Ways of the nature

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 11 (v.1) - Children of yesterday

Submitted: October 09, 2019

Reads: 10

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 09, 2019

A A A

A A A

Sakhshikin dominion border zone, Daegan 5 geosynchronous orbit, free trade port station A-19…

“ it’s far from your home prince. How did you ended up here?”

Prince Gachuk 3rd, Sukasi bloodline… expelled…

“ I lost some of my born to privileges and… found a way to provide myself with some others of earned the hard way kind. That’s how life is, isn’t it?”

“ that’s a high level of human perception coming from a Bituk royal family member, doesn’t your family consider that unacceptable.”

“ from where I’m sitting, their opinion doesn’t matter that much anymore. I have my own life now.”

“ what happened to you prince?”

“da… The Girls… happened to me. Actually more than once. I should consider myself lucky to be on their good side… don’t look at me like that man, I’m messing with you. It’s war, you pick a side and you stick with it, that’s if you’re lucky, sometimes it’s just fate, you get thrown into it and you get to stick to the side of… something, and then that’s it… you’re stuck, for all the better or worse… By the heavy hand of fate I happened to stick on their side so, I tried my best to stay… stuck. Family didn’t like that idea, so I had to come out here and make things happen my own way. Name still carries some weight with it so, I could use it in my advantage... I believe… You know, I tried to do things the way I learned from them.”

“ oh well you’re pretty good at what you’re doing out here… how did you learn so much from them in such a short time?”

“ I played sponge, absorbed everything… and lucky was like never my best talent… so do the math…”

TSF Pegasus, AXP 3E6341/9D, near Lagrangian point L2, Jul 8th 2441:

Heels opened her eyes and saw the ceiling of the sickbay. Her head was completely blank, a Kerl technician bent over into her sight and checked on her, then walked out of her sight. She blinked few more times and tried to sit up. Her mind was already starting to work. She heard the door opening and looked that way while she was trying to sit halfway up over her elbows. It was Knox coming in:” captain?” Heels said:” help me up.” Knox helped her to sit up straight and she asked:” how did it turn out?” Knox left her with a little caution and checked the monitors next to her bed:” good, very good. Everybody is already awake and checked in. team members are all doing fine and everybody was waiting for you to come back.”

  • How long I’ve been out?
  • Seventy hours.

Heels waved her head:” last boot off the ground.” looked back at Knox and asked:” intel?”

  • We dug up all that we could. Pegasus made the dossier and reported in to alliance command.

Heels felt the deja vu striking her mind few times quickly but she remained focused and asked again:” And the city?”

  • Under our control, safe and sound. Resistance took over in just two hours after we got rid of the god bug. There was an uplink established with alliance command in five hours and first alliance patrol just arrived two hours ago.
  • Casualties.
  • Pegasus has the full headcount of it. Tehran sustained some dramatic casualty number on both sides. Remaining pockets of resistance gave up the fight easier than we expected. None of our bugs died during this mission but it wasn’t same for the resident hive. Except the ones in the stored eggs everyone else is dead.
  • I feel so weak. Is that the case for everyone waking up?
  • Pegasus had to force his way into god bug’s mind and then had to kill him. It was putting too much pressure on all of you. Others followed similar patterns to your case before waking up but all are recovering quickly afterward. I believe you will be able to leave the sickbay in four to five hours.

Heels nodded:” thanks doctor. Now that I’m tied up to this bed, please inform Pegasus that I need to read that dossier before consulting our next move with command. And I will need them on the horn just by then.” Knox went around her bed and passed on her OID:” you can do that all by yourself perfectly fine captain. I’m not one of your hands, and I’m not here to run your errands. But before that, I need to run some tests on you, so just sit back and help me with the checklist.” Heels was a little surprised but put the OID down on her lap and nodded:” fire away doctor.”

***

When Queen entered the room she saw Heels already there she gasped:” hey boss. Good to see you back with us again. This job of yours is a real kick butt.” Heels tapped on the seat next to herself and said:” you’ve done a bombastic job so far.” Friday said:” yea, right. Good thing that boss has waked up after all, life would be such a drag with Queen indefinitely in charge.” Queen intentionally ignored her, sat down and said:” wouldn’t make it without Rom’s help.” Romeo quickly looked up and objected:” I’ll take no part in this.” Heels looked at all of them and asked:” what’s going on here?” everybody was pretending to be occupied. Heels asked:” Garlic?” but she only said:” what?” after a long delay and looking her back eye to eye. Heels asked:” Sunshine?” Sunshine said:” nothing…” Queen leaned back and said:” we all woke up from the boost, in like five to seven hours. When it dragged into a third day for you, everybody was starting to believe you will not wake up so soon… or fully functional… or maybe even not at all… so I had to keep them over occupied and deny them the time they could use to gossip about their worries with each other… you know better boss, rumors spread like wildfire.” Heels leaned back and crossed her arms over her chest:” you did fine sister. You did extremely fine.” Pegasus came online:” Captain Kim. Command is online and waiting to speak with you.” Heels stood up and went toward the hologram:” patch them through.”

Admiral Cha appeared on the hologram and Heels quickly saluted to him:” Admiral sir.” Cha answered:” captain. I’m happy to see you on your feet again. You got us worried a little in the last few days.”

  • Sorry for the inconvenience sir. But I still have some fight left in me.
  • If all the things we have learned from the god bug are true, we are going to need all of that, and even more. Joint chief will also join us for the meeting. This will be for the review and record and the briefing file will be dispatched for all our command elements on all fronts. Ready to start?
  • Affirmative sir.

Another hologram appeared next to Cha and the Elite Diviak general said:” Captain Kim. Long time no see.” Heels was surprised but kept her solid face:” fleet marshal Sitovian…” and added:” Sir.” with a careful delay. Sitovian answered:” I see years of service did not dull your decisive approach neither sharpen your sense of discretion, at all.” Heels wanted to answer him but he added:” I’m not done talking yet captain. When I heard you are the team who’s investigating this matter I was thrilled, at best… but I can’t imagine to have anyone else tasked with this and providing any prospect of success, except you and your people.” Heels held her chin up:” thank you sir.”

  • I have armies scattered over half of the galaxy and they need my attendance. So let us start quickly and get this over with.

Heels nodded and said:” by considering the history between humanity and Kerl and as much as we’ve learned about this enemy, The Examiner, that we are facing now, our Kerl divine companion, TSF Pegasus suggested that our best chance to get the bigger picture is to approach the only god bug left alive since the pre Kerl invasion era. Since there was so little known about the current condition of TSF Tehran I decided to go and meet this elder Kerl, while standing prepared, just in case that it refuses to help us willingly. Our good Kerl scientist, doctor Knox approached us with the idea to use our genetic ability to connect to the Kerl Nexus and boost the psychic capacity of our divine Kerl, to overwhelm the capacity that the elder one could comprehend. This way we could force him to answer us, should the need for it rises. It proved a good decision.” She attached the files they had prepared about the city and added:” situation appeared desperate on TSF Tehran. Crash landed on an extremely hostile environment and unable to leave, they came under control of the god bug very quickly, by pinning up an oppressive regime on top, and leaving only few citizens willing to fight back for their city. First contact with city authorities failed and our envoy team got captured, but resistance fighters helped them escape and briefed us about the situation. Our further investigation showed that the elder Kerl was extremely short on its personnel charts and planning to instead store its entire egg production in cryogenic state. Lack of labor force was also hitting their food production capacity, which team discovered had led them to horrible measure of using the feeble and disable portion of human population as their food source. Hence I took the liberty to devise a plan and use this situation in our advantage. We took over the citywide propaganda network and broadcasted the news, that led to an all out rebellion of the population against the Kerl appointed authority, and at the same time we dispatched a team to sabotaged their life support measures which were protecting their hive. In the midst of the chaos created by simultaneous problems we linked the team members to our domestic nexus and used our combined capacity to interrogate the god bug. Pegasus can debrief you about the intel we have managed to recover.”

Sitovian asked:” what did we learn from the god bug Pegasus?” Pegasus answered:” the Observer and the Examiner, are all parts of a bigger machine. It is called Circle of life. They have other fleets preceding their mission called Seekers and Seeders. Seekers will survey the universe galaxy by galaxy, find suitable spots for development of sentient life forms and enforce means to protect them from catastrophic extinction events. Then the second wave will come, the elder one called them the Seeders. Those go to the target planets and start driving the course of evolution on them toward developing sentient species. When this phase is over they will evacuate the galaxy and the observer arrives to implant its observation network. The rest is one to one with what we already knew. In sixteen thirty seven TSF calendar observer of Saggitarian galaxy qualified the Protozoan monarchy ready for examination. The examiner uplifted Kerl and our expansion of Magellanic clouds began. In just two hundred and fifty years our legion succeeded to uproot the Protozoan monarchy. They failed the Examiner’s test and their trial was concluded. Right after the final conclusion, the Examiner killed all messenger and elder Kerl across that entire theater, in order to ground the Kerl and contain them from additional expansion. Lesser Kerl were confined to their planets scattered between stars, left without leadership, disconnected and desperate, that led them to revert back into their animal state. Many of the Kerl didn’t make it through the age of punishment.”

Pinky whispered:” god bug was calling the Kerl the divine legion. Imagine what it was like, to be the right hand of your god and emerge victorious from his bidding, and then he just comes around and chops off your head.” Face said:” and yet so much is left to learn.” Romeo cuffed on her laughter but managed to keep it down.

Pegasus added:” it was but to those who made it through it only solidified their faith, so they would do an even better job next time. In nineteen fifty two TSF calendar the Observer of the Milky Way finally signaled for trial. The god Examiner allowed the legion to ascend back to space. It took us only fifteen years to gear up and arrive in our next arena. At this time our interrogated elder one was a mere general or royal guards as you know them. A hundred years later he was the king of his own hive when legion invaded earth. That was gravely a mistake proven two hundred years later by fall of Sakran two. The god Examiner was displeased with the legion’s failure and left them to die at humanity’s hand. Fearful of that fate, the elder one grew to a messenger before humanity could find him and hid himself in this corner of the galaxy. He knew the god examiner will keep putting life of this galaxy on trials until satisfaction is achieved and yet nobody knew what could come next to that. He had heard from another messenger before the defeat, that some species found a way to survive the massacre of god Examiner in their own Galaxy, The Andromeda, by locking themselves in hibernation inside a vault. So he started his own hive in here and prepared for his doomsday bunker plan. Then as the city came crashing on top of his hive, he couldn’t let them discover nor interrupt his big plans, so he decided to consume the city little by little and get rid of them before they can put his grand plan of survival in jeopardy. That is when we showed up and dismantled the entire situation.”

Garlic said:” Andromeda, and Examiner… rings so many bells, it sounds like a cathedral on a Sunday morning.” Sitovian asked:” is there any information which joint command is not aware of captain?” Heels said:” during the time we were… assisting… NVA to resolve the Wall’s plot to eliminate our team, we came across some evidence about early visits made by an alien species to earth pre Kerl invasion. The aliens were associated with Greys in our history and suspected to be involved with human abduction and probably human alien grafting and cross breeding. We also learned that they are the weapon of choice for the Examiner as the next level after Kerl, picked up on its last campaign at Andromeda Galaxy. Right now the Examiner’s main stream repopulation plan is to reanimate all the dead bodies they are getting their hands on. But in case of humans it is using partial genetic similarity between humans and Greys to its advantage by converting the human live specimens into their hybrid troopers. The hybrid troopers are showing uncomfortably close similarities to the Grey aliens of old earth history. We also discovered that the larger more strong ones are a hybrid of the Andromeda aliens cross bred with Kerl warriors. So far the humans, the Kerl and the Greys are the only DNA based life forms we know in our Galaxy. That should be counted among the facts. XNA species are not suitable for Examiner’s conversion plan. At least not yet.”

  • These are dangerously interesting findings. How are you planning your next move captain?
  • In our both previous encounters with this Circle of life, there was always a bird who could chirp very interesting tales to us.

Sunshine covered her face with her palms and said:” guys, guys please, can we not do the Bituk overlord this time?” Sitovian asked:” which Bituk overlord we are speaking about here?” Heels said:” he is the overlord of one of the closer Bituk dominions to alliance. Their banner is olive and silver with a winged scorpion.”

  • The hybrid Bituk parasite dynasty of Sakhshikin. That overlord is indeed a very interesting character. Alright, since that chicken has old ties with TSF, I believe I can leave the rest of this matters in your capable hands. I will be waiting for your good news. Admiral Cha. You may pick up the debriefing session.

Admiral Cha answered:” yes sir.” Heels saluted and Sitovian hologram faded. Heels looked back at Cha and asked:” what are our orders now admiral sir?”

  • I’m afraid this won’t be an easy task captain.

Friday mumbled:” it never was.” Received her poking form Blondie but added:” since day zero.” Cha continued:” Examiner followed Moscow refugees into their territory. They are holding the line in there but they will be in a bad shape when you will arrive at the AO. At this rate their protocol dictates the overlord will be onboard their flagship covered up somewhere safe and he will be accessible only via an archive level secure uplink with very limited access, only granted to his generals. Our latest intel reports that the entire dominion is cut off behind enemy lines and their forces are scattered all over the sector. You will have to locate one of these Bituk generals and fight your way to him.” Heels answered:” we are close enough to be there in few days sir. We will handle it.”

  • Fine. I can dispatch a small escort unit to help you break through enemy blockade but I’m afraid that’s all I can do.
  • That will be more than enough sir. Thank you.

