“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
- Sun Tzu
-4:07 PM November 14, 1987, Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, Russia
Aleksandr Poushkin nervously stood at the end of the long table. A number of high ranking ministers and other government officials sat around nervously murmuring to one another. As he waited, he adjusted his jacket and tie, then shifted his weight five or six times. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the large wooden double doors to the room opened up and in walked Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Premier abruptly crossed the room and sat down in his chair at the head of the table "so what is the overall situation?" he said unceremoniously. Everyone's eyes immediately went to Aleksandr, making him feel even more nervous.
Clearing his throat, he began his briefing "as you all know by now, just under two hours ago, a series of trans-dimensional portals opened at various locations all over the world, including one over Baku along the Caspian Sea coast. Immediately after these portals were opened, a number of unidentified aircraft of an uncounted number of varieties emerged from them and without delay proceeded to launch attacks on the surrounding area. There have been no apparent attempts at communication on the part of the attackers" he explained.
"Strength estimates are sketchy at the moment as there are more enemy aircraft emerging through the portals all the time, but we have so far been able to determine that the enemy has deployed anywhere from two to three hundred aircraft of various different sizes and makes over Baku. The aircraft themselves range in size from ten to twenty meters all the way up to five to ten kilometers across. Full knowledge of their capabilities are still very limited at this time, but all information we have gathered up to this point indicates their possession of some kind of directed and kinetic energy based weapons."
The room was abuzz with concerned and unpleasant grumbling as the various parties assembled talked amongst themselves "we also-" he attempted to be heard over all the other voices, he raised the volume of his own "-we also have received scattered reports of ground forces being disembarked from some of these aircraft. Even basic estimates of their nature and strength are not available as yet due to the fact that most information we have regarding these ground forces are largely anecdotal and no hard data exists regarding them, we-"
He was cut off as was the grumbling throughout the rest of the room as the Premier raised a hand in an indication that he was about to speak "what is the overall situation regarding the other portals?" he asked.
Aleksandr uncomfortably shifted in place as he was brought off course from his planned briefing, after a second of looking for the proper way to address the question he responded "according to the Americans, they have detected five such portals all over the world-" he gestured toward the large easel standing next to him, a large world map sat perched on its ledge. On that map were a series of red dots drawn over five different locations, he continued "this map marks the locations of the five different portals, of course you can see the one over Baku, then we have additional portals over Algeria, Central Greenland, Southern Mongolia, and the Yucatan Peninsula. Information regarding these other incursions is even more limited at the moment, but it is believed that the forces there are at least as strong as the ones over Baku" a bit of his nervousness lessened as he saw the Premier nod in understanding.
Another voice broke the silence "are they connected to the tāziyāne in any way? Perhaps an ally of some sort?" it was Sergei Leonidovich Sokolov, the Minister of Defense.
Aleksandr nervously shook his head "while that possibility has not been entirely ruled out, all information that we have regarding the tāziyāne indicates that by their very nature, cooperation with another intelligence is highly unlikely, there is also little indication that they have any inclination toward the collection of biomass-"
Another voice broke in "do we have any indication as to what their overall objectives are?" asked Foreign Minister Shevardnadze.
"Beyond indiscriminate destruction, no we have not observed any other goals that they seem to be pursuing."
More grumbles and unpleasant murmurs, things continued this way for another couple minutes until Gorbachev finally spoke up again "very well, what are our options?" he asked.
Sokolov spoke up first, this was his purview after all "unfortunately they are quite limited at the moment. Due to the strains imposed by the currently ongoing conflict with the tāziyāne in Asia and Europe, we have very few ground forces available in the immediate area, even Warsaw Pact forces in eastern Europe are pretty thin, the same goes for all the neighboring nations in the middle east and north Africa, they have all committed the bulk of their ground forces to fighting the infestation in Afghanistan."
"In the air, we are far better off, we can pull as many as three hundred aircraft for a counter strike without thinning out our presence in the air in either theater too drastically, the tāziyāne have been pretty low on air assets in Asia since HARVEST DRIZZLE, we've also already started talking with various air forces from other nations, we have received promises of somewhere around two hundred additional aircraft from Turkey, Israel, Egypt and other neighboring countries."
Gorbachev was silent for a moment, he frowned as he thought "recommendations?" he asked.
A new voice cut in, it was the Marshal of the Red Army, Vasily Petrov.
"As has been already stated, ground forces are extremely limited in the area, at most we estimate that we can scrape together enough troops for an understrength infantry division, mostly reservists and fresh conscripts with minimal mechanized and armored support, but that's it. Again, we've got promises of additional help from neighboring nations, but organizing them together for anything quickly is going to be challenging, in all we estimate that we can get a total of twenty thousand troops into the city by the end of the day.”
