• Published 27th Apr 2014
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Specimen 25467 - NachoTheBrony



"She needs a friend," they told him. She was Earth's first confirmed alien, and he rather became her father.

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2: Unknown enemy action


Chapter 2: Unknown enemy action

Author Notes:
What if ‘the foal-napping incident’ had been a mobilization rather than a commando operation? And what if the enemy had been warned?
And sorry if Flora sounds younger on this chapter: it just came out that way!
Cookies points to the one who spots the Asimovian references.


When the new silent alarm went off and shocked him awake at o-three-fourteen, Mike had an instant of honesty and sighed in relief: This past two weeks had been too weird, and he had wanted to see the other shoe drop and actually know what he was supposed to prepare for. Two weeks ago both Sharon and him had been promoted, his garrison had suddenly been upgraded from ‘seventy-man misnamed Coast Guard’ to ‘two-hundred and-fifty-man fortified island,’ the DHS evacuated their hotel so to garrison some pyros from the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Corps then went as far as to air-drop concrete slabs, engineering tanks, backhoes and a stripped-out APC so to bury the APC six feet under, label it ‘bunker’ and have Flora sleeping in it in under a week!

Besides, his orders summarized to “prepare for weird”? What kind of an order was that!

Of course, his moment of weakness only lasted a second, after which he shock his head and hovered his hand over his new growler phone. And instant later it began growling and he picked up.

“Report!” he barked into the microphone.

“Around forty contacts flying low from Puerto Rico, opening north and south into a pincer manoeuvre. A third prong coming from the Virgin Islands; some twenty contacts,” said one of the newcomer officers, Ensign Ruiz. “ETA fifteen minutes for north and east prongs, twenty-five for south prong unless they cut across the civilian side.”

Good: they are moving awfully slow. Bad: they were in US territories undetected.’

“Roger. Are we in Ambush Protocol, ensign?”

“Affirm, sir!”

“Say again the ROE.”

“Assume enemy to employ silent rocket belts, heavy armour and unknown weapons and tactics. Put the VIP into full tactical gear and stuff her into the bunker. Silent sirens sound Full alert; lights out; do not engage the enemy unless engaged or they clearly demonstrate that they are advancing on the VIP; try to give warning shots before employing lethal force.”

“Roger. Out,” said Mike before hanging the phone, not remembering that it wasn’t a radio.

As he slipped on his full tactical gear, he eyed the weapon that had come to replace his carbine five days ago: a mini-iPad controlling a handful of pyrotechnic charges and some two hundred Claymore mines, most of them facing upward and placed all around the roofs and gardens of the camp.

He picked it up, slipped it on its left-arm holster and exited his office/temporary bedroom, to then only have to cross two more doors before getting to the new command centre, where he mostly ignored the four walls worth of monitors and marched onto the radar station.

“Updates, Ensign Ruiz?” he asked his new Hispanic subordinate.

“Muñiz Base is scrambling a Spooky and two Apache escorts. ETA is...” The man looked at his watch. “...sixteen minutes.”

“Good. Continue.”

“Enemy speed remains constant at forty knots, so ETA is twelve minutes for their vanguard, twenty-two for their reinforcements,” the copper-skinned ensign replied, barely looking up from the radar stations. “We also have better numbers: each prong has three formations, and each formation has six ‘motorcycles’ flying double line, and one ‘small bus’ flying on their wake. So numb-”

The ensign cut off suddenly, watching on the radar how two new ‘motorcycles’ came out of the rear of each bus, then entered the rear of the motorcycle formation just as the two on the front disengaged and entered their respective bus.

“Rocket belts, indeed,” mumbled the ensign, rubbing his chin.

“Re-label,” barked Mike, making the equally baffled radar operators react. “Small contacts are Flying Infantry; large contacts are APCs. And Ensign,” he continued, turning on the one mentioned, “Text the troops with the ROE and two minute updates on the enemy. And have an ‘Incoming’ message prepared in case the enemy decides to fire something.”

