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Rated: 13+ · Draft · Action/Adventure · #1877456
This story is about humans fighting for survival in a world now dominated by plants.
A story by Aaron A. Yastreb

The world we live on has become dangerous beyond belief. Humans now live in towering cities built on stilts or underneath on concrete wastelands surrounded by thick walls. The cause of this is not other humans, not directly and neither is it from out of this world. No, it is plants that are the reason for this, they are now sentient and have "evolved" bio-weapons of devastating abilities, some can even walk... All this is thanks to a fertilizer company who thought that genetic manipulation was the new direction in plant care. Unfortunately it takes about a year and a half for the nasty side effect to show, they only tested for six months before releasing it and it worked so well most farmers, nurseries and gardeners started using it. It slowly crept through the water and air into the forests and hills till almost the whole world had been "fertilized". A year and a half later we were at war, and losing badly. All plant based materials went up in price as did most materials brought from outer areas while billions died . Humans were not the only animals effected, animals of all sorts became extinct almost over night. Mother nature has taken off the gloves and is attempting to pummel us into blood and bone. Everyday we hear of cities that have fallen or have starved to death from lack of resources . Of course major cities like Pyro-Haven have armies but at the moment modern war tactics don't work, only fire scares them and only in dangerous amounts. Swords also have made a come back, every soldier is issued one. I am one of the soldiers. My name is James Louy of 3rd squad and I plan on surviving this war of man and plants.

The night wake up

'Private J.Louy to squad room ASAP'
'Damn loud speaker, I wonder what the they want at this time of night'? Grunting I got out of bed and put on my uniform, getting stuck on the buttons I realised just how stupid fabric buttons were. After finally getting my uniform straight I started down the corridor towards squad room, ignoring the mutters from those woken by the loud speaker. Upon entering the room I knew this was no idol thing, looking around I saw officials from all branches of the military. Wondering why I was here I sat down on the only empty seat around the huge conference table and waited. Soon General Narlet turned to me and said 'Private James Louy, you have been called here regarding your actions in the ambush last month. After your squad leader Edmund was killed your position began to fall into disarray while the squad panicked and you were the one who pulled it back together and so won the day. Because of this we see fit to promote you to squad leader'. Said General Narlet
'Thank-you sir but why so late at night'?
'Because we only just agreed you were the man for the job and tomorrow you will lead a squad in a convoy on your first mission as a officer'. Said Troop commander Jason
'You leave at 0500 AM tomorrow with a convoy to Knowledge-Haven with high grade petroleum. This is through greatly contested territory with a irregular amount of pirate activity'.
'And we need men who can follow orders as well as be flexible enough if situations change'. said lieutenant Marsh of tactical control.
'I shall endeavor to prove my worth to you'.
'Very good, report to lieutenant Russel in the morning and he will assign your troops to a vehicle'
'Your dismissed'.
Making my way back to the bunk room, I stumbled into Private Neil O'mandy of 4th squad who was making his way to the cafeteria.' What are you doing out here'! he cried.
'I could ask the same thing' I replied, completely taken by surprise from his reaction, 'It's one in the morning, why you heading to the the cafeteria this early'?
'Not that is any of your business but I always eat at this time, ever since that thrice damned mission which had me holed up in that dump of a nameless city, I haven't been able to change the habit of eating before everyone else is up. That's why I get dawn guard so often'.
'Very well, sorry for intruding but I must be goin'... '
'Not so fast why were you in the squad room'?
'Because I had been called there by General Narlet himself for a briefing'.
'Well what are you doing'?
'A convoy but I am going to be leading a squad now'.
'Well then I wont keep you from your bed then, goodnight'.
'Goodnight'. and then he turned and walked away to the cafeteria.
Slipping into my now cold bed I slipped into dreams of glory and promotion but eventually I will have to wake and inform 3rd Squad of the new orders. Tomorrow will test all that I know organizing a squad, which is unfortunately not a great deal.

