Victorys defeat, p.1
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       Victory's Defeat, p.1

           Mark Tufo
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Victory's Defeat

  Indian Hill 6: Victory’s Defeat

  A Michael Talbot Adventure

  Mark Tufo


  Prologue One

  Prologue Two

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Epilogue 1


  Ten Months Later


  About the Author

  Also by Mark Tufo

  Copyright © 2017 by Mark Tufo

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Created with Vellum

  Creating a book is a truly solitary endeavor but bringing it forward into the light requires the aid and assistance of a great many people all of whom I am extremely thankful for their help.

  Got to start at the beginning, my wife who is there every step of the way. The nights I can’t sleep, the car rides I don’t say a word, lost in other worlds. The bouts of anxiety. All of it. Without you my love, there is no me. Thank you for all that you do.

  To my editor Sheila Shedd, the editing process is far from my favorite aspect of this career, but your expertise and talent make me a better writer and for that I thank you.

  To my beta readers, Kimberly Sansone, Patti Reilly, and Jeff Shoemaker, you guys are awesome, I ask for so much and you consistently deliver at the highest level. Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to help in this process.

  To Dean Samed, your book cover art is second to none and I appreciate all that you do.

  To the men and women of the Unites States Armed Forces and the men and Women of that thin Blue Line, your sacrifices for our well being and way of life mean everything to me and my entire family. We hold you all in our thoughts and prayers.

  And to you my dear reader, you and you alone are the reason I am able to do this thing I so love. Thank you to each and every one of you for your continued support.

  Prologue One

  What a strange world we live in. We treat each other like there are these huge differences between us—the color of our skin, the doctrines we follow, the sex between our legs, the political philosophies we impose on others, the patch of land we claim by rights. In our narrow vision, it is “Us” and “Them.” But in reality, we are a single unit—the largest, most dysfunctional family in the cosmos. You can see it everywhere. None are innocent. For this land, for birthright by color or gender, and certainly in the name of God, of Allah, of (Insert Deity’s Name Here…), we will beat each other mercilessly, both spiritually and physically, even to death. Yes, we will kill our cousins, brothers, sisters…for what? For things they have that we don’t, shiny ores, hidden black treasure, warmer, greener land, clearer water; if we want it we take it, whatever the cost. Still…that’s between family, and like any family, whoa unto the outsider who smacks your baby brother upside the head or calls your sister a slut. It’s fine for you to do that…but one of them? Retribution is swift and needs no further justification.

  The fact that we always come out swinging doesn’t mean we always win. In this case, we got our ass handed to us. The foot soldier Genogerians came down with their Progerian fighter escorts and basically kicked us up and down the sidewalk. I guess you could say we made a good show at first, I suppose. I got sucked up into a life-or-death cage match with an entire venue of screaming concert goers and somehow came out on top; I bore the distinguished title “Earth Champion” for whatever the hell that meant or was worth. Yeah, we caused some damage on that mothership, but it was like stubbing the toe of a giant. As payback for this small victory, they leveled cities and destroyed vast swaths of the Human population. Not exactly an even exchange. If not for scattered sympathizers and militia groups, we’d already be under the iron yoke of the ruling class, fighting their wars and feeding their soldiers…and by feeding, I mean we’d be on their menu. Apparently we’re not bad served with a light Alfredo cream sauce.

  From the brink, we fought back, landing some effectual punches that had the aggressor on the ropes, actually wresting a modicum of control back from our potential enslavers. The future looked potentially good, but with our bell still sufficiently rung we knew we weren’t out of the woods just yet. Our entire infrastructure and government were a thing of the past; societies were now scrambling to repair generations of animosity, finally seeing the value of true unity, but we were severely crippled and under the gun. Their ship, the Julipion had sent off a distress call; it would only be a matter of time until someone came to investigate. Those three years on Earth, when we were forced to focus on a common, truly foreign “other” were among the most civil, well-behaved and productive of our entire history. If not for the threat of complete extinction, one might be able to use the word idyllic, utopian, even; we were a unified people with one goal in mind. We had a much larger and more dangerous enemy than ourselves to contend with and it was going to take every Human that remained to pull together if we were to have the smallest chance.

  Sure, there was plenty of normal Human drama, hell, we were still just people. Beth was still alive and I guess she just continually enjoyed stirring the pot. Hard to fathom that I had killed so many in the hopes of getting her back. Now I’d kill them to make sure that never happened. At some point, something snapped in that fragile mind housed behind her beautiful face. I felt bad for Paul, my best friend and pretty much leader of the world. He had everything he didn’t want, and could never trade it for what he so desperately needed. Beth had only married him as a way to stay close to me, thinking seeing them together would drive me into fits of jealousy. Oh, it drove me into fits, all right. But not the kind she’d hoped for. She was a pain in the ass, and an extremely dangerous one at that, for this crazy bitch had the ear and the bed of the most powerful man on the planet.