Pinky asked:” captain?” Heels looked at her and she asked:” can I ask something from king’s eye actual?” Heels stepped aside and pointed with her head:” carry on.” Pinky came over to the hologram scanning range and saluted:” admiral sir.” Cha answered:” agent Choi. What is bothering you?”

  • What are we going to do with the city sir? They have just revolted against the god bug and… it won’t take much time until they start to remove everybody they deem to be participating in the late dictatorship. There will be a lot of revolutionary executions sir. And those things usually drastically fail to see the greater good.
  • I understand your point agent. You want to keep the upper technocrat class alive so we may use them against the bigger enemy we have right now, regardless of what they’ve done to their people by collaborating with the Kerl authority of their city.

Pinky nodded quickly:” yes sir.”

  • Don’t worry about that agent. Our troops are already taking action to EVAC the population out of this place. Tehran is not capable to house eighteen million people and TSF also has many better uses for a city at our current situation, than to just leave it here to rot under a magnetar. The population will be divided and sent where they can be put to good use, so will their city. When the people are gone we can use Mecca and Zion to jump Tehran out of this hellhole.

Pegasus asked:” may we represent a complementary plan to your solution Admiral sir?” Cha waited for a long moment and then answered:” go on.”

  • There are one hundred and eighty billion eggs stored inside the vault admiral sir. Our legion is annihilated by the Examiner prior to open war on milky Way inhabitants, but this vault presents a chance to revive our species from the brink of extinction. Can you also transfer them to a safer place as well?
  • Moving that many eggs in cryogenic stat requires kind of logistics I can hardly afford even in ideal situation Bellerophon. I’m afraid we cannot do that, at least not for all of them.

Heels told Pinky:” don’t look at me like that with those glowing eyes. Your permission is not expired yet, go on and let admiral know how you are planning to resolve this.” Cha asked:” do you have any alternative solution agent?”

Pinky quickly answered:” affirmative sir. We can move the Mother and her hive to the vault. This place can sustain them for as long as they can defend it and they also can have advantage of one eighty billion spare warriors on their side. That many Kerl warriors can be a game changer. Even for us.” Admiral Cha was clearly surprised but finally managed to ask:” how long it will take until Mother can mobilize all of those numbers Pegasus?”

Pegasus answered:” if we are not required to build our own ships to mobilize our forces, first expeditionary corps will be voyage ready in four months. And it will be one more batch every ten days sir.” Cha quickly answered:” it is a done deal then. I will coordinate for their immediate dispatch after the completion of human evacuation. You don’t waste any more time over that coordinates and move on to your next objective. War doesn’t slow down for us. Get there and get it done Medusa. See you on the other side, Seoul out.” and his picture faded after returning team members salute. Heels turned around and asked:” any questions?” Friday asked:” can we pick up some real food before we leave. Everybody can use few rounds of proper meal before our next suicide mission.”

  • Do it. You are in charge of that. Anything else… no? fine… Pegasus get your troops sorted out. We are setting sail for Sakhshikin dominion in three hours.

Pegasus answered:” roger that captain.” Heels added:” team, dismissed.” And walked toward the door. Rest of the members also followed her then Pegasus asked:” Agent Choi.” Pinky stopped:” what is it Pegasus?”

  • Thank you for the suggestion. Your part in our survivor will be praised in the history of the legion shall we emerge victorious from this campaign.

Face stopped and told Friday:” what did I tell you. Yet there is so much left to learn about being a good god. I put my last coin on it. ten thousand years down the history those skinny aliens we saved from the drug lord will sing songs about two dark and vengeful heavenly beings with wings made of sharp blades while Kerl are drawing her figure on the walls with a ring of light around her head.” but Friday answered:” bright or dark, a god is a god, there is no such thing as bad advertisement and I like my version better. Now let’s get going and get our food sorted out. This god still has to eat and she is very displeased by that tasteless mush these bugs are shoving down their holes. The greatest goddess of all, team leader Heels only gave us three hours to solve that problem.” Then dragged her along out of the coms room. Pinky smiled then looked back at the com console which Pegasus was using to speak to them and answered:” you’re welcome. This is a time that every single life saved on our side counts. And we are all together in this one… your divinity.” And left the com room as well.

***

As the shuttles were descending toward the base they could see the battle going on in the distance. Some orbital bombardment blasted through the thick clouds, landed over the horizon and lit up the cloudy sky. Blondie said over radio:” this place is a lost cause.” Heels looked at their gunship from distance and answered:” then we better be done here before it’s totally lost.”

  • Just saying, we could use all these tools and ammo somewhere else that it could matter more.
  • If we don’t get to the bottom of this problem sooner, all the weapons in the world won’t do us any good. Don’t get political, stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Copy that boss.

Shuttles and gunships landed in the air field and team got off form both of them. A vehicle came close and stopped in front of them while soldiers were loading off the equipment. An officer got off the vehicle and asked:” you guys are Medusa?” Heels stopped in front of him:” yes sir. That’s us colonel sir.”

  • How bad our situation is looking like from up there?
  • The same convoy that brought you these supplies can be used to EVAC your wounded and less needed personnel out of the hot zone sir. Meanwhile my team is going to follow our own objective, our ship will be staying on station over the airfield and cover for the EVAC process. I don’t think you will have much trouble to hold back the Examiner troops while a Kerl divine is holding the line for you sir.
  • A Kerl was the last ally I would have looked for in this situation. But we can’t afford to turn away any sort of help right now. Those little birds are going to pass near the coordinates you need to be at. You can save some time tagging along with them.
  • Thank you sir.
  • No, thank you captain. And one last advice for you. Those coordinates are bad news all and all. Your Bituk general had lost an entire division of mobile infantry troops over there. Easy to assume they are all fighting for the other side already. Those corners of the map, there will be dragons.

And left to oversee his troops unloading the supplies. Heels looked back and asked:” all set?” girls confirmed one by one and she added:” you heard the man. Let’s role.” they ran to the little birds that were waiting for them on the ramp and sat on their side benches. Romeo stood next to the bird and let Prince get on, then sat on the bench after Pinky. Pilot asked:” are you the package we have to deliver on spot?” Pinky answered:” affirmative lieutenant.”

  • You must be same team that was on five five two.

Romeo asked:” what five five two?”

  • I’m a Makharov, don’t need to fool me. You are the Seoul girl commandos who left my dad to rot in a pod over there.

He got off his bird and said:” the only ride I would have given you will be a ride down to hell. Go find someone else to kiss your asses.” And walked away. Romeo got off and called after him:” that’s a good thing. Cause your daddy also said we have to make sure you will stay the hell away from us anyways.” Other birds were already flying. Heels asked:” what’s wrong with your bird Werewolf?” Romeo touched her radio and answered:” we have a minor technical problem here.”

  • What kind of minor technical problem?
  • We ran into a Makharov pilot.
  • No shit… alright, we can’t delay the mission and you are not needed for the first leg. Get another pilot and catch up.

Romeo answered:” roger that boss.” Pointed at Pinky and added:” stay here, anybody who shows up needing this bird you will turn him down, I’ll find us a pilot and come back to you ASAP.” Pinky asked:” how should I do that?” Romeo shouted:” shoot him if you have to.” and ran away toward the shuttles again to talk to the base commander.

***

Heels arrived out of the woods and saw Sunshine and Friday next to a wooden cabin, while trying to stay out of the rain under the narrow ledge of the roof. Heels said:” Werewolf is airborne, finally. Let’s get to work.” Sunshine said:” Blondie and Face are taking point. There’s a conversion post up ahead.”

Heels asked:” so why are you guys staying back here?” Friday answered:” a light rain like that is pretty to watch from somewhere dry.”

  • We’ve just flew all the way here right through it.
  • I can still make believe, can’t I?

Heels smiled and answered:” whatever, let’s role.” they walked through the slight mist and arrived where they saw Face and Blondie taking cover behind a wooden fence before a ledge on the rocks. Other three also cloaked, got on the ground and crawled to that point. Heels then saw the conversion post. There was a road passing through the ravine with burnt cars left on and around it and few small half ruined buildings next to it. Some biomass covered Bituks were patrolling between the biomass pods and guarding them. Heels said:” Hunter will stay here to provide cover. Sword…” Friday said:” they have a rocket launcher and one MG on top of those buildings, sixty yards, ten o’clock. We go in and push on that left flank, clear those two buildings and close the irons on the rest of them.”

  • Good, we sign this post and then call in for an EMP fire mission from Bellerophon as we move on.

Friday tapped on Face’s waist and pointed at her to come along and they both crawled back. They moved around the ledge and jumped down into the ravine between the rocks. Face tagged an enemy Bituk ahead of them across the road. Friday asked:” right ammo type?” Face looked at her magazine setting and then pulled her rifle’s cocking handle halfway back:” plugged and chambered.”

  • Make it one exposure, slow and steady. We better keep the cloak running. Mist and rain can cover the rest.
  • Your lead sister.

They walked out of their cover between the boulders and went toward the road. Just as they passed the road Friday held her palm back and laid down:” hit the dirt…” they both laid down on the tarmac and waited. The guard passed in front of them and went between the trees. Friday said:” he is out of sight, take him.” Face was already aiming at him and shot him with a single round head shot. Heels said over radio:” good job. But don’t get up yet. I can see two of them on your three o’clock, twenty yards and looking exactly at you.” Friday turned her face and saw them then looked ahead the same way and said:” keep… going… slowly.” they left the road behind while crawling very slowly and arrived behind a stack of wood planks. Friday looked for the guards and saw them already walking away, pointed at Face to drag the body out of the open and walked up to the first ruined building. Around the blasted wall she saw the entry of the roadblock building guarded by another Bituk. She looked around the corner and then aimed at the guard from her cover. Face arrived, kneeled down next to her and tapped on her shoulder. Friday killed the guard and they walked up to that building. Friday grabbed the body and dragged it inside while Face moved ahead and checked the stairway at the end of the room. Friday also joined her and looked at the upper floors with her millimeter radar. There was the guard with rocket launcher on the roof and one guard outside by the roadblock. Then there were two more inside the next building. Friday said:” two additional hostiles under the roof next door.” Heels answered:” negative shot.”

  • We will take care of them, wait one.

Friday answered then pointed at the one outside and at Face. Face nodded and moved upstairs. Friday followed her until she arrived at the doorway and took cover next to it. Friday kept going up to the roof, watched the rocket launcher guard silhouette until it turned away from the stairs then she moved up and followed him, shot him in the head closely and grabbed him before he falls, put him down slowly, aimed at the guard behind the machinegun on the next building and looked over her shoulder to see the two that were patrolling the parameter still in the distance, looked back at her target and tapped on her radio. Face leaned out of the doorway and shot the guard at the roadblock at the same time, walked out and dragged him inside while Friday came back down on the outside by sliding on the ladder. Face crossed the road and joined her at the doorway into the next building. There were three more guards outside that building, patrolling a field of tall grasses, right under the vantage point of the other team. Friday tagged their two targets and they saw other three also tagged. Heels called:” send it.” Face followed Friday inside and shot her target, turned around and covered the stairs while Friday turned around and covered the door, tapped on Face’s butt and pointed at her to get eyes on the last two guards from the window. Face moved on and Friday called over radio:” alright, boss, tighten up and squeeze the other two. That will be the last of them.”

Soon Heels’ team also arrived at the roadblock and they all passed it by. Heels said:” this is the point we will part ways. Stay safe and keep up the good job Sword. See you on the other side.” Face and Friday climbed up the concrete wall on the side of the road to go up the hill while Heels and her team jumped down between the rocks into another ravine. Heels said:” make it quick ladies, we better be out of range when that EMP arrives.” Ravine led to another one with a stream of water going through it and they jumped down along its path. Their equipment showed a little glitch and then they heard the thunder like sound of the round exploding over the conversion post. Blondie passed under a fallen tree trunk and said:” the sight of those damn bubbles still shivers my spin.”

Sunshine said:” you have every right to feel like that sister. But you know better, keep your cool, here and now is all that matters.” And jumped down over the next ledge after her. Heels said:” we can’t slow down the pace. Check your gears on the walk, make sure nothings will go wrong when we are going to make contact with the enemy.”

***

Queen passed over a log and stopped. Garlic arrived next to her and kneeled down. Queen looked at her watch and said:” this terrain is too harsh. We need to use the more paved path if we are to make it in time to the VP.” Garlic whipped the raindrops from over her goggle and said:” you’re the boss sister… just… do me a solid. No section on this op, alright?”

Queen looked at her over her shoulder and answered:” you guys are constantly fail to see that I am only a tiny fraction of a second braver than rest of you.” Garlic was still looking at her and she added:” that means ok, we’ll do it your way. Happy now? Let’s role.”

They walked up to the sharp slope that was hanging over a paved dirt road and slid down the mud covered side wall of it, ran along the road until they arrived at a lumbering camp. Queen kneeled down, cloaked and looked around. Garlic said:” I hear noises, something’s flying toward us.” they both laid on the ground and a biomass flying object passed over their head, stopped a little further over lumbering camp and dropped a small part of itself down, then moved further up the road and dropped down another and then left over the tree line canopy. Queen aimed back to the closer biomass drop and saw four Bituks coming out of it:” a four man fire team… interesting. They are splitting up. Better let them be and avoid contact. There’s still a lot of uphill we have to climb, I rather do it not trying to outrun their bullets.”

She got up and Garlic followed her after a pair of Bituks that were moving along the right side road. Further on, they passed next to a large sawing machine and a couple of carts that were waiting to be loaded, then a burnt cabin came out of the mist. Garlic saw and tagged two more Bituks coming toward them from up the hill:” contact left, two, patrolling. Thirty yards.” Queen kept her eyes on the other pair which they were already following:” keep moving, we take cover in the cabin.”