He then moved on and went to look around the various monitors, especially the four smart maps: one being an overview of his half-island, the rest being zooms into the hotel, the base and the new tent city that had eaten half of Flora’s east fields. He saw his garrison working like clockwork, with their radio beacons showing on the maps how the new camp was emptying as people ran into various positions, mostly a brand-new complex of trenches and pillboxes dug around the base and on a third-circle centred around the bunker; how the anti-air batteries on the hotel’s roof came online, and how his boats bobbed under minimal power to perimeter positions.

He removed his helmet, then put on his microphone diadem and put the helmet back on.

He waited another minute for all the blue dots to have gotten to their stations, then turned on the HUD on his combat helmet, and turned on the minefield in manual firing mode. His HUD immediately flashed the alert about the minefield and, turning it off, he took a moment to see how the camp’s map coloured with green circles for the vertical claymores and green, diffuse cones for the minority of horizontal ones, mostly aiming into the jungle.

A few heartbeats later he saw the second minefield, the one centred on the hotel, come online. He turned to the nearest phone, dialled ‘03’ and waited.

“Hotel control room,” came the curt answer from the other side.

“This is the OIC. Put Lieutenant Borg on the phone.”

“Right away, sir!” The phone was then dropped on a hard surface, and after a few heartbeats it was picked up again.

“Morning, IOC, sir!”

“Morning, lieutenant,” he replied. “Anything to report, besides the obvious?”

“Nothing, sir,” she replied. “My cannons are tracking by radar, but my north-side spotters can’t discern the enemy yet. Will send images as soon as I have them.”

“I would appreciate those images, lieutenant.”

Then she continued, in a more personal tone: “And, Mike...”

“Yes, Sharon?” he replied, his tone changing accordingly.

“Keep the furball safe,” she closed, then hanging the phone on him.

He stared at the phone for a moment, then looked at the radar screens and, judging that he had two minutes to spare, dialled ‘09’...

“Bunker,” came a curt reply.

“Morning, Seaman Martin,” said Mike, immediately hearing how the seaman straightened up. “Put Flora on, please.”

“Of course, sir.”

It barely took a couple of heartbeats until...

“Dad; I’m scared! What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, furball,” he answered. “But please, please, promise me to be brave and do anything that your personal detail tells you to do. We all love you, and we all want to keep you safe.”

“I will, Dad. You know I will.”

“That’s my girl, Flora. Now put on Seaman Martin again.”

“Love you, Dad!”

...

“Sir!”

“At ease, Seaman. Now I am not talking officer to trooper, but man to man: you and the others, keep my girl safe!

The seaman’s reply took a moment to come, and was barely whispered into the microphone: “I think I can talk for everyone in this bunker, sir: they will only take her through us.

“Thanks, Seaman Andrew Martin. Out.”

Mike hung up, wondering if this was the last time he would hear of his daughter, and concentrated again on the maps: the first two prongs were six miles out and closing, still maintaining their awfully low speed. He couldn’t help but wonder: was this some sort of psychological strategy, meant for drawing fire and thus justify the attack?

And what was up with this double-line formation as compact as race cyclists? Mike might not be a flyboy, but even he knew that the air inside those wakes must be so fouled up that it was just impossible to fly by fixed wing like that. Were these motorcycle-sided choppers? Or was the enemy just so darn advanced that they were literally walking on air?

“OIC!” one of the technicians called. “Hotel is sending images.”

Some images then took his screens: a panoramic of the three formations coming from the north, then the same zoomed into a group, that were indeed moving single file, and a third on the leader of one of the columns: while the green-hued false colour image didn’t help, he could not deny his eyes: he was seeing a winged, adult version of Flora, wearing some sort of plate armour.

A fourth image then came, zooming on this fellow’s angry expression.

Mike couldn’t help but try to compare this fellow’s mug with Flora’s always-happy face. His brain just couldn’t compute it: he had never seen Flora angry...

Mike rapidly shock his head and, rather than shout across the room, finally took his brand-new command chair, docked the minefield controller on the cradle on his left, and, on his right, started the switchboard hooking his diadem to all comms on the island.

He first stared at the wall-full of monitors in front of him, then pressed the ‘radar’ button and calmly said “Radar: re-label: ‘pegasus’ and ‘chariot’. Out.”

He glanced at the smart map and spotted that Boat 3 was a minute from being passed at low altitude by the east prong, just like Boat 1 would be passed some thirty seconds later by the north one.

