Index of Episodes : Episode One : "The Cease-Fire"
Episode Two : "Stirring Desquiet"
Episode Three : "The Rot Sets In"
Episode Four : "The Redoubt"
Episode Five: "Monkey Business"
Episode Six : "Run for it!"
Episode Seven : "Crowded House"
Episode Eight : "WTF"
Episode Nine : "Oh Fekk !! we're in deep doo now !!!"
Episode Ten : "Visions"
Episode Eleven : "Walkabout"
Episode Twelve : "Storm clouds"
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Episode One :The Cease Fire
Index of Episodes An apprehensive hush hung heavily in the air as the crews of the 101st Ranger Company waited anxiously for the News to appear on the Tele-Monitor. Although it seemed as if many lifetimes had passed, since the first shower of Bio-metal had fallen to Earth, in reality only 10 years had elapsed. The protracted conflict for the acquisition of this extraordinary material had encompassed virtually every planet and moon as far out as the orbit of Jupiter. Now it was time to call a halt to the years of conflict that had cost both sides so dearly. Soon the President would address his troops! The only person who knew the full details of the armistice was "The Colonel", and he was n't giving anything away. Nobody had any real idea of what was going to happen, although everybody expected to be going home soon. The face of The President appeared on the screen. Greetings to all my fellow warriors". "Hmmm that's rich" or "Bullshit", was the underlying murmur that rippled through the assembled Congregation." The war is over", (stony silence)"With immediate effect, and in accordance with the Cease-fire agreement with the Soviets, all NSDF active service units are now stood down. That is with the exception of the 101st Rangers/2nd Mars, who will remain on Mars for the present, to protect our National Interests. With the passin...." . That was as far as the President got as a well-aimed blast of Mag-pistol drilled a hole dead centre through the view-plate. "Bollocks to that" shouted out Capt Mo Smeg. "I gotta three year old son I aint even seen yet" he glared as he holstered the smoking weapon. "Well we aint gonna stand for it, always gettin' shafted by the politicians, while we get the shitty end of the stick". The last of his eloquently delivered opinion was drowned in the uproar of a full scale riot, which had now erupted in the crew hall. Colonel T A Zevon and his No 1, Major B.L. Hunter, were not in the crew hall because they knew in advance what the news was and they had no intention of getting their heads ripped off by the now rampaging Troopers. Zevon had to raise his voice above the sound of the riot, in order to speak with his CCA opposite number Marshall Dimitri Smeggov, C in C of the CCA army of Mars "So you say that you are staying too, well I hope we get along fine Dimitri". Smeggov replied, "Of course comrade, after all, no choice we have, do we". At that point a red-faced trooper appeared next to Smeggov and whispered in to his ear. "I think my, my dear colonel, that I leave now" Smeggov continued. "It seems that some of my dear Comrades are less than happy with the news from Earth. Many of them, like your men, have also been here for some time. Again speak to you I shall soon, for now goodbye " As the last glimmer of the view-plate died away Zevon sat back and wondered how long the uneasy peace would last. "Well what do you think Colonel" said the Major. "Hmmm, I'm not sure, I think it was a split infinitive". "Right now, I have more immediate concerns", he mused. He strode of to the crew hall. "Hey knock it of you assholes" The major stared after the Colonel "typical" he murmured sotto voce, nothing ever gets him excited.
Episode Two : Stirring Disquiet
Index of Episodes Major Hunter braced himself as he raised a fist to knock on the Colonels door. The long drawn out and tortuous guitar solo seeping from the airtight seals was making him wince. "Ever since he got into this guitar thang, things have been slipping", he said to himself. At that point the door opened and Zevon stuck his head out . "Ah B.L. , I've been expecting you , come on in". "With respect sir, do n't you think there are more pressing matters at hand that need your earnest consideration. I mean, you are just locking yourself away here, and making that awful noise." "Hey Hunter, you need to lighten up a lil', this is the latest thing from Fender" "From whom sir", Hunter was getting a little edgy, and the colonel could see it. "Look B.L. , this is 1965, not the middle ages, you got to embrace the new technology. Hey! I just thought of something." "The demobilisation plan sir?" "No no, the bio-metal" "At last, you are thinking about the future". "I want you to get hold of The Beard, I want to know if there is any possibilty of making a guitar out of bio-metal, I mean if I get bored with it , I can re-cycle it into another one". "For Crissakes sir! Don't you think there are more pressing things to consider, I mean there are upwards of 3000 CCA just across the DMZ waiting for the slightest excuse to restart the war. You have a comparable number of exceedingly pissed NSDF soldiers who would jump at the chance to get stuck in. what are you going to do." Zevon was n't listening, "Bio metal for a guitar, I bet it'll sustain a note for ever". Still "The Beard", the in-base techno-genius was at best unreliable and at worst a menace. "I remember when he made my first guitar amp. and the f****r electrocuted me, come to think of it, everything he touches turns to shit." "Sir, what are you going to do?" "I think I'll stick to the Fender". "I MEANT ABOUT THE DEMOBILISATION!!!" "Oh that, follow me." Hunter was totally confused now. he was convinced that 5 years on Mars had unhinged the colonel. Zevon led the bemused Major to a panel at the rear of the room. He waved his Academy ring at the wall in front of them and a secret door slid noiselessly open. The colonel was clearly enjoying the Major's discomfort at being caught off-guard. "Step inside Major, I promise I won't bite" Open-mouthed the Major stepped into the elevator. As they descended to the depths of the base the colonel began to explain. "First of all major, I have to apologise for misleading you all these years, but I assure you the deception was necessary. For what I am about to disclose to you is most secret. Only a handful of people, including the President, know of it." "But I,, That is I , I mean I....." "Skip it, I know you thought the ol' colonel was a goofy shit who was loosing it. Ah here we are" The doors of the elevator opened in to a hangar hewn in the underground rock. In the centre of the hanger was... "Is that a grizzly?". Not quite major its a "Stealth tank" "This is the prototype, the only one. We were on the verge of going into mass production, and may yet. I am not convinced that this is all over. You are the only person on Mars who knows of this place, apart from myself. What you also don't know, along with the rest of Mars is that this is not the only NSDF base on Mars." "WTF ?" "No it's true. We have a secret redoubt in the foothills of Olympus Mons." The colonel handed the bemused major a plain buff envelope. "Forgive the melodrama, but it's the only way. I expect this whole shooting match to turn to a pile of shit any day. You will find everything you need on board the tank. It has an advanced red field cloaking device which does not consume any nano-ammo. I want you to take this tank to the redoubt at OMR . You will stop for absolutely no one and nothing, Is that clear. "But I,, That is I , I mean I....." "Guidance is internal and you will not have to worry about how to navigate the 200 miles to OMR. When you get to within 500 yards of the redoubt a door will open and the base tractors will take you inside. You will wait there until I , and I alone contact you. Is that clear." The major stiffened to attention." Sir I owe you an apology, I thought that"...... "Yea yea, I know, you thought the old man had lost it. Get going soldier, and I hope I'm wrong." Hunter climbed into the Stealth and fired up the motors. The side of the hanger opened into the subdued Martian night as the apprehensive major nursed it out into the great outdoors. There was just the faint sigh of a field hum as the tank disappeared from view. Only a tell-tale shadow and a faint rising of dust revealed the clandestine exit of the colonel's "insurance policy" "Well good luck kid." the colonel thought as he strode back to the elevator.
Episode Three: "The Rot sets in"
Index of Episodes Dimitri Smeggov did not become the CCA Supreme Commander of Mars by accident. He was a big man, both in stature and mind. He stood a full six feet two and weighed 210 pounds. His agile and mind and sharp reflexes belied his 52 years. Many people had expected to find him in advanced state of decrepitude having been on Mars for eight out of the past ten years. The last five years he had been in command, and although it may have taken it's toll on a lesser man, the Marshall was resolute. He was sure that the Soviets would not lose the Mars struggle, although being a pragmatic man, he was not convinced they would win. Smeggov was fortunate in that he had the benefit of a extensive education. On graduating from the Fa'Kinell Military Academy the secret war had given him his first command at the age of 19. His progress through the ranks was reminiscent of a Hornblower novel. By the age of 30 he became a major and had been awarded the order of Lemming three times. Two years later, after successfully driving the Americans from Venus, he was awarded two golden tails to the Lemmings. The first ever double recipient of this most coveted order. Lost in thought was staring out over the vast sun-bleached expanse of the Soviets Grand Base. A gentle, nervous cough, disturbed him. "I beg you pardon comrade Marshall", the arrivee announced his presence diplomatically. "Ah my dear Lickabowlz, how are you today". Major Lickabowlz was not a very happy bunny. He had some very dubious news to give the Marshall and it was with obvious trepidation he now stood before his commander. "I am well sir and it is with pleasure, that I inform you, the departure preparations are almost complete." Smeggov had served with his adjutant long enough to know when there was something amiss, just from the man's tone of voice. "With in the hour all shall be complete." Lickabolwz tried to sound convincing. "Very good, and the Americans?" "Lt Domesticos reports that the Americans are also well advanced with their departure plans and will depart simultaneously". "Excellent, tell him to return, and I want a complete breakdown of all our remaining forces, and a report on the status of the Nano-Reactor." Smeggov immediately detected a whitening of the Majors face." "Something wrong Major", the Marshall enquired. "Um uh... what, um do you mean" Stammered the Major." The shower-fields are almost exhausted so we are down to about 60% of reactor output. The recyclers are in need of repair, so again resources are low. The anti radiation cladding is holding and we should be OK for the duration" Ever incisive, with his grasp of events, Smeggov siezed on the Majors unfortunate choice of words. "I note my dear Major you say should." the Marshall raised his eyebrows. "Ah well, um , yes, er well.. nothing is certain in wartime, is it sir, I mean in a combat environment?" The Marshall raised himself up to his full height. "Ooooh shite" thought Lickabowlz. "I can always tell when a soldier is being evasive, and I am looking at one right now. Give me the full story, NOW" "Well , um , ah course, sir, you remember the last, Final Encounter we had with the Americans"? The Major had now assumed the air of a person who was about to get a tooth pulled. "I seem to remember we were rudely surpassed, go on". Smeggov was convoked he was n't going to like this. "Well the Nano-reactor shield is normally a 10 ply coating of Bio-metal....except...now it is nt. Lickabolwz physically recoiled from Smeggov's roar of disbelief. "Yes I knew you would be upset, so I am giving you the full facts" "Fact, upset, I 'll show you upset, so what do we have now". "Well we still have 6 layers, you see the technicians "borrowed" some of the shielding to make more Nano-ammo. there were convinced we were going to win this time. As long as we do n't have any quake or get any battle damage we will be fine." The throbbing temples and flushed expression of the Marshall told Lickabolwz that some one was gonna be in serious shit, and Smeggov was about to blow. "Go and get me the person responsible NOW" roared the irate Marshall. "The person directly responsible is Chief Technician Utangski I took the liberty of asking him to wait outside". "Send him in" growled Smeggov. "Chief Technician Utangski" Utangski schlepped into the Co's office. He was a bent, withered individual, ten years younger then the Marshall, he looked twenty older. "I might have guessed, a civilian. If you were a CCA soldier I would throw you out the nearest airlock right now. Just what the Fleck do You thing you were playing at" Utangski looked out of the corner of his heavily lidded eyes. "Playing, playing, what say you? Heh, a soldier. A tool tempered in the shining fire, fit for nothing but destruction." "Hold you tongue man". Interjected the Major. "Let him speak his piece". Smeggov countered. "Warriors" The twisted scientist sneered. "You dont know what it is to create something special, something meaningful and beneficial. I have worked here tirelessly for years and now you summon me like some recalcitrant schoolboy to deliver a scholarly rebuke ? Do you realise that I am on the verge of a great discovery." "I have heard enough. Major get two guards, escort this lunatic to his quarters. He is to have one hour to pack his belongings and then he is to be escorted to the "Minsk" for departure." Smeggov rounded on the protesting technician. "You make one false move and your dead." "But, but, but, what about my children ?" The technician was wringing his hands and salivating. "Children, children, W T F are you talking about man?" "Um, with respect sir" interjected Lickabolwz, "He has about 400 chimpanzees in the laboratory, It's his "family". "Get him out of my sight, CHIMPS?, for God's sake this is a military establishment not a Zoo. Get rid of him NOW." Utangski was not going quietly until a well aimed blow from a guards rifle-butt relieved him of his senses. As he was dragged away to his quarters Lickabowlz ventured a timid enquiry. "What are you going to do with them sir, the chimps I mean?" "Well what do you think, F F sake, I mean 400 of the fekkers. I want no more screw-ups. Take them out in an APC and leave the doors open to the outside. Well away from here mind. Got that. "Yes sir, now?" "Leave it till the morning, 400 chimps, for fekks sake, come on, I need a drink. You 're buying " "Yes sir". "Don't I always" Thought the Major as they made their way to the officers quarters.