They crossed the road and took cover behind the burnt walls. First Bituk team went around the cabin and came back, while the other team was checking the carts on the road. Bituks looked inside the cabin through the windows and open parts of the wall and missed the girls that were hiding right under the windows. When they left Queen pointed at the hole in the wall at the end of the cabin. They crawled out of the cabin and went around the guards between the bushes. Lower guard team moved back downhill and second team started walking back up. Garlic said:” options, we follow them or get back to the woods.”

Queen aimed her weapon at the road and engaged her millimeter radar:” give me an over watch view.” Garlic sent out her small drone and scanned the area:” woods are clear, sharp slope, but good access to the next lumbering stage.” Queen saw the sidewalls of the road rising high on both sides of it and said:” road is bottlenecking up ahead. No good. We go your way. Take point.” she kept watching until Garlic passed the road. Garlic arrived at the edge of the tree line, shouldered her rifle and climbed up on the slippery slope, grabbed a root and pulled herself up, leaned on a fallen tree trunk, aimed her rifle at the road and tried to stop panting:” hop across second boss.”

Queen also crossed the road and ran up the slope. Garlic grabbed her hand and pulled her up over the ledge. They passed between the trees while watching their both sides. Friday called:” Kestrel, Sword. We are inbound objective alpha. SITREP.” Queen answered:” OP alpha minus five mikes. Sorry pal, we ran into some friction. Trying to slip by with least delay possible, including gunfights.”

  • Take your time, we are not going anywhere and rain doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon.

Queen stopped and raised her fist:” and they call me drama queen. Stay put, I will come back to you when we are on the OP. Kestrel out.” Garlic drove her drone over the camp and engaged its millimeter radar. They started to see the facility on their goggles. They saw six more targets on the picture as well. Two to the right and two to the left patrolling between the machinery and stacks of planked woods. Garlic added two more on a cabin on top of the camp:” those two have machineguns.” Queen slid down the slope and said:” that makes for six, two more missing and they can be hiding somewhere in the woods. We push right, let’s go around it.” Garlic also came down and they started walking. They moved up the road and arrived behind a large log, Queen stopped and said:” guards looking at us, wait for it… now…” they crossed the open road and took cover inside a sawing machine. Queen moved to the end of the machine and looked around:” right, go to the right.” they walked up the slope and passed between some cut down threes left on the ground and just as they managed to go around the cabin Queen laid down:” that’s our missing pair.” Tagged both of them and waited. Garlic also crawled to a position next to her and aimed her rifle the same way. Queen checked on her watch:” our five mikes is almost over.” waited a little longer but the two Bituks that were guarding the road were just standing there:” they are sticking.” Assigned one for Garlic and aimed at the second one:” set?” Garlic checked her weapon and whipped her goggles clean:” set.” Queen put her weapon in burst mode and aimed at the center mass:” send it.” they shot both of them and she waited two seconds, when nothing else happened she said:” we go, now.”

They both got up and ran into the mist, a little further than the cabin, camp ended at a wall of boulders. Garlic leaned back on the first tall ledge and helped Queen to go up, then she helped Garlic up and they kept climbing between the wet and slippery boulders. At the ridgeline Garlic stopped and placed a booby trap between the rocks. They moved over the ridgeline and got to the other side. Queen stopped a little further down and looked around at the thick mist that was covering the trees all around them as clouds were moving along the side of the mountain:” this is not good.” Touched her radio and said:” Sword, Kestrel. We are OP alpha. Limited window available for support. Cloud is too low, we will have zero visibility in less than a minute. Advising you to make the best of that time.” moved her arm to the right and Garlic Kneeled down next to her by the stone wall on the side of the road. They set up their sniper rifles and aimed down at the loading camp in the valley.

***

Friday answered:” copy that Kestrel. Keep us posted.” let go of her radio and added:” Face, time to move.” Face turned back from her guard sector on their flank and nodded. They crouched between the planked wood stacks and arrived behind a large tractor. In front of them there was a bridge that was passing over a river and another lumbering camp ahead of them. Face tagged a sniper on top of a water tower and Garlic said:” coming right up.” sniper got hit and she added:” or down… whatever.” Queen added:” this window is closing fast on us. Cross that damn bridge.” Friday and Face ran across the bridge and arrived at the camp. There were tall piles of wood boards placed on each other all around it and some smaller stacks of cut down trees. Four biomass Bituks were guarding that back yard and a large building was closing their view against rest of the facility. Friday tagged all of them and said:” on my mark.” They all confirmed and she called:” send it.” all four of them got hit and fell on the ground. Queen said:” that’s it. Sorry guys, it’s negative visual form here on. We’ll push right around the camp to find another good spot but meanwhile, it’s all you down there. Kestrel out.”

They moved on between the woods until at the corner of the large building Friday stopped and dodged back into cover:” there is an APC out there.” Looked again and said:” and I can see two additional guards so far. one patrolling the gate right in front of the APC and one watching the yard from second floor, small cabin on the far side.” touched her radio and said:” Kestrel, Sword, can I borrow you drone for few minutes. This place is a full spectrum paintball playground.” Garlic said:” sorry sis, I’m on the negative curve of a hill and barely able to see two feet ahead of me. I really don’t love those odds without something scanning where I’m going to put my next step.”

Friday said:” roger that. And thank you for nothing.” Face asked:” what are you planning Sunburn?”

  • I need to take out that sniper first, before we can do anything else.

Passed her sound cloak to Face and tapped over her own helmet, cloaked up and ran across the road to a ditch on the far side, dived into the shallow ditch and waited there as deep as she could remain under water. Face tapped on her radio twice. Friday rolled over her back to keep her face out of the water and started crawling along the water inside the ditch by her shoulders. APC was also covered with biomass and guarding the gate with its engine still running and steaming away the rain from its top engine cover. Friday kept crawling and passed right in front of it, entered a pipe that was passing under the road in front of the gate. Inside the pipe water was running deeper and Friday could barely keep her face out of the water but she made it to the other side and crawled out, looked up and saw the sniper unable to see her anymore, rolled over and crawled out of the ditch to watch the APC and the gatekeeper guard. They both were also looking the other way. She touched her radio:” SITREP.” Face answered:” so far so good.” Friday crawled away from the ditch, when in safe distance she finally got back on her feet and ran to the two stories cabin, used planks that were sticking out from corner of the cabin wall as a ladder and climbed to the first floor’s roof, looked inside the stairway and found it empty, opened the window and climbed inside as silently as she could, closed the window and went upstairs. The sniper Bituk was standing at the edge of the roof with his back to her. She waited for few seconds there and scanned the radio signature of the Bituk, walked up to it and shot it in the head from behind. Bituk fell but she grabbed him and pulled him inside, took his place and tapped on her cloaking device, the cloak started projecting a similar pattern to the Bituk guard. Friday touched her radio:” this will run my battery flat in five mikes. Make it quick day two. Search that large cabin and see what you can find about our absent general turkey.”

Face came around the corner and kept going along the wall, passed behind the APC, and around the corner saw a balcony above her head, stairs were right in front of her. She was looking over her shoulder for a second when Friday alarmed:” freeze.” Face stopped in her track, slowly turned her ahead back and then she saw a guard with his silhouette shining on her goggles right in front of her on the other side of the stairs. Bituk didn’t notice her behind the woods and kept going up the stairs. Friday said:” if you want to take him out, the balcony is the best place possible to do so.” Face moved around the stairs while watching the rest of the yard and went after the guard. Guard was closing at the door of the room on the second floor. Face placed her sound cloak on the wall and turned it on, closed up at him and shot the Bituk in the head, grabbed him, put him on the floor and kicked the door open, swept the room corner to corner and shot the other two inside, went to the other door and checked the outside. There was another balcony there inside the building and rest of the interior space was a barn and two trucks were parked inside of it. Face turned off the sound cloak and got back to the room, looked around and saw some monitors on the end wall with desks in front of them and a hologram projector in the middle. She went there and started working with them:” it’s a good hit, let me see… we have a detailed tactical map of the AO in here… and position of the friendly forces… looks like latest positions. It’s less than twelve hours old.”

Friday answered:” upload it. I will patch it on for the boss. She will find it very useful.” Face gave the orders to the computer and walked away toward the barn:” uplink is on. I couldn’t find any intel on the general, but there is a third cabin at the far end of the back yard with an antenna tower behind it.” She kneeled down by the doorway and looked out:” there are emplacements around it, got to be an important position.” Friday saw her tags updating her map and asked:” what is that, inside of that barricade in the middle?”

  • A machinegun nest, and also a mortar tube.
  • I don’t like the idea to leave this APC here when we are going for that cabin. See if we can use that mortar to neutralize this C and P threat over here.

Face got back up and walked out:” on it.” she went down the stairs and toward the mortar pit, checked under the balcony and saw a pile of dead Lau bodies. She looked all over the pile for any sign of biomass and found them clear, looked back and came face to face with a pair of Bituks that were coming out of the space between the trucks while carrying another Lau body by its arms and legs. She quickly shot both of them and walked that way to check the rest of the barn in that direction. There was no more enemies left, she ran out to the barricade and vaulted inside. There were also rounds left ready for fire next to the already set up tube, she checked three of them and touched her radio:” mortar is operational. Wait one, realigning takes a little time.” Friday checked her weapon but remained in her position:” copy that.” Face set the mortar in the right direction and picked up her first round:” good to go.” Friday tagged the APC and put her laser designator on it:” fire when ready.” Face uploaded the information to the round with her OID and put it in the tube, round jumped out and she put the second one in and then the third one:” rounds away.” last round also left the mortar. Friday turned on her laser beam. APC suddenly roared, turned its turret and moved back to aim it at Friday faster, first round came down with a siren and blasted over its shielding, second round came down right after and hit the APC on the back of the turret, exploded and bounced away but jammed the turret from turning and then the third came down right on the top exhaust plate. First an explosion blasted the rear door off and then a secondary one blasted the turret out of its place right after that, as the end of the APC moved up and down by the blast force. Friday quickly turned her aim and shot the gatekeeper, then turned around and ran downstairs.

Face left the tube and got herself behind the four barrel rail gun turret. The door on the far cabin opened up and four Bituks came out of it, Face opened fire at them and hit them through the sandbags and shields that they were taking cover behind. Friday arrived at the barricade and vaulted in:” that was us, don’t worry. We just took out an enemy light armor with their own artillery.”

Queen said:” well good job because you just attracted another four of them to your position. Two armored patrols are heading back to your pos right as we’re speaking.” Friday asked:” can you keep them tagged for us, we still have this mortar on our side to help us deal with them.”

  • We can, you have forty seconds to hit the first patrol. Set your bearings, zero grid on your pos, bearing one one four, fifteen hundred yards. We’ll be painting.

Face left the gun mount, turned away from the building and aimed her rifle back at the barn to cover for Friday while she was setting up the rounds. She fired two rounds, called:” rounds away.” and waited. They heard the explosion in the distance few seconds later. Queen said:” good effect. Second one still pressing hard. Keep it at them.” Friday fired two more rounds and a little later Queen added:” hard hit, good job Sunburn. Second patrol is breaking off. One of them is leaving the main road. Get the leading vector first, bearing zero two seven, set for one thousand yards. Fire when ready.” Friday changed the direction of the tube and fired two more rounds. Queen said:” good effect, good effect. I can see it burning even through this thick as hell fog. Talk to me junior, where is the last one.” and a little later she added:” it must be staying in negative slope against us. Set up for a cluster barrage, three hundred yards between zero four five and zero six zero.” Friday confirmed as she was setting up the direction on the tube. Face helped her with uploading the target to the rounds and as Friday finished realigning the tube she started passing the rounds to her. Friday fired all four of them and then they waited for the explosion, it happened in two stages and then Queen said:” wait one Sword… still nothing… no shit. NG, NG, Set up for your parameter wall, same direction. They are trying to ram their way through.” Friday touched her goggle and grabbed the tube by her OID arm, the impact point started to highlight on her goggles, she pulled the tube higher and fired all the remaining rounds that she received from Face one after another at the tagged spot inside the parameter wall. Last APC smashed through the wall and came through. Mortar rounds started to land all around it and two of them hit it before it can turn away and open fire at them, APC moved on while burning and smashed on a truck on the back of the last cabin. But before the dust settles down infantry troops arrived following it through the hole and spread across the yard.

Face got back behind the turret and Friday handled her rifle to return fire at them. Face killed three of them and another four who managed to get to the cover of sandbags in front of the cabin. Friday shot two of them at the hole in the wall and shot a grenade at the hole. Few of them got hit from distance by Queen and Garlic. One wounded Bituk got back up to keep running and Friday shot him down two more times and he also fell. Face stopped shooting and called:” clear.” Friday kept looking with her rifle ready:” Kestrel.” Queen answered:” so far so good. don’t feel comfortable yet, we saw biomass troop transports just on the other side of the ridgeline.” Friday put another grenade in her launcher and closed it:” she’s right. Let’s get to that cabin and get this over with.”

They ran to the door of the cabin, Friday grabbed the door and looked at Face, she nodded, Friday pulled the door open and Face walked in. they checked both sides of the empty room and saw communication consoles all around it. There were four biomass containers left near the door on the floor and one of them was already empty, its biomass was spread over two of the consoles and some more devices that were left around. Girls looked at each other and started working with the consoles. Friday said:” they’ve been bouncing all over spectrum. Let me see their last com logs… there it is. Damn, this isn’t static. Someone is still using this channel.” Face said:” here, this is their coding.” Friday received the file and used it with her OID and touched her radio:” general Sukasi. Come in please. Do you read?”

