Friend or Foe?
Episode 1 Outnumbered on Odiffon
And that just about wraps it up for us, thought Subord Daniel LaCroix.
A mirthless smile crossed his lips – I went into the lion’s den and now I’m gonna get crucified… along with what’s left of the squad. Now. Tonight.
Death rays shrieked over their heads, pulverising the shells of the structures they crouched amongst. Some found human targets and they screamed, twisted and fell.
He tried to consider the bigger picture. A Universe-spanning war (yet even that wasn’t all of it – there were time fronts too), the home galaxy crumbling under the advance of the enemy. They’d come at the underbelly, straight for the central hub – the resolve! The arrogance! But the power of the Daleks! Smashing everything in their path; subjugating whole zones for raw materials and energy – planetary populations enslaved.
The Rim Worlds; his neck of the woods, were chiefly Human, some Dragons, others. There were alliances, pacts, combined forces. There had to be! The allies had moved inwards, now they were being pushed backwards.
So much for the bigger picture.
Here. This is the planet Odiffon – home to an innocuous race of humanoids with rudimentary comparative second millenium tech only. The Daleks went through them like a flamethrower through snow.
But, they’d moved on most of their force, leaving Odiffon lightly occupied and still largely intact. Rimcom had surmised that the planet had been marked for mining; using the population to gut their own world. It had been seen before and a tactical decision was made. Hit them now – knock them from Odiffon and reinforce it as a base to attack the Daleks from their rear. Take the whole zone back. The collateral damage would be horrific, but the natives were dead anyway under the Daleks…
But as LaCroix and his squad had descended in the second wave (and in the blanking clear for once!) the signal came through… the Dalek garrison here, only some two hundred and fifty thousand of them? Yeah? Good! There’s five hundred thousand of us! Well – news just in and all bad.
They’d left an Icecube at the top pole. A deluxe sized one. Two hundred thousand dormant Daleks – now reactivated. Rise an’ shine! Time to exterminate! And whilst they poured down across the northern continent, it got worse. Also a factory ship buried at the equator, now busily churning out Daleks; hundreds by the day. Death machine!
LaCroix knew they’d get no reinforcements – that was only ever gonna have happened if Odiffon was a done deal and had been taken, so now it was do or die and it looked like die.
There was a wide arc of Daleks advancing on them, three deep. Pushing them back through a small coastal town so they had their backs to the sea.
‘Subord! Right flank!’ called Trooper Vek-Trelleque.
She indicated and rolled away as a beam threw up rubble nearby.
A ragged column of figures: Natives were running, terrified, past the furthest of the enemy. Gunsticks swivelled to blast them.
‘No,’ breathed LaCroix, ‘Vek-Trelleque! To me!’
She landed close to him and joined her fire to his, their plasmabolt rifles jerking.
The enemy’s Dalekanium casings were incredibly tough – you needed three consecutive direct hits to burst them open – whereas their own body armour couldn’t withstand even one. If they targeted you squarely that was it.
But LaCroix and Vek-Trelleque were stripping the gunsticks, eyestalks and manipulators. Didn’t finish them, but it was enough. The Natives sprinted to one of their own sea-going vessels, some sort of ferry, and it moved out to sea and was lost in the darkness. As it had pulled away one of them had pointed to the humans and burbled something; thanks or warning or condemnation. The move had left the enemy regrouping into an arrowhead formation. With a Special Weapons Dalek at its tip! Its stubby central cannon boomed and sent a sizzling ball of energy across the battlefield to detonate in the ruined buildings, sending a plume of masonry and dead bodies upwards. It switched to ray mode and its blue shots stabbed out.
LaCroix called up his helmet intel – he had vital signs for 23 left from his dropsquad of 100. A message crackled through from his only surviving scantech – Trooper Baumliij.
‘Subord – we got company coming up behind!’
‘You brought be a miracle Baumliij? Gonna need one!’
Parvun Baumliij was a deeply religious man (LaCroix wasn’t sure which faith) seeing the conflict as an Armageddon contest – dark versus light. To him, the Daleks were spawn of Hell. Again which hell, thought LaCroix, but he knew that if such a place existed it could never spawn anything to match the evil of the Daleks.