“However, due to the sheer lack of information that we have on enemy ground forces, including their capabilities and overall strength I would recommend that we restrict all ground based operations to basic reconnaissance and as a means to facilitate evacuating the area, and even then I'm wary. Without knowing just what the enemy's intentions and full capabilities are, it's entirely possible that we would just be adding more bodies to the current death toll "
Another couple seconds of silence followed, Air Marshal Yefimov Aleksandr Nikolayevich was next to speak "we are already in preparations for a large scale launch against this new threat, we should be able to launch a coordinated air assault with the aforementioned numbers of Soviet planes within the hour, if we wait an additional thirty to sixty minutes, we should be able to coordinate with the additional cooperating air forces to get the full number of foreign aircraft involved in the response as well. From there we have three main options."
"First would be a full scale retaliatory air strike with conventional weapons in an effort to knock the enemy from the sky, this of course has the considerable problems of not knowing just what the enemy is capable of or how many more forces have yet to come through that portal. Due to the limited number of aircraft at our disposal at this time, it is questionable if this option is even viable.”
“Secondly would be something more restrained and act solely as a cover for the ground forces entering the city to buy them as much time as possible to get as many people out of the city as possible. From there we would switch over to an overall strategy of containment with all air assets focusing primarily on keeping the enemy from pushing out beyond the immediate area until additional air assets can be freed up for something more ambitious. Finally there is the option of a full scale nuclear strike on the area-"
The room erupted in heated debate, the Air Marshal raised his voice and managed to get the group under control "within thirty minutes we could have ready a launch of two dozen nuclear tipped P-270 Moskits. This would of course kill any and all civilian and military personnel still in and around the city. Also, without a full analysis of the enemy's capabilities it would be hard to ascertain the probable success of such a mission."
More grumbling and debate filled the room, Gorbachev raised his hands in a calming fashion as he tried to settle the room "which strategy would you recommend Air Marshal?" he asked, his tone was serious and his stare was intense. The man wanted an honest and direct answer.
Nikolayevich did not ponder for long "I would have to say that the second option seems the best under the circumstances. It leaves us the most room to alter our strategy as the situation changes and with so many unknowns, it leaves us the the most ability to avoid a catastrophic failure in the event of something completely unexpected" he said with a monotone that Aleksandr found almost disturbing under the circumstances.
Again the room fell silent as everyone else watched the Premier who pondered the situation, trying to make a decision. Aleksandr did not envy the man, his decision would undoubtedly cost the lives of thousands possibly hundreds of thousands, no matter how well things went, and there was probably no way of knowing which would have been the best decision after the fact either. Finally, the man spoke "alright, send as many troops as you can into the city to facilitate an evacuation as best they can, we'll go with the second option" he said decisively.
-5:38 PM November 14, 1987, somewhere over the Caspian Sea
Captain Maxim Ivanski methodically checked the positions of the other MiG-29s in his formation yet again, attempting to ensure that he and the other aircraft were maintaining proper relative position. It was a silly little thing really, he knew that he and all the other pilots there were were well aware of where they were supposed to be and where they were going, but such a ritual always helped to calm his nerves just before going into battle.
"Are you fidgeting again Maxim?"
The voice in headset was Major Ivan Satine, they had served together for over five years and were close friends, Maxim bared his teeth in a wide grin "why, whatever would give you that idea Ivan?" he replied innocently.
A slight chuckle came through over the radio "because you do that every time before we go into combat" Maxim could swear he heard Ivan's smile in his voice.
Maxim was about to say something else, but his retort was preempted by Colonel Marfina "this is Colonel Marfina, we are about to get within radar range of the enemy. Remember, our mission is to simply cover for the Su-27's.while they deal with the big ones, do not try to be a hero and take on some big fat juicy enemy ship, that's not our job" his voice; as always, was stern and serious.
The orders were met with geers and grumbles of annoyance "damned arrogant bastards, they get all the glory while we do all the work!" came one protest in particular.
"What's the big deal?"
It was Ivan "so they get to knock down some big fat slow target, any asshole could do that. In the end they are gonna have to split one kill amongst dozens of pilots or more, we're the ones who get to show off our score cards with big fat numbers on them!" he said, the bravado was dripping from his voice. The rest of the squadron laughed and cheered enthusiastically at that.
The colonel cut back in "that's enough of that arrogant bullshit; don't forget, these aren't the bozorgs, we have no idea how they fly or their full air-to-air capabilities. So don't get comfortable thinking that you're gonna take down ten or twenty of them with ease. So watch out and be smart" again, he sounded serious and stern as ever.
