Here Be Monsters

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
After losing their planet, a spaceship full of colonists attempt to make a new home on a beautiful planet, only to discover monsters hiding in the dark...

Will they manage to beat the monsters back, and plant their flag on a place to call home...

or will the monsters drive them back to the vast empty space between stars...

Submitted: November 19, 2011

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Submitted: November 19, 2011

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Here Be Monsters

 

Chapter Listing:

1) Satellites' Omen

2) Observation

3) Perimeter Setup

4) Sweet Breath of Peace & Quiet

5) 8 o' Clock and All is Well

6) A Long Night

7) Field Expeditions

8) Termites & the Termite-eater

9) Heavy Artillery

10) Studies of a Sick Monster

11) Plasma Weapons

12) Meaner Termites

13) Full Scale Preparations

14) Tower Defense

15) High Speed Termites

16) Big Ramifications

17) Billions of Monster Dens

18) Planet Evac

 

Satellites' Omen

   Six Hundred something satellites floated in space around the beautiful planet. It was one of twelve planets within the habitable zone around the two small blue-green stars that held these stars' system together. Each of the satellites had fairly large black solar panels which absorbed light from the suns. Each of the satellites had bright LEDs that formed bright yellow or red diamond patterns across the solar panels. The effect was that of a beautiful planet ringed with six hundred pieces of a poisonous snake, that warned people away from this planet.

 It wasn't the only one, though. All twelve planets had the same encircling shell of overlapped satellites. Each satellite had the same red and yellow pattern. There was no question that it was meant as a universal warning. The question was why the warning? Between the satellites, the beautiful planet teased the colony-ship's crew. Blue waters and lush green landmasses, with brown-and white traces of mountains, and big white ice caps. Over all of that the large cloud masses danced to the spin of the planet, and the two moons.

Drone craft were sent down to probe the planet as much as possible. As they wandered across the terrain, they mapped it, searched it for dangerous wildlife, they showed the crew the beautiful world below the clouds, beneath the canopy of the forests. The depths of the ocean. It was such a beautiful world. Untouched by technological nightmares like vast cities of metal and asphalt. Life forms were abundant, plantlike, and herbivore giants. It was a paradise for the crew, who wanted to colonize it immediately.

The captain, however, wasn't ready to trust that their run of bad luck was over yet. Indeed, he suffered from near-frightening dreams of unnamed horrors. He insisted that the crew wait forty-eight hours, or two days, for more thorough probe-searches of the world before the first humans landed. Not everybody was happy with the decision, but nobody could fault the captain's interest in taking good care of his crew.

 

Observation

 To wait two day's can seem like a lifetime, but it can be a lifetime measured in hours, instead of days or weeks. Report after report come in, all clear. Herbivores and their plant food. Excellent meals for colonists. Lots of vegetables and fruit, and plenty of meat. Much of the food was studied by the probes and determined to be easily edible by men and women. Again and again, the planet seemed to tell the crew that they were welcome, that they had found at last a promised land flowing with abundant blessings from a loving god.

 The day came, then the night, and still nothing seemed the least bit disturbed. Life went on in a most peaceful manner. Animals ate plants, and plants grew. That was it. Weapons were cleaned and games were played to keep people from taking shuttles down without proper authorization.

The waiting was slowly taking a toll on the crew though. Excitement can only be contained for so long. Just three hours before the end of the observation period, guards caught a small party who attempted to power up a shuttle for liftoff. As the sign-up sheets were filled with people who joined different shuttle flights, the guilty party were given the place of being on the last shuttle to take a trip down as punishment. Only a small skeleton crew would remain on-board the large colony ship, a crew that included the captain, who felt that he would better serve by helping from the ship. At long last, the first shuttle was readied and loaded. Then it streaked toward the planet, as close to the eastern edge of the sun's falling light as possible. Behind it, a line of shuttles began to form.

 

Perimeter Setup

Large open glades among the forests became camps as the first shuttle parked itself inside such a glade, and the people began to unload. All across the vast forest on this continent the scene was repeated in one glade after another. Cargo shuttles followed the passenger shuttles, and brought the much needed prefabricated building parts. Within minutes people were busy bolting and interlocking the various pieces of barracks and fort-like fencing. A small concession stand was set up on one side, this went rather quickly compared to the sleeping quarters. When the small camp was finished, the metal-plank wall encircling the glade's new occupants, one small group was selected as the first group to enjoy a stroll around the area. Several soldiers would accompany a few scientists who would take a double look at information the probes' sensors had returned during the forty-eight hour observation. As they left, others set up an auto-well and it began to dig down into the land to return fresh water when it reached it. Another scientist team waited to run tests on it before setting the well's filters. Shifts were drawn up so that groups would patrol the walls and keep an eye on things outside and inside the camp no matter what time of day or night it was. Finally, small, powerful radio stations were set up to allow the camp to keep in touch with the colony ship in orbit, as well as the other camps via the ship.

