2

May

by thefourpartland

Promotion sucked. Sure, the gear was better, but the missions nearly killed Jenny each time he did one. He’d been created as an organ replacement for some fat old rich man, and now he was mostly replaced. From the waist down, he was cybernetic. Medics had saved what they could of his legs after the console fell on him, but that was little enough. So they just chopped everything off and gave him mechanical legs.

Then his first mission after promotion, he’d lost his left arm. Cybernetic replacement. Then part of his face in backblast from an explosion. Course, if he hadn’t been promoted, they’d have shot him to save energy. Organ replacements were cheap. Organ replacements who’d survived as much combat as he had weren’t.

JNY-35197 was on his third mission after being promoted. He figured he’d lose his other arm on this one. Deep strike with a team of seven humans and two Devastators. Jenny’d never seen more than one per team before. That meant ugly. Real ugly.

It also meant juggernauts. Lots. The humans on the team all had brand new power armour that would shred alien battlesuits by the dozen. Jenny had gotten point duty, and with it a flechette shotgun. Clouds of bolts tore infantry to pieces. Did shit against armour though.

No Command on this mission. Too dangerous to transmit, they’d said. Bastards had turned off the suit radios. No talking to anyone. So the team hand signalled. Well, the Devastators just nodded. They didn’t have hands.

Jenny paused. He was half a klick ahead, five from destination. And there was bugger all here. Just a damn plateau in the distance. One damn plateau in a bloody plain. He zoomed in, closing his human eye. A fortress. With a space port. And they had ten men. Command was mental.

He waited for the others, then explained in short gestures. They got it. Another suicide mission. Even the Devastators paused for a second. Then they started walking. Jenny cursed, hitting one of them with the butt of his weapon. It didn’t even slow.

The other humans were running. He followed. Hell was about to arrive, and Jenny wanted to be far away. Heading around the fort. Fast, not stealthy. Suits should protect them though.

The boom shook the valley. The Devastators had opened fire. Three spaceships evaporated in the opening salvo. The rest went up in the next round. Then the fort began spewing juggernauts and firing back.

Jenny stopped watching and hit the deck, crawling to the others. They conferred briefly. Damn. Had to go in. He lead the way towards the back side of the fort. The front side was pockmarked slag. And dying. One Devastator was still firing. Probably not for long, but they’d done their job. Time for the organ replacements to make it work.

A tap on the back and he sprinted the last hundred metres. Slapped a demo charge to a wall and dove aside. Aliens would notice the blast. Humans hit the opening, weapons firing. First room cleared, no casualties. Second room, a couple alien dead.

A flechette shot cleared the third. JNY-35197 chuckled. He liked the new toy. Kept him alive longer. Rooms four, five and six were empty. Seven bagged a human. Two repeater bolts to the faceplate. Unlucky. Another run of clear rooms. Jenny cursed. Speed was keeping them alive, but that was going to run out.

It did. Fire erupted through the wall. A juggernaut in the inner courtyard was targeting them. He didn’t have anything to fight back. Neither did the others. So they fled.

Didn’t help. AP rounds got three humans. Half the team gone. They ducked further into the building, heading down. Maybe they could get underground, hole up and plan.

Nope. Jenny ate a shell coming round a corner. Armour deflected most of it, but it still stung. He fired, ripping the room apart on full auto. Killed everything. Then the gun whirred. No more ammo. He had one mag left. Better make it last.

Explosions behind. Grenades. A glance showed two humans with him, not three. Another organ replacement gone. Three rooms later, his mag was at half. Damn battlesuits didn’t stop coming.

A tap on his shoulder. One of the others gestured for a hold, then led the way in, shooting selectively. A computer room. Maybe. Looked a lot like the cockpit of that dropship. Jenny took one entrance. The human who had led in fitted something into a slot on the console. So that was why they had come here. Jenny shrugged. Was going to be damn hard to get it back out.

Repeater bolts erupted through the door. He rolled back, landing prone and firing. Quarter of a mag left. An eighth. And empty. Jenny shouted, then threw a grenade through. That held the battlesuits for a moment.

