Chapter 18: Set Up
“Well, this looks like a good spot.” Vadam exclaimed as he stepped through the “newly” made door on the second floor of the burning arena complex.
The charred floor creaked under Vadam’s weight but didn’t bother him in the slightest. He knew the arena was heavily reinforced that it could withstand the extreme damage his squadron had put it through, certainly better than the small city it rested in. Though it had taken some damage from indirect hits it was still standing with the only real damage being small holes all over its walls and ceiling. Vadam had to step around a few holes to make it his way to the edge of the balcony and by glancing down he could see the large arena area, or what was left of it. They had to destroy a good portion of the stands to make room to dock their ships since the arena was currently serving as base of operations.
Vadam barely gave then damage around him a thought, it was the first moment he had to relax since they left the Xulon and he was taking it. Though he was only taking a few moments, mostly to observe the damage his squadron caused to the local area, it was one he intended to enjoy. He even had his flight jacket unbuttoned, exposing his muscular chest to the oxygen rich air that the planet provided. Even the strictest and best Commanders needed a moment to themselves and he had found it as he came to the edge of the balcony, giving him an excellent view of the area that had once been the habitat of many humans.
“Ah, nothing like the smell of burning flesh and rubble in the morning.” Vadam said as he stared out at the area before him.
Vadam lowered his gaze allowing his four eyes to the freshly destroyed city, or what was left of it. His elevated position on the balcony gave him the perfect view of the destruction his squadron had caused. Everywhere he looked was decimated buildings, blown up and burning vehicles, and burning trees as far as his eyes could see. Dozens of craters caused by the heavy Xulons explosives and plasma rounds were visible that destroyed the roads and crumpled the bridges. Though none of the buildings or houses were large none were spared from the destruction as even the smallest structure had taken at least one hit. Though squinting, his four eyes combined offering him near binocular vision; he could make out dozens upon dozens of bodies blasted to pieces.
The best thing for Vadam was the smell of rotting flesh combined with the smoke that nearly blotted the sky. There was so much smoke that the sun was having a hard time shining through making it look like a cloudy and rainy day. Vadam was certain it was going to start raining any moment but hoped it wouldn’t as that would end the delicious smell of burning flesh. Though most species would be repulsed at the smell to Xulons it was like sniffing out fleshing grilled steak. Being an almost strictly carnivorous species Xulons feasted on any meat they could get their hands on, even if it was from other sentient species, though they drew the line at cannibalism. Vadam was certainly experiencing it in that moment, the sheer intensity of the smell driving him crazy and the sight of multiple bodies nearby only amplifying it.
“No Vadam, do not indulge in your instincts.” Vadam mumbled to himself as he shook his head. “You are a Commander and have a task to complete. Complete it first than indulge.”
Vadam swallowed his desire and turned his gaze away from the bodies, instead focusing of the city skyline, what remained of it which was nothing more than rubble. Observing the ruins, and much there was, made his admire how quickly his squadron had caused it. When the Xulon squadron arrived at their destination, at least the general area their tracker told them the Zordons had crashed, they began looking for a place to set up a base of operations. Their ships needed some work after the one sided fight with the humans and they required a resting area along with a place they could operate. One of the younger pilots spotted a human city settled, as she put it, in the middle of nowhere. Vadam was the first to comment that calling it a city would be a major overstatement, stating that their smaller carrier ships are larger than that city. However, he ordered them to head over and search for a place to set up where they quickly found a large sports arena that displayed some strange State Football symbols. Once he gave the orders to claim the arena and area for them his squadron went nuts and destroyed the area, blasting everything in sight. It only took a few moments for them to burn the buildings and area to the ground, essentially turning the area into a destroyed ghost town.
As Vadam continued to overlook the area he couldn’t help but ponder how many pathetic human lives they had ended in such a short time. He remembered seeing a sign as they flew over the city on the initial approach that his ship’s auto translator stated fifty thousand residents. Though he assumed that to be a rough estimate he wondered how many of them were still alive. His men being extremely thorough in their bombardment, making sure to scorch every inch of pavement and grass, made him seriously doubt there were any still alive. He assumed there were a couple survivors but was certain they were in deep hiding or dying. Either way it didn’t matter to him, his squadron had managed to successfully set up an area of operations in the semi-destroyed arena and that had been running smoothly so far.
