do know the weaknesses of the enemies minions. I would also concentrate on finding the survivors, the civilians who are currently in disarray over this latest turn of events. One something I can tell you that’s also mentioned in the debriefing you have on your computer; Ammutseba can reanimate the dead. In other words, he can create zombies after a fashion. You must be wary of these creatures in particular! The will look as the ones you wish to save, but they are flesh craving, mindless pawns of the Elder One and they will attempt to devour you … alive. They can be killed, just as the other minions. It’s just a much crueller and insidious way of dispatching an enemy.” The sergeant bit back the obvious question; What did she mean by compatible? He turned to Jennsen, Dokens and Royker.
“ All right, you heard, and no need to get tetchy ladies – we have a job to do.” He pointed behind Dokens to the field medics. “ McGuinnes, Abbot, Davies and Marks; Put your field med kits together. Have the good, erm, liaison here brief you on what to set the sensors for, aside from normal life signs before you get started. If that Elder has managed to make some zombies, I want to know!” MacReady waved Jennsen to one side to get the comm techs attention. “ Reed, Malcom, Morris – get the transmission station operational. I want drones on stealth, secure frequencies and a live feed with eyes on all of us! Everyone else, gear up! Two four person patrols and one five person recon group, that’s three teams. You’ll be divided accordingly; Teams of two at a time on the perimeter alternating with one ranger with one drone. Field cameras on, arm for bear and make sure you have a direct line with me, the med techs and comm techs – try not to wander off if you can help it. There’s 2 dozen of us and 0 guarantees any of us will survive. We’ve been left, on our own, to hold off the hoards – so watch the ammo! I have a feeling the good admiral and the high command have no problems sending that and explosives our way; Just don’t count on it or back – up except for who’s with you. DISMISSED!”
He turned back to the 3 corporals and the Quartal female.
“ Okay, now we all know how screwed we are. So, what are we gonna do about it?” He looked at each of his subordinates one at a time followed by their Quartal advisor or helper. Dokens cleared his throat, looked off into the distance to steady himself, took a deep breath and tried to remain calm. “ Well sergeant, I’d say we do this systematically, unless Ahk – Setnusam here has a way to tell if we’re near or far from an active or passive device. For all we know, a few of those pains in the arse are already gonzo – but it would be nice to know if we have all 51 objects or not.”
MacReady looked at the female with a raised eyebrow. “ I was wondering that too. Unless you advanced alien types have some sort of telepathy or something you can use or a portable version of a scanner that you can lend us?” Ahk – Setnusam was pleasantly taken aback. It would seem her human counterpart could be thoughtful and reasonable and more than a savage primitive. She pondered the question for a good minute and a half before answering. “ Sergeant, I don’t have a scanner, nor do I have super sensory perception – as I stated earlier. I do know of what you ask in regards to the frequency to monitor to see if the devices are active or resting or for that matter viable. You need to use your medical sensors to detect them. Set them to a low frequency, passive detection. It’ll sound like a living pulse, if memory serves. I’ll help your medics with the settings after this conference or meeting of ours.” The Quartal took a moment to pause to frame her words, this was still a new language for her after all.
“As far as a systematic searches goes; That’s an excellent idea! It should work wonders and save us time trying to locate things at random. This is, after all, a very large planet and the sooner we narrow down our search areas the faster we can find and dispose of the nuisances. The other headache, as you’d say sergeant, you’d be eliminating would be the confrontation with the forces of Ammutseba. I’m sure your people can make a grand accounting of themselves, however we have the problem of avoiding civilian casualties and risking reprisal from a better prepared force. Also, if they’ve activated even one device, they could get reinforcements quite quickly. The advantage you have is; The fission grenades of yours. You can cause an anomaly that would destroy a portal and eliminate the threat of the immediate creatures. Just a point of information; If any of the minions are cut off from their contact with Ammutseba, they die or are destroyed. He’s the only thing keeping them together – literally.” Royker let out a loud whistle. “ What do you mean about a better prepared force? They have fancy energy weapons or would they have numbers on their side? I mean, would they try to overwhelm us?” The Quartal never hesitated. “ All of the above. The Elder Gods relied on massive numbers to wear down their victims or to gather more followers. It would seem that the more they had , the more powerful they’d be. That would be another danger good to avoid. As to energy weapons, more like a biological advantage that can be just as efficient, if not more so, than conventional weaponry or projectile/energy weapons.”