 

Sweet Breath of Peace & Quiet

 One expedition team returned to base camp, and another left. Each brought with them small bundles of fruit and large edible leafage. The third and fourth returned with small tubers and a large edible mushroom. The water from the well was analyzed and the filters set to maximize the health benefits from drinking it, and minimize the bacteria and other potential hazards. Everyone enjoyed the long, slow day. The guards patrolled the perimeter, kept watch on the large animals that grazed peacefully yards away, or small birds and rodents similar to squirrels at play. Scientists wandered about the camp and studied the grass they walked on, the air they breathed. Others went on expeditions around the forest, that stayed relatively close to the camp at first. Still others just sat and relaxed, with deep breaths of fresh air in their lungs for the first time in decades.

Lunch was rations again, but were better received here than breakfast had been back on the colony ship. Dinner would be steaks pulled out of the colony-ship's freezers and brought down, with a salad using the local vegetation. Expeditions after lunch included several just for the purpose of collecting enough greens, fruit, and mushrooms for dinner.

Dinner in every small colony camp was a festive affair. Abundant buffet tables laden with cold salads, and steaming steaks. People ate and ate, made jokes and made toasts to good fortune for their discovery of paradise. Hopes and dreams were shared and encouraged. Things wound down a little as the sun set, and their forts within the glades all called roll to make sure everyone was within when the gates where shut and barred. Fun and joy became more smaller, intimate group matters.

 

 

8 o' Clock and All is Well

Troops circled the tops of the walls, their march took them usually in a full circuit around the glade. Others stood watch from the watch-towers at the four corners of the small forts. Below, most people were in their own private tents, or, for certain higher-ranking officers, in their small prefab cabins. The quiet, peaceful nights observed from the colony ship from orbit were now observed from the ground. Some nocturnal creatures sought food and shelter, their voices echoed through the trees faintly. Near one of the glades a large stream gurgled and bubbled, its own mysterious lullaby tempted the troops on guard duty. The night was young, and pleasant. Tired of their circuit, some troops took short breaks to rest, seated atop the walls, their feet dangled over the drop to the ground below.

Suddenly there was movement within the compounds, troops climbed out of their beds, set up their gear and dressed, then went out to the battlements. Without a warning to the outside world they joined their brothers and sisters already on guard duty, and with little quiet conversations and jokes they relieved their fellow colonists. Fresh troops now walked the path along the walls. Fresh troops now stood watch from the towers. The others, sleepy and content found their own beds and went fast to sleep.

 

 

A Long Night

To those on guard duty that night it would seem they drifted asleep on their feet, and there passed from a pleasant dream of paradise into a nightmarish haunted forest. From beyond sight there arose haunting howls, moans, and wails. These were followed by screams and much, much quaking and shaking of the ground as things unseen thundered through the forests. Those men on duty used everything they were equipped with but saw no sight of the events unfolding. The colony ship was contacted, and while they could detect lots of movement on their radar systems as they scanned the vast forests, they could not tell their fellow colonists on the ground what was unfolding. Every hour that passed it grew worse, and more people found themselves wide awake, unable to sleep, unable to do much more than climb onto the walls and watch for some sight of the terrible sights they seem to miss by feet in the darkness around them. As dawn came even closer, the howls, moans, and wails began to slowly subside, but the screams, and the quakes persisted. Dawn came, to find people still atop the walls looking for signs of the horrors caused that night. Eventually the screams and the quakes subsided, and people were freed to reclaim their cold beds. Only the guards, whoever had gotten the most rest all night, were left awake.

 

 

Field Expeditions

 Nobody could fully shake off their memories of the night before. Those who managed to sleep the most were those aboard the colony ship. The rest, the colonists on the ground, found they could only sleep fitfully. The silence that followed the previous night seemed full of a new tension, the energy of a gathering storm. As soon as enough people were rested as well as anyone would be capable of being that morning, and afternoon, then small parties were organized for expeditions into the forests around them. The mystery of the night was now a problem to be solved under the bright revealing light of day.