Baumliij came back:
‘Sir they’re humanoid but… but they don’t read as Friendlies. They’re popping outta the water – aquatic. Closing…23 mets…’
Suddenly broad, powerful shapes were appearing striding out of the gloom. By the light of a burning building LaCroix and Vek-Trelleque saw a tall, helmeted, cloaked figure. His thoughts raced. He’d signalled not to fire on them unless fired on by them… could they be allies? The Daleks had no allies… there were the Ogrons, but he’d fought them before – they just charged at you firing wildly.
He adjusted the rez on his helmet visor… the fire glare was bleaching out the image… the figure looked utterly confident… its posture was … what was the term? Aristocratic! Surely not Timelords? Here in the home galaxy. What did they call it? Mutter’s Spiral.
Then its stride brought the figure into a position where LaCroix could see it clearly. It was still glistening wet after emerging from the sea: Encased in greenish sleek body armour with a curved helmet that tapered to a point at its top. Crimson-tinted vision plates over the eyes and arms that ended in powerclamps bristling with sensors, probes, tools and on the right, a jutting weapon. A cape billowed in the warm air and moisture steamed from its form. The form of a reptilian biped: an Ice Lord. Ice warriors! Here! On Odiffon!
Episode 2: Fire and Ice
A phrase flashed into LaCroix’s mind – caught between a rock and a hard place. They were not Friendlies. Or allies. After leaving Mars (Earth’s neighbour: Sol 4) their race had forged its own Imperial Zones. They’d taken many from Humanity. Ruthless, autocratic and literally cold-hearted.
The Ice Lord brought its weapon up and targeted. But at the advancing Daleks. A red Dalek glided past the Special Weapons Dalek and grated an amplified order over the din of the firefight.
‘You will identify! This planet belongs to the Daleks. Identify!’
Two huge Ice Warriors now flanked the Ice Lord – their green ridged and scaled carapaces also glistening, vision plates glinting. Both raised their right arms to show massive bioaugmented weaponry grafts – clusters of tubing.
‘I am Lord Ruujaxys. I come not to talk but to avenge. Ssrehm, destroy!’
The weaponry of the Warrior on the right of the Ice Lords let out a deep resonant throb and the red Dalek shuddered and spun away, its domed section rotating and sparking!
‘Emergency! My vision is impaired!’ it croaked.
LaCroix and Vek-Trelleque slithered backwards.
‘Their sonic disruptors!’ she gasped, her ears ringing despite the directional impetus. The Special Weapons Dalek fired its ray and carved the Ice Warrior in two. Ruujaxys darted clear; agile and fast. With a thwoombf! a ballshot blew his second aide to fragments. The Ice Lord fired but the SWD casing took it, shaking.
Now the Warriors were deploying through the ruins moving amongst LaCroix’s smaller force and he took a risk and sprinted to where the alien had found cover – Dalek rays burning the air around him.
‘It…it takes three direct hits with our rifles,’ he showed him his weapon, ‘concentrate your fire.’
The Ice Lord looked at him for two whole seconds. Then at his rifle. LaCroix thought do or die it is…
‘If they elevate you’ll never… it’s harder to target them…’
Ruujaxys spoke in his sibilant rasping voice, issuing orders in an alien toungue on a command circuit.
His Ice Warriors worked in pairs, their weaponry marking selected Daleks and the combined sonic attack ruptured casings, spilling the creatures inside, their blood and nutrient and residue soaking into the soil of Odiffon.
Now, when a Dalek was damaged or beating a tactical retreat the human soldiers organised and used their plasmabolt rifles for precision sharp shooting, blowing holes in domes and casings.
And the Daleks were retreating! The Ice Warriors’ second wave was equipped with two sonic cannon – mobile on large ball wheels, they set up a crossfire and the ground and air ahead shuddered. Daleks rose upwards, elevating using their psychogravitic fields, but the sonic web battered them and they either flew out of control or hung diasabled so humans or Ice Warriors could pick them off. With raw throats LaCroix, Vek-Trelleque, Baumliij and the others let out jubilant warwhoops and blew Dalek after Dalek to pieces.