Episode Four : "The Redoubt"
Index of Episodes Hunter's Stealth tank was nearing the end of it's 200 mile sojourn to the Olympus Mons Redoubt OMR. The major had no idea what he was going to find when he got to the secret base. His brain was still buzzing from the revelation of a hidden base and he was def. not firing on all four. His imagination, however, had been working overtime as the red sands of The Very Sandy Bits rolled by, seemingly without end. He was startled by a loud hiss and crackle as the video screen burst into life. "Hello B.L." The Colonels face peered out of screen. " No don't bother to answer, it's a recording you see, heh heh. By the time you get to hear this message the OMR auto-acquisition tractors will have locked on to your ship. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, the 'bot's will do all the tricky stuff. I don't want you scratching that nice noo paint job. Arf Arf. "Always the fekking comedian." Observed Hunter. "Remember, absolute radio silence at all times, otherwise we'll blow it. Oh and by the way don't forget to acknowledge the IFF request promptly, or yunno what'll happen. Talk to you later, outtt."The message ended as abruptly as it had started. "So he was n't just skulking in his room after all, it seems our Colonel's been a very busy lil' bunny on quiet." Hunter's musings were interrupted again, this time by a dull robotic monotone. "IFF is on, prepare to establish for final approach, your vector is 310, to close from the left. Have a nice day. " The synthetic voice intoned in an almost ritual manner. "Acknowledge SSR interrogation please, Enjoy ". Hunter leant forward and pushed the flashing "caution" button on the instrument panel. The flashing amber light changed to a steady green light. This meant that the major could now enter the base safely. All NSDF units on covert operations were given electronic "tag" codes which identified them as a "friendly" in areas that are heavily guarded by robot defence mechanisms. Failure to acknowledge the signal would have resulted in Hunter and his ship being blown to pieces by the numerous deadly gun-towers that were doubtlessly concealed all around the secret base. At best, he certainly would not have found the base, at worst, a severely fragmented bottom. The red sands of The Very Sandy Bits had given way some time back to a landscape of a more tortured appearance. Vast rockfields were swimming into view, littered with the wreckage of long extinct pyroplastic flows. These ancient lava flows had been eroded by the vicious winds that swept down from The Very Windy Parts. Cutting blasts of corrosive sandstorms and carbon dioxide gales had produced a landscape that was as uninviting as it was ugly. A second green light appeared signifying the OMR's acceptance of Hunters code. The vast bulk of the Olympus Mons Volcano loomed in front of the speeding tank. The great massive stretched from horizon to horizon and obscured the last rays of the setting sun. "Well, we should be in the money now." Hunter thought to himself."According to the Navcom, I should almost there." According to the readout on the navcom, Hunter had only about 1000 metres to run before he arrived at the base ground-zero fix. This was begining to disturb him as the headlong flight of the tank seemed to be unchecked. Moreover with 700 meters to run the only thing the hapless major could make out in the deepening gloom was a sheer cliff face which was coming towards him at an alarming rate.At 500 meters the rockface was looking harder by the minute. At 300 meters Hunter's instinct for self preservation was getting the better of him. "Feck this," he cursed aloud, "That crazy ol, fart has screwed up, gotta get outta this load of crap". Hunter struggled with the controls of the tank, but it was no use, the tank continued it's headlong dash in to the arms of Lady Rocky Bits. 300......200...... "ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH..... Bastarrrrrrdssss....100.........50. "No fekking eject either, brilliant, fabulous, bloody marvelous, stitched Hunter shut his eyes and braced himself for the inevitable impact....30....20......10. "WTF ? Hunter opened his eyes to find that the tank had entered a smooth, brightly lit tunnel, which seemed to go on for ever. He looked in to the rear view camera and could see the circle of stars, which marked the hidden entrance to the tunnel, receding rapidly. "Relax Hunter" video screen boomed. "No need to shout shithead." The Major shouted back at the screen relieving the pent-up stress. "Well turn it down then and that's, No need to shout shithead.....Sir" "What you mean? that it..... Oh crap its not a recording this time ?" "Heh, that's right, this is a secure link. The Soviets cant see or hear this. What do you think of my front door ?" "Oh that, great fekking hilarious, I shit myself, Thanks very much." "Well I wanted to convince you that you are invisible in there, I mean you knew you were on a tractor and you still did n't believe that there was an entrance there, so imagine if you had no idea of the exact location. Pretty cool eh?" "What now then Colonel? " "Well I see from my screen that you have about a mile to run and then you will come to the main hanger area. This hanger contains the bulk of the NSDF 101st/2ndMars hardware. The ships you saw, and more importantly the Soviets saw, being loaded on to the Earth Transports were dummies. They were images generated by the same machinery which produced the fake rock face which you just came through. Like a hologram, but with no transparency, and able to be generated from a remote, single source." The tank burst out of the tunnel into the massive main hanger of the OMR. It was lined with neatly parked rows of ships which occupied every available nook and cranny of the football-arena sized cavern. "The pilots and maintenance crews for these ships will arrive later, if required. These are reserves in case our main base back here gets "bounced". Let's hope we don't need 'em. can you hear me B.L. ? I cant hear you, Hello, Hello" "I um.. that is.. well....koff koff. Sorry Sir, I was a lil' taken aback by the size of all this, It's all been a lil' intense for one day." "Yes I expect it has, but I have every confidence in you major, go get yourself a shower and a good night's sleep. I'll talk to you in the morning. Just follow the 'bot" Hunter had n't noticed, but not only had the tank come to rest, but the main hatch was open and a Domesti-bot was calling gently to him". "This way to you quarters sir" it chimed. "Go feck yourself, you mechanical moron." Hunter loathed the things. "Yes sir, this way please". Hunter picked up his grip and walked after the chrome-plated cretin. "Are there any more of you here?" "Yes sir, there are about 400 maintenance and server 'bots all over the base." "Oh great, this could be a long detachment." Hunter groaned inwardly at the prospect of spending an indefinite time surrounded by 400 robotic retards "Is there something wrong sir?" queried the servant. "Skip it. lead on MacDuff." Hunter trailed after the now hopping robot shaking his head. "I knew I should n't have said that" he grimaced.
Episode Five : "Monkey Business"
Index of Episodes Smeggov stared into the remains of his third glass of vodka and sighed heavily. "I don't like this business with the Nano-Reactor Major. Is the damage irreversible?" "Short term we do not have the resources to fix it. We need to get some more bio-metal before we can bring the shielding up to full strength. The problem is, the only metal fields with any usable resources are on the other side of the DMZ. We would need about five tonnes in all, we would undoubtedly be detected by the Americans and violate the cease fire." "Can we recycle some of the ships?" Lickabowlz paused. "No, we cant do that either. Under the terms of the cease fire it's forbidden. Any recycling would be seen by the Americans as attempt to gain a tactical advantage by changing the composition of our squadrons. As you know there is no known screening against recycler emissions. It is certain that the Americans would be paying close attention to their detectors, again any sign of recyling is a clear violation on the cease fire." "It gets better and better", grimaced the Colonel. "That madman has put the entire base at risk, the sooner he is off the base the better, I want all those chimps out of the way too, the lab is too close to the reactor. I am sure there's a whole plethora of wierd and wonderful things going on in there that are just as unstable as Utangki. What was the point of all those animals anyway?" "I says in this file here that he has been working on project EEEKA, that's Experimental Enhanced & Enlarged Killer Apes." "You 're not serious, I thought they were chimps, not apes? Killer apes, dont make me laugh" "Well in the beginning gorillas were studied, but it seems that they were 'nt suitable and so the project moved ahead with chimps, they project name just stuck." "Where did they all come from, I mean 400 chimps, that's a lot of monkeys" "These chimps are descendants of a group of ten chimps which were "acquired" from the US One zoo in New Jersey, USA, ten years ago. Ironic is n't they're American. Utangski has been working on an program of forced evolution. These chimps are 50% bigger than average and are capable of breathing unaided in the Martian atmosphere." "Jesus, go on" "The scientist, with the help of the alien technology, have developed an assimilation booth.This is device that transfers the brain patterns of a human to primate in varying degrees. Utangski was on the verge of finalising the first transfers when the cease fire was declared. He also claims that he has also mutated the DNA strings so that this generation of chimps is immune to Nano-radiation. We don't know if he was successful, as yet, no tests have been done" "The mans a menace, when is he due to leave?" "We just missed putting on the last ship today, he'll be on the first one out tomorrow at midday "See to it personally, I don't want any foul ups and make sure he's kept locked up" "Yessir" "Hmmm more vodka I think. Here's to a chimp free world major." Utangski was nursing the bruise on the back of his head and glaring at the guard who was standing over him. "Ah the monkey man is a awake. Tell me, o father of chimps, how is your head?" "It is sore, I need to go the Lab to get some..." "Oh no you don't, you are staying right here until you are escorted to your ship tomorrow. You can count yourself lucky you were n't shot, still if you step one foot outside of this room, that can be arranged." The guard turned and locked the door behind him and left the scientist to consider his fate. "Typical soldier mentality, well I got a few surprises for these philistines." Utangski turned and walked into the shower room. He grasped the shower-rose and twisted it until a door slid noiselessly open at the rear of the cubical. He had made certain from the outset that his quarters would be adjacent to the lab, "as a matter of convenience". Utangski schlepped into the lab and made his way to the chimpanarium. The chimps recognised their master and greeted there master with excited screeches. "Shhhh my children, we need to be silent, you are all in great danger." Instantly, as one, the animals became silent. "Good, Good, now we don't have much time, first I have to speak with Omsa." Utangski crossed to the far side of the laboratory to where a huge chimp, easily the height of a man, was caged. "Hello Omsa, at last the long awaited day is upon us, a little sooner that I expected, but never mind. Tonight we shall be come one. Are you ready ?" The chimp nodded. Utangski unlocked the cage and took the chimp by the hand and led him to the Assimilation Booth. He placed one helmet over the primate's head and a second one on himself. "This will be a 100% transfer, the body of Utanski has outlived it's usefulness." Utangski threw the switch and a low hum signified the transfer process had begun. The scientists body took on a grey pallor as the last vestiges of life drained away. It was over in a matter of minutes. Omsa stood up and looked impassionatly at the corpse of his former master. "You poor fool. You thought you would be in control, but it I who am the master, it is I who proved the stronger. Now we will take control". Omsa released the remainder of the chimps and spent the rest of the long night operating the booth. He passed on his new found knowledge to his "army" in vary degrees, depending on the candidate. As he was not executing a 100% transfer, his brain was unaffected by the transfer process. By morning the process was complete. Omsa turned and spoke. "My friends, the Humans were planning to dispose of us. Now we have grown to maturity, it is time for us to take control. We must expunge them, drive them out and take our rightful place as masters of this world." A slow chant had started amongst the assembled masses. "Ooooka Ooooka Ooooka" "The former human, who's brain patterns I absorbed and passed on to you, had previously scanned some of the human pilots without their knowledge. This means that some of you will be able to pilot the tanks when the time is ripe. First we have to drive the Soviets from he base." "Ooooka Ooooka Ooooka" It was getting louder, "We, unlike the weak humans, will not suffer from the effects of Nano-radiation, If the reactor leaks, they will have to leave, and leak it shall" "Eeeeeka Eeeeeka Eeeeeka." The assembled masses screeched their approval "We have two hours before the humans wake, time to get to work" One by one the primates went about their allotted mischief, all knew the mind off their master, so each knew exactly what to do. The Chief Primate picked up a Nano-Disassembler and made his way to the reactor room. "This is one job I am saving for myself". He smiled inwardly to himself as he slipped along the darkened corridors of the sleeping base.