Off in the distance up ahead, the horizon glowed like a second sunset, except this one wasn't fading like the normal one. A great shining white -thing; supposedly a portal to another dimension, a kilometers wide hole torn in the fabric of the universe itself. Where it led, nobody knew, or so he was told anyway. At this range they couldn't make out any of the enemy, even on radar, but the light shifted and dimmed occasionally, probably as one of those massive city sized ships passed in front of it.
Another voice cut in over the radio "I've got contact" it said.
Sure enough, Maxim looked down at his radar plot and spotted a couple of blips on its very edge of detection, with more appearing as they got closer, additional confirmations came through from other pilots who had made similar discoveries.
The Colonel cut in once more "alright, it's time to tuck your balls up between your legs and hope they're still there when things are over, everybody lock a target and prepare to fire" he ordered.
Maxim complied promptly, as he did so he was surprised to see no change in the behavior of the enemy aircraft. He wasn't sure why he was surprised though, he didn't know what they did when they detected a threat, no one did. No one human anyway. They could have already locked their own form of exotic weaponry onto Maxim and the other planes there and nobody would know it until the first plane exploded.
The seconds ticked by as the on board targeting computer worked to lock his weapons onto the target up ahead, some seventy kilometers out. Finally, after what felt like an eternity he heard the reassuring tone of a lock-on, a bright green bracket showed up, projected on his canopy bubble indicating the location of the target "I've got lock" he announced just as the rest of the squadron did the same in quick succession.
Colonel Marfina did not hesitate once the last of the pilots reported in.
Maxim depressed the button on his joystick, a single R-27 missile streaked out from below his plane, leaving a bright gray contrail in the dimming evening sunlight. Joining his were scores of other missiles in a massive volley launched out by not just his squadron, but over a hundred other aircraft approaching from that same direction.
Again, Maxim wondered as to the capabilities of the enemy and the weapons they employed, specifically how much range they possessed. His musings would be answered shortly.
As they were preparing to lock onto their next targets to fire another salvo, a number of bright green lights suddenly appeared up ahead, they started to grow in brightness and size. He checked his radar, but nothing showed up, he realized that they were most definitely heading out to meet him and the other approaching planes, whatever they were. He realized that the number of green lights had drastically increased suddenly and while before there were scores of them, there were now well over a hundred.
The radio chatter became frantic as people started wondering at what exactly was going on.
The colonel's voice came through the radio again "all aircraft, take evasive action, you are free to fire at will, I repeat fire at will!"
Maxim didn't need to be told twice and before the last words had left the colonel's mouth, Maxim was already yanking his joystick hard to the left in an effort to bank out of the way of any potentially oncoming enemy weapons fire. His body protested as the G-forces piled on from high speed maneuver. A quick glance out of his cockpit revealed a volley of bright green -objects of some kind flying at them at incredibly high speed. He didn't know what they were, but his best guess as to what they resembled was bolts of ball lightning. His cockpit suddenly became awash in bright green light as one of those bolts flew by far too close for Maxim's comfort.
A bright orange light flashed somewhere off to the right as plane exploded in midair, apparently hit by one of those bright green bolts. A quick listen to the radio chatter revealed that there had been more than one aircraft lost to those enigmatic weapons. Bringing his plane into a climb in an effort to dodge the next oncoming fusillade, he started to angle back toward the enemy.
Selecting another target he started the process of obtaining weapons lock once again. The seconds ticked by excruciatingly slow as he waited for that familiar reassuring sound.
A look down at his radar plot showed that the enemy had indeed started to take evasive action -fuck they are moving fast he thought as he saw the enemy break mach 3 with regularity and perform turns that would have been an understatement to call 'difficult.'
More of those bright green bolts screamed in, he didn't know how many were firing, but he guessed that they were being fired upon by at least fifty enemy aircraft, maybe one hundred, he wasn't sure though. Suddenly another bright orange flash illuminated the surroundings as another MiG disappeared in a violent explosion.
He wondered if the enemy response happened when it did because that was their maximum effective range, or because he and the others didn't register as threats until they opened fire, he wasn't sure if he wanted the answer to that.
The sound of another lock on rang in his ears, he immediately fired another R-27 out at the new target. Just as the contrail started to become visible as its owner streaked outward toward its intended target, a series of distant explosions flared up ahead, indicating that the first salvo had reached their targets. A glance at the radar plot told him that some of those missiles had succeeded in taking out an enemy aircraft so, they can be killed he thought grimly as he noted with dismay that only a handful of the missiles fired had actually succeeded in downing an enemy craft, maybe eight or ten at most.
