Robotech: Resistance Wreck of the Pike
Lance Corporal Dell Lundy and his fire team partner Private First Class Juan Velguado were acting as air sentries. Their Cyclone motorcycles were nearby laying in the dust amidst the rocks in this arid part of the world. They had thrown a light camouflage mesh over top of them as a precaution, as the Invid tended to hunt on sight when there weren’t emanations from an active protoculture engine to draw them in.
Their spirits were low. The assault on Reflex Point had apparently failed. The capital ships in high orbit were fighting a rear-guard action to give time for the landing ships to retreat from the surface. That was all a long way from where they were. Lundy’s Earth geography wasn’t very good, a fact that didn’t phase him in the least. It wasn’t even his planet as far as he was concerned. At 20 years old, he’d been born on the planet Tirol. This invasion was just a big political stunt by Admiral Hunter and the old-timers.
If the Invid wanted this dirt ball, he’d be inclined to let them keep it. All he’d seen of it so far was this rocky desert next to a body of water he’d heard someone call the Caspian Sea. But he was a Marine and it was his job to fight other people’s battles, so he was ready to fight. Except somebody high up the chain of command was having second thoughts.
The main strike divisions were fully outfitted with shadow cloaking devices, a stealth technology that was believed to make them virtually invisible to Invid sensors. Lundy was in Saturn Division, 2nd Battalion, 2nd REF Marines. They had not been lucky enough to get new toys, and as a result they had been tasked to secure and set up a base of operations for follow-on forces here on the other side of the Earth where Invid Defense was lighter.
It had been less than 20 hours since landing and securing the area, with no sign of the enemy. They had put out a wide-ranging signal for all guerilla freedom fighters in the area to consolidate with them. In that time a few dozen bedraggled old veterans from previous waves to liberate the Earth limped into the perimeter on foot or with aging mecha that looked like walking scrap heaps. With them came younger groups, Earth civilians turned into warriors, trained and outfitted by the veterans to resist the alien occupation of their world.
Lundy hadn’t known what to think of them. They looked grubby, but cheerful. Glad to see the professionals show up to give them a hand, he guessed. He wondered what they thought now. The liberation force they’d been waiting for all this time finally arrives at the party, and now they’re bugging out. At least they were getting a lift off the Earth out of it.
“There goes the Warhammer,” Velguado commented, lifting the visor of his CVR-3 motorcycle-style helmet to watch the big space cruiser thunder skyward, the sound reverberating off the distant mountain ranges.
“Yep. That just leaves the Pike,” Lundy said, watching as the fish-shaped Garfish-class light cruiser began to fade into the blue of the intervening atmosphere on its way to orbit. A pair of Alpha-Beta Legioss fighters rode on long thin columns of white smoke, their engines at full burn to allow them to break free of the Earth’s gravity as they escorted their ship to freedom.
Lundy turned away to look back down the slope of the hill into the perimeter of the base they had only just started to lay out before the retreat began. In the open clearing was just one ship left. The United Earth Ship: Pike. A Flight-2 Garfish Superdimensional Light Cruiser converted to REF Marine Corps Assault Ship duty.
It was several kilometers away, squatting like a great beast. He could make out a half dozen main combat battloids standing nearby as a defensive picquet. Boxers, Jaguars and Cougars; Marine Corps heavy armor. Everything else had been stowed, aside from the infantry sentries.
“Hey Dell. Why didn’t we take off with the Warhammer?”
“The ship Captain’s orders. I heard they received a radio transmission from another group of freedom fighters. They are on the way here. The Captain wants us to stay and wait for them as long as we can.”
“That’s what I heard.”
“That’s a bit messed up. Risking the whole ship for a few straggling wannabes?”
“Hey, we’re Marines. We don’t leave our people behind,” Lundy pointed out dutifully, but his tone suggested he personally agreed with the Private, even if he professionally held to the Captain’s decision.
Captain Kilgore may be a screamie officer, but he’d earned the respect of his crew, and the Marine Battalion his ship transported. If he said they were going to wait until the Invid were knocking on the hatch, then that’s what they were going to do.
“That doesn’t look good,” the private said, gesturing to the sky.
High up on the horizon were hundreds of tiny sparkles, just barely visible, to the point one wondered if it was just imagination. It was a space battle. Those were explosions. It was the Invid fighting the human forces still in orbit. It wasn’t likely that the Warhammer had reached that far yet, even though the departing ship was no longer visible.
“Nothing we can do about that,” the Lance Corporal said. “We better keep our eyes out for incoming.”
* * *
The Pike squatted there next to the sea all night and into the next day. The sun was rising steadily. The defenders had engaged seventeen successive Invid patrols, each wave larger than the last, and with less time between them.
Lundy and Velguado had already fallen back to the ship and had been loaded. The Pike had been sitting on 10-minutes-notice-to-move since dawn, which allowed for just pair of Naval Alpha Fighters and their Beta Fighter wingmen to provide for combat air patrol.