The bugle

Waking up to the bugle I decided that if he ever tried an encore he will be blowing a different tune through a different hole. Groaning I got up and looked at the men and women that were rousing them selves and doing their wake up routines. Heading towards the staircase I coughed to get their attention and when I had about three fourths of the room attention I laid out the mission and my new position which was met with several remarks, mutters and out cries. One private Joshua Maitin got up and asked 'when did this happen? And why were we not informed earlier'?
'Because I only found out last night about all this, that answers both questions. Now get your brekky and meet in the armory in ten minutes'.
Grumbling I stepped down and went to get some OJ and a cold sausage from last night I was blocked by Pvt "Becky" Rogers who stared at me icily saying 'That was some speech but don't expect you to be as good as Edmund, because you wont be. Ever'! and she turned on her heels and went off to get food. Stunned, I wondered if there had been anything going on between Becky and Edmund or if I had some how I had trod on her toes. Deciding that it wasn't worth my time I got my food and sat in a corner to eat it and noticed that Becky's tirade had cost me about three of my ten minutes. Getting up I made my way to the armory and saw several soldiers get up and move towards it as well. As I passed lieutenant Russel he just nodded to me and pointed to a bloke who I guess was the driver. Waiting in line for my weapons I talked to the bloke driving the truck we were assigned to guard, a Mr Jones who wasn't in the army but drove our trucks anyway.
'You reckon we see any action'? He asked
'Hope not but then again I wish to prove myself to the men'.
'What about last month'?
'They were panicking and didn't have anytime to think, today is different'.
'Only if you let it be so'.
And on that comment he walked away saying something about checking his truck and loading last items. Receiving my gun and sword I made my way to the meeting zone, thinking about who did what. Going over the maps given to me I realised there where at least six good ambush sights and many ok ones, from the look of it they wanted us to go through a ravine, over a couple hills into a desert with a road that was only there half the time and through a disused train tunnel which lead into a swamp, all before hitting the large grasslands that Knowledge haven is based in. That was not including the endless plains in between most of these hot spots, making this a two week journey at least, not including pirate or plant activity or the sand storms that swept the area. Looking up from the maps I saw a couple of soldiers roughhousing over a particular sword, as I turned away I saw one pull a knife and lunge at the other soldier and intervened by letting off a round from sawed of shot gun I had on me. Walking over I cursed as I realized that one of them was Pvt Rogers ' What are you doing'?
'The munitions officer was trying to give Edmund's sword to this rocks-for-brains soldier here even though I asked for it first'
'So you pulled a knife on him? What difference does it make who owned the sword when it needed now else where? You have your own standard issue sword so let this Private have it, that's a order'.
I watched as Rogers grimaced then grabbed her sword off the counter and stalk off to the rest of the squad, looking at the private next to me I asked 'Why didn't you just give her the sword'?
'I was happy to but she started going on about some bloke named Edmund then started insulting me and my family. Eventually she came at me and I tried to disengage but then she pulled the knife and you know the rest'.
'Very well carry on'.
He got Edmund's sword from the munitions officer and went on his way to where ever. Going to the truck I had Private James Bert and Private Ronald smith get on the truck with the heavy guns, the rest of us where to sit on rails put on the side for easy mounting and dismounting. It left us exposed though, so was only used during convoys with lots of slow trucks or in high risk situations. This came under both as far as I could tell and that made me glad we had the new model tanks with us. I really hope that this mission doesn't turn out like last time because I don't think I would make it this time.

'Where the hell did that spike come from'? yelled Edmund
'Near that dune' some one replied
'Have the tank fry it already' I said
'They hit both....Look out, rose bushes from 12 o'clock to 4'oclock'!
'Form a circle get those flamers in-front. ARGH'.
'Squad leader? Squad leader Edmund what happened'?
'He's dead, we're dead because the whole world is trying to kills us'!
'Shut up Private and get ready'
'They have been over run all the other squads and will soon kill us'
'Flamers to the front, swords men in-between and rifles on the truck. Move it'! I cried
'Who are you lot'? asked a bloke I didn't know
'Third squad now shut up and get your rifle up there' I replied
'Is there any more people around'?
'Incoming rose's on our left'!
'Torch 'em'!
'No effect sir, they are too full of blood for us to burn'
'Then slice and dice them'
'Swordsmen at the ready, Charge'!
'Rifles try to keep the ones behind the front back so our men don't get over run, shotties keep your eyes open for what ever spiked the tanks'!
Looking around I saw groups of two or three fighting from off the roofs of vehicles, the roses seemed to be the only attackers which was strange because usually there would be cacti as well. Realizing that it was a trap, I spun around to check our rear and copped a spike across the cheek. There was a good hundred cacti as well as about twenty roses advancing on us Yelling out I tried to get the rifle men to shoot the cacti but realised that then we would be out numbered by the roses. Digging around the trucks crates I found a Heavy weapons kit and loaded a White Phosphorus (Willie Pete) round and fired into their ranks. A second later there was a huge flash and a good thirty to thirty five cacti dropped, a couple dozen caught fire and started lighting others on fire. Seeing the cacti burned I got the attention of the flamers and pointed at the cacti, understanding they set a line and then fired upon the swarm of plants making many just keel over and overs started to shoot back but with little accuracy from the burning ones running around.
First day on the road.