Episode Six : "Run for it"
Index of Episodes "Sir, sir, wake up" Smeggov was rudely awakened by Lickabowlz. "WTF, what, who. Jesus my head.. What the hell are you playing at Major? What time is it anyway/"."Never mind the time sir, it's urgent, you must get up and get dressed, now please". Smeggov fell out off bed and staggered to the shower. "There is no time for that sir, you must get in to a suit right away". As the focus eventually returned to Smeggov's vodka saturated eyes he noticed for the first time that the major was fully suited. "Good god man, what the hell is going on?" "Please sir the suit, while I explain." "Ok, Ok , I hear you." He knew the major well enough to now that his agitation must be well founded. He donned his suit and snapped shut the helmet visor. "Now speak, and I want to hear it all." "Follow me please sir, I will explain as we walk." "I am afraid the situation is very serious, this morning the relief crews that were due to depart for the DMZ gun towers failed to report to the hangers for duty. Several key personnel are also not at their posts." "Why? what is happening, are they sick or what?" "That is exactly it, about 80% of the base is incapacitated. What is odd is that it has happened overnight. Until we can isolate the cause it is prudent we stay suited." "Very wise, thanks for coming to get me, do we have any leads, I mean what are the symptoms?" "Well the base surgeon is at a loss, the men are showing complete loss of motor-control, limbs are not responding to nerve commands. They are feverish, but there does not appear to be any viral infection, or any sign of disease whatsoever. Sir, you have gone very pale, are you ok?" Smeggov had indeed blanched and had halted in mid stride. "Motor-control? limbs? fever? My God, I hope I'm wrong. Major these sick men, where are they quartered? "The vast majority of the sick are in the crew blocks, but I don't follow..." "Think man, where are the crew blocks situated?" "On the other side of the base, the blocks were purposely built next to the hangers and the reactor so... You don't mean?" "That's exactly it, it's got to be nano-radiation. I saw it once before when I was on Venus years ago, only 10 of us survived. We have to move fast. Why were there no alarms, it doesn't figure?" "You know the old saying major, you can design a machine that's foolproof against accident, but not one against deliberate malice. Come on, we need to pay someone a visit, Smeggov and the major set off towards Utangski's quarters. "We need to find out what's going on here, and get a anti radiation team down to the reactor room. We need to find out what the extent of the damage is. Get all the men who can still walk away from the reactor area and make sure they keep their suits on. We have about 24 hours protection in a standard combat suit, after that we are fubar." "Yes sir, what about the sick? It will take longer than a day to get them aboard the APC's, some are bound to die before then?" The major was rattling out a string of orders over his communicator. "They are already dead." The Marshall grimaced." Once the unfortunate individual has lost control of his limbs it means that rest of the central nervous system will fail within 12 hours. This process is irreversible." "But, but, that's three quarters of the base there must be something..." "The best we can do is to get all those who are still able to move off the base. We shall have to call on the Americans for help. We simply cannot stay here, we will be dead inside 24 hours." The two soldiers arrived at the scientists quarters. "Open the door trooper." commanded the major. The three entered the empty room and saw the secret door through which Utangski had left" The trooper was distraught." Comrade Marshall, It is all my fault, I should have been more vigilant, I...." "No the fault is mine, I should have shot him, or at least thrown him in the brig. It's obvious he is at the bottom of the sabotage. With impeccable timing, the major's communicator crackled into life. "It's the reactor team sir. They have found Utangski in the reactor room. He's dead. A moment please. Uh, it's bad. He had a dissembler....there's a rip in the shielding and the detector is off the scale. The central alarm control had been de-activated too.. more... The shielding's beyond repair. They suggest immediate evacuation." "Well at least that save me the trouble of wringing his scrawny little neck. Ok Major. Get things moving. Call the Americans and give them the picture. Trooper, you go with the Major, you are to be at his disposal. I'll be along shortly. Best not to hang around here, too close to the reactor." Lickabowlz and the trooper left the room to organise the evacuation and left Smeggov deep in thought. "This does not add up, why did n't he take his nano-suit?". He gazed across the room at the suit still hanging on the rack. "Either he was not intending to tamper with the reactor or... Well, lets se where this goes as if I did n't know, still better not take any chances." Smeggov swapped suits and started down the secret passage way to the laboratory. The chimps had all returned to their cages. They looked impassively, with detached disinterest, at Smeggov as he gazed around the silent room. The Chief Primate had been very clever. After the chimps had completed their tasks, one by one at their master's bidding, they had returned to their cages. Omsa was determined that the humans would not discover his purpose until it was too late for them to thwart his designs. To the end he had placed Utangski's body near the reactor, dissembler in hand, so as to divert attention away from the lab. He regarded Smeggov with contempt and malice. "Take a good look warrior, your time will come". Smeggov always took time to think things through. By coincidence he paused right opposite the big chimp. He regarded the animal with more than just idle curiosity. "So you are the super-monkeys eh? Well enjoy it while you can. By this time tomorrow this place, and you along with it, will be a pile of dust. A pity you simian simpletons can't understand me." He turned on his heel and strode off towards the reactor room. "We shall see soldier," Omsa smiled secretly to himself and signed the others to remain silent. The reactor technician was showing Smeggov the rent in the reactor casing. "Why can't we fix it then?" asked the Marshall. "Well that's the odd thing sir, as you can see there is this gap of about 1 metre." Smeggov nodded, as he looked at the rip in the shield, which was casting a baleful green light upon the body of the late scientist. He continued." There are two things that bother me. A hole this size would mean that some debris would certainly be scattered on the floor and as you can see, there is none. So where is it, who cleaned it up? where did it go? Secondly, the amount of radiation released when the shield was breached, whilst fatal, would not cause instant death. So why is this man laying here like so. It disturbs me." "I agree with you 100%, however, we do not have the time to debate the ins and outs. If we had the nano-metal, would it be possible to fix the leak?" "Yes, but we have none, and even if we did, our suits would n't last that long." Smeggov stared at the hole. "how long before it gives altogether?" "I would say at best you have 12 hours, no more, possibly less." "Ok captain, leave the kit, get yourself and your men up to the hanger and report to The major, I'll join you there shortly, I have to set the destruction keys for the base. Step lively now." "You don't have to say that twice sir, come on you men, good luck." Smeggov stared at the dead man. "There's something very wrong here, If only I had more time." Still I might as well make the most of it. He walked over to the corpse and gave it a well-aimed kick in the bollocks. Feeling a little better for the temporary release of a mixture of anger and frustration, he made his way to the main control room. He relieved the officer of the watch and sat down in the base commander's tactical operations chair. He called Colonel Zevon. "Wassup Smeggov, I hear you have a lil' problem over there. Can I help?" "A bit of an understatement my dear Colonel. I do most urgently need your assistance." Smeggov watch the Colonel's eyes widen as he related the events of the past 12 hours. "So, Can you provide us with shelter? We have 3 APC's and one tank, In which I will follow about 70 men in all. "Ok, but we'll be watching you very closely, one false move and......." "Colonel, I promise you, the survivors are in no fit state to try anything cute." "Just making sure we understand each other, head for the "Swept Channel" and we will meet you there and escort you to our base. We will deactivate or mines for a short while so you and our escorts can cross the DMZ. "My thanks Colonel. Now I must go before I become a permanent fixture here, goodbye until later". Smeggov called Lickabowlz. "Status report Major?" "All surviving personnel are aboard the APC's 76 officers and men. We have only 7 surviving tank pilots! " "I have no intention of making a present of any of our ships to the Americans, the pilots will travel in the APC's with the rest of us. Since we are at the mercy of the Americans charity there is no point in taking any offensive craft with us. Is every one on board? "Yes sir, you are the last person left in the base. Your ship is docked next to the command centre as ordered. "OK major, get cracking, I have spoken to the Americans and they are expecting you. The co-ordinates are programmed in to the APC's tac-com. Do not attempt to cross the DMZ until the Americans come out to meet you. I shall set the keys and meet you there." "Yes sir, I understand, good luck." Smeggov watched the departing ships on the monitor. As the last APC disappeared Smeggov pulled down the base-commanders retinal scanner and placed over his right eye. Instantly a recessed panel rose out of the desk in front of him. He pushed the scanner to one side and pressed the "activate" button on the destruct mechanism. (heh, come on now, all the best stories have one of these). Smeggov pushed the big red button marked "BIG RED BUTTON" and made his way to his ship. "Well there's no turning back now, I hope the tank's got plenty of gas in it. He opened the hatch to the Flanker and climbed in, he had 15 minutes to put as much distance between himself and the base. Not over long considering the size of the bang that was going to wipe the place off the face of the planet. The reassuring purr of the fighter's engine was a great comfort. "Good man Major." he said aloud, as he tore after the distant APC's. Back in the Lab some chimps were dragging a hidden one-metre lump of nano-shielding back to the reactor room.
Episode Seven : "Crowded House"
Index of Episodes Zevon stared at the approaching APC's from the observation deck of the landing field. "Looks like they're behaving themselves so far Captain." Mo-Smeg was having great difficulty containing his hatred for the soviets. "I don't trust the bastards, if it was up to me, I would blown them all to shite. As far as I am concerned, they are a threat and should be taken out." "This would n't have anything to do with having our tour extended, would it Mo? "Well if it was n't for them, we would have been home by now, so feck them." Dust was rising as the 3 CCA craft as they settled gently on the outfield of the base. "Have all the necessary arrangements been made for the secure accommodation Capt?" "A company of marines has been detailed to the outfield and the APC'c are within the firing arc of at least 5 guntowers, If they try anything, they'll be fubar in a heartbeat." "Fine, ah I see a Flanker approaching, that must be Smeggov. He left at the last moment, no doubt setting the self-destruct on the way out, look at that, he's ejected!" Smeggov had indeed grabbed the makers handle and ejected, the flanker was one of the most agile machines to emerge from either side during the long conflict. He had no intention of making a present of one to the Americans. He signalled to the adjacent US escort for recovery. Zevon spoke to the marine commander; "As soon as he has got his suit off I want to se Smeggov." "Sir Yessir" "Still no sign of any bangs from the soviet side sir, I don't like it. Smeggov says 75% of his men are dead, it could be a trick." "Agreed, but if it is, its a very elaborate one. I'm not so sure, I think the soviets were as keen as we were to put the lid on this, wohaaaa, that must be it." A massive shock wave rocked through the base dislodging long settled dust and loose objects. Out on the landing field the disembarking Soviets were struggling for balance as they made their way down the ramps of the APCs "I guess that answers the question of trickery, that could only have been a destruct shockwave." "Or the Soviets could have strung together a stick of day-wreckers and dumped them just over the horizon, ready to set off at a convenient moment or command, like when an eject is triggered. I still don't trust them. "You are a suspicious sod Mo, still I take your point, It would be a poor commander who did n't listen to advice. Are you still driving that knocked-off Grendal?" "Yes, it's the only thing decent the Soviets have ever made, definitely got the edge on the T-bird, and now the CCA are our guests, I do n't have to return it as per the cease fire." "Where did you get again? I forget" "Me and Upu were.. um on a.. patrol down in the south east and we surprised a bunch of CCA out in the open. They had stopped a couple of ground-grabbers from the mining settlement at Half-F'narr. It was one of those rare lapses that you will never see again. There were two Grendals and a Tusker parked and the Soviets were about to shoot a couple of miners for "piracy". It seems some of the people from the settlement will steal anything they can get their hands on, especially nano-scrap. Anyway it was to good an opportunity to miss, I parked up our ship and we got out, crawled up to ridge and sniped the Soviets. The pirates were quick off the mark and they jumped in to the nearest Grendal and legged it. Not content with that, while we were examining the Soviet craft they doubled back and started shooting at us. Ups ran for the Tusker and I got the Grendal, by the time we got fired up and after them they had wasted our grizzly. As far as I know the rogue Grendal is still prowling around the south-east. Intelligence reports that it's a character the settlers refer to as Blitzwing." "Hmm, sounds a bit gung-ho, if not a bit childish." "Believe me sir, anyone who has the skill to fly and maintain one of these things commands respect. We and the soviets have had several run-ins with this character and he's no beginner. He is one of the finest tank pilots on Mars and will not think twice about attacking either CCA or NSDF patrols. Since our first encounter he has gathered a dangerous band of confederates. We believe there are a total of 5 ex CCA/NSDF craft under his control, although we have only ever had sightings of pairs. He is undoubtedly a maniac of the 1st order and now if the Soviets really are out of the frame, there is every chance he will get bolder." "Well ok, again, point taken. As soon as the dust has settled from this little lot, we will have to address this issue. Ah here's our guest." The door to the observation deck slid open and Marshall Dimitri Smeggov and Colonel Theodore Alexander Zevon came face to face at last. "Thank you commander, that will be all" The Colonel dismissed the marine with a nod. "Captain, would you mind organising a recon mission to verify the matter you raised earlier, let me know before they