Echoes rebounded from the deep and dark corners of the tunnel. The former citizen, a deer, fell to the ground with her infection still struggling to fight.
The boot of the armored wolf, Major Redding, stepped over her and cleared the tunnel. No other enemies were seen so he waved his paw in an all-clear signal. The rest of his team moved up beside him, carrying a large metallic cylinder. They set it down in the middle of the tunnel corridor, allowing two technicians to activate it.
A fifteen-minute countdown began on the console of the canister, signaling the team to evacuate from the tunnels. Major Redding led his team back the way they came. The hike was about twenty minutes, meaning the canister would start releasing the poison into the tunnels before they would exit.
It wasn't the first time Calvin led this mission. They've been planting these poison bombs in tunnels all around the planet before demolition teams went in to collapse those tunnels. The first real step into winning this battle, and it was destroying the landscape above those tunnels.
The dim light of twilight greeted them at the end of the tunnel. Then they could give off the signal for their evacuation ship to pick them up. Except, this time there were already two ships waiting for them.
"Major Calvin Redding," said a vaguely familiar mouse, Vice Admiral Linden. Last time the wolf saw him was when the mouse pulled from weapons' testing. "Admiral Alexander requests you on the asteroid field immediately."
"You must enjoy abducting us without any explanation," remarked Gale, Calvin's spotter.
The mouse didn't respond other than by glaring at the hare. "The rest of your team can take your evacuation shuttle. We've been waiting for you, Major Redding, and Sergeant Bracken so let's hurry along."
With a scoff from the hare, they followed Linden onto the ship. Gale was from the orphan program so he wasn't as affected by the invasion as those who had families did.
Sitting with the Pilot in one of the navigation seats of the larger vessel, Redding could see the sun setting over the horizon but the sky around him only grew darker the higher up they went. The ship started to accelerate more and soon they were rocketing toward the asteroid belt.
Before Calvin was even able to locate Drach'n Fury, he saw the other ships. He couldn't even count them all but he guessed over five dozen warships were aimed straight at them. Drach'n Fury was staring them down, looking like a small animal deciding whether it should attack or flee.
Before Redding could see the fleet clearly, the vessel entered the asteroid field in order to dock with Drach'n Fury. A few minutes went by before the ship was docked, and Major Redding was allowed out of the vessel.
"They're waiting for you on the bridge," mentioned Vice Admiral Linden. It was clear that he intended to fly right back off the ship.
Familiar with the layout of the ship, Redding found the bridge quickly. Occupying the room already was the two commanding officers of the ship, and the two civilians from the Fa family. The main blast shield was pulled back, revealing the fleet in front of them but the main monitor was covering half the fleet, showing the panther, Natasha.
"Captain Redding," she said, noticing him walking on the bridge. She was dressed in a strange and alien outfit, but her emotionless expression was unchanged.
"He has been recently promoted to the rank of Major, Agent Sicarius," mentioned Vice Admiral Cassander. Other screends started to activate around the main screen, revealing Lead General Vale, Lord Fa and many other leaders.
"Agent Sicarius," Lead General Vale greeted her. "You have been missing since the invasion. We presumed you dead. Do you mind informing me where've you been and why there is a hostile alien fleet on our doorstep?"
That moment several other leaders connected, revealing two visible Stealths, a alien belonging to the race called Beast, one of the tall Guardian aliens, and even some of their own soldiers that have been presumed dead as well. There was even a few screens with aliens that have never been seen before there. Dozens of officials were partaking in this meeting.
"Lead General Vale, we've been out of contact for a while," said Natasha. "Ever since the invasion, I was in contact with the Stealth survivors that we rescued from the fleet outside their colony. With them, I was able to arrange their escape, and I went with them. Ever since I've been living with on their homeworld, trying to negotiate a truce between our two factions but complications arose."
"That is an understatement," said one of the Guardian aliens, with the help of a translator. This alien was a darker shade of red, looking like the color of blood. "The alien race, you call Creepers, has become increasingly more aggressive. More and more of the infection slipped passed our barricaded while we battled numbers we have never seen before. My fleet chased one of the Klienestov that slipped by us, and we hunted it down to the homeworld of these aliens."