The camps were almost emptied as people in small groups searched the land for signs of what had happened. The herbivores of the planet showed no signs of the horrible ordeal, they ate happily on plants as if nothing had happened. There was no visible damage to the forests. No fresh claw marks or large chunks of bark ripped from the trees. There were no large footprints in the mud around the streams and rivers. Nor was there the expected masses of bones and blood many had thought would be strewn about the forests. It was even worse than that. There was no signs of what had happened. It was as if paradise had simply merged with hell overnight, the horrors of the nether-world being heard and felt but never truly being there at all, and then as dawn came the two dimensions simply returned to their proper places. Groups searched until colonists from one camp met colonists from other camps miles away. After a long day spent searching, the colonists all returned to their forts in their groves. As the sun began to set a more rigid military example was seen as they prepared for this night. Guards now carried weapons. Dinner was prepared as it had been for long ages of troops going to battle, enough for everyone to eat two plates, and quick enough to be served within minutes. They ate it just as swiftly and with subdued minds. Nobody needed to say anything. Everyone knew that if tonight proved as bad as the night before, or worse, that everyone would need the few hours before it began to get the most sleep they could.

 

 

Termites & the Termite-eater

The first watch passed much as it had the night before. The second watch took their places more warily. They were not surprised this time to hear the howls, moans, and wails begin in the distance, or the sudden quakes. Nor did the screams terrify them as much this time. They expected this much. Those who had recently gone to sleep, and those who had prepared to sleep no matter what, unless summoned by their comm-sets within their own tents or cabins, slept with earplugs and earmuffs on. If this was all that the night would throw at them, they would weather it better than the night before.

 Then one of the colonies felt the earth as it shook. It shook worse than the night before, and then suddenly it quit. Troops stared into the darkness, some with night-vision-goggles on, and saw nothing. Then tentacles shot from the dark trees beyond, wrapped around a few troops as they screamed. Others fired at the tentacles where they entered the trees before their fellow troops were yanked into the darkness. A grenade launcher was pulled out and a round sent into the darkness where the tentacles had come from. The explosion lit the forest for several yards, but revealed nothing. Then from another side of the camp came a moan. Louder than the others, much, much closer. Fear stirred in their hearts as the moan continued. Last night the moans has been left to the imagination, and they seemed the grief-stricken cries of creatures having lost friends and family to other monsters. Now, as it echoed within the forests around the glade, and then was echoed by other monsters far in the distance, the colonists who were awake were able to tell what it was. It was a message, loud and clear, a dinner invitation.

 Suddenly the tentacles were back, and with them came the occasional glimpses of a giant maw full of row upon row of teeth. Horns bristled in the moonlight and giant tusks framed the sides of the giant mouth as troops were grabbed up in tentacles and tossed in. Before the whole colony was roused by the alarms half the troops that stood guard were gone. None of the other colonies were under attack, although some were close enough to hear the gunshots. A brave soldier pulled grenades from a box set on the wall as the tentacles wrapped around him. He was carried into the darkness where his fellow soldiers heard the muffled blast of the grenades. But nobody cheered. They didn't know how effective the grenades were, or whether the monster's stomach was lined with a metal mesh that would protect the rest of his organs. Nor did it matter for long. Suddenly there were nearly a dozen of the monsters. The alarm rang loud and clear, and people came from their tents dressed and ready for the battle. High-explosive rounds were issued to all firearms, grenade throwers were given to those trained to use them. A few rocket launchers were issued, the rules being established that their limited ammunition was to be used if a direct shot was seen and could be taken advantage of. Especially if a monster had its mouth open.

The situation was similar to termites roused from slumber by a terribly giant termite-eater, and its siblings. A few of the monsters would even pick a fight with one another. As less and less men remained on the walls, it became more important for the monsters to reach over the walls, and in many cases to come closer to the walls to reach for their prey. As the colonists huddled in the center of their fort now, firing at any monster close enough to hit, the monsters began to batter the walls with their tails, and lean as far over as they could, their tentacles reaching for another bite. The night was far from over.