A Bituk voice answered:” who is this?” Friday looked back at Face with satisfaction:” allies general. This is task force Medusa. From TSF, we are here to extract you out of the hot zone. What’s your twenty?”

Sukasi remained silent for some time and then answered:” there are only five three fingers left with me. The entire division is gone, those of them that Examiner could repurpose are now converted. We are the only ones left.”

  • Send us your coordinates sir, we have teams waiting on the hard deck to come and pick you up.
  • Coming right up… what is your extraction plan Medusa?
  • We have a Kerl divine on holding pattern sir, our options are plenty. Don’t worry about it.
  • Be advised Medusa, we had a couple of portable SAM units with us. Last time they were taking orders from me I put them in a village, at the mouth of the valley, sought of the town. Anything flying in and out of this AO has to use that corridor. You may want to consider that in your extraction plan.
  • Roger that sir. I will patch you through with our closest team. Medusa Sword out.

She changed her radio channel and said:” Hunter, Sword. New intel coming up. VIP location and possible additional threats.” Heels answered:” good job Sword. That SAM position is right in front of us, one klick out. I will send Werewolf across the river to the town after HVT and move Kestrel to a new VP to cover our pass through the Farm. Move up and secure their left flank. Stand by for further tasking.” Friday answered:” copy that boss. On it. Sword is Oscar mike.” Moved her arm and Face nodded, they stepped back, shot rest of their magazines at the consoles and ran out of the cabin. Friday tossed in an incendiary grenade and they ran out of the camp through the gate APC had smashed open.

***

Romeo arrived out from between the boulders and saw the first row of burnt vehicles left on the road. There was noise of a heavy gunfight coming from just down the hill. She followed the road and it ended at a small square with a large fountain in the middle of it and a statue of a dragon standing on top of it. Just as Romeo saw the statue something blasted its side and it fell down over the road that was going around it then Romeo saw two biomass Bituks standing behind a wall and few more running down into the square where the gunfight was going on. She looked over her shoulder at Pinky and pointed at one of them. They walked up to them from behind and shot them both up close. Romeo dragged her Bituk that was fallen over the wall and took his place. There were more Bituks down in the square exchanging fire with a building at the far end. Romeo tagged eight on the left and five on the right, touched her radio and asked:” General Sukasi. This is Medusa. We are approaching at your pos from enemy’s rear flank. Seize fire on our approach.” General asked:” that voice… is that you Rom?” Romeo looked at Pinky and answered:” do you know me that well sir?”

  • Of course I do damn it. I’m Pumpkin.

Pinky whispered:” holly shit.” Romeo bit her lip and added:” life works in mysterious ways, isn’t it? Anyway, stay put sir. We are coming for you.” pointed at Pinky and said:” you flank right, I’ll go left.” pointed at Prince and added:” watch, here.” Prince barked and took position right behind the wall. Pinky and Romeo went down the stairs and parted ways around the square. Romeo shot one of the Bituks that was taking cover behind a car and fired a grenade between another four further ahead, rest of them that were stacking up against the building door returned fire at her and forced her to take cover. Pinky went straight toward the first Bituk that was taking cover behind the fountain and shot it in the back three times, took its place and shot another one further ahead. The other two that were taking cover behind the fallen statue turned back and started shooting. Pinky took cover and tossed a grenade out at them, got back up and ran toward that cover after the explosion. One of them was wounded but still trying to stand back up. Pinky finished him off with another two rounds and took over their position. There was another Bituk left next to one of the windows of the building and it was popping shots inside. Pinky shot that one too and then shot one of the three that were stacking up at the door, took cover and called:” reloading.” When she got back up last one of them also fell on the floor as Romeo was closing in on the door from the other side. She called:” Werewolf here, we are clear outside. Coming up at the doorway.” Pinky wanted to vault over the statue remains but stopped and asked:” what’s that noise? An iron horse?” Romeo also stopped and looked up at the rainy sky:” not one of ours… back up, back up, take cover.” they ran back and away from the building as a Kerl iron hours came out from the clouds and opened fire at them. They both jumped into the fountain and received enemy’s EMP burst. Everything got shut down. They got back up to return fire and saw the iron horse was dropping Lau troops down in the gap between them and the building. Pinky dodged back down and dragged Romeo into cover as well:” watch it. We have no shielding.” Romeo cursed while reloading her rifle, placed it over the cover to shoot blindly. Pinky also tossed out another grenade and then saw her OID turning on and booting back up quickly:” power is back.” Romeo also reloaded again, gave the order to her OID and said:” I saw one on the roof with an LMG. Tags coming up.” as Prince started working again they saw three more tags on their goggles. They both stood up and started shooting. Romeo hit the one on the rooftop and Pinky shot two of the Laus in front of them. The third one got hit by Romeo. They vaulted over their cover and went toward the building. Doorway was blasted open. Pinky went in first and saw Bituk commandos fallen dead around the room and the next door being slammed, kept sweeping the room and called:” next room.” Romeo stepped up, went toward the door and rammed it open with her weight, dropped herself on the floor and aimed forward. Pinky quickly came in after her and saw the last Lau in the line getting shot by Romeo:” they are taking him away. Come on.” helped Romeo up by pulling back of her armor as she was moving on and ran to the next doorway.

When they arrived into the next street it was already empty. Pinky pointed at the end of the street:” there they are.” And they ran after them, they passed through another alley and vaulted over two cars that were crashed on each other at its end. Romeo said:” damn they are fast.” They heard the iron horse closing in again and she looked up:” around the block.” They ran to the end of that alley and got around the building but the iron horse was already taking off. Just as they arrived around the corner they saw a flea market in front of them and the iron horse disappearing into the low clouds. Pinky saw four more Laus coming out of the market, kneeled down behind a counter and shot two of them. Romeo just ran ahead into the market. Around a counter she came out close to a Lau, slapped his rifle away with her own, knocked him down and shot him four times with her pistol, dived behind another counter and took cover against the last Lau. It started shooting at her cover with his machinegun. Romeo rolled over the floor to stay out of the machinegun sweep, landed at the end of the counter face to face with the Lau and aimed at him but Prince arrived and jumped on him, tore his neck open and kept him down. Romeo got back up and looked at rest of the empty market. Pinky also arrived and asked:” we are losing him. This is not good.”

Rome touched her radio:” Hunter, Werewolf. We lost our rendezvous with the VIP. An Examiner Iron horse came down and snatch him right from under our nose. We need to stop it before it leaves the AO.” Heels answered:” don’t worry. Bellerophon has the aerospace under control. They saw it coming in but not going out. It has to stay on low altitude and the only way out of this valley is to pass right above us. We have a recon drone inbound in five mikes and we have to open a corridor for it. Stand by for intel update as it arrives.” Romeo said:” boss. It’s pumpkin.”

  • What?
  • The VIP… he’s our Pumpkin.

Heels signed:” wonderful… don’t worry. We won’t lose him. That’s not an option today. I will be back to you when I get your next lead. Hunter out.”

***

Blondie walked out of the building first and Sunshine followed her. Blondie arrived near the gate of the front yard and kneeled down behind the fence:” get down, get down.” Heels ran back into the building and Sunshine took cover behind a small cart, laid on the ground and cloaked up:” what is it?” then she also heard the rumble. Blondie answered:” a whole lot of tanks.” Two tanks passed in front of the gate and then two trucks and two more tanks following the convoy. Sunshine said:” those guys are going to the town.” Blondie said:” literally. Heels that convoy is heading north. Werewolf doesn’t sand a chance against that much armor.”

Heels checked her map on her OID and touched her radio:” Sword, Hunter.” Friday answered:” go for Sword.”

  • There is a ton of armor heading north for the city. There is only one crossing in twenty miles radius that can hold up against that much weight and you are the closest element to it. Cut it off before they cross. That armor should not reach Werewolf’s AO.
  • What? There was no interdiction on our briefing file. How should I destroy a bridge with my equipment?
  • You have Face with you. Figure it out. And be quick, those tanks can cover fifty to sixty klicks over an hour.
  • Okay, alright, damn it, we’re on it. Sword out.

Heels moved her arm and her team started moving. She followed them out of the yard and into the road that was passing through the village. Garlic said:” Drone is inbound your pos, passing on.” Blondie received the drone control on her OID and put it over the main road:” what do we have here? That’s our first target at the end of the road, and a full division of converted Bituks filling the gap. Kestrel do you have eyes on?”

Queen answered:” we do but only junior can reach that far.”

  • Good enough. Anything four meters off the deck and above is yours.
  • Copy that.

Blondie tagged three Bituks on the roof for them and while Queen was ranging and Garlic was shooting them one by one she said:” there will be a lot of friction boss. How do you want this one?”

Heels checked her weapon and said:” if we shake it up here hard enough we may even be able to bring some of that armor back. Go loud, shock and awe their asses and vanish before they can put it back together.” Queen said:” clear on the rooftops. Standing by.”

Heels called:” move out.” she crossed the road and took cover behind another cabin further ahead. There was a truck left on the road. Blondie and Sunshine used it to cover their move toward the enemy. Sunshine pointed left to a yard and a small barn in the center of it, moved right herself and kneeled down behind the rear bumper of the truck. Blondie leaned around the wall of the yard and saw another Bituk’s silhouette coming along the barn. Sunshine said:” they have an auto turret inside that bus.” Heels asked:” Blondie?” she peeked on her drone feed and answered:” I can see a path to flank it, let’s role.”

Heels fired the first round on a Bituk and called:” engage, engage, engage.” Bituks started running around across the open road and Sunshine was cutting them down with long bursts. One of them made it to the other side of the road and Heels took him out as he landed behind his cover against sunshine. Turret opened fire at them. Sunshine dodged back and took cover against it. Blondie only waited long enough to see the Bituk on her sight, moved out and shot him, went around the barn and kept going, cleared around the corner of its end and saw another Bituk taking cover at the exit gate, shot him in the back and took cover in its place, charged an EMP grenade and threw it at the bus that was parked near a fueling station. Turret stopped shooting. Blondie stepped out of the gate to have visual on the road and kept shooting that way.

Sunshine ran ahead and found another cover. Dropped herself on the ground and started shooting. Four more Bituks appeared inside a building in front of her:” Blondie, watch your right.” and opened fire at them. At the same time Heels arrived behind the boss, saw two of their silhouettes fading inside the building and shot the third one. Fourth one returned fire at her. Heels dodged back and pointed at Sunshine to keep on shooting, then used that suppression time to run the distance to the building, dived in through the empty window, rolled over, landed back on her knees and shot the last Bituk in the back. Sunshine reloaded:” not out of the woods yet.” Finished her reloading and got back up to follow Blondie, arrived next to her and tapped on her shoulder, they kept going on that side of the road. She looked right and saw Heels coming out of the building on their right. Something hit Blondie and she turned her face away from the road:” shit.” Sunshine aimed at a balcony to their right and saw a Lau getting hit. Queen said:” sorry, he just popped out into open.” Blondie stood back up:” even the Examiner troops shoot for the medic first.” Peeked on her OID and called:” contact front.” They both took cover behind a utility vehicle that was left on the road and started shooting the Bituks and Laus that were coming out of the buildings in front of them.

Heels also ran to a further position, checked inside the gap between two cabins and took cover there to engage the enemy troops. One was shooting long bursts blindly at Sunshine and Blondie from inside a yard. She shot him and then another one that was running to join him. Then something started shooting long bursts with much louder noise. Blondie took cover behind the vehicle and looked at her drone:” they have a Bituk MG gunner. Kestrel.” Relentless fire also forced Sunshine into cover. Heels looked out and saw the gunner stumbling as the bullet hit it in the back but nothing else happened. Queen said:” Turkeys have fixed that week point though.” But Garlic added:” doesn’t matter. Keep him facing your way boss.” Heels stepped out of her cover and shot a long burst at it. Gunner turned around toward her and opened fire. Another bullet hit it. It stopped shooting and Heels shot it another burst. Blondie and Sunshine got back to the fight. Heels received another burst, gunner took another hit and Heels shot it again. Third round finally sparked on the gunner suit and it started whistling. Heels leaned back out and shot another Bituk then saw the heavy gunner exploding. She stepped aside and a part of its armor fell on the ground after passing next to her. Heels reloaded and moved her arm. Blondie and Sunshine also walked out and kept moving with her while shooting at the remaining few Bituks on the roadblock.

Blondie peeked at her drone feed again and said:” four more guarding the SAM. One on the MG.” Sunshine saw a two stories cabin to her left:” keep them busy.” And ran into the building, rammed the door open with her shoulder and checked the first floor, ran up the stairs and swept the second floor, last door in the corridor was opening into a room. She could hear the gunfight outside, ran to the window and saw all four of the Bituks around the SAM vehicle, aimed her machinegun at them and shot them all down then called:” clear.”

Heels looked around the vehicle and said:” get down here and finish it up sapper.” Queen said:” Hunter, you have biomass dropship inbound your pos, south side.” Sunshine tossed the bag of charges out of the window for them and said:” I’ll stop them. Take care of this and come for help.” ran back out of the cabin and toward the turret they had neutralized on their way in, got inside the bus and started working with the turret, booted it back up and synced it with her OID, went to the other end of the bus, placed her machinegun on the window frame and waited for the dropship. A round biomass dropship came down through the clouds and moved along the road to drop its troops. Sunshine tagged it. Turret and Sunshine started shooting at it. Dropship absorbed the damage for long enough to fully deploy its troops, but then fell over four of them and got incinerated. Eight more Bituks came out of its other two drops and started running around and shooting. Sunshine shot two of them on the right and turret took three more to the left. One ran into the building and two made it to the fueling station. Sunshine kept shooting at the station until it exploded, saw enemy silhouettes fading and turned her attention toward the last Bituk. Gun was pinning him down on the second floor. She engaged her millimeter radar and saw him behind cover, increased her weapon output and shot him dead through the wall with a short burst. Another explosion happened behind them and Heels and Blondie also arrived at the bus. Blondie asked:” didn’t you leave anything for us?”

