Hope begins to fade...
Gregory P. Wong
Chapter 6: Breach
Zhuge Liang didn't like how this was going. The wall, though completely sealed and manned, was under full assault now with the Sraida madly hacking away at the metal. Spears were being pushed through the special ports in the wall in an attempt to repel the attacking aliens, and arrows came in constant curtains from the top of the barrier. Now, he was more or less out of his depth. Yue Ying was the person who would win the day.
If all turned out well, that is.
The wall was one mad cacophony of clangs and sparks as alien claws met advanced alloy. For some unfathomable reason, he was feeling less and less comfortable with the barrier he was standing on.
The Sraida were taking obscene causalities as they tore at the wall, the original 350,000 had been reduced by over half that number. Thus, there were only (!) about 125,000 marching on the UNT wall.
Sighting a group of Sraida that were temporarily unopposed by UNT regulars, he allowed his internal energy to flow. Building up force in the palm of his hand, he projected a beam of brilliant pale-blue energy at the insectoid aliens. The pillar of psionic force exploded upon impact, showering the area with Sraida body parts. "Thanks, sir," a soldier's voice crackled through his tactical headset. "That saved us a couple of arrows and a lot of trouble."
"No problem, soldier. Keep up the good work."
"Yessir. Out here."
Beside him, he could hear his wife hoarsely snapping commands out to UNT officers.
"Captain Jacobin! Shift your company south to cover ports A-33 to B-21.
"Lieutenant Melendez, shift fire of your archers to cover coordinates 121-526."
There was very little he could help his wife with, barring reminding her of the strategic objectives and troubleshooting her commands.
And providing the occasional fire support call.
The Sraida had paid dearly for marching through the mountain pass. Harried every second by longbow archers, the Sraida had unknowingly walked into the monomolecular wires. The aliens were cut into neat pieces when they walked into the impossibly sharp wires, and the insectiods didn't even know why the ones in front were suddenly falling to pieces. Besides those, the explosive-triggered rockslides buried hundreds of Sraida under tons of unyielding stone.
But the archers had to escape as Sraida crawled towards them, and the boulders were limited. And even the ultra-sharp monowires snapped after enough "uses"...
He rained down another bolt of psionic fire onto the Sraida, slamming them away from the wall.
He felt eyes on him. He turned to Ying.
"Liang, I'm getting reports from the troops at the wall defense. Wall integrity is falling steadily, and we'll be breached by the end of this day."
He shook his head in frustration. "We just need to hold out until he's ready."
There was no need to clarify "he". He and his wife knew who "he" was. It was dangerous; he hoped the young man pulled through.
He gritted his teeth. Right now, the main strategic objective was /defense/, not defeating the aliens. There was virtually no way the UNT was going to best these hordes, excepting the aliens standing still and letting the UNT cut them down.
The again, there was so God-be-damned many of them that even that would be long and strenuous.
It was simply a matter of time.
The Sraida were simply too numerous to hold by these means. It would have been all over but the screaming if the technological block was nonexistent. But, if the UNT was forced into using naked steel, the individual strength and the sheer numbers of the Sraida reduced the armored UNT troopers to a mere nuisance for the Sraida. Their training proved invaluable, but the UNT was simply not numerous enough. So, it was all a matter of keeping the Sraida occupied while the scientists completed the device.
Would they have enough time for the tachyon device to come online? Or would they all be dead before then?
He hoped to God that it was the former.
Time was running out. He hoped he would arrive in time. It would be another hour and a half before his forces circled around and cut through. God, let it be enough time...
"Pour more fire near the gates, Nagamasa!"
"On it!" he called back to Ying.
Nagamasa decided that he really, really hated these Sraida.
Hated them for killing worlds, hated them for killing the UNT troopers, hated them for having they're little "techo-block", hated them for being such a damned pain.
And hated them for nearly killing Oichi.
Okay, okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but she would have been seriously hurt if his longbow unit hadn't thinned out the ranks of Sraida galloping towards her.
And now, it was a "knife-fight", as the longbowmen liked to say. Meaning the Sraida were in their faces.
Well, not quite. There was still a gigantic wall to contend with.
"Battalion! Shift fire to coordinates 23-19, and fire at will." Approximately five hundred arrows streamed towards the section of wall where the Sraida were pounding away.
For a bare few seconds, the pounding stopped.
For a while, at least.
"Dammit," he mutter to himself. "When will these stupid bugs know when they're beat?"
He shook his head. Rhetorical questions were going nowhere, fast.
"Battalion! Shift fire to twenty-four-dash-two-niner!" he bawled. "Two volleys!"
A thousand arrows silenced the murderous aliens attacking the main door.
One hundred-twenty thousand more cried for blood.
