The Battle for Midnight Ch V
She had given the AI the right to command if she and her officers got killed. Some would say that was too much responsibility for a computer program. That is what the AI Nelson is a program designed to operate shipboard systems. It had not been made to take decisions on the welfare of the ship and its crew. It would lock on the task its commander had given it. Nandi thought on it, the only thing that mattered was the destruction of the enemy weapon system. And hopefully save the human colony of E131 in the process.
The Fleet Admiral turned her intentions to the crisis she had before her. The alien enemy was getting close to overpowering the human defenders. The few marines that was on the bridge fired nonstop at the hostiles. And yet they kept on coming. Nandi checked her sidearm’s ammunition counter. She had three rounds in the weapon and to additional magazines strapped to her belt. The blast door was covered by numerous warriors, an unlikely place to fight thru. So she turned to the senior marine on the bridge. He was only a Private First Class, and a young one at that. But he had to do, thought Nandi.
‘’Private, they are going to break thru at some point. Help is not going to get here before that according to Nelson. So we’ve got to fight our way out’’ yelled Nandi in the young man’s ear. He didn’t miss a word and kept on fire at the same time.
‘’This way is impossible! How does the hole look like, can we get thru it, ma’me’’ asked the PFC.
‘’I’ll have to check. Wait a second’’ said Nandi and ran toward the hole in the deck plate. The enemy warrior she had killed blocked it. One hard push was all that was needed for it to fall in. She held her pistol in an iron grip and circled the hole. Nothing showed itself down there, but that meant nothing also.
‘’Clear as far as I can see, but that doesn’t mean a thing’’ she said when she returned to the marine.
‘’Understand, ma’me. I’ll check if myself. May, there’s maybe a bug out route. Hold here while I check it’’ said the PFC and pulled from his position. Nandi took over it and sighted at a warrior coming up under covering fire from its comrades. It didn’t work out the way the alien intended. Nandi leveled her sidearm and fired the remaining rounds it to its head. The effect was instant. Its body just fell to the deck. One less to think about she thought, and replaced the empty magazine with a new one.
‘’We’re bugging out in one minute, ma’me. Pass it along’’ said the PFC in her ear. She retold the message to the next marine in front of her. The message went thru every marine and fleet officer in the space of a few seconds.
‘’This is the plan. First squad goes down the hole and secures the corridor. Second squad covers the retreat. Throw your grenades at the control consoles before you bug out. Ready, we go in ten’’ said the PFC and placed himself at the hole.
Nandi decided to keep near him at all times. The marines got in to the hole and dropped themselves to the deck plate below. The three marines left on the bridge had started to fall back under the onslaught from the aliens, so she aimed her body at the hole and jumped. Her arms had hardly time to tuck inn to her body when she fell. Three meters below she crashed in to the steel deck. Pain raced thru her body, but despite that she got to her feet and took cover as best she could. It wasn’t much cover the steel girders had taken damage from laser weapons. But as far as she could tell the aliens had abandoned this position.
Her officers fell one by one to the deck and did about the same that she had done. Took cover there it was to be found. Then several explosions went off above. Marines had set off their grenades.
But they didn’t emerge from the hole. From some seconds the marines of first squad waited and then.
‘’Their dead, we’re moving on. Were to, ma’me?’’ asked the PFC.
‘’The control room for the main reactor, we can use it as a makeshift bridge. If we can hook up with the marines in that area we should be able to lead a more coherent assault’’ said the Fleet Admiral.
‘’First squad takes point!’’ said the PFC and started walking down toward the rear of the Battleship. The ship was a maze of passageways and corridors but most of them seemed deserted. Only sporadic rifle and laser fire could be heard. But the ship was littered with bodies, human and alien alike. At one intersection it seemed that both sides had exterminated each other.
Nandi knelt next to the body of a marine. The body armor that was intended to protect him was completely melted away by a massive laser blast. This was not the reason she had knelt, the marine had an ammunition belt around the waist. Nandi removed it and buckled it around her own waist. A couple of feet away from the marine lay a weapon the shotgun magazines fit in. The standard issue shotgun, it was gas operated and had a twenty shell round magazine. She picked it up and slung the weapon around her body. That was when she realized that the marine at her feet was a woman, not a man as she had thought. The feeling was weird. She hadn’t had this strong feeling toward her when she thought it was a man. Guilt at feeling this way invaded her mind.
‘’We’ve got to keep moving, ma’me’’ reminded a marine her. She just nodded and started to walk again.
After three hours of taking various routs thru the ship they came to the point where they couldn’t avoid the alien warriors anymore. To get thru the last compartment they had to fight their way. The prospect didn’t appeal to her. Bur since they had picked up five additional marines on the way it should be possible, concluded Nandi.
‘’Madam Admiral, do not proceed in to the next compartment from your current location. I have started to vent atmosphere from that particular section of the compartment. If you wait for three hours I should be able to restore the atmosphere’’ said Nelson in the radio portion of The Eye.
‘’Private, we have to stand our ground here for a few hours. Nelson is clearing the way for us’’ said Nandi.
The same instant laser fire erupted from the end of the corridor. They were trapped. The marines fell in to a defensive firefight. Nandi realized that her shotgun wasn’t suited for this form of combat. The aliens were too far away for to hit them with concentrated fire from a shotgun.
Therefore she took cover and waited for the warriors to come within range. The marines held their ground, but still the aliens got closer. Their advance went to fast for Nandi. The humans were trapped. No way forward and no way back.