Battle of Haibi Chapter 19
Previous: Battle of Haibi Chapter 18: Feather Conspiracy
Chapter 19: Battlestations!
A Defender of Haibi stands on the wall, watching the evening sun dim red as it nears the horizon. The wind is like a raging gale, but it is only able to disturb the armored robe slightly. The figure has the mask on, cross shaped slits surrounding a round hole in the middle. Attached to the bottom is its chin, with a smaller round hole and no slits. Behind, the being has a black cloth, or something that looks like it. The figure holds a rifle, standing watch as though to say with no words, "No one gets over this wall."
Another comes up beside the first.
"How are you doing, Roku?" Kabocha asks.
"My rod cells are still shot, but I can see red light safely. I've adjusted the oculars to give with a spectrumwide scan from ultraviolet to near infrared, and I can also switch to the far infrared and millimetric modes using my wings." She's still staring at the sun, making no deliberate apparent motion, "It looks beautiful in ultraviolet," she says, "where it isn't so much brighter than the sky around it."
"My advice," Kabocha says, "Is get some rest. Do you think you could run a turret in the morning?"
"Oh, yes," Roku responds, "I could run one right now. Well," Roku says, "I would like a little more practice." Roku and Kabocha go to adjacent elevator pods to descend.
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. At this time, the earth was featureless and empty, darkness covered the face of the deep. The Spirit of God soared over the waters. God said, 'Let there be light' and it became so; it was good. God separated the light from the darkness, calling the light 'day', and the darkness 'night'. The evening and the morning was the first day."
Samurai is listening to this gentle voice tell him a beautiful story about the beginning of the world, lying awake in bed, watching the sun set outside. Tomorrow was Saturday, and he was trying to get some rest.
"And God said, 'let us lift water from water, a layer above and a layer below.' God called the space between these layers the 'sky'. The evening and the morning was the second day. God said, 'Let the land produces plants that bear seed, and trees that bear fruit, reproducing according to its kind.' The evening and the morning was the third day."
It was quite a pretty tale, but Samurai wondered why he was hearing it now, while he's trying to get some rest before the expected assault. The sky is a romantic magenta outside his window, freezing cold.
"And God said, 'let us put lights above the sky to further distinguish day and night, and to mark seasons and years.' These he called 'stars'. The evening and the morning was the fourth day. Then God said, 'let us fill the seas with fish and the air with birds,' and so he created them, each reproducing after its own kind. The evening and the morning was the fifth day. And God said, 'let the land produce creatures each reproducing after its own kind: livestock, ground dwelling animals, and wild beasts. Let us create man in our image and likeness, to rule over all life, and all the earth.' The evening and the morning was the sixth day."
Why is the voice putting emphasis on the word "evening" all the time? Samurai ponders as the soft voice continues.
"Before the seventh day God had finished all the work he had been doing, and so on the seventh day, he rested. While relaxing, he touched the seventh day to complete the week, making it holy because on it, he rested from all his work. And the evening and the morning was the seventh day."
Evening comes before morning. That is one day.
Samurai shoots up in his bed, looking out the window at the stars. He grabs his phone on his dresser and hits the general alert, "All hands to battlestations, all hands to battlestations. This is not a drill. This is not a drill."
Kabocha and Roku were waiting out the one hour quarantine period in the suit room, Kabocha, already out of his robe, but Roku, out of necessity for her sensitive eyes, was still fully suited, and would have stayed that way until back in the convalescence ward.
The public address carried Samurai's voice, but there was no alarm.
"Roku, can you handle a turret now?" Kabocha asks calmly.
"Sure," she answers grimly.
"Take two-four-zero," Kabocha orders, "The one straight out from the Tower. I'll relieve you once I'm suited back up, and you can get some sleep."
"Yes, sir," Roku answers, "God be with us."
Roku emerges from the pod elevator at the top of the wall, examining the sky through her mask. There is nothing. She goes to the turret and looks through the scope. Nothing unexpected. A shimmering along the horizon as though there are a lot of hot engines idling. Given the forces expected, this isn't something that should be surprising.
Suddenly the shimmering blobs take off. Spectre cloaking. Batwings on their way. Samurai, how did you know?
She opens fire. Blue plasma bolts leave her turret muzzle. "All sectors, this is Rok'hyaku Rokujuu Roku, Spectre batwings show up best at nine micrometres wavelength far infrared."
Soon all of the turrets are firing. Squads appear on the wall with rifles and flying packs.
<Be ready to switch to Mode B when they decloak,> Samurai orders.
<Sector Four mortars standing by.>
"No known ground forces are in range," Roku intones quietly, "Give me an adjusting round two thousand out at two-five-zero, to see if there are any Spectre cloaked units."
