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Rated: E · Serial · Sci-fi · #2278268
A Sequel to the Final Yamato Movie from Voyager Entertainment (7 Part Mini series)
Yamato: The New Adventures… (Sequel to "Final" Yamato in Episode type format)
By Erwin Stevens & N.A Miller

EPS 7 – Future Echoes/Epilogue Part 2

The infinity that is space, a world filled with serene light, uncountable stars in the deep darkness, and dying and forming stars, abounds with many life forms. Yes, space is alive. The entire universe, our galaxy, and even the many solar systems are filled with many such life forms. They are teeming with people who aspire, love, and fight in wars. Others are peace-loving. Many forms of life are in the universe, and they mostly live in peace, scattered throughout its cold vastness. One such place is the speck that makes up the Earth. It is a place where wars have come and gone, leaving their mark. It is in a standard class M solar system, known as "SOL," where eleven planets orbit the single life-giving star. Living on the third one, the insignificant body called Earth, is an advanced civilization known as humankind.

As we left the stasis crew, the ship from the future races to SOL and the stasis crew gathers at the hospital, Seth and Nathaniel spending their last few hours together with their friends. They had gone out on the town as the uncertain time stream continues to shift and adjust. The Major who had come from three months ahead with the Clouds had died in the Hospital and the ship vanished without a trace. The Clouds, a ship from the future, arrives in its stead, finding the Yamato, and comes to Earth to return Avatar’s body, found on board the Yamato. In addition, it brings a dire warning of impending doom to Earth against a new enemy who is set on Destroying Earth.

Nevertheless, no one seemed to notice the changes of time stream upon the universe. Until a strange Major appeared at the memorial, saving Seth and company there and ending up sacrificing himself, disappearing in a temporal warp.

The Yamato crew and the stasis crew all are at a bar in New Tokyo, Federal City, enjoying the day or so before the strike team departs. They are enjoying their first night together as friends, survivors of the stasis project that had brought them here. They are starting their new life, in a new century, but first peace had to be maintained, the warning thanks to the ship of the future.

"A toast," A voice said, "To the bravest men and women in the EDC and the newest sensation. May they have profitable careers, long lives and welcome home!"

"Thank you all." Nathaniel and Seth replied simultaneously, holding up the beer mug before they all downed it as a cheer echoed the bar.

Meanwhile in the office of the EDC, Colonel Jackson stood at attention as he waited for General Singleton and General Sloan to acknowledge his presence.

"General, your new recruits from the past clearly was out of control and I want to file personal charges against that Lieutenant Commander, their leader." He said with a sneer. "What's his name… err… Miller. He was disrespectful, rude, and uncooperative. He threatened a superior officer and refused a direct order."

"I think they probably had a very good reason." Singleton replied firmly, "They were probably blowing off steam after all they have been through."

"They still need to learn discipline and honor to wear these uniforms." Replied the Colonel and he glanced at Command Mitty McDonald who was slightly smiling.

"They should not be wearing those uniforms, not until they earned the right to wear it." He said, "I want him on the block, and to learn what it means to be in the EDC and know discipline."

"I am glad you find this amusing Commander." He said sternly.

"It's not amusing, it's very serious." Mitty replied coldly, "According to your charge, he broke seven regulations of proper conduct as an EDC Officer. They were in a public place, though, not as they were on base or anything. They had permission to be off base and off-duty to take in the sights and acclimate themselves to life in this century."

"They all had permission of Doctor Sane, who thought in a medical opinion, that it would be very helpful." The General added, "If you think they are unfit for duty, I can have them confined to the Hospital until they are officially released by Sane, and they start and complete OCS school at the Academy or training."

"I think some time in the brig should be added and see how they like that." Colonel Jackson replied, "I don't like being made a fool of."

"Yes, yes, if they make it back from their assignment in one piece. Singleton replied firmly, "They are shipping out soon to Aquarius on an assignment that could lead to their deaths anyway. The rank increase was there, to thank them for their service for Earth, and at least give them a sense of purpose back in a new world."

Jackson gasped quietly, astonished by the statement. He grimaced suddenly feeling a bit foolish when they were only trying to be human again in a new place and time.

"Who came up with the plan anyway, that Lieutenant Commander?" Sam asked and General Singleton shook his head. "The tactician team did that, he only adjusted the plan slightly utilizing the new ship that came to us as a visitor to Earth. Their mission is to destroy Aquarius. If they fail, we are faced with a large task force headed to Earth."

"Outstanding you are going to drop them all into a meat grinder?"

"No, actually, Lieutenant Commander Miller and Sergeant Major Parry are taking a squad of twenty-four Space Marines aboard the Space Cruiser and they are going to lead the assault personally on Aquarius."

"For that…?" Colonel Jackson asked, "One ship versus a task force? That's crazy."

"We are sending the Star Force aboard the EDC Whirlwind and Task force two to act as decoys, to keep the Cybertron task force busy. The SS Magellanic Clouds is equipped with a cloaking device and is going to slip in, deposit the team and extract them when the job and charges are set."

"If they succeed at this mission, I want to have these charges pending dropped against them all, Sam. I would like them honored like the Star Force, welcomed fully in the EDC and the new century." Singleton said formally. "It is the least we can do for them. They have nothing else left of their old lives, they might as well be acclimated in this century."

"I guess if you say so, sir." The Colonel grumbled. "I can concede if they do something extraordinary like pick off Aquarius I will say yes to that."

"Do we know where the stasis personnel are right now?" Singleton asked, "I would like to see them here immediately."

"No, General." McDonald replied, "They were at the Silken Rose. Where Colonel Jackson reported they were and they left in the middle of their meal."

"Oh they were in the Mikado District." Kitano piped in, "I know the area, and can locate them if you like, sir."

"I have no idea where they went, but I was glad to see them go." The Colonel grumbled.

“Alert the security forces to pick them all up." Singleton ordered, "And brought to Headquarters. I do not want any force used. It is an order, nevertheless."

"Aye, sir…." Mitty replied, hitting the button on her console.

Back on the Clouds, at the same moment, Ihsss and her crew sat on the bridge as they went over the plan and checklist discussed with Earth forces. They filled in Veloxa, Thyrac the Insectoid Helms woman and Navigator, Voloxa the Insectoid Engineer and Kwai Mao, the Weapons' Defense operator. The three who stayed to oversee the repairs to the ship while the Captain, First Officer, Communications Officer and Doctor went ashore to negotiate with Earth Defense Command.

"So that's it, they set charges on Tritium mine and one blast should globally destroy Aquarius?" Thyrac asked, "It's that easy?"

"Not that easy." Ihsss corrected, "You remember that we might have to take on fifty to one odds to win the day. She told them the plan, how it would be done and how the EDC ships would be decoy as the Clouds would slip in to drop the assault team onto the surface.

"It is not going to be easy, it just looks that way, or at least have the Earth Defense Forces hit it with their Wave Cannon." Ihsss replied, "They need to have at least one hundred and twenty seconds to setup and blast it. That would not possible in the middle of fifty plus, Cybertron Ships, possibly more by now that are on planet and the now probably several legions of robotic solders on planet. I think the charges the team sets on the mine will be sufficient to affect the whole planet's destruction."

"How much explosive did they calculate that it would take?"

"Approximately twelve, 500 pound charges set in multiple locations." Ihsss replied, "After the Earth forces set it and they evacuate, everyone will draw back, us and the EDC Forces from the planet's location within fifty parsecs. The planet will have an explosion equivalent to a Reverse Super Nova of a dwarf Star."

"Tritium implosion…?" Voloxa gasped.

"It will implode the planet and into a black hole. It is theoretical Physics…" Felonious responded quietly, "It will destroy everything in its sector, but better that than the Cybertron War Machine attacking Earth."

"What happens if the Cybertron are not destroyed?" Veloxa asked suspiciously.

"That will be sucked in the back hole, trapped forever in another time, space or dimension." Felonious replied, "The remaining ones will be destroyed by the Earth forces. If we destroy the planet here, the Cybertron will lose the war in the future."

"The odds are about 7,351 to 1" Felonious quoted, and there were grins, "For success. I think those are pretty good, personally.”

"So when do they report here?" Veloxa asked and Ihsss met the Helms woman's bug-like features.

"In a couple of days we are departing Earth, bound for Aquarius." She replied, "If they pull this off, we win back home, and we can return to our own time."

"If we do that, there is a guarantee that we have sealed the fate of the Cybertron and possibly can go home quicker." She said, "I do appreciate your readiness and volunteering for the mission."

"Sounds dangerous, but I'm all for that." Felonious said, "But we could always stay too."

"And rewrite history with our presence on our respective home worlds?" Ihsss asked, "I know I can't return home, but most of you can."

"Rather stay in space, we have had too many fun adventures together, it wouldn't be the same." Kwai chimed in, and Ihsss grinned to nod politely.

"I agree." Veloxa replied with a smug grin and Thyrac nodded his head.

"You have my thanks for your loyalty." Ihsss declared happily, "Repair stations please."

"Aye, Captain." They all said and the group broke up and went to their posts leaving Ihsss in the center seat, contemplating the plan. Inside, she was a bit uneasy for what they faced before them. She wondered about the mission and her home world, who no doubt knew of their adventures. Ihsss also wondered if it would make a difference, so she, her daughter, and many others from her planet could return home.

"Let's hope we are successful." Ihsss murmured, and glanced at the busy bridge. She stood and walked toward Felonious who lay on the deck, his furry head in a small compartment as he repaired circuits of a nearby console for the science station. Kneeling, she assisted him.

Two days later, it is on Earth, that two groups of twelve Marine Commandos stand around on the tarmac of the airfield on a partially cloudy morning. It is here they wait for their new commander, Major Aguilera to arrive by Jeep for inspection. They have all been gathered for an impossible mission to destroy Aquarius, the legendary water planet that gave Earth life and the same planet that almost destroyed their home, after being utilized by the Dinguil Empire. They will be aided the strange visitor who arrived on Earth from the future and together they will keep the new cybernetic enemy also from the future, from altering history.

As the morning carried on, the Marines stand in groups, talking, laughing and being raunchy, as all Space Marines are in the service. They are not aware that not far away that, a lone officer stands on the curbside, waiting for the jeep and a young Sergeant who would drive him to the airfield on this cool morning. He is assigned to this task of the destruction of Aquarius, with his best friends, to protect Earth against the Cybertron Invasion of Earth and the universe.

Seth stepped out from the quarters, assigned to him and his new wife, on a misty cold morning. Here the officer is now on his way to the airfield to meet the ship of the future that would take them into battle. As he walked to the sidewalk, he carries a leather briefcase with him that contains the orders that were hand written by General Singleton personally, and handed to him by Commander Mitty McDonald, the General's dynamic and beautiful aide. He personally is a bit uneasy about this assignment, and about the many variables that could equally go wrong if the mission was not properly executed as it was planned. He and the others might go there and be destroyed or killed by the Cybertron and Earth would fall as it would in the future. Seth shook his head as he cleared the negative thought and peered at his surroundings. He tried to remain positive and kept his mind focused on them winning the battle ahead.

"Major Aguilera?" A voice called out and he managed to turn his head to the green jeep that had rolled up at the curbside and to a young Sergeant who sat at the wheel named Marla McGivers. She is his guide from day one since his awakening from stasis. He smiled at her.

"Aye…" He replied, returning her salute as she stood up in the seat.

"Hop in. I am here to take you to the airfield." She told him and he grinned, managing a nod. He walked toward the jeep and he silently climbed aboard, but not without examining the young woman in silence.

Sergeant McGivers is about nineteen years old, having finished school early and enlisted in the Earth Defense Command, which is the equivalent military for this time. She, unlike him, is clad in the gray and green uniform of the EDC Armed Forces. She stands about five three in height, has a dark complexion, and dark eyes. Her brunette hair spills down to her shoulders in a ripple of curls. She has worked hard in the last two years, moving quickly in the ranks to Sergeant and had served the EDC for only a short time. Seth smiled at her, peering at the attractive young woman before him as he climbed in to seat next to her. He motioned to her to drive on.

As the jeep sped off from the curb, she drove quickly, turning onto the main street and away from the billeting building. He sat in silence, holding on for almost dear life, as she darted through the traffic of vehicles on the street. Turning his head, he glanced down at the briefcase on his lap that contained the envelope containing his orders. Opening the case, he withdrew the envelope, a simple manila envelope and peered at the flap where emblazoned on it, is the seal of the Earth Defense Command that seals it.

"So they got you ready to go to Aquarius, Major?" The young woman asked, and he glanced sideways at her. He showed his astonishment that she knew about the mission, even though it was supposedly kept 'Top Secret Clearance'. There had already been a lot of scuttlebutt floating around Headquarters about it for the last month and most of it had been rumors. All anyone knew was that he and twenty-four raiders that would be taking on the most difficult mission Earth had ever done, short of the Iscandar mission eight years ago by the Star Force. He nodded his head silently.

"The mission is already in progress, and we ship out today." He told her, "Ready to rock and roll, so to speak. Keep in mind that it was supposed to be top security, how the hell did you know so much about it anyway?"

"Well sir, it has been a hot topic in headquarters and on Earth for a few weeks. It has been mostly scuttlebutt and rumors for the last month." She said, "Don't worry, the project is still secure, most of the data said was rumors and not correct anyway."

"You know, Major." she started to say, "I hope you and the others succeed at your task."

Major Aguilera smiled at the sentiment, glancing at the surrounding as the jeep continued to dart through traffic. The buildings loomed overhead around them and many people walked the street, uniformed and not. It had been his benefactor for a while now, his home away from home since he had been awakened here than in San Francisco. As he sat in the seat, Major Aguilera turned over the envelope several times before he broke the seal and pulled the documents from within. He broke one regulation, breaking the seal before arriving aboard the ship or his destination for Command. He broke another by examining the orders before he reached his command. The young Major looked them over, reading them in silence, as they made their way through the byways of Federal City/New Tokyo. As he read, Seth became only partially conscious of his surroundings, absently returning salutes as they passed other uniformed personnel. The orders were compelling and very detailed of what was expected for the mission as a whole. It gave a lot of detail of the objective and every aspect of their mission to Aquarius.

Sergeant McGivers glanced over in his direction as she drove the jeep and gasped as he read the papers on his lap, realizing that he was looking over the orders that would send him and his team into harm's way. The new officer was reading them far before the scheduled opening when they were on board ship and headed toward.

"I guess he wants to brush up, before he gets to the team." She thought, shaking her head at the young officer who already had shown her some unorthodox methods of command.