Time crawled at an interminably slow rate as he looked at his cockpit clock and realized that less than thirty seconds had passed since they had fired that first salvo at the enemy, it had felt like an hour. Spotting more incoming enemy bolts, he brought his plane into a dive as two more explosions flared up in quick succession, indicating the deaths of two more planes. The enemy fire was no longer coming in volleys, but was now spewing forth at them in a seemingly unending torrent of death.
The distance had shrunk to under forty kilometers and as he looked out across the sea towards where the enemy was coming from he was able to make out the distant shapes of the enemy aircraft, including the outlines of the biggest of them all. Even at this distance he got a good sense of their gargantuan size, the fading sunlight and stark white light from the portal reflected off of them, outlining their sleek shapes.
He'd seen pictures of them before they had taken off for this mission, they were of poor quality, mostly grainy and out of focus.
At this range the general details could be made out, and some of the finer ones could be discerned as well, such as the countless smaller structures and components that protruded from the massive things, giving them the appearance of massive flying cities.
One kind; of which he saw two, was a massive flying disk, domed and rounded in overall shape, kind of like a flattened sphere, it was not as simple as that as it seemed to have been divided up into massive concentric ringed sections. The other variety he could make out was a more dramatic shape, it was about twice as large, probably the big ten kilometer sized ones that he had heard about. It looked like some kind of three dimensional starfish with massive arms or spires or something jutting out in about a eight different directions.
He didn't have time to ponder the nature of those shapes or their purpose or that of the dozens of other craft that he was now able to spot but which were too small to make out any detail whatsoever. That appraisal was comparative of course, as his radar plot indicated that they were hundreds of meters across.
He pulled his plane into a steep climb in order to avoid being hit by yet another of those bolts of energy or whatever they were and managed to just barely avoid it by what he judged to be maybe ten meters at most.
More explosions indicated the deaths of more aircraft, he couldn't be certain if they were members of his own squadron or someone else', they seemed distant enough, but the frantic chatter over the radio made it hard to tell for sure.
As he waited for another lock-on he glanced at his radar plot to determine the fate of his last shot, he saw it close with the mysterious enemy aircraft. It juked and weaved in order to avoid being hit and it's maneuvers were impressive to say the least. He hissed out a curse as he saw the weapon miss its target which appeared to dodge the shot with ease. Without waiting further he fired a third missile the second he got tone.
The range had dropped below thirty kilometers now and he could clearly make out the enemy aircraft that they were engaged with which appeared as small generic round shapes of some sort, their seemingly metallic skin shimmered brightly. A glance at his radar plot showed his missile closing with the most recent target which also attempted to avoid being hit with some impressive aerobatics, however this time it looked like the enemy aircraft had reacted to slowly and the R-27 closed the range then intersected with the alien craft. He managed to spot a distant bright explosion which he thought was his target being blown out of the sky, then let out a triumphant cheer as he looked at the radar contact disappear.
"Eat shit and die! Fuckers!"
His taunt went out over the radio toward an enemy who couldn't hear his insults, and even if they could, they most likely wouldn't understand. It didn't matter to him though, it made him feel better.
Suddenly the entire sky lit up bright green. Maxim cringed as he expected that an enemy bolt had found his plane, but when he didn't die he got a glimpse at a massive bright column of light cutting through the sky just above and to his left, it must have been over two hundred meters across and he managed to get a glimpse of a half dozen MiGs disappear in bright explosions as the massive beam of light intersected their paths.
He didn't have time to ponder this as he both realized that he had tone and that there was more enemy fire incoming. He let loose with his fourth and final R-27 missile just before banking sharply to the right, dodging another pair of enemy bolts. His vision blurred and dimmed and his chest felt as though an elephant had just sat on it, but when he came out of the turn he was clear of any immediate enemy threat.
Just then he came to the realization that that beam of light hadn't stopped, in stead it raked across the sky, like a powerful searchlight trying to find something in the darkness. He saw more planes disappear in violent conflagrations as the massive weapon obliterated them.
The distance had dropped down to less than ten kilometers and the enemy 'fighters' were now elongated metallic turtle shells rather than the nondescript dots off in the distance, an indeterminate number of green lights glowed from different points on the alien craft, he couldn't make out where exactly they were located, but he could discern their presence. He could also make out more details on the massive floating alien ships out there.
Like the pictures he saw earlier, it was clear that the surface of each massive ship was covered in huge numbers of various structures and components, so densely packed that it was almost impossible to discern what they were beyond basic shapes. Countless points of green light shone out from innumerable nooks and crannies all over the intricate surface of each ship. It only further emphasized the resemblance that they had to massive floating cities. He could tell that the large spindly one was the source of that beam, of which there now now several streaking through the air, searching for more planes to kill.