The batwings seem rather surprised as the round emerges from behind the wall. Suddenly all decloak
"Two-four-zero to Mode B," Roku says.
<All turret operators, remember that we have only sixty rounds each for those big featherwing guns, fifty-eight for zero-nine-five,> Samurai warns, <Make each one of them count.>
Green glowing missiles fly away, claiming several batwings each. Wisely, the survivors retreat after firing several fireballs, destroying none of the turrets, but doing some damage to their mobility tracks.
"They have figured out how to Spectre cloak their seekers," Roku says, "Use Mode A on them"
<Rifles Nine, Guardians at five thousand out at two hundred through two-four-zero.>
"Excellent, Lilith," Maledict signals as he crunches down on a huge tree, which groans under his weight. The gruesome looking batwing demon continues to speak through the talking box on his shoulder, "Your new Spectre Seekers are being ignored."
<Master,> the Guardian he was speaking to closer to the front lines says, < I'm seeing an awful lot of artillery through my Seekers. Why haven't the wraiths ever reported it? There's no way they built all this in just two weeks.>
The enormous red humanoid beast in the command centre growls, "That is not your concern, Lilith."
<Regardless,> she grunts, <We need to get some ordnance on this artillery before my forces reach the beaten zone, or we're in for it. As I indicated, how effective our portal plasmas will be on this wall is speculative. If wall is homogenous, it will take us hours to get through.>
Erebus looks around the control center, which is surprisingly calm, "Lilith, I haven't gotten any fire orders."
<WHAT?> she blurts angrily, < I've sent forty myself!!>
Erebus looks around, two screens have winked out in front of his staffers. He pounds the edge of the shallow pit in which his 'throne' sits, sending a shudder through the walls that appears to knock out a third screen, "What is wrong with our system?" he bellows.
He stands, looking over the shoulders at his petrified staffers to see some screens with frozen maps upon which the battle does not move, and others papered in error messages. The bony fingers of one revenant are frantically tapping keys to no apparent effect. "Lilith, send vocal orders direct to the artillery. Release direct artillery."
<The system isn't releasing command, Master.>
"DAMN!!" he bellows, lifting a ledger sized binder from beside his chair. In his huge hands it's like a paperback novel, "Lilith release codes," and he starts spewing off a series of numbers as little drops of spittle scatter from his lips.
<Erebus, my Seekers!> Lilith cries over the radio, <What the hell?>
An imp turns to face him, "Master, not just Lilith's. They are shooting only Seekers?"
Erebus adds it up and keys a general address, "All Guardians hold your portals. Say again, all Guard-"
"Transmitter's down!" someone to his left cries in alarm.
On a camera on top of the command centre he sees thousands of angry projectiles rise from inside Haibi, giving the impression of a tidal wave.
"Backup online, signal again, Master."
It is too late. Glowing blue portals hover above the positions of the now vulnerable Guardians as the wave of mortar bombs comes crashing down upon them.
Erebus grabs the imp who was speaking to him, crushes her thorax as he swings her over her shoulder and throws her angrily out of the room down the corridor, severing her arm on a light fixture above his head. Everyone else in the room cringes as he says, "Lilith, can you read me?"
< I hear you, Master,> she cries clearly through, although exposions can be heard on her channel, <The comms chose a despicable moment to crash. Did anyone hear my call to hold portals?>
"How are your forces doing, Lilith?" Erebus asks, trying to calm down.
<Terrible, Master,> she complains, <Sector Four, my own, is doing the worst by far. My Seekers are gone, so are those of all the survivors. My eyes are cloaked wraiths clinging to my back. Sector Two fared not too badly, but overall, I lost over five hundred Guardians.>
"Ouch," Erebus groans.
"Master, may I speak?" a revenant asks politely
Erebus give him a nod.
"There is an incompetent gunner on the zero-zero-five turret who did not shoot any of our Seekers. Their best is on two-four-zero," he explains, "probably the same one who covered the Toga on Tuesday."
Suddenly the lights and all the screens go out. After a second, the backup lights, still nearly as bright as the main lights come on, but the screens are still blank.
"Lilith," Erebus says grimly, "Set the main penetration point on Sector Six, heading three-five-five."
<Erebus,> it's Maledict. The red commander new his boss was eventually going to chime in, <My box is seeing the whole command centre as destroyed.>
"All the computers are down, looks like somebody died in the server room and flooded it with delta vector," Erebus grumbles, "Either that or Saboath farted."
< I heard that,> he says, < I must be pretty good at it if I can pull it off from fifty clicks away in Sector Two ... How many staffers you got left, boss?> he chuckles.
"All but one," Erebus snorts, "I must be getting soft in my old age."
Next: Battle of Haibi Chapter 20: Siege Command