Inside his mansion, Governor Hanson received the news of the arrival of the Phasewalkers. He knew about Colonel Hunter, but after he heard she volunteered to send her own troops into the meat grinder against the Mutated Ants, his opinion about her was the same he had about General Kenneth: idealists who didn't deserve a place in this cruel world.
“Let them through.” He instructed the Colonel of the 6th Armored Division. “Let them go against the Ants. The more they fight, the more they lose, and the easier it will be for us to take over!”
As the call ended, the Governor stood up from his seat and walked to the glass window. Staring down on the city below, Governor Hanson suddenly let out a vicious grin.
The Phasewalker detachment made its way through the streets of the Capital. Every step they moved, there were civilians who poked their heads out of their houses. They were looking at the Phasewalkers with gratefulness and admiration. They weren’t fools. They knew what was going on.
Countless soldiers have already given their lives so they could live. Now, these soldiers were marching to the front to serve the same purpose. They were warriors. They deserve to be respected.
The Phasewalkers marched on. 1st Armored in front. 2nd Airborne in the air. 4th Motorized in the rear. The local battalions in the middle.
There was no trace of the 3rd Artillery Battalion.
Suddenly, a man slowly walked out of his house. He was missing his left arm. Two teenagers were right behind him, likely his children. Slowly, the one-armed man raised his right hand and saluted the Phasewalkers.
As if a signal was given, hundreds of civilians along the streets did the same thing: paying their respect to the warriors of mankind.
The Phasewalkers marched on.
On the other side of the streets were a group of refugees. They looked broken and exhausted. Their settlement was ravaged through. They only barely made it out in time thanks to the sacrifice of the three Armored Divisions. They have lost almost everything: their home. Their properties. Their food. But seeing the Phasewalkers approaching, these refugees, no matter how tired or shattered they were, stood up and moved to the side, opening a path for them to cross.
The Phasewalkers marched on.
At the same time, the Victory-class Destroyer has already returned to its hangar. A motorized ramp was opened up, creating a path where Phasewalker tanks, vehicles, and troops could drive directly into the starship itself.
In the bridge, Caity, General Kenneth, and Lieutenant Kenneth watched in silence as, not far away, the Phasewalker detachment finally made its way through the Capital and to the hangar. The 4th Motorized Battalion was the first to do the boarding. Lines and lines of elite Phasewalkers in black armors, marked with green colorings, rushed up the ramp and into the ship itself. Their APCs were right behind.
Jason turned to Caity.
“Caity. I...I just want to say how grateful I am for your contribution. I am glad my trust wasn’t misplaced. Honestly, it’s people like you that make me believe we are doing the right thing.” He smiled. “Thank you, Caity.”
Caity returned a small smile.
Suddenly, right beside them, General Kenneth frowned. Only a portion of the Phasewalkers in the entire detachment have boarded the ship. None of its Predator II tanks made the move, nor did the majority of its APCs and infantry. In fact, its Arbiter X took a turn and moved in a whole different direction.
A horrifying thought suddenly came to him. A terrifying possibility.
That was when Colonel Hunter spoke up with a cold, detached voice neither the lieutenant nor the general has heard of before.
“One correction, Jason. Your trust...it couldn’t have been more misplaced.”
Lieutenant Jason Kenneth turned around, only to find himself staring down the barrel of a Defender-C.
A handful of the general’s guards snapped in the direction of the gunshot. Before they could even raise their weapons, a group of Security Troopers, who had been standing beside Caity, raised their Defender-II and opened fire.
No hesitations. No pauses.
For the Corps.
As the guards collapsed with blood oozing out of their gunshot wounds, the Security Troopers snapped around and opened fire on the crew members in the bridge. A few of the crew reached for their handguns, but they were completely caught by surprise. Soon, the gunshots died down.
General Kenneth tried to resist. Before his hand even reached the holster, Cara leaped forward and pressed his hand down, keeping him from drawing the weapon.
Caity turned to General Kenneth. Her eyes were dark and soulless.
“Why?” General Kenenth snapped. His voice shaking from endless fury and disbelief. “We are at war! If we lose, everyone dies! Why are you doing this? Even Governor Hanson...”