Back in the Twentieth Century, he had been a Second Lieutenant after joining the service and gone to OCS. where he was commissioned as an officer. A year later, after hard work, he earned First Lieutenant where he volunteered as command for the stasis project. Seth, since his awakening, had been working hard even in the EDC to assimilate a new century and life after stasis. Marla herself, did not realize that he was using everything he had learned to get by, to assimilate this century, and serve in this military. Everything he was accustomed and expected to use to be an officer in the military of the past or the future. The young Sergeant wondered if he was as good as everyone had said he was, having served with honor and distinction in the twentieth century military.

Seth continued to read as they approached the airfield, and as the jeep stopped at one of many gates, two guards stood here surrounded by a fortified positions around the gate. Seth focused mainly on the words destroy and clear clearly written multiple times in the handwritten ink on the orders. He was so engrossed in the papers and the assignment that he had to look up at the nudge of the Sergeant beside him.

"We're here Major." The young Sergeant told him, and he glanced at her, only nodding slightly in reply. He returned the salutes of the guards at the gate.

"Identification, Major." The one guard said, and he nodded pulling his wallet. The Major flashed the encoded identification card that had served him well. Quickly, the trooper scanned it and he nodded returning it to the Major and his guide in the jeep. A young officer stood in the door of the guard shack and eyeing the Major, returned the hard glance the officer.

"Thank you sir…!" The trooper replied, “Pass.”

Sitting back, he nodded to the young woman, his guide who sat beside him, and the jeep sped off toward the Clouds that sat on the cement tarmac. Seth quickly stowed the papers in the briefcase as he peered at ship of the future as they approached it. He stood up in the jeep as it approached the ship, nodding to the guards who saluted, parting to let the vehicle pass them by. When it came to a stop, he hopped out and paused as he stared at the massive ship. He turned to his guide who smiled at him.

"Thank you for the lift, Sergeant." He told her formally, returning her salute.

"It is my pleasure, Major." She replied, smiling in amusement.

He grinned, nodding only in reply.

"You know we have not been formally introduced, my name is Marla." She told him, "And you may call me that, when we are out of the range of others."

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Marla." He replied, "I am Seth... Seth Aguilera."

"Likewise, Seth…"

He grinned at her.

"You'll do it sir, just believe and it will happen." Marla told him in an encouraging tone, "A few of the others and me in my lodge are routing for your team. We look forward to your glorious return too."

"Thanks Marla." He replied walking toward the ship that loomed on the tarmac.

Here Major Aguilera moved along the ship, making the inspection, and checked on a couple things that he initially saw when he rolled up in the jeep. A couple of things he mention to Commander T'Larra before boarding. Major Aguilera noted the vicious battle scars on the skin of the ship as he moved around it and returned the salutes of the guards who were are posted around the ship.

Behind him, the youthful Sergeant watched him from the jeep, frowning at his intensity as they approached the ship and his resolve to make a quick inspection of it before they lifted off.

"What the devil is he looking for, I wonder?" She thought to herself and managed a shrug at the strange, moody, antics of the new officer who had come from centuries of the past.

Around him, the guards watched the Major silently, and after a few minutes, the guards realized what he was doing also. They watched as he made a full sweep, multiple times around the ship, and after a moment, they glanced at each other in silence. A low mutter of unrest rippled among the soldiers who were posted around the Clouds. They all certainly knew who he was, why he was here and did not expect him to inspect the ship either.

Seth glanced around at his surroundings and let out a breath before he walked toward the team who are assembled on the airfield near the front of the front of the Star Cruiser.

"Attention! Fall in!" A voice shouted, and the team fell into neat rows of the ranks quickly. A mass salute followed as the Major approached the twenty-four commandos, his team, that with luck, would pull off the impossible.

Major Aguilera, stepped forward, holding the salute until the Commander nodded his head.

"Everyone here, and accounted for?" The Major asked, and the Nathaniel nodded.

Seth quickly walked the rows with the Nathaniel and Lieutenant Minezati as he inspected his troopers standing outside the ship. He nodded in impressed approval at the fighting group who stood in the neat rows.

Seth eyed the young Lieutenant who walked with him and his best friend. Both carried a holstered an Astro-Automatic at his side and both shouldered a rifle of sort that hung from their shoulder.

“Are you both ready for this?” Seth murmured, and both men exchanged a surprised look. They sensed his apprehensiveness about the mission, having seen him walk around their ride before coming over to the formation.

“As ready as we'll all be, Major.” Kino replied as he nodded.

Standing in the ranks, Manual eyed the Commander’s patched and scarred face, seeing the smile on his face as the three men walked the ranks carefully. Both Seth and Nathaniel were impressed by the sight before them, the spit, polish, and the pride of professionalism that stood before him.
Nathaniel nodded a greeting to the Sergeant Major as they approached.

"You are a bunch of bad asses." He exclaimed, "Damn, I'm proud to be in the same service as all of you guys. We're going to kick some ass boys."

The young Lieutenant, who was the second in command for both squads, grinned openly at the comment, motioning to the group. At the end of the line, Nathaniel stood near the Sergeant Major in which he greeted warmly.

“Are you ready to go, Sergeant Major?” He said positively, and beside him, The Major chuckled, as did the Lieutenant.

"Ready to go kick ass, sir." Manual replied, "Ready to die for Earth and go out in a blaze of glory, if it comes to that."

"Let's hope that is not necessary, I am hoping, like the Major, to bring everyone back safely. It was told to me that there would be a wild party in our honor if we returned, so let us snap to and prepare our equipment and ourselves for the mission as we board the Magellanic Clouds. They are all yours Lieutenant, make Earth proud…"

Seth walked away from the group and the group watched as he made another round about the Star Cruiser.

Both squads and even the grizzled officer stared at Seth, wondering what he was looking for as he made his way around the ship. Nathaniel frowned especially, but knew if there was something on his mind, Seth would check and recheck it. Manual watched him too, glancing uncertainly at the Commander who exchanged a brief glance with each other.

"There are too many damn variables still to be calculated in… I don't know why I am having this damn feeling, but if we don't make it back, Earth is doomed." Seth thought to himself, "So we'd better be sure and on top of our game plan."

"… See fellas, you made a good impression, that's one on you and I am proud of all of you for that." Kino told the group, "It shows pride and your dedication to the service."

Kino walked down the row with three cigars for each man, and as he passed each one that he handed them to them. Each man took them and put them in their bag or in a pocket on their uniform. When Seth returned to the squad, with Nathaniel, his second in command offered him the three cigars also. Kino grinned at the Sergeant Major, the Major, and the Lieutenant Commander's looks of confusion. They held the cigars in their hands and watched as each man put stowed them. The trio from the past examined the cigars carefully.

"Don't worry it is tobacco, its synthetic with a mix of seaweed, sir." Lieutenant Minezati informed him, "We don't smoke'em until the fat lady sings and the battle is won. It is our victory dance, sir."

“Got that right, Lieutenant!” A voice said and it was from Gunery Sergenant Jeevers who stood nearby.

Here the Major, Lieutenant Commander and Sergeant Major laughed. Their laughter suddenly became solemn, as he was reminded of somewhere else he heard of that custom. Taking the gifts he shoved it in pocket and noted Manual had taken his and put it in his pocket too, a large beaming smile on his face even though he smoked one of the extra one, in a cloud of smoke. Kino tossed Manual another.

"A you were, Sergeant Major!" Kino snapped, "The fat lady has not sang and the battle is not won. Finish that cigar and remember to only smoke'em when we win the day.”

Manual grinned at the sentiment.

“Here though… if you must smoke."

Kino tossed the Sergeant Major a pack of Lucky Strikes™ .

"Do Rah Lieutenant…" Manual replied with a nod, a smile brightening his face as he puffed on the cigar, amused by the custom. The trio from the past all realized it was the movie back in 1996, called Independence Day that he heard of that custom and both laughed again.

"Thanks Lieutenant." Both officers told him, grinning at the young officer who nodded.

"My pleasure, Major… Lieutenant Commander…" Kino replied, and both of the men from the past smiled broadly.

"All right let's get to this." The Major said with a sigh, and the Lieutenant looked up, his smile becoming a puzzle frown with the sudden drop in mood by the superior officer. Kino suspected there was a lot on the Major’s mind and his superior officer was not comfortable with the plan what was to go down.

"All right team, pick up your bags and report aboard the Clouds. Head to our assigned billeting and remember that it is going to be cramped with normal operations with the ship. If you have any issues, bring it to me, the Commander or the Major and we will work it out." The harried Lieutenant ordered, and he motioned, "This is not a transport, so go easy on the ship and her stores. Move out. You have fifteen minutes, smoke'em if you got'em."

"Yeaaa…!" The group said fiercely, and they raised their arms as they hefted their space bags. Together the Marine detachment walked toward the ship nearby, lining up at the gantry that belonged to the massive Space Cruiser preceding the massive airlock hatch. They stood around as they pulled smokes from their pocket or chew. Even in this century, tobacco had a very predominant and key role in its presence in the century. The Major looked on, waving his hand to a soldier who held out a pouch of 'Lucky Strikes ™' from his pocket, offering to him.

"I don't smoke cigarettes like that, but thanks… Please carry on." He told the soldier, who nodded, and turned to walk toward the gantry of the massive Star Cruiser Class Starship. Manual joined Seth and Nathaniel at their side and was going to shoot the breeze for a moment, but the three men turned as a voice called out their names. The voice belonged to Amy Pantstingle, who had called out to him. He watched as she approached on the run, followed by Melinda Morris, Angie Miller-Stethem, Amanda Garcia, even Emily Aguilera-Montgomery and Denise Watson.

Melinda, Amy, Amanda, and Denise embraced Manual, Seth and Nathaniel, putting Hawaiian leis around their necks. The three men laughed and smiled affectionately at the young women.

"We're here to give you a top brass send off." Amy declared, stepping back to smile pleasantly at the men, their friends, who were going on this dangerous mission.

"Nice." Nathaniel replied, nodding, "With thanks."

"Very nice…" Manual told Amanda, smiling gently, "I was hoping for at least a send of like this."

"Me too, Sergeant Major, so was I." Seth replied, turning to the young women, and he nodded, "It is appreciated."

"Take it easy and keep the home fires burning for us. We'll be back soon." Manual exclaimed as he hefted his bag on his shoulder, "I love you Amanda. Do not worry there will not be any heroics. It will certainly not be by me, the Commander or the Major here."

With that, the Sergeant glanced at the face of Emily and Angie, then to the others, their eyes brimming with tears. Amanda gasped at the statement and stared at him.

"I-I love you too, Manual." She stammered surprised, but they had become lovers in the last few months together. The young Warrant Officer lunged to embrace him again, their lips touching, before stepping back and regarding her now best friend in the world and her love who stood before her.

"You promise me, no heroics, keep your fracking head down next to the Major, the Commander and the Lieutenant!"

"Relax Amanda, I will." Manual told her, and she shook head.

"Promise me." Amanda grumbled, "Damn it."

"I will and promise." He told her and Amanda nodded formally, turning to the Major. He returned the glances of the members of the team who were smiling and the former stasis members, his friends.

Stepping back Manual and Amanda sheepishly smiled at each other and the group stood watching. He turned to walk toward the gantry of the Star Cruiser, toward the other troops who had paused to watch the touching scene. Sergeant Major Parry had paused as Nathaniel stood on the concourse with Angie. He stared warmly into her eyes, holding her. Seth held Emily in his arms too.

“This is it.” Seth prompted, “Wish us luck.”

“You’ll both do it, I know it.” Angie said, and glanced at Emily who was standing with Seth. “Take care and come home soon, my love.”

“This isn’t goodbye, dear Emily.” Seth said, “I love you very much and will see you VERY soon too.”

Emily nodded to her husband and held him tightly before breaking. Seth glanced at Nathaniel who nodded. Angie and Emily's eyes were both brimming, as they held their husbands, not wanting to let them go. Major Aguilera embraced his wife, kissing her passionately, and the Lieutenant Commander followed suit with his. They broke after fifteen minutes.

There were whistles and catcalls from the troops on the gantry and the surrounding guards and pilots from the nearby hangar who watched the touching scene. There was sporadic applause all around them. The others were grinning openly, at the warm display of affection.

"Woo Hoo…! The Lieutenant Commander and Major have a girl!" A shout called, "Hubba, Hubba! Holy shit they’re babes!"

The stasis group laughed openly at the comments.

"Shit man both are lookers!" Another voice said aloud.

"Good one Sirs!"

"She's better than that Alsatian woman with the triple F hooters!"

Both the Major and Emily blushed, as they turned their heads realizing they were on display in front of everyone. The Lieutenant Commander also laughed with Angie. He stepped back quickly, blushing red as a ripe tomato and thankfully, she did too.

“The hand of God be with us.” Nathaniel murmured to himself, nodding to his wife.

"Okay, okay." Manual said, "Shows over fellas, lets get cracking." The young Sergeant Major grinned, shooing the team toward the gantry.

"I understand and this isn't goodbye again… I will be here waiting for you and your victorious team… That I promise." Emily said with a smile.

“Me too, Nathaniel…” Angie said, “Good luck!”

Emily paused, motioning to Manual.

"Promise me to look after him Sergeant. I could not stand to lose Seth. Please be safe out there and no heroics either."

Manual grinned broadly,

"You have my promise me’ lady."

With that, he bowed formally. She gave up and laughed, embracing the Sergeant Major.

"Don't worry Emily, everyone, I am not planning to get myself killed, and I will see you when I return." Seth told the group and they were smiling, but tears were showing more on Amy, Melinda, Denise, Emily and Amanda's faces. Angie was solemn as she stood there.

"I'll see you round, I'll be waiting." Emily whispered to her husband, and he grinned as he turned to regard the smiling Sergeant.

"Coming skipper?" Manual asked smiling, and Seth nodded, hefting his own bag on his shoulder. He waved at the young women, and one by one, they entered the ship that stood silently on the cement tarmac. Nathaniel nodded to his wife, and kissed her on the head.

“Love you Angie. Don’t worry, we’ll be back!” He told her as he hefted his bag and followed the others to the ship.

Emily and Angie both stared silently at the ship, long and hard. The both of them ignored the others who stood beside her. They had spoken to them twice and they did not hear them. Denise placed her hand on Emily and Angie’s shoulder, and both turned their heads to regard her friends.

"Hey, you both OK?" Denise asked and she glanced Emily who watched them step up onto the gantry. They scanned the surroundings before shaking hands, stepping toward the doors of the Space Cruiser. Angie, Amanda, Melinda, Denise and Emily stood there watching.

"Yeah, I just have a funny feeling I am not going to see them again." Emily declared quietly, trying to fight the tears of emotion that strongly welled up in her eyes.