Arthur nodded and wordlessly dismissed the corporals to see to their underlings. Ahk – Setnusam lingered at a distance, just studying him like a subject in a med lab experiment. The sergeant did his best to ignore this as he read the briefing or plan of attack on the main comm computer screen.
As Ahk – Setnusam confirmed, they first, the humans, encountered the Quartal by accident following an attempt at creating a new sub – space frequency for civilian business. It would seem they used enough energy to create a singularity that punched a whole through hyperspace.
Both sides had awkward moments of communication, but eventually were able to peaceably communicate. After much diplomatic and cultural barriers, say, four years later the topic of dangers of travelling between the dimensions came up. This is when the Earth learnt of the earlier encounters with alien or inter – dimensional peoples. It would seem as if the Mad Arab wasn’t so mad after all! Earth scientists then decided to delve into the known copies of the Arab’s manuscript, the Necronomicon. Despite the technology at the disposal of the humans, it wasn’t until sometime last year that they sorted out the machinations of the Old Ones or Elder Gods. It was decided, unanimously, among the member worlds of the United Earth Alliance Government to instate the use of silver bullets, among other weapons in case the Elder Gods decided to make another attempt at reaching our dimension for conquest.
In regards to the incident here on Venoshia 3, it seems the Earth Government was caught a bit flat footed and the people in the asylum thought they knew what they were doing. Translation; Instead of waiting to see if the experts really knew what they were talking about the doctors greed for information or knowledge got the better of them. To clarify, one of the points of agreement with Quartal people was that any alien artefacts that were found were to be examined by both the Earth and the Quartal as many a dangerous device, such as the dimensional portal or gate creator, were still out there. In English; Once the cat was out of the bag about the horrors of what awaited mankind in the other dimension that could come back to the humans to assure their worst nightmares, all decided it was best to be overly cautious as opposed to being cavalier about it.
Arthur’s thinking was, that the military at least, foresaw the potential for some pretty big cock – ups, thus the silver bullets. As to why silver? Apparently, it was a rare material that most creatures of Ahk – Setnusam’s dimension were deathly allergic to ( or something like that). He was so wrapped up in reading he almost didn’t catch his female alien companion’s head on his shoulder reading along with him. His face went flush with embarrassment as the Quartal didn’t seem to notice. “ Um, comfortable Ahk – Setnusam?” She just gave him a blank look and put her hand on his free shoulder.
“ Hmm? Now I am, thank you. You’re quite a careful reader I see. Those are just the highlights as you’ve deduced… is there something wrong sergeant? Oh! You’re a bit shy when dealing with females, my apologies.” He was clearly taken aback, then again she was lovely.
He had to mentally shake his head and banish those thoughts as he had no idea what this Quartal’s motivations were. He decided to just ignore the possible bait and ask an overdue question.
“ Okay, do you have a title or something? Doctor, lawyer, healer… etc.?” She looked at him askance before smiling like a crocodile when facing prey. “ Not really, though I do know you have no ill intent by your query. I read temperature, pheromones and surface thoughts. As to title? I guess you could call me a healer of sorts, perhaps even – a mystic. I suppose this is to make conversation less awkward and tense?” He nodded mechanically and gave her a wry smile.
“ Well, as to the lack of awkward conversation – yes. Also, now that I know you’re a healer, I can relax more. So, most of this is just highlights? My best guess is, you had military or other intel on this Ammutseba as being the one leading the charge here. Either that or the artefacts were his, had his signature or mark on them to identify the owner. Are these keys alive? You mentioned they made a signal that sounded like a heartbeat, er, pulse.” She raised her eyebrows impressed and hugged him with one arm.
