Mick's Rejects

The fiction no one wanted


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ALL THINGS – Chapter 2 part 11

Sudenjah struggled for a moment to recall their previous conversation, then it came to him.

“Oh, yes. I was merely enquiring as to the ores of the planet. You said Earth has them all, but what about fuel? Few planets have the ore we’d need for our ships’ power cells.”

“There is!” Xleta said excitedly.

Sudenjah pulled away from Xleta, trying to gauge her expression for any sign of mischief.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Yes; there is a huge concentration of what we need on a massive island in the southern oceans of the planet.”

Sudenjah turned his gaze south. In comparison to Otarkwan planets, earth was relatively small. Intermittent flashes from distant explosions illumined the clouds. Who knew how many hostile armies fought the Germans? Only one thing mattered; they stood between the Otarkwans and their goal. All at once, Sudenjah’s objective seemed so much further away. The Otarkwans could die from primitive ammunition like anyone else. To cross no man’s land amounted to nothing less than suicide. It’d take an army to punch through the lines of the German’s enemies.

A smirk etched itself on his lips as an idea formed – he knew where to get an army.

***

Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2


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ALL THINGS – Chapter 2 part 10

“I am,” Sudenjah said, about to rise.

Xleta gripped his arm.

Sudenjah patted her hand reassuringly. “I’m sure he only wishes to talk.”

He stopped by the fence.

“Who are you?” said the officer.

“I am Captain Sudenjah. And the plane you saw, was the Leviathan. May I ask your name?”

The officer stiffened proudly. “I am Captain Manfred von Richthofen; leader of Jasta eleven, of the Prussian Imperial forces.”

“What can I do for you, Captain?”

“I have come to thank you. The machine gun fire from the ground would have killed me if not for your untimely arrival.”

“I take it you were the pilot in the red plane.”

Manfred curtly bowed his head. “That is correct.”

He took out a slender roll of paper and brought it to his lips, then paused. “Do your people smoke cigarettes?”

Sudenjah smiled. “We do, but I don’t.”

Manfred struck a short twig. A small flamed appeared at the end which he brought to the roll of paper and took a few puffs.

He took out the cigarette. “You don’t act like demons.”

“We’re people, just like you, Manfred.”

Some of the young officer’s curt expression eroded at the mention of his name.

“People?” he pressed.

“The day will come when you’ll find there are people on other worlds. I’ve seen races who look like you, but others are very different. In time, you will learn that we are all merely a different re-arrangement of cells.”

Manfred nodded attentively.

“What planet are we on?”

Manfred stared incredulously before answering. “This is earth.”

“So this is a civil war?”

The officer snorted. “Hardly. We Germans are at war with the rest of the world.”

“Alone?”

Manfred sniffed. “Yes. The Turks aligned with us for a time, but they have surrendered.”

“Are your enemies the men in green with flat helmets?”

“Yes; mainly British.”

“Well, I’m happy to have thwarted the British guns from shooting you down, Captain.”

Manfred sneered. “Ugh, they were Aussies; an uncouth, barbaric race. Even the English consider them the lowest of their empire, but I must give credit where it is due. As fighters, there is none their equal.”

He took a few final drags on his cigarette and dropped it on the ground, grinding it out with his boot.

“Before you go, Captain,” said Sudenjah, “do you know what will happen to us?”

Manfred took a step closer. “I am not supposed to tell you this, but I was in command headquarters a little earlier. While I was there, I caught a glimpse of a memo on the secretary’s desk. Apparently, an officer from intelligence is coming.”

“Who?”

“That is all I know,” he said, bowing his head. “Good night.”

 “Good night, and thank you.”

Sudenjah watched Manfred walk away, then looked once more to the skies. Xleta’s arm circled about his back. The gesture surprised him, but he didn’t resist. She trembled, most likely from the cold.

“What were you thinking?” she asked.

“Nothing in particular.”

“No, I meant earlier, when we were talking about leaving this planet?”

Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2


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ALL THINGS – Chapter 2 part 9

The guards opened the gates and ushered the Otarkwans through. One of the guards made a count as they entered.

“That’s five hundred and two, Sergeant,” said the soldier as two of his comrades closed and locked the gates.

“See that there’s still five hundred and two when command decides what to do, Sergeant,” said Ferber.

The NCO stomped to attention and saluted. “Yes, sir.”

Ferber marched his men back the way they came, disappearing from view around the bend. For the most part, the Otarkwans huddled inside the compound, devoid of either furniture or shelter. Sudenjah sat on a log, facing back towards the way they came. Minutes later, he heard footsteps and glanced back. Xleta approached and sat down beside him.