The young Marine infantrymen were strapped into their assigned acceleration couches, battle armor on to protect them from any spalling. The seats were arranged in long rows, semi-reclined, facing inward toward the walkway between the rows. Each platoon had their own row.
Staff Sergeant Baisley walked down the row, checking each member of his platoon. Lundy gave a thumbs up sign to indicate that everything was secure. His cyclone was stowed securely in its storage-box configuration in the overhead compartment, his battle armor was hooked into the ships life support system, and his harness clasps were all closed properly.
The ship vibrated. Lundy wasn’t sure if it was the ship prepping for takeoff or an enemy hit getting through the fighters. He lifted his helmeted head up so that he could look down past his knees, across the walk way to try to make eye contact with Juan. The private didn’t notice. His head was back in the rest, and he appeared to be staring straight ahead.
He could hear rapid thumps. They sounded far away, but he knew they were right outside the hull. It was missile salvos detonating. They sounded like hammerheads; Invid didn’t typically use missiles. Suddenly he could feel a tremor in his seat. It wasn’t a momentary jolt, rather it was a sustained throb. It was clear that the reflex furnaces had spooled up. The anti-gravity pistons would be churning and the vernier thruster nozzles would start powering soon to lift the ship up off the ground.
The others sensed it as well, for a spontaneous cheer erupted from the troop transport hold. Everyone had already come to grips with the fact that the invasion had stalled. Now they just needed to get off the planet and regroup. ‘I’ll be back to finish this fight,’ Lundy swore to himself.
The ship shuddered, and Lundy felt the movement of the ship press him back into his seat. It was a gentle press, that shifted as the ship went from vertical to horizontal movement.
The ship jolted violently. Bulkheads moaned with stress. Was that the drive engines kicking in? Lundy wasn’t sure. Another jolt, and then another in quick succession. That wasn’t good.
The red lights came on. Emergency.Marine Alpha Flight prepare for launch.
It was a woman’s voice over the public address. The Pike carried ten Marine Corps Alpha Fighters that were used for close air support for the marine’s ground operations. Without Beta fighter boosters, they had no way to achieve orbit. They were launching to defend the ship; to fight off the enemy so that the Pike could get away…then they would be forced to stay behind. Marines. Being left behind.
Tears welled up in the Lance Corporal’s eyes; he felt a swell of pride for the bravery of the pilots. He blinked them away. ‘We’ll avenge you,’ he whispered.
From the deck below he heard the Alpha engines spooling up. He imagined he could feel the jolts as they were launched in pairs, but it was difficult to know amid all of the thudding, thrumming, and pounding the ship was enduring.
Another voice came over the public address.“Marines. The ship is under heavy attack by the Invid.”
It was Lundy’s battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Tanner. “They are homing in on her protoculture reflex furnaces. Captain Kilgore has just apologized to me; that he won’t be able to get us away from the Earth.“I say bull to that. We’re Marines. We’re going to adapt and overcome. Warlords; all cyclone units prep to disembark. I’m going first; Sergeant Major will take up the rear. We will consolidate on the ground.
Lundy was in a daze, even as he reacted. He unhooked his harness and the seat rotated into an upright position. 'Is this really happening?' he thought. All down the rows, Marines were doing the same. Some were hesitant and in full confusion, and then the Sergeants began barking and berating with their typical enthusiasm, and the men began to act.
He hit the switch to open his cyclone compartment, and lower the motorcycle that had been transformed into a compact crate-like formation. Behind him, he was jostled as Velguado retrieved his.‘Go! Go! Let’s Go! You waiting for a personal invitation Hanson? Get those Cyclones on the deck, the Colonel’s already on line! Move your shebs'e!’
The pike trembled and pitched forward, Lundy lost his balance and fell onto the walkway. Brown stepped on his armored forearm as he steadied himself. Velguado reached down to haul him up. He glanced around and saw his platoon was moving now, shoving their cyclone-boxes down the walkway and out into the main hangar. Velguado shoved him forward, eager to catch up with the departing platoon.
Dell needed no further prompt, using both hands to push the heavy machine along the rails on either side of the walkway until he reached the hangar. Many of the company already had their cyclones converted into motorcycle form. There was a tremendous amount of wind in the hangar. The main hatch was open.
A large red-armored shape was crumpled in the hangar, dripping green fluid. Lundy realized that it was a wrecked Invid scout mecha. It must have flew kamikaze style right into the hangar when the hatch opened.
The lead company, led by Lieutenant Colonel Tanner and his executive officer, Major Peel were astride their cyclones in motorcycle-mode. Then it hit him. They were going to drive right out the hatch into the air, thousands of feet in the air. He knew Airborne regiments could do it, but the 2nd Battalion 2nd REF Marines was not an airborne unit.
And at that moment, they were gone. They gunned their cyclone engines and roared out of the hangar into freefall. Lundy activated the transformation sequence and watched the segments of the machine re-arrange to go from the shape of a box into a motorcycle.