Bright orange flashes dotted the massive ships in various places, and it took Maxim a second to realize that they weren't lights, they were explosions from the Su-27s firing missiles at them. Their massive size caused the explosions to look miniscule by comparison.
He cast a fleeting glance at his radar plot again then looked back up out of his canopy- he paused then looked back down at the plot. There was something odd about what he saw there, he gave a closer look, but didn't see what it was. Mentally shrugging, he redirected his attention back outwards again.
He saw his missile slam into its target, obliterating it in yet another midair conflagration like the last one, and he cheered again as he saw it go off his scope. He realized then that the number of enemy aircraft falling from the sky had started to go up as the distance dropped. It was as if the shortened range denied them needed time to react to any attacks. Although their maneuverability should have permitted them to out turn the missiles, especially at such shortened ranges, but they didn't. This didn't stop them from continuing to kill more human jets though.
Ivan's voice crackled through the radio suddenly "let's not get too excited now my friend, there are plenty more where that came from. Also, if you wouldn't mind, I could use a little help down here."
Maxim spotted his friend's plane just below him, crossing at a diagonal path to his own. An enemy fighter was pursuing him, it fired a shot which flew by Ivan's plane, missing it by a scant few meters. He suddenly realized that the range had closed to a mere handful of kilometers by then.
The radio chatter had picked up its tempo to a frantic pace as the battle had turned from a long range slugging match into a short distance knife fight. The air was thick with explosions, weapons fire, smoke, and enemy and friendly aircraft. It was chaos really, and yet Maxim managed to shut out all of the distractions as he spotted his comrade come under threat.
His mind raced as he pondered all the possible solutions to the situation, time which had been crawling at a glacial pace practically stopped as he watched events unfold in front of him. Inspiration dawned upon him as he knew exactly what to do.
Without further deliberation, he nudged his joystick forward and put his aircraft into a shallow dive, the nose of his plane was now pointing directly at the path ahead of the enemy aircraft. Time was too short for him to properly calculate how far he needed to lead his target.
He squeezed the trigger on the joystick. A heavy rumbling cut through even the sound of his plane's own turbines and the entire airframe shuddered from the recoil as his 30 mm cannon unleashed a torrent of high velocity weapons fire. Tracers streaked out ahead of the nose of his aircraft indicating the trajectory of his fire. The burst was extended, maybe fifty or sixty rounds thought Maxim as he watched the enemy fighter fly headlong towards an intersection with the torrent of death his plane was spewing out into the air.
The enemy aircraft careened through the air, seconds later it and the hail of high caliber bullets intersected. Bits and pieces of the mysterious flying machine flew off in a violent show of destruction, then it exploded violently shortly after. He howled in triumph as he saw the flaming debris from the explosion fall from the sky.
Bright green light filled his cockpit once again. Up above and ahead of him; maybe two hundred meters distant one of those columns of light cut through the sky, two planes disappeared as they were hit. Without thinking he nudged his joystick further, going into a far steep dive. He didn't think he was going to make it, that he was too late to avoid running headlong right into that beam of death. He was wrong however.
His MiG passed mere meters below the beam, and as he did so, he felt the whole plane- no, his whole being; right down to his individual cells, vibrate violently. A horrid unpleasant humming noise seemed to be coming from within his own head, and the lights on his HUD flickered unnervingly. As the distance opened up, the sound dissipated and normalcy returned.
He cast another glance at his radar screen, which was when he realized what it was that he had seen before. The display looked odd to him, the signals weren't as they should have been. It was like there was a deep puddle of water over the radar plot, sloshing back and forth, causing the radar contacts in the display to distort and shift strangely.
Pulling hard on the joystick he started to pull his plane out of the steep dive, his chest became heavy as the g-forces piled on and he started to level off. His headset crackled as a single stern commanding voice cut through all the rest of the chatter "all aircraft, pull back and return to base, I repeat, all aircraft, pull back and return to base" it was Colonel Marfina.
Maxim didn't bother trying to wonder at the exact reasoning for the order, he didn't need to. While he had been focusing considerably on his own struggles, the overall tactical situation was not lost on him, they had taken scores of losses, possibly more, while hundreds of enemy reinforcements poured in through that portal. Worse was that there was no indication that they had even managed to inconvenience any of those humongous flying warships either.
He looked out at the sky above and saw the chaotic mess as human and alien aircraft maneuvered in vicious struggle for survival. He saw that the smaller ships had let loose with massive torrents of their own weapons fire, a number of stray enemy fighters seemed to have noticed him and were quickly angling in his direction. He then thought of his depleted cannon ammunition supply and the two remaining R-60 missiles hanging from hardpoints on his plane and wondered just how he was going to extricate himself from this mess.