“ Well, you’re definitely someone to keep an eye on, very astute of you Arthur. We were aware of stirrings in the sub – dimension for a while, but it took some extra effort in identifying the source of the signal calling to the Old Ones or Elder Gods. And yes, something was calling to them – like your alarm clocks? I’ve had a chance, prior to this, to see what the doctors at the asylum found. I can also say, with some confidence, it was the reason why their patient had lost his mind. So, yes, the keys are alive. They need either a living host to possess or enough energy to activate. If all or most of those keys had been together, Ammutseba wouldn’t have had any trouble following me and preventing your action of stopping his first return attempt. On the other hand, enough of him made it through that he now has an idea of what he may be up against and potential hosts to create his seemingly endless armies. He would make this, how would you phrase it, the beachhead of the invasion. Abominations would follow, among other creatures before the other Elder Gods awakened and came. The last time it took nearly 100 millennia before the force that ejected the Old Ones came into being. And no, it was no native deity! That much my people have been able to confirm. You seem to have a grasp of the dire nature of your situation. This isn’t impossible, we just have to make the most of our time. Agreed?” Now, the Quartal was so close he could feel her lips on his ear. He ignored this with Herculean effort and spoke as calmly as possible.
“ Okay, agreed… and are all of your people this, er, friendly?” She just grinned at him in an unreadable way before hugging him again. “ No, not really. However, as I said in so many words, you intrigue me. Now, I suppose you’d like me to assist the med techs with the scanner settings?” Arthur nodded in agreement, but made no drastic moves. He wasn’t sure what the reaction would be and her natural state was a giant being that looked quite strong enough to kill him with no problem what so ever. Also, he had no idea of her motivations. They walked quietly in to the cargo section of the landing craft. As with all campaign grade military vessels, this shuttle was huge! Then again, it was a model A – Celebor fusion powered sub – light landing craft. It was capable of going ¼ the speed of light and a staple of the Advanced Scout/ Ranger battalions. Lightly armed with atmospheric missiles, medium range energy cannon, rail guns and deceptively armoured with energy shielding and photomorphic skin for camouflage. It was large enough to carry half a dozen armoured personnel carriers, ten single operator walking tanks – a kind of body armour with reinforced steel frame plus 2 – 3 55mm cannon, laser sighting and computer targeting. It looked like an exoskeleton on steroids! The shuttle had 3 dozen emergency cryogenic chambers for medical emergencies plus a fully automated mini – hospital complete with android nurses. Normally, in orbit would be the main carrier. Those were behemoths that looked like a sort of jumbo sized super aircraft carrier.
Not this time though. This was one of only two shuttles used for this platoons reconnoitre and possible rescue mission. The other, as MacReady bitterly reminded himself, was in low orbit on auto – pilot. The computer was programmed for emergency landing in the next 6 hours in case there was no command response on the ships computer frequency. If Arthur remembered, it would land within a mile of their current position. This brought up a whole new worry; Fuel for both craft. According to intel, there were two stations to fuel up for the return flight to the outer orbit planets where the command fleets sat waiting for progress. He, the sergeant, and his corporals sincerely doubted their back – up would even remotely hang around beyond the planned time table – If that.
He watched with keen interest as the group of medics and their new alien ally worked on setting the portable sensors. McGuinnes, the Scottish senior medic, led his Aussie second Marks and MacReady’s fellow Englishmen Shane Abbot and Nigel Davies in setting up the computer and setting the portable sensors. In all honesty, the real time taker was programming the central medical computer to instruct the sensors what to do. The devices themselves were not capable of handling as much data as a physician would normally need. Thus, it was decided by better minds than those in the space marines, army and navy that there would be a central medical computer to handle the data from the field or where ever the med techs happened to be.
The medical lab or sick bay, came equipped with a dozen emergency surgical beds connected to a central medical computer that stood independent from the main computer system or main frame network. It was quite antiseptic, almost so bright and white it could blind you. All personnel were required to load personal medical data discs into the server prior to launch to make rendering treatment that much faster. If you could name the medical emergency, they could handle it.
The area was so large that a seven person operating squad could work without interrupting procedures occurring at the next table. A bio – energy shield prevented contamination or pathogens of air or a physically transferable nature. There was no way that any known virus or bacteria could spread without someone actively allowing it. Any alien life forms encountered were another story all together.
he continued to observe, this Ahk – Setnusam really surprised him.
