The Godless ones were speaking outside of the cage they kept it in. It was a proud warrior, commander of multitudes even without the long years of wisdom of a god to guide it’s hand. By all rights, it should be dead, but instead, the heathens had once again proved why they should be purged from the universe by keeping it alive.
It was glad it was one of the sexless and therefore had no offspring to share in this dishonor. It felt empathy for those among its crew who were in that situation. It would bargain for their deaths should the opportunity arise, even if it meant greater dishonor for itself. It was a commander, and that meant it was a servant to the needs of its crew. It would uphold that philosophy to the end and show the heathens what honor looked like.
Dan was up a creek named shit without a paddle. Kazuo had been hit pretty bad but was still alive, though now lay unconscious in one of the nests they’d set up before. The enemy must have a means of detecting them that their stealth suits didn’t cover. Luckily Dan was able to snap off a shot at the low flying drone and take it down before it could come back for another pass and kill him. Currently, he was hiding in one of their planned emplacements with full EM shielding, and he’d done everything else he could to remove all traces of his existence.
He was still a combat viable unit without his spotter, but his chances of survival were much lower. Especially since his spotter was alive but essentially useless. Developing circumstances made any chance he did have seem to dwindle by the minute. The emplacement he found himself in had gotten a tactical update thirty minutes before he’d arrived, and he did not know what to do with the information.
The enemy had overrun the rest of the company, his platoon included. Four squads of soldiers made their way to the munitions factory and had begun taking out everyone. Why the Power Armored troops that had been on patrol hadn’t taken them out or reported their approach was anyone’s guess. Based on what Dan had seen, the enemy, while competent enough, wasn’t good enough to eliminate Power Armor without a fight.
Dan pulled out his scope to survey the factory, which was handily in view of his current emplacement. And what he saw was very alarming. The complex was already swarming with soldiers and what looked to be civilians assisting them. Filthy traitors, all of them, he thought to himself as he watched a forklift exit the woods with a suit of dead power armor lifted high above it. From the looks of it, it hadn’t been shot, more like it had just, shut off on its own.
As he was staring at that, a rumbling sound caught his ears, and he moved his scope to see what it was. Shuttlecraft, like he had already seen were coming in on a low swooping approach. They were approaching the airfield in tandem with two massive cargo ships. He watched the ships touch down as troops spilled from the shuttles. Then the cargo ships began to unload, and tanks began to drive on the tarmac.
He could feel despair wash over him. This was it. The boot of those from beyond their world had come to crush them once more. He looked to his side where Kazuo was lying, wounded but stable. He’d have to leave him behind. Hopefully, he’d be safe here until he woke up. Dan, on the other hand, needed to leave. He would melt into the woods and either become a thorn in the side of the invaders or get some civilian clothes and desert. Both were better than being captured, which was what would happen if he stayed here.
As he exited his little foxhole, he came face to face with the barrel of a gun. “Drop the gun and you get to live.” the voice was filtered through what was obviously an auto translator. The filthy invaders didn’t even speak their language. Despair washed over Dan again as he dropped his SMG and fell to his knees. Handcuffs slapped over his wrists, and they took away the rest of his armaments. He knew then the war was lost. The fighting might still go on, but these invaders would take everything from them.
He watched as they removed Kazuo from the nest. Two of the soldiers prepared a stretcher as another checked on Kazuo. He seemed to nod approvingly at the field treatments that Dan had applied to his spotter before allowing the other two to place him on the stretcher.
A quick jab from a rifle butt encouraged Dan to stop looking at what the enemy soldiers were doing and start walking. They made their way down the hill slowly, in silence. Dan watched the invaders as they walked. They seemed relaxed, but small movements and reactions to the noises of the forest betrayed the fact that they were on high alert. He wondered if some of the others had managed to beat a retreat and were now hiding out in the hills.
Now that he thought about it, he wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. It had been one of the contingency plans in case everything went too far south. He hadn’t paid much mind to the specifics of that particular contingency since his part in it had essentially just been business as usual for him. He did remember some of the fallback points that had been discussed, though.