“Everyone’s scared.” she said.

“That is understandable.”

“They need a leader.”

“They have their Captain.”

“The Captain isn’t up to it, Sudenjah. We both know that. You saw the fear in the aliens’ eyes. People that scared usually kill.”

Sudenjah shrugged. “Only Space Fleet officers need fear the aliens. What have I to lose? I have merely exchanged one prison for another.”

“Don’t you want to live?”

He looked away, staring through the fence. What did he owe the Otarkwans? They turned their backs on him. Only hours earlier, they convicted him to a life of hard labour.

Xleta placed a hand on his shoulder and stared pleadingly into his eyes. “Is there nothing you look forward to?”

“Perhaps,” he said turning away.

He entertained thoughts on what kind of a life he could have with Xleta. His fantasy warmed his heart, then drifted, taking on random thoughts. Fuelled by a tinge of hope for the future, his thoughts began to stray to more positive things.

“What did you learn from the planet’s scan?” he queried. “I’m referring to the minerals.”

“Well I found that very interesting. They have all the same minerals as found on the Otarkwan worlds. It seems the natives here know very little about metallurgy. Take their weapons, for example. They are made of no more than three different ores, but have you noticed nothing is made of pernizium here? I’d say they haven’t discovered optimal combinations for superior metals.”

“That is interesting,” Sudenjah said pensively.

An Otarkwan woman screamed, as men around her bared their fangs protectively. One of the soldiers jabbed his bayonet through the wire.

“Come here, demon,” he taunted, breaking into laughter.

Sudenjah stared beyond the soldier. A young man wearing a peaked cap and knee length leather coat purposefully strode towards the soldier. On hearing the officer approach, the soldier spun and snapped to attention, about to salute. The officer slapped his face soundly.

“Only a coward torments prisoners,” the officer said.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“Get out of my sight,” the officer growled.

He remained where he stood, watching the soldier about turn and stiff legeddly walk away. The officer drew closer to the fence, near Sudenjah and Xleta, but stayed out of arm’s length.

“Which one of you is the pilot of that… urm, plane?”

Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2


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ALL THINGS – Chapter 2 part 8

The officer pointed at Sudenjah’s pistol nestled in the mud.

“Wählen Sie, ob nach oben!” he said.

One of the men with rifles stared apprehensively down his sights as he retrieved the Otarkwan weapon for his superior.

“Wer sind sie?” the alien officer yelled.

In the silence that followed, the officer scowled, aiming his pistol at Sudenjah’s head.

“Erhöre mich oder ich schieße!” the alien yelled.

“Sie sind aus der Grube der Hölle,” said on of the riflemen in the lead.

“Halt den mund,” the officer said aside curtly.

Words spoken in low tones among the alien ranks began to carry meaning as Sudenjah’s translation implant activated.

The rifleman in the lead spoke again. “I’m telling you, sir, they’re demons.”

“Nein,” said Sudenjah, now able to converse with them, “We’re not demons, merely travellers from far across the stars.”

He gestured grandly at the sky as he spoke. Every set of alien eyes followed the sweep of his hand.

“I am Captain Ferber,” said the officer. “You… things will come with us! We will hold you until command works out what to do with you! Escort them to the new prison facility!” he ordered his men.

The alien riflemen split into two groups. Half of them aimed at the Otarkwans as they backed away down the trench.

“March!” Ferber shouted at the Otarkwans.

Sudenjah led the way with Xleta walking beside him. The second half of alien riflemen waited until the last of the Otarkwans passed, before falling in behind them. Sudenjah traipsed through the mud; his senses finally adjusting to the stench of decay. He trudged two kilometres when a new aroma wafted to his senses; vegetables; not unlike those of his home world. They turned a bend and waited as the lead escort hurried up ladders. Staggered voices came from above the trench as part of various conversations. The lead escort stood at the top of the trench aiming down into the Otarkwans.

“Climb up!” bellowed a burly rifleman with three marks on his upper sleeve.

Sudenjah climbed first, finding groups of men chatting around small fires. When his head rose above the top of the trench, one man dropped his cooking pot. Another turned to look at the source of his gaping, spreading an epidemic of dread filled faces among the aliens. Some snatched up rifles, others stumbled back from the Otarkwan horde marching through their midst.

Sudenjah overheard awed whispers; mainly consisting of a single word, “demons.”

“No one is to shoot the prisoners!” the officer yelled.

