Defeat's Victory, p.1Mark Tufo
Indian Hill 7: Defeat's Victory
A Michael Talbot Adventure
Copyright © 2017 by Mark Tufo
All rights reserved.
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To my wife, this one has been a hell of a ride and the first of my series to end up in a book store. We did it!
To my army of beta readers thank you for all the tireless work you do on these stories! Patti Reilly, Jeff Shoemaker, Giles Batchelor and Vanessa McCutcheon.
To the men and women of the armed forces and the thin blue line, you all have my utmost respect.
To you my dear reader if you’ve come this far, I hope I have done justice to this series and given it the ending it deserves.
About the Author
Also by Mark Tufo
Also From DevilDog Press
How is this shit even happening? Want to know how it started? Yeah, me too, only no one knows. Too much shit happening way too fast; we start to fix one thing and another dozen things break to pieces. No way to keep up. I can tell you how it started for me, if that makes it any easier. Let’s go over the basics before we skip off the rails and jump the shark trying to trip the lights fandango. What I’m about to tell you is going to sound like I simultaneously had a near death experience while I was tripping on a cocktail of acid, shrooms, and mescaline and I’d suffered a slight concussion from the beer bong that someone dropped onto my head from the second-floor window at a raging fraternity party. Either that, or I’ve fabricated this all in my head, as I’m strapped into a straight jacket, rubber mouth guard in place as I await my turn for a few joules to my screwed up noggin. But that is beside the point. My name is Michael Talbot, just a normal kid, doing mostly normal stuff. I admit, back in my youth I, umm, yeah, “experimented” with drugs. (Experimented my ass. I was taking those things in all variety of colors and doses like they were free candy. Which in some cases they were.) Different story, again, beside the point.
Did I tell you my name was Mike yet? Yup. Fuck, sorry, just a lot to tell you to get you up to speed. I made it deep into my teen years without too much craziness going on, or at least that could be pinned on me. But, maybe risking our sanity is a great place to start the story of the mountain of shit madness we’re in, so sure, let’s go back to that time of innocence and rock and roll. I had a great group of core friends that enjoyed partying as hard as I did, but we didn’t just sit around stoned like some underachieving couch potatoes. We were warriors, explorers, a rogue tribe…or that’s how I remember us. Some of our exploits involved the “discovering” and mapping out of a place called Indian Hill. Deep in a range of old, rolling hillsides, we found a series of tunnels and caverns, nearly invisible exits and paths that twisted so tight they were like knots only we could untie. It was our sacred keep. We didn’t know how true that would turn out to be.
I made it into college without too much craziness. I went off to school in Colorado to get far away from my complicated relationship with my mother. I was roommates with one of my best friends, Paul Ginson. Paul threw a wrench at me, though, nearly killed me. He introduced me to a person who, well, at the time, I thought was the perfect woman, Beth. There’s a fucking case of first impressions being wrong. Jesus, she was beautiful. I’m talking stunning, like angels got together to create her behind God’s back. Unfortunately, the one that was supposed to be working on her mind took the day off or just liked ‘em batshit crazy. I’m not saying she wasn’t smart, because she was. There were times she made us all look like idiots. It was the compassion and empathy, the heart she had…black as ink. She could conjure sympathy with great difficulty, but dismissing it was a piece of cake.
For whatever reason I can’t fathom, she decided I was worthy of “plaything” status and added me into her rotation. I think I was number six on her depth chart. One night we went to this concert at Red Rocks to see a group called Widespread Panic. Was having a blast, even doing my version of the horrible white man dance: beer in one hand, legs barely moving, head bobbing, fingers snapping, kind of thing. I looked to our rear, I can’t say why, looking at Beth’s ass would have been the smart play. Things were turning surreal. I looked up; I went from a feeling of strange dread to living a nightmare. When I awoke I was on an alien ship the size of Montana. Why couldn’t I have just got probed? Reality gelled around me like waking up from a coma: the male concert-goers were combatants in gladiatorial type games; the stage was a constantly changing fighting ring, spotlit and bloodstained. The women I’d seen at the concert swaying their hips and swinging their long hair were contained to one side, spoils for the victors. The ultimate prize was to become Earth Champion with Beth, the Queen of the Games, being awarded to the man who killed all comers.