The other two humans grabbed him, and they ran, snapping shots where they could. Armour blocked most of the bolts. A couple hurt. One pitted Jenny’s cybernetic arm, and it shorted. Shoddy manufacturing for a battlefield unit.

They ducked and wove through corridors, a damn maze. Jenny sighed. He was going to die here. That damn juggernaut would get the organ replacements as soon as they fled.

A left turn. Daylight. He sprinted, putting extra energy into his new legs. Ugly, but faster than he used to be. The plain was a ruin, burning fires and slag. The Devastators had flattened the space port, leaving behind the wreckage of ships. The three humans used the carnage as cover.

They’d made the end of the port when a shell ripped apart the trailer. The juggernaut had arrived. The next two shells missed. The third sent the humans tumbling, shrapnel cutting through armour. Neither of them could move. They’d almost made it.

25

Apr

by thefourpartland

For the first time in a long while, I’ve written another entry in the Jenny serial. With luck, I shall finally get around to finishing the story this time.

It hurt. Badly. But JNY-35197 was still alive. He tried to move. Couldn’t. The console had fallen on his legs, crushed them. Suit had numbed him. Waist down was probably gone. Jenny shrugged. Hope his owner hadn’t wanted a sex change.

Propped on his elbows, he surveyed the room. Stirring forms there and there. Three humans up and at the door. He shouted at them, a quick question. Hmm. Six made it, four dead in the crash. And no fire coming through the hole in the blast door. Jenny’d been in worse spots before. Unless the ship blew. He’d never died before, not for real.

A repeater spat through the opening. The humans answered. Jenny dumped covering fire through, not able to see what he was shooting at. Better not. Save the ammo for someone who can fight. Might make it last.

Command better remember which dropship was which. Course, they didn’t care about the organ replacements inside. He didn’t want to die yet though, so Jenny tried raising them on the radio. Static. Damn hull. Jenny sighed and passed out. He needed the rest.

He woke to more fighting. Four humans firing, and another carcass on the ground. Aliens still fighting for the cockpit. Meant they thought the dropship could still fly. A curse, then only three organ replacements firing. Jenny tossed his repeater towards the sound. Ammo was almost out, then.

No grenades. Odd. Guess the alien battlesuits didn’t want to damage the consoles. A glance towards the hole. Three firing again. A soldier dead or out of bolts. The end wouldn’t be far off, then.

Static on the radio. New static. Jenny shouted at the others to get down, but they were already diving for cover. Superheated plasma blew through the hole, melting everything it touched. JNY-35197’s armour started to glow. Infiltrator suits could dissipate an awful lot of heat, but this was ungodly.

Then it stopped, and the radio crackled. No, cackled. And cackled. Well shit. The other infiltrators pulled the console off of Jenny, one of them throwing him over their shoulder. So only four of them had made it.

Ducking through the hole they found a Devastator. Of course. This one had plasma jets where the criminal had once had arms. It hissed and chittered. Then it pointed. There was a tunnel straight through the hull of the ship. The Devastator had melted his way through everything. Guess they were going out.

Daylight. Then Command called. The four organ replacements were going to get promoted. Whatever the hell that meant.

24

Nov

by thefourpartland

And I’m still here and still writing away happily. It’s been over a year since the blog was started, and in that time I’ve managed 100 posts (this is actually the 101st). The time in between has been quite a journey for me as a writer, doing multiple edits on Tarranau and Chloddio, learning the business of publishing, and writing the 3rd book (Laeccan Waters) in TFPL series for NaNo.

As for that book, it’s currently only at 41k after 35k in the first two weeks. I’ve had a serious case of burnout, and lost interest in plowing ahead with the story. I’ll finish NaNo, but once that’s done, I’m taking a break from working on the novel for a little while. I am enjoying the story, but the pace of writing has me needing a little rest. Prior to this, I’ve never tried to write a novel in a limited timeframe, and doing 85k words in two months is a little draining for me.

And now a look back at some of the highlights of the last 100 posts. I highly recommend the Breaking an Empire and Hia Breoedd storylines.