Although no one fired, rifles shakily pointed at the Otarkwans. Sudenjah’s apprehension lessened as they left the alien camp and marched along a road, leading into the country. They turned a sharp bend, rounding a copse of trees, revealing a tall barbed wire fence enclosure. A soldier wearing three stripes stiffened at the gate as half a dozen riflemen appeared, running from nowhere. The gate man nervously saluted Ferber.

“What are they?” the guard asked.

“Prisoners,” Ferber said curtly. “See that they’re held here until otherwise informed.”

The guard saluted. “Yes, sir.

Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2


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ALL THINGS – Chapter 2 part 7

“There is no cause for alarm, madam,” Sudenjah said authoritatively. “It seems this planet has vermin similar to ours.”

“What do we do now?” Xleta asked in a hushed tone. “These people might come back.”

“Merely wait,” said Sudenjah. “Our translator implants will attune to the native language in a matter of minutes. If the combatants who occupied this trench return, we will simply surrender ourselves to them. They will soon learn that we’re neutral. That will give us time to formulate a plan.”

Sudenjah took a step, nudging his foot against something. A flash of lightning revealed a hilt on the end of a bladed weapon, jutting from the mud. He pulled it out for inspection. Although the tip had broken off, its blade still had the same length as his arm.

“Its a sword,” said Machete.

“No,” Sudenjah said pensively. “It’s something else.”

He remembered something in school about the ancients putting bladed weapons on the ends of their rifles. Taking up a fallen rifle, he tested his theory by carefully locking it into place. A word from the past, leapt to his mind.

“It’s a bayonet. The ancients used to put these on their rifles to use as spears,” Sudenjah said.

Machete contemptuously stepped over the khaki clad body in the mud and stopped by a grey uniformed man lying on the edge of the trench.

“I like these helmets better,” said Machete.

Sudenjah had to admit, the squarish looking helmet looked more attractive and functional than the body in the mud wearing the broad button helmet. The grey uniformed body lay face down with the helmet leaning forward over the edge, along with a dangling arm.

“Let’s get a look at him,” said Machete.

He took hold of the brim of the helmet.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Sudenjah advised.

“Why?”

“Before the Otarkwans invented laser sighting and automated targeting, the ancients were legendary marksmen.”

Machete snorted and lifted the helmet, raising the head too. He laughed as the nearby mass of Otarkwans shrank away. The lifeless face gaped. Sudenjah too, was filled with revulsion; not because of the eyeless sockets, but because the alien’s dermis lacked fur on either its face or hands.

“They’re hideous,” Xleta gasped.

A single shot cracked, and Machete’s legs buckled, dropping his lifeless body into the mud. Blood seeped from a wound in the crown of his head. Sudenjah felt no remorse for the criminal’s death. He thought about where he should go, then froze. A gang of grey uniformed men trampled into view from around the next corner. Otarkwan women screamed as men defensively pushed in front of them.

The man in the lead wore a peaked cap and long white coat, extending a pistol. Men in squarish helmets behind him widened their eyes in fear and shakily raised their rifles. A few in the lead fired, felling three Otarkwans. The officer shouted something. His men held their fire.

Sudenjah tossed his pistol aside and held up his hands in surrender.

“Don’t resist them,” he advised.

 Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2


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ALL THINGS – Chapter 2 part 6

The Leviathan came closer to the ground still, now giving a view of men in khaki dyed uniforms and wearing metal helmets.

“They’re firing projectile weapons,” Sudenjah said.

“The planet must be in their crude stages, as we were before unification,” said Xleta.

Sudenjah looked for a good place to land. The dead ground stripped of trees between the trenches looked like his only option.

“Sudenjah, look!” cried Xleta, pointing.

He gaped as a red triplane and a green bi-plane veered to either side of the Leviathan to avoid her.

“We used to fly planes like those as children,” Sudenjah said in awestruck whisper.

Tracer dots from the ground raked the air where the triplane had just been, narrowly missing the crude aircraft. Random bullets raked the Leviathan’s hull on her final approach, doing no more harm to her hull than the rain.

“Brace yourselves!” Sudenjah shouted.

Charred tree trunks, devoid of leaves, snapped like flimsy twigs as Leviathan buffeted once from the ground. She slid across the muddy earth, cutting a trough in her wake. Projectile weapons intermittently struck the hull as several sirens trilled at once.

“Are you alright?” Sudenjah asked, unbuckling himself.

“Yeah,” said Xleta, doing the same.

