Collective Minds

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Chapter 22

The main hangar had been fortified with two decommissioned bombers that had been moved into position to barricade the doors. The old planes shimmered in the soft light of the torpedoes that were raining down, all striking in the vicinity of the runway and the base. Hundreds of them hit, each making a small impact crater.

Up from the craters rose the fearsome aliens. They looked exactly as they had in the original attack, with dull gray armor, green eyes, and the ominous cannon on the arm. One by one they began moving toward the hangar doors. Slowly their numbers increased until there were roughly a hundred grouped together and marching forward.

The lead alien lifted its arm and took aim, and fired a single burst at the first plane, then the second. Both war birds exploded into fiery mayhem, nobly ending their careers. As the aliens watched them burn, all were oblivious to the small lawn sprinklers that had emerged from the tarmac at their feet.

The sprinklers spurted to life, spraying a foul smelling liquid that completely covered the aliens from head to toe. The creatures seemed unconcerned by the fact that they were being doused in elephant piss saturated with testosterone, as they looked at the disgusting goo dripping from their armor. It seemed harmless enough.

As the sprinklers stopped, and the pressure from the nozzles died down, there was loud mechanical sound from behind the alien garrison. The noise got louder, causing the creatures to turn. The very ground had opened behind them like the lid of a coffin, raising a hundred foot long section of concrete tarmac up to a forty five degree angle.

There was a collective moment of silence among the invaders, followed by loud screaming and hollering. A hundred soldiers came pouring out of the hole, led by Wallace and Hannibal, charging at full throttle. Last out were three gigantic bull elephants, all armored for war as well, with DaVincium plates covering their vital areas. Each beast had sharp armored tips that covered the end three feet of their tusks, and jagged claws strapped to their feet that looked like open bear traps. They roared forward behind the humans, causing the ground to rumble and shake.

The aliens, caught completely off guard, had no concept of what was happening or what they were up against. Men with swords seemed so primitive, as did elephants. The short distraction proved fatal for several of the bewildered enemies, as the troops began hacking them to pieces. Alien arms and heads began flying off, as the DaVincium swords for both teams proved their might.

Chaos erupted as the alien invasion force began to fire their weapons at the troops. The green bursts began to hit the soldiers, whose armor lit up momentarily then went cold again. None fell or were injured as the fire fight ensued. Several soldiers opted to return fire with their own cannons, which all functioned exactly as planned. The green return fire vaporized some of the aliens when it struck them, causing them to shriek in pain as they died. Others that were hit exploded apart into pieces and toppled helplessly.

Hannibal hacked and slashed like Hercules. He was an incredible fighter, whirling and ducking with superior grace and agility. Aliens rushed at him, firing desperately, not realizing they were only making him stronger. One stepped toe to toe with him, and tried to grab the mighty General, as he leaped out of the way. The alien suddenly howled in pain as the tusk of an elephant shot through the front of its chest, spraying black blood that looked like tar. The animal thrashed the dying creature back and forth like a rag doll, then angrily tossed it fifty feet in the air. The urine on the aliens had put the elephants into a frenzy, and they were bound and determined to kill anyone that smelled like a competitor in the rut.

The fight was on, as the humans and the aliens collided in what was to be a battle worthy of praise in the halls of Valhalla. Aliens died by the sword, by the tusk, by trampling, and by fire. There was little they could do but scatter, the irony of which, compared to the first attack, was beautiful.

Off in the distance the doors to the underground bunker that housed the Franklin Cannon were open , and visible through the darkness that blanketed the desert. The shallow light from the hidden room protruded through the blackness, with the tip of the cannon sticking just far enough out of the ground to be noticeable.

Another group of aliens marched toward the super weapon, which sat recklessly unprotected. It seemed like a sitting duck for the group, roughly fifty or sixty in all, as they crept forward silently.

As they neared the opening, all the creatures were oblivious to the human troops quietly climbing out of foxholes behind them. The invaders had walked right over the top of the tomahawk wielding troopers, carelessly focused on crippling the weapon that had destroyed their cruisers.

The aliens lined up to sync their attack, intending to fire on the giant weapon all at once in an effort to disable it. As they readied their weapons, chaos broke out from behind as many were hacked in the back of the skull, killing them instantly. Screams rang out and black blood sprayed everywhere, as Geronimo and his crew began slaughtering the unsuspecting wretches.

Bad guys scrambled desperately to find defensive positions, but the barren desert landscape offered none. It was open combat, and their weapons were useless against the axe wielding savages. Enemy fire began to fly in all directions as the aliens used what they had to no avail. Geronimo and his troops absorbed the firepower, and shot it back with lethal results.

