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Apocalypse Now

Interlude Two

By David bar Elias


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Royal Manhattan Command
New York, British Empire

October 9, 2004

Skyscrapers had originated in China during the latter part of the 19th century; the Chinese had discovered that multi-storeyed buildings made a great way to preserve farmland and to house more people...and business, on the side. The innovation had spread to the other empires of the world over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, to varying densities.

Manhattan had once possessed the tallest buildings in British North America. Now, those buildings-the Mercantile Exchange Tower, the William Pitt Building, the Hanover Tower-were the barriers that formed the Slaughter Pens, which hopefully would see the yellow blood of the Posleen pool to the extent that it would look as though all of the Empire's billionaires had melted down their bullion for a merry dip. The barriers-some skyscrapers, some artificial construction-surrounded the island of Manhattan, and the smaller cities of Brooklyn, Staten City, Queens, and the Bronx. The Imperial Hanover-class Supertanks, manned by the brave souls of the 90th Armoured Division, overlooked the now-abandoned countryside of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

The Headquarters for the 188th Heavy Infantry Division were at the Stock Exchange (its members relocated to British Luna for the time being). First Lieutenant Liam Nuttall was engaged in a typically rough sleep at his crowded desk, located on the floor of what had once housed the best stock brokers of British North America. In his dream, his great-granddad was pouring down his disgust at his "weaknesses"-"You're weak boy! You'd have fainted like a little prissy at the Battle o'Iceland! What, so a bunch of space centaurs are commin' streight for ya lad?! GOOD!!!! If I'ad lived long enough to be rejuvenated, I'd 'ave slapped 'em back 'alf-way across the Milky Wah! Don' forget boy, a Nuttall has the best slap of any gent around, an' don' ya forget it!"

"I won' great-grandad! Please, I'll never forget-A'hm a Nuttall!" protested Liam in vain, his burr reaching a grim crescendo.

Nuttall woke with a violent start. That's when he heard the rumble. Around him, his fellow COs awoke as well.

"Where's the disarster, ma'am?" bellowed Captain Wilmer Broken Arrow Lee, a tall, flinty man of Miami and Hessian descent. Then he snapped out of his stupor; the rumbling was growing louder. A piercing sonic alarm began to blare.

Tut-tut, it looks like Posleen thought Nuttall serenely, borrowing a line from one of his favourite children's stories. Then the full magnitude of the situation fully sank in. "Oh sod, it looks lahk Posleen!" Nuttall quickly grabbed the helmet to his combat suit, and placed it on, bracing for the uncomfortable holding-of-the-breath.

"This way lads!" bellowed Captain Lee, his helmet already on. The suits had been especially requested by the Triumvirate, as elite infantry units were all the rage as of First Contact, due to the new threats of orbital bombardment. The troopers grabbed their Engelhorn-02s, a new weapon that would pierce the Posleen far easier than the venerable Enfield-64s (themselves ripoffs of the Russian GK-33).

Alarms were blazing throughout the empty concrete avenues of Manhattan. As the leaders of the 188th ran out of the Stock Exchange, the NCOs filed into their formations, long rehearsed for this dreaded day.

Nuttall found his squad, and ordered them onto the Tanis-built armoured speeders. Then, Liam Nuttall found himself being driven to the front-lines of the first real day of the Posleen War.

Staten City

Captain Marcel Kiderbergh of the 90th Armoured Division gazed from the cupola of his Hanover at the barren countryside of New Jersey; once one of the more densely populated parts of the Thirteen Colonies, its residents were now in the Rupert's Land SubUrbs.

Now, in the mist of the early morning, Kiderbergh could see the first of the Posleen Landers settling down near the college town of Hoboken, New Jersey. In the pink sky, the blasts of light that signified the Posleen destruction of the space stations and shuttles of the Terran powers could clearly be seen by any casual observer.

But Kiderbergh's attention was focused on the C-Decs settling down in Hoboken.

Then, the artillery blared. Multiple nuclear-tipped shells, joined by hypervelocity missiles and detonators, streaked towards the C-Decs. From the Atlantic, a submersible artillery battery launched its own shells.

"Give them a volley in Sectors 2 and 4," said Kiderbergh to his gunners. The Hanover shook as the volleys let loose. The Staten Sector's other Hanovers (nicknamed bulldogs due to their ugly, tough shape), poured down fire.

The nuclear-tipped shells impacted on the C-Decs....although flash after flash indicated a successful explosion, it didn't seem to be doing enough damage in Kiderbergh's eyes. The missiles were deflected before they even had a chance; Kiderbergh took the chance to curse to himself in frustration.

Then the Posleen began to return fire; holes began to fountain up throughout the Staten Sector. Kiderbergh winced as several Supertanks shattered under the bombardment.

During this time, the Posleen themselves began to exit the landers. Disregarding the holes appearing in their ranks, they began a terrible surge towards the human positions.

Marcel Kidderbergh had seen the reports from Diess and Barwhon. It all seemed to incredible to behold. The Posleen themselves charged the video images from the documentaries the BBC regularly aired about the tsunamis that struck the islands of Japan. The railguns carried by vast majority of the horde began blaring at the human lines, blasting holes in the walls of the Staten Line. The saucers of the God-Kings swooped down towards the 90th Armoured Division.

However, then came the snipers, which had been carefully hidden in fortified bunkers. One saucer after another spun out of control and crashed, the idiotic Normals loosing cohesion. Unfortunately, the snipers soon became the prime target for the God-Kings themselves; railgun fire began to crash down onto the snipers, who fountained up in a titanic flame.

Then, the C-Decs began to shatter under the strain of the nuclear-tipped shells; they exploded with a titanic force, wiping out a vast swath of the New Jersey countryside. The shockwaves killed many advancing Posleen...and many men of the 90th Armoured Division, as multiple bulldogs flipped over in the blast, including Kiderbergh's own Hanover. Kiderbergh's last thoughts before the darkness set in was a sense of satisfaction, as troopers from the 188th began to plug the holes in the line left from the Posleen bombardment, and there were a lot to fill. Sighing into his suit, Kiderbergh, losing consciousness, ordered his dead gunners to pour down more fire into the seemingly endless Posleen horde......and then he expired.

Liam Nuttall shook inside his combat suit as the speeder dropped off his squad at a gap in the Staten Line. The British dogma of fighting in the Fortress Cities had been based on the Chinese formula developed on Diess; heard the Posleen into the slaughter pens, and don't stop firing until they're all dead.

Of course, this all depended on enough infantry surviving to make the Posleen suffer; barely enough had survived from the combined armies of the Triumvirate on Diess to make the plan work in the first place.

Windows all through the five cities had shattered as the Posleen landers were destroyed, and many buildings had collapsed. But the elegant speeders (based on a joint Russo-Chinese design), took the men of the 188th around the debris to their positions, to back up the men of the 188th already stationed in Staten City.

What was left of Staten City, anyways. Most of the city's landscape looked like a bad example of an Austrian surrealist painting; whole swaths of the berg lay in abject ruins...with the exception of the still visible line formed by the collapsed skyscrapers.

The melted steel and concrete of the former Benjamin Franklin Trade Centre Complex stood out like a sore thumb as Nuttall organized his men into position at the front line( gigantic hole in the skyscraper's face). "Take positions! Take positions!" The 360 degree radar that his helmet displayed allowed for a quick plan of action to form. 'Pour down fire at 0645! Take out anything in a goddamn saucer!" The men of his squad began to attempt their new task. Around the squad, the rate of fire began to increase; many bulldogs had been flipped violently by the shockwaves of the collapsing landers. Now, the infantry would get to carry the burden.

Nuttall could clearly see the Posleen by now. It was as though he had been tossed back in time to face Attila or Genghis....and the Huns and Mongols had gone cannibalistic. The Posleen, completely oblivious of casualties, charged on.

The fire from the surviving bulldogs, artillery, and the 188th piled up burned and broken yellow corpses. The snarling horde, chaotic in some places, kept up the pace. They were as fanatic as the pockets of Nipponese terrorists that kept the Chinese tied up to this day.

Liam Nuttall aimed his Englehorn and began to fire into the Posleen horde. His men attempted to take out the God-Kings...which only called down jets of fire from the Posleen lines onto their position. In the end, Nuttall's surviving squad would have to use every trick provided by the suits to dodge incoming fire.

All in a day's chores, thought Nuttall as fire from another saucer torched the positions of a squad forty feet or so from his.

The first day of the Posleen War came to an end that evening on the Staten Sector. There were very few Posleen left at all. Untold millions lay in front of the Imperial forces, their yellow blood flowing towards the Atlantic, in a mockery of the old human lines of World War One. The defences of the Fortress City of Manhattan had a brutal cost. Multiple men of his squad (including Captain Lee) lay dead from Posleen railgun fire and God-King saucer fire, as inaccurate (in the case of the Normals) as an artillery barrage from Napoleon's Rebels on Corsica, but just as deadly. Staten City was as broken as former Carthage.

However, there were far too many cities...and towns...and villages across the globe that day that were far less lucky than British Manhattan. Tanis, Ohio was obliterated, along with its Global Command Centre, by a Posleen missile. Missiles destroyed Russia's Bering Bridge, the British bridges crossing the Channel and connecting Ceylon and India, and obliterated several other cities with their Global Command Centres, including New Delhi, Wuhan, Kazan, and Narvik. The Rock of Gibraltar was hit and destroyed as well. Several cities were destroyed seemingly at random, including Tehran, Walvis Bay, Cairo, Rosario, and Tegulcigalpa. Landings from the First Wave occurred in British Namibia, Lisbon, Portugal, Taranto, in the Kingdom of the Two Scillies, Russian Mauritania, Georgesland, Australia, Swantung Province, China, and at Sau Paulo, Brazil.

Nuttall, in his relieved stupor that evening, hardly imagined that his squad wouldn't be nearly as lucky in their second encounter with the Posleen...but for now, Liam Nuttall (soon to be promoted to Captain) thanked his Saviour that the First Day was at and end, although he tried not to think of the remaining days left in the Posleen War.

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