Any resemblance between the content of this story or any of the characters depicted herein and real persons or events is highly unlikely and purely coincidental.
Sometimes revenge needs to be hot fresh and painful. After that first ever Swarm ship landed in Texas, just about everyone in the U.S. decided to get serious. Pictures of 'good ol' boys' with Swarm bodies draped across their pickup hoods went viral. Descriptions of what atrocities the Swarm would commit were the subject of documentaries of every network.
Once the threat became real, lines at recruiting stations for the regular armed forces stretched for blocks. It seemed that the old adage, 'you don't mess with Texas, ' was being repeated across the globe.
The next invasion force was larger; it had landed in different parts of the earth, a week earlier. One of the ships landed at the junction of Barkly Highway and Burke Development Road, just over the river from the twenty eight hundred souls once in Concurry, Queensland, Australia. Pictures showed that the bastards had lined up their main gangway with Barkly Highway, westbound of the town.
Concurry, now a ghost town, sat empty. Those who could escape when the first of the Swarm troopers had descended from the west had done so. Those who did not, died that day. There were no head stones, no memorials, only satellite photos of stacked cubes being loaded onto some transport that the Confederacy called Armadillos. Those dead were almost forgotten in the rush to respond to the worldwide landings.
Jacob Griffin remembered, though. His wife of forty-three years, two children, their spouses, and his five grandchildren had died there. That morning he was ninety minutes away at Mount Isa Military Readiness Base. Old-timer truck drives like him had taken over some of the local runs to free up younger men to serve in the military. Due back at Concurry for a good-bye dinner, his sons were on leave and would have had to report to Lavarack Barracks in two days, over in Townsville.
Jacob had been glad to get away from Betty for three days a week. He loved the old girl, but the introduction of those basic health nanites a few years ago had turned the old girl horny. Those nanites also had freed him from a dependence on Viagra. The problem stemmed from the fact that he was no longer eighteen.
Getting a chance to drive Big Jake once again, that gave him a purpose and a hard on. Having a classic, American made Mac Superliner with a massive 71 Series Detroit Diesel engine set him apart. It made everyone else want to have a turn. He and Big Jake had logged several million kilometres together. Today they sat a hundred kilometres from home, powerless.
The Mount Isa Military Readiness Base had been constructed four years earlier to address the Swarm Threat. It primarily served as a home for the KC-X refuelling tankers. Being isolated her secondary function became a quick resupply depot, having four machine shop replicators.
Plans sometimes must change. Being so close to an enemy-landing zone, evacuation for the base and Mount Isa had started four days earlier.
Once the loadmasters discovered what had happened to his family, they gave Jacob time to grieve. In the rush to move people and equipment, no one bothered him in the drivers' lounge. Sitting in a hidden corner, for all practical purposes, he became invisible.
The door creaked open. Two men wandered into the drivers' lounge where Jacob had secluded himself. "Parsons is on her way over. She needs a table for some maps. This is the closest room for all of us." Sounds of chairs could be heard sliding on the floor.
"Davy boy, we need to find a way to slow these things down short of using nukes on our own soil," the first man spoke bitterly.
The companion Davy answered. "Not much can get into the air, Frank. The Americans can't deploy their MOP bunker busters."
"The road is open," Frank offered. "The dickheads leave retreating traffic alone. Incoming gets fired upon."
Through the door came a woman who would dwarf a half-back line starter for the Brisbane Lions. Jacob recognized her uniform the olive green overalls with combat boots and a matching kepi, a Confederacy Marine. Two days earlier, he would have attacked her outright from rage. Since that awful day, he learned that the majority of the fleet protecting Earth had given their lives for the planet.
"Colonel Parsons, any news?" Davy asked.
She saluted and replied. "General Kruger, Colonel Solomon, I-"
"Today, please be Shelia, and I'm Frank," Jacob suddenly recognized the general from pictures on the wall at headquarters. "I need my whole brain, not just the military one."
Setting an attaché case on the table, she popped it open. "The Swarm south of here is in what is called a harvest right sweep." She removed a cylinder that revealed a map as it unrolled. "We have about a week before that sweep would threaten Mount Isa."
Davy looked at Shelia, "Is anyone doing anything but evacuation?"