-6:07 PM November 14, 1987, Baku, Azerbaijan
Corporal Kadem Tabak threw himself into the crater just as another of those cursed alien aircraft swooped down and fired off it's mysterious green weaponry at a nearby building, a two story tenement from the looks of it. A deafening blast shook the ground all around them and bits of glass, concrete, metal, and countless other things pelted him and the rest of his squad as they crouched in a desperate effort to take shelter from the explosion. Things were bad, very bad. That wasn't just an assessment of the immediate situation, but of entire day leading up to then.
He had served in Iran for six months against the tāziyāne-ye bozorg, he'd seen countless men die, seen more carnage and violence than he would ever have cared to, and he had learned that he got a feeling when a situation was about to turn to shit. He had that feeling right from the start.
After almost his entire platoon had been wiped out in a defensive action back in Iran, he had been transferred back home to Turkey a mere week earlier where he was told that he was to be reassigned to a newly formed unit, if only he knew how literal that really was.
So he was in his barracks, organizing his gear when a lieutenant he didn't recognize and had never met before came to him and told him that he was being assigned to a new unit which was shipping out immediately. He was then dropped unceremoniously into a platoon of men; and a couple women, whose names he didn't even know, and by their own behavior it seemed that many of them had never met each other either. Worse yet was that many of them didn't even look like they had even fully finished training just yet either. They were then all packed into a C-130 and flown out abruptly.
At first they weren't even told where they were all going, Kadem got the feeling that nobody knew anyway, including that lieutenant who was his new commanding officer. They weren't informed of anything until after they had landed, in Azerbaijan. Finally they were told that they were being assigned to help evacuate and protect civilians, nobody seemed to have known from whom or what they were supposed to be protecting them from, which didn't really improve things.
Rumors abounded about a possible tāziyāne-ye bozorg incursion into Azerbaijan, some even assumed that it was a betrayal by one of the members of the coalition. It wasn't until their column of trucks had been strafed by one of those strange aircraft that these aliens or whatever they were used for a ground attack purpose that things had started to become clear... or at least less convoluted. This did not make him feel any better though.
As the last bits of debris and shrapnel fell back to the earth, Kadem and the rest of the platoon started to climb out of their various hiding places, prepared to resume their progress. Off in the distance he could make out a few massive war machines moving about the city. Even at a distance of kilometers he could make out the deep thumps of their footsteps as their long and massive legs marched from place to place. It was clear that destruction followed them wherever they went as they opened fire on various unseen targets and unleashing more of those green bolt weapons with unnerving regularity. Kadem said a silent prayer of thanks that those titanic things seemed to have more important things to worry about and none had as yet decided to head in their direction.
The street was largely deserted at this point, on the way into the city, they had gone past a massive horde of desperate people attempting to escape the doomed city. At this point, most of the civilian population still in the area consisted of scattered pockets of refugees or dead people. Craters pockmarked the street which was littered with wrecked cars and the rubble from two collapsed buildings. Up ahead dozens of column's of smoke rose into the air, illuminated by the light of the massive bright white ...thing in the sky overhead.
Above their heads, hundreds of aircraft of both human and alien makes danced and maneuvered in a desperate struggle of death and destruction. The roar of jet engines and rumble of explosions reverberated against the walls of buildings in the war torn city. Bright flashes flickered and pulsed as aircraft exploded and these alien invaders fired their exotic weapons. Through it all, about a dozen massive... objects of some kind hovered in the sky, silently moving through the air, strangely juxtaposed to the frantic activity that surrounded them.
A group of four people; three men and two women, rounded a corner down the street, prompting a number of the more jittery soldiers there to bring their weapons up abruptly before bringing them back down again. Kadem sighed in exasperation at the number of under trained soldiers they had thrown into this unit we're gonna kill more friendlies than the enemy at this rate he thought.
One of the enlisted men shouted in Azerbaijani, a private named Sevim. Gesturing broadly, he directed the fleeing civilians to head back in the direction from which the platoon had come from, he gave general instructions on how to get to an evacuation point. It had been fortunate that with all the other fucked up things to happen on the way to Baku, a man who spoke the local language had been assigned to the unit, Kadem did not think it had been an intentional assignment though.
As the civilians ran past, the sound of a high pitched whirring reached Kadem's ears shit he thought as he immediately recognized what it was. Private Sevim shouted something else is Azerbaijani at the fleeing civilians, probably a warning for them to take cover, they did not heed his warnings and continued to run away.
The rest of the platoon knew better and immediately ran to the nearest place that afforded them some form of protection from above. Seconds later a moderate sized machine, maybe three or four meters across swooped in overhead. It took the shape of a large metal ring with a glowing sphere in its center and three smaller non-glowing metallic spheres along the outside edge. Dozens of other components and parts protruded from its shimmering skin.