Sunshine looked back at her and answered:” you have the drone already, find me some extra ammo.” Heels came in and put two small ammo boxes on the floor in front of her:” ask the right person pure blood. Fill your pockets and tighten up on us. There’s still one more SAM left to deal with.” and walked out after Blondie. Sunshine saw them running toward a building behind the burning fueling station, set the turret on scanning mode and started filling her magazines with the ammo belts.

***

Sunshine crawled under the wire fence while Heels was holding it up for her. She got back on her feet and said:” alright, I’m game.” Heels asked:” what do we have here Blondie?” Blondie was watching her drone feed while she was flying it around:” that’s the SAM, between two buildings one hundred yards from us. And there are three Bituks on guard duty, one on the balcony. Negative visual on our approach, first building to the right… there’s one more Bituk coming around the corner.” she tagged the sniper and said:” Kestrel, stand by.” Queen answered:” standing by.”

  • What’s the game plan on this one boss?

Heels said:” cloak up and crawl ahead, we will pop right up their asses.” they all did as she said. Team crawled ahead on the narrow road and moved on toward the Bituks that were searching the area after already being tipped off by the gunfight that just had happened near them on the other SAM site. Heels said:” they are searching the place one guard at each sector… got to be an over watch somewhere around here.” Blondie turned her camera around and said:” yea, there it is.” Moved her drone toward the enemy drone and said:” we’re gonna lose our over watch for a couple of minutes.”

  • Make it happen cheap shot.

Blondie answered:” copy that.” flew her drone over the enemy drone and used it to shut the enemy drone down with an EMP burst and said:” send it Kestrel.” A bullet arrived and hit the sniper on the balcony, other girls also shot three of the Bituks and Sunshine shot the fourth one. Heels got back up on her feet first and pointed at the building to the right:” Blondie, push right.” and moved on with Sunshine along the road, fifth Bituk came around the corner and she hit him.

Blondie ran upstairs and found the sniper Bituk dead on the balcony outside, heard the machinegun fire from the outside and heard long bursts from the roadside, ran outside and saw Sunshine exchanging fire with another Bituk on a balcony in front of her, picked up Bituk’s rifle and shot the enemy. Heels said:” good job, come along and break through the wall, we’ll cut through the building to flank left.” Blondie answered:” you got it.” and jumped down from the balcony.

Heels and Sunshine arrived behind the cabin door. Blondie called over radio:” charge is set.” Heels said:” hit it.” they heard the explosion and she kicked the door open. Sunshine went in, shot the Bituk that was right in front of the door and moved on. Heels saw a doorway to their left and turned toward that room, walked in and checked her right side. A Bituk ran up the stairs at the end of the room and she shot him:” Sunshine, over here.” Blondie called over radio:” targets coming up.” they saw two more Bituks on the ground floor outside and behind the wall and three more after them on a balcony. One more Silhouette appeared on their goggles that was running to go ahead but he got hit by Blondie, fell down and turned white. Heels arrived behind the stairs and Sunshine arrived behind her. Heels handled a grenade and said:” smoke me.” Tossed the grenade into the yard and received the smoke grenade from Sunshine, tossed that too and after the explosion that killed the two enemies in the yard, walked up the stairs and said:” get out there and suppress them.” Sunshine dropped herself out into the smoke screen and shot the two of the Bituks that were taking cover on the balcony with her millimeter radar locking on them. Heels arrived at the end of the stairs and shot the last Bituk from that vantage point:” Clear.” Sunshine stood back up:” back yard clear.” Blondie said:” front door clear.” and Heels asked:” Kestrel?”

Queen answered:” no tangos on sight. get it done already. How long we have to stick in this little shitty village?” Sunshine moved on and placed her charges on the SAM vehicle. Heels came back down when she was done. They ran back out to the road and blew up the vehicle. Heels touched her radio:” Bellerophon, Hunter. Corridor is open for Hawkeye.” At the same time Friday came online:” Hunter, Sword, do you read?” with a troubled voice. Heels stopped and asked:” talk to me Sword.”

  • We have a problem here, one of the tanks made it through.

***

Face and Friday were sitting on two sides of a hedge back to back when they received Heels’ order. Face asked:” how do we suppose to destroy a seventy tons capable bridge with nothing?” Friday was watching her OID:” getting there in time seems like a more challenging objective. There is no way we can beat those tanks to that bridge… unless… get up. I have an idea.” and started running. Face quickly ran after her and asked:” it’s raining like crazy.”

  • It’s a good thing.
  • How could it be a good thing?
  • It floods the river up and high.
  • What?
  • If we take the river, it can take us there much faster than on foot.
  • Are you sure there’s no any other better ways?
  • Can we call in a little bird to get us there?
  • No.
  • So my way is the best possible way. Boss mode is active. When I say jump you will only have rights to ask one question.
  • How far?
  • As far as you can… keep your rucksack under you… and your legs ahead of you… don’t fight the current… and keep away from the sides… until we are under the bridge.
  • Can I run faster instead?
  • No.
  • Ok.
  • That’s the river.

They ran faster as they got closer to the ledge and Friday jumped first:” cannonball.” Face also jumped after her, straightened her body and entered the yellow surging water. Water dragged her around a little before she could get back to the surface, and when she did she barely had enough time to take in a breath, went under and came back up, looked around and saw herself facing the wrong direction, turned around and saw a rock coming right up toward her, pushed herself out of the way with her leg and went under again, came back up and fell over a small waterfall, undertow dragged her under and she lost some air bubbling out of her mouth before she manages to come back up, coughed and went under and came back up to take another breath, passed under a fallen tree trunk and got back her orientation:” Friday.”

Friday answered from somewhere she couldn’t see behind her:” keep going… rough ride is already behind us.” Face figured that water is speeding up, went under and sapped a little water, came back up and spit it out, fell over another small waterfall, a rock hit her butt hard from beneath and she cursed before dipping under the surface again, came back up and water started tossing her left and right over the rocks underneath her. Friday called:” push left, Sift on the right.” Face saw the large tree that was fallen down into the river, stock between two boulders and gathering all sort of junks between its branches. Face swam out of the way and barely missed the obstacle. Her rucksack rolled her over and she went under, managed to get back up and forced herself away from a rock, but current turned her body and hit her head on another rock. Another sap of water got her senses back straight and she stuck her head out of the water. There were more boulders ahead of her as the river was arriving under the bridge. She bumped over another rock and went back under, grabbed on a rock and lost her grip. Face quickly clawed on to another rock and pulled herself over it, she was close to the shore, moved her hand to reach out for another grip but water washed her off the rock, then Friday grabbed her and dragged her out. They both laid back on the side of the river while panting with rain pouring down over them. Friday laughed:” fun ride.” Face said:” let’s not do that again… ever.”

Friday got back up and asked:” you’re in charge now. What to do with this beast?” and pointed at the bridge that was crossing over their head. Face looked up at the bridge and answered:” it’s a metal arch bridge. If we cut off even one of the arches it loses its integrity. Weight of the tanks can do rest.” put down her rucksack and looked at her stuff that was bundled all around it:” what do you have?”

Friday answered:” one thermite, one claymore, and three HEMP rifle grenades.” Face said:” good, I have four thermites and two breaching charges. Give them up, all of them.” Friday passed her ammunitions to Face and asked:” you wanna go alone?” Face nodded:” rope.” Friday gave her the rope and Face threw it over her shoulder:” watch my back.” and ran to the rocky wall to find a way up to the bridge.

Friday handled her rifle and looked up. Rain was not heavy at the moment but it was falling right down into her face, she put on her protection goggles and whipped it clean, engaged her millimeter radar and aimed at the side of the bridge. Face finally got to the bridge and started going between the metal beams and placing her charges. In the middle of it she called:” bridge is shaking.” Friday looked at her watch:” got to be the convoy. Finish up, we have to take cover.” soon they both could hear the roar of the engines then soon the convoy arrived at the bridge and stopped. Face released her rope and rippled down with it. Friday tossed her weapon for her and they both ran away and took cover behind the boulders. First tank started moving and came over the bridge. Face waited for few seconds as tank was pacing along slowly and then touched her OID:” fire in the hole.” charges exploded and parts of the bridge fell off from it. Tank stopped for a second and then started to move again. Almost halfway through, it stopped again as the bridge was cracking and screaming under its weight. Friday said:” this is so not working.” Aimed her rifle up and fired a long burst into the air. Tank suddenly roared and took off, it reached the far end of the bridge but its additional taking off strain on the structure caused another part of the bridge to come loose and fall off. Second tank also came over and dashed ahead along the bridge but this time bridge cracked under its weight, end of it snapped and dropped down for a feet and then most of it just tipped over with the tank over it and fell into the ravine below. Girls took cover behind their boulders and tanks crashed in the river with a very loud bang and the bridge followed it closely, causing a tower of water to splash up into the air. Face said:” yes… it worked.” Rest of the convoy remained there for just few seconds then they turned around and kept going along the river downstream. The tank that had managed to pass the ravine also started moving again and left for the city. Friday touched her radio and said:” Hunter, Sword, do you read?” Heels answered:” talk to me Sword.”

  • We have a problem here, one of the tanks made it through.

Heels took some time before answering then said:” what is your ammo count?”

  • Low on ammo and we have just used anything that could blow up.
  • We have a recon drone over the town. Coordinate with Werewolf and move on to assist them. If you could catch with the tank try to slow it down. I will coordinate with Bellerophon to send you a resupply pod. Hunter has to go around and stop rest of that convoy before they pass the next river crossing. Kestrel.

Queen came online:” where do you need us boss?”

  • There’s a supply depot between your pos and the town. See what you can find in there to use against that tank. Then shake hand with Sword and provide them with assistance if they need it.
  • Copy that. On it.
  • You have your orders people. We need to stay ahead of this game. Move it.

Friday looked at Face and said:” can you climb that chimney back up again?” Face picked up her rucksack and answered:” can’t see any alternative plans here.” Friday tapped on her back and said:” your lead JFC.”

***

Romeo looked into the next room and saw two dead Bituks in there, walked out and went ahead to check them both:” three fingers.” Pinky asked:” tag them for later?”

  • Nothing else we can do for them now. Do it.

Romeo answered and moved to the other end of the room, crawled out through a crack under the wall and waited for Pinky and Prince to arrive as well then the team kept going. On top of a stairway Romeo stopped and held up her fist, touched her radio and answered:” send it boss.” Heels said:” Drone is arriving over your sector Werewolf. Establish your uplink and proceed on target. There is a Bituk church in the center of the town. Bellerophon reported that they are moving our VIP to it as we are speaking. Sword is also enroute to join you for extraction. Be advised, we have one, enemy anvil heading for your pos. Kestrel is trying to solve that problem but you better hit them hard and fast and get out of there before it arrives.” Romeo answered:” copy that Hunter. We will do what we can. Werewolf out.” pointed at a small device on the back of her helmet and Pinky also started working with her OID at the same time. They walked down the stairs and Pinky added:” uplink is on.” Romeo saw the drone feed from high altitude as it was slowly flying around the church, zoomed the picture and saw biomass covered Bituks running around and taking position while the iron horse was landing in the front yard and the team of Laus dragged Pumpkin out of it. Iron horse flew away, Romeo zoomed back out and looked at the building. a tower like structure on top of a small hill with three wards and long sheets of metal surrounding it in five rings like a series of monuments with pictures engraved over them:” What kind of a Bituk church is that?” Pinky looked at the picture and answered:” church of steel. Though building to breach, damn it.”

  • It’s just two blocks from us. Let’s go.

They moved on through the ruined buildings and crossed a narrow street, then few more buildings and finally they arrived at a balcony that had a view over the church. The street in front of them was blocked by a truck and seven Bituks were guarding the roadblock. Another Truck came and entered the street, passed next to the roadblock and kept going toward the church. Pinky looked at it with her scope and said:” biomass canisters. A lot of them.” looked back at Romeo and added:” I don’t think we have much time.” Romeo touched her radio:” Sword. Werewolf.” Friday answered while panting:” go on… Werewolf.”

  • How long before you can join us?
  • ASAP… not a second sooner… that tank… is still running ahead of us… I wouldn’t waste a single second… if I were you.
  • Copy that… we are going in.
  • Good luck.

Romeo checked her weapon and said:” we have to go.” Pinky also did the same but said:” just two and a K nine against that many troops, long odds to beat.” Romeo opened the door on the stairway and said:” keep your head low and say your prayers. We should get to Pumpkin before they are done interrogating him.” they moved down and went to the doorway, cloaked and walked out into the street. Romeo checked her drone feed again and pointed to her left, Pinky touched her shoulder and they walked around the corner. The truck was there closing the street with two Bituks sitting in its back space, one in the driver seat and two on its far side and they were patrolling and coming back toward girls. Romeo walked up to an alley and turned into it. Two Bituks were also patrolling that alley and walking away from them. Pinky arrived next to her and they followed the Bituks, when they got close enough they shot them both in the head from behind and dragged them around the corner, put them over each other out of sight and kept going. Alley turned right again and led back to the main street.

