Part 4 - Taken
The ship crossed the sky and disappeared behind the horizon. Not even one hour later, the fiery dot appeared above the red woods around the oldest - and largest - colony cluster. Rotland. That name was of course no coincidence. Naming the colony after the mythic founder was a bit more than merely suggested by the neural programming the Daedalus colonists had been subject to. That this rural region suitable for a colony was covered with red-leafed, treelike plants appeared just like destiny, adding a duality to the name as the region was indeed a „red land“.
As the spark descended on Huninsdorf, a medium sized settlement less than 50 kilometers away from the Rotlands core settlement, sirens woke up and heavy machine guns pivoted up to the descending flying object.
It was not the first time the invaders of the LF launched an airborne surprise attack - and all but the smallest settlements had been equipped with at least basic anti air defense weapons. The heavy machine guns previously primarily mounted on towers to keep subhuman inmates in slave camps under control were just as well useable against light aircraft. In theory, they were fit to actually bring down LF-aircraft - and at least damaged them on several occassions. However… enough to make the LF think twice about using their most valuable military assets that could to a certain degree be repaired - but until recently not replaced.
To make things worse, those machine guns turned up everywhere in ridiculous amounts. With the enhanced carrying capacity of the new Asgard Exo Armor worn by more and more of the HV forces, the current patterns of those heavy machine guns had even become standard equipment for most HV-infantrists.
As a consequence, the LF usually kept their storm shuttles carefully out of reach of anti air weapons. Following a centuries-long tradition, the HV had given those enemy shuttles an own name: „Aasgeier“ - meaning „vulture“ - had obviously been chosen for propaganda purposes. The HV was oblivious to the fact that the name chosen by the LF was „Condor“. This coincidence was even more unlikely because the actual design of the Condor certainly did not resemble a bald headed scavenger bird and instead a winged dolphin… with a large degree of imagination.
Taking all of this, the distance to the front line and the strategic relevance of Huninsdorf into consideration let an attack appear extremely unlikely.
And yet, there was that aircraft approaching Huninsdorf at that day - apparently indifferent to the defensive fire. While being roughly the same size as a Condor, it did not even resemble the LF storm shuttle. And last, but not least - it apparently had more firepower than a Condor with gunship loadout. When the last of the four towers harboring the defensive guns finally had burst in a cloud of dust, splinters and blood, the debris of the first had not even touched the ground.
Then, it landed right in front of the gate in an obfuscating cloud of dust.
Powerful searchlights mounted on the shuttle lit up, illuminating the dust cloud from inside. Against the backlight, an almost human looking shape walked out of the cloud. Almost human, for it was as high as a large man, and like a man, it had two legs and two arms. It was just the lack of a head above the massive shoulders that made the difference.
Behind it, other figures of more human shape and size ran down the ramp and formed a circle around the ship. Four more emerged at a much slower pace and took position behind the inhuman shape that apparently was the leader.
There they waited, the soldiers forming a gun line in front of the ship, still partially obscured by the illuminated cloud. Amplified words tore the silence that had settled on the scene to be heard by anyone in a radius of at least a hundred yards. Unfortunately, hearing and comprehending are not the same… the leaders words were nor more than incomprehensible gibberish to the HV soldiers behind the walls.
Actually, a very few words remotely reminded of german. For several of the other words, there would have been a small chance of recognition and comprehension among the Daedalus descendants. Would. If only the roman languages so common in the FSE-territory had not been extinguished by the neural induction during „Daedalus’“ voyage. If that had not been the case, maybe a few colonists would have had the chance to recognize degenerated elements of latin.
Eventually, the dust began to settle and more than just the silhouette of the leader became visible. It WAS a man - a man wearing a massive suit of ornate exo-armour. The impression of a missing head came from the weird proportions of that armor with the shoulder sections reaching above the head - now instead of being headless, the impression was that of a hulking hunchback with a bald and beardy face sitting in the upper chest.
The speech ended, and both the HV soldiers and the newcomers waited. At least one of the previously ruined towers had been occupied again in the meantime with a HV gunner that took cover there. A overly enthusiastic gunner that showed initiative when the tension of waiting became too much. He took his time to take aim on the hulking leader and pulled the trigger, ripping apart the silence with a salvo from his heavy automatic rifle. Earlier versions of this gun had required mounting on a tripod to reduce scattering - and to control the significant repulsion. With this generation, the repulsion was still more than an average soldier could handle - if HV powered infantry exo armor were not standard equipment at that time and ensured a safe hand and aim. 56 projectiles hit an area with a diameter of less than 4 inches. 4 hits would have ripped a hole in HV exo armor and killed the wearer. 10 projectiles would have had a good chance of piercing the light armor on a recon tank. The 56 bullets instead only left quickly dying spots of bluish illumination ten inches before hitting the massive armor.
The man calmly looked at the tower with the concealed gunner and his lips moved as he spoke a few more words, this time not amplified. 3 heartbeats later, a device on the ships hull briefly twitched, glowed and spat a painfully bright ball of blue and white heat at the tower, through the tower, through the marksman and further in the sky behind. 24 more balls followed, leaving an irregular line of holes with glowing edges in the villages outer wall. Irregular from the perspective of outside the wall. On the inner side, however, each hole in the plastocrete corresponded to a cauterized, fist-sized tunnel through 24 HV soldiers that stood there and slowly sank to the ground.
While the gun still fired balls of plasma, the leader searched the horizon and found a range of small mountains aproximately 15 miles away. He spoke a few words more unheard by the defenders of Huninsdorf, followed by one single, amplified word to ensure everybody’s attention when he pointed in the direction of the mountains. Something dropped with a lightnings speed from the sky and literally pulverized one of the mountains at the impact with a blinding flash. Seconds later, the boom, the shockwave and the tremor reached Huninsdorf.
When the ground eventually stopped shaking, Unteroffizier Steiger struggled to his feet again. Hauptgefreiter Lenke did not - he was the 24th victim of the plasma salvo that had been mowed down almost a minute ago. One more shot and Steiger would have been number 25. Including the 15 men and women that had died on the towers, the garrison had already lost 39 soldiers. What were the chances that the remaining 12 members of the Platoon could successfully fight off those unknown attackers? Not good. The still hot round holes in the wall provided a means of taking a look what happened outside the settlement. The shuttle was still there and as he watched, the last of the enemy soldiers came to their feet. Once more incomprehendible words in that foreign language washed over the walls of Huninsdorf - apparently, it was the large, armored man in front of them who spoke.
Behind him, he heard steps approaching the gate and a single command… „Öffnen!“. Leutnant Kramer, Oberfeldwebel Junkers and Feldwebel Grote left their rifles and Pistols at the gate and walked outside, raising their hands and putting them behind their heads. Submission… all of a sudden, surviving the day seemed a little more likely to Steiger. He looked through the hole again and zoomed on the large leader that made a waving gesture towards the platoon officers.

Come forward.