He never finished. Caity shot him in the forehead. The general collapsed right next to his son. His eyes are still wide open in sheer shock. He has seen those who would betray others to usurp power, but even those people wouldn’t choose a timing like this! There was no point in the throne if everyone was dead!
A distance away, Mutant Jaime laid in a pool of gore. True, she was a Mutant, but her guards were down when the Phasewalkers ravaged her with bullets from behind, and Mutant didn't mean invincible.
In the end, she was right about Caity all along. Her suspicions. Her concerns. Unfortunately, that foresight could save neither her nor the UHC.
“For the Corps.” Caity whispered weakly before turning around and Cara and the Security Troopers. Her eyes were cold and fierce. At this moment, the girl who sparred with Lieutenant Kenneth was gone. The girl who went to bars inside the UHC was no more. Now, there was only Colonel Caity Hunter of the Phasewalker Corps, and she was ready to do her duty. “Check the bodies one more time. After that, start setting up timing charges. We move in five minutes.”
As the troopers turned and started shooting all the corpses in the head, Caity looked down at Lieutenant Kenneth’s body. The man who guided her into the United Human Confederacy. The man who thought of her as a like-minded comrade and placed all his unreserved trust in her.
Caity had to admit she had some feelings for him, but...but she was a Phasewalker Colonel before she was a woman, and the Phasewalkers side of her needed him dead. The rest had to give way.
She raised her Defender-C and shot him in the heart, twice, before raising her satellite phone. She only said four words, but that was all that was required.
“Long live the Corps.”
“Are those gunshots?”
“What is going on? Trooper, do you know...ah!”
“Hey! Hold it right there! What are you doing...uh!”
“Mayday! Mayday! We…”
“We’re under attack! It’s them…”
In the hulls of the bridge, the hundreds of Assault Troopers who just walked up the ramp suddenly drew their weapons and opened fire on the UHC officers and soldiers that were there to direct them.
As dozens of UHC personnel were shot dead right where they stood, the Assault Troopers divided into multiple parts according to the previous plan. Some of them followed a map of the ship that Caity sent them and navigated their way to the bridge. Others secured the area and started planting explosive charges across the ship.
After the initial outburst of firefight, the ship was filled with short but intense explosions of gunshots. Many guards and crew members alike heard the gunshots, were on their way to find out what happened, ran into the Assault Troopers...and that was the end for them.
Eight minutes later, Caity and her Security Troopers returned to the ship's entrance. Gathering up with the 4th Battalion, they walked out into the hangar. There, squads of Assault Troopers were standing over the bodies of UHC hangar guards and flight control personnel.
Caity directed the 4th Motorized Battalion to move out before turning and glancing at the Destroyer one last time. Finally, she turned and walked away from the hangar.
There were still hundreds of UHC personnel left in the ship. They knew the starship better than any Phasewalker. Rooting them out completely would be next to impossible, but that wasn’t what the Phasewalkers wanted to do.
Ever since the beginning, the Phasewalkers weren’t hoping to seize the Destroyer. As beneficial as owning a starship was, the Phasewalkers didn't have a single qualified captain, pilot, or crew member with the proper experience needed to pilot the ship. Trying to force the UHC crew members to serve was too risky.
So instead of claiming the ship for themselves, the Phasewalkers made sure the ship couldn’t be claimed by anyone at all.
One minute later, half the starship exploded.
“Long live the Corps!”
The single command from Caity sent the rest of the Phasewalker Corps on the move.
Almost immediately after the words were spoken, squads of Arbiter X carrying the 2nd Airborne Battalion arrived at the main UHC military airport. In the airport, nearly 100 Arbiter X were parked on the ground. Crew members were running from aircraft to aircraft, reloading gasoline and rocket rounds.
The need for supply has always been a weakness for any human fighting force. Now, it was keeping the Arbiter X back when they could be slaying Mutated Ants unchallenged.
100 Arbiter X. That was nearly ⅓ of the Arbiter X of the UHC. Take them out, and the human defenses against the Ants would suffer another critical blow.