depart. See that are guests are made "comfortable" as well please. That's all for now" "Come in Marshall, please have a seat" Zevon motioned Smeggov to a chair near the great window which overlooked the landing field." "Excuse me sir", queried the Captain. "You sure you going to be OK alone here, I mean.." "You have no cause to be alarmed Captain, I am at your Colonel's disposal, you have my word that I will behave myself. Where should I go otherwise? I am unarmed and homeless for the present." Mo-Smeg looked at the Colonel. "It's OK Captain. You push off and call me when you're ready" "Well Dimirti, I never thought we would meet face to face, let alone and unarmed, you want to tell me about it?" Zevon listed intently as the Marshall recounted the events of Utangski's madness and apparent sabotage "That's quite a story Dimitri, you sure you told me everything?" "Absolutely, there are a few things which don't quite add up, but I can only attribute them to the general chaos that was going on prior the evacuation. As far as I know, I haven't missed anything." "Ok fine. Your men will be sharing the accommodation with the marine detachment on the outfield. This is about the best we can offer, given the lack of space and security observations. We had a company ship out under the cease-fire agreement, so it will be bearable, if not the height of luxury. For yourself, I offer you the use of my Major's quarters, he is away at the moment. Until we organise a solution to this mess I want your parole, no funny business, you will be responsible for your men's actions. I expect you all to behave yourselves during your stay here. If there is one breach of discipline or parole I will have you all sleeping on a hanger floor under armed guard. Your men shall stay in the confines of the marines complex, whilst you shall be free to walk certain areas of the base with an escort. For now I want you to stay in the Major's quarters until tomorrow. We need to make a few checks. I am sure you understand." "Indeed Colonel, more than gracious, I understand fully. Thank you for your hospitality. I am sure....... Smeggov never finished his sentence. The door burst open and a furious Mo-Smeg, followed by two marines, grasping a sheet of paper stormed over to the Colonel . "Look at this, I bloody knew it. Bastards." He hissed sideways at Smeggov "What is it? Compose yourself man!" "I have just come from the main control room. Ups called me, said there was something I should see. Well what a fecking understatement. Look at this, here is a hard copy from the nano-radiation detectors." "Yes, I see, there's a huge burst at the time of the destruct, that's to be expected." "Look more closely, its all wrong, look at all that radiation after, its off the scale" "So it would be after a bang like that." "For God's sake Colonel, look at it, look at the shifts, the frequencies are all wrong." "Well, I'm not that much of an expert, what are you driving at?" "Well lets give it to our friend here shall we, lets see what our Fa'Kinell Academy graduate make of it, Mr bloody clever clogs." "May I?" asked Smeggov. The Marshall took the hard-copy from Mo-Smeg and pored over the readings with a furrowed brow. "Well?. Does somebody want to let me in on this?" Zevon was getting agitated. "The Captain is quite correct Colonel, there are definite irregularities in the nano-signatures. The initial blast readings are similar to the wave-forms of a destructor device, but none the less, are not consistent. Also the post blast ambient radiation signatures are not what I would expect to see." "Go on. Tell the Colonel what it is" Mo-Smeg was making certain he would get his point across. "If I was to make an observation based on this data you might think me insane." "Or a bloody liar, go on tell him, you Russian shite" "Colonel, the large outburst of radiation shown here is not "dirty" enough for a destructor, the only possible device capable of producing a pattern like this would be a Day-wrecker, probably several." "What?" the Colonel shot to his feet. "Red alert, all squadrons to stations. Mo, get to it" "Yessir with pleasure, tell him the rest Marshall. You two watch him, if he makes one false move..." The two marine guards closed up on the unfortunate Smeggov. "Rest, rest ???" "There is more, there is an attempt here to conceal several traces which are evident after the explosion, I can see readings that would indicate residual nano-reactor leakage, but there is more, yes it's unmistakable. There are definite power-blooms showing. "Power-blooms?" "No question in my mind. I do not know how, but there is re-cycler activity and worse... "I cant stand it, worse?" "Yes no doubt about it. The final reading shows emissions that could only come from a large number of nano-engines starting simultaneously. This would indicate a large number of tanks preparing for lift off." Zevon was hyper now. "Right, I dont want to know the how or why, I just want action. You two take the Marshall to Major Hunter's quarters and secure him there. Capt. you get the ships fired up and tell the Marine Commander to confine all the Soviets to quarters as well. "But Colonel..." Smeggov stated. "Not now, take him away. I am going to the control room." Zevon strode down the main corridor to the command centre. All around him half-suited figures were running in purposeful abandon. He arrived to find the centre at full readiness and his armour ready. "Ok Ups, what do we have?" The colonel asked his techno-genius, as he suited up. "Bad news. We have lost contact with the gun towers on our side of the DMZ, might be just another comm-drop, you know what comm-drop is like up here? It's a real demon lurking all the time." "Bugger, I don't like it, you fly don't you son?" "Ok hand that over and come with me. There's something very wrong going on here and I want every pilot active." "Mo, this Zevon, how we doing?" The colonel was rattling of orders as he and Upu made their way to the flight line. "Were ready sir." "Ok let them rip, take the 101st out to the DMZ and check on the towers. The 82nd stays here on Combat Patrol. I am taking the 42nd and going with you as far as the towers, then we're gonna check out these power-blooms." Moments later the entire base was shaking as three squadrons of tanks thundered off. Back in the abandoned Soviet base a sinister simian sneer was reflected in a second nano-detector.
Episode Eight : "WTF"
Index of Episodes The mining settlement of Half F' narr is a class "A" toilet, I mean a real shithole, a bit like Tijuana. It sits on the north rim of Frunt Buttem Canyon (shortened to FBC these days), about 200 miles south of the Soviet Grand Base. Across the canyon sat the now isolated twin settlement of Gran F'narr. The sites were once Soviet Martian Gulags, where captured NSDF troops, Soviet dissidents and forbidden Sh'oo-worshippers toiled under the watchful gaze of the Labourmasters, a sub genre of sadistic prison guards, who's only talent was extracting the maximum output from the poor wretches in their charge, by beating the crap out of them, without actually managing to kill them outright. As with all repressive regimes, eventually something has to give, sooner or later. The Gulag supremo failed to appreciate how powerful a force fanaticism could be, whether real or fancied. The principal orchestrator of the revolution which toppled the Labourmasters was an enigmatic, almost spiritualistic "Will of the whisp", The Great Master Of Unparalleled Fear. Universally known to all the denizens of of the camp as Great Mouf, to his closest followers, Uncle Fear. Great Mouf was not as other men of his time, he had "the sight", he knew much that was hidden and could see into mens hearts with the keenest vision, like a very, very sharp Sabatier ( yunno those pointy kitchen knives, like kitchen devils ). The populace revered him as a saviour as he used his skills to unbalance the Camp Commandant. He took on the mantle as the Lord High Prophet of Sh'oo. This persistent attack on the poor Commanders senses was without end. With the power of the sight, Great Mouf gave the wretch no rest, by day or night. The unfortunate officer was convinced he receiving visitations from the Angels of Sh'oo.He kept hearing the lament "Let ma people gae hame, or I'll fekking chin yous. Marrkkma words laddie, Fear will take ye". Eventually the poor man could take no more, and with the demise of his mental stability, the oppressed masses seized the moment and toppled the very nasty persons. Vainly did they search for the beloved Great Mouf, but he was no where to be found, he had vanished, like a wraith. This convinced the Sh'oo worshipers that he was indeed an avatar of great power, they tore down the statue of Lenin and erected a huge effigy of Sh'oo, with a giant "F" emblazoned on the lower souls. What actually had happened was that Great Mouf had it a away on his toes until the heat died down. He had no intention of staying with a bunch of religious nutters and leading a monastic and somewhat fanatical lifestyle. So the first split in the newly freed people occurred, the followers of Sh'oo occupied the larger settlement of Grand F'narr and the unbelievers, pimps, perves, whores, murderers, thieves and line-dancers were stripped of their shoes and symbolically cast out. They moved to Half F'narr and in the space of ten years created a town where you buy or steal anything your heart desired. Grand F'narr remained a closed domain. The two domed settlements frowned across the rim of FBC. Though only 5 miles distant geographically, they were light years apart ideologically It was all about to change, Fear was abroad, though none knew. Between the two towns at the head of the canyon was "Teh Sorse". Teh Sorse was indeed a strange and wonderful phenomenon. It resembled a giant bush some 3 miles across, from which thousands of great juniper berry-type footballs dropped at hourly intervals. These would bounce down the canyon and roll, almost as if guided, to the dried up salt beds at the Bay of Flamm. On contact with the salt the balls would burst open and release huge amounts of Oxygen, which the Sh'oo followers called "Wodger". No other catalyst was able to split the balls in this fashion. The Sh'oo Followers collected salt and sprinkled it on the fruits at the great alter in their temple accompanied by low chants of "Release Wodger". Which the balls always did, with great vigour. This also served the dual purpose of ensuring a swift ascendancy to the higher echelons of the priesthood, as the death and injuryrate was considerable. All part of the great design of course. "It was the will of Sh'oo" that he got his limb, head, member etc etc blown off. The Halfers had a much more pragmatic approach to oxygen replenishment. They had just dug a huge pit on their side of the valley in to which the balls rolled. When the required amount had been captured the lid was slammed shot and a shot of salt was injected. Hey presto. Once the ball had shot it's load it created an interesting by-product. Any surviving priest from the High alter of the Temple of the Sh'oo was granted with "The Sight of Great Mouf". The blue powder that was the residue from the ball's detonation was actually a very powerful hallucinogenic. What actually happened was the pios sods were getting out of their heads on this stuff. This was also known to the Halfers, who not sharing their estranged brethren desire to attain oneness with the Universe, simply used it to get off their tits. All over Half F'narr there were "Wodgering Shops" or "Flamm bars" The owner of the biggest chain of these establishments appeared shortly after the disappearance of Great Mouf. In those days he just had the one bar, "The Powderfinger", which was now the preferred haunt of the pirate community. Propped up against the wall was the great Blitzwing himself. He had the customary sheepish grin and damp clothing of some one who had just been "Wodgered" "Hey Fear, thats the best wodgering I've had in ages, pass..." He never finished the sentence. The proprietor had walked over and belted him over the head with a Flarg bat. "Keep ya bloody voice down hen. I've told yous about calling me by that name, once more and I'll tak ya heid clean arf". "All right ma man, soz, but this is the best shit I've had for ages. Gizza kiss" "Fekk off, you ve had enough, 'sides its my turn" A strange characteristic of the drug was it made the user hyper-affectionate. In the back of the bar several couples were getting there kit off and shagging their brains out. Fear was about snort a line of the blue powder when a hand grasped his shoulder. He whirled round spilling the powder to the floor. Rage flashed across his wizened coupon, but it was soon replaced with a look of wonder. The person standing before him was a Grandie. Never had one stepped foot in Half F'narr, let alone in a Wodgering Shop, and a High Priest to Sh'oo. His long robe swept down from his large shoulders and swayed gently in the breeze that was being generated by Blitzwings uncontrolled vomiting, punctuated by sporadic explosive trouser coughing. "Arrghh its full of bleach yeh tight git" he was doing his best to turn himself inside out "You are Great Mouf, the disciple intoned, I have been seeking you these 10 years past" "No me pal, yous got the wrong man." Fear raised his bat as a precaution. "I think you oughta leave petal, 'n' do me a favour, do n't show your coupon around here again" "You shall come with me and take your place at the high alter, to receive the adulation of your disciples" "You can fekk off m8, I'm quite comfy here thanks" "You shall come, it is your place to be with us" "Brum , Chan, git round here" There curtain drew back to reveal a very dodgy pair of individuals. Brum and Chan were Fear's praetorian guard, if you saw Fear out and about these two would be watching, not far away. "You must come!" persisted the Sh'oo druid. "There is a great battle about to unfold to the north.." The priest took a step nearer, but he never finished the sentence. There was a loud crack as a blaster took the head clean off the visitor and the air was filled smell of ozone. "Oooops, that was careless of me." Blitzwing was swaying as he holstered the weapon."I meant to stun him." "Ah well, saved us the job. We have to leave tho, his mates will be along shortly. There must be something big going on fo them to come here in the first place. Wonder WTF it is?" "Why dont you use The Sight?" Chan chimed in. "I've lost it, It only seems to work at certain times." "When did you last try, seriously' I mean? Try it now, perhaps it only works when there's a great disturbance afoot" "Now you sound like one of those Sh'oo nutters, I'm not convinced that it ever worked for real, it's been so long." "It worked when you drove the commissar mental?" "LOL, that, ha ha ha. I just stood behind a curtain behind his bed and sung Lenord Cohan songs all night, whilst snorting Flamm. "Anyways, fekk all that, pick up Blitz and lets go down to the cave (yes another secret hideout, ripping is n't it). "What about the bar?" asked Brum. "Get some booze and just ........ wait.... It's working.. I don't believe it, first time for 10 years. "What do you see???" Fear did n't answer, he was transfixed, the fabulous 1000 yard stare was locked in. "Oh great now we got two bloody bodies to carry." Chan and Brum threw the inert bodies over their shoulders and threaded their way down the secret windie stair (that no one knew about except them)to the hanger beneath the town. In the streets outside the bar the departed priest's brethren were searching for their missing High Priest. A primate of a different sort.