"Yeah me too…" Angie added, and shook her head.

Emily and Angie both did not know what they was looking at, only to know that feeling was very strong within. Denise also looked at the massive Star Cruiser that sat on the tarmac and she too found herself heavy with emotion and tears welling up in her eyes. She quickly wiped the tears from her eyes. Angie, Amanda, Melinda and Amy were in the same state.

"Don't worry, with Manual on the job, and led by the Lieutenant, Seth and even Nathaniel, we KNOW they will all come back." Denise said, peering at the massive Star Cruiser, and here she shook her head as she placed her hands on Emily's shoulders.

"Besides when they do, we are going to have a wild party in their honor."

Emily smiled, as did the others, chuckling at the word 'Party'.

"We have been summoned back to Central Hospital on the double." Denise said, "So let's move. It might be our release from medical."

Emily nodded but she kept glancing to the ship as they walked toward the aircar nearby. The young woman shook her head as she wiped the tears from her face. Melinda was weeping as she stared at the ship, as was Amy. Angie fought back her tears, despite what he had said and tried to smile but it came out all wrong.

"Damn it, you had better come back." Emily said, fighting the tears, "I do not want to be alone in this century. Even after what has been sacrificed for you…"

Stepping onto the gantry, and passing through the hatch, the twenty-four marines saluted Ihsss T'Larra and Felonious Purrtz who stood inside.

"Is this it?" Ihsss asked, and Major Aguilera, last in, had nodded his head.

"This is it, Captain T'Larra." He said, "It is with our thanks."

"Do me a favor, and win." Ihsss declared solemnly with a nod of her reptilian head, "So we can all go home."

“That is the idea, Captain.” Seth said, as he motioned to the Lieutenant.

“Get everyone billeted, remember we are guests on the ship and supplies are limited. We have to take it easy on her. Any problems, let me know or the Commander for each squad...”

Ihsss turned to touch the wall intercom.

"Close gantry and prepare of lift off." She ordered into the intercom, "Secure ship for space detail."

Outside the massive Star Cruiser, the gantry lifted and folded neatly into the side of the ship. A low hum sounded on the Tarmac as ground personnel moved back. The engines rumbled and smoked as thrust was applied and slowly the ship moved upward. There was a cheer by the men around the ship as it rose up into the sky, higher and higher. On the bridge, Ihsss sat in the command chair.

"Take us up in a twenty-five meter climb." Ihsss ordered, "Full thrust."

The ship rose higher and faster as it moved forward to climb into the sky. Down in their quarters, the team was strapped in after securing their gear. Nathaniel and Seth winced at the pressure as they sat strapped in, and the ship rose up into the sky. The pressure eased off a moment later.

Sitting on the bridge, the Insectoid helmsman and the bridge crew worked at their consoles to pilot the ship. There was a quiet rumble as the ship began to shake, passing through Earth's atmosphere. Outside, the nose and skin of the ship glowed red as the friction of gravity intensified upon its surface. The bridge crew remained at their seats as the ship passed into orbit. Ihsss, seated in the command chair, managed a smile. She was never affected by the passage into gravity, landing and taking off from many worlds they had visited in their travels. She was smiling openly, impressed by the smooth handling of her ship through Earth's thin atmosphere, and how well her crew maintained control of the ship.

Veloxa turned to Ihsss when the console beeped accusingly at her.

"Orbit velocity achieved," Veloxa said, "Orbit accomplished."

"Make one orbit and head toward the Earth task force outside the SOL System." Ihsss ordered, "Make for impulse speed, fifteen space knots, for Earth sector only after we orbit once."

"Aye, Captain." Veloxa said, touching the console.

"Inform Earth Defense Command of our departure and making all speed to get underway to the fleet."

"Aye..." Hi’Mthsss said, touching the buttons on her console but Ihsss hardly heard her slurred words, reporting their status. She was nervous of this battle to come and wondered if this tactic was going to work.

It had been planned by the human Major, who had come from a time long passed, an unusual person to the reptilian woman, never seeing anyone like him ever in her travels through time and space. He was quite intelligent for someone who had come from the winds of history to be in charge and understand the mechanics for technology such as stasis. Even more unusual, that he would be able to adjust a battle plan, when he was clearly not from the current military or current day like he had. Ihsss wondered about the trio from the past, even after read their service records from the past military to find out more about them.

"Captain, one orbit achieved." Veloxa said, turning to glance at Ihsss who was deep in thought.

"Captain…?" Veloxa said, glancing at Felonious who looked up from his console.

"Ihsss…?" He asked and she shook her head with a snort and turned her head to regard her crew.

"I'm fine. Break orbit and make fifteen knots."

"Aye…" Veloxa said, "Leaving Earth's orbit."

The sound of the engines could heard on the bridge as the ship thrust forward and it moved from the safe orbit of Earth into the stars of open space.

"We are free and clear to navigate." Thyrac announced beside her, "Plotting course to join their fleet."

The ship turned smoothly to avoid the moon, and continued into the depths of space.

"Very well…" Ihsss' said, "Departure angle on viewer."

"Aye… Switching to departure angle on viewer…" Veloxa replied as he hit the switch and the blue glow of Earth moved way as they left orbit into deep space.

"Switch the viewer, to standard ahead."

"Standard ahead." Thyrac replied, and the familiar stars appeared on the screen.

"Long Range Sensors indicate fleet moving at one, eight zero, mark four." Felonious replied, the hum of the sensors echoing across the bridge, "They are three sectors over from SOL… Sector four."

"Very well, prepare to warp to their location and upon arrival, match course and speed." Ihsss replied, "But give them a wide berth, we don't want to crowd them."

"Making parallel course, one, eight, zero mark four." Thyrac announced, his claw-like hands dancing across the console.

"I will make my speed, fifteen space knots when we come along side after warp to their position…" Veloxa added and she turned to not to Ihsss, "Engaging course."

"Do not warp out of here until we have reached the outer planets of this system." Felonious cautioned, "We don't want to do that until we have plotted this system. We might warp into a star or a planetary body. I recommend using Standard warp procedures using impulse."

"Very well…" Ihsss replied, "Continue exit trajectory to the edge of the solar system."

Outside in space the ship moved rapidly toward the edge of SOL, where the fleet from Earth, the task force assigned as the diversion, slowly moved toward Aquarius. On board the ships, the crews staffed their positions, ready for battle as seasoned veterans called with the new recruits faced this new enemy.

The Clouds moved at medium speed, dodging and darting through the asteroid belt near Jupiter, the whole time as Felonious plotted the system, navigating the destination warp point to the Earth fleet.

In the quarters, Nathaniel sat alone at the table as he worked on his laptop, writing a personal letter to Angie who stayed on Earth. He yawned and stretched, having stood up from the table. Glancing at the chronometer on his wrist, he glanced at the time. The Lieutenant Commander stood in the spacious interior of the room. It is here he moved slowly, fluidly, as he practicing the motions of Aikido and Tai Chi in order to relax himself of his anxiety. He slept fitful that night, but plagued with dreams of his wife, and the others.

The next morning the Lieutenant Commander appeared in his athletic gear and he greeted the other Marines who now stood on the flight deck. They stood in formation and he returned the salute of the young Lieutenant with a nod. The Lieutenant Commander nodded again in approval, sensing the group's readiness.

"Today is preparation for the mission at hand, and equipment final check." He said, addressing the group, "Let’s get to a good workout and a bit of practice."

The others grinned as they stood there,


For an hour, they worked out on the flight deck, sparring in martial arts, exercising and toning up. They also sat on the floor the reviewed the mission objectives and the battle points in which they would be attacking. Ihsss happened to be walking by when they were sparring martial arts, with the first officer, Felonious and they paused to watch the humans in contest. Both strangers to Earth, they glanced at each other in confusion, heading toward the airlock door and into the bay. They thought there was battle happening aboard their ship and their intention was to stop it.

"What is going on here?" Ihsss demanded and the group stopped to meet the look of the reptilian Captain. They sensed her genuine snap of anger and glanced at each other as they stood in groups. The Lieutenant grinned and he held up his hand as he approached Ihsss and Felonious.

"We're… It's just a little sparring Commander." He told her, and she frowned.

Kino explained it quickly to the young reptilian, describing it as hand to hand combat training. Ihsss perked up when he mentioned it, and she realized it is the same thing that she had learned in her military. She gasped aloud and smiled widely.

"Oh, you are exercising, I did not know you did hand to hand combat too… Please carry on then." Ihsss replied, finally recognizing the exercise gear and she stepped back to watch them.

A few minutes later, the Marine group took a break, downing water and sat in a group as Lieutenant Commander Miller stood in front of them, reviewing the mission briefing with the Major who stood next to him. Ihsss listened in, smiling as she nodded in agreement with the plan. She grimaced when he mentioned the team would be split, and they would be evacuating to the Whirlwind instead of her ship. On the transport behind Ihsss, they had brought aboard the pinch that would make the pulse happen. Ihsss herself examined the device and she frowned upon the use of such a device. Ihsss thought back to the discussion when they had brought the EMP aboard, rolling it up the steep ramp by three uniformed specialists on a cart. They brought it aboard a few hours before they were to take off and join the fleet bound for Aquarius. She had grimaced then, and still disapproved of the use of this device. She glanced at the young Lieutenant Commander who stood with Lieutenant Kino Minezati who had a clipboard, and the men both nodded when seeing the cart.

"Ah good, it came." He said with a chortle, "Mark it off the list."

"What came?" Ihsss asked, stepping forward to face the men beside her feline first officer, Felonious Purrtz, "What isss this equipment and what is it for?"

The Lieutenant Commander nodded a silent greeting to Commander T'Larra and her feline First Officer, Felonious.

"EMP pinch." He said, "Our guarantee of making it out alive."

"If that is what I think it is, it will disrupt the whole sector maybe two, we'll be helpless for several minutes before we can recover you. It might take the Cybertron down twenty minutes, but it will take us at least ten to restart even on emergency restart." Ihsss said, "I don't think you should need that if you set the charges right?"

"I want a guarantee of elimination, when that planet goes it will reverse the whole sector into black hole." The Lieutenant Commander said, "It will be last resort action to assist getting us the hell out of the sector before we blow the planet. As soon as your ship is active, recover me and I will blow it. We need to be in Warp as soon as you are able."

"There is no guarantee that the black hole will be limited to one sector." Ihsss said, "I don't like the idea of cutting it close in a race with an enemy armada to recover and get blasted on over fifty to one." She complained, "Using that puts my ship and crew at risk, and your recovery too."

"It is going to be much harder getting out, than landing on that damn planet Captain T’Larra." Lieutenant Commander Miller said, pointing to the map on the screen. "Especially if we are compromised even before we get started. Things will get really ugly if our cover is blown, and make it more difficult to set those charges."

The reptilian Commander grimaced but she nodded in agreement at the sentiment. They were going against all the odds, and trying to be covert would be difficult. She wondered if it would be the same thing when they got to the second part of their mission.

"That will be for sure." Ihsss said, "If that happens, the Clouds will step in and start a ground assault and come down to evacuate all personnel."

"We will have to take a whack at plan two." Nathaniel said, "The Earth ships will have to use the Wave gun and take a beating for one hundred and twenty seconds and hit the mine from above."

"At over fifty to one…?" Ihsss gasped, "That's crazy, and they will be helpless as they change back over and have to power up for a Warp,"

"Nothing else to be done…" He replied, "Unless one person sets them off, but that is a suicide mission if they aren't recovered."

"However, if everything goes according to plan and we stay covert and as we are leaving, we will set off the EMP and knock out the fleet just long enough for us to detonate." Nathaniel said, "Our first priority will to stay covert."

"Then we can take a whack at phase two of your brilliant strategy." Ihsss complimented, making the human officer smile.

"Bah, it's not brilliant. The EDC tacticians came up with the plan. I have been modifying it to make sure the damn thing will work, and I just go to make sure that it happens." Seth replied, "But you have my thanks."

"You both are very wise, and very brave." Ihsss thought and just embraced the two men, despite the surprised look on his face as she held them.

"That is a hell of a planet you come from." Ihsss said, and she stepped back, seeing Nathaniel and Seth's grin.

"Not too bad. Despite it is not my time." He told her and she nodded,

"Bridge to Captain…" The voice said, and Ihsss walked toward it, hitting the button. It was the feline first officer.

"Captain here…"

"Warp completed, and we have reached rendezvous point Alpha, the Earth fleet is ten mega meters from our position, as measured on Earth." Felonious replied, "Sector three one six. We have signaled the fleet and moving in at fifteen knots coming along the S.S Essex."

"Very well, keep me informed, I'll be on the bridge in a moment." Ihsss replied, hitting the button. Turning she regarded the Space Marines of the EDC Force.

"We have reached your fleet." Ihsss told them, "We will be heading to the planet and at drop point in twenty hours. From there we will prepare to attack."

"Very well…" The Major replied, nodding, "We'll be ready."

Major Aguilera turned to his team and frowned at them.

"Hear that team?" He prompted, "Let's have a weapons check and all equipment checked out. We drop in twenty hours."

"You heard the man, let's get cracking." Manual said stiffly, “You know the drill, assholes and elbows...”

Sergeant Major Perry nodded as equipment crates and cases were brought out. They were promptly opened and inspected. Manual hefted a SN-34 Astro-Automatic Machine gun, with pulse clips and he began checking the sights and the clips.

As the Lieutenant circulated among the group, he glanced many times over at the Major, who likewise made his way to the group, assisting as needed. He engaged in shooting the breeze with the Sergeant Major. Little did his second-in-command know, is that he already checked out his equipment that he would use on their mission. He did not know that the Major wore an equivalent of, what they called in his age, a Kevlar Vest under his tunic. The Commander stood on the ship, and remembered the words of his wife and Emily both about 'no heroics' and he wore the vest too, guaranteeing he would survive the mission ahead.

“However, it might not be necessary to land on Aquarius.” Miller thought, and he keyed in the transponder code to detonate the explosives on Aquarius.

"...I hope like hell we can pull it off Captain T'Larra. " Seth had told the reptilian Commander, and Nathaniel kept silent only grimacing at him, As for Seth, he thought of the plan, keeping it in his head, going every aspect of it in his head, repeatedly. He paced the office he occupied, back and forth, as he moved his hand with each thought. The Major closed his eyes letting the images of Emily fade from view as he stood in the exact center of the office.

A the klaxon alert sounded on the ship a few minutes later and all hands ran to their position and battle stations. The Marines ran to the hangar deck, gathering in formation as they prepared for the drop that would take them into harm's way.