At that point street was going uphill. Romeo kept going while keeping an eye on the silhouettes over the rooftops on her goggle when suddenly a Lau popped out in front of them right at the end of the alley. Romeo stopped and raised her fist. Pinky and Prince both were standing completely still right behind her. Lau was not looking in their direction and he just kept walking in the direction he was going already. Romeo kept her aim on him until he left and then she also started walking again. Street turned around the hill and kept going up. They passed through a ring of steel plates that were standing tall over the hillside with figures of Bituks killing monsters with their spears and blades carved into them. Romeo stopped behind one of them and looked up at the church’s front yard gate just behind the next ring. A Lau soldier was standing over the wall and watching, while two other Laus were walking down the road. Romeo hand signaled for Pinky to stay low. Laus kept walking and passed their position without noticing them laid down and cloaked by the road side in the running water and their sniper also followed them along the wall as they were proceeding with their patrol. Romeo got back up and walked up to the gate, looked inside to make sure drone is not missing any targets and moved her fist up and down. Pinky took her place and she ran ahead into the first building near the gate. Her cloak failed by her fast movement but she kept going regardless of it. It was a long low ceiling barn shape building. When Romeo entered the place a warm breeze welcomed her out of the cold rainy weather outside. She found the place a half dark forge with some of its kilns still blazing and machines still working in it. She pointed at Prince to cover end of the forge and got back to the door, checked the outside and hand signaled for Pinky to come by.

Pinky also ran the distance and got herself under the roof. Romeo turned around and kept walking between the machines. Pinky saw a Bituk at the end of the forge and tagged him. Romeo pointed at him and said:” Prince, fetch.” Prince took off, ran between the machinery and jumped over the Bituk, tore his throat open and dragged him back to the place where the girls were hiding. Romeo left the body with Pinky and moved on. Pinky scanned the body and recorded the signal that was coming from it, uploaded the signal to the drone and waited until it scanned the church building, added a tag to the building and Pinky also joined Romeo at the exit door:” we have a ping.” Romeo looked out at the last two inner rings of steel glyphs and last guards that were patrolling between them:” five… only five. Let’s see if we can slip through this one as well.” Walked out with Pinky closely following her and went along the wall to her right. They went around the last ring of glyphs, there was a stairway leading to the church entry and one guard was standing right in front of it. Romeo pointed at Pinky to go ahead toward the side wall of the stairway and tagged the guard for Prince. Pinky put her hands on the wall. Romeo kneeled down behind her and hugged her waist. Prince ran ahead, jumped over their backs and got himself over the wall, leaped over the guard and tore his throat apart, then dragged the body inside the church. Pinky turned around and helped Romeo up, she looked at the yard and turned around, bent over the edge and pulled Pinky up then they both ran into the church.

The entry ward was empty with two rows of seats on both sides placed on a slope and an altar at the end of it. Behind the altar there were three statues holding a spiked mace, a large sword and a scythe. Pinky pointed right and they went into a corridor. Romeo pointed at Prince to stay and watch the main door. Down a short stairway there was a corridor with cabinets full of damaged flesh placed in stasis state and all sorts of metal weapons hanging between them. Girls walked to the end of it and turned left. Pinky pointed at the door and went on to take her position, placed a sensor on the door and drew her pistol. In a single ping they saw six Bituks in the room walking around and working with stuff but one was sitting on a chair. Romeo tagged three for Pinky and three for herself, grabbed a flashbang from her belt and tossed it for Pinky. Pinky unpinned it and nodded. Romeo opened the door and Pinky rolled in the cooked flashbang. A series of flashes and EMP bursts happened, Romeo walked in, shot the one in front of the door and kept turning right. Pinky came through and shot the two that were standing at the end of the room and working with biomass canisters, grabbed the chair and dropped the Bituk down, covered him with her body and aimed at the counter at the end of the room. Another Bituk came over to shoot but Pinky shot him three times and he fell.

Pinky waited another second before looking away then looked down at Bituk general and asked:” are you ok? Can you stand?” Bituk looked at both of them and answered:” of course guys. Just like last time, in the last moment, I missed you so much.” Romeo came around with an extra weapon:” that was Blondie saving you last time.” Sukasi took the rifle and saw Romeo still holding her hand toward her, looked at her and she said:” nice to see you again Pumpkin.” Bituk shook hand with her. Romeo tapped on his shoulder, handled her rifle with a happy smile and went toward the door:” Hunter, Werewolf… we have the VIP secured. All good and we are walking out momentarily.”

***

Queen brought down her binocular and said:” alright, they are out of our reach now. Pack up, we have a job left to do.” Received the drone control over her OID and crawled back into the burnt building out from under the piece of ceiling that was fallen down, sat up and checked her rifle:” we are moving out to sierra delta Hunter. Good luck with the rest of it.” Garlic also came out of the sniper nest and said:” we’ve been shooting form this nest for too long. Be careful before walking out.” Queen nodded and went to the stairway. Part of the building was blasted open right at the landing and a bomb crater was dug in the ground. Queen stopped and checked her drone feed but then something disrupted the feed and then the signal was lost. Queen stepped back, looked up and saw their drone falling with another small drone falling with it. She quickly got back to the cover of the wall and said:” alright… we have somebody on our tail.”

But Garlic was just standing there, she sat down on one of the stairs, leaned her rifle on her shoulder and started putting new rounds into one of her empty magazines:” don’t worry. With all these ruins around us there is a lot of cover to slip through if they are sending any patrol after us.” Queen looked back at her:” if?”

  • Yea, if there are snipers looking for us, they can use that cover against us as well.
  • Spell the beans junior. We have a tank left to kill.

Garlic stood up and placed the magazine in her rifle:” I need to reconsider my last request from you sister. We need to go section over this… like bad shit crazy section eight.” Closed the bolt on her rifle and stepped aside, smashed two of the wooden stairs and pulled them out of the way:” this way.” jumped down into the ground floor and Queen also followed her.

They went around back of the building and Garlic kneeled down, cloaked and crawled out. The village was completely destroyed by artillery and there were blast holes all over the place and between the destroyed buildings. Garlic crossed the road and took cover inside a blast hole, crawled back up to the edge of it and tagged a building for Queen and said:” set your shield on tracking mode and run. As fast as you can.” Queen stepped back from the wall and then ran out of her cover, crossed the street and a bullet zapped right next to her just before she dives behind cover. Garlic’s OID beeped and she saw bullet’s trace on her goggle, aimed at it and saw the small cover over a broken roof. Garlic increased her weapon output and set the bullet to shaped charge, shot the wall one round, it blasted a hole into the stone, she saw body parts splashing out of that cover by the bullet hit and the rifle falling off the edge, reloaded and said:” cover for me.” Got up and ran for the building in front of Queen across the road on her side. Another bullet arrived and landed just in front of her in the dirt. She got behind a wall and said:” fifty fifty chance. Whoever gets him can crawl for the next hop.” Queen arrived at that corner and kneeled down. They both leaned out of their covers, a bullet came and hit the wall Queen was taking cover at, bounced off and landed on her shoulder pad, shield stopped the bullet but the force of its impact knocked Queen down on her back. Garlic shot at the same time.

Queen rolled over and got back behind cover but Garlic was still sitting out of her cover and aiming. Queen looked at her shoulder and rubbed the dented armor patch:” it’s gonna get bruised… damn it.” Garlic fired another round and moved the bolt back and forth, after a second opened the bolt slightly back and checked inside the chamber with her finger tip to see if the bullet is locked in correctly, then closed the blot again and said:” you had a second chance sister.” while keeping her eye on the scope. But Queen answered:” you are doing fine. Where the next one will be?” Garlic pointed behind them:” probably trying to find an angle on us on the hard deck. zigzag, two streets… go.” Got back up and ran after Queen. They went to the end of that street, turned right and ran ahead, turned left and then back right until at the corner of the last building Garlic stopped them, took the first position in the line, looked around at the buildings with her scope and then sat back into cover, took out a mine from one her pouches, gave it to Queen and said:” place it at the corner right on our trail. Their boss is somewhere out there pulling the strings but their junior will come by to CQ us eventually.” Queen took the mine and went back while Garlic was watching the other way:” how comes you are so sure about what they will do next?”

Garlic answered:” field manual is getting updated every six hours. A biomass trooper is only as good as the soldier it was before conversion. That last one back there missed me on a head on approach by two feet. Lethal mistake at our office. These guys are BMID sharpshooter section. Good shots, bad snipers, weak counter snipers. I used to train people to deal with their kind before Examiner invades our home city.” Queen answered:” that’s a relief.” finished up and looked back but Garlic was gone:” junior?”

Garlic was already inside a blast hole further in the open ground and watching a taller building in the distance:” don’t worry. I’m pushing forward.” there was a glare coming from the window on the third floor of the tower. Garlic said:” put some led on that window Queen. Be careful, it might be the actual guy.” Queen laid on the ground and fixed her elbows in the mud, cleaned her wet scope lens with her thumb and aimed at the tower:” the upper one.”

  • The upper one.

Queen let go of her breath and fired one round. A round came out from the same window and hit right above Queen’s head on the wall. Garlic shot and reloaded. After few moments a bullet came and landed next to Garlic. Queen started shooting round after round. Garlic changed her power output and fired another round, reloaded and waited. Queen ran out of bullets, ejected the magazine to reload her rifle then the mine went off behind her, rolled over and drew her pistol but the Bituk sniper was already cut in half and fallen dead on the ground:” Garlic.” Garlic was still aiming at the window, opened the bolt and moved her OID over the open chamber, closed it and fired that round. This time the round exploded with a flash inside the window and Garlic peeked on her OID. Data was forming a holographic scan of the room and she saw the sniper dead with a hole blasted into its back:” is our drone responding?”

Queen checked the signal and answered:” five on five.” And sent it toward the open field in front of them. Garlic got back up on her feet and said:” six hundred yards of running through plowed mud… supply depot sounds like a winner.” Queen also arrived and passed next to her. Garlic shouldered her rifle, handled her submachinegun and followed her into the farm field. Mud was sticking to their boots like glue and making running so hard. Queen once fell but Garlic arrived and helped her back up. They passed across a stream and then another field and finally arrived at the walls of the farmhouse they were shooting at. Garlic arrived first, kneeled down by the slightly open doorway and checked the drone feed. Queen also arrived:” drone can’t see everything.” Passed a rubber ball to her and said:” be quick, two patrols are already inbound.” Garlic threw the ball inside and it added another target on a balcony in front of them to the two that were already tagged by the drone. Garlic tossed in a smoke grenade and walked in, ran to the first cover and shot the Bituk on the balcony.

Queen moved left and stepped out of the smoke screen, shot both of the two between the tower and the first barn, took cover behind a bunch of boxes and called:” contact front.” A vehicle smashed through the rear gate of the farm house and stopped, four Bituks jumped out of it and spread around. Queen hit one of them before he could reach behind cover. Garlic shot another one from her cover and Queen shot one more. Last one ran into the tower and took cover inside. Queen handled her sniper rifle and put it in maximum power, aimed at the wall and fired two times, the Bituk fell out of his cover dead. Garlic called:” contact left.”

A truck arrived around the tower building and Bituks got out of it. Queen turned her rifle that way and kept shooting:” push right and flank them.” Garlic ran toward the vehicle and then into the tower building. A Bituk came through the other doorway and she shot him, reloaded and kept walking. Queen called over radio:” it’s getting tense here.” Garlic arrived at the doorway and looked out. Six Bituks were standing in a line against Queen and shooting at her burst after burst. She aimed her weapon at them and fired her entire magazine. One Bituk survived the attack and it got hit through his cover by Queen. Garlic reloaded and stepped out:” move up.” Queen also arrived and placed her rifle on the same cover they’ve just cleared. Garlic checked with her and went around back of the truck, checked rest of the yard thoroughly and called:” clear.” Queen checked her drone feed and added:” clear… let’s gear up and hit the road, that vehicle look like drivable, I will bring the missiles.” And ran back to the first building.

***

Romeo stopped and received Prince at the turn of the corridor, picked up a shield emitter from the bag it was carrying and passed it back to Sukasi then they moved out into the altar chamber. But just as they stepped into the open something hit the building hard and multiple times, parts of the ceiling fell down and they saw the iron horse stopping over the building. Romeo called:” take cover.” they all took cover behind the stone altar and iron horse fired its side guns all over the place destroyed one of the statues and the one on their left fell down and closed their way. Pinky looked over their cover and called:” it’s dropping troops.” Biomass drops fell all over the hall and Grey troops came out of it. Pinky dodged back down:” Greys. Eight of them.” Romeo said:” keep them busy.” And ran to their right side row of seats with Prince. Pinky came over again and fired a couple of bursts but received more enemy fire than her shield could stand.

Romeo arrived at the seats and a Grey came around the corner. Prince attacked him and Romeo kept going to get the second one right behind him. She slapped the rifle away from her direction, hit the Grey in the face with her rifle grip and then shot him a three round burst, took cover against the enemy and shot another one of them across the hall. Iron horse fired another time over the altar and destroyed the third statue. It fell over the altar and broke in half. Romeo called:” Pinky, hop.” Pinky reloaded and tapped over Sukasi’s shoulder:” go… on my mark.” He stepped back to the end of the altar and when Pinky moved back up to shoot at the enemy he ran across the distance, arrived behind Romeo and took position behind her, waved hand for Pinky and she also came while Romeo was shooting into the hall around the corner.