 

 

Heavy Artillery

The colony ship did not sit idly by to watch. Almost as soon as the alarms were detected the crew began to plan a response. There weren't many spare troops on the ship, or pilots for smaller fighter craft, but those who were still aboard were willing to go down and intervene on behalf of their fellow colonists, and a greatly concerned captain. Heavily powered gunships were fully loaded with high-explosive mini-missiles, heavy-duty armor-piercing cannons and their ammunition, then the troops who could fire the weapons, and pilots who could fly them. Two squads were dispatched as the response team. They fell through the atmosphere as fast as possible, then blasted across the sky to save their fellow colonists.

 In the other colonies silent alarms went off, and people were awakened from their peaceful sleep. They began to pack up what they had brought with them. The captain issued an evacuation order including all of the camps except for the one under siege. A battle plan was immediately drawn up, to focus defensive action on the camp the monsters were drawn to.

The gunships slowed down in the air over the forest, and circled the grove. They unleashed a rainstorm of cannon fire into the trees around the grove. The trees toppled over and before long the monsters were revealed between the fallen trees. There were dozens of them that encircled the fort. The monsters moved around the fallen trees, sometimes over the fallen trunks. Between one or four attacked the fort and attempted to win a bite of food before they moved away, only to be replaced by the next group. In the darkness of night the gunships could just barely see them, but they still unleashed their payloads. They would target a monster, then fire a set of mini-missiles and batter the monster with cannon-fire. It became apparent shortly after they had begun that their missiles had little effect on the monsters, and the cannons merely agitated the monsters. More firepower was unleashed per monster, to little effect. The monsters received very small amounts of damage compared to the resources being used against them. Still, the gunships poured all the ammunition they had against the monsters, which slowed down their onslaught upon the fort. Then the wall on one side crumbled under the attack, and the monster that hit it moved into the camp, its tentacles reached out as it did for the people closest to it. The men in the campsite had a surprise prepared for this though. A sudden flurry of rockets disappeared into the maw of the monster as it roared. It found the reverberating blasts of the rockets within itself to be most unpleasant, and turned from the feast before it. It made its way out of the fort, and momentarily blocked the hole within the wall. It left though, and all too soon another one appeared there, ready to enter the camp and swallow more people.

The next monster was fed the same diet, and had the same response. Where the gunships showed little effect for all their firepower, the rockets as they disappeared into the monsters' throats was somewhat effective. Unfortunately, this method only worked with one monster at a time, and the other walls were failing as the first had. But the long night was coming to an end. The monsters all began to turn and leave. The last one entered the fort, ate a mouthful of rockets, and then turned to leave. The gunships followed the monster out, and unleashed a constant rain of firepower onto its backside until it passed under the cover of the forest. Within an hour, the small fort and the people who remained within its walls were greeted to the sun's rays as they appeared just above the treetops.

 

 

Studies of a Sick Monster

 The monsters vanished as surely as they had the previous morning. Searches were planned and executed, although nothing was found for most of the morning. At last one monster was seen deep in the forest, far away from the camp it had attacked. It had gone as far as it could, being the last monster to attack the camp, and the one having received the most rocket, missile, and cannon fire as it left. It was in a coma, still alive, but barely. A small team was sent to study it while the troops redesigned the camp to create more of a fortress that could possibly stand up to the assault they expected the next night.

It was determined that the monster was sick. It suffered from a bacterial infection set off by the numerous wounds they had given it. The study concluded that this bacteria was in fact rather deadly on its own, once it could enter the monster's body in large enough numbers. In theory, if they could mass produce the bacteria, and then inject it into the monsters in large quantities, it could prove to be a more effective weapon. All they needed was a way to mass produce it, and a weapon to use in order to administer it to the monsters.

A massive fence of trees was being built, far enough away from the fortress to just tease the monsters. Once built it would be coated with concrete-like material to help make it hold against the monsters. The fortress itself was being solidified with large quantities of rock and melted metal to fuse it into a semi-solid mass. It would stand nearly eye-to-eye to the monsters on this night, and if it lasted, would tower over them the next night.

The terribly sick monster remained alive throughout the rest of that day, and as the sun set, they attempted to test their theory, injecting a small mass of bacteria hastily grown in small containers filled with dry sugar. Within minutes the monster's health was worse than before, and shortly after they left it alone, it died.

 

 

Plasma Weapons

While troops slept fitfully before the action began that night, new weapons were being manufactured in massive numbers. All of the colony ship's weapon forges were used, as well as large storage tanks to first create a weapon that would fire the bacteria, in a concentrated ice-cold gelatinous ball. In essence, a primitive plasma weapon. To maximize the weapon's effectiveness, it was being designed to roughly resemble a cross between a rocket launcher, and a flamethrower. As the moons rose, these weapons were prepared, and shipped to the remaining colony.