Outside the ship, it plowed along through space, surrounded by Task force Two from Earth. The Clouds, Commanded by Ihsss T'Larra sat in the command chair, directing the bridge crew, keeping the ship on a steady formation as the radar crews kept their eyes on their consoles for any sign that the enemy had picked up their presence.

"Incoming coded message from Command, on the Aircraft Carrier, Essex." Hi’Mthsss reported, "It is to all ships, they are requesting two way visual and split screen for all Commanders to sit in on the final briefing before attack."

"Very well…" Ihsss replied, "Switch over and put it all on main viewer."

Hi’Mthsss clicked the switch and the view screen all became split with the heads of the Commanders of the Task Force two ships.

"First please introduce yourselves." A voice said, and everyone had a surprised look on faces when Ihsss' face popped up on the screen. The captains of the task force made introductions.

"Captain Ihsss T'Larra." Ihsss said, "Magellanic Clouds."

"This is just a pep talk, before we attack in t-minus eighteen hours from now. Welcome to Magellanic Clouds who will be joining us as the drop vessel for Alpha and Baker teams on the Aquarius surface."

There was a murmured welcome by everyone on the screen.

"How we are going to play this, is to be a distraction for the Cybertron, as the Clouds uses its cloaking device in order to covertly sneak in, orbit and drop the two squads that will be landing on the surface." A voice said, as a chart appeared on the screen showing the ships and the pattern used by the task force.

"Our ships will form a perimeter around Aquarius while fighter teams and the ships provide cover for the drop ship." The Admiral said, "When complete, an EMP will be used and when everyone is active again on emergency start, the fleet will immediately warp out of the sector to a safe distance, the sector will become a Tritium imploded black hole."

"What happens if we cannot restart that quickly, and it is blown?" A voice asked, "We will be sucked into the black hole right?"

"Affirmative…" The Admiral replied, "Major Aguilera?"

Major Aguilera face popped on the screen, and Ihsss managed a toothy smile as she peered at the screen.

"Major Aguilera." Seth said into the speaker.

"Major Aguilera is the one who is in charge of the drop and can answer all questions." The Admiral said, "He is the one who suggested the EMP and has modified the original plan for the drop. He is in operational control of his team."

"Major Aguilera, Commander Tarpaulin, here." The Captain said, "SS Nauru."

"Go ahead."

"What is the distance you will detonate the planet?" He asked, "And how many minutes after the EMP Pulse."

"I will detonate the EMP after the ships are clear of Aquarius airspace and headed to the drop ship, the Clouds." He replied, "Will detonate charges and destroy planet after the fleet is clear, fifteen mega meters from the planet."

"Once the planet goes into imploded black hole, it will draw in everything in sector. All enemy ships will be taken from the sector. Commander Miller, my pilot, will be in charge of navigating and getting us back to the ship." Seth said, "The fleet should be clear before I detonate. Do not worry about the Clouds… We will be right behind the fleet. I will be handling the detonation myself."

"One man to detonate… It sounds dangerous." A voice said, as voices echoed across the channel.

"I didn't know that." Ihsss thought and had gasped quietly.

The reptilian Captain wondered what else he had planned for the drop and the mission. It was bad enough using an EMP, and having to restart on emergency restart. Time would be crucial to recover him then warp out after they detonated the planet. It would be close, no matter how it was played, or done. There was a possibility the Major and all hands could be sucked into the black hole and killed. She hoped he had timed it perfectly in order to beat the odds. Shaking her head, Ihsss peered at the screen as the young Major filled in the battle group the details to the drop and their status. She hardly heard the information, deep in thought to what was to come as they traversed time and space.

When the briefing ended, Ihsss got up from her chair and stepped into the lift, leaving the bridge. She was on her way to see the Major, to express her worry about the drop onto Aquarius. The lift hummed as it plummeted downward and then stopped on level six. The doors opened and she stepped off and turned the corner into the hallway. Ihsss stood outside his quarters and composed herself before she hit the buzzer on the door.

"Come!" A voice replied, and the doors opened allowing her to enter. Looking at the Major, he sat at his desk in front of his laptop as he worked on the daily paperwork associated with his command. He greeted her with a smile and a nod.

"Captain T'Larra, what can I do for you?" He asked and she grimaced, walking toward the table that was a makeshift desk.

"I'd like you to reassign someone else to detonate the planet." Ihsss told him, “It is not a good idea if you get yourself killed if this does not go right. Please assign one of your team to do it, as you are not expendable, even though you seem to think so."

"There is no one qualified who knows that pinch except the Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander and I." Major Aguilera replied, "There is no time to fully train them on it and if I could, it would take a week. Do not worry, I am fully aware what will happen and have modified it to focus the pulse away from the task force. It will detonate and the pulse will go directly at Cybertron for maximum effect. I am not looking to get killed and know exactly what I am doing."

"Okay Major." Ihsss said, "After you detonate the pulse, you must be aboard in fifteen minutes. The fleet is going to withdraw, and we'll warp out as soon as you are aboard. Detonate the planet and we can get to our little rendezvous with fate, us going home."

"Count on it, I'll be there with bells on." Seth replied, "Best to setup a diversion too, so I will rig a little surprise for the Cybertron too."

"The Earth fleet is going to give them hell, as you earthlings like to put it. I do not think it is necessary to have any surprises, just get the… HELL, as you humans say… out of there." Ihsss said with a smile and the Major laughed, nodding twice.

"Excellent." He intoned, "I'll see you after the mission. Do not worry Captain T'Larra. I can definitely take care of myself. I am a tough bastard and very hard to kill. I have been shot at already and wounded in the line of duty and still managed to survive back when I served in a war before I went to stasis, like Miller did..."

Ihsss grimaced before she nodded, but his comment surprised her too. She knew he had served in the last war Earth had endured. The reptilian Commander had requested information about him and the Lieutenant Commander. What she had had read, getting very far in her research, that both had served excellently.

The reptilian Captain was not sure that he was he right man from Earth for the job (having her doubts because he was from a different time) and had made that point to General Singleton and his staff. She read the EDC provided documentation for the young reptilian officer, after requesting it and his service in the twentieth/twenty-first century. She learned of his exploits that included stasis, also learning that he was one hell of an officer, a maverick, taking well to the military. She got a clear picture of what kind of man he was, confirming it by meeting and getting to know him personally. The Lieutenant Commander also.

"He is just damn brave for taking part in the battles, when peace broke down in his century and later volunteering for something like stasis." Ihsss thought, "Maybe he is the right man for the job, he certainly gets results, even if they are unorthodox methods.”

She had also read about Commander Miller, and the others, the whole process of stasis having intrigued her. She was getting to know both men well, especially the young Major who was in the secondary project discovered by the EDC on Earth, using the same power source the Earth fought against, used by the Dinguil.

"All right, Major…" Ihsss replied after the long silence, "We'll be waiting at the rendezvous point, Beta three and ready to warp out after power up when you detonate the EMP Pulse. As you detonate the planet, we will warp immediately. You will have ten minutes to get to us. Ready your team, we drop in now six hours."

"We'll be ready Captain."

Major Aguilera turned back to his laptop and he quickly typed out his letter, one that would definitely send to Emily who had stayed on Earth. It would be a final letter, to his young wife whom he had married while she recovered in the hospital on Earth, sort of a last will in testament in which he gave specific instructions.

The Lieutenant Commander had also sent Angie a note, via subspace, back to Earth, telling his new wife he loved her dearly, and reported in that things did not look too favorable to the mission. He left the same last minute instructions for her. Both were skeptical of the outcome to this mission and were both concerned when it came to the completion of their task. Both knew they had a job to do, but the odds were clearly against them when it came right down to the mission at hand.

The Major paused as he read the screen, checking his words carefully to the very thoughts he was having. Seth told her that he loved her, and would see her soon, despite how he felt about their mission.

It is on board the Clouds, as the time clicked down to four hours before attack time, the Major stood up and stretched, before gathering the equipment that he would be taking with him. He hefted the same sniper rifle as the as the Lieutenant Commander his aim to provide successful over watch for his team. A moment later, he walked toward and through the doors into the corridor, making his way quickly through the passages toward the hangar deck where his team now gathered.

As he walked through the corridor, he shouldered the rifle as he passed many of Ihsss' ragtag crew, made up of several different races through the galaxy, displaced by the Cybertron in the future. They stared at the human Major in astonishment, moving aside to let him pass. There was the sound of applause, as the Major passed, and he managed a grimace as he walked through the corridor. More applause quickly followed him, as walked onward down the corridor toward his destination.

When he reached the hatch to the Hangar Deck, he stepped through it and into the cavernous landing bay where his team is assembled. They now bear the gear, readied by the group for this mission. Two landing craft were prepared for the drop, both teams loading the gear into it. A moment later, the intercom whistled.

"Captain to Hangar Deck…" Ihsss said quickly, "Major Aguilera? Commander Miller?”

Nathaniel and Seth walked quickly to the wall, and to the intercom, where he hit the button "Major Miller, on-line… Aguilera on-line…"

"I’m just going to wish you and both your teams good luck. We will see you in a few hours, with some great news."

"Thanks Captain." Nathaniel replied, smiling slightly.

“Yea, thanks.” Seth said, “We will see you at rendezvous point Baker, three one two. Hangar, deck out."

Major Aguilera and Commander Miller walked toward the drop ships in which he and his team would be leaving within a few hours. He assisted the loading of the crafts, and the gear that would be used by his team when they reached Aquarius airspace. Especially for the one he would be piloting, bearing the EMP that would allow them a clear break, hopefully to return to the drop ship that would be taking his team clear of the danger zone.

"Okay team, let us saddle up and prepare to launch. We have a job to do." The Major ordered.

"Yeaaa…!" The Marines replied fiercely, gathering their stuff and prepared for launch. They charged the transport and they took their seats. Behind them the Major and Lieutenant stood before each other and shook hands. Manual put his hand on top of theirs as the trio stood for a moment together. Commander Miller put his on top of theirs.

"I'll see you on the surface and good luck to us all." Perry said with a serious undertone.

"Damn straight, we're going to win." Kino said with a grin and Manual nodded. The Commander and Major nodded.

"I only wish Emily was here."

"Don't get all distracted now, you'll see her again." Manual said sarcastically, "Damn officers and your women."

The three men regarded the deadpan expression of the Sergeant Major and they laughed.

"Ready…. HUT! HUT! Yeeeo…!"

The men broke and they ran to their transports readying themselves for the battle to come. As they stepped onto the transports, the twelve Marines in each strapped themselves in, or stored their gear. Each Marine has a vest on and a helmet. Both are equipped with a camera, their armor worn over their uniform has sensors to allow monitoring of the vital functions. Lieutenant Kino Minezati walked toward the station where he stared at multiple screens. One was vitals of each of the soldiers including his, the other a web cam.

“Let’s see what we can see here.” Kino chortled, taking a seat in front of the console. He scanned the panel quickly, watching the monitors as the vitals were relayed. He checked each web cam. The Lieutenant frowned at the distorted view on the screen.

“Corporeal Hicks, check your cam for me.” Kino said sharply, “We’re not getting a clear picture.”

The youthful Corporeal reached up to tap the cam and the Lieutenant shook his head. He rammed his head into a nearby bulkhead next to his seat. The image cleared, and the Lieutenant gave him the thumbs up hand signal.

“We are going down into hell, boys and girls, ready to kick some robotic ass.” A voice said, “Time to get it on…”

A young soldier walked the row of seats, helping his fellow Marines get strapped in and check the equipment. “It’s a one way ticket into the depths of hell, Straight down.”

“You got that right.” Another voice chimed in, and they reached out to high-five the Private who walked the row.

“Relax boy, it’s a bot hunt.” Manual said solemnly, “But it will be good to get some trigger time finally, and act like a Marine, rather than sitting on our sorry asses.”

“I am all for that Sergeant Major.” Another voice said. He turned to regard a youthful, female Hispanic Marine known as Rodriguez by her colleagues in the service.

“Let’s take our seats, and get this party started.” The Lieutenant declared, turning to the console, and taking up a headset.

“Test, Test.” He rapped and the others held up their hands with a ‘thumbs up sign.’

“We’re ready, Lieutenant.” Sergeant Major Perry told him. Kino glanced at the Lieutenant Commander in the pilot's seat. He nodded grimly.

On the second transport, at the same moment, Major Aguilera, Lieutenant Kane Tamazuki and Gunnery Sergeant Normal Jeevers sits at the controls of the second transport. He sits with his eyes closed, and as Major Aguilera sits watching the vitals of his team and the web cams from their helmets. He nodded in approval. Both teams were ready. Seth then turned his head to meet the gaze of middle-aged Gunnery Sergeant with short white colored hair, a fair complexion, a big nose, and brown eyes who stood next to him. It was his secondary Squad leader, Norman Jeevers. Strangely to the Major, as his friend Lieutenant Commander Miller pointed out that he looked like the TV personality from his century, Norman Fell, the actor. His face was almost identical to the actor of the past. He had stepped up beside him, reporting his status as he did his duty readying the team.

“We’re all set, Major Aguilera…!” He reported with a snide tone, and a wrinkling of the nose, as he nodded to Seth who sat in the chair. The young officer was flabbergasted, and it took him a moment to respond without chuckling under his breath.

Seth managed a nod, smiling broadly.

"Jesus, he does remind me of Normal Fell." Seth thought, but aloud he answered him quickly.

“Very well, get strapped in Gunny, and prepare for lift off.” Major Aguilera instructed, nodding his head formally.

“Aye, sir…!” The Gunnery Sergeant replied.

“This is Gray Wolf, Alpha Team, ready to depart.” Lieutenant Tamazuki said into the microphone of the headset.

“Desert Fox, Baker Team, is also ready to depart.” Lieutenant Minezati reported.

“Stand by, delivery boys.” Ihsss said, sitting in her command chair. Turning it, she faced Hi’Mthsss, her daughter, who sat at the Communications Console.

“Inform the Earth Fleet we are ready.” Ihsss said, “Both teams are loaded and ready to go. Also notify the Whirlwind they should be on station for pick-up of Baker Team.”

“Aye, Captain I will tune to the combat channel as stated in briefing.” Hi’Mthsss said with a smile, “It will be my pleasure…”

“Hi’Mthsss, just…” Ihsss snapped at her and her daughter fell silent, curbing her levity for the situation.

“I am already on it, Captain.” She said tersely as she turned to her console, “This is Dark Angel. Delivery Boys are ready to depart. You may start your diversionary attack.”

Hi had spoken quickly into her headset, and there was a crackle.