A series of high pitched whooping noises emanated from the flying machine as it altered course toward the fleeing people. Suddenly the ground all around them erupted as bits of concrete and dirt flew into the air.
Kadem and the other soldiers there had quickly learned to hate those things, they appeared overhead regularly, and that weapon of theirs was deadly. Fortunately, small arms fire was effective in bringing them down. Unfortunately the enemy seemed to have an unending supply.
Not wanting to waste the distraction that the civilian's foolish sacrifice had granted them, every soldier there popped out from their cover and drew a bead on the cursed aircraft and opened fire. The loud pops and thuds of weapons fire echoed off of the surrounding walls as a large hail of bullets flew up to knock the threatening machine from the air.
After a couple seconds of sustained fire, the machine faltered and wobbled, the bright sphere at its center started to flicker and then exploded violently, showering the ground in debris.
Tension remained for about thirty seconds more as they scanned the sky above with their eyes and listened for the telltale low pitched humming sound that they feared would come next.
Shortly after entering the city, they had spotted what had come to be known as a 'gunship' by most of them. It was a rather large sized aircraft, perhaps ten or fifteen meters in length, it bore a strong resemblance to a stylized combination of a steam locomotive and a European gothic cathedral. During that first sighting, they watched as it obliterated a formation of five Israeli M113s using some of those strange weapons that fire bright green bolts.
The next time they had encountered one, it had appeared shortly after encountering one of those smaller ones. Although it wasn't confirmed, everyone believed that if one of those smaller gunships were allowed to remain aloft in the immediate vicinity for too long, one of its bigger siblings would come along to rain down death and destruction. That second time they had been fortunate that one of them was carrying a stinger launcher. Although hitting it with a single stinger wasn't enough to destroy the cursed thing, merely enough to damage it severely and cause it to retreat.
Since then, every effort was made to either avoid being spotted by the small gunships or destroy them as soon as possible.
Kadem cast a glance back toward the civilians, they were all laying there, motionless on the ground, blood had pooled around them, and it looked as though a couple of them had lost limbs in the attack. He said a silent prayer for them as the platoon resumed it's advance down the street.
An hour later Kadem was crouching behind an overturned and smashed car, staring out across a rubble strewn stretch of street as a large metallic disk descended gently over a spot approximately forty meters away. A loud buzzing noise; similar to that created by those gunships emanated from the disk.
Whatever it was, it was about twenty meters across and was covered in a complex series of protrusions and mechanical looking parts, some of which moved and shifted in various different ways.
As it reached a height of less than a meter over the rubble strewn ground, part of the craft's exterior slid apart, resulting in an opening about four meters across appearing in it's hull. A dim green light emanated from the opening and a number of nondescript shapes shifted about inside.
A piece of rubble shifted somewhere off in the distance as the ground shook from an explosion somewhere and it fell from it's resting place atop a half collapsed building, hitting the ground with a loud thud.
A large tube of some kind suddenly protruded from the top of the disk, it abruptly swiveled to point in the direction of the movement and a whirring noise; similar to that made by the weapons of those smaller gunships but lower pitched reached Kadem's ears and the piece of rubble, the ground, and just about everything else surrounding it for approximately a two meter radius disappeared in an explosion of smoke and shrapnel.
After a few seconds of delay, more shapes moved around inside the aircraft, then something emerged from the opening. It looked like a man, a rather large man, maybe two meters tall, probably more. Clad in some sort of gray looking garment which seemed pretty form fitting, it was further covered by an assortment of what looked like beige colored armored plates. Its head sported some sort of helmet, made of what looked like a similar material to that of the armored plates. A single green glowing round ...thing of some sort sat slightly off center on the front of the head, Kadem guessed that it was an eye of some sort. Meanwhile a series of black wires or tubes extended out from the back of the being's head and connected to some sort of complex looking machine on its back.
At the end of the creature's right arm was yet another strange looking machine of some sort. At the end of the other arm appeared to be a rather large hand. On the left forearm was a another metallic looking machine of some sort.
Following the first one, another emerged, then another, then another. Eventually, six of them were standing on the ground outside of the large hovering aircraft. The six alien beings stood there turning their heads this way and that, most likely searching for any threats. Their movement was strange, alien, almost mechanical in nature, not the way that a man or any animal Kadem knew of. After maybe a minute of this the transport behind them closed its doors and began to ascend again and then flew away. The six alien creatures started to advance down the street in the platoon's direction.
He got a sinking feeling in his stomach perfect, they just had to choose to head this way, didn't they?
Their commanding officer; Lieutenant Sezer, started making whispered orders "you" he whispered, signaling to Kadem "take the third one on the left" he ordered, Kadem nodded as the Lieutenant made similar orders to other men in the platoon.