Pinky also arrived and Romeo dodged back against enemy fire:” that iron horse is pissing me off.” reloaded and leaned back to shoot again then she saw the iron horse getting hit twice by rockets. Its shielding absorbed the explosion but two more rockets hit it and the last one made it through to its armor. Iron horse turned around and started leaving. Romeo said:” that’s our chance. Single file.” Grabbed back of the Prince’s harness and walked out with Sukasi coming right behind her and Pinky following just like that and their guns ready. Greys shot at them but their shielding held up long enough for them to kill that last three on their walk out of the building. At the doorway Romeo looked out and saw a sniper on a rooftop but just as she aimed at him he got hit, Romeo leaned out and saw two blue tags over another rooftop:” Sword?”

Friday answered:” you’re welcome. We have to go. That tank is pressing hard to catch up and that will be our later problem. All the Bio Bituks in the entire sector are pouring in to get back their General.” Romeo checked her drone and said:” our over watch is shot to shit. Keep coming along and stay on the high ground. We push west back to the Werewolf insertion point.”

  • You got it.

Sukasi stepped out of the line but Romeo stopped him, pointed at him and said:” No. you will stay back General. You are the mission today and we didn’t come this far to just get you killed on the point position. Pinky, you know the drill.” Pinky tapped over his shoulder and said:” you can play with me General. Let’s make up for the lost time.” Romeo stepped out and started running to the church wall with Prince. When she arrived at that cover Pinky and Sukasi also ran ahead.

Friday saw them arriving at the second ring of standing glyphs and said:” ok, let’s go.” She and Face ran ahead and jumped down on a lower rooftop. Romeo tagged two more targets for them on a rooftop across the road. Friday kneeled down and shot one:” Keep moving.” and shot the second one that was aiming to shoot its rocket. Rocket got shot downward and blasted through the building that he was standing on. Face jumped across an alley and grabbed on to a window, climbed in and ran up to the roof, saw another sniper on a rooftop further than them and shot him, Friday arrived behind her and said:” we are sticking.” Face tagged a vehicle and climbed up through the hole in the roof:” no we are not. You’re making too much fuzz.”

Friday also climbed up:” there’s a tank…” Face shot another target:” it’s not our first one, is it?” and kept going.

Romeo arrived behind the cover of a car and two rockets landed in the street in front of her. One of them hit the front of the car and moved it toward her. Romeo fell back but quickly got back up:” I thought we have the high ground over here.” Friday answered:” we have, but the terrain is not consistent. Your help will be appreciated.” Romeo saw her tagged targets falling dead, grinned and ran out toward the next cover, a Grey ran across the street, Romeo tagged it for Prince and kept going. a Lau appeared behind a window and fired a rifle grenade at her. Romeo put her shield against it and burst it outward. Grenade exploded up ward, Romeo aimed back and shot him, ran to the next burnt car and aimed over its hood. A vehicle arrived through an alley and its mounted gun opened fire at her. Romeo tagged it and took cover:” Sword.” Pinky and Sukasi also arrived behind that cover. Romeo looked over again and saw two more Bituks getting off from the vehicle. A Rocket hit the vehicle and Friday called:” keep pushing.” Romeo leaned out next to the front bumper and shot one of the Bituks that was still in her sight:” hop.” Pinky ran ahead and Sukasi followed her. Pinky arrived behind a fallen building part and leaned on it. There were a lot of Bituks around a truck that was closing the road. Pinky pointed at Sukasi to start shooting and came over her cover to join him in the fight:” Rom. Push right and flank them.”

Romeo ran out of her cover into the alley that Pinky was tagging for her. A rocket passed over her head and one hit a wreckage a little further than her. A third rocket hit Pinky’s cover and knocked her down by blasting a large part of it. Romeo turned around and aimed that way just as she arrived into the alley but saw Pinky already on her feet and running for another cover. Romeo turned back and went into the alley. Face said:” they are too damn many.” Romeo went around the building and came out in the flank of the Examiner troops, shot a grenade between them and fired her entire magazine. She was keeping the Prince in front of her to provide extra shielding. Just as she ran out of bullets she saw only three more targets left, drew her pistol and sent Prince toward the closest one before shooting the other one. Third one got hit from the other side and fell dead. Friday said:” keep moving. Not out of the woods yet.”

Pinky arrived behind the truck and waited for Sukasi to arrive then moved around the front bumper with her rifle ready. They saw Romeo waiting for them. She saw them passing and started reloading. Friday said:” another truck.” Pinky saw it arriving and closing their path, kneeled down and started shooting. four Bituks jumped off its back and spread around. Pinky hit one of them and Sukasi hit another one. Romeo came behind another cover but Face and Friday already had killed the rest of them. Romeo walked ahead and Prince caught up with her. She cleared around the last truck and waved her arm:” tighten up guys, Sword, get down here. We got to go through this building. It has good cover.” Pinky and Sukasi also arrived and kneeled down with her to cover other angles.

Face and Friday arrived in few seconds and joined the other team. Romeo called over radio:” Hunter, Werewolf. We are trying to break contact with enemy pursuit units and our eye in the sky is shot down. There is also a tank breathing on our neck. What’s the ETA on our extraction?”

Heels answered:” make that three tanks. Hunter will stop two of them and Kestrel is already enroute to assist you with the closer one. The aerospace over us is being contested and Bellerophon is trying to take it back ASAP. We will have air support in five to ten mikes but we have to survive the interval to receive that assistance. Keep moving and avoid unnecessary face offs. You will be noticed when extraction is viable.”

Romeo let go of her breath:” she is kissing this one triple X large.” touched her radio and said:” copy all Hunter. Wilco, Werewolf out.” Prince went to a shutter door and started barking and trying to dig under the door. Romeo grabbed him from behind and called:” back off, back away from the door.” Pinky took position next to the door and pushed Sukasi behind her. Face laid down on the ground and Friday took cover behind the truck next to her. Romeo finally managed to pull Prince in place and then the door exploded outward. A four man team of Grey troops came out and Romeo let go of Prince. Prince tackled down the first one of them and others shot the rest just as they spread out. But then Face alarmed:” Grey boss.” A large Grey stepped out of the hole and easily absorbed the girls fire that was landing on his shield. Pinky stepped up and hit him in the back of his head, Grey hit the ground and she stumped over his head. Grey tried to move again and Pinky put two more bullets in his back and one in his head. Romeo was aiming into the room behind the blasted shutter door:” clear inside, get in there, get out of sight, I didn’t see that iron horse falling.” Others moved in and Romeo checked the street behind them for the last time before following them.

***

Heels said:” a drone is closing in. faster, we have to get to the water.” girls finally arrived at the short ledge that was hanging over a wide part of the river and all jumped into the shallow river. Heels said:” underwater, now.” They all hid under the murky water and waited for some seconds. Heels finally decided they have waited long enough and peeked out of the surface, tapped on her radio and Sunshine and Blondie also stood up. Heels pointed at the bridge ahead of them and the village at the far side of it:” quick we got to get to that VP before tanks arrive and cross the river. That air strike will need us painting the target for it.” they started walking up river against the water. River was much calmer than its upper parts but the flood was still pushing with a strong current against them. Sunshine said:” this damn rain is not going to stop.”

Heels answered:” it’s a good thing. It bugs down the equipment. Slows enemy units down.”

  • It also slows us down and reduces our visual range for the air strike.
  • We are on foot, we suffer less from the bad terrain. And less visual means our air support can come closer and hit more precisely. You’re the Sunshine and rainbow, see the bright side…

Sunshine tripped over a loose rock but found her balance before falling into water:” this is totally bullshit.” Blondie said:” what’s that noise?” they stopped for a second and listened. A lot of engines were roaring and coming toward them. Heels pointed at the bridge:” take cover under it.” they ran for the rest of the way to the bridge as fast as they could and got under it right before convoy arrives at the river side. Tanks arrived and stopped at the river side on both sides and let the trucks pass the bridge. Blondie said:” they pick up with our tactics really fast.”

Sunshine said:” so much for the element of surprise. We have to fight our way into the village and those tanks will come around and clip us from behind.”

Heels said:” we needed to buy that ten mikes anyway.” checked her map and said:” there is a hard building in the center of the village. If we get there before tanks arrive at it, we’ll have the upper hand.” Blondie looked out from under the bridge to see the tanks leaving and said:” this ten mikes is turning out to be very expensive, it may even cost us our lives.”

  • Do you rather to pay it with lives of the others at stake cheap shot?

Blondie looked back with a surprised face:” I didn’t say anything like that.”

  • Good, take point.

Blondie waved her head and walked out from under the bridge:” she is losing it for sure this time.” but Sunshine pushed her ahead while laughing:” the killing machine’s gonna do the deed.” And Blondie added:” until the river runs dry and my last breath leaves.”

They ran up on the sloped shore of the river and laid on the ground before reaching the top. Sunshine placed her machinegun down and said:” four bio Bituks on the road. Blondie said:” two to the right, behind that shack.” Heels also crawled up and tagged two more:” two more here. On the left. Counts right. Fire at will.”

They opened fire at hit all eight targets in few seconds from behind. Heels stood up:” March ahead. Eyes peeled and keep moving on.” they started walking between the farming machines and stacks of hay that were left over the field toward the first set of barns and buildings and the truck that was left there on the road. Blondie called:” contact front, second floor window.” she received a long burst from a machinegun fire on her way to the ditch on the side of the road but Sunshine just kneeled down and shot that Bituk. Heels saw one more coming out of the barn in front of her:” Ten o’clock.” and shot him before he can find Sunshine. Sunshine saw the next fire team coming around the corner with a heavy gunner suit in their company, dropped herself on the ground and called:” I’ll get the gunner, go ahead and clip them off.” then started shooting long bursts in quick successions. Heels ran ahead and saw three more Bituks taking cover behind the cabin on the right of the road, tagged them and started shooting:” Blondie… behind the shack.” Blondie went around the shack and tossed a grenade between them. Someone started shooting Heels from upper floor of the next cabin right above her. Heels took cover against fire. Blondie walked up and looked for the muzzle flash and then shot the Bituk through the wall.

Heavy gunner finally found Sunshine. She just rolled over under the truck and called:” reloading.” Heels charged an EMP grenade and tossed it over for the gunner, then came over her cover and shot another one of the Bituks that were escorting it. Blondie ran ahead, climbed over the back of the frozen gunner suit and placed a breaching charge on top of it, ran away and triggered the charge. Someone shot Blondie in the back but she just shook off the impact and slid into cover again:” I wish we had brought some friends.” Heels looked back and waved hand for Sunshine. She rolled out from the other side of the truck and ran into the barn, came out from its back side and ran ahead. There was a Bituk at the next door aiming toward the road and she shot him in the back, took its place and shot another one on the second floor of a cabin across the road.

Heels said:” One hundred yards left. Step it up.” they both got out of their covers and moved ahead while shooting. Sunshine was still shooting at the last three Bituks that were taking cover by their truck and when Heels passed by she also got back up and followed her. They walked along the road on both sides and then saw the Bituks of the third truck coming along with their heavy gunner suit that was following the fire team with few steps distance behind them. Sunshine kneeled down next to the truck and started shooting:” we are running out of options here.”

Something exploded behind them and Blondie called:” contact rear.” Heels looked back and saw two Bituks coming out of a hole that was blasted through a wall, shot the first one and Blondie knocked down the second one with her rifle buttstock before shooting him in the back of its head. Blondie looked into the hole and asked:” that your hard building boss?” Heels tapped on Sunshine’s shoulder and called:” your option just presented itself, hop back.” Sunshine gave her position to Heels and ran back to the hole. Blondie let her through and turned back to cover Heels, she also arrived and they went into the yard behind the wall. There was a burnt cabin in front of them, they ran to the cabin and jumped into a ditch through a hole in its floor. At the end of the ditch Heels arrived behind Sunshine while she was aiming at a biomass Lau that was searching the rubble, placed her palm over her shoulder and said:” shoot him.”

Sunshine shot the Lau and they ran out of the ditch, climbed into the brick building rubble and took position around it. Sunshine saw two more Bituks coming around their right side and opened fire at them while Blondie and Heels started shooting the Bituks on the left side of the building. just as the first gunfight was finished they heard the roar of the tanks and one of them smashed through a cabin and came over to the road, Heels grabbed back of Blondie’s armor and threw her into the building as the tank was turning its turret, and she also dived in before the first shot blasts away their cover. Sunshine got back up after the shockwave had knocked her off her feet and said:” alright, now we have those tanks pinned down.” Heels got back up and saw the tank moving on slowly along the building while the second one came out of the same building and turned right to cover the other side:” tighten up Sunshine, and keep that back door closed.” Tapped over Blondie’s shoulder and pointed at the right side building then looked at her watch before calling over radio:” Bellerophon, Hunter. Where is my air strike?”

Pegasus answered:” it has already been dispatched and will be arriving over your position in one mike.” Heels handled her gun and called:” one more mike people. Hold this line.” Sunshine shot the next two Bituks that were coming out of the burnt cabin behind them:” we are not going anywhere without that air strike. That’s a guarantee.”

Tanks were roaring back and forth and humming with their turrets turning and they were blasting the building away from around the girls shot after shot. Two Bituks climbed into the building and Blondie shot both of them:” at this rate we will run out of cover before running out of ammo.” Heels shot another one that was climbing to a second floor window across the road:” just keep it at them. We are doing fine.”