He pressed the button for ‘Boats’ and spoke with the carefully controlled tone of a teacher feeling like going ballistic: “This is Central. Boat 3, Boat 1: I do not; I say again, I do not want you gapping at the flying horses! I want you to look for weaknesses on their armours! Call after your observations. Out.”

He then thought for a second and selected ‘All Call’

“This is OIC. Everyone is authorized to use infrared light. I say again: Use infrared light!” After all, Mike knew Flora was every bit as blind as humans to IR, so he considered it a safe gamble that this apparently low tech pegasus force would be equally blind.

And even if those antique-looking helmets had HUDs that weren’t blind to IR, they still were the advanced space horses invading Planet Earth; so human weapons might be as unthreatening to them as peashooters.

This is Boat 3,” came the speaker on the room’s ceiling. “We report the enemy to have exposed abdomens, exposed wings and poor limb protection.”

“Roger, Boat 3.” ‘Not the best combination for walking into a minefield,’ thought Mike, feeling a sinking feeling in his gut. He then dismissed such thoughts: first of all, for all he knew they could use forcefields or something; secondly, he was well aware that the DoD had protocols in place for negotiating Flora’s handover if somebody came looking for her, so he knew that, if this incursion was happening, then whoever had come for Flora didn’t precisely have her best interests at heart.

This is Boat 1: enemy has exposed bellies and minimal armour in all six limbs. We also report the last vehicle is painted white with red crosses. I say again: last vehicle is an ambulance.”

“Roger, Boat 1.” ‘Therefore, they have some awareness of human conventions. Definitely a break in talks, if there ever were talks.’

Happily, Mike at least knew that he had competent subordinates, as the smart map rapidly re-labelled the last vehicle of the north prong to “Ambulance,” and he could see Ensign Ruiz punching an update text to the troops.


Mike couldn’t quite remember the next five minutes, consumed by stress as the enemy slowly overflew his base, but they finally cleared it all and landed on the courtyard, making a perimeter around the ‘decoy building,’ a fifteen-by-fifteen fortified shed that had been built over a two-foot thick foundation of concrete over the buried APC.

The extremely scarce intelligence on the enemy did suggest them to be able to home on Flora with pinpoint accuracy, although the ‘shed,’ being the only illuminated structure in all of his camp, might have helped that. And it was thanks to this square of floodlights that Mike could have his first good look at the enemies: white bodied, every single one of them, and every one of them blue-maned except for a magenta-maned apparent officer. He also noticed that about two thirds had wings and lances, and the remaining third were evenly divided between beefy bruisers and these thin ones with horn-like protrusions on the front of their helmets. And he also noticed that the personnel coming out from the ambulance were wearing red armours (against the silver/gold armours of everybody else), and were sticking close to their vehicle rather than participating in the manoeuvres.

“Radar!” barked Mike, raising his voice rather that using the switchboard. “New labels: ‘bruiser,’ ‘unicorn,’ ‘medic,’ ‘officer.’”

During his musings, Mike also noted that, once the perimeter had been set, the officer began pulling a squad of several bruisers, a fellow pegasus and one unicorn toward the door.

He turned on the audio feed from the shed and listened:

“Ma’am, the Lost Foal is underneath that structure.” Said the pegasus, showing her a blue crystal, blinking red several times a second.

“Well: let’s go inside! Corporal Minute: Open the door!”

The sensors concerning that door immediately reported the first of its three dummy locks being picked. This was one of the activating commands for ‘diplomacy’, making four heavy deadbolts slide into place, opening a shutter (uncovering a mirror) on the upper door, and getting Sharon on speakerphone.

“Well, where I come from, forcing entry is considered rude!” she interjected snidely. The corporal on the other side froze for a second, to then be pushed aside by the officer, who began speaking into the shutter.

“This is second captain Scootaloo of the Equestriani Royal Guard, Margravine Tolfetano, and I demand you open this door in the name of Equestria!”

“Well, this is second lieutenant Sharon Borg,” whose voice sounded quite relaxed. “...Second in charge to this base, and this door will remain closed in the name of the United States of America.”

The armoured horse opened her wings and gave a single flap, somehow achieving that she stayed hovering level with the mirror as if she was nailed to the air.