He started the engine and wheeled it forward with his platoon as they formed up for their turn to disembark. He threw his leg over the seat and continued forward with the rest, the motorcycle engine grumbling under him. The disembarking operation wasn’t being done in waves; it was a constant platoon-following-platoon, just as they normally rehearsed driving down the ramp in a hot landing zone to fan out. The only difference was that there was no ramp to drive down.
And before he could give it any more thought, the Marines in front of him were gone, and he found himself throttling up, lifting his supporting leg and racing out of the hangar into empty space. He saw the deck disappear and his heart leapt into his throat. They were so high he could see the slight curvature of the horizon. The ground was so far down, it looked more like photo than reality.
The motorcycle pitched forward, and he held on. He made a full revolution, seeing the ground and then rolling over completely again to see the sky, and then the ground again. When he was rolling he could see the ship. It had plumes of smoke and contrails coming from it. Debris was falling off, and there were numerous rents in the hull. He gathered that in only an snap instant. All around him were Invid. It was truly a swarm. Everywhere seemed to be flying red insectoid mecha with their crab-like pincers and solitary glowing eyes, blasting away firing streams of plasma bolts like red energy discs at The Pike and at the cyclone riders who fell through the air.
Lundy was still tumbling, trying desperately to keep his armored boots on the cyclone’s pegs in proper riding position. If his body wasn’t in proper form when he tried to transform, the machine would abort the procedure, out of safety. If he didn’t covert into Cyclone Armor mode, he would be dead soon.
His right thumb shoved the transformation toggle on the handle bar forward, and he continued to tumble. Red warning light on the cyclone’s dash. He was still tumbling and the spin was getting faster, the centrifugal force was pulling his body out of position, or it was screwing with the cyclone’s own positional sensors. Or both. Don’t panic.
Shrapnel pelted against his body and a shock wave sent him spinning on an additional axis as a Marine was blasted to pieces nearby. He activated the cyclone’s belly thruster. He felt the G-forces as the thruster began. Normally it would assist the motorcycle in leaping over an obstacle. In this case, Lundy hoped the G-forces would help him stay in the seat, and convince the motorcycle’s computer which direction was ‘down’.
It worked. In an instant the components of the motorcycle split and shifted, reforming around him, linking up with his own body armor to form a powered suit around him. The thrusters were now above and behind his shoulders where the wheels were stowed. The thrust quickly righted his orientation and began slowing his fall.
He was still too high for actual flight; the cyclone had a controlled flight altitude of only a couple hundred meters, but it was enough to give him a controlled descent. He took stock of the situation. He saw a marine without a cyclone go plummeting past him just out of reach, and a little further away he saw a rider-less cyclone spinning as it fell, like a pinwheel.
In the sky were hundreds of red Invid. The Pike was no longer climbing. It appeared to be falling, even though the exodus of cyclones and their activated protoculture engines were causing a large diversion to the Invid. Here and there were the Marine Alpha fighters, blasting away at the Invid in the robot/jet-fighter hybrid Guardian mode.
The Navy Legioss fighters were no where to be seen. The Invid were attacking the cyclones, flying past and swiping with their bladed pincers, or strafing the falling troops with sprays of plasma annihilation discs. The Battalion was being decimated, but at least out here they had a fighting chance.
Lance Corporal Lundy took his Cyclone-mounted EP-40 Particle Beam Gun off safety and began firing at any Invid scouts that came nearby. The task was extremely difficult. He was no stable firing platform and the flying Invid scouts were in their element; it was like swatting flies with a hand gun. It was a blur, and before he knew it, his weapon’s energy cell was nearly depleted.
He felt some resistance in his thrusters, with a glance down he realized he was getting very close to the ground. He flexed his legs and nimbly landed, hopped once to a new location, dodging a stream of plasma discs. He saw three more Marines touch-down nearby. As the Invid scout that was hounding him slowed and spun about for another strafe, he lined up his optical site through his HUD and squeezed off a shot that blasted through its sensor eye. The mecha gushed green bile through the wrecked orifice as it thumped into the rocky ground.
The air above was still a riot of energy blasts, explosions, swarming Invid and annihilation discs. He saw that despite everything, the Pike was not going to escape. It was falling, trailing a thick black cloud like a slow-motion meteor to disappear beyond the far mountain range.
He took cover among the rocks with the other three survivors, willing his EP-40 to hurry up and re-charge.
“Whoever those di'kute were, I hope they’re happy,” Velguado said.
“What are you talking about?” Lundy asked trying to shake off a creeping sense of hopelessness.
“The freedom fighters we were waiting for,” he said. “Thanks to them, we’re all stuck behind enemy lines.”
“Hey. Man-up Marine. We’ll get home. And when we do, maybe I’ll let you do my sister. Maybe.”
Garfish class cruiser:
Cyclone Storage mode:
Cyclone armor mode: