Part 29: ... The more they stay the same
Diary of Lady Deirdre Skye
Our situation worsens daily.
While finally the Hive air assaults have slowed to a halt, mindworm and locust attacks have increased exponentially in volume. In some places, all we see are a few floating Isle of the Deep colonies which are lit up easily by our newly-repurposed helicopter interceptors.
In others, we see just massive waves of mindworms. Endless undulating seas of them, bursting volcano-like from where we least expect it.
Our forces now comprise civilian volunteers, anti-air defence gunners, and so on, standing side by side. Each night, swathes of flamers blanket the skies with reddened smoke. Each wave, we just barely hold them back.
Then, there is peace, for a short while, as the flames died down and the dead get buried. And then the next wave arrives.
It's becoming too dangerous to send workers out of the cities. Instead, we are taking a leaf out of the Hive book, and employing floating gravship harvesters, which the worms can't reach. But it will only be a matter of time before the mindworms figure out how to take them down.
Meanwhile, the 'solution' creeps gradually towards a conclusion. 'Transcendence' has taken off - not just the dying now, but also those looking for an escape from life's troubles. Who could blame them?
Because of this, even though official research spending has been cut to zero, work is still being done. Our energy banks, now freed from mere human administrators, seemingly fill up by magic.
The monitors on the vast Transcendi servers have finally ran out of words to describe their ideas.
But will it be too late?
In a late night session, the Gaian governing committee has approved a resolution calling for a military assault on the Surrey holdings of the Hive. While the UN security council failed to come to a decision, the Gaian government has agreed to a restricted assault upon the Hive, in retribution for recent Hive espionage attempts.
General Joacquim, the head of military high command, expressed annoyance at what he terms 'having his hands tied', but nevertheless submitted a plan what would see a liberation army of mostly native troops together with intelligence field units moving out from their current defensive/harassing positions into an offensive posture. Joacquim's own guards battalions will remain on standby, in case of Hive "subversive action".
Now, over to our correspondent in the field, Colin Anderson, who is embedded in the 1st Specials.
It's been a long time in coming, but this morning, the Gaian military has finally made good its promises of humanitarian intervention. Last night, battleships bombarded the former capital of the University, as well as major magtube relay stations to disrupt the Hive response.
Then, with the coming of the dawn, multiple Locust units broke from their holding positions, converging on the base with the ferocity of a tornado.
Paratroopers followed, seizing hold of the town in a matter of hours.
University Base was an important target because it held the neural amplifier, an essential component of the Hive's psi-defence. With the defences down, a secondary locust attack flooded the corridors of Hole of Aspiration, deactivating the Hive's telepathic matrix.
In an instant, Yang's vice-like hold over his subjects was over. The cloning vats' products became not an army of conquest, but of rebellion. Street battles are breaking out all across the Hive, breaking the glossy facade of the Hive's so-called free market.
More cities have fallen before the advance of Gaia today. The unit I am in has relocated northwards, to retake the major cities at the tip of the continent. The home of the HSA was first to fall, avenging the many lost intel operatives who once tried to pierce the Hive's iron curtain.
With the incapacitation of the Hive forces, Gaian land forces at last made their advance. Worms, packed neatly into 'can' capsules, slid up magtubes and roadways, unsealed into fungus, and then crawled up inside the opened gates around Garland Crater.
Their numbers were matched by an army of terraformer crews, digging out roadways and magtubes along the route, creating a direct express connection from the outermost periphery of Elysium into the heart of the continent.
The sheer amount of forces pouring into the continent has rapidly overwhelmed the defenders.
Alongside them are special forces belonging to our Spartan allies, clearing the way, as well as intel units from Gaia itself.
Contact has been made with several resistance groups, who, in coordinated assaults with special ops have succeeded in liberating several cities into Gaian, or Spartan hands.
Despite a determined counter-attack by Hive helicopter gunships, the majority of Surrey has been liberated, the Hive occupiers dead or held in great POW camps.
Convoys of men and worms now move up the spine of the island, guarded by Locust anti-air cover. Flowers are awarded by children from the roadside.