The fight raged on as Geronimo himself hacked and blasted his way through the barrage. One alien ran at him, trying to grasp him, causing the Apache fighter to narrowly roll out of the way. He stood back to his feet a few meters away, and perfectly heaved one of his hawks at the creature, striking it between the eyes. The axe buried to the handle, as blood sprayed out like a shaken bottle of cola. The alien died before it hit the ground as Geronimo ran to retrieve his hatchet.

As he pulled it from the wound, the helmet tore off the head of the attacker. For the first time, the aliens were revealed. Their faces were blank: no ears, nose, or mouth. Only two charcoal black eyes, on pasty white skin, with a small tuft of what looked like overcooked black spaghetti noodles for hair.

Geronimo stared for a moment, then grabbed the hair and yanked the lifeless head backwards. With one clean cut from his tomahawk, he claimed his first scalp in over a year. The Apache warrior proudly hoisted the gooey black mess over his head, whooping a loud war cry. The rest of his troops raised their weapons in triumph, whooping and hollering back to their leader in unison.

Back on the tarmac, Wallace, Hannibal, and the troops were still locked in combat with the larger force. The aliens had suffered heavy casualties, and were still falling like flies. But the human soldiers were beginning to tire. Their chests heaved, and their movements slowed. They’d done their duty, but were massively outnumbered.

One soldier reared back clumsily to swing his massive broadsword, which was swatted from his hand by the alien he was paired against. The creature grabbed the soldier by the throat, and lifted him off his feet. Desperate to breathe, the solider clutched at the hand of his attacker trying to pry it loose. With a single, loud ‘SNAP’, the trooper fell limp.

Wallace witnessed the ordeal and looked around. His men were played out, and doing their best, but began to fall in similar fashion to their comrade. The invaders had few options for stopping their opponents, but their sluggish, lethargic movement made them easy pickings.

“Don’t let them touch you!,” Wallace hollered to his men. “Stay away from them!”

The soldiers did their best to heed the Scotsman’s warning, but the ruthless aliens began to seize the advantage. The tides began to turn in the fight as Wallace watched his soldiers getting decimated. Hannibal continued to fight like a bulldog amidst the slaughter, but he too saw that the fight was beginning to falter.

The two Generals locked eyes, and knew it was time to pull out. Two of the elephants had finally been killed by the alien fighters, with the remaining one still fighting relentlessly. Hannibal ran to it, and pulled a cable that was dangling from the top of one of the armor plates. A rope ladder unfurled, allowing he and Wallace to ascend onto the back of the huge beast..

“RETREAT!,” yelled Hannibal, “TO THE HANGAR! FOLLOW ME!”

Hannibal spun his sword in a circle after calling for the fallback, then kicked the elephant hard in the flanks. The animal roared, as the Greek General yanked a set of reigns that were fastened to the top of it’s head. It tromped off toward the hangar, as Wallace held on tight and watched the remaining troops file in and follow. The aliens were close behind, but were slowing down as well, as the entire line made it’s way across the tarmac.

Back inside the lab Kat paced uncontrollably, dying to know what was happening outside. Knowing that the orbital attack was on standby with alien troops on the ground, and there was little more to see in space for the moment, she made an executive decision.

“Xiang, kill the feed from orbit and jack into the perimeter cameras outside,” she ordered. “Stream them to Dr. Hawking’s laptop.”

Xiang began typing frantically and made it happen. Seconds later the screen on professor Hawking’s computer flashed, and cut from the mother ships to the battle raging outside. Kat saw Hannibal and Wallace retreating, with less than half of their men following, all pursued by four times as many aliens.

“My god,” she gasped. “There’s so many.”

Things went from bad to worse, as the boomerang shaped fighter crafts began to descend in formation behind the ground troops. Alien firepower began to rain down on the soldiers and the base, igniting massive explosions in every direction.

Hannibal and Wallace made it across the tarmac in a hurry, as the mighty beast they rode charged through the flaming wreckage at the hangar doors. The angry elephant battered into the flames fearlessly, dropping it’s head and powering through. Without slowing down, its massive skull smashed right into the hangar doors, signaling the next wave of the attack.

The doors flew open, and out charged Khan and his men. Instead of a full on assault however, the troops all formed a defensive perimeter in a straight line, protecting their exhausted comrades. They stood shoulder to shoulder, perfectly poised with their weapons, creating an airtight barricade.

Alien fire began to hit Khan’s commandos, who all stood their ground. None fired back or even flinched, confusing the alien assault force enough that they stopped to assess the situation. Out of the darkness in the hangar behind them rolled two mechanized anti-aircraft guns made of DaVincium, manned by Jack and General Irons. The massive cannons had two huge tractor wheels in the front, which the two armored soldiers stood between like a Segway and operated from. There was a third, small stabilizing wheel in the back of the triangular drive profile, that allowed for steering and maneuverability while firing. Each gunner stood behind a large plate that shielded them from incoming fire, with just enough of an opening to see through for good shot placement.