Only half way down the three km road that was kept intact in front of our tier we had our first casualty and not from a attack.
"What Pvt Bert'?
'Kenny fell off the truck onto a bit of debris, I reckon he's dead sir. He isn't moving at least'
'Benson get the convoy on the radio, call an all stop'.
'Yes sir'
'Medic Patritch, you and your assistant get over to that man and check him out'.
'Right away, doesn't look good from what I see though'.
'Check anyway'.
Watching the medics dismount, I saw muttering between several troops. A couple looked scared, most just bummed about a death so soon. But a small group with pvt Rogers in the middle were looking mutinous.
'Pvt Rogers up front'.
'Yes siiirrr, how can I obey you'?
'For starters lose the attitude, I didn't kill Edmund nor did I ask for his rank. Second move up to the truck bed and make room for Pvt Hilt, you're watching him or his dead body till we reach a decent area'.
Make that definite body' interrupted Patritch from behind me
'Very well, you're on body detail for now Rogers'.
'If you say so'.
"That's "If you say so" sir'!
"Yes sir'
Watching her move the body into a cranny between boxes I decided to have her moved after this convoy, if she and I lived through it. Sending the call to move on, the convoy built up speed and headed to the end of the solid road and the problematic desert.
Day two, the fun begins

We spent the night at the End Road watch tower which funny enough was at the end of our 3km of decent road. Many complaints were made to me, the other Squad leaders and Lt Russel about stopping after only three kilometers. They all got the same answer, do you want to be on a road that exist only sometimes in the middle of the night on a flat desert with no land marks? Most said no but one group took off on their quads saying they'll scout ahead and be back two hours after dark. That was five hours ago and we have heard nothing but the calls of nasty canine like animals from the road. These dog like creatures are a pain in the butt alone but a pack can and will kill almost anything, hard to bring down and bordering rabid these dogs are survivors in a world of plants. From the sound of it there is a large amount too and close, so I did a radio check on our watch guards.
'Check in by number, all guard groups'
'Group one here'
'Group two needing a fresh man, one of ours has had some breathing problems and needs rest'
'I'll have some one replace him soon, carry on'
'Group three, we have had rustling in our scarce grass. Permission to flame broil'.
'Rejected, we don't want unnecessary attention. Keep a watch on it otherwise continue as normal'.
'Group four calling in two disappearances. One of our men needed a leek, he and his partner went out of sight. This was fifteenth minutes ago'.
'Were they carrying radios'?
'Yes but reception stinks around here at the best of times'.
'Wait till three more men arrive and then scout out their last known direction, I'll alert Lt Russel'.
'Sir yes sir'.
Looking around for some alert men, preferably with a flamer I called in the situation to Lt Russel.
'Lieutenant we might have a problem'
'What might that be Squad leader Louy'?
'Two of my watch have disappeared from their position, one had a bladder issue and he and his partner left sight so he could relieve himself. No contact for going on twenty minutes now'.
'What have you already done'?
'Alerted all watches to smarten up and be ready for trouble and I am now looking around for someone to send to help search'.
'I'll send some of my men down too help, otherwise carry on'.
'Yes sir'.
Marching away from the radio man I made my way over to a couple of men lounging around playing dice over a couple of knives. They didn't look like they would do much but each man was playing hard for them. Seeing as trading weapons out side of munitions or not carrying a specific license is illegal I knew I had their attention.
'Up and at 'em, I need one of you to go relieve a man from guard squad two, and you go find a flamer and another man. You are to meet up with squad four and help search for their missing privates. Seeing as I need you to do this rather quickly, I'll turn my cheek from your little game if you get too it'.
'Right away'.
Watching them run in different directions I hoped dearly that the two privates are just being stupid.
The night fight

