Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Slug Storm

The Slug Storm
-- by William Hay

The light streaked across the night sky, followed by a deafening boom as the tank exploded.  Flames shot from the place where the tank had stood.
“Incoming!” the green recruit screamed at the top of his lungs.
There was no need. Everyone heard the noise. Everyone knew what it meant. Those watching the sky had seen the lightning flash.  No one saw the vessel. It was already elsewhere.  More destruction could reign down from the sky or not.  It had been comforting to have the tank’s presence.  It had been a weapon that would have worked against ground ships. But such weapons attracted the aerial support.  We were outmatched in the skies by a long shot.
Now the slugs appeared before us
“Slugs.” The new recruit shouted. This time it was important.
If you weren’t wearing you night vision glasses looking in the direction the slugs were
Coming from they tended to blur into the background at night. You'd not have seen the things moving into position.  In the night vision glasses, the devices that gave their wearer the appearance  of a cyborg, the slugs looked iridescent green. In daylight they were bright purple with blue and orange stripes and dots. One could only imagine their colours were camouflage for a different world. Here they were plain to see in daylight but at night not so. Maybe they were nocturnal.
“Hold your fire,” he said.  John was the most senior soldier here.  Home defence.  He’d served in the regulars but an injury had left him on pension working part time at the garage.  He’d never let go of his weapon.  Like a lot of his era vets they kept their personal stock of ammunition, rifles and hand guns.  They’d been off world. They knew what was out there. The locals hadn’t thought anything could get through their defences.  Not John. Not the other veterans.  Unlike the recruits they lacked enthusiasm.  There was no cowardice. Just experience. They'd  hunkered down and waited,ready to be there for the long haul. All had said a prayer alone.. Now they’d see what grace would bring.
The Slugs, there were three of them, rose up to their 8 foot height.  Thick fibrous creatures with some sort of breathing apparatus at theirhead.  A harnsss was belted around their upper body and to that a shining silver disc was attached at the centre. That was their weapon. A ray gun of some sort.  Pink light and things disintegrated. It was best to avoid letting the slugs get to their full height.
“Fire,” John called out.  A dozen weapons converged on the vulnerable lower half of the creatures. It was always a dicey bit. Their shells were impervious to fire but this place right below the disk was not.  If the Slugs could fully extend up their ray gun was a deadly force to reckon with. A lot of men and women had died before the tactics John and his men utilized now were learned.
“How to kill a slug!” had been broadcast all over the planet on the internet.  That was in the second week of the arrival. After that things began to improve on the ground front.
Except when their land vehicles accompanied the Slugs. These were massive fortified weapons platforms whose rays could scour a neighbourhood leaving no life and no buildings and no cars.  All that remained was flames and destruction.  The tanks and artillery were effective against these. But the best infantry solution to these to date was run like hell.
The slugs went down almost in unison.  Loud body falls.Their entrails gushing while their heads gave off that shrieking sound so reminiscent  of Cats in heat.
“Let’s move,” called John even as the three veterans and the 9 new recruits began to follow his direct northerly lead.
“How much time do we have,”  Able asked.  He was closest to John and walking now alongside as they headed out of the suburban cul de sac into the trees beneath the mountains.
“Never enough time.”
“They’re always so quick to respond. You’d think their life support telemetry was somehow connected to some central command. Deaths trigger the back up. There's no time to get out a distress call."
“Smart buggers for slugs.  Never follow up with more infantry. Just Those monstrous land vehicles.
“It would be worse if they followed up with their air craft but they only seem to use those before an attack ,to remove thanks and artillery."
“Do you think the slugs are them.?"

“I don’t think so. The little ships could be drones, the one’s that seem too small to hold a slug but who knows.  The xenobiologists haven’t been living long enough to get samples  No saucer pilots have yet been found. I heard on the net the main idea is that there’s probably a dominant race with subordinates."
"No different from Roman citizens in the old days and their barbarians. "
"Something like that.  "
The squad was all in the woods moving along the rocky stream making distance,putting natural barriers like the river and trees between them and what was coming.
Protocol said they should spread out as far apart as possible but most were doing like John and Able.  Coupling up , talking as they hiked. Feeling less alone after encounter with alien invaders

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