No Second Chances

Liberty Township Hall
From the Various Log Files

Alchibah Day 981

…And Les said, “Alright. All Councilmen into my office. We’ve got to organize — NOW! Bart, Kellerman, you come, too.”

“Stop! Everyone! Quiet now!” The roar of Bartlett’s voice cut through the din in the heat of the buildings confines. “Listen up! Everyone not going into this council meeting, if you live in town pack a bag, only one! Warm clothing and a few canned goods if you got em. Militia members, get your gear. Be back here in fifteen minutes or less. If you are staying at Hanna’s or are just in town for the night go to the Inn and pack what you got. Anyone with dogs, leash them quick and take them with you. We are going to have to evacuate and no time to argue. Walt, Karl, you come with the council.”

“Lisa, Kaiya and I will stay here to watch the kids,” Elana added in a commanding voice, “They’ll be safe here, so everyone just get back here as quick as you can with what you can carry.”

“What’s this? “ Frank Turner said.

“Not now Frank, no time to talk, just do it,” Bart said. He turned to his wife. “Janie get to the Dora and power her up. Bring her back here and land out front as soon as she’s warm enough to fly. I’ll talk to you when you get back but get it done.”

Janie had her snowshoes on and was first out the front door even before Bart, Kellerman, and the Council members made it into the small meeting room. Just before they went inside Bart caught Rocco’s attention and said. “Big man, better get the cargo bus warmed up and ready too, I‘m afraid we are going to need her.”

They all sat at once and Les looked at Bartlett said, “Let’s hear what you have in mind Bart. You must know something I don’t.”

“Don’t know anything Les but this is what I think. Somehow, someway, the Goonies are on Alchibah or in orbit. The destruction of our communications makes that a certainty. We hand no warning of ships in system and that is very bad. How they evaded our detectors is something we’ll have to find out later. But they are here! So what do they do next? We don’t know their numbers but if it were me I’d set down in front of Township Hall and send the troops out to secure the place. We can’t be here when that happens.”

Just at that time an emergency message came in over the low power town net. “Sabbu here. We have just seen an IR signature showing a ship coming out of orbit and landing a couple miles from town out by Bob Sarra’s place. Nothing else at this time.”

“Proven wrong again,” Bart said shaking his head. “I can’t figure that one out but it really doesn’t matter. We have to get our people away from the city and to places that aren’t so obvious. We don’t have the people to defend any known target against a regular military force. We’ve got to get most everybody to the caves that Sinopa and Chavez have fortified and stocked and see what happens next.”

“Caves, what caves?” Les asked incredulously.

“Sorry Les, we needed to wait until the absolute last minute to make sure the Goonies didn’t catch wind of the backup plan.” Bart replied, then continued, “While you people do that I intend to get in touch with Joe Fortson make sure he‘s on the same wavelength as the rest of us. Then Sin and I need to go out and look at that landing site.”

“I’ll go with you Bart,” Karl Nash said, “It’s my job after all.”

“I’m afraid not Karl,” Connor interrupted. “And you too Bart. This is a military matter now and as commander of the ground force that’s my job. Andy trained up a small stay behind force to do the ugly fighting while the militia protects the civilians. Myself, John, Elana, Lisa and of course Sin and Chavez are going to stick around and deal with that ship to give you all time to evacuate. Like Bart said, sorry about the secrecy.”

Bart gave Connor a long look. “I knew that old dog was up to something else. All right then, go do your thing, we’ve got this. Just buy us half an hour.” He snapped a strong salute, which Connor returned in kind. “And Connor, I’ll see you soon. And ask Kaiya to come in here. She’s been training too, hasn’t she?” He got a short nod in reply as his friend quickly ducked out of the room.

“Ok, so here’s the plan,” Bart started as Connor’s wife entered. “Karl, you, Kurt and Kiyoshi will go with the first round of folks to the caves. I’ll stay back with Rocco, Kaiya, Walt and Joe to cover the landing area until the shuttle can get back here and pick up the rest of the civilians. We split the forty other militia members down the middle, twenty with the first wave, twenty with the rest. Any questions?”

A minute earlier, in the main room of Liberty Hall

Connor walked out of the council room looking grim. The Parkers had just arrived back from packing their few things at the First Inn.

“Hanna, Linda, can you and the girls watch the kids? I’ve got to go grab some things from your place.”

“Yes, of course. It’s always a pleasure to take care of them,” Hanna replied.

“John, Lisa, go get our gear from the room in Hanna’s. I’ll join you in a second. Sin, Chavez, Elana, secure the building. Jules, JJ, hold the door from the inside. No one you don’t recognize gets through, understand?” The two men looked surprised to be taking orders from Connor, but nodded hard.

Liberty Hall Council Room

“Not much of a Council President am I,” Les said as Bart hurried out into the main room and the door swung closed behind him.