Vadam was suddenly snapped out of his admiring train of thought of the sound of a loud clanging beneath him. It was so sudden that he began frantically looking around like an idiot till he realized it came from the arena where the ships were being stored. Given a few of the pilots were busy running maintenance he mentally kicked himself for being shocked by such a loud noise that was inevitable. He suspected the stress of leading a squadron on an honor mission was getting to him but still he knew there was no excuse for being so jumpy.
Vadam mumbled to himself as he walked of the nearest hole in the ceiling where he could look through into the arena. He had to rest on his lower long arms and lean forward to see into the arena where he could make out a few of their ships stationed and a single pilot running maintenance one of the ships. Due to the height difference, with him being on the balcony, he had trouble determining what exactly fly the pilot was doing though he assumed it had it do with charging the ships.
“Pilot, how quickly before the ships are refueled?” Vadam shouted down at the pilot who immediately stopped what he was doing and looked up at Vadam.
“Soon Commander, the chargers are running smoothly and we will have all the ships fully charged.” The pilot answered back as he patted the large charger boxes.
“Good, keep me posted on the progress of the ships.”
“Will do Commander, as soon as the ships are charged I will contact you.”
Vadam nodded as he turned away and looked back towards the destroyed area. He didn’t need to constantly check on his subordinate as he knew he would accomplish his tasks. That level of faith existed in all of his pilots as they carried out their various tasks to set up the arena as an operating base. Though the arena was certainly big enough for them to not only store their ships but also effectively operate from it had some issues but nothing they could not work around. Those who were not patrolling the area were busy getting everything situated setting you equipment or conducting maintenance on the ships. Not one of the twenty pilots was just standing around, other than the three that were assigned to be visual lookouts and Vadam was happy to see that. The knowledge that he had complete confidence in all his subordinates to accomplish their tasks not only eased his mind but made him quite confident in their assignment.
Despite the ease Vadam felt observing his pilots running around with a strong sense of dedication and confidence he was a bit uncomfortable just standing around himself. Though the pilots certainly didn’t need him looking over their shoulders he was certainly not happy just observing. Even the beauty of the Destruction they caused the city didn’t ease him anxiety. He was not the kind of Xulon to just stand around, even for a Commander. Due to the anxiety he felt just standing around, something he always had problems with in the past, his fingers on all four hands starting to fidget. Even the snort fingers on his long arms, that he had resting on the floor as his upper arms were crossed under his chest, were tapping on the floor making a loud scratching noise. His desire to get things done prevented him from just taking in the beauty, making him have to move around and end his moment of contemplation.
“Well, might as well head inside, cannot leave the soldier on their own for too long.” Vadam muttered before jumping off the balcony to the floor a short distance below.
It was only a short fall and the Vadam’s strong legs combined with his long lower arms made the impact significantly low for him. He barely flinched as he landed on the debris covered ground and quickly recovered. With a quick spin he found himself standing at one of the many entrances to the arena, in his case the only one that was still standing. Since it as the main entrance to the arena, or Vadam guessed it was given it was the biggest and led to what he assumed was the main operating arena, they left it relatively undamaged. The other entrances had all been destroyed, essentially blocked so no one could enter, thus preventing anyone from sneaking up on them. The main entrance was already guarded by two pilots, one operating a heavy, defensive machine gun while the other possessed a standard plasma rifle with a heavy launcher within reach.
The two guards were on high alert as Vadam nodded and approached the main entrance. Seeing as they hadn’t fully secured the area they had to be on high alert and Vadam was glad to see they still were. He gave them a nod as he walked past them and they responded by saluting with their short upper arms. No word was said and none was needed as he pushed the front door open that was mostly shattered due to it being glass. He was surprised the door didn’t fall to pieces as he pushed it open, though broken glass did fall on his exposed arm but he just shrugged. Due to Xulon hides being quote durable the glass barely made a mark while on nearly any other alien race would have gotten their arm shredded.