‘That is so not natural!’ thought Mike, immediately starting to wonder about those lances of theirs hiding phasers or something.

So, the horse came to hover in front of the mirror; then growled into it. “We will take my niece Minty back to her parents, and that’s not up to negotiation!”

‘Niece?’ Mike thought.

“So you call her Minty? Well, that certainly explains why she has turned half of this camp into mint fields.” Sharon’s voice then turned from whimsical to slightly cynical. “Anyway, today I am happy to inform you that Flora, the baby that you abandoned to die fourteen years ago, has the officer in charge of this base as her appointed guardian, and that we will not release her from custody unless our chain of command orders us to.”

“I don’t care about your orders, she-monkey! Minty belongs to the Equestrian Royal Family! Open this door!”

“So ‘she belongs’, like in a slave?” Sharon’s voice raised tone to a point where Mike had never heard his normally whimsical subordinate. “You have now given me more than enough reason to never let this door be opened! But wait: I will go and get Flora’s father so he can have his opinion!”

And she hung up the speakerphone, causing the shutter to close on the horse’s nose. Mike found amusing her nonplussed expression, but couldn’t help but be angered by the insinuation of his Flora ‘belonging’ to somebody.

But Mike was a professional along with being a father, so he got a hold of his emotions so his next part would come out as cold fury rather than unthinking anger. Meanwhile, on the monitors, he saw the aggravating mare land and begin passing, then get more and more agitated as she apparently berated herself. Mike judged that he had waited enough and pressed and locked the ‘decoy house’ button on his switchboard.

He then stopped, activated a ‘deep vocals’ voice filter, and began speaking:

So I heard you want to take my daughter Flora as a slave,” he said, his voice coming out as hard as grinding stones.

It had an immediate effect: the pegasus folded its wings, ears and tail, and when she dropped on the ground looked about half the size she did just a few seconds ago.

Do you?

The mare outside began opening her mouth and sputtering nonsense that the microphones could barely pick. Mike decided to up the ante by channelling every Recruit Division Commander he had ever seen in the Navy:

Is that how an officer states her intentions, Recruit Scootaloo? Of course IT ISN’T! You will NEVER be an officer! Now get down on the ground and GIVE ME FIFTY!

And as the mare dropped and began counting pushups (done with her wings!), Mike utilized the only other name he knew:

Corporal Minute: left and centre!

Said corporal seemed to materialize a step behind Scootaloo, his hoof coming up so hard against his helmet that Mike saw this horn-like thing on his helmet spark.

Wanting to keep the momentum rolling, and glancing at the smart maps and seeing the Spectre in orbit, he used his left-size tablet to turn on the floodlights for the courtyard, then his right-side switchboard to bring up the courtyard’s VA system.

And now, you sorry lot: I am Lieutenant Michael Stallion and I will teach you DISCIPLINE! Counting one to ten, I want you to form columns in front of your vehicles.

“Start counting now!

Without dropping the VA channel, he then added the “Radio-All Call” channel into the switchboard, and: “Spectre: Draw me a circle 50 yards across! Heavy Gantlings! Now!

Mike then watched in silence and couldn’t believe his luck so far: The video feeds showed how the horse soldiers had indeed lined up into six columns and were quaking while the Spectre’s guns rapidly drew a circle around them, incidentally setting off three mines that were in the path of fire.

And the very second that the Spectre stopped firing, Mike barked the next order: “You have your circle, recruits! Fifteen laps, full speed!” And for added effect, Mike detonated a mine in the middle ground between the columns and the bunker.

As the horses stampeded to do their exercise, Mike then eliminated all sound outlets but the decoy’s speakerphone and spoke again.

Corporal Minute: you will refer to me as Lieutenant Stallion! Is that clear?

“Yes, Lieutenant Stallion, sir!”

So, Corporal Minute: what does it mean that my daughter belongs to Equestriani royalty?”

“It is her birthright, Lieutenant Stallion, sir! She is Countess Calabrese, daughter to Duchess Lipizzan, who is sister royal to Grand Princess Regnal Celestia.”

So it was the second definition of the word ‘belong’! Now I wonder where would be right now if’-

“WHAT THE HAY IS GOING ON HERE! STICK TO THE PLAN, YOU FEATHERBRAINS, AND ATTACK!”

