After the Fall

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A war rages on a distant world. Each side fighting over less and less land. The population dreams of mystical golden age known as before the fall. An age when Earth sent out it's citizens to populate the galaxy. Most believe that people from Earth still watch them, waiting until the right time to invite them into the Human Empire. While most are happy to wait, the remnants of 3rd squad, decided that they don't want to wait anymore.

Submitted: June 18, 2019

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Submitted: June 18, 2019

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The ground shuddered again. Dust fell, covering the remaining members of 3rd squad.

There were six in total, all that was left of the platoon that left Haven in such high spirits.

The small shelter in which they hid was one of the few they had taken from the enemy in the last 30 days of constant fighting.

Each of the seven sat on the cold half frozen ground. They sat lost in their own thoughts. The bombardment would end, but the war that carried on, a global war that knew no end.

The shaking stopped.

Gunny was the first to speak, breaking the silence that now hung in the air. “We’re moving out” he sounded grim. He knew his orders would not be popular.

“We moving back to the FOB?” Lara asked.

“Forward” came the response.

“Bullshit” Lex muttered just loud enough that everyone heard.

“We’re the only ones out this far, we need to find first section.” Gunny said in way of explanation.

Angelo turned on Gunny breaking his normal cool tone “We’re fucked and we’re half a mile behind them, we all know their gone. What’s the fucking point?” He looked down at Iris who stayed sat on the floor, breathing weakly, bleeding from the wound in her chest. They had already applied most of remaining med kits. The post-fall bandages and medication barely slowed the bleeding. She needed pre-fall nanites.

“She might not make it” a softness returned to his voice.

“I’ll be fine.” Iris said weakly, reaching her hand out to Angelo’s, gripping it hard. Their thick clothing stopping them from feeling much.

“Orders are orders” came John’s deep voice. Not many argued with John and no one if they wanted to live insulted The Haven Alliance in front of him.

“First squads transponders show they’ve moved I think to the next trench. How far the next trench?” Gunny asked the room, ignoring the fraying tempers in the room.

“50 meters” Lara guessed. “We’ve still got some of the Anti-matter grenades, if we are really thinking about this.”

They had been given five anti-matter grenades at the start of the campaign. Showing the investment that the war council had in this flanking manoeuvre. Through the perma-frost and into the enemies’ weak rear in the green belt. That’s what they had said when the army group was given its first orders. After three weeks, the group had travelled 30 miles into unliveable frozen hell. At the end of this brilliant manoeuvre, they ran into an enemy force trying to do exactly the same thing. They had ground to a halt and even using the last of the pre-fall weapons they had, they couldn’t break through. All they had done was open a new front, one made worse by the constant -20 temperature and the near unbreakable ground.

“Well we’re fucked.” Lex spoke again.

“We go forward. For the Alliance” John bit back.

“Then I hope the watchers are pleased with us and protect us.” Lex spoke the small prayer as she stood.

John scoffed.

Lex punched him in the side of the head. It glanced harmlessly off his helmet.

Lara jumped between them before things escalated again.

“Enough of this shit, you two. I don’t give a fuck if you believe John” he took a step away. “Lex we have more than enough guys trying to kill us out there.” Lara pointed for effect to the tunnel entrance. “Plenty of them believe in The Watchers, plenty don’t, so save it for them.”

“Lara’s right you two.” Gunny followed up. Throwing the remaining anti-matter grenades to John. “We move out. We hit them hard we hit them fast. John, I want a big hole. Angelo stay with Iris. The rest of you, we move now.”

With that the group fell into place, they might have misgivings about the orders, but as John had said, an order is an order.

Moving into the sunlight. They stepped over the corpses of friends and foe alike and made ready to charge the next trench.

The next trench was as Lara had guessed about 50 meters away, between them was no man’s land, pocket marked with small craters. A testament to the hardness of the ground that even artillery shells could barely dent it.

John and Gunny took place, ready to be first over the trench top. Letting their harder military exo-suits soak up fire. While Lara and Lex were behind to protect their less protected modified civilian suits.

“READY” Gunny shouted. “GO”

John threw all the grenades, using his suits computer to calculate the trajectory.

Lara counted in her head

1…

2…

3…

4…

5…

BOOM

A light brighter than the sun filled the sky.

Gunny and John waisted no time and charged into the fireball, trusting in their suits to protect them.

6…

7…

8…

9…

10…

Lara jumped out of the trench; Lex was just a step behind her.

Lara could hear gun fire coming from the trench, over the sound of pounding blood in her ears.

They dived the last few steps, snapping their post-fall weapons up to cover each side of the trench.

Lara felt a tap on her shoulder telling her that Lex’s side was clear, Lara returned the gesture.

The dust was settling now. Lara looked around her, she saw the remains of at least five men around her, a full squad she guessed. They didn’t have a chance.

Looking ahead she could see Gunny and John behind some overturned crates, taking and returning fire.

Lara and Lexi ran over and took cover with them.

“What we got?” Lara shouted over the gun fire.

“Two hostiles, both in civ models…”

Gunny sprayed a burst over the crate.

“I’m sure I saw plasma fire” He finished, ejecting a clip from his gun, quickly replacing it with another.

“Your seeing shit old man, no way that was plasma. Haven’t been plasma weapons for years.” John replied.