“Golden Eagle to all stations, move ahead and start attacks. Launch all fighters, and give them hell boys and girls.”

Outside in space, the fleet of ships engines flared as they all moved slowly forward into range of Aquarius, meeting the fleet of Cybertron that hovered above the blue glow of the water planet. Laser beams sprouted in force at the Cybertron and a mushroom of explosions erupted from the hulls of several vessels. Other ships, in the first attack were obliterated, as Astro-fighters swarmed from the two carriers at the enemy. They attacked full force, blasting a hole through the smaller protective ships. On the other side, the ships of the Cybertron fired back as Robot fighters swarmed from the openings from their carrier. Astro fighters and robotic fighters swarmed in a vicious dogfight, many disappearing in silent flashes.

Chatter echoed over the speaker as the battle progressed. “… Fighter come on your six, I have him! Watch out for that Dreadnought… “

The weapons of the Cloud’ rumbled as they attacked the enemy too, destroying the smaller interceptor and escort ships which are on the outer ring of the battle group of the Cybertron.

“Wow, look at that, a hole opened up for the Clouds,” A voice cracked over the speaker.

Outside the ship, the Clouds’ it hovered in the stars of space, turning its main gun to target another Cybertron Destroyer and fire. The energy streaked toward it, striking its hull, causing two massive explosions there. Debris floated freely from the metallic hull, floating freely in space.

”Golden Eagle to Dark Angel, you are cleared to disengage and approach the target.” A voice said.

“Captain, we are cleared to approach using that hole they opened up. They are urging us to make haste.” Hi’Mthsss reported. She turned to flash a toothy grin on her reptilian features at her mother who sits in the Captain’s chair.

Ihsss sat on the bridge as the Clouds weapons rumbled as lasers erupted from the barrels, missiles from their launchers and torpedoes from their tubes. Many smaller ships continued to vanish in a flash of light, and pulse laser fire erupted taking down the fighters from the Cloud’s weapons as they approached an EDC Cruiser.

“Confirmed, there is a hole for us to enter, starboard ten degrees.” Felonious reported.

“Engage cloaking device, and head for the hole.” Ihsss ordered, “Ahead half speed… Secure weapons. One three five, mark five.”

“Inform the fleet, Dark Angel is moving in.” Ihsss said, standing up from the bridge chair, nodding to Veloxa who had hit the cloaking device. Outside, in the stars of space, the Clouds vanished and slowly moved forward under impulse engines only.

Hi’Mthsss, at the communications console, nodded and spoke rapidly over the combat channel, her voice slurred by the other voices and static.

“Set shields at maximum.” Ihsss ordered, “Keep clear of any dogfights and get through to Aquarius to release the delivery boys.”

“Sweet Krishna…” Ihsss muttered, “What a fracking harsh battle.”

“Roger that.” Veloxa said calmly, her hands dancing over the controls making the ship bank and dodge fighters that swarmed around them like angry hornets. Flames erupted nearby as another Astro-fighter vanished in a silent explosion. More Astro-fighters and enemy ships swarmed past them as the Clouds managed to slip through the hole opened by the fighters, the Battle Cruiser Class Star ships, and Destroyers near them who rapidly fired at the enemy fleet.

“This is control.” Ihsss said, hitting the intercom switch, “Delivery boys, stand by for launch and good luck.”

Sitting on the transport, the Major smiled as he peered at the battle that he managed to tune in on the console view screen, along with the overlapping battle transmissions echoing on the speaker. He casually hit the intercom switch.

“Thanks Ihsss.” Major Aguilera said into the headset as he sat in the chair on the transport. “For everything…”

“I’ll see you all at the rendezvous point, and the others on Earth.” She beamed, “You have all my hopes, gentleman…”

“Open Airlock.” The Major ordered, “Team two, stand by to launch!”

The massive doors of the airlock opened, and a rapid roar of decompression from the hangar deck could be heard on the transports by the combat teams.

“Alright, punch it!” Major Aguilera ordered and the engines of the transports roared as they ignited, thrusting the ships forward from the airlock, rocketing them into the silent stars of space. Both transports banked and plummeted toward the atmosphere of Aquarius, the skin of the tank-like transports turning red as the friction rubbed against the ships.

“We have reached atmosphere, stay sharp, we have fighters coming in.” The voice of the Commander piloting the ship second ship said, “We are banking to clear and going to make a sharp turn… Hang on!”

The transports both banked and disappeared further into the planet’s atmosphere. They evaded the robotic fighters that approached, who headed for the Astro-fighters who streaked in to attack them. Both ships banked a hard right, away from the action, as they plummeted further into the atmosphere of the legendary water planet toward the surface. Both transports opened up with laser fire, and missiles, taking out more fighters that swept in as they approached the water.

“We’re clear for the moment, Major.” The Commander reported, and there was a relieved sigh.

Below them, the green countryside of the planet could be seen among the blue waters of Aquarius. The transports descended further into the atmosphere and the bright star that Aquarius now orbits shines dimly on the surface of the planet. The transports shifted left and right in the sky, as they dipped sharply downward toward the largest land mass. They stayed in the clouds before descending, their presence masked from the fighters that streaked past them.

“Send coded message to the Clouds, we have successfully penetrated the atmosphere, and we are proceeding toward the landing sight about fifteen nautical miles west of the Tritium Mine.” Major Aguilera ordered.

Staff Sergeant Christopher Fallon nodded from his place sitting at his console. His hands moved across the console before him, and he spoke rapidly into the headset. After a moment, there were two beeps as they received a response from the Clouds. Major Aguilera nodded at the sound of the beeps.

“They acknowledged.” He said, “Drop us to one thousand meters to the surface of the planet.”

“Aye.” the Staff Sergeant replied, moving the stick and the crafts dipped sharply toward the water. As the two transports moved across the blue sky toward the mine, they stayed low against the water to avoid any radar by the Cybertron and avoiding contact visually by the robotic fighters that streaked across the sky above them. Nathaniel in the other ship was at his wing.

“Activate ECM and jam the radar.” Seth instructed with a nod, and the co-pilot of the craft nodded as he hit the switch that fortunately for them, worked.

The Cybertron, sitting at their detection equipment on the landmass near the mine, peered in confusion at the static of the radar screen that was suddenly scrambled, masking the Troop Transport’s presence.

“Approach cautiously, and land at coordinates fifteen, by ten, by thirty-five, which is approximately ten miles from the mine, we should both run along the ground to approach target. Team two, break, and go to landing coordinates eighteen, by fifteen, by twenty-two. Run south toward the mine, we will run north after landing.”

Darting left and right, above the waves of the sea on Aquarius, the transports continued their approach. They ripped across the sky toward the shore, a few meters below them and banking slightly upward to avoid the mountains.

“Feet dry, Major…” The pilot reported.

“Are there any signs of surface units?” The Major asked, and the Radar operator shook his head when the young officer of the past glanced at him.

“You have your orders, Team Two. Set down at coordinates, and make you way south along the ground toward the mine. Avoid being in the air as much as possible and all air patrols.”

“Copy that.” Kino said, as the second transport peeled off to the right, and banked gracefully away to the left as it continued on its new course toward the other end of the land mass where the mine shaft was located.

“Approaching coordinates, Major, in fifteen minutes…” A voice said, and Seth looked up, nodding his head.

The ship moved along dodging and darting, as fighters approached. The transport’s weapons fired, quickly knocking them down until they were clear. The transport banked again.

“Cease fire.” He replied, “Come in nice, steady, and easy, to the landing coordinates.”

Outside, the transport’s retro-jets fired as it slowly down, sinking slowly to the ground. It landed with a thud and the tank-tracks began to turn as it began to slowly move on its projected course toward the many entrances of the Tritium Mine.

“Inform the Clouds we landed beautifully, and we are now merrily moving right along.” The Major ordered.

“Aye, Sir.” The radio operator replied.

“Team two has landed and is now under way toward the mine from the south, sir.” Private Lang said, “They have light resistance, but they are moving right along.”

“Very well,” the Major said, hitting the switches on the console, glancing at the radar screen and the operator who worked next to him at the console.

The transport moved slowly along the ground, moving across the green hills and through the open long brush of several fields and toward the forest that would provide them cover as they stealthily would approach the mine from the north.

“Sir, sensors indicate a patrol ahead, five mega meters away.” The radar operator reported.

“Hold up here for a moment, Staff Sergeant.” Major Aguilera ordered, “We have company. Remember we want to keep this covert.”

The transport stopped with a sharp jolt and a youthful Lance Corporeal named John Baxter operates the radar console.

“Send coded message to Team two, encountered Cybertron positions, five miles from target. Dig in and hold transport position and go on foot to target.” The Major quickly added.

“Power off, power off…” The radar operator urged quietly.

“Power is off.” The Sergeant reported, as the engines both fell silent as a group of Cybertron drones ships and soldiers moved close by. Thankfully, they were ignored. The Major grimaced as he pointed to the door casually. It opened slowly, landing in a clearing of patchy dirt and green grass.

“We will go on foot from here.” Major Aguilera said, “We will probably run into more patrols as we close in from this distance. How far are we from the mine entrance?”

“We are approximately five, point three nautical miles from the entrance. We will setup cloaking system and camouflage netting.” Jeevers replied.

“Dig in our position.” The Major ordered.

“Copy that.” John Baxter said, and on the console in front of him, he hit a switch.

Outside, the transport slowly dug in using the massive drills that appeared from the smooth skin of the ship and the weight of the transport sank into the smooth earth around them. The side doors opened, allowing the group to muster outside and work quickly to put up the netting and other concealment of the ship. Several soldiers dug foxholes and the Commander sat in the chair at the main console. Behind him, the Major appeared with his helmet, sporting a sniper rifle and pistol at his side.

“Let’s head out and see what we can see, the mine is not far from here.” He said and they moved out.

A few minutes later, crouching low on the nearest hill, the Major with the Sergeant and two men had field glasses raised as they peered into the distance. Lucky there were hills that surrounded them, making for better concealment of their position. A large number of Cybertron ships and personnel surrounded the mine shaft, waiting for any attacks upon their position.

Gunnery Sergeant Jeevers whistled sharply, as he peered through the field glasses.

“Looks like there is a lot of company down their, sir.”

“Yeah… No kidding, Gunny…” The Major replied, "A heap of serious trouble it looks like, that’s for sure.”

“So what’s the plan, sir?” the Gunnery Sergeant asked.

”Well, we can’t fight our way in force with that sheer number of enemy like that and we don’t have a lot of options here.” The Major said solemnly, “The mission still has to remain covert, and we just can’t wait and find another entry into the mine. We do not have a lot of time to wait on action or the Cybertron will launch the offensive against Earth. We are going to have to attack now, I mean shoot crap and go with a covert mission with a small group of six to infiltrate the shaft or Earth is doomed.”

“Sounds like a bad position all around, sir.” Jeevers replied.

“And with those six, there will be no way for them to return to the surface of Aquarius from the mine to extract.” The officer grumbled, shaking his head, “Who is it that I order to die?”

Major Aguilera sat at moment and peered at the perimeter of the shaft. As he pondered, he stared at the Cybertron ships, and personnel who sat in the middle of it. Around them many ships took off and landed as they were being fueled with Tritium energy from the mine. The young officer grimaced as he glanced up at the afternoon sun sinking in the sky. He realized he had no choice in the matter and he made a snap decision. Six of the team had to die in a sacrifice play unless things drastically changed for the better.

“Alright, I guess that is the plan we’re going to go with Gunny.” The officer said, “I’ll select six for the infiltration with Kino right away during the strategy brief before we lose our chance to destroy Aquarius.”

“Right, sir…” Jeevers replied and he nodded.

“Let’s get the hell out of here. We can’t do much hanging around here.” Major Aguilera said, “Let’s get back to the transport and rally the men for a strategy brief.”

The sentry rustled a bush with her foot. Everyone froze. Looking through the sniper scope the Major peered at the clearing. A Cybertron had turned and was scanning the perimeter at the forest. The officer’s finger was on the trigger in a heartbeat as it walked toward the trees. Gunnery Sergeant peered through the field glasses.

“Jesus, here it comes.” The Sergeant breathed quietly as both watched the robotic soldier walk toward the trees. It stopped at the perimeter of the forest, and it stood there for a long moment, turning its head left and right, scanning the forest many times. The four Marines were on a hill, just adjacent to the clearing, and the sentry had knocked a rock loose that had rolled down the leaf-covered floor for a short distance. After many minutes, the Cybertron robot finally walked away, back to the fueling station where a ship landed.

“We’re clear. Now, go quietly!” Major Aguilera whispered sternly, and motioned with his hand. One by one they retreated back to the transport.

Meanwhile, on board the SS Whirlwind, Nova sat at the radar console and peered at the screen as the ships continued to fight and many more Cybertron vessels approached and fighters.

“The Clouds have made contact, and has informed us that the delivery boys have been deployed and have landed. Both teams have dug in five miles from the mine shaft.” Homer announced, “They can’t approach any more, without risking detection. They need us at rendezvous point at time.”

“We’ll be there.” Yamazaki replied frostily as there was a cheer on the bridge of the Destroyer and on many other ships, as Homer relayed it to the flagship. Especially on the Aircraft Carrier Essex and George Washington that sat in the middle of the protective ring of ships around it, many Dreadnoughts and Battle Cruisers with many escort ships around them.

“Sir, we are getting hammered pretty hard.” A voice said, “Should we pull her back a bit, and stay within the ring of ships?”

“Keep firing and maintain position.” Captain Yamazaki ordered, “Launch another barrage of rockets.”

From the destroyer’s second deck, from the rocket launcher, projectiles appeared and streaked from it. A few more explosions rocked a nearby Dreadnought that was taking a pounding by the Earth fleet but maintaining itself from its destruction. Behind them, Cybertron ships approached from the rear.

Sitting on the command deck aboard the carrier, Admiral Jesse Sampson stood next to the Captain’s chair. He stared at the view screen as lasers shot out from the ship’s guns and struck fighters that came toward them.

“We have Cybertron approaching from the rear quarter Admiral!” A voice said on the bridge of the Aircraft Carrier. Ships suddenly exploded and disappeared in a flash as ships appeared from warp. More Earth ships appeared from the nearby sector.

“Incoming message, sir from Golden Eagle…” Homer said, glancing at the console in surprise, “Task Force Six reporting their arrival and wondering if this is a private party, or anyone can join.”

His tone indicated humor in it, relaying the message over the battle-com.

Another cheer erupted on the bridge of the Destroyer as Astro-fighters streaked from the two carriers of Task Force Six. More Cybertron ships showed explosions erupting from their hull like mushrooms, despite the shields they had up around their vessels. Both fleets continued to hammer each other.