As I turned to go wait for Lt Russel's men I heard screaming coming from the east most watch. Calling to the radio truck to send for help I grabbed a megaphone and ordered everyone up. I could see flames starting to flash in the distance as the watch fought back but seeing as there is only six men to a squad they couldn't hold off more then twenty most. From the amount of screaming that had stopped about two or three were dead. Running to my tent I kitted myself out and went to my assigned battle squad and got them into formation.
'Forward to the battle'.
'Move out, quick march. Flamers and swords to the front, come on we drilled this hundreds of times'.
Moving at the front with my sword drawn we made our way to the sounds of battle and as we passed tents I saw other squads forming up and setting some defenses around the radio and ammo trucks. As we got closer we could see random spikes flying by and saw the flames and smoke from the flamers. Barely ten meters away one of the flamers tanks blew and engulfed the soldier and about ten or so roses in fire. Seeing us I felt them send their weird electric pulses outwards calling for whatever friends they had in reserve. Which turned out to be some sort of cacti that was low to the ground and had many leg like roots from several segments along its stem. Running between the legs of our men they stopped suddenly and shot out several spikes. I watched several of my men fall, most laid still. Rushing forward my swordsmen went in and attacked the cacti only to be surprised by the sudden appearance of roots, roots that came from something big. As they and the rest of us engaged the roses and cacti, several spike trees had come up from what looked like a dry creak bed, with enough moisture left that they could move into this barren area. Just as the rifle men noticed their presence they launched a barrage of spikes into our mist. Seeing so many fall I did the smartest thing I could, grabbing the bugle from the poor teenager by my feet with a spike in his eye and another spilling his guts, I sounded the general retreat to the trucks hoping our numbers will help even this battle. Fighting off a rosebush I tried to watch my squad and the only survivor from the watch move back towards the parking area. Cutting the main stem from the plant I ran with my troops towards the trucks and not a moment too soon seeing as that as soon as we hit our lines the sounds of rockets came and went then the sounds of large explosions followed by great flashes of flames marked where several Willie Pete rockets had hit. Thanks to the dryness of the land and the lack of many bodies most plants caught fire and burned. But as I watched the ones burning I noticed that in the distance there was many plants coming, including the highly annoying trees that spat seeds that could fly and target at will.
The race for the tower