Læccan Waters – Excerpts from my current NaNo novel. With luck, another will appear tonight.
Legends of the Burning Sands – From far in the past comes the epic of one man’s rebellion, now lost to the mists of time.
Breaking an Empire – The collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun, told by the soldiers who try and save it.
Hia Breoedd – A tale of Annwyd Arwedda, ruler of a tundra empire, and how he rose to power.
Jenny – The serialized story of a cloned organ replacement, forced into combat because humanity ran into deadly aliens. Incomplete.
Flash Fiction – My short fiction, with many hidden gems.

Thank you to all of the writers and others who have been supportive, chatty, or interesting. It’s made writing a lot more fun.

21

Sep

by thefourpartland

Figured I might as well jump back into the JNY-35197 saga, but rather than do it right away, I’m going to drop an interlude in there. This is practice for me getting back to that writing style, and remembering everything that’s going on with the story as well.

This interlude takes place on a nameless planet where they are fighting a different alien race than the one in the main storyline. As such, certain terminology is different as I try and remember what everything is called.

Oh hell. This was ugly. Blastbolts flew overhead, impacting on the hillside behind. Right into the teeth. Three, two, charge! Up, up, dodge left, right. Oh crap, there goes a squad. Bugger, what was that? Shrapnel in my arm. Can’t stop now. Almost there. Why had we gotten trapped on a hill again?

Into the trench. Land firing, slugs ripping apart the T’Ckah. Idiots never wore body armour. Look around for support. Got three men with me. Down, blasterbolts! Make that two. Sweep east. Two gestures and we’re off. I get point.

That’s a bunker, isn’t it? In goes the grenades. Quickly, quickly. Speed is all we’ve got. A repeater nest. Two quick bursts and the crews are in pieces. Counter-fire. Friendly down. There’s only one now. We’re getting torn apart. I think only a third even made it to the trench. Damn T’Ckah breed like cockroaches. Hell, they are cockroaches.

Right, on, on. We’ve got at least a small section clear. Keep pushing. More bolts. Scorch marks on my armour. Glad they missed. Got the bastard too. Another bunker, another grenade. Peek inside. Tunnels, not bunkers. Sod that, I’m not going down there.

Keeping scouting ahead. Trenches appear clear. They either retreated or are in the tunnels. Which outcome do I bet on? The crap one. We’ll need special gear to go down there. Or an earthquaker.

Huh, trench is clear of meatbags too. Check the radio. Nothing but static. Blocking must not have let up yet. Tagged two more cockroaches. This last soldier is pretty damn skippy with his slug thrower. Picked one off sneaking up behind us.

Right, push on. Oh. They didn’t retreat. They bunched. There’s a swarm of T’Ckah coming down the trench at us. And it’s too wide for two to hold. Burst fire and retreat! Crap crap crap. We’re going to eat it. They’re damn fast too. Flick out the last grenade as cover and dive into that bunker we cleared. Hope they didn’t see us through the flame.

Burrowing underground. Humans are not meant for this. Except we’re organ replacements, not humans, I suppose. Down we go. IR and UV and sonar on. Bright as day down here. Radio sure as hell isn’t going to work down here either. Keep the gun in front, crawl along. Listening devices picking up noise, keep moving away. T’Ckah marching past.

Tapped on the leg, look back at organ replacement. Holding up two hands. Means he just got the phase two beep. That’s the charge past the trench structure one. Guess it went better on the surface than I thought. Time to find a tunnel upwards.

Sonar says that one. Off we go. Crawl, crawl. Scary and boring at the same time. Weird what happens when the juices are going. Now is this bunker occupied? Yes it is. With corpses. I like my slugs.

Open air. That’s nice. Clap my mate on the shoulder. We’re both grinning like idiots. Phase three chirps over the radio. The air defences are down and the earthquakers are going in. I guess we mark this as a victory. I’d estimate casualties at sixty percent. At least us clones are damn cheap.

18

May

by thefourpartland

Yes, I know it’s been a couple days since the last JNY update, but I’ve been a little busy moving apartments and getting the Blog Carnival off the grounds. Also had to write my piece for that, which will appear tomorrow morning. I’ve been editing Chloddio’s story, also, and am about 1/3-1/2 the way through.