“Don’t sweat it Les,” Karl Nash said, “There’ll be plenty of time for that later. Five minutes are gone out of the fifteen everyone else has. Let’s all get packed make sure we’re ready when the bus and shuttle are.”

Connor Benjamin
Outside Liberty Hall

I commed Joe Fortson on my way out of Liberty Hall. He was already packed and on his way to help with the evac. Sabbu’s message had reached him too. I made a dash to Hanna’s and scanned the crowd. There was R. Eddings, right where I left him.

“Come on Ed, I’ve got a job for you. Wait for me outside Liberty Hall. ” Ignoring the questions coming from all sides I touched base with John and Chavez, and grabbing the rest of the gear we had stowed here for just such an occasion we left the inn and ran back to Liberty Hall just as Janie was landing the Dora. The noise of the landing ship brought Bart and Karl outside into the whistling wind. A light snow was falling again.

“What are you going to do Connor?”

“Suit up and ship out. Bart, I need you and Janie to drop Sythe, Peepers, Fox and Wraith – that’s John, Lisa, Sin and Chavez – off at the far side of Jack the Blade’s old freehold. That’ll put them between Bob Sarra’s cabin, where the Goonie ship came down, and the rest of the township. Take R. Eddings too, he’ll be good for recon. Then get back here and act as a guard for the bus while you and Les head up the evac. Two trips to the caves, no more, then get the bus under cover. It wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight. Dolphin (Elana) and I (Stonewall) are headed up to Fort Stuart to get the active defenses going.”

“Great minds think alike my friend, I said almost the same thing to the council just a minute ago. Luck,” Bart replied and, after clasping hands, he headed into the Dora with Jaine and the better part of Strike Force rear, who were still suiting up.

As the ship took off I turned to Rocco, who had gotten the cargo bus up and running, and Joe, who had just arrived.

“Bart and Janie should be back in five minutes. When they are, take off with the shuttle and cargo bus without waiting for the ones who haven’t made it back yet. Stop at Hanna’s and get everyone ready there. Make sure to announce that there is only going to be one more trip. Janie will stop at the communications shack and load up Sabbu and whatever he has that’s portable then fly guard on the last busload. Oh, and don’t wait for us. We’ll give you the time you need. Keep everyone safe.”

John Pierce
The Dora, en route to Jack the Blade’s abandoned freehold

“Low Babe, keep her down,” Bart said as I and the other three SF members finished suiting up. The Chameleon suits were really something else, though I’m sure Sin and Chavez with their experience and white combat suits would be damn near as hard to find.

“If I were any lower the trees,” –Janie started to reply, and then I felt a thud and we started to tip sideways as she corrected– “trees would be getting sheared off by our wings.”

“Better keep her where she is,” Bart said while swallowing hard. A minute later he put the dot of the weapons laser on the touch down point. It was outside the cleared tree line of the forested ridge. On the other side about a hundred fifty feet lower than the ridgeline was a quarter mile of open ground that we had used for wheat last summer. Bob Sarra’s place was a half a mile into the woods on the other side of the cleared swath.

Janie got within a few feet of the ground and we piled out, R. Eddings first (and least gracefully, I might add). Janie was heading back before we got into the trees.

Sin took command as soon as we hit the snow. “Sythe, Peepers, go 100 yards south and find a spot that overlooks the grain field and dig in. Wraith and I will do the same fifty yards north. Keep line of sight open so we can use the IR communications and stay off radio frequencies. R. Eddings, circle around and head through the field and see what you can see. Implement recon and evasion subroutines. Let’s do this.”

All four of us were on the slopes south side but I had a remote camera relaying the view as Eddings, looking like nothing so much as an ant sized black dot, made his way across the field. Distance and snow cut off the visible signal but he was still easy to make out in infra red. Ed was relaying his view via IR lightbeam and I switched my display over to his signal. I had the Chameleon suit fully engaged and it was eerie knowing I looked like nothing more than an imprint in the snow.

Safely across the farmland, Eddings continued through the forest, switched to narrow beam directional radio for communications placing a couple of relays along the way, and then slowed down as he neared the Sarra’s cabin. “Ok Ed, very slow now, keep low and be ready to draw back,” I gave the final go-ahead. I saw first the cabin in then the ship come into his field of view. “What the hell! That’s no Goonie ship. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before! Get back Eddings!” I ordered as a burst of light lanced out missing the robot by inches.

“Reviewing the images sent back.” Sin relayed to us. “I couldn’t get a good look at the shapes but I count over fifty bright IR signatures. Much brighter than a human would have been. We need to break radio silence and let the rest of the colony know what we’ve found. Get ready for the shit to hit the fan people.”

“Sending now.” Just as she hit her wrist comp a low roar started in the distance behind them. The four strike force members looked back and saw another two skull like ships screaming in over their heads, towards Liberty center. This day was just getting started.

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
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