Episode Nine : "Oh Fekk! We're in deep doo now!"
Index of Episodes There was always something exhilarating about a full scramble. Zevon never felt safer than when he was out with his "boys". He was twice the age of most of them and was still very much on the ball. By the time most full Colonels reached the ripe old age of 44 most of them would have moved to a non-combat posting. The trouble with Zevon was he just never really grew up. He just loved blowing the crap out of things and screaming around in tanks. This coupled with his superb command skills and an innate ability to second guess the enemy made him a natural choice for this, the most difficult of commands. He and Smeggov were very much alike. He was heading up the 42nd and Cpt Mo was following with the 101st.Very soon they would split and go to their respective missions. "Colonel, this is Mo, I'm just coming up to the split. Best of luck" "Roger that, Mo, you be careful, and don't loose your temper, ya hear?" "Don't you worry old man, I'll take care of it. I ain't seen my kid yet, later" The 101st peeled of to the left and were soon out of sight. Zevon was confident that Mo was more than able to do the business in Hunter's absence. "Thinking about it, I better give him a call." mused Zevon. He spoke aloud "Sec conn OMR. There was an almost inaudible purr as the secure connect to the OMR was established. "You there Major?" "Ah, I thought you'd forgotten about me, what's up? Are we going home yet?" "Far from it. I want you to be on your toes down there. There's something very fishy going on up here and if the worst comes to the worst we could be with in the next 48 hours, so stay with it, Ok?" "Shit, Ok, I'll make sure it's all Defcon1, all our ships coded?" "Yeppers, no problem there, I want all towers to 100% flash, make sure now, I don't like the look of this." "You got it colonel, where are you?" "Just coming up on the Soviet base.....Jesus, laters Major" Zevon truncated the conversation abruptly. He had too. The division had been surprised be a large force of CCA machines. Already the telltale whispers of Hornet plumes were snaking towards them. "Tusker's dead ahead" he shouted as he shot of a pair of solar flares. The well drilled Bobcat squadron peeled off and disappeared under their VIR cloaks. "Should give them something to think about, but where are all these fekkers coming....." Again Zevon was rudely interrupted by an alarmingly close explosion from a blast cannon. "Watch out, Czars at 3 o clock" the adrenaline was hyper now. He took a lead on the first of the lead Czars and let rip with a pair of fully charged mags. This was a dead cert, there was no way he could miss at this range. The twin headed purple balls of death sped towards the doomed tank. Unfortunately for Zevon, things are not always as they seem. Just as the mag blasts were about to hit the Czar it disappeared and lept forward 100 metres. "WTF, how the...." Zevon was hit from behind by a blast cannon, from the very tank that should now be history. All around the battlefield CCA tanks were jumping maniacally to and fro. A number of NSDF tanks were destroyed outright and many were taking severe damage. "They're using some sort of image disrupter, DO NOT, repeat DO NOT use cannons. All you tanks retreat and head for the towers and find Mo. Rocket tanks will cover us, Bobcats you stay with the Wolverines. Use Hornets and shadowers and cover our retreat." "Roger, yeah, got it" the calls came in one by one" Mo, we're in deep shit here, we need help." "I hear ya Col, we're on our way already, the towers are all blown, be with you in 5." "Send the Bobs and the Wolves ahead, DO NOT engage with tanks" "Why. what the ...." "No time just do it" The skirmish was definitely not going Zevons way. The enemy ships were dancing all over the place and on the active weapons were getting any kills. "There's gotta be a way" Zevon's brain was racing, whilst doing his best to keep from getting blown to pieces, he was trying to fathom out the enemy's visual spoofing. "If the hornets are getting them, then its a bet they are not to far away from their actual position. We must be seeing where they are going to be, not where they were, as they are going forwards and not backwards. That's It!!!" Zevon hit the brakes and rounded on his pursuer. The czar was not expecting the sudden change of tack and was completely wrong footed. Zevon released another dual mag blast, but this time he lead the target lead indicator by a good 100 metres. The effect was as dramatic as it was conclusive. The Czar disappeared in a ball of Incandescent fire. A direct hit. "This is going to get some getting used to", he thought. He keyed the transmit button "This is Zevon, listen up. Re engage and lead your targets by an additional 100 metres, this will resolve the visual aberrations." "You want us to shoot at thin air." "Just do what the boss says" chimed in Mo, "He ain't let us down yet. Zevon wasn't listening, he was polishing off his 3rd kill with a splinter. All around him the tide of battle was turning in favour of the Americans. The bad guys were def thrown by Zevon's quick thinking, and unlike the more experienced US pilots, they were rapidly getting out of their depth. With the arrival of the 101st a total rout ensued. Recklessly the Americans fell upon the backs of their fleeing foes. "Don't loose the plot now guys." Zeon cautioned. "We got some sick puppies here. I want all off you damaged Ships to regroup and head on back. "But we got them cold, let's finish it" "I don't think those half a dozen raggedy-ass dispirits are gonna cause us any more trouble. Whistle up the T-birds and lets go get the base, make sure of it this time. The rest of you, get on back." The combined units changed course for the CCA base and dropped the speed a notch to allow the bombers to catch up. "Hey Colonel?" "That you Ups ? wassup, did you get any?" "Yeah, two, I hit them with shadowers, they were well flatcapped." "Flatcapped?? wtf is that when it's at home?" "Stepped on, offed, creamed, fu...." "Ok ok , I get your drift, your from outta state are'nt you, let's keep the chatter down, we got work to do. Ah here come the T-Birds. The unmistakable shape of a dozen T-birds drew alongside the lead tanks, seemingly sniffing for their pray. The neat formation was broken by the appearance of a brilliant red grendal, the trade mark of the inimitable Capt Mo. "Wahooo, here I am, gimme gimme gimme." "Where the hell did you get that from Mo? You gonna get yourself shot one of these days." "I had brought up by remote after the heat died down, I cant miss this, this is what I'm made for, Russki bashing. Hey look, the outer towers." The first needle like stabs of the outer base defences were dancing amid the approaching US ships. "Ok Capt, your show, be careful, we'll mop up after you." "Okie Dokie M8, Ok guys, far left and front shoot." As one a dozen rockets left the bombers and hurtled headlong towards the nearest tower which promptly run down the curtain on the days proceedings. "Parp!!! One down. Next front and right, goooooooo! Looks like they run out of steam Colonel." One by one the outer defences we neutralised and the main base was laid bare. "I don't like it, it's too easy, there's no walkers, no real resistance, it don't add up." "Nah, they recycled the walkers and we took out what was left back there." "No, that was only about half of their force, where are the rest of them? Mo I want you to clean up here, I,m taking the rest of the force out for a look-see. "Okie dokie, I'm having a ball, good hunting." "Ori this is the Col, come in." Ori Womm, was the Lt detailed to command the base control room. Ominously the radio remained silent. Repeated attempts to contact the base were met with the same stony silence. Likewise Billy Gross, commander of the 82nd was also silent. "Shit, I knew it. Mo, you bout done there?" "Not a stick standing, all better now." "Ok pack up and get over here, we have to get back to the base real quick, I'm getting no answer from them or the 82nd" "Oooops, sounds a bit iffy, were on our way" Zevons brain was bursting by now, questions were flooding his troubled mind. "Where was the 82nd? What happened at the base? Was it just a com drop? He had this awful premonition the something really sinister was going on. He had a an empty pit where his stomach usually sat and he knew deep down things were going to get worse before they got better. "Wohaaa, I got something up ahead, "one of the lead Razors called in. "Two secs, taking a look". "Go on man, what is it?" Zevon was barely in control of his anxiety. "Well it looks like there was a skirmish here, plenty of blast damage, but no wreckage, and there's something else odd too". "Get to the point." "Well there's this yellow shit all over, I mean like puke type stuff, patches of it steaming and bubbling, like hot runny doo." "I would like to think its a sick joke, you better not be wrong about this Sam." "No sir, its true I can see you coming, soon you will see for yourself. Hold on there's a piece of scrap. Two secs." The razor whisked over to the wreckage, followed closely by Zevon and Mo. It was a US tank all right, well it was once. All that remained was the twin tail booms of a rocket tank. There was no mistaking the crest of the 82nd on the tail above the fin number either. "Fekk me, this is spooky, 044 was Billy's ship, was n't it Col?" "Yes, and there are traces of that goo here too. We must assume that the 82 has been wiped out and this mess here is all that remains of them. I fear for the base too, this is the second time to day we have encountered a new weapon. It's a tad worrying" "Eeeeuuuwww, arghh. help help help......" One of the bobcats had landed in a pile of the yellow crud and in a a flash it had consumed the tank and the hapless pilot" (A bit like that shit in the Leap of Faith level, God I hate landing in that, spec if you have ejected eeeuuuwwwww. Ahem, soz back to the plot) "Everyone away from here NOW, keep clear of the yellow stuff it's lethal. Form 3 Squads and I want you razors way forward, assume the base may be hostile. No one in the main force is to approach it with out my express permission. Lets go" The razors scurried off like terriers on a scent and the rest of the stunned outfit followed at a respectable distance. "We will deploy just beyond gun-tower range until the razors call in. I want you boys to be on your toes now, you hear me?" Whilst the acknowledgements were coming in Zeon called Hunter on the Secure link. "Looks like we could be down To you sooner than we thought Major." The Colonel proceeded to relate the day's events to a stunned Hunter. "Oh, well.......... um I'll be sure everything's working according to plan, be careful sir" replied the Major "Ok good man, gotta go, I'll call you" "Razors returning sir." It was the call Zevon was dreading. "Well what you got Sam ?" "We could n't get near it, we dodged around the perimeter and the gun towers shot at us, but is was n't blast cannon rounds. It was , well........more like... "Bubbly yellow puke?" "Well yes , just like that stuff we passed earlier, and there's more, worse in fact, take a look at these shots." Zevon peered at the screen in front of him and felt the blood leave his face. Across the main landing field were scores of unrecognisable craft. All bright yellow and gleaming garishly in the bright Martian day. "Tanks obviously, but whom? Could they be alien, it's too much of a coincidence" "Zevon's thoughts were interrupted by a incoming transmission on the base Frequency. The screen bloomed in to life and the distressed face of Smeggov swam in to view. He looked traumatised and had obviously been severely beaten. He just stared vacantly at the screen. "Get... away from here........ death awaits you all....." The poor Marshall was clearly exhausted and slumped to the floor. Two massive hairy arms hauled the victim to his feet and then threw him to the floor, werry woughly. An unseen voice, fraught with malice, spoke in a cold, clear, penetrating timbre. "I see I have your attention, you are privileged to view the last surviving human left in the former NSDF base of Mars. It was clever of you to solve the mystery of our Location Anomaly Generator. I felt sure that by using the LAG, we would prevail, still no matter." "Wtf, who...." "Who am I ? I am your worst nightmare Zevon. I am Omsa. The next ruler of Mars" The transmission was drowned by animal like shrieks. "We shall meet soon. It is fitting that I now occupy your former home, as you so wantonly destroyed mine. I give you one hour to surrender, if you do not we shall come and find you and wipe you out. You have no where to hide, come, we will be merciful" "Get stuffed, If you think I have fought for ten years only to acquiesce to a an unseen maniac with honey on his tongue, you are mad. You have killed a lot of good men and they shall be avenged" "One hour Zevon, one hour." The end of transmission click had a very very final sound to it. Zevon radioed the armada "Well we aint going to sit around for that, we do have somewhere to go, some of are hurt and it will be a long trek south. Major Hunter is waiting at a secret location where we can repair and make our plans for the return, and return we shall. Even as I speak the Nav Coords are being fed in to your Navcoms and also the deactivation codes for the Redoubts defences. Several of the key tanks in the force are fitted with the new red field generators, so you wont be tracked. Capt Mo will assume command. I have business here to attend to." "You're not serious Col" interjected Mo."You stay here and you'll get zapped for sure, you'll look awful in yellow." "Never the less you have your orders, this tank is never gonna make it, and I fancy one of funny yellow jobs. This Omsa guy owes me big time. I was put here for this and I'm gonna do my stuff." "You cant take on a whole base, you mad sod, I mean....." "Get going, you need all the head-start you can make. I got my sniper stuff, I'll be in touch now get going. "That's your last word ?" "If you don't move in the next sixty seconds, I'll shoot you for disobeying a direct order in time of war." Mo sighed and gave in, it was hopeless arguing with the Colonel when he had his mind made up. He signalled the armada to follow and activated the red fields. "God luck Colonel" was the last message Zevon received be fore he went to work. Zevon had scattered spoofers around to fool the base sensors. These small transmitters, the size of a cigarette lighter were capable of producing an exact sensor replica of any of the tanks in either side's inventory. As each departing tank disappeared under the red field, he activated the corresponding spoofer. The guys would be well on their way before the enemy realised they had been tricked. Now to get in. Zevon Fired up his sick stealth and nudged his way towards the occupied base. He thought it a shame to loose one of the only two in existence, but needs must sometimes. He skirted round to the opposite side of the base from where he had laid the spoofers and dropped another time delayed bunch "just to keep them on there toes" He spent the next 45 minutes laying more timed spoofers around the base perimeter. "That oughta do it, when they come out, I go in. I don't suppose they're gonna gunge their own men. Five minutes to go. This is going to get interesting" He opened the hatch to the tank and stepped outside. Keeping to the shadows he crouched down in to a cleft with his sniper rifle and waited for the fun to start. "Last man out wins a prize." he chuckled. "Make you famous, ha ha ha".