The heavy gunner opened its way through the burnt cabin and came out in front of Sunshine. Sunshine tossed her EMP grenade at him and kept shooting it until it fell down and the gunner stopped moving:” last belt.” Heels shot two more Bituks, a bullet ricocheted over the wall and hit her in the arm. She sat back up and shot that Bituk that was already climbing up into the building. Another round hit the building and another part of it came down. Sunshine ran through the dust and joined them in their close circle:” how long this one mike is going to last?” Blondie saw the tank stopping and aiming its cannon right at them:” incoming.” They dropped themselves on the ground and hugged each other, tank shot a round that passed right through two walls and a pillar and blasted into shrapnel in the center of the room. Heels looked up and saw the entire place covered in holes on the walls and the ceiling:” head count.” Sunshine said:” alive.” And Blondie rolled over her back:” and well.”

Pegasus said:” air strike inbound in thirty seconds. Cloud ceiling is too thick and close to the hard deck. We need your targeting information Hunter.” Heels got back up, gave her rifle to Sunshine and pointed at Blondie to cover the other side, tossed one rubber ball out of the building toward one of the tanks and gave the order to her OID:” Hunter is requesting disruptive CAS fire mission on these targets. Position of the blue force is uploading over combat internet.” Pegasus said:” five seconds.” they heard the streak of the fighter coming down over their position and took cover back on the floor by each other. Two huge explosions happened on their both sides and what was left of the building came down over them.

When the noise died out Blondie opened her eyes and found herself stuck under a large piece of ceiling that was bridging over her body. Pegasus asked:” Hunter, come in… status Hunter.” Blondie asked:” guys?” Sunshine came over the rubble that was fallen over her:” hey.” and she heard Heels that answered:” Bellerophon, Hunter… good effect on target. Hunter is A OK and moving out for extraction.”

  • Hold your position Hunter. We have total control over the sector in the moment. Your extraction is enroute. ETA three mikes.
  • Copy all Bellerophon. Wilco, Hunter out.

Heels answered and came over to Help Sunshine and remove the fallen rubble from over Blondie. Blondie also pushed and then crawled out from under the stone before Heels and Sunshine let it fall back down. They both helped her up. She looked at her equipment and saw her gun’s upper receiver dented badly:” I don’t think that’s going to polish out. Garlic will be angry.” Sunshine said:” see the bright side, at least the rain has finally stopped.” Blondie looked around and nodded:” yea, all it needed was some adrenaline thought.” And moved her fingers across her mouth like a zipper.” Heels waved her and walked away with a smile. Sunshine also laughed and passed her a Bituk rifle, tapped on her shoulder before companying her out and they started climbing down the rubble out of the building.

***

Romeo stopped at the exit door and looked at the flea market outside:” Bellerophon, Werewolf. We are precious cargo secured and in close pursuit by enemy units. Tagging an improvised LZ. Requesting pick up on spot ASAP.” Pegasus answered:” that’s a negative Werewolf. We can’t guarantee a safe lift off, until at least another five mikes. Hunter orders, no action to endanger the VIP.”

  • There is a tank sniffing us out on the ground and an iron horse prowling the sky over us, and there is also every damn bio trooper that Examiner has all over this sector already collapsing on our position, trying to get a piece of our VIP. We are low on ammo and soon will be running out of buildings to hop around between. Give me a lift, out of this shithole now.
  • Five mikes it is Werewolf. Solid directive form Medusa actual pre mission launch. Try to buy some time. We can assign a fighter to your sector. Use it in your advantage and make it long enough. We will have the air dominance in the matter of minutes but not a second before that. Bellerophon out.

Friday asked:” since when Kerl are concerned with their casualty rates?” Romeo punched the wall and cursed:” such a complete asshole of a bug.” Pinky asked:” what did he say?”

  • He rubbed actual’s orders into my face.
  • He didn’t.
  • He just did.
  • Asshole.
  • Face.

Face looked back from the window on the other side of the room:” what to do?”

  • Any of those recon grenades left?
  • A couple.
  • Stack them up, we got to get out and get our bearings. That flea market is open enough to see them coming for us, or to see whatever they are going to throw at us.

Friday asked:” it’s also very exposed.”

  • We have CAS on our call. We need space to drop it on them. I need to see the enemy from some distance. Check your gears team, we are moving out.

Everybody did as she said and checked in one by one. Romeo added:” VIP in the middle, diamond formation.” She and Friday opened the door both ways and walked out. Face covered the other way to the left and Pinky followed Sukasi out closely, back into the rain. They arrived at the middle of the flea market and kneeled down in a circle. Romeo called:” Face…” Face handled her grenade launcher, rotated its magazine and aimed it upward:” first eye out.” fired the grenade and Romeo soon saw the incoming feed starting to build a map on her OID with some yellow tags on it that were moving toward them:” that’s too damn many. Pinky, nexus with the fighter and assign targets for it. Don’t overuse it. It’s still limited CAS and it has to last us four more mikes.” Pinky started working with her OID:” on it.”

Romeo kept watching the feed:” they’ve found us. They will be on top of us in thirty seconds.” pointed in a direction and everybody started to see the indicators with the distance decreasing over them. Then something added over the feed. Romeo saw the danger indicator and alarmed:” incoming.” Team members fell back together and artillery landed all over the place. Romeo peeked on her OID again and said:” second salvo. Shields up.” they all put their shields upward and second salvo exploded in the air and rained down shrapnel all over the place. Prince barked and Romeo sat back up to see the enemy indicators arriving into the open square, grabbed a piece of hot shrapnel that was fallen into her collar and tossed it away:” contact front… line up.” girls got back up and tried to form a line against the incoming enemy wave, behind the little cover that they had left after the artillery attack.

A utility vehicle and a pickup truck came in through an alley right in front of them, both had mounted machineguns and started shooting at girls’ position while a lot of Bituks were running along with them through the buildings. There was also a truck that arrived behind them and loaded off even more Bituks. Sukasi growled:” every single one of my soldiers.” Romeo called:” Pinky.”

Pinky pushed Sukasi behind a pillar and started working with her OID:” on it… already on it.” fighter passed over their head through the low clouds and fired its gun into the first row of the buildings. Romeo called:” Sword. Blast the MGs. Friday on me.” Face handled her grenade launcher and rotated its magazine again. Romeo and Friday peeked over their covers and shot the utility vehicle with their grenade launchers. Face also came back up and shot the pickup truck with two grenades, first one blew away the cabin and second one destroyed the machinegun on top. Face aimed up at a Balcony where a Bituk was running along it to find angle against Romeo and shot him and then turned her aim back at her sector and shot her last grenade through a doorway with two more Bituks behind it, swapped back to her rifle and kept shooting the targets.

Romeo called:” make every shot count.” There were two Bituks behind a cover in front of her and one more on top of a balcony. She tossed out a grenade at the two on the floor and when it blew up aimed out and shot the one upstairs, saw two more Bituks running toward Friday on both sides. Tagged both of them and sent Prince toward the closer one:” Friday, cover left.”

Prince that was staying as low as he could the entire time suddenly barked loudly and took off for the closer Bituk, tackled him down and tore his neck up then ran back to Romeo. Friday saw him running back and turned around. Bituk came around the pillar she was taking cover behind it with his gun ready, she poked his gun away with her own, grabbed front of his rifle and dragged him around, shot him twice in the chest by her pistol and let him fall, shot him two more times by his own weapon and then turned back toward the enemy to use that gun against them. Face shot another one that was coming right for Friday. Bituk fell on the floor but managed to throw his grenade over Friday’s cover. Friday picked up the grenade and tossed it back:” alright, alright, I’m giving it back to you.” aimed the rifle at a Bituk over a balcony and shot him. Bituk also shot his rocket, it passed over their head and landed on something behind them.

Pinky was covering Sukasi against the explosion, she got back up and let him get off the floor as well, shot a couple of Bituks and got back behind her cover:” Face the over watch is gone.” Face found time between her frequent pop shots to fire another surveillance camera upward:” last one, ninety seconds.” Pinky received the information and saw two more patrols closing at their position, tagged the closer one and they heard the fighter passing and bombing that area in the distance. She tapped on back of Sukasi and said:” General. Watch my six.”

  • The enemy is that way.
  • So is my cover and my entire team, cover my six.

Sukasi turned back from the fight, laid down on the floor and aimed his rifle at the rear flank of the team. Pinky quickly tagged the second patrol and fighter hit them as well, Pinky received the information and handled her rifle again:” fighter is needed over Hunter. Now it’s just us people.”

Friday asked:” any good news?” Pinky shot another Bituk and answered:” the Iron horse is shot down five kilcks to the north. It won’t be bothering us anymore.” Friday leaned around her cover and shot another Bituk:” now that sounds like a winner.” Aimed over the cover and hit another one then a flashbang fell near her and shutdown all her devices while it also whiteout her vision by its blinding flash. All she could here was a whistle and gunshots then she heard Romeo:” the rifleman, to the left.” and Face said:” no you don’t.” voices got more clear and then she found her sight back again, looked over her cover and saw three more Bituks in her sight:” Face, push left, we need to clear that building.” reloaded an started shooting. Face ran across the street, vaulted through a window and shot the first Bituk inside. There were two others inside the next building still exchanging fire with Friday. Face cooked a grenade and tossed it into the building through the window. It killed both of them and then they heard Romeo shooting the last round. After that it was total silence. It suddenly turned so calm that all they could here was rain pouring all around them and it was sounding very intimidatingly harmless. Friday asked:” now what is this? Calm after the storm or before the next one?” Pinky said:” more like the calm in the center of it.”

Romeo called:” fall back. Let’s not stick around to figure that out. We have the sky and our ride is coming in. Pinky, pop flairs.” Team got together and they heard the shuttle coming down over their position. Just as it appeared through the clouds and slowed down a tank smashed through line of buildings at the far end of square and shut the shuttle. it got blasted on one side and got smashed into a building. Romeo called the team:” back off, take cover, watch for secondaries.” But Face saw them first:” Grey troopers, two o’clock.”  she jumped into cover and started shooting, killed three of them before they can form a line and then Romeo called:” Face, the tank.” Face ran away and tank shot the place she was hiding in. Friday shot two more of them and received a bullet right at her helmet, it knocked her back on the ground but she got back up as quickly as she could:” I thought we had the sky.”

Sukasi said:” those tanks can’t be seen from above. Fighters need ground assistance to hit them.” shot a Grey and got hit in the shoulder. Pinky saw him falling:” VIP is hit, VIP is hit.” Romeo asked:” status.” Pinky turned away from the fight and started checking on him. Sukasi growled:” I’m fine.” Pinky got him back up and put him against the low cover that they had:” stay low general. You are putting a bad record on my resume.” Touched her radio and said:” fine, he is fine. Just a scratch.”

Tank shot a salvo of smoke grenades over the entire area. Romeo called:” back away… back away from them.” Friday also got back up to leave but suddenly came face to face with a Grey, pushed him back into a kiosk and they broke through the half burnt wall of it. Friday drew her knife and stabbed him many time in the stomach, chest and neck until it stopped struggling, got back up and ran away as she heard the tank crawling forward over the flea market kiosks toward them. Pinky was shooting through the smoke with her millimeter radar. At the next sweep she saw the tank stopping, she alarmed:” hit the dirt…” and dropped herself on the floor. Tank turned its turret and fired a long burst with its coaxial machinegun all over the area. Romeo called:” it can see us…” Pinky got back on her feet and ran to the tank. Came out around a kiosk and shot the Grey standing next to it. tank moved back and turned its turret toward her but she reached the tank and climbed over its turret, stock a small breaching charge over the commander’s periscope aperture, shot two more of the Greys that were guarding the tank through the smoke form up top, hoped to the other side and placed another charge on the gunner’s aperture. Jumped off the tank and ran away, tank found her and aimed but she triggered the charges and vaulted into another cover. Tank didn’t shoot. She looked over and saw the commander coming out of the hatch to see the outside. Romeo shot him and called:” good job too tall, fall back to us now…” she saw the team getting out of the smoke and Sukasi with them. Team gathered around them and Face reloaded:” my last one.” Friday said:” I’m out.” Pinky arrived and passed one magazine to her. Romeo heard the tank crushing its way toward them and saw it coming with its remaining Grey troopers closely following it, touched her radio:” Bellerophon, Werewolf… we are…” then a powerful EMP burst shut all their equipment off. Romeo saw Prince freezing up:” damn it. Diamond formation, back to that building.”

Team put Sukasi in the middle and walked back toward the building while Romeo and Friday were shooting back toward the Greys in the smoke screen. Face saw the Greys inside the building first:” stop, stop… tangos inside the building.” Friday kneeled down:” no shit.” Tank came out of the smoke screen and aimed its cannon at the team then something hit it in the back and a second missile hit it on top of its turret right after that. Two more missiles came down from the sky and hit the building. Romeo said:” hold, shoot what you can kill.” they held their ground and shot the last few Greys that were left around them with their last bullets and then it was silence again. Friday opened her mouth but Romeo said:” shut up Friday… you’ve done enough for one day.” Friday mumbled:” I was just going to say, I missed Blondie so much.”

Their radio started working again and they heard Queen’s voice:” Werewolf. Kestrel. Do you read?” Romeo answered:” just in time Kestrel. That help was just in time. Our long range coms are fried away. What’s the update?”

  • We have this sector secured. But anywhere else on this planet is Examiner territory now.
  • A total EVAC will be in order then. Are we going to stick around for it?
  • Not here on the hard deck. Sit tight. Your ride is coming to pick you up. Don’t worry about this one. We got your back, safe travel home.
  • Right back at you sister. See you on the other side. Werewolf out.

She answered and looked back at her team. Pinky waved her head while dressing Sukasi’s wound:” and another planet is completely lost to the enemy.” Others looked at each other without talking. Romeo also turned away and went to check on Prince that was booting back up.

***

 


© Copyright 2019 Sohrab Warlike Roozbahani. All rights reserved.

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