So, Jenny and his crew are running around an alien dropship. Let’s see what they can do.

Tubes hung from the ceiling, hung in vast profusion. They swung as the ship flew, tickling against one another. JNY-35197 stared. Children. The tubes were full of alien children. Not so much a dropship as a cloning factory then. Perhaps that was what command wanted. Jenny shrugged. He had better things to do.

The eleven moved from the creche into the next room. Another charge, another floor up. Near the top now. Two to go? Maybe three. Repeater fire zipped past. Jenny returned, downing one alien, maybe more. Up, up. One more floor. He hoped.

Jenny scanned the room. Command deck. He gestured, and the grunts fanned out, checking down corridors. Rat’s nest of a ship. Damn aliens couldn’t build properly. A wave back, and the infiltrators moved on. The battlesuits couldn’t be far behind. Had to know where the organ replacements were going, had to. A quick jog, checking, always checking.

Nothing. Where was the damn command? Repeaters whirred from the ceiling, opening up on the troops. Ten dived clear, one got the crossfire. Ducking out and shooting got the twin turrets, barely. The edge of Jenny’s armour glowed from a near miss. Guess the cockpit’s that way.

Clank, clank. The sound of battlesuits on hull. Jenny ran, heading towards the cockpit, the others close behind. A blast door. A big blast door. One demo charge. Peeled back the first layer, nothing more. Another. Nope. A third. Getting there. Four? Crap, only two charges left.

The fifth blew threw the door, and repeater fire came through the hole. Jenny peeked. One guard? Easy. A shot and the guard was down, the grunts diving through the hole. Repeaters on the bridge crew, kill them all. Don’t know what they’re doing, can’t trust em. Five humans guard the door, five more scan the consoles, looking for commands.

Built for alien limbs, two humans needed to be at each console to even try and work them. Jenny punched at switches, trying any that might work. Not that. Nor that. Maybe? The ship shuddered. He’d done something.

Repeater shots tore the silence, the grunts unleashing a torrent through the hole. The battlesuits had arrived. A blast shook the door. Great, aliens were trying to throw grenades through. The third made it, but a grunt fielded it in the air and whipped it back. It blew the other side of the hole, taking battlesuits with it. This was ugly. Too many aliens, too few humans.

Jenny hammered the controls. The dropship lurched. A shout. A screen had turned on, looking down. The dropship was plummeting from space towards the planet. Jenny shrugged. It’s what command wanted. All ten grunts fired through the hole, keeping the battlesuits down and back. Ammo would be a problem if they didn’t crash soon.

The planet grew large on the screen, until hills and valleys appeared. Then rivers and streams. The console screamed in alien, and rockets fired too late to stop the impact. Jenny braced. This was going to hurt.

14

May

by thefourpartland

The next installment in the JNY serial and my FridayFlash. Been interesting writing what’s turned out to be a fun little serial. Still going, of course.

An alien dropship. What the hell. JNY-35167 looked to his left and his right. All along the line, the infiltrator suits were charging. Command gave a reminding jolt. Jenny cursed, and charged, leading the other five organ replacements with him.

Over their head ripped Devastator fire. A dropship exploded, shrapnel tearing into charging humans. Then the light guns on the dropships turned from the Devastators to the infiltrators. Jenny dove for cover. Four left out of forty.

Command barked over the radio, and the organ replacements settled into a fire team overlap, half running forward, other half shooting out turrets and light weapons. That worked. Jenny made it to the base of the dropship. Others arrived, until twenty huddled against it. A demo charge was slapped against the hatch. A blast, smoke, a pause.

Jenny glanced around the edge. Appeared empty. The dropship rumbled. Engines! The organ replacements scrambled for the hatch. Fifteen made it, the last five cooked in engine exhaust. No resistance. Where were the battlesuits? Command hissed, then fizzled. Shielded hull. Not surprising. So no command.

The hole in the hatch showed atmosphere and distance landmass. Flying and not getting shot? Oh. Orders. Great. Jenny gestured and jogged down the corridor, looking for stairs up. He didn’t want to blast through every level, given he had no idea where the cockpit was. A staircase up. The grunts charged, shooting an alien carrying something towards them.