Weapons were handed out to the troops on duty first, and then passed out to the rest. Mostly, that meant a single troop went to one tent after another to slide a weapon through the tent flap as quietly as possible, and to leave the large tank of plasma just outside the tent's makeshift door.

While the troops on the walls waited for the noise that would announce the monsters arrival, the rest slept as well as they could within the colony. Onboard the colony ship, the gunships were being outfitted with their own new weapon systems. New plasma cannons fired larger versions of the ice-cold gelatinous balls, with a special balloon-like membrane that would help keep them from falling apart in flight, but allow them to burst upon impact with the monsters. Small missiles were being retrofitted as well, to blast plasma under their skin as diamond-tipped shrapnel cut into the monsters. Everything paused though when the first moan was heard. This would be the second round, and the captain and his troops whose goal was to keep the civilians alive hoped that it would be the last.

 

 

Meaner Termites

The night was almost quiet. Only the thunderous noise of the monsters movement under the forests and their moans that called and directed them could be heard. Nobody knew what was happening. Then the thunder of the monsters began to converge on the fortress. The forest filled with moans from the creatures. Slowly one creature moved out of the shadows at the edges of the forest. It moved slowly towards the fence, almost as if it expected the troops to open fire at the sight of it. It reached the barrier without incident, and reached tentacles out toward the fortress. It moaned again as it began to beat on the fence, and dozens of the creatures emerged from the forest around to join it. The troops all waited silently, their weapons readied. The ground commander watched from a high scaffolding set in the middle of the fortress. When he saw the fence fully surrounded by a single layer of monsters who all battered it, he gave the command. One word echoed from his scaffold to the walls of the fortress. Many of the troops who slept below awoke and would soon join the battle. Upon the wall, before the command was fully sounded, it was drowned out by the weapon-fire as rounds and rounds of plasma were blasted at the monsters on the fence.

The monsters seemed to ignore the plasma as it covered them. They continued to bash the fence with their tails, and occasionally flicked their tentacles out toward the fortress. A brilliant young sergeant pointed his troops to aim and fire at the monsters when they opened their mouths to moan. So much plasma was poured down the monsters throats that many of the moans were cut off with sudden gurgling sounds. Suddenly another wave of monsters began to move forward out of the forest. They moved up to the barrier with their brethren, who were only beginning to show signs of slowing their assault down. The old group of monsters slowly began to turn and retreat, as the new group took their place against the fence. The new group began to bash at the fence much as the old group had. It seemed momentarily possible that the barrier might hold throughout the night. As the old group of monsters faded into the forest though, yet another group moved out toward the fence. The group at the fence now were busy as they bashed it, and lashed out reaching for the troops with their tentacles. This third wave of monsters moved in behind them, followed by a fourth. Then one of the third group of monsters started to try and climb over the fence. He stepped on one of the monsters from the second group, then another as he tried to get his body high enough to get over the fence. Suddenly he pitched forward and over, rolled on his back, and hit the fortress wall with a resounding boom. Behind him the third and fourth group of monsters all began to clamber over their fellow monsters from the second group who continued to bash at the fence. The troops were suddenly busy with the monsters between them and the fence, as they fired at the monsters, and dodged their tentacles. To assist the fortress, since it couldn't fight the monsters inside the fence, and to slow the assault upon the fence, the commander in the fortress called down the gunships.

Monster after monster was fed a steady diet of plasma. Over the course of an hour they began to show signs of slowing. Before they turned and began to climb over the wall though, several waves of monsters flooded out from the forests. After a short moment when the fight lulled, the sight of so many fresh monsters caused a moan to rise from the fortress itself. The commander called the troops who had spent the night so far fighting on the wall down to rest, and summoned any troops who were not already upon the wall to assist. The vast flood of monsters simply poured over the wall, replacing the old, sickening monsters with fresh, hungry ones. These seemed even more fierce and frustrated than the ones before. The monsters who took up the bashing of the fence worked at it almost feverishly. The ones who poured over it began to climb on top of one another to attempt to feast on troops. Two or three of the monsters had a short brawl when one started to climb onto the other two to better reach the fortress wall. Beyond the battle, the howls, wails and screams began again. The monsters had massed to eat the new delicacy, but found it hard to eat their fill. Now those who left the frustrating termite hive behind would sate their hunger on the local fare they were used to.