  For three years we pooled all our resources and focused our efforts on making our planet one giant, united weapon; we even had most Genogerians, and some Progerians, on our side. We constructed massive plants to reverse engineer and create our own space fighters. We didn’t have the time or the materials to build planet busters; we could only work on the Julipion, which we retrofitted and renamed the Guardian. It was our flagship, well, really, our only ship. She was our first and only means of any type of defense; sure, we could harangue occupation troops, but we learned they would only suffer that for so long before they’d make the planet uninhabitable—something we’d seen them do before to another species that decided it did not want to be under Progerian rule. The Stryvers became our ally…would have been a lot more helpful if they looked like fuzzy koala bears and not the living, breathing, nightmares that they were.

  They supplied us with weapons and some technology, though it all felt very much like a robbing Peter to pay Paul type of scenario. We’d figured out soon enough that the Stryvers weren’t really here so much to help us as they were to help themselves. In their perfect world, we would be wiped out along with the Progerians, or even better, the victor would be so completely and thoroughly weakened that the Stryvers could come in and claim the victory for themselves. They were a race without a planet and it
looked like Earth would suit their needs. We could not fight on two fronts, but it was no fun fighting forwards with one eye constantly having to watch our six.

  When the Progerian reinforcements came, we punched them square in the nose, though we busted up our hand, shattered our forearm, and threw out our shoulder in the effort. We’d won a major battle that might just have cost us the war. Yeah, try and figure out the math on that one. I’d come across another unlikely ally in the form of a Los Angeles gang member and together with my tough-as-nails Marine wife, we did what we could to save all that was precious to us. The world revolved around saving our own; more importantly my world revolved around my infant son. I had entrusted the safety of this most precious life to a Genogerian by the name of Drababan.

  He was enormous—eight feet tall and somewhere in the six-hundred-pound range, as mean looking as a silverback gorilla with rabies, yet I loved him like a brother and I trusted him implicitly. It was my goal—no, that’s not forceful enough. It was with every fiber of my being that I was going to get back to him and my son. But now, we had a war to fight, a war to win, and I would keep doing whatever I had to until the end came. Not sure what that end will entail, and honestly I never think that far ahead anyway. And so we continue…

  Prologue Two

  “This is Arrow Twelve Squadron leader Riser. We are coming into position. Weapons hot.”

  “How the hell do we know which ones to shoot, Rise? They all look the same from this height.”

  “Anyone shooting red is our target…stay away from the building. Friendlies there—repeat—friendlies on top of that building.”

  “I’ve been locked onto! I’ve been targeted!” Lieutenant Warden shouted into his comm.

  “I see it! Get out of there! Thrusters, now!” Warden’s wingman, Lieutenant Williams called to his friend.

  “Too fas…”

  Williams had to shield his eyes from the blast as it went a white-hot supernova.

  “Rise—that shot came from the roof! We’re receiving fire.”

  Orders or not, Commander Riser was not going to suffer another loss of his precious pilots and ships. This was war; conditions were unstable at best. The friendlies could have lost the high ground, or maybe they’d just changed their mind. It was Genogerians after all; no one knew from minute to minute whose side they were fighting on. He was going to do one fly-by before he leveled the entire block.

  Chapter 1


  I was knocked back hard by the blast. The patron saint of space debris had been looking out for me as ship shrapnel was blowing chunks all over the roof. I could feel the heat of more than one piece as it flew past me. What we’d mistakenly thought were fighters from the Prog battleship the Vicieus were actually redesigned and reconfigured fighters from the Guardian and we’d just taken one out of the sky. If I didn’t do something soon we’d be doing more damage—or more likely they’d just wipe us out. Wasn’t really a fan of either scenario, especially door number two. I was flat on my back doing my best impression of a turtle frying in the desert sun. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and I felt like I broke every rib and slipped my discs on top of that.

  It was Tracy that saved the day. I know—shocker, right?! Must be nice to actually have a brain that works under pressure. She’d come back up the store room stairs, must have seen me taking a short flight before she brought her weapon up and put a few well-aimed rounds into the tube, thus rendering it inert. A fighter flew over my location not more than fifty feet above me. He tipped the machine just enough so he could look down. I gave him a weak thumbs up. He returned the gesture.

  “You alright?” Tracy was running, BT was close on her heels. At that exact moment, I wasn’t entirely sure. I felt like I was sipping air through a pinched straw. I thought about sitting up…that was as far as the thought went. I could feel the building shake from my vantage point as the fighters and the gunships began to pummel the mutes. I turned to look at my wife and behind her, I could see thick black smoke leaking from vents all over the building; looked like a panoramic from a smog-choked city. In my rush to knock out the anti-aircraft tubes and my subsequent drubbing, I’d forgot the building was on fire.

  “I can’t catch a break,” I told Tracy as she stared down at me.

  “You have me; you used up all your breaks.”

  “Well, that’s true.” Her reasoning was sound.

  “Are you hit?” she asked cautiously. She got down on one knee and was checking me over diligently.