He reloaded and saw Ruujaxys fighting alongside one of the sonic cannon operated by a fugure appearing similar to him but with slight abdominal variations and no cloak. For some reason, in the heat of the battle, he knew it was a female and that she was paired with the Ice Lord. As the Special Weapons Dalek splintered open and organic material erupted from it, they embraced.
The Daleks never give up. Even as the Ice Warriors advanced damaged Daleks used self-destruct programmes to become living bombs and dying creatures from ruptured casings sprang at their enemies tearing flesh and cracking armour.
With another wave of Ice Warriors from the sea, numbers told and at a signal from the Ice Lord his warriors stood down, the humans found cover and the killing ground was sterilised with sonic grenades from weapons tubes built into the warriors.
The deafening silence was broken only by tumbling masonry and crackling flames. LaCroix gathered his surviving troopers; he and they numbered eighteen. He followed Vek-Trelleque’s stare to find Ruujaxys towering over him. The alien spoke in its hissing rasp:
‘You fought well this night, Earth creatures.’
‘Not Earth: Rimworlds.’
‘We all have our roots and Mars and Earth were enemies for the most part as are our Imperial Zones and your… Rimworlds.’
LaCroix was tired. He ached. But he tried to address this… warrior. But it spoke again.
‘You - ’
A clamp swept across the group of humans surrounded by, now, scores of the reptilian aliens standing watching, hissing and gently swaying.
‘ – have bought your lives with valour. The Daleks have encroached onto our perimeter zone at the Inner Galactic Arm. They exterminated so many on the planet Hesthith. This is our vengeance! We have adequate forces at locations on the ocean floors - ’
Now LaCroix broke in:
‘No, not adequate! We thought our spearhead and second wave were! They’ve gotta production facility on an equatorial island! We got outnumbered in a week and there’s no reinforcements comin’ – they got exponential growth! We’re toast, greenie!’ Great. I’ve just not only shared intel with an enemy, but insulted the guy with the bigger gun, thought LaCroix. However, the term was either archaic or meaningless to Ruujaxys.
‘My thanks. And we do have reinforcements. We came here to triumph! The Daleks have no spacefleet in proximity to this world.’
‘We have ships poised at the limits of this solar system,’ the Ice Lord’s speech quickened, became almost singing, ‘this Dalek production facility shall be destroyed by sonic bombardment from low orbit – they shall emerge and feel their death falling for the sky! So shall it be for other concentrations of Daleks. You - ’ his clamp pushed into LaCroix’s chest, ‘ will contact your superiors and withdraw to safe ground.’
And then trooper Sia Vek-Trelleque moved between LaCroix and the alien. She said:
‘But the Daleks… the Daleks in this galaxy… in the Universe… they won’t stop! You will have avenged your loss but they’ll come at you again if they think they need to! And even if they don’t, they will be exterminating someone, somewhere! Let us contact Rimcom – or better still you do it! Others have stood together. Even old enemies!’
The Ice Lord looked down at her, his vision plates flashing, catching the glare of nearby fire, then looked at LaCroix.
‘Your female has courage, human.’
‘She’s not my… well…that’s not a bad plan of action now that you…’
‘This human reasons with passion, yet intelligence.’
Vek-Trelleque rested her bare hand on the Ice Lord’s clamp. She could feel the thrum of the subdermal implants – feel the coiled alien energy…
‘Please… there’s also the people who live here. We don’t know what they’re called. We… you – we have to get them clear too, somehow. Otherwise we’ll all be the same as the Daleks. Won’t we?’
Again LaCroix felt the seconds tick by under that cold and powerful scrutiny.
‘I go to communicate with the Grand Marshall,’ and he strode off.
They exhaled and slumped, exhausted. LaCroix grinned.
‘Well said, trooper Vek-Trelleque, with… passion and intelligence!’
‘Subord…if it, you know, works out here, any chance of some leave?’
LaCroix grinned again.
‘I’ll see what I can do. I could do with some myself. Wanna take some together?’