Disaster hit the invasion today. Unexpectedly, it was not man made. Rather, it was heavy rain this morning that did what the Hive's helicopters could not. The great columns of Prius II type singularity laser hovertanks ground to a sudden halt, when their magtubes were simply washed away in front of them.
It would take many months to repair the damage - and that's assuming no further flooding occurs. No transport ships are nearby either. For the heroes of Gaia, home is suddenly very far away.
A new mystery has emerged. Surveying the damage after battle, Gaian soldiers are finding to their shock that the horde of reported Hive aircraft were in fact these:
Rows after rows of empty transport planes.
Speculation rages over the meaning of this - even the experts are in disagreement. Some say that we are seeing simply the start of a Hive civil airline. Others suggest the product of brainwashed administrators misinterpreting Hive leadership's request for more air drop units. Still others assert a nefarious Hive plot to send operatives into Gaia, or to crew them with mind controlled human shields to fend off psychic attack.
But the stranded men of the 1st and 2nd Specials are forced to wonder - are they caught in some sort of trap?
Colin Anderson, GNN news, live from an undisclosed location on the front line.
Surveillance Report, Gaian Military HQ
The car pulled up outside Army HQ, and a small squad of security guards disembarked, accompanying Lady Skye. In close formation, they marched up the marble steps to the front gates. The guard at the door hesitated for a moment, and slowly opened the barricade to allow them access.
Lady Deirdre wasted no time in locating General Joacquim.
"I want an explanation, General."
"What explanation do you require? Obviously there was a lapse of intelligence, but mostly it was an unpredicted act of God."
She slapped a folder down in front of him.
"Liar. I found a backup copy of this report on the meteorological agency's hard drive. The original had mysteriously gone missing. What's more, all of our intelligence on Hive military capabilities came via your office."
"I fail to see what you are insinuating, ma'am."
"Oh, there's more. Our ecological impact should be falling, so this global warming is totally anomalous. We've completed the Singularity Inductor / Backup, which provides us with limitless free energy for our matter replicators. But this recent change in climate was so sudden that it caused our entire polar exploration team to drown. So what are you doing in the military's secret factories?"
"Another lie, Joacquim." A second file hit the desk. "The Kraken class missile submarine. Space for 16 missiles. One rolled out of Fallow Time last week. How many missiles have you produced, Joacquim. Tell me, Joacquim!"
The man said nothing.
"Tell me! I don't care how you dress yourself up as a hero. If you don't tell me, I'll have you arrested this instant for high treason!"
"I don't think you'll do that Lady Skye."
"Oh yeah? You think I need you? We'll just have a look at these documents you have lying around. One way or another, I'll find every last one of those missiles, and destroy them all. We will not have another Earth here!"
"You aren't going to remove me, Deirdre."
"The transcendence project is almost at completion. We need the other factions' cooperation for the final steps. Worms threaten to overwhelm us. New horrors lurk in the fungal fields. You think I lack the guts to prevent you from jeopardising all we have worked and died for?"
"You, who sit in an office all day while the troops die on the battlefield hundreds of miles away? You, who keep your lovely hands clean while others do the grunt work? Who the hell do you think you are, to threaten me here?"
The general stood abruptly, fingers curled into a fist.
"Where are your friends now, woman? Stranded in a continent across the sea. What are your body guards going to do? Shoot me in the middle of a base loyal to me and me alone?"
The general walked, calmly, to the door, putting on his coat.
"There is no need for bloodshed today. I'll resign, I won't resist."
"You think you can just walk out of here?"
The door shut, sealing itself with a hiss.
This is probably the last choice. Below is a map of the Planet. Click on it to get a bigger version. Your choice today is simple: to choose the targets for our Planet busters.
There's 2 ways to choose. First, you can download and edit the map in paint or something, and upload to waffleimages. Alternatively, you can give coordinates according to the map. Don't worry if you give the coordinates for an empty square - I can drop an unit into it, change ownership, and so create a target. There is also no need to restrict to Hive targets...
If you don't want me to use Planet busters, just say so instead of giving a coordinate.
We have ~16 PBs, so 1 or 2 coords per user, please, so that everyone gets a chance.