  “I think I’m fine. Why? What do you know? You look pretty concerned about something.”

  “Tilt your head. Other side.”

  I looked to where the tube had been; a piece of molten ship the size of a toilet had missed my head by maybe five inches. It was buried thick into the roof and probably the metal support beams beneath.

  “I think I’d know if that thing had hit me,” I told her. I was slowly scooting my body away from it, fearful that maybe it would fall over and finish the job it had intended.

  “Maybe not. I mean if it hit your head it would pretty much be business as usual for you.”

  “You’re fucking funny, BT. Help me up, man.” I raised a hand.

  “Gently,” Tracy said to the large man. “I’m not sure if he’s broken something.”

  “Yeah…gentle,” I told him.

  “If your fucking scary wife wasn’t watching, I’d pull your damn arm out of its socket.” He was smiling to Tracy as he said this.

  I went up slowly; my body hurt like I’d been fit into a punching bag and Mike Tyson—in his prime—had done some warm-up on that bag, type of hurt.

  “How sore are you?” Reaper had lifted my shirt and was pressing on my ribs.

  “Fucking ow!” I told him. “And I usually like dinner before getting so intimate. At least a fucking milkshake.”

  “Figured you to be a cheap date,” BT said.

  “Well, you replied loud enough that I don’t think anything is broken,” Reaper said, letting my shirt fall back into place.

  “I wish you three hadn’t come back.” We now looked like we were standing on the roof of the Chimneys R Us superstore. It was getting hot enough that the tar was beginning to get gummy.

  “Michael Talbot, it is I, Keecan!” We could hear the reluctant Geno leader shouting from outside and below. “You yet live,” he said as he saw me leaning over the wall.

  “This one is the master of the obvious,” I told BT, and almost as if to reiterate my point, he drove it further home.

  “The building you are standing on is engulfed in flames.”

  “Fucking see?” I asked.

  BT snorted at my words.

  “Any ideas?” Tracy called back to him instead of just making fun. Maybe I was about to melt, but I was going out with a smile. My wife wasn’t much in the mood for a good old-fashioned barbecuing.

  “You will need to jump!”

  “Fuck that,” was the first thing out of my mouth; it required no amount of thought on my part. We were somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five feet off the ground; I’d yet to meet a Human who could withstand that kind of fall, I mean, maybe BT but that was about it.

  “I, and the others with me, will catch you!” Keecan shouted up.

  “Wow, I didn’t think it could get worse,” I said. “BT what’s a better expletive than ‘fuck that’?”

  “This is serious man,” he replied.

  “Oh, I’m fucking serious. Let’s recap. Keecan, who is a temporary ally at best, wants us to jump thirty-five feet off the roof of a flaming building in the middle of a war zone, where he, and ‘the others with him’ are waiting with open arms. That sound about right to you?”

  BT nodded.

  “And you’ve seen the claws on these guys, right? Even if their intentions are good and they catch us, picture, for one second, somebody’s aim is off by, let’s say, two inches. We’re skewered, man. That’s us like some shish kabob. And seems to me he already has
the barbecue pit going, so he could just slow roast us over a fire.”

  “Why bother? He could just walk away and let us fry up here,” Tracy said. I noticed she was busy cinching down her equipment.

  “You can’t be serious?” I asked. “Listen, I know you are orders of magnitude tougher than me, but this seems a little excessive, even for you.”

  “Look at the door, Mike.” She nodded her head to the opening, the only other way down that didn’t involve a short flight.

  “She’s right.” Reaper threw his two and a half cents in, though no one asked for his spare change.

  I don’t know what kind of raging inferno was happening down there, but roiling smoke was coming through and every once in a while I caught sight of a finger of flame.

  “Can’t go that way. Come on—all of us need to buckle down.”

  BT and I looked at each other and reluctantly started doing just that. “Kiss ass,” I said to Reaper who seemed perfectly fine with the present sequence of events and where they were heading. “Are you really going to catch us?” I asked Keecan. A stupid question, I know. I mean, what did I expect him to say?

  “I said that I would. Why would I not?” he replied.

  “Yeah. Why wouldn’t he?” I echoed.

  “Let’s go, Mike. You’re the one that said Genos are incapable of lying.”

  “Yeah but it sounded more reasonable when I wasn’t about to jump to my probable death,” I told my wife.

  “You ready?” I asked Keecan.

  “You should hurry! The fire grows more intense!”

  I threw one leg over the wall.

  “What are you doing?” BT and Tracy asked in unison.

  “I’m going before you,” I pointed to BT, “because you’ll probably throw out their backs and they won’t be able to do this anymore. And I’m going before you, wife, because you’ve already been taking command too much and I have to make sure I get to hold on to my man-card, err, that is, I will test their sincerity on myself first. And before Reaper, because, well with that name, who knows how this could turn out? Plus, if he splats all over the sidewalk the odds are pretty high I wouldn’t follow at that point, then nobody goes.”

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