John was right about that at least, Lara thought. But they were fucked if it was. Plasma weapons were a pre-fall weapon that cut straight through the military grade suits. Normally it took a barrage of projectile weapons to bring a military suit down. Fuck knows what it does to civ models. She shuddered at the thought.

“Lara, a bit of fucking help please.” Lex shouted, furiously tapping keys on a pre-fall mobile pad.

Lara, reached behind her and pulled her own pad out. Quickly she searched for stray wireless signals. The good thing about the lack of real military hardware was that civilian stuff was easy to hack. She rapidly found the signals of the two who were firing on their positions.

She saw that Lex had already started to send junk data to one, she selected the other. She started to overwhelm the suits systems with junk data, hoping to crash the OS.

“Yes!” Came a shout from Lex.

The incoming fire reduced by half.

A few seconds later the incoming fire stopped all together.

Lara slung the pad back round her back, its work was done.

Once again John and Gunny ran ahead.

Lara heard two gunshots and followed them down the twisting trench path.

There she saw the two defenders. Both had been trying to remove their helmets manually, as the junk data had caused the OS to think it was within blast range of a nuclear device. The suits had opaqued their helmets visors to protect the occupants from going blind. It was a common problem with the civilian suits when hit with too much data. All but the most inexperienced removed the program from their suits. Afterall if there was going to be a nuclear blast it wouldn’t be from a reactor malfunction like the suits were designed for.

“Poor fucking kids” Lara heard Lex say. “May The Watchers guide you back to Earth”

“Quit with that Watcher shite and help me secure the bunker, 1st sections signal is down here.” John shouted, he was stood just next to a hole dug into the perma-frost much like the one that they had just been in.

They stacked up on the door while Lex scanned for more wireless signals. She couldn’t find any, but that didn’t mean no one was down there. Only civilian suits gave out signals and even then, it was only the unmodified ones that did.

“No signal’s” Lex said after a short pause.

“We do this quick, if it’s like the other bunker’s, there should only be a couple of rooms, one off to the right one to the left. John you’re with Lara. Lex you’re with me.”

A heartbeat passed.

“Move out” Gunny ordered.

Lara stacked up behind John. Gunny was right the bunker was the same as the one as they were just trapped in. Only a few storage crates and a couple of bed’s lay scatted about the room.

John paused to turn on his helmet’s flashlights. Lara did the same. They moved into the room on the left while Gunny and Lex moved off to the right.

Both Lex and Lara kept well behind their partners, keeping themselves safe behind the bulk of military hardware.

John and Lara moved into the small room.

Nothing.

A shot and a shout sounded out, followed by rapid machine gun fire.

“Fuck” john shouted spinning round and sprinting to where Lex and Gunny were.

John ran into the right-hand room, not accounting for incoming fire. Diving onto the floor only after a blue plasma round grazed the front of his armour.

Lara used the outside wall as cover and while the shooter was trying to get another shot of John, fired a short burst into his exposed helmet.

The man snapped back, the expensive armour piercing rounds driving through even military grade glass.

“John sound off” Lara shouted keeping her weapon aimed at the motionless foe.

“I’m fine.” He sounded relived. “Lex, Gunny you ok?” worry crept into his voice.

“Gunny’s hit.” Came Lex’s voice from behind and upturned desk. “I… I think he’s gone”

With this John leapt up and wrenched the desk out of the way reviling Gunny laid out of the floor. Two large plasma scorches showed on his midriff.

John pulled a length or wire from his own suit and plugged it into Gunny’s, hoping in vain that the suit had sent him to a deep coma for preservation.

“FUCK!” John yelled. “He’s gone” he whispered, returning the cable to inside of his suit.

“Pull his tags” Lara said laying a hand on John’s shoulder.

“Lex?” Lara asked. Lex was staring at the dead hostile on the other side of the room.

“Lex!” Lara shouted getting her attention.

“What?” Lex snapped.

“Where is 1st sections signal?” Lex snapped her head to Lara.

“What?” she questioned.

“The signal, Lex, the faster we find it the faster we can get out of this shithole.”

Lex’s shoulders softened, she pulled her pad into her hands.

“There” she pointed at the dead enemy.

Lex made to move.

“I’ll get it” Lara replied. After all Lex needed a minute, Lara had lost people she cared about before, he parents, her commanding officers, her love. What was one more in all of that.

Lara kicked the still figure. He didn’t move.

She knelt picking up the man’s plasma weapon. It looked like a more advanced version of the pistol she carried as a sidearm. Even though hers was made 500 years later than the plasma one. She discarded her own sidearm and replaced it with his.

She quickly focused on looking for the transponder chip for 1st squad. She found them in one of the many compartments of the man’s suit. Pulling them out. She knew this had all been a trap. They were lucky that the anti-matter grenades landed where they did. They hadn’t expected that sort of fire power.

She crushed the transponders in her hand. Stopping their signal at last, ensuring they were listed as KIA. At least the families will get full benefits now she reflected sadly, that was the best she could do.

“We are getting the fuck out of here.” Lara announced to the room. “1st squad’s gone, we go get Angelo and Iris and we get back to the FOB.”

John and Lex nodded.

They understood. The last 30 days had achieved nothing but kill their whole platoon bar five.


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