Then the gunships arrived. Like the previous night they encircled the fortress. But this night they poured plasma in large amounts onto the monsters. The missiles themselves seemed to be the more effective weapon, since they blast-injected plasma under the skin of the monsters. But the growing horde of monsters within the forest was losing patience with those who were supposed to eat and then move aside, and the next mass of monsters to leave the forest and join the onslaught was immeasurable. The monsters filled the open battlefield like a teeming sea of horns, tentacles, and black pits for eyes. Their moans suddenly filled the area with a continuous resonance. Incredibly, in the distance, moans could still be heard in response. Troop morale was dropping, more and more were being grabbed by the tentacles they rarely had the strength to fight off. A virtual ring of monsters surrounded the fence. They hammered at it constantly, and the gunships were unable to attack them. So many monsters climbed over them and the fence that they were actually being shielded. Fresh monsters climbed over to attack the fortress, and sick monsters climbed over to retreat. Finally their relentless assault proved too much, and the wall collapsed with loud cracking sounds and fresh moans. Then the monsters who had worked on the fence joined the rest moving toward the fortress.

Monsters up against the wall of the fortress had begun to bash it earlier, but their efforts would not show for sometime yet. Unfortunately, many of the troops were losing too many comrades, and saw too little damage being done to their enemy. The plasma was showing some effect, indeed, with the help of the gunships. A steady stream of monsters moved against the tide of monsters that pressed against the fortress, their rip current pulling the sickened monsters back into the forests to hide and heal. Finally, the commander issued the order to take cover inside the fortress walls. The reinforced walls had special gun-slits set within them that would allow the troops to fire out at the seething mass of monsters, without risking losing any more troops. A small group of soldiers joined the commander on his scaffold, and as monsters climbed on top of monsters, threatening to climb onto the wall, they unleashed withering amounts of plasma-rocket fire at their hideous faces.

With the smaller amount of troops capable of using the gun-slits, more troops were able to rest for brief periods of time, and get a snack or drink to help keep them fighting. Rotation schedules were set up, allowing fresh troops to replace weary troops. Even the commander's squad was rotated out occasionally. The gunships were rotated as well, as two or three squads would be deployed at a time to work on thinning out the seething mass of monsters before it reached the fortress. Still hours before dawn, cracks were showing upon the outer sections of the fortress as the monsters continued to batter it to pieces methodically. Desperate to assist the fortress, the captain considered an orbital bombardment using kinetic slugs, but the need to test the aged weapons before using them was too important to ignore. A slug that struck within the fortress, or simply grazed one of the walls, would kill scores of troops, and possibly tear down the fortress walls. To better help the troops within the fortress, the gunship teams were doubled in size. Unfortunately, this meant that all of the gunship squads were either engaged fighting, or resting and rearming before relieving the other squads.

Still, the fortress held out as the sky began to grow brighter, and the monsters began to turn and leave. With the new day would come even more preparations for the next night.

 

 

Full Scale Preparations

Several things were done during this day. The digital maps gathered during the initial observation period were analyzed for possible locations for the monsters to gather during the day. It was immediately noticed that the majority of the land was tunneled through underground. Large tunnel systems almost like a giant alien sewer system ran throughout the whole continent, disappearing underneath the oceans and seas. Large caves dotted the landscape under the jungle canopies. Immediately troops were dispatched to set up sensor equipment on the mouths of the caves to detect movement and to monitor sound. If the monsters were underground during the day, they would come out after dark, making their way to the fortress.

Other preparations included fortifying the fortress and the fence against the monsters. Another level of height was added to help keep the monsters from climbing onto one another to reach for the troops on top. The fence was strengthened, and given more height to make it harder for the monsters to simply climb over. Special assault jeeps, held in reserve on the colony ship, were being armed with special plasma weapons. They would become another level of defense, fast distractions from the fortress to help slow down the monsters onslaught when it would be needed.

Plasma technology was upgraded to another level of capability, the lab scientists believing it could now render monsters dangerously ill in a matter of minutes, not hours. With a simple injection of the new plasma, all weapon systems were able to be 'upgraded' as the new plasma bacteria mixed with the old and reproduced only newer genetic material.

The day of preparations grew into night, and the troops within the fortress took shifts resting, their final preparation for the battle that would begin shortly.

