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10 December 2011 @ 07:06 pm
Foothold an original fic 1/1  
*takes a deep breath*

I'm feeling brave/stupid today, so I present for your (hopeful) reading pleasure and for Day 10 of consci_fan_mo an original sci-fi fic called Foothold. My thanks to aeron_lanart for giving it the once over and stroking my ego :D

For once, yes, the characters and ideas are mine!

Foothold

“Welcome to Cuckoo’s Nest, maggots. So called because it’s the one place on Earth you will not find a Cuckoo,” Gunnery Sergeant Phillips’ voice boomed out across the quad.

“Yeah, and because you have to be nuts to be here,” murmured Sanchez beside me. I grinned.

The new recruits were the usual mix of men and women of all sorts of ethnicity and social background, from Citizens right down to Undesirables; nobody was exempt from the draft. I was freshly graduated from a degree in archaeology when they drafted me. But I don’t remember ever being as young as these kids seemed to be.

I’m Corporal Angharred Davis, though everyone round the Nest calls me Annie for short. On the final leg of a five year tour of duty in the 121st, or the ET Marines as we’re affectionately known.

I was one of the first draftees when the war started; I’d most likely be a tutor in a nice little office by now otherwise. But we’re doing good work here, and my tour’s nearly over. Besides, better here than on the front lines with the Spacers.

Hunting Cuckoos is easy; for the most part they come quietly if they’ve not been triggered yet. The public wonder how we can track down alien sleeper agents if they look and sound like us, and they don’t even know they’re aliens. It’s real simple; although they are human down to the cellular level, there is a slight detectable difference on a bio-scan. A simple directional microwave pulse gives Cuckoos a hell of a nasty headache but has no adverse effect on humans so we know for certain it’s not just a glitch on the scanner. Then we ask them to come peaceably and if they don’t, then there’s a squad of marines with guns trained on them.

It might not seem fair, after all the Cuckoos themselves don’t know they aren’t human, but we are at war. I’ve seen what these buggers can do once they revert to their true form and it’s not pretty.

We were on a routine patrol around the Milton Keynes shanty-town; me, Sanchez, Barrington and Harris in my squad patrolling with Corporal Singer and his men. Everything was normal, when Barrington gets a blip on his bio-scan. We followed the signal to a vehicle repair shop near the border, where we found a Citizen, probably looking for a cut-price part for his high-end motor. Well he got a lot more than he bargained for.

We lined up the occupants of the building and scanned them one by one and were surprised to discover that the Citizen was the Cuckoo. Looked like they’d infiltrated even the upper echelons of society when we thought they’d not got much further than the Bureaucrats.

Of course, he insisted we must have made some kind of mistake, kept asking if we knew who he was. That’s until Singer fired the microwave at him and then he was collapsed in a heap on the floor, holding his head and crying.

“I’m the Right Honourable Marcus St. John Appleby the third!” he sobbed.

“What you are is a goddamn Cuckoo. Sir,” Singer replied. “Now, are you going to come peacefully or do we need to use force?”

He got to his feet then and tried to compose himself.

“You shall be hearing from my solicitor. This is some kind of mistake,” he said, but he held out his hands to be cuffed anyway.

It was once the cuffs were on him that everything went to hell in a handcart. Kang had just put them on and had turned back to Singer for orders. In that split second, Appleby must have been activated as he showed his true colours. His body morphed and stretched, bones snapping with a sickening noise as he went from human to the almost insectoid form of a Cuckoo.

They’re pretty hideous to look at, but then I guess we’re probably not much to look at to them either. They’re bipedal like us, and they have a head and a mouth, but there all similarity to humans ends. Their bodies are covered in a shiny exoskeleton that is resistant to all but hi-ex rounds of ammunition.

I guess if you’ve never seen one, they most look like a praying-mantis, but they are eight foot tall and their heads are narrower, more humanoid. The males have a bright yellow feather-like frill behind their head. That’s one reason we call them Cuckoos. That and they lay their eggs in another nest, leaving the baby to force out the real one and take its place.

They are the ultimate mimics, becoming genetically like their adopted parents and blending into society until they are triggered for invasion. Then they become soldiers, programmed only to kill. My platoon alone has taken down over a hundred in the last year and there could be thousands more out there, just biding their time.

The one that until five minutes earlier thought he was the Right Honourable Marcus St. John Appleby grabbed Kang by the shoulder, lifted him up and then, taking hold of his leg he ripped him neatly in two.

This all happened in the blink of an eye; Cuckoos move like lightning. We were stunned for a moment, showered in Kang’s blood and viscera, but we had to rally quickly or we’d all be dead.

“Open fire!!” I yelled, somewhat redundantly as my squad and what remained of Singer’s had already begun to shoot at the Cuckoo.

Using one claw like a sword, the Cuckoo slashed at Singer, cutting through his body armour and drawing blood. It didn’t look deep, but Singer was now lying at the Cuckoo’s feet, gun lying just out of reach.

“Barrington, with me!” I ordered.

Firing rapid bursts at the Cuckoo I headed to where Singer lay prostrate. I grabbed him by his harness strap and started to pull him toward cover while Barrington lay down covering fire. I got Singer to safety, but Barrington wasn’t so lucky.

His gun jammed and the Cuckoo was on him in a second, carving him like a Sunday roast.

There was no time to mourn him though, we were all still in very real danger. By this time, the civilians had all scattered so I grabbed a grenade from my pack, activated it and rolled it underneath the Cuckoo. Did I mention I was a champion at lawn bowls before the war?

Three seconds later and no more Cuckoo. We’d be washing bits of it out of our hair for days, but job done.

Harris radioed an evac for Singer and once he was on a transport to the infirmary, we headed back to base. The Captain chewed us out for the disaster, but he knew it wasn’t really our fault. It was unexpected and could have happened to anyone.

They say the scientists are examining the Cuckoos, looking for weaknesses and trying to get us an advantage in this war. I hope they find something, I really do. But I’ve done my time.

Two more weeks and I’ll be a civilian again. Then the Cuckoos are somebody else’s problem. Harsh? Perhaps, but you didn’t see the look in Kang’s eyes.
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The other Weird Al: MT - my beer!aeron_lanart on December 11th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC)
I still want to know more about the Cuckoos - and I rest by my accusation that it has both Pratchetesque and Whedonesque overtones. *nods*
But, I don't want to be a pie,: pleased hamsteridontlikegravy on December 12th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
Stop it! I won't be able to get my head through the door!

Thank you so much. Even if you seem to be the only one to think so.

I will come back to the Nest, just don't know if it will be for this year's comm or not.
The other Weird Alaeron_lanart on December 12th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
Whenever it is, I'll be glad to see it. :)

Posting original fic in fandom circles is, for want of a better word, 'difficult' as it isn't always what people are expecting to see.
crashtestskater: starcrashtestskater on December 11th, 2011 05:55 am (UTC)
Wow. Brilliant. I love this. It has a great pace and I like the humour. Great story, thanks for sharing.
But, I don't want to be a pie,: pleased hamsteridontlikegravy on December 12th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, I'm so pleased to hear that, especially from you since I've enjoyed all your original fic so much this month. :)
wren10514: peaswren10514 on December 14th, 2011 09:58 am (UTC)
This is really good - I like the set up of the world a lot and I'm left wanting to get to know your main character which is always a good sign ^_^

If I may put my slightly critique-y hat on for a moment I would say that you've tried to push a little too much background into this and it detracts a little from the actual story. I think it would work well as a longer story where you have time to feed in the background a bit more naturally.

Critique-y hat off again - it would be great to see more of this.