I’d played sports–loved them, as a matter of fact. I was athletic, but far from a brute. I started off the games with a dismally low rating. Yeah, dickhead Progerians, Earth’s new number one race, were very much into betting. Odds were assigned, drakkar, or sometimes precious metal, gemstones or other valuable property was tossed around and the fix was on. The only reason I’m still alive is that the first guy I fought was even worse than I was; he either died from fright or had a stroke. Whatever it was, I had passed the point of no return the moment I brought my sword crashing down and into his upper chest, going all the way through until it stuck deeply in his spine. His weakened state allowed me this less than thrilling kill, then luck, fate, destiny, kismet, skill (yeah right) all played huge roles in my next fights. I kept winning, somehow. Lady Luck was doing her best to buck me out of her saddle, but I’d wrapped my hands so tightly in her hair the only way she was getting rid of me was to scalp herself. This is where the “fix” clicked in. Like I said, I wasn’t a fighter, or at least not a killer, it wasn’t in my nature. But the Progerians dissected that nature, found a splinter of predator, fostered it, cared for it, and spit it harshly into the center of that damned ring anyway. And my new nature rose to the occasion.
These were fights to the death. With each and every fight, I was getting as good as I was giving, which meant I was knocking on death’s door more than once. The Prog doctors would shoot me up with their near-magical go-go juice, I would hang out in hyperbolic chambers until it had run its course, then I would be good to go for the next round. The further in we went, the more barbaric the fights got. Whether it was the juice the Progs were giving us or good old-fashioned human nature coming to the fore, tough to tell. I’d somehow positioned myself to win the entire fuck-fest and the only person in my way was a monster. Durgan was ‘roided up at the concert; after his first jolt of Prog juice, even the aliens were amazed at the transformation. He was a big guy by anyone’s standards, but now he was enormous, six-five, closing in on three hundred pounds of pure muscle, mean as hell, and fast–like supernaturally fast.
Sure, I had beefed up a bit and my fighting skills
How the pieces all fit together I don’t think I’ll ever know, and that pretty much sums up whatever so-called successes I’ve ever had. I don’t take credit, I don’t thank any specific deity or force, shit drops and piles up in front of me and provides a soft landing. In this case, maybe the Progs just figured the hairless monkey wasn’t smart enough to even make an attempt, so they gave me those extra few inches of rope. In short, Durgan got his leg blown off, I rescued the damsels in distress, and I took the Supreme Commander as a hostage. We boarded a transport ship and were aided along our way by an exploding shuttle that was specifically meant to deliver a nuclear gift basket. We lost some good people that day. Some, like Stephanie, still haunt my dreams.
Anyway, we got back to Earth. I found out my old roommate and best friend, Paul, had started up a militia. Knowing that the Feds were covering something up on a major level, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Surprisingly enough, there were some in our government who agreed, to a point. At least they could see that we were not doing enough, fast enough, to prepare for what definitely seemed like an inevitable hostile invasion.
I gained a military commission I figured was honorary and I lost Beth. Really, we’d all started to lose Beth about that time. She was displaying the first signs that all might not be right inside that pretty skull of hers. I went up to Maine and reunited with my family, then to Indian Hill, which had become a major construction zone, one of the largest underground bunkers on Earth, in fact. Met Dennis, who sent me back out to Paul in Colorado. He had set up shop in the mountains and was training his army. The reception was frostier than I’d been expecting; didn’t know why at the time, but basically, I ended up in France…long story, so you might have to track down an earlier journal for all the details. The Progs, being the industrious, murderous fucks that they were, rebuilt their ship and decided a little payback was in order, and by payback, I mean they were leveling cities. Threatened to take France off the map if the French citizens didn’t hand my ass over.
I turned myself in before either the French did or the Progs came through on their threat. So, of course, I ended up back in the coliseum, fighting Durgan, who, even with one leg missing, was nearly too much for me. I won, but it’s tough to raise your hands and shout Huzzah! when you have to be scraped off the ground and carted away. The Prog docs had to work overtime to keep me in the game. No good letting me die before I got to fight their champion, a Genogerian brute by the name of Drababan, or as I now call him, Dee. I got to know him before our match. Dee ended up being the most spiritual, intelligent being I had ever met. It was too bad our acquaintance was going to end with him twisting my head off. The Progs, in their infinite wisdom and vanity, wanted to display their superiority over us in the flashiest way possible, a world-wide broadcast of the bout of the ages. We were to fight in a crater they’d added to France, a chance to see the Great and Mighty Earth Champion, Michael Talbot, get crushed under the giant foot of their Geno champ. Sure, it was a brilliant piece of propaganda, but Paul had a better idea.