Seeing them sent chills down my spine, we we're going to cop it by the looks of it. If the local grove sent this much power this close to our tier, they wanted us dead. As I watched my men loading up the trucks ready to run I heard Lt Russel's voice over the cries of disappear.
'All squads and units are to retreat to the tower a hundred meters away'.
Checking my squad I grabbed the radio and I told my driver to floor it. Unfortunately we were one of the last trucks in line meaning we had to hold the plants off with machine gun fire and flamers so the rest could get to safety. The tower was under a hundred meters away, the plants are less than fifty. We are screwed as much as I could see and as I watched the larger spike trees stopped and started bending backwards.
'Rifle's aim for the still ones'!
Several sphere like projectiles went by covered in spikes, most hit their targets making the trees that had stopped shudder in pain as large holes were ripped through the trunk. Mind you, that only pissed them off because it takes many hits to bring one down. But it stopped them from firing and now they had to uproot and start chasing us again, which slowed them greatly. Looking at the other trucks I noticed one had stopped, the reason being a simple flat tire which made the ride a little uncomfortable most times but really didn't stop the truck from working. But the driver had still pulled over to fix it, well kudos if some live. We may be the rear guard but we don't stop for idiots out here. The rest of the convoy was either getting the trucks behind cover or manning the many guns that laced the giant wall of the outer tower area. The tower guard were still rousing them selves as we pulled in and headed for a high enough position so that we could use our rifles. I sent the few swordsmen left to go and hold the gates and my two working flamers to go above the gate house to rain fire down if anything big enough to break the gates came. The rest of us headed into the tower and up to the third floor balconies to fire from. Finding that most of my squad had enough ammo and some Willie Pete grenades I sought out a window and set up a quick loading area with my grenades and a few balls readily in reach and watched as the wave of plants hit the wall. I saw several flashes as rockets from the turrets fixed to the roof went by to burn large gaps in the plant forces but they were quickly filled in once the fire went down. After the third barrage of rockets the heavy spiked trees started to launch their spikes aiming for the turrets and the outer wall. Every one was startled by the large explosion of a turret going up, thankfully the tower is equipped with excellent fire systems. I could here the yells of men dying as they were skewed on large spikes or as the front forces started making it over the wall.
'All rifles pick a target, wait for it...FIRE!'
Pulling my trigger I added my ball to the large number being shot towards the biggest gap in our defensive wall, felling many of the plants but not stemming the flow as they washed over the wall in a large cascade. That was the flamers job.
'Right, rifles start aiming towards those big bastards digging their roots in, especially those buggers with the winged seeds. I want each window to agree on the target then fire at will'.
Turning to my three companions one pointed a winged seeker seed tree causing havoc on the wall.
'Good spottin', right you lot aim for the area it bends so that we put maximum stress on the spot we shoot. Aim...Fire'.
As all four shots went forward the tree was drawing back to fling it's accursed seeds forward so they could target our men. We all hit our target and watched as dirty great chunks got ripped out of it and the stress from pulling back caused it to crack then snap in two. As it went down a couple of cacti climbed it's stump to use it for a higher firing position. We shot both off before they hit a single man. As the fires burnt through the ranks of the attacking plants I saw a horror emerge from the host, a huge murderous looking behemoth that had one large branch on its side. A cannon tree was the nightmare of any fortified position, able to shoot boulders at fast enough speeds that when they hit they caused massive damage both to the building and any man who are unfortunate to catch shrapnel off the exploding wall or rock.
'Get the heck inside everyone, fall back to the other side or the cellars'! I cried
'Forget that order, hold the line'! replied Lt Russel 'I have a nasty surprise for this bugger'.
'Sir, that's a cannon tree, they're almost indestructible, capable of massive damage and god knows what species it use to be. We need to get away from it'.
'No! we hold and watch the fire works'.
'Fireworks sir'?
'I called for a napalm strike followed by armor piercing bombs. That will get the devils'.
'But Lieutenant, these tress have survived fricken magma flowing over them, they reinforce their bark with stones harder then most of our Armour. There is no chance of hitting that thing well enough to hurt it, all you'll do is make it so there is less rose bushes, even though it seems that this is major attack'.
' True as that may be, what else should I do?'
Send the men to cover wait till it uses all its loaded ammo then have us rush the gaps while firing Willie Pete straight down it's hollow branch so it will leave. That's the only technique where we lose only just over half our men. Anything else is suicide, like sending in those planes, right into the line of fire'.
'Shit, that's right there's those damned seeker seeds, radio call off bombing and then call general retreat to the other side'.
'Right and now we need to get out of here'.
'Those cacti are lining up towards us, they know we are commanders'.
'Well let's move then, shall we'.
And he turned and begin to run towards the other side of the fort, I hurried to follow. I could hear as the tree sank its roots into the ground to steady it's shots. The thuds of it leg like tendrils forcing them selves into the dirt were going to be nothing compared to the thuds signaling it shooting.

The siege

I huddled closer to the cask we where using as supports to the roof, the infernal pounding had been going on for hours. The plan to rush out and fill the gaps had been scraped, there wasn't any wall left to defend and the main building was now being hit. God we are only three kilometers from the fricken city and we were all ready being pinned and killed. We sometimes heard the screams of men being crushed by falling walls or the ceiling collapsing on their rooms. But mostly just thud after thud, exactly 13 seconds apart, we had been stuck in here for six hours waiting for a chance to fight back, but of that six hours it had shot roughly 553 times, completely destroying the wall and most of the top four floors. What none of us could understand was how it was continuing this barrage, mind you we have never heard of one attacking such a large fort before. The general theory was that instead of shooting it's current load and leaving it was reloading from the earth, but some said maybe the other plants reload it. Which ever it was, it was causing mass panic as it destroyed more of the building above.

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