Episode Ten : "Visions"
Index of Episodes Three hundred feet below the town of Half F'narr there was a large cavern that was created when the planet was young. A combination of extreme temperatures and pressures had created several weird and wonderful caves connected by extinct lava bores, which ran to the outside walls of FB Canyon, big enough to allow the passage even a Grendal. Not surprising then that a bunch of weird and wonderful people had decided to set up home in this underground sanctuary. During the last ten years Fear had gathered together a band of trusted followers and transformed the hide away into a comfortable base of operations. He had stumbled upon the place purely by accident. He was determined to disappear from the public view once the former Gulag had been liberated and the caverns were just perfect. During one of his many flamm induced visions he perceived the nature and the location of the grotto with out actually ever physically setting foot in it. It was another undiscovered Martian wonder, like Teh Source; it had unusual qualities that were not lost on "The Great Mouf". One of the now empty lava tubes lead directly to Teh Source that in turn meant that the oxygen-bearing fruits rolled directly down to the caves below. By incredible chance ( well not really as I'm writing the script) the cave at the end of the lava bore was once an underground salt-water lake. The water had long since vanished, but the dried up floor was covered in the same type of catalytic salt (of course) as that found at Flamm Bay. The abundant oxygen supply was enough to fill the entire underground network. Fear spent the next two years "appropriating", with a little help, all the necessary equipment needed for the establishment of his retreat. With the help of his trusted henchmen and the proceeds from the Flamm bars he had acquired an astonishing array of hardware. Knocked off tanks and bombers lined one side of the main cavern, whilst on the opposite side were the repair shops and the living quarters. In a side cavern was a huge sea of green composed of Varple plants. Varple plants had a dual purpose. Firstly they absorbed CO2 and gave out oxygen (of course) and secondly the old leaves were, when dried, well useful recreational material. Brum and Chan dumped the two motionless figures in to a pair of chairs next to the eating hall. Brum looked around and noticed that most of the tank's parking bays were empty. "Looks like the guys are out and about, was there anything planned for today Jaks?" "Not as far as I know. I would say as Gav and Killie are out too. I bet they are just going up to piss off the soviet gun towers again. You know they have a bet going?" "Yeah, I know, First person to knock down a tower wins a buck. Not much to risk your life over. I mean the towers are hard man, ' got me a couple o times." "Let's see if we can't wake these fekkers up" "That wont be necessary thank you, ye buggas." Fear was back. He walked over to the still unconcho Bliztwing and stared at the snoring pirate. He stooped down and pointed his index finger at the catatonic confederate. A bright blue spark leapt from Fear's finger to Blitz's forehead and the effect was instantaneous "Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit" Blitz shot out of the chair as if somebody had just hit him in the forehead with a bright blue spark. "Wakey wakey babes." Fear was grinning. Blitz was rubbing his head and swearing. "Where the f**k did you learn that, Jesus my head's split in two." "Just a lil something I picked up while I was *away* just now. As soon as the guys have parked up, I want you all to meet me over at the lounge. I have to do a few things." Fear turned and strode of towards his quarters. The three men stared after him in disbelief as the rumble of arriving tanks grew louder. "How is he doing that?" Brum was looking more than a lil' concerned. "I dunno m8." Said Chan "I tell you one thing tho' I'm glad we're on his side, how are you Blitz?" "It's odd, usually after a good wodgering I feel whacked for at least two days. Strange thing is I feel brilliant. Now the initial shock has passed I'm fine." "I am sure that things are going to get as lot weirder. I wonder why the guys are back so soon, ah look, there's Killie and Gav. The Gavner and Killiefish had both ended up in Fear's band by a very roundabout route. Both had been serving with the CCA Army of Mars and both had fallen into disfavour and been sent to the Gulag at Half F'fnarr. Neither were Russian, both were from the UK and both had gone independently to Russia in response to a Soviet trawl for "experienced tank commanders." They had both been thrown out of the British Army for persistent drunkenness. Once they arrived at the Military Academy at Fa'Kinell it was obvious to their new masters that despite the love affair with booze, these two characters would be ideal material for the CCA. It would have worked, except that once the two of them got together they would combine the drinking with reckless gambling. This culminated in a drunken wager, which resulted in the C O crying "enough". They were caught red-handed white-washing the Grand Base's statue of Lenin after first breaking of the arms in attempt to create a replica of Michealangelio's "David". It was pretty hard denying all knowledge of the act when you are stood in front of the CO, each holding a severed arm as a trophy and each covered in splashes of whitewash. It was these qualities which made them ideal candidates for induction into the Band of Fear. "Well who won" asked Brum. The pair were unusually quiet. Gavner was the first to speak "We went right up to the usual 10 click point and it was quiet, I mean too quiet. Usually by 12 the guns have seen us, but there was nothing, no active shit, not a thing. At first we thought it was a trick to sucker us in, but we soon got visual and it looked all-wrong. Killie was ahead of me in the Razor and he should have been taking some hits by then." "It's true." Agreed Killie " There's something very wrong going on up there. We were going to go right up to the Russian base, but I know Fear would freak if we did that, besides there's some very weird radiation signatures coming from there, way off the scale too." "Speaking of which, he wants to see everyone right now, over at The Lounge" The Four crossed the bay to the communal hall where they found everyone in their small community gathered expectantly. There was the usual buzz of anticipation that precedes extraordinary meetings which stopped dead as soon as Fear entered the room. Not so much out of respect, but because they were stunned by his appearance. It was still Fear, of that there was no doubt, but his face... "My God..."Brum never finished the sentence. Fear's eyes had gone. Where the living globes once sat two brilliant purple balls now blazed from a dreadful visage. You could have heard a eensy weeensy pin drop. "Don't be afraid babes, I am brand new. I see more clearly now than I have ever done, the rain has gone." "It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiney daaaaayyyyy, do doo." Killie was on form. Fear smiled and two bright pin-pricks of light flashed briefly where his pupils once were. "We have to leave people. We are in danger. I have spent the last thirty minutes in deep meditation. I have been to The Stone at the edge of the canyon." "The Khaaasi, my God, you have been to the Khaaasi?" The crowd asked almost as one. "No one has ever returned from the Khaaasi". "This is true, but you know I am not as other men. I have already spent may long nights sitting on the Khaaasi.I have had glimpses of things, but until today I was not able to follow through to the Welleese. As you can see I have been Welleesed. I now have Troo Sight, I see even more that is hidden, more so than ever before. This is why I know we are in danger. The Welleese is an elevated state which only two may share. At the instant I followed-through my great enemy was also Welleesed. The Big High Priest, Cobbler Khan is now aware of me as I am of he. My mind is closed to him, but he knows I am near. Even as I speak Shooshoo-gaway soldiers approach with their niff-hounds" "Cobbler Khan cannot see my thoughts, but I can see glimpse of his dark design, even if I left here alone you would not be safe. He intends to cleanse the Planet, sweep it clean , Half F'narr is doomed." As Fear finished speaking there was a distant rumble. "Already the madman has taken revenge for the death of his Lieutenant. We must leave. I have to prepare for the confrontation that will come. It wont be now, but it will come, as sure as night follows day. Only when I kill him I shall be free. " "Dark things are abroad to north as well, is n't that so?" Fear fixed his glance on Gavner and Killie. They nodded. "Pack up everything you can carry and be ready to leave in thirty minutes. Get all the ships tooled up, I want to slow the fekkers up a bit when we leave. Any questions?" "Yes I have one?" Blitzwing chimed in."Does my arse look big in this? Just kidding, next ?" "Um, yeah." ventured Chan, "Er where exactly are we going ? "Going? going?" Fear broke into a reassuring smile. "Why, my dear friend, where else? We're going to the mountain.