Jenny nudged it with his repeater barrel. Food? A quick check showed the alien had no guns. Another level up. Empty. Another. Empty. This dropship had landed and spit out hundreds of soldiers and juggernauts, and they weren’t all dead. Where were they?

Staircase. Must be halfway through the ship by now. A clink. Shit! Jenny dropped down the stairs backwards. The bang from the grenade echoed in the confined corridor. Found them. Gunfire from behind? A trap. Bugger bugger bugger. Jenny fired up the stairs, hoping those behind could cope. Only way out was up.

His repeater barked, sending streams towards enemy battlesuits. They fell. More came around the corner, laying down fire. Jenny rolled, firing from prone. Another dead. Humans came up the stairs behind him. Winning or driven forward? Half of them were shooting back down the stairs. Being driven. Jenny pointed, sprinting. The last battlesuit went down, and Jenny skidded on the metal plating going round the corner. Organ replacements followed, looking for the way up. He glanced back. Eleven.

Eleven against a dropship. Jenny shook his head and burst down the corridor again. The battlesuits behind were too slow or had broken off. A barricade up ahead, but no suits. Another took point, diving over the barricade. A dull thump, and the grunt stayed down. Mined barricades. Grabbing a demo charge, Jenny slapped it to the ceiling. Going up the fast way.

The humans climbed through the hole, and slapped on another charge. Eight charges left. That should be enough to get to the cockpit. Better pray they don’t have heavy blast doors. Jenny scrambled up and peered about. What room was this?

10

May

by thefourpartland

The next installment in the Jenny serial, where we meet the rescuer.

Of course, things could be looking down. That thing at the cavern mouth was a Devastator. They were legend in the human army, a rumour that even the newest and dumbest recruits new. Devastators were never acknowledged by command, and JNY-35197 had heard enough to piece together why. Every Devastator was a genetically modified criminal, turned into a cyborg, and given enough firepower to level an army. And they were insane. They’d had every remorse stripped away, and killing wired right into the pleasure centres of the brain. This particular one had arms that ended in repeater nests, and a high explosive mortar poked over the right shoulder. Yeah, it might have saved Jenny, but he wasn’t going to hang around. Devastators were notorious for friendly fire.

Command had other ideas. Jenny and the other few survivors tagged along behind the Devastator as it wandered towards an alien juggernaut. The Devastator cocked the sensory nest that replaced its head, and a support leg whirred out from its back, settling into the ground. The mortar rose over the shoulder to point in a straight line at the juggernaut. Oh dear. Not a mortar, a rail cannon. The grunts dove behind rocks as the cannon fired. Electricity belched backwards, charring the ground. One organ replacement screamed. He had been too slow.

The shot smashed through the juggernaut, and was still moving when it punched out the back. The Devastator capered. Jenny felt sick.

He stayed behind the rock. Command ordered Jenny up. He stayed put. Then his suit sent pain into his arm, and command told Jenny to move. Jenny moved. Six humans followed the genetic wreck. Another juggernaut, another rail cannon, another electrical burst. The organ replacements dived for cover.

Jenny felt strange, an observer wandering through Hell. Another Devastator appeared, leading another group of refugee soldiers. He forgot his training, his stealth, his raiding, and wandered dazed behind the Devastator. It wiped out an alien patrol. Aliens were more common now, thicker on the ground. Some of them shot back. The Devastator chittered, and killed. It had been hit, and there was a tiny scratch in the armour. Jenny shuddered. He would have died.

The grunts looked at one another, and hung back. More Devastators appeared, leading organ replacements. Ahead, a mass bulked. Alien dropships. So this was an assault. Why bring the humans? The Devastators were having fun.

A dropship attempted to lift off. Rail cannon pierced it from all around. It fell from the sky, bleeding. Other vessels chose to fire. Devastators were hit, and these weapons hurt. One lost an arm, grinned stupidly, and put a rail cannon into the turret that shot him. Some went down, but not before unleashing torrents of fire. Jenny stood at Hell’s gate.