 

 

Tower Defense

The capital ship received numerous sensor pings indicating that the monsters were on the move, leaving the vast caverns and making their way toward the fortress. Within seconds the troops on the ground were notified, the gunships put on alert, and the jeep teams readied. It was several minutes later before the first moans could be heard, and then, as they grew louder, the monsters could be heard as they moved thunderously through the forest toward the fortress. There were some new moans among the familiar ones, older and larger monsters who had slept far longer than the younger ones were now being roused by the great activity on the planet. The monsters moved out toward the massive barricade, and began to pound it, and climb on top of one another to get over it. As the first monsters managed to get up onto the barricade, the commander of the fortress defenses gave the order and a withering blast of rocket-fire knocked them off. This scene would repeat itself several dozen more times even as the number of monsters on the wall increased and eventually there was a steady flow of monsters that fell into the open field between the barricade and the fortress. Several groups of troops were stationed around the inside of the fortress, to use the gun-slits to fire upon the monsters within the barricade.

As more and more monsters poured over the barricade, and the field began to fill with monsters attacking the fortress or sick and leaving, the commander called down the gunships to start battering the monsters upon the barricade and beyond it, while the troops on the walls focused on the monsters bashing the fortress wall and climbing on top of one another.

Suddenly a tentacle shot through a gun-slit. It wrapped around a man's head and pulled him forcefully into the wall. After several tries the monster gave up trying to pull him through. The teams using the gun-slits were forced instead to close them off. The gunships blasted monsters as they clambered over the barricade while the troops rotated around the top of the fortress blasting the monsters that filled the field. Here and there monsters now climbed over sick monsters who were already falling ill and no longer had the strength to move.

The night passed slowly, hour after hour of blasting the monsters. The barricade could no longer be seen beneath the press of monsters, and there were now large piles of sick or dead monsters, which the living monsters used as crude ramps to climb over the barricade upon. The field was filling up as well, slowly becoming a rising ramp for the monsters to use to reach the top of the fortress by climbing upon their fallen. Moans from those nearby and distant moans from the ones still moving through the forest could be heard from all directions.

 

 

High Speed Termites

Before the monsters reached the top of the fortress, the defense commander radioed the colony ship above, and the jeeps were sent down in shuttles. Released in areas where monster activity was low, with small gunship defense crews flying cover for the drop zones, the jeeps started to weave through the forests, firing upon the monsters as they raced past. They raced from their different drop zones, two or three per squad, until they passed the fortress clearing, drawing the attention of the monsters all around them. The monsters were fast for something so huge, but not as fast as the jeeps. The jeeps vanished before a monster could grab it with their tentacles, spraying plasma-fire as they went. The still-living monsters within the barricade barely paid any attention to them, but the distraction was slowly apparent as the masses that climbed over the barricade began to thin.

The jeeps raced in intricate patterns which they changed regularly, to make it impossible for the monsters to discern a single repetitive pattern to catch them with. Between their own local sensors, and radio contact with the colony ship they avoided collisions with one another, while harassing the monsters with regular plasma-fire and passes through the forest just beyond the barricade to thin the ranks of monsters who would attack the fortress.

One squad was called off to do a long-range reconnaissance operation, to drive as far and as fast as possible through the masses of monsters to see just how far they stretched from the fortress. Off they went then, past monster after monster reaching for them, their turret-mounted chain-guns firing plasma-rounds.

While they performed their mission, the rest continued to distract the monsters and confuse them with regular passes. The monsters who neared the top of the fortress were hit with multiple rocket blasts, knocking them over and sending them rolling down the hill of monster bodies until they reached the end, either filling a gap in the hill and barricade, or rolling to the other end of the barricade's own monster-body ramps. These rolling monsters rarely stopped any other monster from approaching but once in a while would knock another monster down with it. Troops were rotated from below to the top for an hour or so of fighting then would be sent below to rest, eat, or drink as needed. The monsters continued to climb over their fallen, reaching for the fortress's troops. The gunships continued to blast monsters around the barricade, in an attempt to help keep them from overwhelming the fortress.

Near morning the monsters were able to grab troops from the top of the fortress, but the troops had nowhere to go if they were to continue to blast the monsters as they reached the top of the fortress. Then the jeep squad with the mission of reaching the end of the monsters' ranks reported to the colony ship. They had reached the shoreline of the continent, and found monsters swimming to the land, and entering the forest. Monsters still poured from the caverns as well, young and old. As sunrise broke over the horizon, the monsters moans continued. Their attacks on the fortress continued. Their tentacles continued to reach for the tired jeep crews. This time, they would not return to the caves for the day.