...the second wave had arrived, and the rainbow-headed commanding officer didn’t seem happy to have found her vanguard doing exercise.

The first wave weren’t recuperating quickly enough, so “Spectre: strafe with flares! Apaches: same, then separate and do three low orbits, aggressive! Hotel, illumination shells! Synchronize with Spectre!” ...then detonated three mines in close succession, all just inside the circle, to demoralize the Guards who were regaining their wits, and... “You will CONTINUE doing your exercise, Equestriani Royal Guard!” He detonated another mine, this one much closer to the bunker than the circle. “Your leadership is so weak that I had her doing pushups to a voice behind a door!” He set off a flash-bang mine just outside the decoy building’s door, not incidentally in the place where Second Captain Scootaloo had been doing pushups. “And you are all so undertrained, so pathetically underprepared, that your enemy has to train you to make you worth fighting! AND KEEP RUNNING!

Mike looked up at the smart maps, waited a few more heartbeats, and attacked them again: “And now your enemy says: LET THERE BE ATTRITION!” And the plane and choppers roared by, dropping dozens of short-lived red flares, along with a solid, oppressive wall of noise and a lot of cough-inducing magnesium noise.

Just as Mike had hoped, the stress was just too much for the enemies, and they began outright panicking, dropping their lances and pieces of their armours and trying to leave the running circle. The choppers’ low orbits, however, quickly herded them back into a controlled stampede. He also idly noted that the herd had turned a lot more colourful from the uniform white they were, but dismissed it as unimportant.

Important was what had begun happening at the core of the circle: that rainbow-maned officer had seemingly managed to organize her own squad and had two big bruisers trying to kick down the door. He limited communications to the speakerphone again and spoke:

I wouldn’t be so hasty to kick down this door!

CLANK!

“Don’t listen to the enemy! He’ll get inside your heads, too! Focus on Minty!”

CLANK!

So you wish to focus on my daughter, the baby you abandoned in a storm?

CLANK!

“We didn’t abandon Minty! For...” CLANK! “...fourteen years we tore apart the universes to...” CLANK! “...come rescue her!”

So you never expected her to...” CLANK! “...be happy where she is? To have family and...” CLANK! “...friends? To have a life?

“My sister royal wants to see her...” CLANK! “...daughter, and that’s all I care about!”

If you don’t care for her happiness,” CLANK! “...then you give me even better reason to never allow you near her, and...” CLANK! “...I am authorized to employ lethal force if you open this door!” CLANK!

“Try your worst, primitive!”

I will in less...” CLANK! “...than a minute, at the rate you’re going.” CLANK! “Godspeed.” And he closed the channel.

And indeed, they were going to open the door in less than a minute: that door was a solid inch of steel and they had already made it buckle a good four inches, judging by the interior video feed. As it stood now, it only held through the hinges and the deadbolts, and the later would finish sliding out the wall any moment now.

And the wall was cracking, too: a solid foot of fibre-reinforced concrete, and it was cracking! Flora was uncannily strong, but these people were monsters!

And just as he watched, the door began sliding in a good inch per hit: the deadbolts had failed, and it now only was held by the deformation of the hinges!

But then, they stopped! Looking at the outside feed, Mike saw that the two bruisers were retreating, Corporal Minute was sliding in an anchor, eight more bruisers had hitched themselves to the anchor and some fifteen others, led by the rainbow maned officer and a pissed Second Captain, were lining up single file and readying to rush the door the moment it opened.

The corporal ran and cleared the area, the eight fresh bruisers reversed the door in a single yank, and some fifteen enemies rushed inside the decoy building.

Mike gave a prayer and focused on the Spectre’s camera feed.

And the three-second timer on the laser tripwire detonated the demolition charges, blowing off the building’s roof and spraying dust and rubble... and at least three bodies... a good fifty feet into the air.

He dialled again the courtyard’s VA system and the radio all-call and barked some more: “Medics: do your jobs! Equestriani and US Navy medics: forward and do your jobs! US Army engineers! Forward and clear the rubble! And everybody not mentioned: drop your armours and GET RUNNING!” He punctuated this last statement by setting off two mines that were near clusters of the newcomers, causing them to run out of the circle and begin their laps.

