From what I understood, Andrew and Lydia had managed to decrypt the army’s radio feed. When I asked them if they should tell the army how easy it was to crack their encryption, Andrew shrugged. “We told one of the Rangers we fought with in Boston about it. He laughed and said that they knew and everyone we had who could come up with a new code was dead or captured.”
“Yeah,” Lydia added, “didn’t you realize we were all fucked, Killer?”
“I did,” I said sheepishly, “I just didn’t know how bad.”
Everyone who was off-duty was listening to the Bluetooth speakers that Lydia and Andrew were using to listen in on the army. Normally, the chatter wouldn’t be interesting. Just some guys occasionally saying all clear. Yet we were all waiting for the time when they’d start seeing something else.
I looked around. The only other two people I saw that I recognized were Cross and Doc, holding hands and looking ill with worry about what was coming. I didn’t blame them.
“Hey, Andrew, Lydia,” I said, “Can you guys broadcast as well as receive? If things start to get hairy for them, they should know that the door is open.”
“Not a problem,” Andrew said. He then fiddled with a laptop for a bit, then said, “US forces, US forces, this is what remains of Bandits one through four. We got ourselves a nice little place. You need to crash, we got a place, over.”
I was somewhat surprised to hear General Connolly himself respond. “This is Alamo Actual. I’ve heard about you guys, Bandit. The 75th spoke highly of you.”
“I wouldn’t be putting those guys in past-tense yet, sir,” Andrew said. “They were pretty bad themselves.”
“Maybe,” Connolly said. “But they’re not going to come help us. Anyway, I take it you’re at a certain weapons factory?”
“Hell yeah,” Andrew said.
“I’ll pass on the information. If you are who I think you are, we got your message. In the meantime, stay off the net. They’ll contact you.”
“Huh,” Lydia said. “We actually have a smart person in charge. That’s always nice.”
I nodded. Still, this was a guy who’d said he’d spent a lot of time behind a desk taking a tired, tiny force up against potentially millions of the greatest army ever seen. I shook my head at thinking this. We could have the greatest commander and a week to prepare, but we’d still be fucked. Hell, maybe if the US government had known that the Teeth had this level of power back before I’d gone to North Korea, we still might be in the same situation.
Around four in the morning, we began hearing the first bits of fighting. “This is Echo Niner. We’re seeing movement on the other side of Lake Quinsigamond. Looking to confirm it is Drake, over.”
“Roger that,” General Connolly responded. “Be advised, though we cannot provide fire support at this time. Alamo out.”
Lake Quinsigamond. That was close, maybe even inside city limits. Of course, the Teeth were everywhere now. There were millions of them versus thousands of us.
“Watershed Nine here,” another voice said in a low whisper. “We’re at a junction between State Routes Twelve, One-Ten, and One-Forty. Teeth are massing right in front of us to move into West Boylston. Requesting Watershed Nine blow the One-Forty bridge across the Thomas Basin as we start our ambush. Over.”
“Negative, Watershed Niner,” Connolly said, “Wait until Drake begins crossing the bridge. Watershed Ten-”
The general was interrupted by an urgent voice. “This is Watershed Ten. We’re observing Dragon’s Teeth spec ops scaling the bridge supports. Your orders, sir?”
“Engage with snipers,” Connolly replied. “Keep them off the supports as long as possible. Watershed Niner, go weapons free. Repeat, Watershed Ten and Niner are weapons free.”
“Roger that,” Watershed Ten said. The last word Ten said was cut off by two roars, one of static, the other on Watershed Ten’s end. Watershed Ten then said, his once-clear voice now severely distorted by static, “Well, I think Watershed Nine is compromised. Multiple plasma bursts impacting at what appears to be their command center and apparently Charons are now amphibious. We’re opening fire with the Abrams and Javelins as we speak, over.” Despite the horrible sound quality, I could sort of make out the loud cracks of big guns.
“Roger that,” Connolly said. “Give ‘em hell, Watershed.”
Suddenly, a panicked voice came over the radio. “This is Echo Niner! Dragon’s Teeth heavy vehicles are crossing Quinsigamond and our charges are non-functioning. Repeat, charges are a no-go, the bridge will not fall. Orders, sir?”
“Make them bottle up,” Connolly said. “We need to do as much damage as we can.”
It went on like that for hours as the Dragon’s Teeth began to tighten the noose on all sides. I tried to get to sleep, but I was slowly hearing more and more gunfire and explosions. The last US artillery began firing. Everything they had left: shrapnel rounds, high explosive, incendiary even poison gas was launched, judging by the chatter. The only thing they weren’t deploying were the biological and nuclear weapons. I wondered if they were avoiding releasing something like super Ebola because they weren’t that desperate or if the Dragon’s Teeth had secured our bio weapons like they had with the nuclear stuff. Or even worse, they could be deploying them right now and I’d survive the battle only to come down with a flesh-eating virus that would slowly and painfully eat me alive over the course of years.
More and more, the Teeth seemed to be getting closer. We’d even hear jets fly by over the building on occasion. Judging by how quiet they were and considering how the war had gone, they had to be Dragon’s Teeth. Judging by the sound of gunfire and explosions and the radio chatter, the Teeth were trying to use a mix of artillery, air strikes, and human wave tactics to break through a series of positions on Interstate Route 290.
It was working. The blocking maneuver was working wonderfully, but the people manning it were only holding on because of a huge amount of mustard gas and conventional shells being dropped. The various soldiers manning the ambushes were tiring, and the howitzers were running out.
Finally, a tired female voice came in over the radio. “This is Hotel. We’re dry, and down to only one MLRS, anyway.”
“Roger that,” Connolly said. “Can you get back to position Alamo?”
“Maybe,” Hotel said, as suddenly there was the sound of an explosion close by. “Wait, no. We’re cut off. Good luck. Hotel out.”
The defenses all over began dissolving. I finally knew what so many others had felt across the globe as the Teeth had slowly, inexorably pushed out their nation’s last remaining troops in the area. The Teeth had taken the seas, the skies, and utterly humiliated and annihilated the three great super powers and any player that could have potentially stepped in to fill the void. Still, I hadn’t given up some strange irrational hope that some hero would blow up the thing shooting light into the sky or kill the bad guy or even that God Himself would come down and lay the hurt on these motherfuckers.
Then the retreat began. After what seemed like hours of chaos, Connolly contacted us. “This is Alamo. Bandit, you guys ready to take in some strays?”
“Yes sir,” Andrew said. “We are one hundred percent ready.”
“I hope that’s true,” Connolly said, “because it looks like the main axis of Drake’s attack could bear down on you.”