Okay, mental note, have someone clean up all the glass. Vadam thought as he entered the main area of the arena, looking down at the floor and saw that it was covered with glass. It will be s major nuisance if we just leave it.
Vadam pushed the mental note to the back of his head as he looked up and saw the busy area in front of him. He was a bit caught off guard to see how much they have already set up despite having just arrived. They already had most of the terminals set up and operating, and manned by an experienced pilot. Due to the size of each terminal, even the smallest one being bigger than a large dining table, he couldn’t help but be surprised at their progress. Though three were already set up, side by side, they already covered a big portion of the area, and they had three more left while working on setting up a forth. Since the ships were stored in the court which was just barely large enough to hold them all, not counting the two ships that patrolled the area around them. If the Xulon ships had been any bigger it would not have been possible to store them inside. As a result they were forced to set up the operations center in the main gathering area.
“Soldiers, are we set up enough to operate?” Vadam shouted as he entered the room, causing all progress to come to a halt.
“Indeed sir.” One of the higher ranking pilots responded before anyone else could. “We have enough terminals operational to monitor the area and keep contact with the fleet.”
“Very good, keep up the good work.” Vadam confidently replied and everyone resumed their work.
Vadam held his upper lower arms behind his back and he walked towards the operating terminals, carefully observing each pilot as they worked. The pilots barely acknowledged his presence as he walked past them, instead focusing on their task. Since they were rushing to get everything set up and operational Vadam was glad none were taking the time to salute or even speak to him other than the occasional nod. Those operating the already set up terminals seemed to be absorbed in their work to the point they probably didn’t even realize he was near them. Due to how quickly and effective toy they were operating be would have been surprised if the fleet already knew of their current progress. He was certain they hadn’t gotten far on tracking down the Zordons as most of the terminals used for that hadn’t been set up yet. So far, from what Vadam could see, they had communication and security procedures operational and that was a great start to an operation that was going smoothly so far; almost too smoothly if Vadam was being honest with himself.
“Uh sir?” A low ranking pilot that was operating the fleet communication terminal, and one of the few females in the squadron, spoke up as Vadam walked past him. “Do you think we should approach this more stealthily?”
Vadam stopped in his tracks, turned to the young females, and chuckled as he shook his head. “Probably but it certainly would not be as fun. As Xulons we have to cause destruction everywhere we go, especially to a new world.” Vadam gave the pilot a serious look. “We also have to make sure that the inhabitants not just know our presence but also our power. This way we show the inhabitants not only what happens what messes with us but also install fear in them.”
The pilot looked up at Vadam with a questionable expression but quickly relaxed and shrugged. “I guess you got a point. Other than destroying the area we have not had any problems since that human squadron showed up. I swear we have made them afraid of us already.”
“That is because we have; otherwise we would have experienced a counterattack already.” Vadam replied as he stood up to his full height. “You see young pilot . . .” Vadam began speaking only for someone nearly to shout, getting his attention and causing him to stop speaking.
“COMMANDER, WE GOT A PROBLEM!” Vadam suddenly heard the lookout pilot shout from his elevated position.
Vadam turned his head almost a full one-eighty degrees, thanks to the way their necks were structured it was quite easy, in the direction of the lookout pilot. The pilot was standing on top of the nearby wall that Vadam knew the elevation gave him a perfect view of the area around them. If anyone was going to see something coming it was him. Since they hadn’t gotten the opportunity to set up security drones Vadam was forced to rely on pilot lookouts to survey and observe the area. The pilot was positioned so high up that Vadam had to squint to see him as he waved his four arms wildly to get his attention.
“WHAT IS IT PILOT?” Vadam shouted back.
“We have enemies fast approaching Commander, quite a few by the look of things.” The pilot shouted back.
Vadam gazed up at the pilot a bit surprised to hear it. He expected a response force to show up at some point but not that quickly. He was certain someone Zordons were not the ones the lookout pilot saw. That let humans as the perpetrators and he didn’t know whether to be frustrated or overjoyed. Having just wiped out a human squadron he felt a little annoyed but his bloodlust was not quite satisfied.
“Hold up, I will be right there.” Vadam shouted as he headed towards a nearby elevator pad.
Giving the destruction they caused Vadam was glad they brought the elevator pads with them. They were essentially square, flat platforms that appeared to be nothing more floating platforms. The pads were large enough for four average Xulons to stand comfortably on and lift to extreme heights they were set to effortlessly. The underside was a propulsion based system that allows the pad to carry individuals where they set the destination.
The elevator pad Vadam stepped on was set to carry individuals to the lookout pilot’s location and carried him up quickly to his destination where he found himself out in the open air again standing on a ledge overlooking the area around him again. From that position he could see down the street, what was left of it and that made him slightly smile. That is, till he squinted his four eyes and saw the outline of a large force approaching from the distance. It took quite a bit of squinting for him to make out the force consisted of dozens of military vehicles ranging from troop carriers to tanks and attack vehicles. If he had to guess the force consisted of enough vehicles and soldiers to make a small army though it was hard to tell at that distance. Vadam was certain any other force would be quite hesitant to respond to such a large, approaching force, but to him and the Xulons it was almost laughable.
“Ah, appears to local cannon fodder have arrived.” Vadam chuckled before communicating to the rest of his subordinates. “Let’s show them what Xulon firepower is capable of.”
Vadam grinned as he proudly stood up to his full height, carefully observing the approaching human forces. He crossed his upper short arms as he offer heard his subordinates moving around quickly to defend. Though they certainly had air superiority only two of the ships were in the air and it would take too long to get the rest up resulting in them having to rely on their ground firepower. Given they primarily not a ground unit most of the pilots had very little experience fighting on the ground and they were limited in their firepower in that area.
Despite that lack of firepower Vadam did not lose confidence. The fact that there was a weapons pile behind him, containing multiple heavy and explosive weaponry played a role though he didn’t reach for any of it. The multiple pilots that ran to his position took advantage of the stock pile, each grabbing a weapon and jumping behind cover. The confused looks he got from his pilots nearly made him chuckle but he kept himself composed.
“Commander, are you not going to get behind cover?” A pilot shouted. “They are getting close and will probably open fire at us soon.”
“No need when we can end it before then.” Vadam confidently replied, causing a few of the pilots to look around at each other confusedly, till he messaged the two pilots flying over them. “Pilots, demoralize them.” Vadam ordered with a chilling tone.
“It will be our pleasure Commander.” Both pilots immediately replied.
Vadam turned his head to see the two pilots way off in the distance banking in their direction. Though they were just specks at the moment he knew within moments they would all over the humans like insects on feces. He watched with amusement as the pilots positioned themselves together and aligned their flight path at the human forces. They wasted no time in accelerating towards their target in a bombing formation with the intent of compete annihilation. Given the human forces appeared to be closely packed together Vadam was certain all it would take is a single pass for them to be wiped out. The only thing that would be needed afterwards was to send in a small team for cleanup.
Vadam turned his gaze back towards the human forces and his vision picked up on unusual movement that caught his attention. By squinting he was able to make out what appeared to be a couple of large truck-like vehicles with large launchers on their backs. At first he didn’t know what to think till he saw the rucks stop and the launch turn in the direction of the fast approaching Xulon fighters. He quickly realized what was about to happen but before his mandibles to speak the launchers fired a insane quantity of missiles that shook the trucks and covered the area in smoke.
The Xulon fighters were quick to respond and banked their fighters away from the missiles and begin evasive maneuvers. Both quickly performed one-eighty degree turns as the missiles closed it. However, missiles appeared to have lock on features similar to the ones they faced earlier as they tracked the Xulon ships as they tried to evade. Thankfully, the Xulon ships were too fast and maneuverable to hit allowing both to escaped without a scratch.
“Oh, looks like they brought some answers to our ships.” Vadam muttered as he chuckled in amusement. “Our ships will not be able to get close with those trucks defending them.”