She took the data disc of the planet’s scan from the computer.

Sudenjah leaned over the intercom. “This is Sudenjah, acting Captain of the Leviathan! Open the nearest emergency exit you can find and flee to safety! The ship is about to reach critical mass.”

Machete had already opened the bridge door, letting in a cool rush of air. “Where to?”

“The nearest trench you can find,” said Sudenjah. “Just be careful; the natives may use projectile weapons, but ancient firearms can still kill.”

Machete snorted and fled, leading the bridge crew in a sprint across the dead ground. Sudenjah followed, keeping with Xleta as they joined the Otarkwan exodus. A stray bullet caught Machete’s rifle. Its power cell hummed, rising higher in pitch. With a curse, the big man flung the weapon as far away as he could. It exploded with twice the force of a standard grenade, doing no harm to the Otarkwans.

They began to slow and mass at a tangled, concentrated barrier of barbed wire. Sudenjah fired his pistol, obliterating the blockage in an eruption of white sparks. Otarkwans fled through the breach, four abreast of each other. Sudenjah believed the man running on his right stumbled, but he failed to rise.

The trench they reached was abandoned. Fleeing Otarkwans dropped into the opening, splashing down into the mud. Sudenjah took hold of Xleta’s hand and jumped down, taking her with him.

“Shut your eyes and cover your ears!” Sudenjah shouted down the trench.

He crowded over Xleta’s huddled form as both covered their ears. Leviathan’s power core ruptured. Sudenjah could feel the earth quake with the explosion, then opened his eyes as the last of the flash abated. He began to assess his surroundings. A woman screamed, backing away into the crowd.

Sudenjah looked at the ground where she pointed. Small animals with long tails amassed over a body lying face down in the mud.

Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2


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ALL THINGS – Chapter 2 part 5

The fighter that had overshot the Leviathan, banked in a wide arc to port. It’s path would bring the Star Shredder around behind them.

“Trim rudder and steer hard as you can to port, Xleta,” said Sudenjah.

If the fighter steered wider than the Leviathan, she would suffer another attack to her tail. The freighter began to roll laterally, cutting a swifter route into the Star Shredder’s path. As collision seemed imminent, the fighter pilot attempted to broadside and throttle across the Leviathan’s nose. Sudenjah saw the look of horror on his face just prior to the huge ship colliding. Xleta threw her arms over her head as flames flashed across the forward viewing window in the explosion.

More dots converged on the tail. Leviathan shuddered a moment before two fighters slipped ahead of Sudenjah’s view and veered away from each other. Pain wrenched at his chest as he felt the throb of the engines lessen.

“They’ve destroyed an engine!” cried Xleta.

“Just do as I do,” Sudenjah said.

He fought to prevent the ship from going into a starboard roll. Another strafe would ensure their demise. Sudenjah looked to his only route of salvation, a huge wormhole just in view to the right of the viewing window. Two dots on the radar angled behind the Leviathan and converged on them, almost in firing range.

“To port!” shouted Sudenjah.

The single engine assisted the freighter’s roll, corkscrewing for the black swirl just ahead of a trail of white laser bolts. It entered the swirling mass, collapsing after them in a flash of light and a roar like waves pounding seaside cliffs.

Sudenjah fought to keep the vessel level. He felt himself weakening, almost bringing a tear to his eye – Leviathan was dying.  The time had come to sever links with the great machine. With a shudder, his soul returned to him, warming his body.

“We’re coming in too fast,” said Xleta.

“Don’t worry, a Leviathan’s hull can withstand re-entry without incineration,” said Sudenjah.

Xleta keyed buttons on the flight console.

“What are you doing?” asked Sudenjah.

“Taking a scan of the planet’s surface. We might be able to find out where we are.”

Sudenjah inwardly applauded Xleta’s initiative.

“Atmosphere’s breathable,” she said. “More data coming. I’ll get as much as we can.”

Sudenjah, with gritted teeth, pulled back on the flight column to lessen the Leviathan’s dive. Xleta strained too, gradually raising the nose as they descended into a mass of cloud. The forward viewing window beaded with moisture. A minute later, they broke through to the tune of a clap of thunder. Light rain now pelted the window as they looked down upon lines and squares made in the planet’s surface.

As they lowered altitude more flashes emanated; not from above, but from the long ruts in the landscape. Squares in the land became fenced off farms and lines became roads. A massive ribbon wound nearby; a river. Faint yellow dots arced from the ruts in the ground, interspersed with small explosions; all short range.

Click here for other chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2

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