Episode Eleven :Walkabout
Index of Episodes Zevon adjusted the velocity setting on his sniper rifle to maximum and shifted positon to get a clear view of the passage he overlooked. He was aware of the risks of being detected but the capture of an enemy ship was vital to the success of his plan. He would not have any second chances. He had to get two shots off in a heartbeat to have any chance of stealing a ship. Under the primary barrel of the rifle was a secondary weapon that resembled a RPG launcher. It was the Hollo-Spoofer Launcher, or HSL, a low velocity weapon that fired a micro-decoy device which anchored itself to its target on contact. (good eh?) It could be set to perform a number of different tasks and the one Zevon had it set for was vital to the success of his mission. The Pseudo Image Signal Synthesiser, or PISS, was a particularly clever device. When activated it was capable of replicating specific images on a tank pilots viewing screen and internal radar taken from an external source. The second to last tank of any formation always always had one eye on the rear view and one eye on the radar ensure his butt was covered by the tail-ender. Once Zevon had PISS'd on the first of the two victims he would have a split second to take out the poor unfortunate tail end charlie. The primary sniper rifle used a 20mm sabot-discarding round. It was a recoiless device which made for great accuracy in the hands of an expert. Once the round had left the muzzle it shed the split outer covering and the remaining 10mm projectile accelerated to penetration velocity. On impact with the tank's outer skin the sheer speed of the projectile vaporised the outer skin and blew away a 100mm scab of hot metal from the inside of the turret. The cast nano-metal, being very brittle, broke in to lots of very hot, nasty razor-sharp pointy bits of shrapnel, which sprayed all around the inside of the crew bay. This combined with the heat and the gases generated by the impact reduced the occupants to a puree. On Earth the combined weight of the two systems would have made the weapon impossible to deploy but here on the Mars one strong man could be a real threat to a whole platoon. The telltale plums of dust betrayed the approaching pursuers. "Right on time" Zevon smiled inwardly. "If they are going to be this predictable, then I am in with a chance." Within moments the rogue tanks were streaming past Zevon's hiding place seemingly oblivious to his presence. There was a rag-tag of US and CCA craft all baying for blood and supremely confident of success "Better and better" Zevon was smiling broadly. "It looks like the whole lot are going out. This may just work." Omsa had committed his entire force in the hope of crushing the opposition in one fell swoop. Too bad they were miles away by now. In the words of the prophet. "This is where he dropped a bollock" big time. It was lucky for Omsa that Zevon's force was hurt and low on ammo, otherwise they could have sat under the Red Field and gone in the "back -door" while the chimps were hunting spoofers. Anyway, the code for the guntower perimeter de-activation may have been changed. It was to much of a risk for the whole team, but for one man. it was acceptable. Zevon felt his sphincter tighten as the end of the column approched the target point. He drew himself up to the edge of the ledge and took a bead on the first target. The PISSer flew away and latched on to the hull of the second to last tank and went live immediately. Zevon kept his cool and waited until the last tank was almost past his position. Silently the rifle discharged it's lethal message. The target tank slowed and stopped not more than 100 metres from Zevon. It was a surreal, silent operation, almost like a dream. The column proceed on it's way oblivious to the loss of one of its brood. "Excellent, it's working, I hope there was only one of them in that grizzly tho. It's always so messy after a snipe." Zevon wasted no time in getting to the tank, it would n't take the bad guys very long to realise they had been had. He pulled open the top hatch of the Grizzly, making sure he stood to one side, and a whoosh of hot gas and gunge evacuated into the thin Martian air. "Ugh, usual shite. Wait a minute tho. That looks a little odd." Zevon was looking at smudge of skin and bone which was stuck to the inside of the hatch cover. For some reason the pilot was n't even wearing a suit. "He must have been a hairy bugger." The Colonel dropped down in to the crew bay and was relieved to discover that there had been only one crew member. He stuffed a tempoplug into the hole made by the incoming bullet and scraped what was left of the pilot out of the command seat. The hot gases had burnt away most of the hair from the bolognese that was once the pilot and so Zevon's first real clue as to the nature of the enemy was denied. Some systems were damaged but the perimeter de-activator and all the essential weapons and manoeuvring devices were functional. Zevon fired up the motors and set off for the eerily quiet base. Not one ship had remained behind although the gun-towers leered menacingly from the wings. "FLOOTARF ! WHY ARE YOU RETURNING?" The speaker roared in grating, guttural tones. "Shit. some one's still awake, can,t reply tho' give the game away. I got it!" Zevon rolled the tank from left to right repeatedly, whilst continuing on his course. He reset the signal transponder to 7600 "radio fail" "VERY WELL, ACKNOWLEDGE RADIO FAIL, PROCEED TO DOCK!" "No need to shout arsehole." Zevon muttered. He was in! He pulled up the tank along side the docking seal and cut the motors. The telescopic docking tube slid out to mate (ooooh) with the grizzly's hatch. There was a slight clunk as tube locked home and a barely audible hiss as the pressures equalised. Zevon picked up a blaster, gently cracked the hatch and stepped outside. The place was deserted. "Better and better" Zevon schlepped along the empty corridors towards the detention cells in search of Smeggov. He was n't going to have much time to get him out and any resistance would be swiftly dispatched. It was only a matter of time before he was discovered, but hopefully, it would be on the way out. Zevon was almost at the detention area main door when he heard some strange jabbering from around the next corner. He slowed his pace to a cautious crawl and pressed closer to the wall. There were definitely two "voices", but he could n't make them out. It was an unintelligible, inane gibbering. "Eeeka eeeka ooga ooga aarghhka oofa doofa." "They must be torturing the poor sod". Zevon jumped out from his hidey hole and levelled his blaster. The two guards were silhouetted by the bright lights of the detention block and perfect targets. They were dead before they hit the floor. "Not too noisy, good." Zevon approached the two bodies cautiously. He stood over the scorched, smouldering remains. "More hairy fekkers, odd". He rounded a corner and stood before the door to the detention cells. It was deathly quite. One by one he peered into the brilliantly lit cells until he came to one which contained the wild, staring wretch, that Smeggov had become. "F... Me, he's in bad shape". Zevon slid open the door and led the bemused Russian down the corridor and back to his ship. All the while Smeggov offered no resistance and followed silently. "He's completely out of it" thought Zevon. "I wonder what they 've been giving him". Zevon strapped him into the co-pilot's seat and eased the tank away from the dock. It was fortunate for Zevon that he got underway at that moment. The wrathful Omsa had realised that he had been had and was bee-lining back to the base at top speed. As Zevon was in an original NSDF Tank he had access to all the tower and minefield defence codes, which only the senior officers were allowed. He nudged his tank up to the end of the main access channel to the base and waited. He was gambling that the permissions would still recognise his signature. He placed the retinal signature reader over his left eye and keyed the "authorisation" button. There was a slight hum and a green light appeared on the "Config" panel. "Bingo, I'm in". Quickly hey keyed in a new unique transponder code for his tank. Next he set the defences to fire on all ships not bearing the unique identifier. In theory the retuning tanks would not be showing the colours of the day and so would be considered hostile. The returning tanks were now well with in range of the defensive gun towers and minefields, it had to be now or never. Zevon pushed the "confirm" button and backed away from his vantage point. Not a moment too soon. Mines were exploding under and around the returning tanks. The gun towers were stabbing at anything left moving and reducing it to scrap. "Time to disappear methinks", mused Zevon. He slipped over the western rim of the base and down into a convenient canyon just in time. The resultant explosions from the carnage up above had spread to the rest of the base and set off a chain reaction of devastation that culminated in massive nuclear fireball which destroyed every last trace of the US camp. "Time to leave" thought Zevon. "Hold on Dimitri, we'll soon get you fixed up, I got a lil summer retreat yunno". Smeggov did not respond. Zevon waited for the debris to finish raining down and nosed his tank out of the valley. He sidled up to the top of the rim to take a look at what was left of the base. It was a wilderness. Not one structure remained intact. The area was completely devastated to the extent that not one piece of scrap remained. Convinced that there was no further threat Zevon set course for the redoubt. Had he been more observant he would have noticed a dozen or so returns on the very edge of his radar heading South East.... for the Shoo'ite stronghold of Gran F'narr
Episode Twelve : Storm Clouds
Index of Episodes Fear and his motley crew were about 20 miles from the Olympus Mons redoubt when he passed the word to the rest of the band. "We shall be approaching the outermost defences of the hidden NSDF base. Zevon is not expecting us, but we shall enter nonetheless." Fear tried to instil as much confidence as he could into the message. "Follow me and stay close, the gun towers are well hidden and if you deviate even slightly from the course I set you will never see the shot that kills you. Line astern formation, pay attention." Fear dropped down a notch, so as not to disturb the sensors that were concealed around the secret base. "Were dead," wailed Jax " Zevon never sleeps, just you wait, that F****S slick, slick, slick . you see he don't ever relax, jus' when you think he's asleep, he'll come up and take a giant shit on you. We gonna get seen sho' nuff" "Shut up ye tart, try and remember your school physics, we a talking destructive interference here. All I have to do is stick to a path that is equidistant from each sensor. At that point the two overlapping beams cancel each other out." "All well 'n' good, but how do you intend to track the dead area" Fear's obsidian eyes gleamed" You forget, I know much that is hidden, now make sure you turn where I do, or we are all dead." "What if you are wrong?" Jax persisted. "Then it wont matter, If we don't get to Zevon, then we, and the rest of the planet are dead anyway, trust me, we are already in sensor range and have been for the last 5 minutes" The confederates weaved their way through the deadly net and at last came to the secret entrance redoubt's secret entrance. "Ok, we are through the outer defences, all that's left now is to get in the main base. Pull up here and wait till I call you. You shall be safe here, just don't move". "Well, good luck man" Blitz was doubtful, but he had no choice. "Since I lost the plot 3 chapters ago, I for one have no choice. BTW, see if you cant get those eyes fixed" "F O, c u in a spell" Fear's ship crept up to the cloaked entrance of the redoubt and disappeared inside. Zevon was at the bar when Fear called him and dropped his beer in alarm. "Are you alright sir?" asked the steward. "Yes, yes, excuse me a moment please," The stunned colonel went directly to the control room. "Any thing unusual to report?" he asked. "No sir. All quiet" "I am not so sure, keep a sharp watch and call me if you see the sightest unusual activity, and I mean even if a gnat pees" "You expecting trouble sir?" "I'll be in my quarters, just stay sharp" Zevon strode down the corridor to his room. "Are we alone?" asked the voice, "you can trust me ye know. Zevon ignored the ramblings at first, he was convinced some shit had spiked his drink. "So you think me a figment or your imagination, take a look out of your window to the hanger deck" Zevon pulled back a blind and there was Fear, leaning against his ship smoking a very dubious looking cigarette. "WTF ?!!" "Hello Colonel, just thought I would drop in, you see I got some serious news" Imparted the intruder. "Seeing as you are so fekking clever, i suppose you know the way up here as well?" "Mai oui mon colonel. one second" "Boo" Zevon whirled around to see Fear had appeared behind him "For Fecks sake ", no soon as Zevon reached for his gun he was forced to drop it as it had become red hot to the touch. "Tut tut, I would have expected better of you Colonel, and just to save time, the door is locked, the communicator is de activated and we are quite alone, please sit down" "What do you want" Zevon asked. "The same as you, but things are afoot and it has become necessary to seek you out and join forces with you to overcome the evil that grows in Grand Fnarr as we speak. " Fear related all the events that had occurred since the loss of the two bases and the arrival of Omsa at the Shoe followers tabernacle. "Are you telling me that all this carnage has been caused by a..... an overgrown chimp?" "Think about it man, the mad scientist, the hairy fekkers in the tank you shot, the furry creeps in the base when you rescued Smeggov, Look." Fear placed his fingertips on Zevon's temples and instantly the whole grizzy plot was revealed. "Shit, I knew Khan was mad, but this is crazy. A bunch of shoe fetishists and mutant chimps, and what's this monkey-puke acid all about, is that the stuff that killed my man?" "Yes, you have no need to ask me, I have imparted you with the sum total of my knowledge, all that I know you know also, In this I place my trust, an indeed my life. As we speak Omsa and Khan have performed a similar union. I am the enemy of Kahn. Until the bonding I was hidden from his gaze. He an Omsa know of us know. They don't know where, but they know we are now together. Soon they will come, all your devices will be in vain, the ship draws them." "You know about the... silly of me, of course, I see you knew all along, it drew you here too" "Yes, It is fortunate that things developed the way they did and I got here first." "How long has it been here?" asked Zevon? "It looks at once old and new."Oh hold on I am forgetting" Zevon closed his eyes and concentrated. He perceived three vast motherships The J'Hava, Shoo-Matra and the Big-Ish'Hoo. They were on a mission of exploration from the planet N'Abana. All arrived in the solar system safely. It was along time BC and Abraham was having a hard time with the Lord a long time before Highway 61 Revisited was released. Earth was just getting its shit together and Mars was at that time similar to Earth climatically. The ships established a Solar orbit between Earth and Mars whilst the Council for Exploration met on the flagship, the Big Ish'Hhoo. "We must decide on our next course of action" said The Venerable Lace. (The Lace was the chief council member who acted as chairman for the 9 members of Shoo-Banaan, the government of N'Abana away from home. Each mothership had 3 members each, who dispensed with the day to day issues of government. When ever a new system was reached, then a grand meeting of the nine was called to debate business. Since there was no opportunity to communicate whilst the ships were in hyperspace these meetings were pivotal to the future business of the fleet. The Lace indicated to the Explorer of the Ways that he had leave to speak. "Tell us, oh learned Explorer, where lies our way?" "There are 2 planets capable of sustaining life in this system. The first is the 3rd planet of the system, which is already inhabited by life forms very similar to our own, albeit very backward. The 4th planet is also of a temperate climate and whilst has primitive flora and fauna is as yet uninhabited. "What are your recommendations?" "Since there is already a thriving civilisation on the 3rd planet and we are forbidden to interfere with their destiny then it is clear that the 4th planet must be our destination." The