Without a word the two gunners began pulverizing the aliens on the ground from close range. The platforms had been plugged into the Franklin Cannon’s conduit when the mother ship fired initially, which charged them with enormous amounts of alien energy. Khan’s men stood fast as the blue beams whizzed over their heads like comets, disintegrating the invasion force in bright flashes. The screeching attackers tried to scatter, but there was nowhere to run.

“Stay after the ground troops, Jack,” yelled General Irons, his voice distorted from his mask. “I’ll start hitting the fighters. After you get em’ all, come back me up!”

Irons roasted his tires, cuing Khan and his men to part enough for him to get through the line. The hardened General tore off down the runway, firing at the swarming surface crafts as he rumbled away. Jack stayed in position and kept after the enemies on the tarmac, which were falling fast under his massive barrage.

The aliens began desperately firing at Jack, trying to distract him while they sought cover. Multiple bursts hit his shielding, prompting him touch the earpiece in his helmet.

“Ben!,” he yelled into the mike, “I just took some fire. Did the shots power the cannon at all?” Jack heard some loud static, then Franklin’s voice coming back across the airwaves. “Yes,” answered Ben, “The meter is climbing slowly. Try to draw more fire. General Irons disconnected when he left the hangar. You’re the only source of energy I’m still tapped into.”

Jack realized the amount of energy it took to power Ben Franklin’s death ray, and he knew a few shots here and there weren’t going to be sufficient. He also knew his power was going to run out eventually, and that he needed a solution to both problems. Pondering for a moment as he looked at the carnage of alien corpses in front of him, the answer presented itself.

“Wallace, Hannibal!,” he yelled to the two winded Generals. Both leaders ran to Jack’s side, ready and willing to charge back into hell. “When I give the word, and Khan’s men charge, take all of your soldiers and start bringing in as many of those arm cannons off the dead aliens as you can carry. Hit my shielding as hard and as fast as you can. Ben needs power downstairs, and we’re gonna give it to him.”

Both Generals understood, and ran to their men to mobilize. “KHAN!,” Jack yelled. The Mongol General turned, as Jack drug his finger across his throat, then gave the ‘go’ signal. Khan pulled his mask down, and barked a single, metallic command in Chinese.

His troops marched forward in a single straight line, the cadence of their heels clicking in perfect unison. The aliens had suffered heavy casualties, as the platoon stepped over corpses and pools of black blood. The barbarian General barked another single order, and his troops stopped. Aliens were closing in around them from all sides, as the last order echoed from Khan’s mask. His troops were finally let off the chain, and began the slaughter.

Their training and the range advantage of the staff weapons made the show they put on spectacular. Khan’s men whirled and spun, decapitating and dismembering the opponents at record speed. Khan himself wasted no time, slicing and dicing like the master he was.

Jack watched the barbarian horde do their job, while Hannibal, Wallace, and their men ran out and did theirs. Quickly, and all too easily, they began hacking off the hand cannons of their enemies, racing back into the hangar and shooting at Jack’s shielding. Soldiers began bringing in two at a time, laying down a solid line of fire for the DaVincium sponge to soak up.

Ben Franklin watched his monitor, which suddenly began to climb at a geometric rate. “Oh, mercy me,” he said, surprised at the change. It took only a few minutes to top out again, as he typed in the coordinates for one of the remaining mother ships. The chubby operator punched in his last commands, causing the cannon to power up and fire. He watched the monitor as another ship exploded violently, celebrating quietly with clenched fists. Madame Curie looked out through the roof and watched the fire in the sky.

As the light in the stars died down, Curie gasped as a figure looked in from above. The room was dimly lit, and she could scarcely tell if it was human or alien. DaVinci sprang to his feet, clinging to the shield, which he put between himself, Curie, and the assailant. Ben Franklin produced a spotlight from under his seat, and shined it upward trying to get a better look.

The beam illuminated the suit, which was human, as the fighter raised his mask. It was Geronimo, with his war paint dripping from sweat. The Apache warrior looked to his comrades, then raised a handful of bloody alien scalps, followed by a long war whoop. Just as quickly he was gone again, back to the fight.

Marie Curie, though startled, was relieved. The savagery of the warrior had taken her breath away, but for the first time in her life she felt the adrenaline that only came from the thrill of the hunt. It was a far cry from tea by the fireside, and her studies, and everything she was accustomed to. But she liked it.

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