“Incoming message…” Homer relayed, “A coded message from Rear Admiral Fox commanding Task Force Six. They are going to take up a flanking position on the other side of Aquarius and try to draw in the Cybertron in, to allow everyone to pull back out of the sector.”

“There are reinforcements on the Cybertron side coming up from the planet.” Nova reported, “Task Force Six is engaging.”

All hell began to break loose as the two sides clashed and Task Force Five moved in closer to the planet. Task Force Six hammered on the reinforcements that rose up from the planet. They disappeared in flashes of light and explosions hammered smaller ships as they two were destroyed. Debris from the battle floated through the stars of space.

Seated on the Destroyer, Nova peered at her screen as the ship’s weapons continued to rumble and fire at the enemy ships. Nova sat at the console on board the Whirlwind, as she monitored the battle on her scopes. She managed a grimace at the module, clicking the switches on her console as explosions rocked the Destroyer.

“Radar indicates there are still more ships approaching from the surface.” Nova declared grimly, “I wish the Marine group would hurry up.”

“Homer, get in touch with the landing group and get an update and position.” The Captain ordered, “And relay to the Battle Group.”

“Aye, Captain.”

“The fleet is starting to move out, sir.” Homer announced, “All planes have been recalled, Captain.”

“They are finally getting out of here.” Captain Yamazaki said with a snarl, “About time. Our diversionary mission is complete… Let the Clouds handle the rest of their part of the mission.”

“Yes, sir…” A voice said, making both Wildstar’s grimace.

Outside in space, the fleet began to move out, and away from the Cybertron that was decimated about the water planet. Nova gritted her teeth as she watched her scopes. Surprisingly there was no loss of any aircraft or pilot, as if they knew the battle and hitting them in the same way. Time again seemed to pause, as there was another shift.

“Helm, prepare to move out, ten space knots.” The Captain ordered, “Follow in with the Task Force and lead ship.”

“Aye, Captain.” Came the reply and Nova managed a smile at Derick, her husband, who had made the announcement. Derick nodded his head at her, a grim expression on his face.

Slowly but surely, the task forces moved out and continued firing at the Cybertron, as they moved back and away from the water planet. Their duty and diversion completed for the Clouds who now waited for the transports to return to their ship.

Meanwhile, the Marine forces on the planet readied themselves to move in toward the mine shaft. They had packs full of explosives, twelve five hundred pound charges between two groups, in which were radio controlled to detonate from a receiver. They just had to get there, slip in the mine and covertly drop the charges that would destroy the planet. It would be a daunting task as they scouted ahead to see a legion strength of Cybertron Robots guarding the shaft, all comers for assault.

First, both groups dug in their positions, in the north and south of the target, securing twenty-five feet around the carrier with removable mines and claymore mines that could easily be used against robotic targets.

As they work, they keep a watch for any drones from the Cybertron, the evil war machine of the future that currently rules this planet using it as a base. A few minutes later, they stood in a group, as a holographic relay was setup on both sides, to relay the meeting between the groups for the strategy meeting on how to take the mine shaft.

“Alright, gather around. This is how the group is going to deploy.” The Major said, kneeling in a circle of his men, as he drew in the sand as they began a quick strategy brief.

“First of all, what we are up against is a large force guarding the main shaft on Aquarius and at the mine.” He said solemnly “Both teams are going to head to the main shaft and dig in on both sides taking up an observation position for over watch. Perry and I will set as a sniper over watch. A team of six will infiltrate the shaft to set the explosives and when complete return to the surface for extraction. We need to completely eliminate Aquarius or Earth is doomed as the Cybertron’s first target according to the Cloud’s Captain.”

The Major drew two lines out from the center circle to a couple of smaller circle.

“After we set the explosives, we are going to extract to five meters west and east to the transports.” The Major said, “I will trigger the pinch as soon as we are clear of the Aquarius atmosphere. By the time, they know we are there, it will be too late and we will be clear of the ground forces. Team two will head for the Whirlwind that will be waiting one sector over. The Clouds and I will be right behind you. Corporeal Stewart and Private Fishburn, you both will assist Warrant Officers Jones for monitoring and radar during this phase of the mission.”

“Roger that.” Came the chorus and Seth nodded.

“Alright, form up and prepare to move out. Standard L-formation and silent, prepare your squads Jeevers and Perry.”

“Aye, sir…" The Sergeants replied with a smile and they motioned to the group. Major Aguilera nodded to his youthful second in command’s holographic image.

“When we get there, you are going to take Lang, Rodriguez, Stark, Bills, and Keller with you into the mine, Lieutenant.” The Major said, “Manual and I will be on over watch to eliminate any sentries and resistance to keep you from the mine shaft.”

“I know that, Major.” Kino replied with a nod, “Don’t worry I know how to lead my men into a hot zone. The Lieutenant Commander is providing over watch on our end.”

“Excellent.” Seth replied, nodding to the live and holographic members standing in the clearing. “All right let’s move out folks, and get this done. Our planet waits for our return.”

Quickly In an ‘L’ formation, they stealthily approached the mine shaft main entrance and peeked over a small hill at the even larger group of Cybertron that gathered around the entrance. There was a low murmur by the group. The Major unslung his sniper rifle and he peered through the scope, gathering more intelligence on the Cybertron who seemed oblivious to their presence now. One that seemed to be gazing out toward them and the Major’s finger found the trigger. He prepared to take the Cybertron soldier out of the equation, if it sounded the alarm, making everyone wise to the Marine’s positions.

“We’re ready, Major.” Gunnery Sergeant Jeevers said with a snide tone, and the Major managed a nod.

“Hold fire, unless given orders.” He told the group, “No exceptions.”

A few minutes passed, Major Aguilera smiled as he saw a flash of light on the far side where Kino and his group now positioned themselves. Kino and his group peeked in from the other side of the main shaft, both groups taking cover and remaining hidden to the many scouts and ships that raced around the open perimeter of the ancient mine shaft. He peered at now four legions that guarded it, while many ships of every size are landing here to refuel.

“Good, Nathaniel, Kino and his group are right across from us.” The Major told his group and there were smiles on their faces.

Before them, the clearing is about fifty feet in diameter. It is littered with ancient buildings and towers around the holes in the ground and sloughs where the ore was dumped as it was processed by the smelters located in this clearing. The clearing itself has long since been abandoned by the ancient people who once lived on Aquarius. It is now used by the enemy of the future, who had come to change time and win a war they were losing in the future. The universe had banned together to fight against them, far into the future and succeeded to drive back the Cybertron.

Both groups looked on in silence, and held their positions, refraining from engaging this large body of the robotic enemy. The ships continued to fuel without intervention by the Marines and only a few sentries walked near those fueling stations.

“Commander Miller to Team one… It looks like we have a lot more company out there skip. More than you initially saw.” Nathaniel said over the channel, “I don’t think we will be able to sneak past that many Cybertron as you planned at the briefing. I can bet even if we were able, there might be so many Cybertron below ground it might be a hell of a fight to plant the explosives. We might be trapped and not be able to get the hell off this rock. So I think we need another plan.”

“I actually agree, buddy. We’re still not going to engage that many enemy conscripts even in a diversionary tactic to allow us to get team of six through.” Seth said into the mic. “Our new plan is to wait a moment. I sent two men to scout nearby for an alternate entry point.”

“An alternate entry point…?” Kino asked, coming onto the channel.

“Yes, I suggest you scan and do the same. There has to be an air vent for the inhabitant of this planet a long time ago who worked the mine. If we can’t take that many enemy we’ll have to use it as a different entry point.”

“Great idea, sir… I’m on it.” Kino motioned to his soldiers, making hand signs and they both nodded silently. The Lieutenant Commander nodded as he glanced at him. As they stealthily moved through the undergrowth, the Lieutenant shook his head when they motioned to their rifles.

“Don’t return fire unless you are discovered, only eliminate the pursuant and don’t let the others know you are here. Get back here quickly, and leave no traces.” The Lieutenant said quietly.

“Right, Sir.” The one soldier whispered, motioning to the young woman who was standing next to him. They disappeared into the brush.

Kino motioned to two others who took their places, providing cover watch to make sure they were not discovered. Nathaniel took over-watch with a sniper rifle, peering through the scope.

After a few minutes, with team one, Seth turned as two soldiers slid back into the clearing. They both had a smile on their faces.

“You found something?” The Major asked, and they nodded. They stepped up toward the map that Seth held in his hand and they pointed at it.

“There is an air shaft three clicks southeast of here.” A private known as Lance stated, “Only three or four Cybertron guarding it.”

“Good, that’s our target and entry point.” Seth told the two scouts. “It is just as the Commander suggested during the briefing.”

“Team two, we found an entry point three clicks southeast of our position.” Seth whispered, “Any luck on your end?”

“We’re still waiting, major.” replied a voice, “Wait, standby-one.”

Kino’s two man recon team returned, smiling as they walked toward him and saluted.

“We found a shaft five clicks northwest from here, Lieutenant.” The one soldier said, “Cybertron resistance is only three or four guarding it.”

Kino nodded and turned to his map, and quickly used an instrument to calculate the distance. He nodded to the recon team.

“Great work.” He murmured, and he motioned toward the edge of the brush where the others stood watching.

“We found a similar entry Commander, five clicks northwest.” The Lieutenant told Nathaniel, nodding to him formally.

"Okay that's our target gentleman." The grizzled officer replied, "Prepare to saddle up."

"Team one, we found an entry point." Kino informed Major Aguilera.

“Okay, that's the air shaft you wanted us to look for.” Aguilera said, "Move your team."

“Well, compared to your entry point that is a longer distance from the main shaft where we place most of our explosives. Suggest when we make our way underground to the main shaft from point of entry, that we should secure and hold the main shaft.” Kino reported.

“We can’t do that, extract will have to be the way we came, and we launch from the air vents. There are too many Cybertron located at the main shaft, a legion could be placed underground and we could be cut off from escape. We’d be cut off and be destroyed with the planet.” The Major explained, “Besides, we don’t know how many Cybertron are underground. We need to get some reconnaissance before we move into the shafts but we do not have the time. There are too many eddies and shafts of off the main one and little man power to cover it all.”

"I agree with the Major." Nathaniel replied, "We'd better stick to the plan."

“Well, that’s why I brought plenty of floaters sirs.” Kino replied, “They are automated drones that have a camera and infrared for dark areas. We can set them and watch as they probe the shafts and get to the main shaft.”

“Good, first we should take our troops and move to the air shafts, take and hold before we start poking around underground.”

“Roger that.” Kino whispered, turning his head to a Sergeant who stepped back and crouched, signaling to be quiet.

A hum echoed the clearing as a drone came close to their position, hovering for a moment then moving back to the center of the clearing. Kino let out a silent breath as did everyone present.

“I think they’re getting wise, skipper.” Kino said into the mic, “We just had a drone investigate and almost compromise our position.”

“Move everyone to the air shaft, no traces and do it quietly. Signal when you are in position.”

“Aye, Major. You got it.” Nathaniel replied, as he nodded to Kino.

“Sergeant Major… Rally your men, and prepare to move out, L-formation, no traces.” Kino told them.

“You got it Lieutenant.” Sergeant Perry replied with a smile and motioned to the men. The Lieutenant Commander pulled up the sniper rifle and he followed Kino and the others. He brought up the rear, keeping alert for anyone who followed the group.

“Alright, I will contact you in a half-hour.” The Major said, “When we make contact, use sub frequency and scrambled.”

“Right, contact in a half hour,” Kino replied, “Squad Baker out.”

“Squad, form up into L-formation, no traces.” Major Aguilera told the men and the group all gathered up their gear. They moved out in the proper formation to the southeast.

As they moved swiftly through the forest, along a makeshift trail, they heard a hum that seemed to be following them. Looking up, the group saw a Cybertron drone blinking as it was overhead. The hum of the suspension fields, holding it up in the air, crackled around them. It is the size of a basketball with many knobs and lights covering it.

Major Aguilera put up his hand, and then motioned to a nearby Corporeal who took up point, then to the drone. He made a throat cutting gesture. A shot rang out, a flash, sparks and a crash. The smoldering drone unit landed in the canopy, bouncing once, then landed onto the ground. It was buried quickly, to conceal the smoke.

“Did anyone notice?” Sergeant Jeevers whispered, and there was a shake of the head by each member.

“Keep watch, we are only two clicks from the shaft entry.” The Sergeant whispered, “It seems we are clear, Major.”

“Let’s move in to the shaft perimeter and take out all the robots at once.” The Major told them, “It ensures that none of them can call for assistance.”

“Good idea.” Jeevers said, and he passed it on to Sergeant Major Perry via text, who said they would try the same tactic.

The group moved toward the shaft, two clicks from their position, and each soldier took aim at a robotic soldier who stood in the open. There were only a half dozen or less in the clearing around the air shaft the next time they checked the status of the clearing. The Cybertron, in their arrogance, must have thought no one would detect such an opening to use it for a military operation. Major Aguilera gritted his teeth, as he peered through the sniper scope.

“Steady.” He told them, “Ready, and now.”

Shots rang out, all the robotic enemy fell at once. With smiles on their faces, the Marines moved in and they took up defensive posture around the opening. They began booby trapping the perimeter and waiting for an ambush as they prepared to for the next phase of the operation.

The shaft was located in a simple five-foot diameter clearing with a single building in the middle of the forest. The ancient building was designed as a trapezoid, and colored a strange deep purple color. The Major frowned in silence as he approached it, motioning for his men to take up positions around the building. He moved to the building and he motioned to the control, a hand print and a keypad with a small screen above it.

“Nice work, we have the shaft.” The Major complimented, “Stand by for phase two and for underground operations.”

“Aye…” A chorus of voice replied.

“Lang, how’s that door coming?” The Major asked, watching as the enlisted technician worked on the door, pulling off the panel and flipping wires on the backside of the panel.

“I think I got it.” Lang reported, as he had the panel open and strange alien-like wires flashed as they were connected to the keypad and console on the backside of it. A moment later, the hatch opened.

“Ready the floaters.” Sergeant Jeevers ordered, and they moved to the bag. He and his assistant prepared six floater units, programmed with an interior map of the mine, taken from a spectra-analyzer from the fleet in space. They released two and they disappeared into the gloom of the vertical air shaft.

“Okay, we got word from the Clouds that the fleet pulled back and the Whirlwind waits for us in the next sector with Task force five. The Clouds waits cloaked orbiting the planet, ready to pick us up.” Jeevers reported, listening to the headset of the radio that Koalitz carried on his back.