Seeing what he had seen, he knew it wouldn’t matter. The invaders had the military might to eventually crush any and all resistance. Though he did doubt that the hardliners would stop fighting even if the Grand Arbiter died.
After some time, the group exited the forest and were in view of the camp. A large ground car came towards them, rolling to a stop beside them as the group stopped in its tracks. Kazuo was gently loaded into the back compartment first before Dan was roughly shoved aboard. The soldiers followed in. One sat on either side of Dan with another across from him. The one Dan had identified as the medic of the group was crouched over Kazuo with one of the other soldiers. They seemed to be talking, but there was only silence, which made sense. They must have radios in their helmets and probably some sort of noise canceling.
He’d been watching the movements of the soldiers for a while now, but hadn’t really taken in the details of their battledress until now. Probably had something to do with his brain being on high alert out in the woods. Now that he was inside however, details leaped out to him. They seemed to be entirely covered in armor from head to toe. It didn’t quite have the look of traditional body armor, the edges of it seeming to fade out of existence.
As he watched more closely, he saw that when they moved, the camo patterns would subtly shift on their own to make them harder to see. It didn’t make them nearly invisible like his own uniform. It was more like it made them hard to look at. Their helmets had the same sort of camouflage and seemed to be fitted to the armor. It was likely that their suits were set up for space combat as well, which made sense for an interstellar military. The helmets were rounded with no visible faceplate. Instead, where a person’s face should be, it sort of bulged outwards. Though he thought he could see some edges on the front where it might retract to show someone’s face.
His study of the enemy’s combat gear ended abruptly when the car stopped. The group exited and started out on foot again, they had stopped inside the factory complex, and it was filled with activity. Enemy soldiers, both in and out of armor were jogging everywhere. Forklifts were moving large amounts of material from recently landed shuttles into warehouses. Dan could even hear the sounds of the factory’s machines working.
He had little time to consider the activity of the base as they quickly traversed the lot to a nearby building. Kazuo was taken elsewhere, still unconscious. From what Dan had seen so far, they were at least civilized enough to treat enemy wounded fairly. He hoped that behavior wasn’t just a facade to lure him into a false sense of security.
Again he found himself jarred from his thoughts as he was put through what he assumed was their prisoner processing. He was read his rights as a prisoner, which were standard from what their own were. That meant they’d likely just copied from the United Systems Alliance who had copied from old Earth treaties from before even the Belt and Jupiter Wars had happened.
He was told to remove his uniform. They watched as he showered himself. When he was done, they gave him a standard worker’s jumpsuit and placed a metal bracelet around his ankle, which automatically tightened to be flush with his skin. It wasn’t so tight that it restricted movement or blood flow, but he was keenly aware of its presence. He was informed that if he tried to escape, the bracelet would render him unconscious and that his position was being broadcast to their system at all times.
He asked how the bracelet would render him unconscious. All he got in return was a smirk and, “well go ahead and find out, it’ll only hurt a bit.” He wasn’t quite willing to risk it yet. He’d wait for a solid opportunity before trying his luck. No sense in making them think he was a flight risk early on and getting his security increased. Plus, there was no reason to doubt that the bracelet could at minimum track him since such technology could easily be in a device that small. So he’d have to find a way to either get rid of or dupe the device before trying to escape. The more he thought about it, the more it seemed he would need outside help to escape, and he doubted that was forthcoming.
He was led to a room that had clearly been thrown together in a hurry. Strong, but clearly printed walls and a bedframe had been bolted to the concrete of the building. Even the toilet looked printed, the telltale weird ridgelike construction of something that had been hastily printed with little to no finishing work having been done. The mattress was at least fairly comfortable, and he sat down on it as the door was closed and locked behind him. He didn’t know what was in store for him, but worrying about it wouldn’t do any good. He shut his eyes to try and get some proper sleep. He’d been sleeping in the woods for days after all, and the comfort that the forest availed was minimal. He might be imprisoned, but at least he had a decent bed to sleep on.