And Mike wouldn’t know it for some time, but a fair deal of his own troops also cleared their trenches and ran forward before being stopped by their squad leaders. One of them, who had dropped his helmet first thing, even ran a full lap before being stopped.

Recruit Division Commander Susan Calvin and every non-com in my base: get yourselves some wheels and then make these sorry excuses of recruits into enemies worth fighting against!

He breathed in and out a few times, then continued:

Lieutenant Sharon Borg now has the bridge! I am off to bed! And anybody who makes me wake up before noon will ACTUALLY see me angry!

He then turned off the switchboard, then the minefield, then he managed to groggily ask for his daughter before he fainted in his chair.


Mike woke up some time later to a sensation that he hadn’t experienced since his childhood: fingers being licked over the side of his bed.

Opening his eyes yielded his office’s ceiling, easily recognized due to the slight wobble of his ceiling’s fan, an imnotic that he would stare at a little too often.

Looking down, he saw his daughter busily licking his fingers. Focusing, he saw all the telltale signs of how scared she was: her ears flush against her scalp, her tail so far between her legs that it looked like it came from her belly and, despite the low light, he could see a sheen of sweat on her brow. The licking also confused Mike, but he could admit that it might have been that he had never seen her sufficiently scared to start licking.

And she also seemed to be in something of a trance at the moment: her eyes were open and her mouth was tracking his hand as he tried to caress her cheek, but ‘lights on, but nobody home’. Mike was well aware that Flora wasn’t human, but it was rare for him to be reminded of the truly inhuman nature of his daughter. The scientists had registered her getting into them whenever she came into enough stress, but had never gone and truly tried to systematically study them.

But enough about that. He decided to break her trance, so he could console her and perhaps also catch some winks. Besides, Mike was very oral with his sporadic lovers, so he felt freaked-out to come to relate licking to his sweety.

“Do I taste good, Flora?”

It was first a twitch on her ears, but Flora suddenly blinked, then launched at him.

“Dad, I was so scared!” she said, nuzzling into his neck.

“So was I, furball; so was I,” he replied, trying to rub her back through her tailor-made bulletproof vest. And not feeling anything but Kevlar and ceramic insets, he looked down on the forehead below his chin and, pulling an idea from some half-remembered nature show, he gave her brow a good lick.

“Dad! Don’t!” she said, trying to squirm away.

“No can do, daughter,” he sentenced, holding her while he had another taste of her uniquely unsalty sweat. “Just a moment ago you were licking my hand, so now I get to lick you too.”

“I wasn’t!” Lick. “Was I?”

“You were.” Lick. “You got into one of your trances.”

“First one in years...” she said weakly, clearly falling asleep on top of him.

“Move over, furball,” he said, giving her a last lick before he pushed her to the right, simultaneously scooting to the left. And once she was on the bed rather than on him, he gathered her and curled her against him.

She was already asleep, and after giving her a few more licks and mentally scheduling a stomach pumping, he followed.

Author's Note:

I actually wrote this chapter three times: First one were Flora was effectively extracted by the enemy, but was then narrowly recuperated. The second one had an anon pony officer, and ended up as a general bloodbath. This third version was supposed to also be a bloodbath, but I then added Scoot's name and it ended up writing itself in a completely different fashion.
It surprised me a lot!
If you are interested, the changing point is that the anon officer immediately explained that Minty 'belonged' as in being part of, while Scootaloo fell into 'bullied child' reflexes and stammered, to then Mike making her fall into recruit reflexes and lose authority in front of all of her personnel. The rest was nothing but psychological momentum.

If you are interested, the oldest account of a purely psychological military victory that I am aware of comes from "Cantar de Mio Cid" (The Song of my Cid), a millennium-old minstrels' song about the life of Castilian hero Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the Campeador or the Cid Campeador. The last battle attributed to him happened beyond the grave: he gave very specific instructions that his wake had to be conducted with a two-pronged night parade, singing Gregorian chants, marching against a nearby Moorish encampment, and culminated by a two-pronged assault. The Moors, unknowing of Gregorian chants, thought about black magic and were easily decimated.

Take care.
I hope I can finish the next chapter soon.

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