Several Phasewalker Arbiter X gunships landed, unloading squads of Airborne Troopers. An officer at the airport walked up to them with a few UHC Troopers. Alertness was in his eyes, but he wasn’t too concerned. This was a battle between humans and monsters. No one would try anything now. These gunships probably just went to the wrong place or something...
“Hey! What’s your unit? We didn't receive notification of your arrival…”
He and his guards were answered in the most direct way possible, by a storm of Gauss bullets.
As the crew members and airport guards were busy looking to see what was happening, the Airborne Troopers made their move. Sentries on watchtowers and soldiers behind machine-gun posts were quickly targeted by snipers. Phasewalker Machine gunners opened fire on the crew members, gunning them down en masse.
A pilot of a gunship that was just fully reloaded made an attempt of lifting off, but there was a reason only half the Phasewalker Arbiter X were on the ground unloading troops. The rest of the Arbiter X in the air were keeping an eye on gunships like this one. Before the pilot could lift off, he and his aircraft alike were ravaged by two pairs of air to ground missiles.
In the control tower, an officer’s eyes widened as the atrocities unfolded below. Already, he could see an Arbiter X rapidly approaching the tower, its missile pods ready to be fired. Knowing what fate would befall himself, the officer did his best to carry out his duty. He opened the communication channel to all personnel.
“This is Tower to all UHC personnel! Cease reloading procedures! All aircrafts lift-off ASAP and engage hostile human forces...”
As a pair of missiles hit the control tower and demolished it entirely, the communication channel was cut out. Thankfully, the message was already out.
Under the blazing guns of the Phasewalkers, airport maintenance workers rushed to get to the grounded aircrafts. Gasoline tanks were closed. Missile pods were pushed back into the ships. Gradually, squads of UHC Arbiter X attempted to lift off into the air.
What was left of the airport security forces made a stand. They didn't last long, but they lasted long enough.
Inside one of the Arbiter X, Major Riley sighed. Previously, he was hoping to take some of the Arbiter X intact. Unlike the Destroyer, these Arbiter X had Phasewalkers to pilot them. Unfortunately, these UHC personnels reacted almost as quickly and decisively as possible, destroying his hope.
He tapped the comm. As much as he hoped for more aircrafts, he was very much aware of his ultimate goal here.
“All units, switch to Plan B. Fire at will and destroy all UHC aircrafts.”
If the Phasewalkers couldn’t have these gunships, then no one could.
All the Arbiter X, already positioned across the airport, opened fire. Mounted Gauss Machineguns opened fire on the ships below. The squad of UHC Arbiter X about to get into the air was targeted first. Bulletproof glass windows were cracked. Pilots were shot dead in their cockpits. When those threats were down, the Arbiter X turned to the rest of the aircrafts…
The deafening sound of explosions covered the airfield.
Eight minutes later, a hundred Arbiter X gunships burned across the landing pads. Hundreds of pilots were killed in their cockpits. The bodies of hundreds more maintenance crew, airport personnel, officers, and security guards were scattered across the field. Control towers and hangars alike were leveled.
Were there survivors? Probably. But the objective was achieved. ⅓ of the Arbiter X fleet was gone. Even better, due to a lack of resources, this airfield was the only one capable of handling the reloading task of hundreds of Arbiter X at once. With this airfield gone, the rest of the Arbiter X could barely find a place to land, much less to refuel and reload.
Between the works of the 2nd Airborne Battalion and the 4th Motorized Battalion, the mighty UHC air force was as good as gone. There were still quite some Arbiter X, Assassin XII, and Slaughter III tied up with the Mutants, but they could only do so much and last so long.
With their duties completed, the two battalions followed the established protocol and started retreating. Already, not far away, the sound of intense battle, nothing quieter than what was going on at the airfield, could be heard from inside the Capital. While the 2nd Airborne and the 4th Motorized worked to cripple the starship and the gunships, the rest of the detachment was sent to work inside the city.
That was why not a single unit from the 6th Armored Division came out to reinforce the Destroyer hangar or the Arbiter airfield. It was because they couldn’t even save themselves.
Tossing the burning airport behind, the Phasewalkers marched on.