Waiting for the bout to begin, he sent a team to save my ass, which they did, admirably. Dee, seeing a way out, escaped with me. Oh who the hell am I kidding. He picked me up like old luggage and made a run for it. And that was where I met Sergeant Yonts, a fiery redhead who made my heart melt at the sight of her. We got on a sub and steamed back to the new world. The Progs were sufficiently pissed off by now and had leveled my beloved city of Boston. We made it back to Indian Hill, which was in Walpole, twenty miles out of the city, and began our plans to retake what was ours. The Progs started putting troops on the ground once they felt they had beat us into capitulation from the sky. That’s the thing about humans though, we certainly do like a good fight. We’re scrappers at heart, and we’ve got few qualms about doing it dirty. We raided and harangued them at every turn.
Unbeknownst to me, Beth and Debbie were making their way across the states. Debbie was killed, causing Beth to lose another little piece of her mind. When she finally got to the Hill and realized I didn’t want anything to do with her, I think that was close to the last straw, the one that finally cracked the synapse. She started shacking up with Paul, who had always harbored feelings for her. I figured since everybody was getting laid, all was working out for the good of everyone. Another hasty notion. Sometimes you dodge the bullet and sometimes you stand there ignorantly waiting for it to crash into your sternum, this was one of those latter times.
I fell even more in love with Tracy, Sergeant Yonts, that is, if such a thing was possible, and my friendship with Dee strengthened even as Paul’s and mine started to fray around the edges. We learned from Dee that not all was as kosher between the Progs and what they’d called the “lesser” Genos, as we’d been told. It seems Dee’s race, had basically been forced into slavery by the shoot first and contemplate the universe later Progs. With Dee’s help, we found allies in their ranks and managed to get back aboard the Julipion. Third time was apparently the charm; we took that fucker over in a storming firefight and held it fast. As in any great conquest, there will be those that make the ultimate sacrifice, we laid more good souls to rest than I could ever count. But we had that ship, and that meant we had a chance. For the first time in close to two years, Earth could breathe a sigh of relief. We had time before they could get back here.
It was short-lived. Sure, three years sounds like a long time, but we could never relax. Once shit is totally scattered by the fan, you can never really form it back into one nice, neat turd. There was so much to do. Rebuilding some semblance of a government, repairing and retrofitting the renamed USS Guardian and reverse engineering some of their technology so we could manufacture new fighters that were up to speed for a war we knew was coming. Plus raising a child…(yes, Tracy and I had wed and had a bouncing baby boy named Travis. If I thought Dee and I were tight, it was nothing to the bond those two forged. Dee and Travis were inseparable, so much so that I asked the Geno to be his godfather).
The people of Earth had mostly pulled together as a unified front, more so than they’d ever before, but all was not perfect. As part of the peace plans, I had lobbied hard to have the Genogerians set up on terra firma; I knew what that race could be without the influence of their Prog masters, and I genuinely, or naively, believed humans would see this and welcome their kind. Of course, this was met by strong resistance. Paul basically wanted to blow them up and be done with all aliens on Earth, and there was also a lot of rightly earned hatred and distrust from humans who treated them badly. Couldn’t really blame them, but the Genos would only take so much, and civil disruption grew until we were on the brink of another war. I was sent in to quell the riots before Paul could pull the plug on the entire deal. Didn’t work out too well for me; got in a fight and won, but true to form, it almost killed me.
While I was trying hard not to meet my maker, who, no doubt was pissed at another missed appointment, Paul, with some urging from his blushing bride, Beth, ordered Tracy to stop the Geno army
Eventually, though, the numbers won out and we were forced into retreat. We lost the battle, but I won my personal war; I got my Tracy back. We regrouped and were about to warn the factory that was the Geno’s final goal, when we found out the whole thing was a trap. Paul wanted the Genos concentrated there; and had another big nuke just waiting for them. We went to warn the settlements in the general area, instead. The funny thing about people on the edge is that you have no idea how they’ll react. We were in trouble. BT had broken his leg and we were pinned down well within the blast zone. If somehow I live to be a hundred and twenty I will never see anything more disturbing than what came out of the alien craft that arrived to save us.
Defeat's Victory by Mark Tufo / Science Fiction have rating 4.6 out of 5 / Based on41 votes