Jenny and the other survivors hid, looking at one another. What where they were for? Command crackled over the radio. Jenny shouted back. Command insisted, and Jenny crumpled in pain. The grunts stood, weapons out, and prepared to charge. Command is a bitch.

7

May

by thefourpartland

Here’s the fourth installment of Jenny, as well as my #FridayFlash for the week. For those of you who might be new to this (short) serial, there are links to the other four at the bottom of the post, starting with “The First Day”.

The humans were ready. The ball of ice had been set up as a trap for the aliens, and when their ships flew down, cannon and repeaters open fire, decimating them before they landed. And when the aliens did land, JNY-35197 and the grunts went to work.

Compared to the infiltrator gear of the humans, the aliens stuck out like glowing targets on infrared. Jenny would lead the grunts in, silence any guards, and watch as demo charges and repeater fire wiped out enemy patrols. This worked well. Twice.

The third time, tripwires and electronic screen fields were in place, and the forty were caught in the open, pinned down by fire and dying off. Only another raid’s intervention let Jenny and some soldiers escape. They’d lost ten.

Life turned for the worse from then on, as the aliens brought another wave of ships. These were met with counter-fire, but the batteries on the ice planet had been severely weakened by the fighting, and the aliens landed many.

Jenny and his team fought furiously, in battle for days at a time, sleeping in ice caves and igloos for a few minutes. The numbers from the original forty spun like a countdown. Twenty-seven. Twenty-six. Twenty-three. Twenty. Each death scarred Jenny a little more, and he carved the initials of the dead on the inside of his suit. He’d had to learn his letters to use the infiltrator gear. A small step. Maybe he’d learn to read one day.

Maybe he’d be dead first. Fifteen. Command was a mess, barking out orders that made no sense, had no connection to reality. Attack here, attack there. They were under attack, not attacking. Sure, the alien battlesuits were easy, but the juggernauts? Impossible. They rolled through any fire or explosives Jenny and the grunts could lay down, and broke the defence.

Jenny got caught in another firefight, and the forty were now seventeen. They were able to break away and hole up in mountain caves, ones with a store cache. Replenished food, supplies, even slept a little. And then the assault came, up the front slope. No juggernauts, the hill was too steep. But a hundred or more, against seventeen.

With all of the cover, it was hard to pick off the aliens. The humans had buried a few mines, and they set those off, but still, too much cover, too thin a fighting line. Some of the aliens got within twenty feet of the cave entrance before dying. Then two groups came in a pincer, and the humans were forced into the cave itself. Fourteen against sixty.

Grenades and gas followed, and it was twelve. There wasn’t enough cover. Jenny flicked repeater bullets down the corridor, catching a few aliens, but more came, with more grenades. That meant the aliens were frightened. Jenny and his team had done damage. Ten on thirty-five. But those numbers were too much, too many. The humans started to die faster.

Smoke and debris and flashes filled the cave, and beyond that came an almighty whine. Command came over the radio for one word: “Duck”. Jenny hit the floor, and the cavern was scythed in half. Every alien fell dead. When he could see again, Jenny looked at the entrance. Standing there was a squat, wide thing festooned in weaponry. At the sight, Jenny grinned. Things were looking up.

6

May

by thefourpartland

The third in the JNY serial. I’ll have a fridayflash tomorrow, as well.

This was hell. At least, it was Jenny’s idea of hell. JNY-35197 had been pulled off the desert planet with the last of the remaining humans, shoved into cold storage, and shipped to an icy rock in the boondocks. From a desert to a god-damn ice cube. In a women’s suit. Jenny must have been assigned to a real joker at command.

At least he wasn’t being shot at here. When those bombs had covered the sky with ash, and nothing came to stop the juggernauts, he and the rest of the grunts had run. No last stand for him, no heroic death. Bugger that for a lark. Jenny had been locked in a building for most of his life, he wasn’t going to die just yet.

Of course, command wanted to make him suffer for being alive. No information, no idea of the time in cold storage, nothing. Just another bungalow at the ass end of the universe, another forty soldiers, and mindless patrolling.