"To spare you the details, the battle was lost," cut in Natasha. "The homeworld of the Stealths was lost, and billions became infected. Of the Stealth citizens in this fleet are all that remains of their race."
"Why the change in the parasite's behavior?" asked Lord Fa. He still looked weak and sickly from the time spent inside the tunnel. Major Redding wondered if he was recovering at all from that time.
"We do not know," answered the same blood color Guardian. "We've fought the alien parasite since they rooted themselves in our homeworld. Thousands of generations later, we still fight but we have never seen such aggression from them before."
"Whatever their reason, they are launching another attack toward us as we speak," mentioned a female mongoose. Redding recognized her vaguely, but knew right away that she is part of the special operation forces like him. Commodore Sheila Reynolds, commanding officer of the ship Pearl Diver.
"We just defeated a second attack wave, and are still suffering from the first one," said General Vale. "We are in no position to fight off another."
"Their aggression may be caused because they are drawn towards this area for whatever reason," mentioned one of the Stealths in a heavy accent. "My ship was heavily damaged by that vessel that escaped the ship we disabled, by that electricity. Whatever that was, could be drawing the Creepers somehow."
"That is a wild idea that's not even close to being possible," said the Guardian, glaring at his screen. "They're drawn to food, us. They know where your planets are and they're coming. Why so aggressively, I cannot say."
"If you don't know then don't shoot down my theories so quickly, raptor," shot back the Stealth.
It was obvious their alliance wasn't so easy for both of them.
"There's our situation, General Vale, Lord Fa," remarked Natasha, ignoring the two aliens. "These ships here are the survivors that we've found from the Beast race, Stealth race, Guardian race, our own race and others that we've found. An invasion wave, larger than the first one, is on its way."
"How long do we have?" asked the red fox General.
"One week," answered Commodore Reynolds.
"Alien ambassadors," started Lead General Vale. "I'd like to ask for your help. We can offer you some rest planet side and our fleets combined, we have a better chance at defeating this threat."
"We didn't come this far to protect your planet," remarked the Stealth. "We want our planet back, and we intend on taking it back."
The Guardian muttered something under his breath but the translator didn't pick it up.
"Now is not the time to being planning an offensive, with all of our and your ships needing desperate repairs," replied Lord Fa.
The Stealth was persistent, even against the wishes of the other races. Before long, the young fox standing on the bridge with Redding checked his PawPad.
"Lead General Vale, Lord Fa," spoke up the small fox suddenly. "I agree with the Stealth. If what Velsh'nark said is true, about the Creepers owning millions of star systems, they'll just keep coming until we're overrun."
Redding noticed the fox's paw started going toward his chest, but he was able to keep his composure. His old wound from the Stealth must be tingling at the idea of aligning with them.
"Velsh'nark," muttered the Guardian. "One of our own. What he says is true, the parasite owns innumerable worlds that were once habituated. Their numbers are more than stars in the sky. Even if you did win, you cannot sacrifice your only planet. Without it, you'll forever be weakened just like us. I choose to stay and defend your planet."
It didn't take long for different fleets and ships to declare a side, dividing them to much objection from many of the leaders.
What is Alexander doing?
Before long, it was decided that the Stealth's would return to fight along with some ships belonging to the other races, including Drach'n Fury. The others would stay and defend the planet. Several of the ship commanders and alien ambassadors started to disappear from screen.
"I hope you know what you're doing, Admiral Alexander," said Lead General Vale before disappearing from the screen as well.
Admiral Alexander also signed off and turned back to his crew.
"Finish whatever you need to finish and report back to the ship by noon tomorrow," he ordered. "I'm assembling a team of volunteers to fight on the Stealth world against the alien parasite. Fury will send you updates shortly. Dismissed."
"What are you doing, Yukiomaru?" asked Jun before Redding could leave the bridge. "We have to finish building this base just so our own people can survive. And what do you mean assembling a team to go on the ground to fight?"
"Kazamde will be there to lead the next wave," remarked Yukiomaru, staring directly at the marten. "His forces will be destroyed, and I... I will kill Kazamde."