“Than what do we do Commander?” A pilot spoke up from behind Vadam that caught him off guard as he didn’t realize he was speaking out loud.
“Yeah Commander, if they get close to us than we will be in serious trouble.”
Vadam shook his head. “No, it will be an even and worthy fight. It will at least provide us with a challenge we have not had in a long time.” Vadam let out a shrug. “Unfortunately, we do not have the time for that kind of fight, so I guess we have to end this the easy way.”
The pilots looked at Vadam confused and more than once scratched their heads. Each having known Vadam for quite some time, even the most recent recruits, hearing him speak in such a manner caught them off guard. They knew he loved a good fight and the current situation presented one. So, for him to suggest an easy method to solve the problem was quite perplexing for them.
Instead of waiting for one of them to ask questions Vadam made his way over to the weapons pile near them and grabbed the weapon best suited for the job at hand. His two upper short arms grabbed a weapon designated the Area Destruction Launcher. At first the launcher appeared to be just a long tube with four handles that required all four of an Xulons arms to operate. However, the back half of the tube was where the power source was positioned which happened to be a highly unstable energy source. Through building up energy the power source could harness enough energy that went it went critical could result in a massive explosion that unleashed intense, destructive energy in all directions. The launcher was designed in such a way that the tube propelled the ball of energy forward similar to a rocket and whenever it struck something it detonated. Though it was a dangerous weapon, especially given the range of the explosion that could result in friendly fire, it was a common weapon used by Xulon ground forces.
“Hm, this should do it.” Vadam chucked as he lifted the launcher.
Using three of his four arms Vadam sat the launcher on his shoulder as his fourth turned on the aiming system that was a small, rectangular screen. Using his short, supper left arm he was able to dial in and easily see his target. He was able to see so much of his target hat he could see scratch in the truck’s paint. Carefully positioning the target reticle on the primary truck, with the other one barely visible in his screen, before squeezing the trigger resulting in an aggressive recoil that he was expecting. He watched as if in slow motion as the energy projectile flew towards its target and hit dead on. As soon as the projectile hit it detonated in a massive explosion that expanded, encompassing the area the human forces occupied in dark blue energy. The explosion only lasted a second but when it cleared Vadam could see through the screen that it had vaporized everything in its path, nearly completely destroying the human forces other than a few soldiers and a couple of vehicles.
“Now that is explosion.” Vadam confidently said with a evil grin before picking up the communication pad and messaging the two pilots. “Finish them off.” Vadam ordered as his mandibles formed a sinister grin.
“YES COMMANDER!” Vadam’s subordinates shouted in unison.
Vadam watched in awe as the two Xulon starships, who apparently had seen the explosion, accelerated down towards what remained of the human forces in a bombing run maneuver. They moved so quickly that they were hard to see before opening fire on the human wreckage without a shred of mercy. Once the fighters were close enough they unleashed their atomic bombs that flew with incredible accuracy right into the middle of the human forces. The twin explosions that resulted lit up the area, throwing debris and bodies in every direction. Vadam found himself laughing as he counted at least five human soldiers flying through the air as if they weighed nothing, the two Xulons standing near him were laughing along with him, pointing at the flying humans before they slammed back to the ground.
Because of the double, massive, fiery explosions, absolutely blowing up any around them, Vadam was certain nothing of the human forces remained. Due to all the smoke and flames blocking his view he couldn’t be completely certain but he didn’t need to see. Knowing the professionalism of his pilots, and devastating power of their weaponry, he could say with certainty that the human force was decimated. If the was anyone still alive they were probably in extreme amounts of pain or hiding. It didn’t matter anyway as Vadam could see his two pilots making U-turns to come back for a second bombing run. Though unnecessary it brought a smile to Vadam’s mandibles to see the precision and dedication of his subordinates in decimating a target.
“Huh, I thought they would have put up more of a fight.” Vadam muttered to himself with a big grin as he sat the launcher down. “Finding those Zordons is going to be easier than we thought if this is the best the humans can throw at us.” Vadam looked up to space. “As long as the Zordon fleet does not show up destroying the humans will be a complete ease.”