To pass the boredom, Jenny had started talking to the survivors from the original forty grunts. He’d asked about their lives. All the grunts had been standard organ replacements, locked in some building, exercised, fed. Dull, dull, dull. Just like him. They all had names that were a play on their ID numbers too. ZCK-25468 was Zeke, LHA-98734 was Laura, and on it went.

Life was just like being back on the desert planet, before the aliens had come. Pointless missions, non-existent command, crap food. Only difference: the training sims had been upgraded. Now they had aliens to shoot at, instead of other humans. Whoopee.

The beep that signalled orders came out of the speakers, and Jenny perked up. Most interesting thing in weeks. Command started speaking, but it was meandering gruel, nothing important. At least command had a different voice. Then Jenny perked his ears. Raiding practice against other bungalows? That sounded fun.

The next day, suit technicians came, taking away the old ones and replacing them with infiltrator gear. Less armour than the battlesuit, more electronics. Jenny and the other grunts spent the next month studying, learning how to use the advanced technology. He wondered why these suits were being given to replacements, and not real humans. Maybe the reals were all dead. Or maybe the replacements are more expendable.

Either way, JNY-35197 didn’t care. He got to play with interesting gear. Made for the first time in a while he had fun. Training was tedious, constant orders from command, always barking, barking. Still, Jenny got good at being stealthy, and then he got very good. Jenny was point man for the whole pack of forty.

Another month, and command said the grunts were good enough to test. Then the raids began. Against themselves, against other teams, defending other teams. Jenny ‘died’ a lot, but he got better. Soon he lead the forty to victory in a raid, and then another. Life was looking up, looking fun. And then the aliens came again.

4

May

by thefourpartland

The second piece in the JNY serial. This isn’t standalone, so make sure to read the first short.

The desert was cold, and the sky was ash. A week had passed since JNY-35197 had stared at the meteors. Half the grunts were dead, not that Jenny had known them well. They’d all been organ replacements like him. Command was gone too, or at least it was a different voice coming from his speakers. This one was female, not that it made a difference how command acted.

That first day, the meteors had spit chunks of rock and asteroid at the bungalow, blowing it apart. Other pieces had impacted on Jenny’s position. That was why there were now twenty-one grunts, not forty. They’d been running since then, dodging through the desert, surviving on the emergency rations from the battlesuits. Command had come and gone, but at least this new woman had given Jenny coordinates to march towards.

Command had also explained the ash in the sky. The enemy had used bombs to fill the air with radioactive dust and debris, so taking off a battlesuit would result in death. JNY-35197 was glad that claustrophobia had been ironed out of his genetics as part of the standard clone procedure, otherwise he’d have lost it. A week in a cramped, ill-fitting suit. Of course, the suit had stopped a repeater shell, so Jenny figured he should be somewhat thankful.

The heads up display in Jenny’s suit told him he was looking at the coordinates. Another barren dune. No supplies, nothing. Still, the grunts fanned out like they had been trained, and advanced on the dune. Jenny reached the top, and saw more desert. Command then crackled into life, and ordered them all to the summit. Bemused, they gathered in a tight circle on the peak.

The sand moved, and Jenny fell through like so much quicksand, arriving in an underground room. Above, the tunnel they had fallen through seal shut, and command told them to unsuit, eat the food, and rest. The room was barren, emptier than the bungalow. Twenty-one mats lay on the floor, each with food beside it. Otherwise, there was one locked door, and the tunnel.

Jenny followed command’s advice, and woke to find his suit swapped out. Same model, same used stink, but no bullet dent. Fit him better too. More food came, but command did not, and so Jenny went back to sleep. This pattern followed for two days, and then command spoke. Jenny crawled into his battlesuit, grabbed his repeater, and climbed up the ladder in the tunnel.

A trench had been dug around the summit, and the twenty-one grunts dug in, a thin ring facing outwards. Soon the horizon filled with the sounds of battle, and massive treaded beasts trundled forward, and among them Jenny could see the tiny forms of battlesuits. This time, when command ordered him to fire, he fired. The repeaters worked against the battlesuits, and so Jenny picked them off, one by one. Then the bombs came again, and the sky rained ash.