“Excellent.” The Major replied, “Inform Team Two, on a coded frequency that we are on our own, and the fleet waits for the signal and destruction of Aquarius.”

“Aye, it is already done, Sir…” Jeevers reported, in that snide, irritating tone.

Seth managed a grin. Turning the Sergeant and his assistant released three more floaters. The Major motioned for soldiers to take up position flanking on either side of the air shaft as the floaters disappeared down into it.

“Just in case our position is compromised, and units come to the surface.” The Major told his team. On the portable console screen, the floaters moved through the dark shafts, high and out of range of any detection devices for the robotic enemy. It also stayed out of the prying eyes from Cybertron patrols they saw located in the shaft.

“Damn.” Seth muttered, as he saw a large body of Cybertron in the darkness, highlighted by night vision mode.

“Nah, that’s not too many, but according to the spectra-graph there are many tunnels in that mine that branch off that we did not scan and Cybertron could be hiding.” Corporal Hicks said, “We’re in better shape than you think, Sir.”

“Let see what the floaters see.” Seth suggested, “Lieutenant Minezati and the Commander can see this right, what we see and we can see his floaters?”

“Yes sir, they can.” Jeevers said quietly.

“Strange, that they didn’t send any comments about it via radio.” Seth mused, and managed a shrug.

“Team one to Team two, come in please.” He said, and there was a crackle.

“Team two here.” Miller replied, “Go ahead.”

“What is your status?”

“We took the shaft, Major.” He said solemnly, “We tried that tactic and it worked perfectly, all by the numbers. We are currently setting booby-traps around the air shaft against any Cybertron in the area who come to investigate why the sentries here are not responding.”

“Excellent.” The Major replied, “Did you get the floater data we just sent you and your group?”

“Yea, it doesn’t look good.” Nathaniel replied, “It looks like I have Cybertron on my end too and if we enter it’s a sure ambush from all these unmarked tunnels. We don’t have the manpower or the time to recon them all.”

“I know the feeling Buddy.” He replied, “I’m going to proceed into the shafts as soon as possible, and take a shot and shoot crap. We have to take a crack at these bastards before they fortify.”

“That’s foolish. Shouldn’t we leave a sentry, at the door, heavily fortified?”

“Negative, make it look like you never were there, and go underground.” Seth repeated, “We don’t have much time till they are fully refueled. Our raid decimated quite a few of their fleet, but they could be rebuilt in a few days, as machines don’t require sleep and going full steam.”

“I see your point.” He replied, “I’ll clean us up, and set to enter in fifteen minutes. Kino… prepare for underground ops.”

“Set for underground operations, and demolition.” Jeevers said, “Stand by to repel into the shaft.”

The Major listened to the same orders being given to Miller's twelve raiders, currently waiting for infiltration into the shaft like the Major’s team. Both teams face the same unknown odds against them in both places at the mine shaft air vents.

A few minutes later as ropes and pulleys were set, a floater was programmed to lower itself down into the shaft. Night vision visors we activated and sentries watched for any activity in the mine. Private Sparks watched the screen on the console, as each floater descended into the air shaft.

“So far it looks clear, but I see a heat signature not far off though.” He told the group.

“Prepare to enter the mine.” Major Aguilera ordered, “Steady, quietly and set to open up a full barrage of strafing as we repel downward. When we will drop in the center and everyone scatter to the shadows.”

“Roger that.” A choruses of voices replied as lines were rigged and slowly in the dark, the Marines silently lowered themselves into the shaft to the ground.

“Hold up. There’s a patrol coming toward the shaft.” Rodriguez warned and stepped back, leading with her weapon.

Quickly, the Marines took up positions in the shadows, their weapons aimed at the Cybertron Patrol who marched into the light from a nearby tunnel. The lines that were used by the Marines were quickly tied off to some metal machinery inside the mine. The group of Cybertron stood there a few minutes as they scanned the dirt floor and the surroundings carefully, as-if alerted by the Marines.

When they did not sense anything, they marched out into the darkness into a nearby tunnel, their heavy footsteps echoing in the tunnel. The Major and company let out a breath they had been holding in, almost sure they were going to be detected by the Cybertron, but they were not.

“Did they detect us you think?”

“Hard to say Major, they might be getting wise if they have been trying to contact the surface patrol. We’d better hurry before a large patrol comes back.” Jeevers suggested and the Major, pondering a moment, had nodded in agreement.

Major Aguilera held up the sniper scope and peered through it. He put his finger to his lips and withdrew into the shadows as heavy footfalls approached again. This time two dozen Cybertron appeared in the dim light and they all stood around, peering around the surroundings. Their attention seemed to be focused on the disturbed dirt for a long period before they disappeared into the darkness.

“Jesus, I’d better be careful what I wish for, right?” Seth muttered sarcastically, and there were grins by the others in his group. The Major signaled with a wave of his hand, and the group slowly made their way through the shaft, keeping to the sides as they kept out of sight of the enemy as they advanced.

Meanwhile, the grizzled Lieutenant Commander, youthful Lieutenant and company were crouched on the corners also silently watching as Cybertron appeared into the light of the air vent of the ancient mine shaft, as-if alerted by the presence of the Marines. Everyone held his or her breath as Sergeant Major Perry took over watch and peered through the sniper scope. His finger was poised on the trigger, his attention on the face of the Lieutenant Commander who could say yea or nay to opening up and eliminating the soldiers. Miller held out his hand, thumbs up Perry would let the Cybertron live, thumbs down he would eliminate the guard.

“Come on Commander.” Manual thought urgently.

“I have the solution.” He whispered, and Kino grimaced sharply.

The Lieutenant Commander turned to meet the Sergeant Major’s expression with a hard one of his own. He finally signaled a silent ‘thumbs up’ signal and the guard disappeared into the darkness. The Marines let out a silence exhale, and slowly Sergeant Major Perry nodded to the Lieutenant Commander as he brought his weapon up to his face, peering down the tunnel leading away from the light of the air vent. Kino glanced at the grizzled officer, and nodded in silent approval. They had to keep this covert.

Kino put his hand on the Sergeant Major's shoulder.

“Jesus that was too close, Lieutenant.” Perry whispered, and Kino managed a nod.

“Way too close.” He replied, “Activate night vision, and heat recognition vision on your visors.”

“Right, sir…” The soldiers replied.

Two guards on either end kept a look out down the shaft as they could hear the footfalls of the Cybertron robots walking the shaft somewhere.

“Move out.” Kino said, “Stay out of the center of the shaft.”

As they walked toward and down the shaft, they could hear footfalls ahead in the darkness. The group scattered into the shadows as a Cybertron soldier appeared out of nowhere, confronting a young Corporal named Sarah Perkins who was not fast enough to dive into the shadows. They young human and cyborg stared at each other for a second before she reached down, pulling her bayonet and thrust it forward, The young woman struck the Cybertron in its forehead and there was a spark as a short circuit followed, making it dropped its weapon. It discharged when it clattered on the sandy floor of the mine. The ricochet of the shots echoed in the mine, causing a minor shift of dirt from the ceiling of the shaft, and sent the Marines again ducking into the shadows.

“Shit!” Perry mumbled, and everyone scattered as heavy footfalls came their way.

The Marines held their positions near the walls in the shadows, all with night vision goggle on, their weapons ready to fire. The Cybertron Robots stood in the tunnel, and they silently used their scanners, panning a view through the interior of the mine shaft.

“All right, reaaaddy…” Perry mumbled, “Now…!”

Laser fire erupted all around the Cybertron. The robots sparked and jolted as they were cut to pieces by the Marine’s fire. More Cybertron showed up at the passages around them, cutting them off, and screams from a couple of the Marines echoed through the tunnel as their fire struck them before the Cybertron were again decimated.

“Shit! Who got it…?” Perry grumbled and motioned to the others to watch the tunnels as everyone was accounted for.

“Medic…! Over here!” A voice said, and the young Medic named Lance Corporal George Phillips, moved toward the injured soldier who lay bleeding on the dirty floor of the mine. The Medic grimaced as he knelt beside the soldier.

“I say, it rather doesn’t look good Sergeant Major.” George said, and met Perry’s nod with motion with his hand. The medic quickly patched the side of the soldier who is still living.

“The others are dead, Sergeant Major.” A soldier reported, “The smoke dissipated through the shaft above us.” He continued.

“Okay, move out.” Kino whispered, “Condition red. How many were killed George?”

The Medic shook his head. “Two were hit right between the eyes, and are certainly dead. They did not have a chance. The other was wounded in the shoulder.”

“Damn it.” Kino muttered, and he looked down at the sensor scanner in his hand that showed the tunnel. “We go that way. How we get at it is by moving along the edge of the tunnel, if possible, and stay clear of the center of the shaft. We don’t want any more surprises, activate two more floaters. Send them behind and ahead of us. Strip that body of every piece of equipment and even take the dog-tags.”

“Right, Sir.” A soldier replied.

"No wait." The grizzled officer said through gritted teeth, "Use the camouflage outer wear and put them in it. I want no one left behind."


The grizzled officer silenced him with a look.

"A team's purpose is to stay together and look out for each other… They get to go home too."

The injured soldier coughed, and spat blood onto the floor. Kino put a finger to his mouth motioning for him to be quiet. Heavy footfalls thundered down the passage, as another patrol approached.

“Line up and against the passage walls, keep it quiet.” A soldier put his hand over the injured man’s mouth as he coughed up blood. A moment later there was a single shot, the injured human soldier became stiff, as he fell limply in the others arms.

“Bastard…!” A shout said and a Marine soldier drew his pistol. A single shot rang out, hitting the Cybertron who killed their wounded comrade. He was gunned down instantly. Kino and the others returned the fire, a firefight quickly started.

“Surrender humans, you are outgunned and surrounded.”

“Up yours, robo-dick...” A voice said, and there was laughter by the Marines that echoed the shaft. The robots paused, trying to compute the insult. The firefight continued as laser fire streaked across the chamber.

“Yay Jen!” A voice called across the chamber, and there was sprinkled applause.

“Shhh…” Kino chided, and he held up his weapon, as the Cybertron scanned the chamber. Kino’s shot hit a robot with a lethal beam and it sparked, flaming out brightly.

“That does not compute.”

“Compute on this!” Another voice said, and a hand was raised to give the middle finger. There was another burst of laughter by the Marines, male and female, as they remained hidden behind the equipment in the shaft. A shot rang out by the Cybertron, aimed at the soldier’s hand, but missed it as he quickly put down his hand.

“You are surrounded, surrender.” The Cybertron repeated. More shots were exchanged as they fought hard, and explosions shook the shaft as a Marine threw a grenade.

“No, they are not.” A voice said and Kino glanced at his men, as there automatic weapon shots were fired and the smell of acrid smoke filled the chamber. The laser by the Cybertron ceased.

“What the hell?” Kino exclaimed as he peeked out from behind the equipment with his men. The young Lieutenant looked at the Major who stood in the opening, over the bodies of the Cybertron in which he had felled with a rapid fire of gunshots. Major Aguilera held the Cybertron he had nicked and with a bayonet, he thrust it through the chest of the enemy. The Major’s arm was bloody through the tunic of his uniform, but now, no one seemed to notice.

“Major!” Kino said, as he motioned to the remains of his men, and only eight stood up.

“Anyone order a rescue, with extra cheese?” He said and there was a sprinkled chuckle.

The Lieutenant Commander lay on the deck having taken a shot to the shoulder and near his outer chest. The medic was kneeling over him.

“Alright, let’s clean this mess up.” Major Aguilera said solemnly, “Put those bodies in their parkas and put them aside for transport out of here. Take care of anyone wounded.”

“Aye…” A voice said, and there was activity in the shaft.

“I thought you were in trouble when you didn’t return call, so I came looking.” He said, and Kino shook the Major’s hand.

“Major, you’re wounded.” Kino gasped, spying the blood on the tunic. “You’re bleeding man. Let me get the Med…”

“I don’t have time to bleed.” The Major said firmly, holding his rifle in front of him. “Mind your team.”

The Major did not see the Lieutenant Commander, and gasped to rush to the medic's side. He glanced at the others.

“You got what’s left of my team out of a jam, I owe ya one.” Kino said.

“Forget it.” He said, “How bad are the wounded?”

“I can make it Major.” A strong reply spoke up, and he glanced at the Sergeant and others who stood around in the chamber. One of the voices had been the rough voice of the grizzled officer, his friend. Seth silently counted only nine left in the team, out of twelve that belonged to team two after the Major had thankfully bailed them out.

“Alright, the way is clear for the moment, I cleared it on the way. Let’s set these explosives and get the hell out of here lads.” The Major said formally, “Let’s move out, the other team is dug in near the main shaft. Remember we need to keep this covert as possible.”

“YEA…!” The Marines said with a bloodthirsty cheer, and as a group, they packed the extra gear, running fearlessly down the mine shaft. They ran into the straggling Cybertron units from the side shafts, taking them out in force without an interruption of their advancement toward the main shaft. In addition, as they moved through the shaft, they hid the explosives, rigging the shaft to blow by remote.

They soon reached the shaft, and the groups stood on either side, watching the dozen of Cybertron who stood on the ground floor of the mine.

“Sergeant Perry, Let’s take those mothers out.” Seth ordered, “I’ll take right.”

Shots rang out, and one by one, the Cybertron fell. An acrid smell of smoke filled the tunnel, as laser fire lanced out as the robots shot into the gloom, missing the Marines as they took out the group of Cybertron in the shaft.

Gunfire rippled through the shaft, striking two Cybertron, who burst into flames in the middle of the chamber.

“There are more Cybertron on the way, Major.” Jeevers said, “We have some serious company coming down into the shaft.”

“Not anymore we don’t.” Major Aguilera said firmly, “Hand me that bopper gun.”

He rose up, grabbing an RPG and he took aim, as a shot struck him in his vest. The Major let out a battle cry as he charged, leveling it quickly to shoot it off. An explosion followed as rubble, rock and robot parts were crushed under the tons of soil that fell inward on the mine floor. He held his weapon up as Cybertron appeared in the gloom and he led with it, firing two shots.

Looking up the young Commander of the past saw flashing lights there, placed in the walls. He let out a gasp and scanned the chamber carefully. Explosives were planted and live and he noticed they were the same time that the EDC used to demolish and used as mines against the enemy.

“Holy fuck.” The officer murmured, “Everyone stop... cool out a minute.”

“What's wrong?” Asked the second officer and he shot a confused look at Major Aguilera.

“Damn it... don't move.” Nathaniel snarled, casting a look around the chamber carefully.

The Major put up his hand, peering at his friend.

“Do what he says.” Seth ordered, “Just chill.”