"When you factor in the population density here, and at the other landing sites, we are on our own for a bit." She sat down, letting the men pore over the map. "Conventional forces from the region's Australian Defence Force units, and military bases, will be able to hold them at bay. It will be a race between getting the correct forces here, and the start of them spitting out new troopers from the hive ship."
Frank restated a question that the media had bandied about for months. "Is there nothing conventional that can pierce the hull of a hive ship?"
The atmosphere of defeat tore into the emptiness of Jacob's heart. He wanted to be with Betty, had to be with Betty. He asked a question aloud. "What if you could get an explosive inside?"
The three of them turned to Jacob. Shelia spoke first. "What do you mean?"
"I was thinking about bunker busting, the way my dad did in the Pacific." Jacob walked to the table as he spoke. "He was an American Seabee. 'Four sticks of dynamite and a six foot chain put a damper on a Samurai.' Dad later admitted that a bulldozer would bury them."
"Sir, that was a rhetorical question," Davy stood to face Jacob. "It did not invite a response." The man turned red, whether from embarrassment or anger Jacob could not tell.
The general and the lady-colonel locked gazes. She nodded.
"Davy," the general placed his hand on Davy's forearm. "Let's think about this for a moment." The whole time, Shelia nodded.
"The AI from the Artemis Moon Base just confirmed that forty-five metric tons of Confed-E02 high explosives at least thirty meters into the main entrance should destroy the ship." Shelia looked back at the group. "The nearest factory replicator is four hours away. It would take it ten hours to create that amount."
Davy sat back down and pulled out a chair for Jacob. Davy then turned to Shelia. "How stable is the explosive?"
"A moment, let me ask the AI," Shelia nodded. "It requires a specific trigger component."
Davy held up both hands, crossing his fingers. "Does it have to be created in a factory replicator?"
"No, it does not," she answered after a pause.
"What if we include the food replicators in the city and on base and made some of it?"
A smile came across Shelia's face. "Using those resources along with the three machine shop units on base, it will take eight hours. With the Swarm on that harvest sweep, the road to the hive ship will be open for just over a day."
"Colonel Solomon," General Kruger continued, "get started on this." Davy stood and headed to the door.
"Starches and water need to be fed into the recycler," Shelia called to him.
Once Davy exited the room, the general turned to the remaining colonel. "Shelia, how do we deliver this?" He looked at the ceiling. "Any military vehicle that approaches is attacked."
"That, ma'am and sir, is my specialty." Jacob smiled.
Jacob looked at the additions on his truck. Big Jake now sported a solid cowcatcher wider than the front wheel track. A slotted screen protected the front windows. Plates hung over the tires. It made him think of that old movie Mad Max 2.
"Get anything out of the sleeper that you want, sir," a young man addressed him. "We will be installing the remote unit in fifteen minutes."
Jacob climbed inside. His home away from home, Big Jake brought him comfort. Lifting the mattress, he slipped into the clothes storage bin and closed it over himself. Jacob listened to the men install the remote system.
Once they exited the cab, Jacob counted to one hundred and slipped from his hiding place. A three-legged, three-armed black shiny contraption sat in the driver's seat. A rising sun bandana wrapped around what one might call the head.
"Greetings Jacob Griffin, I am the Artificial Intelligence located on the Artemis Moon Base." The voice came from the body of the contraption. "Do you intend to interfere with this operation?"
Caught and waiting to be hauled out of the cab, Jacob answered honestly. "I figured if I took this last trip, I could rest in the same place as my family."
"Based on the observations of Colonel Parsons, this was a distinct possibility." The AI paused. "While this vehicle was being loaded, all Swarm Hive Ships on the surface began emitting a localized damping field. It disrupts communications near those ships. This was an unforeseen possibility."
"What does that mean? I do not understand."
"Your offer to operate this vehicle has been accepted." Jacob felt a weight lift from him. "Will you accept service in the Confederacy?"
"Do I have to?"
"You could then order the robot to disengage so that you could occupy the driver seat."
"The old catch twenty-two," Jacob smiled. "I accept."
"Major Griffin, your acknowledgement of your commission is recorded."
"Robot, get out of my seat." The legs retracted completely. The arms lifted the body and 'walked' it to the passenger seat. Jacob slipped into the driver seat.
"The command to start the engine has been given."