He checked his M-16, making sure the safety was off and the magazine was properly secured into place. He inched around toward the side of the wrecked car he was behind and took a peak to get another look at his intended target. It was walking along like the rest of them, looking around, searching for something, probably something to kill.
The distance had shrunk to just under thirty meters and Kadem was getting tense with anticipation, his knuckles were pale white as he gripped his rifle tightly. Finally after what felt like an eternity, the Lieutenant gave the order.
The entire platoon popped up from their hidden positions and opened fire. The clatter of small arms fire filled that section of street, drowning out even the deep sounds of battle off in the distance.
The enemy reacted immediately, their right arms shot up with incredible speed and their walking rapidly transformed into a full on sprint. The weapons fire didn't seem to be having much of an effect as none of them seemed to have even broken stride. Sparks flared as some bullets spangled off the armor plates that the aliens wore. The arms of all six of them jerked suddenly, accompanied by a high pitched wump like that of mortar fire, but less deep.
Kadem reacted quickly and dropped back down for cover instantly, others did as well, but some failed to make the move fast enough.
Patches of the walls of nearby buildings exploded, spraying the assembled soldiers in bits of concrete. Two men fell to the ground, dead, with giant holes twenty or thirty centimeters across blown in their bodies. A loud metallic bang came from somewhere to the right and an additional man who had taken cover behind another car also fell to the ground, a hole the size of an orange blown clear through his head. A look over at the spot where he had been crouching revealed a fresh hole about two or three centimeters across pushed outward through the body of the car. As more wumping could be heard down the street mixed in with the sounds of regular human weapons fire, Kadem became suddenly aware of just how little protection was afforded to him by his choice of hiding place.
He looked back over the top of the car and saw that the enemy was less than ten meters out by then, he also saw that one of them had fallen to the ground and another one was now staggering as its leg had been hobbled good, so they aren't impervious after all he though with a certain grim satisfaction.
He brought his weapon up and aimed at the leader of the group, he squeezed the trigger, letting loose a four round burst which he clearly saw slam into its chest. This time the creature did seem effected as it seemed to stumble from those impacts. More men fell dead or screamed as they clutched at massive wounds.
The one that had been hobbled finally went down in a tumble to the ground, and the leader had slowed its own pace as it looked like its wounds were finally taking a toll. Suddenly the left arms of all four remaining enemies flicked out in a sudden but smooth motion, and suddenly they were longer. No, not longer. Rather, something had extended out from those large contraptions on their left forearms. They were about a half meter long, pointy, and glinted like metal in the light. Kadem was pretty sure he knew what those were for.
By then he had already shifted over to the next nearest enemy, taking aim at its midsection, he fired off burst after burst into it, bullets spangled off the armor, but no visible effect was immediately apparent.
Leaping over piles of rubble, debris, and wrecked cars, the enemy soldiers moved with a speed and fluidity that was again unnatural. More soldiers screamed and died as those horrid melee weapons sliced and slashed, effortlessly eviscerating and mutilating.
One of them charged in very close to Kadem, it shoved its weapon right through the skull of the man next to him, killing him instantly. Kadem fired at almost point blank range, blowing four holes in the thing's chest armor but not stopping it entirely. Its left arm slashed out quickly.
Kadem reacted with more speed than he thought he had, he brought his rifle up in a defensive motion, successfully blocking the attack. The blade of the weapon cut about a centimeter into the hand guard of his weapon and his arms and joints screamed in pain like he had just been slammed into by a three hundred kilo rugby player damn they're strong. The thing pulled its melee weapon back for another strike, wrenching the rifle out of Kadem's hands in the process, he expected to die right then for certain.
Then just as it was about to bring down a killing blow that he was sure would be the last thing he'd see, the sound of an MG-3 hammered at his eardrums, his opponent's head jerked to the right violently, and then it fell to the ground. Kadem looked over and saw a young female private hefting a light machine gun in both hands. They exchanged quick glances as she maneuvered it to take on another target.
He looked around and salvaged another M-16 from the clutches of his former neighbor, he saw another one of the enemy soldiers, it had just finished decapitating the Lieutenant. Kadem's weapon went up, he took aim at a large cylinder protruding from the machinery on the thing's back and opened fire. The cylinder shattered, and the thing immediately went limp collapsing to the ground, dead.
He spun, looking for another threat to engage, after a second or two of searching, he realized that there were no others left, they had "won."
A survey of the carnage wrought by the quick battle revealed just how pyrric their victory truly was. All around them, there were six enemy bodies, meanwhile there were twenty two human ones. The cost of victory against this new enemy; it would seem, was going to be high.