Great Lace nodded in agreement and understanding. "It is clear to me that this is the correct course, we shall vote without delay." "Hold." boomed a loud voice. The Lace hung his head and sighed, he did 'nt need to look up to see the source of the interjection. "Don't tell me Khan, you want to go to the 3rd world and impose your will on the people there. Again I tell you it is forbidden and again you will complain endlessly that it is our destiny to rule. We will vote and as usual, you of the Shoo-Matrah will vote for conquest and the rest of us will oppose you. Give it up, it's not going to happen." "Wrong" Kahn raised a hidden blaster and shot the Lace though his Golden Eyelet, he dropped to the floor and squished like a piece of moist fruit. (Authors note. Talking of squishing noises I have to tell you about this. I am on a Delta 777 from London to Atlanta, presently over Boston. Anyway I had to go for a dump, and I have to say that the bogs on a 777 are a vast improvement on a Tristar, but what is really amazing is the forz with which it dispatches the jobby to the waste tank. There's this sort of squishy whoosh and the log is swept away with such vigour the lavvy door bends in the middle, they are hinged in the middle you see. Really quite remarkable.) Several of the Kahn's cronies appeared and also started firing into the council chamber, all but one of the council was murdered, with the exception of the Mouf of J'Hava. As soon as he caught a glimpse of Khan's gun he split. He had been watching Khan's growing impatience and had made sure that he was always seated next to the door of the chamber. He never went anywhere with out a blaster and half a squad of J'Havans in tow. No sooner had the shooting started he was out the door and his men covered him as they retreated to the shuttle bay. "Let him go" said Khan, "We can deal with him later, secure the ship and lay in a course for the 3rd planet. Bring primary weapons to bear on the J'Hava. "Typical" mused Mouf. "My brother always shoots before he thinks." He had made sure that he was n't going to be caught out. Kahn had made no secret of his contempt for the council and Mouf had guessed correctly that it was only a matter of time before he would attempt a coup. He had his engineer secretly construct a colossal defence shield around the J'hava that would bounce energy beams back at the attacker. "Mouf, can you hear me?" It was Cpt Punami, the skipper of the Shoo-Matrah, "You may as well call it a day and surrender, we have control of the Big Ish-shoo and you cannot resist, surrender now" "Bollocks to you and your lot with double great knobs on" Mouf clicked the com channel shut and lept from the shuttle as it docked and doubled up to the bridge. "Report status." he barked. "Shield is up and all loyal council followers from the Flagship are aboard" "Any one from the Shoo-Matrah?" "No Sir, to a man they told us to F off and we were soft and deserved to die" "Funny how 300 years in space can change a person" Mouf Thought. There was a colossal wumfppfff as the primaries from the Flagship and the Shoo-Matrah thwacked into the J'hava. Right on cue the beams were dispatched back to the point of origin. The arrogance of Khan and his brigands was exposed in all its folly. So intent were they on crushing what they thought were weak minded and feeble warriors they neglected to make any contingencies, should their supprise attack be anticipated. They deflected beams slammed into the two aggressors mortally crippling them. Small explosions growing ever larger started to consume the doomed ships. In a scene reminiscent of the Hindenburg footage the great ships stated to collapse. Mouf took no pleasure in whaching the demise of some 5000 people, but equally he was unmoved. In any case he had no time to ponder the next course of action. The Shoo-Matrah blew itself to atoms and the Big Ish-Shoo was not far behind when a dozen escape ships erupted from the dying flagship. "I thought so, and I know who it is and where there are heading." Mouf headed for the hanger and lept in to a pursuit ship. Fear looked at Zevon. "It was obvious the mad bastid was going to stop at nothing and I had to follow him to what we now call Earth. Khan and his bandits tried to conceal there whereabouts, but they could nt conceal there deeds and actions. Although I swore to never interfere with the evolution of alien societies I had to try and prevent Khan's tyranny. I said goodbye to the J'Hava and left instructions to enter stasis, suspended animation, until my return. That was 4032 years ago. For over 4000 years I have pursued them and one by one destroyed them and reversed the evil they crafted. History records them as Nero, Attila, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, to name a few. Now only one remains. "Khan ?" "As you say, my brother, Khan. He now musters the last of his resources. He and Asmo versus you and me. I was good fortune that you found the J'Hava first, I trust it is well." "As far as I can tell it looks brand new, I never was able to get inside. I figured that there may be something in there that did n't want me in there anyway. I also had this feeling that.. well something was brewing and it's time would come. "That was me, I have been talking to you and Smeggov since you arrived, you were the most receptive, although you did nt know it, I sent you looking for the ship, It was no accident that you found all the N'Abana technology. Soon the J'Hava will take to the skies again." The door to Zevons quarters slid open and a tall man in a strange uniform entered. "Greetings Great Mouf" he saluted Fear. "Colonel, this is Flaminar, he is the master navigator of the J'Hava. Hello Flam, sleep well?" "A little stiff, did you get them?" "All but one, but he is eager to meet us again" "Khan?" "Yes Khan, soon we will be at peace. Col Zevon here is aware of all that has gone before and with his help we are going to rid ourselves of this menace. I want you to return to the ship Captain, and make ready for our departure. Col, we have little time and I suggest that you call a meeting of your people. We also need to let the rest of my band into the redoubt." Zevon opened the com channel to the control room and snapped out a quickfire list of instructions to the bemused security officer. "You want me to open the outer gate and let a bunch of .. pirates into the base, are you sure?" he asked. "Correct, and I mean now, I want all personnel to the hanger deck now, no exceptions. Come on....Fear, I mean is that what I should call you?" "Is as good as any, Mouf is the enemy of Khan, and soon he will be gone. Flaminar are you still here ?" "I'm on my way Sir" The captain replied awkwardly. "Still not fully awake yet I guess" Zevon commented. "You seem pretty sure that we are going to win, is n't that where Khan went wrong before. "You forget I have 4000 years to plan his demise, brother has always been impatient, concerning himself with imposing his will on the weak. Over the years he has been aware of my long campaign to curtail his interference in the affairs of the human race. One by one his lieutenants have been eliminated and he has surrounded himself with the easily led. He has accumulated a vast stockpile of Bio-Metal and proposes to capture the last remaining mother ship, which you have guarded so well. He intends to modify the J'Hava from a ship of exploration, to a vessel of conquest." " "I see, I often wondered where bio-metal came from, it never occurred to me that it was 4000 year old wreckage." "Correct, Ironically Khan was responsible for man coming to Mars, I was too late in that respect. He used you as a vehicle to ensure his pasage to Mars. He knew that the J'Hava would be here somewhere. He is aware of us and with the help of his furry accomplices he will soon be paying us a visit, we must wrong-foot him by striking first."
Just as Fear and Zevon had a meeting of minds, so Omsa and Khan now knew each other's intent. Omsa was created to be the tool of Khan, he may have thought he was master of his own destiny, but all along, little by little Khan had imposed his will upon Smeggov's chief scientist as he slept. Omsa and his disciples were now motionless before Khan in the Great Hall of the Golden Shoo. "You know what we must do" Khan was addressing his assembled masses. "The Great Mouf has betrayed his birthright and seeks to subject us to his will. As I speak he has gathered the remnants of the American Unbelievers to his cause and soon will paying us what he believes a surprise visit. It is there intention to destroy Teh Source." "Blasphemy, No, Never, Death to them." The assembled masses shouted as one. Khan raised his hands and the crowd subsided. "Our friend Omsa has developed the most powerful Munkeepuke cannons yet and so he has delivered to us the instruments of Moufs defeat. All shall perish before us" "Are you ready Omsa" "We are master, our tanks are repaired and we are ready to destroy the last remnants of the unbelievers. The new vommo compound we have added to the MP cannons renders us invincible. They shall surely die." "And the Mu-poo, that is ready also?" "It is ready, I perfected the Dia-fliud formula before Zevon destroyed the captured base, we shall have our revenge. If Mu-vomm cannons are not enough, which is unlikely, then the Mu-poo mortars will be the end of them. "Excellent, I have sent a message to Mouf, he is to meet us on the plain of very pointy rocks at noon tomorrow, I do want them getting to close to Teh Source, just in case." Khan turned to the assembled masses. "Come let us prepare, nothing must be left to chance. Tomorrow we shall see the dawn of a new era" "We certainly shall" mused Omsa, "but one in which humans will do our bidding." Omsa was playing a dangerous game. He was gambling that Khan would be so preoccupied with keeping Fear's probes out of his mind he would n't detect Omsa's treachery. The unlikely allies set about their preparations for the coming battle.
Fear and Zevon had collected Smeggov on their way to the hanger deck, he was looking a lot better, but he still had a nervous look in his eyes. "Better Dimitri ?" asked Zevon. "I'm OK, this is Fear presumably?" "It is I, we are not out of danger yet Smeggov, Omsa lives and at this moment he and Khan are readying their forces. We are to meet on the plain of very pointy rocks tomorrow. Let me fill you in." Fear placed his hands on the tired Russians head and as before with Zevon he imparted the sum total of his knowledge. Smeggov looked better immediately, some of the careworn lines disappeared from his face and he stood erect again. The stoop of a broken man was shuffled off as Fear's handy-work smoothed away the deep wounds of loss and anguish. "Incredible, you really are that old, I see there is no time to lose." "It was necessary to give you both the full story, I feel that some of the men here might find it a little difficult to believe. Fortunately the J'Hava should dispel all doubts. I also want the Marshall here to relate to the assembly his experiences, I want everyone here to know that we are fighting not only for our survival here but also for the future of the human race." "You are sure then, Mars is finished?" "I am sure, and so is Khan, although he has n't told all of his followers yet. I shall explain fully at the briefing" They rounded the entrance to the hanger deck where the entire base was assembled, eager for news of coming evens." "Ok people, Listen up, this is important. I need you to listen very carefully to what we have to say. Tomorrow we are going to be facing Khan and his madmen on the plain of very pointy rocks. This is going to be a tough one. I want to introduce Marshall Smeggov firstly and he'll give you a first hand idea of what we can expect from these lunatics." Smeggov raised himself up to his full height and began talking in a clear voice, he knew he had to convince these people of the great danger they faced. He told of capture of the Russian base and how he alone had been allowed to live. He had been made to witness the production of the Mu-puke and its lethal effects. Those chimps that were not of the warrior elite were pressed into Vomm production. Vomm was the essential catalyst that made Mu-puke so deadly. Scores of hypnotised chimps were confined to the Vomm Chambers (a bit like the detention cells in Quake 2) where they spent ten hours a day producing the deadly fluid. They sat in long rows regurgitating a puree of bananas and IT manuals which they had been force fed. They is only so much IT crap even a chimp can stomach before it has to empty the contents of it's stomach. The noisome fluid, replete with the magical mutant gastric juices that would eventually make it so deadly. From the great Vomm baths it then passed to the holding tanks where it was stored in isolation from the Hydro-Smegmachloride activating agent. Only when these two agent were brought together as they left the twin barrels of the MP cannons. Once mixed this stuff melted everything in a heartbeat. The Mu-Poo agent worked in a similar fashion only it was produced by the simultaneous consumption of copious amounts warm beer, Worcester Source, Madras and Jalfrezi. This also produced a lethal gas when deployed in addition to the hull melting properties. The life expectancy of a producer chimp was measured in weeks Zevon stepped up next spoke to the hushed crowd. "This goo of Omsa's has been dropped all over the place in his frantic efforts to take control of the planet. Several areas of the mantel are severely damaged, it is so are thin in places we can expect renewed volcanic activity. The greatest damage has occurred around the area known as "Teh Source" Omsa has developed a new, more deadly weapon of mass destruction know as Mu-Poo." Zevon went on to describe the nature of the new threat. "This crap has seeped down to the lower levels of the caverns under the bay of Flamm. At this point there is a convergence of tectonic plates which have been motionless for centuries. As a result of the constant wodgering activities in and around Teh Source coupled with this terminal rock melting the whole area is now about to split Frunt Buttem Canyon wide open. There is sufficient residual core heat remaining in Mars to destroy the planet when the next Wodgering takes place two days from now." The crowd erupted in protest "What happens to us?" was the universal cry. "I'll let Fear here tell you where we are going, we have him to thank for a chance to escape" Fear explained how the J'Hava came to be at the base and how Kahn also knew of it's existence. "We must defeat him tomorrow or the future will be lost to us. If my brother prevails he will take the ship and embark on a new voyage of menace. The people of Earth will be doomed." "When the planet breaks up, because of the location and nature of the initial split, it is likely that the majority of the debris will be expelled outwards towards the outer planets. The bad news is that a large chunk of the planet will be left intact, probably about the size of Earth's Moon. The orbit of this remnant will then start to very slowly decay and in about 3 to 5 years from know will cross the Earth,s orbit. We don't know yet if they will collide, and we wont know until at least a year after the initial blast. "As a result we must take the J'hava to Earth and in the time allotted to us prepare for the worst. The ship will make it to Earth in a couple of days, not a year as your ships do. As soon as we arrive we must make preparations for the construction of more ships. We can't take the whole planet with us, but we can give it our best shot. "All of you here are experts in you field and we are going to need you in the task ahead, to that end your passage, to who knows where, is assured. We could not expect you to perform the tasks ahead if you had to resign yourselves to leaving your families behind, so we shall take them too. At present there are about 4000 places spare on the J'hava, so don't worry about anyone being left behind. As soon as we get to Earth we must start building as many ships as we can, we have the technology to synthesise bio-metal and the means to instruct the people of earth in the construction and piloting of motherships" "If Khan wins tomorrow then all this will never happen. He will just take the J'hava and leave the Earth, and all it's people to die. We must win." "Would n't be simpler to strap a damn great V8 on the planet and push it outta the way" asked Brum. Fear interrupted the boo's of the crowd, who were in no mood for jokes. "Well, now there's a thought, first of all though, we have to win." "Yes." Said Zevon, "First we have to win." Index of Episodes