"Oichi, where are gunning for?" he called over the comm
"The pocket near the southern door looks ugly. I can hit it from my position, but I can't reach the ones at 24-57-10. Ying needs those taken out!"
"All right. Out."
He snapped off the communicator.
He spied the Sraida hacking at the wall, oblivious to the death that rained on them. It seemed flat-out impossible that aliens could dig through an armored wall with nothing but their bare claws.
But the Sraida were doing it.
He stopped as a tremendous rumble shook the wall.
"Dear God..." whispered his wife.
Zhou Yu turned to watch Qiao gape as a section of wall /cracked/.
He gaped too. It was generally a bad sign when a twelve foot deep wall cracked.
The crack widened a bit and an arm was shoved through. Shaking his disbelief, he took it off with a single swipe of his long saber. There was an outraged screech.
Already frantic UNT troops rushed forwards and stabbed their pikes through the small crack, driving the aliens back.
He heard his wife frantically screaming into her headset.
"We have a breach at section twelve! Repeat: /we have a breach at section twelve/!"
Another arm was shoved through the break. With a cry, his wife rushed the limb, closed her metal-edged fan, and pinned the Sraida's arm, holding it still with her strength.
A well-aimed pike shot through the killed the arm's owner.
As Qiao withdrew her weapon from the limp arm, he nudged her.
"That bowflex wasn't useless, huh?"
Qiao grinned cheekily and nudged him back. She flexed her arm.
"Better believe it, handsome."
And then a chunk of the wall broke off and squashed a squad of UNT soldiers.
Things were about to get worse...
He leapt back as a razor-tipped arm sought his neck. Whirling, he sent a bolt of flame into the creature's face. As the slain monster fell back, another rushed.
And another. And another. And six more.
A figure bounded up in front of him and opened two of the closest Sraida up from groin to throat.
Super-Qiao to the rescue...
His wife sinuously crouched to the left, and he whipped his blade at the Sraidas' next, walloping two heads clean off and fatally gashing another creature's throat.
His wife finished them off with a perfectly executed boomerang throw that battered the last four insectoids into space, their bodies not just propelled by the force of Qiao's attack, but also from the force of her psionic blast.
And then another crack appeared, fifty yards away.
And then another.
His eyes narrowed in a combination of fear and anger.
And then a forty foot section of wall collapsed.
"We have a serious breach at sections 12 to 15! We need reinforcements!" Nouhime heard her husband frantically shout.
She ducked under the right-armed swipe of the Sraida, rolling and taking off the creature's arms with a swift hack of her wrist blades. As the creature, minus it right-side arms, stumbled past her, she buried her weapons into its back.
Instead of blood spurting out, though, dust billowed into the air.
The Sraida's wounds had been turned into dusty ruins from her dark power.
Nobunaga was battling as frantically as everyone else was, his glowing warsword imbued with dark powers that shattered anything it cut into dust.
Her husband generated a shadowy orb in his hand and flung it at a trio of Sraida, blowing them to infinity.
Another Sraida charged her, and she finished it with a contemptuous kick that snapped the back of its head into its back.
And still more Sraida poured in.
These hateful /things/!
A whistling warned her of another slash, and she windmilled her arms outward, deflecting the razor-edged claws. Spinning, she bent backwards at the waist, using one leg as a counterbalance, and impaled the Sraida's heart with her twin wrist weapons.
And four more tried for her.
And died as she whirled, her blades forming a tornado of steel.
Whispering death sounded close by, and Sraida dropped as needle-sharp pile heads sank through their armor.
Good to know that Oichi and Nagamasa were still doing their jobs.
Off in the distance she saw burning blades as Mindlancers, Arbalests, and Legions did their damnedest to take back their positions. But, of course, no one had to worry about them. The super-warriors knew how to take care of themselves.
"Platoons! Support position! Move!" came a gruff female voice.
She watched as a company's worth of UNT soldiers charged past, forming a wall of pikes and shields. The troopers seemed to be holding their own, the forest of pikes stabbing at any Sraida that dared advance.
And then it abruptly shattered as the speedy aliens outflanked the formation. Pikes were dropped as the soldiers drew their swords, and it was back down, again, to a wild close-range melee.
And the Sraida were good at close-range melees.
They were all going to die...
He could see the rear of the Sraida formation as it flexed into the holes that were appearing in the UNT wall. He raised his weapon, and the cavalry behind him slowed down to a halt.
No words of inspiration were needed. He and every cavalryman knew what their duty was.
"Lances down!" he cried, and spears lowered to a few degrees below horizontal.
"At a walk!" The cavalry moved forward at a powerful stride.
"At a trot!" Riders exhorted their mounts to move to a jog.
"/AT A RUN!/!" the cavalry commander roared.
And two thousand mounted warriors charged at the unprotected rear of the unknowing Sraida.