Still, the actions of this Quartal have been, despite being
consistent, strange. And did this have to do with compatibility? Or
was she looking for a snack, like his brains for example. Considering
how the high command was pussy – footing around and determining
what it was that he needed to know – then still not telling him –
made him quite curious. MacReady excused himself and went to the
command deck and got on the computer. The good news was that
interplanetary computer networks were still up. He tried to recall
what Morris told him about hacking into the central command main
frame. If it weren’t for the fact that all three of his geniuses were
busy, he wouldn’t be brow beating himself so much as reading what he
needed. Yes, he did have the initiative plan on Ammutseba, but this
was different. He was curious as to the entire big picture and he
didn’t know if he’d have…
BREEP! BREEP! BREEP!
So much for curiosity. He raced down to the source of the alarm, the main entry way and ran smack dab into an Italian private, Tenovoli, who looked like he ran a marathon. “ Sergeant! You better come and see this.. it looks like some sort of two legged wolf or something. Thomerson, Vargus and Torres are keeping just down wind of it. They think they can outflank it…” Ahk – Setnusam ran up and got the private by his shoulders. “ Did you say a two legged wolf? How big? Silver fur and metallic looking claws? Sergeant, if it’s what I think, we’re being hunted. That’s a tracker and the hunting party might not be that far …” Outside and just past the grove of trees nearest the landing craft gunfire erupted.
“ Don’t just stand there like a brain dead idiot, let’s go – move it! Move it!” An explosion like a fission grenade sounded a few hundred yards ahead. Thomerson was limping with Vargus and Torres was providing covering fire. That’s when Arthur heard and ungodly roar and some language, guttural and deep from beyond the trees. “ Torres, Thomerson, Vargus… what the hell’s going on?”
Another roar and the sound of crashing trees got his attention and answered his question at the same time. He saw something he’d only seen in his nightmares; It was huge!
It looked like a cross between a squid, alligator, fish and worm. A large eyeless head like an alligator with tentacles and stubby reptilian legs pulled along a worm – like body with fish fins and gills near the head with a body that had to be 100 metres long if it were a centimetre and around 20 metres tall! Ahk – Setnusam came running up yelling at them. “ Use your fission grenades! Your bullets will only antagonise it – more so than it is already. It’s armour is based for projectile weapons…”
Arthur rolled his eyes, roared a battle cry and ran up to throw three perfect bulls-eye’s in the beasts throat. An eye blink later – FWOOM! The sergeant was thrown backward violently into his patrol, along with pieces of the monster, and wound up landing in the arms of the Quartal.
Without any preamble or thanks he turned and spoke to her. “ Is this what you meant by reinforcements? What the hell was that thing?” She resisted the first impulse to drop him for his rudeness and answered. “ That was an abysmal dragon and yes, that was what I felt they would call for back – up. You’re welcome sergeant.” She said the last with more than a passing bite of impatience and anger. Arthur finally realised the awkward position he was in as his people were pulling themselves out of the nearby trees and off the ground looking at the pair quizzically.
“ Sorry and thank you for saving my neck – again! Also, thanks for the helpful tactical tip and not staying behind at the shuttle.” Arthur actually saw her smile in triumph. “ Apology accepted along with the implied compliment. Now let’s get you back to the ship, this changes things just a tad and I, like you, want to hear how this happened, er, when and how they discovered the werewolf that started this, erm, tactical engagement.”
Arthur just sighed, motioned to be gently put down and walked with as much dignity as possible with the four privates and his companion, for lack of a better new term, to get the report and review the audio/video log as well as check in with the other patrol and the advanced scout squad. This was going to be the longest, strangest operation in his life – if he survived it!
That’s it! You want to know the fates of the protagonists/soldiers and their alien ally? Get Elder Offensive Book 1 – Today! Book 2 is still brewing and needs final type ups and editing… but it will be coming! Now, the poem…
What, but the wake we follow
Where but the light do we seek
To guide us along, a tremor, a melody old
In deepest oceans or highest peaks
A journey of the soul begins
The time of an ancient closes
So the sun chases the moon
Beauty hiding in shadows
Just as villainy conceals in the brightness of day
To the last I call forth, the first I treasure
In the end, do I sail for a star
An enigma to be savoured
Again, give Elder Offensive a chance as well as my fellow colleagues! I will be posting links soon… Till next time!
~ The Pirate Poet