“What's up Miller?” He asked, and the Commander of the past pointed to the walls.

“This place has been wired already.” He murmured, “Everyone out... Let's get the hell out of here.”

He tapped the wrist com on his arm and he hit the button, gasping when he saw the mines were active.

“Jesus Christ.” He yelped, “This place is about to go, everyone out and get to the transports. I'll blow it when everyone is clear.”

“That rock won’t hold them either... Let’s get off of this hellhole fellas.” Kino said and the group ran off in two different directions, the team went to the waiting transport on the far end, closest to the main shaft, while the Major went the other way, and to the other waiting transport containing the EMP pulse generator. He knew he had a job to do, and to save the planet Earth by the destruction of Aquarius. It was rigged to blow thanks to a stranger from the future. He paused, holding his revolver as he pulled the trigger, hitting a Cybertron guard directly, making the head completely break off and roll onto the floor of the mine shaft. The young officer of the past continued to charge down the mine, shooting all the way, until he reached the air shaft. He pivoted and led with his weapon taking out two Cybertron soldiers at the entry point of the second team of Marines before quickly scaling the ropes to the surface.

When he reached the surface, Nathaniel crouched at the building as he heard a hum as Cybertron guards appeared from the edge of the woods that surrounded the clearing. He took a post, and with the scope, one by one began picking them off, as they shot back. Drones raced into the clearing, only to be gunned down. They sparked and smoked as they struck the ground. Seth came up a moment later, and he and his best friend dodged, as shots ricocheted off the wall and crouching, returned the fire. Another Cybertron fell as he ran to the nearby path, heading toward the transport bringing them here.

“What the fuck are you doing Seth?” Nathaniel snarled, “You should be on the other transport to get the hell out of here.”

“Nothing doing, not going to let you have the fun alone, and you need the help.” Seth crisply replied, “I wont let your missus be deprived of her husband, I know what you are planning and you can't do that to her.”

Nathaniel met his expression with a grimace but he nodded.

“Besides there are too many factors that could go wrong, best that the two of us can handle it. Just like old times.”

A few minutes later, the Major ran on board the ship in a hurry, glancing only once Corporeal Jones who assisted him.

“Get ready to get the hell out of here, Corporal!” The Major said, “Let's head for the Barn.”

Seth hit the communicator on the console.

“Kino, blast off we are safe and here.” The Major ordered, “Head for the Whirlwind.”

The Corporeal and Lieutenant Commander both glanced at each other before bolting to their places. Nathaniel took the pilot's seat.

"Hey are you up to flying this bird?" Seth asked, and the grizzled officer nodded slightly.

"Strap in and get ready for a ride." Nathaniel joked, making Seth and the corporal grin.

“What about the others?” She asked.

“They are on the other transport which will be leaving the sector on Whirlwind.” He replied, “You will be joining them when we reach orbit. There will be a brief rendezvous. I will also be setting off the EMP when we reach orbit too.”

“Yes Major.” The young soldier replied, and he nodded.

“Power up…” He ordered and Commander Miller nodded.

“Nominal, sir...” She replied as the hatches closed. Cybertron outside approached the transport and hit the booby traps. Massive explosions followed.

“Hit it!” The Major exclaimed and the ship’s engines thundered as both transports streaked up into the sky, moving higher and higher. Robotic drones moved toward them to intercept. On the First transport, the weapons were fired as they rocketed toward orbit, destroying and shooting down the drones that approached. Corporal Jones operated one weapon, as did the Major on the other, leaving the top turret to automation. Weapons fired from both transports. All hell was breaking loose as the ships continued to climb around them. The second transport similarly engaged and destroyed multiple air targets before thundering off into the sky.

Back on the Whirlwind, Homer sat at his console turning abruptly when he heard a beep from it. He only glanced at it once to smile, letting out a whoop of joy that echoed across the bridge, making the others turn.

“The transports have lifted off Captain!” He said gleefully. Nova and the others cheered as they clustered around the Communications Station.

“Delivery Boys to Whirlwind…” A voice said, and Homer hit the button. Nova recognized the voice as the Major’s, as she stood beside Derick and Homer.

“Whirlwind here, Delivery Boys.” Homer’s voice said icily.

“We are inbound toward you and running into resistance but should be in orbit momentarily.” The Major said over the crackling speaker, “Fireworks ready to detonate, will be on station shortly.”

“Roger that Delivery Boys. We’ll start timers when you detonate.” Everyone could hear the fire from the first transport as it fired at the Cybertron, having left its mic open. Both transports hit more aircraft as they streaked upward into the sky.

“Thirty thousand feet….” Miller said.

“Keep climbing.”

An explosion rocked the transport as it was hit, and threw everyone to the deck.

“We’ve been hit.”

“Hit the boosters.” Major Aguilera ordered, and the Commander nodded as the ship streaked even faster into orbit. Ships from the surface rose up toward them on their way to intercept them and take them prisoner.

“We’ve hit orbit.”

“Magellanic Clouds, Wolf pack, standby for the pulse.” The Major said into the microphone. The ships all acknowledged the code.

“Roger that.” Ihsss said, “We have company coming for you guys.”

“We’re moving toward you.” Nathaniel reported.

The smoking transport limped toward the Clouds, followed by the other one. The first transport eliminated the craft that intercepted the Major and his party.

“Transport two… Head for the Whirlwind.” Major Aguilera said, “Don’t worry about us, we’ll hit the pulse and then eliminate the planet.”

“We’re coming along side!” A voice said, Seth recognized it as the Lieutenant, “Transfer over your personnel!”

The Major nodded to Miller and the soldier with him, who suited up in their Environmental suits. The Major did too. They opened the hatch and the rush of decompression pulled at their suits.

“Alright you guys get going. I’ll blow the damn thing when you two are clear with the second transport and the Whirlwind. Don’t worry, I don’t have a death wish, I’ll be right behind you with the Clouds.” Major Aguilera exclaimed, waving his hands at the two.

Both the young man and woman nodded and disappeared into the gloom of space, hitting the thrusters on their suits and rocketing across the stars toward the second transport. Shots streaked across the expanse of space, and there was a yelp as they struck the other suited figure, making them spin off into space.

“I’m hit!” The Corporeal shouted over the mic, “I’m out of control!”

There was another shout as laser fire struck the body that spun off into space. Miller watched as his assistant was hit, and spun off into the background of stars. The others on the transport watched in horror as the soldiers crossed in a barrage of laser fire, streaking past them across the expanse of the two transports. The Lieutenant Commander gritted his teeth as he turned away from the transport.

“Damn!” Nathaniel grumbled as he hit the thrusters, the pack jets showing a blue flame as he rocket forward away from the transport.

“Where you going Miller…?” Kino shouted, “She’s dead!”

“I’m going after Corporeal Jones!” The officer said, “I’m not going to leave anyone behind!”

“Forget her!” Kino shouted, “Please board the transport and let’s get the hell out of here. Remember what your missus said, no Heroics!”

The grizzled officer continued to rocket at high speed as laser fire streaked past him. The men watched as the shots streaked closer and closer and finally shots struck their comrade in arms. They heard him yell, seeing the bolts strike him in shoulder, and his abdomen as he spun out of control. They saw the two bodies floating freely in the stars of space, unmoving.

“Miller…!” Manual shouted, “No!”

Manual started to suit up in a space suit, and he ran toward the airlock. Kino blocked his way.

“Don’t do it! You’ll be killed by the laser-fire!”

“I don’t care. I can’t let my friend be killed.” Manual said, menacingly. “Get out of my way, sir.”

“You can’t be serious, going out there in that.” Kino said, but Manual tried to walk past him. The Lieutenant put his hand on his shoulder, gripping it.

“I can’t let you go, Sergeant Major.” Kino said, “You are promised to someone yourself. We already lost the Lieutenant Commander and the Corporal… Please do not do that. If it makes you feel better, we’ll try to contact him and block the fire with the transport and you can recover the bodies.”

Manual had a hard look as he put on a headset then his helmet.

“Nathaniel? Are you all right…? Come in please.” He said, “If you can hear me, wave your arms. We’re coming to get you buddy!”

A moment later, Manual saw him weakly wave his arms.

“He’s alive!” Manual shouted, “Let's get over there!”

“Let’s go! Give him some cover!” Kino said, as the transport turned and rocked toward the two space-suited figures that floated freely in the stars of space. Streaks of laser fire still streaked past them.

“Get him in here!” Manual had suited up as did Jeevers and they exited the airlock, kicking off into space, and headed toward the two bodies, and after a moment, pulled the two into the airlock.

“We got them. Let’s go!” Manual shouted, as the airlock hissed and oxygen flooded the lock.

A voice crackled over the speaker. The second transport headed toward the Whirlwind’s direction, with Cybertron in close proximity.

“Blow that damn thing and get the hell out of there Major!” Kino shouted, “We have wounded and we’ll see you on Earth!”

“Right… Roger, power-up complete, I’m going to hit it in two minutes!” The Major shouted over his headset, turning to the EMP aboard his transport that hummed and beeped at him.

The second transport streaked through the stars toward the waiting Destroyer that hovered nearby, shooting at the Cybertron armada that hovered in space in front of Aquarius. Laser fire hit the Transport, and there was a scream by Rodriguez and the other female Marine and a cursing in Spanish, a mile a minute as the transport shuddered and shook.

The transport darted and dodged, streaking toward the Destroyer before it was hit again, causing it to spin out of control as it tried to land on the Destroyer’s hangar deck. Smoking, after being hit twice itself, the battered transport landed with a crash in the Hangar after clipping the entry of the hangar doors of the EDC Destroyer. It spun in through the doors. On the transport, the crew of Marines hung on for their very lives as the ship hit the deck hard, and became a twisted mass of metal as it rolled twice on the deck. Shrapnel and damage ripped through the rear of the ship as damage control crews tried to dodge when it finally came to a smoldering stop. Inside the twisted remains, both Marine groups were stunned and dazed as the hangar fire was fought. The roll cage built in to the interior of the ship had saved their lives, despite the twisted remains of the transport that now smoldered on the deck of the Destroyer.

Outside in space, the Destroyer turned sharply as it moved away from Aquarius. It prepared for warp, despite the damage to the ship, pulling back two sectors where Task force Five and Six stood on station, to protect its flank, if Cybertron was able to get away from the Aquarian destruction.

On the Destroyer, there was a klaxon alarm echoing throughout the ship, and a voice echoed on the loudspeaker.

“Crash on the Hangar Deck, Crash on the Hangar deck.” It said, “Everyone turn two and fight that fire!”

“Medical team, report to the Hangar deck!” A voice shouted over the loudspeaker, “Fire and crash on the Hangar deck! All hands on deck...”

An explosion rocked the back of the Destroyer as damage control parties continued to fight the flash fire of the circuits damaged as the transport crashed. On the transport, the Marines were escorted off one by one by the Medical team. Many were surviving Marines were injured moderately with the crash but every Marine who had been sent on this mission, living and dead were accounted for. Nova found the grizzled Lieutenant Commander who lay unconscious of the deck, having been miraculously thrown clear from the other half of the transport. He had rescued Corporal Jones and protected her as he pulled her from the Cybertron fire. He had been hit in the process and his status was unknown.

“Lieutenant Commander…!” Nova gasped, as she held him, peering at his blood covered and battered face. Tears filled her eyes as a Medic came over and they took off the helmet, laying him on the deck gently. They started to remove the suit. Sane knelt beside him a moment later.

“Wait!” Sane said, “His suit has been compromised and resealed after being hit. He is in a bad way. If you open that you might kill him. Move him to sickbay with the others.”

Sane had held the scanner, but had seen the burn marks on his suit where it had been scorched by the laser-fire. One by one, each of the wounded Marines who were living were evaluated by the medical team, led by Sane and Nova in a field triage center. The dead which they had carried back from Aquarius was placed and transported with dignity to the ship's morgue.

Another explosion rocked the Destroyer in the back as a wall of flames shot out from the battered Hangar doors of the ship. Doctor Sane was also the first to run to the wall intercom and here he hit the switch with a determined fist.

“Let’s go.” Sane shouted, “We have the transport aboard. All except the Major, who is on route to the Magellanic Clouds…!”

The Captain turned to Derick Wildstar who sat beside the pilot of the ship and he nodded silently to the youthful officer. Derick glanced at the pale young woman beside him, suddenly reminded of Kitano when they were aboard Yamato when they had come home and after the Comet Empire War they had been victorious against. He had piloted the ship on their maiden voyage for the next voyage taking them to Iscandar at the distress message of his brother and Queen Starsha.

“Stand by for Warp.” The Whirlwind’s Captain shouted, as laser fire grazed the back of the ship. A few moments later, the engines roared as it disappeared into warp space.

Back on the first transport, the Major gritted his teeth and hit the button after a loud hum radiated on the transport while powering up the EMP. He watched as the counter of orange numbers counted up, reaching the max number of five hundred. They were ready for the pulse.

“Activating EMP…” He said into the speaker, “Stand by.”

He hit the switch, and there was another beep.

A moment later, there was a surge as a blast radiated outward near the planet, and everything suddenly shut down in the way of power. On the bridge of the Star Cruiser, and other EDC ships there was a surprised gasp by all. Power systems failed as they went dark through the entire sector. They had already been expecting it and had set up a counter, for reboot purposes of all systems and already re-initializing all systems. All Cybertron that hovered in front of Aquarius, on the surface, or anywhere in the region went dark and drifted freely in the cold depths of space.

“EMP pulse detected, Captain!” Felonious reported.

“Start the timers, and reset all systems. Prepare for emergency power up to warp the hell out of here when we recover the transport.” Ihsss ordered.

“Aye, Captain.” Felonious said, “Counters already activated, we are on emergency power, and we will be rebooted in about six and a half minutes.”

On the transport, The Major hit the reset button that regulated manually the oxygen supply aboard the tank-like ship. He struggled toward the panels inside the transport, hitting the reset button on the computers, and waited as the power came up and began booting everything.

Five minutes elapsed, as system began beeping at him, and he groaned as a shock made the transport shudder. It was hit by an explosion of an engine panel caused by the damage before. Seth slammed his hand on the button to ignite the boosters and the engines sputtered and sparked as they re-ignited. The ship streaked blindly toward the rear of the Clouds, now visible, drifting nearby. The Major hit the switch for the navigation and the HUD glowed as the system was activated. He quickly piloted the ship toward the Clouds, knowing they did not have a lot of time before the Cybertron would be rebooted too and resume operation. He had to get the hell out of there, damn quick, before they were destroyed by a hundred to one odds against them.

See Part 2 of 2
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