 

 

Big Ramifications

The captain of the colony ship watched it unfold with new horror and alarm. Monsters reared over the top of the fortress, standing upon a massive hill of monster bodies, their tentacles grabbing men and tossing them into their giant mouths. Tusk and horn were swung back and forth to skewer men who blasted the monsters with plasma-fire. Slews of rockets finally found the monster's mouth and sent it tumbling away knocking other monsters out of its way as it rolled down the nightmare-inducing hill of bodies. The jeep crews rallied in open groves throughout the forest where fresh troops and citizens replaced the weary men and women who had driven most of the night. Gunships returned to the colony ship to be rearmed and for fresh troops, some with only a few days of simulator time to pass for training in battle. Several shuttles were quickly modified, to allow them to hover above the fortress, to unload fresh troops and pick up those who were most exhausted, and to deposit large loads of ammunition to reload the weapons being used. The captain and commander were reluctant, but they both agreed at last to use orbital fire upon the forest around the barricade.

The kinetic slugs blasted the forest with huge earthquake-like shudderings and explosive force that destroyed the forest for miles around. Soon a large dust cloud was all that was left of miles of forest around the fortress. Only one slug had come dangerously close, blasting a hole in the barricade and its ramp of bodies. As the dust settled though, monster after monster could be seen leaving the new edges of the forest, crossing the monster-strewn wasteland toward the barricade and the fortress. The gunships and jeeps were called in to do their best to keep them from reaching the barricade. The jeeps began to orbit the fortress in varying routes through the wasteland, they dodged live monsters as well as the dead ones.

But the news was bad on all fronts. Probes in orbit around the planet and hid throughout the forests told the same story. Monsters, big and small, young and old were all leaving their caverns to rid the planet of this strange new thorn. From continent to continent they traveled, through caverns, forests, and across oceans and seas. It seemed unbelievable that there were still monsters coming out of the caverns when there were already so many moving about.

As the troops battled the monsters in the fortress, in their gunships, and in the jeeps, a lone squad of jeeps were given the order to drive into a cavern if possible, and try to determine just how many monsters were still there underground.

 

 

Billions of Monster Dens

The jeep squad entered one of the cavern entrances which had been quiet for some time, one furthest away from the fortress and the monster attack upon it. Deep within the caverns they found the massive nests of animal bones the monsters ended up with. They found the caverns riddled with these dens full of sleeping monsters. Only a few dens appeared empty as they moved through. Here and there another monster stirred, and began to head for the surface. But so many more slept on. Estimates within an hour of their probe reached into the thousands, across the planet it was estimated that there could be billions of dens, with billions of monsters who had not yet awaken.

If they bombarded the whole planet, which would take more resources than they really had, it would only wipe out the monsters currently on the surface. Also, it would ruin the paradise they had once thought this place was. The paradise it sometimes is, when the monsters hibernate. If they had the resources, they could fill the caverns with plasma, but that could take years, and the monsters were awake by the billions already. The fortress would never survive the next night. The monsters who were not distracted by the jeeps, or turned away by the gunships found less and less troops to fight them off.

They could harvest a small abundance of some minerals and other resources, including water, from the asteroids in the star system, but if each planet was infested with these monsters, all twelve planets, then there would be no permanent settling of any of them. Not for this crew, not this time. The captain and his officers considered the possibility of a few shuttle trips to the other worlds during the day, to gather meat from the large herbivores to store in the colony-ship freezers, as well as large containers of fruit to be collected. Then reluctantly, but with certainty, the captain issued the order to evacuate the planet they had tried to colonize. They were leaving it for the monsters.

 

 

Planet Evac

The Modified shuttles made landfall one last time, and the troops rallied to defend one another as they climbed aboard. The gunships and jeeps assisted them, then the jeeps went to their own rendezvous in glades around the forest to be picked up by vehicle shuttles. The gunships simply flew cover, firing at the occasional monster. In the end, they followed the shuttles back to the colony ship.

The supplies were gathered over a week or so, and new satellites were set into orbit, with special warnings, and a few of their discoveries for those interested, or desperately in need of resources as they had been. Then they returned to the deeper vacuum of space between star systems, looking for a place to call home. Looking for a paradise that would erase the memory of a nightmare...


© Copyright 2017 Todd5747. All rights reserved.

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