OPERATION SEVERED FALL
Sorain exhaled slowly, gently squeezing the trigger of her rifle. Within her sights was a new aliens, one that looked like an insect. It was deep blue, practically black, with an uncomfortable number of legs and scythe-like arms that hung in front of it. She had spotted 2 of them patrolling along the highway but they had paused near a fire, giving ample time for a shot. The rest of the squad had hidden nearby behind overturned cars and piles of debris, with Mendiola squatting comically behind a van, waiting for her to take the first shot.
There was the click of the trigger, the recoil in her shoulder following the crack of the rifle, and the creature’s head disappeared in a haze of green blood. She quickly worked the bolt on her rifle as the other creature reacted, sprinting with surprising speed down the ramp. The rest of the soldiers initiated the ambush, different types of automatic fire mixing together to create a strange cadence. She racked a new round in and brought her eye back to her scope, watching the alien deftly avoid incoming fire as it ran directly towards Medusa, who was crouched next to Hudson behind a car. Sorain fired again, but too hastily, watching in despair as the round went high.
“God dammit!” she shouted, working the bolt again as the alien moved closer to Medusa. She brought her eye back to her scope just in time to watch it pounce the last five feet, landing on Medusa in a spray of red blood. Both of them tumbled backwards, a flurry of body parts, before they came to a sudden stop with the alien standing over Medusa. The creature looked like it was eating before Hudson fired a quick blast from his shotgun, sending it sprawling.
“Medusa is down!” screamed Hudson into the radio, and Thakilla quickly replied, “No names on the god damn radio!” But it was too late, Hudson was repeating it over and over as he knelt over Medusa’s body. Thakilla jogged over to Medusa’s body while Sorain mutely watched the scene play out. Thakilla bent down next to Hudson, doing a quick exam, but Sorain could see there was no way to survive the wounds. Most of his upper body was covered in his own blood with several chunks of flesh missing. Thakilla tried to console Hudson when Mendiola called out over the radio, “Hey, Chariot 1, I’ve got movement up ahead on the highway. Can you see anything?”
Tearing her attention away from the Medusa’s body, she looked further down the highway and spied something floating amongst the smoke hanging over the highway. There was a green flash of plasma fire, quickly followed by another and Sorain called out, “Um, yea, multiple Floaters, looks like-”
“He’s alive! Medusa’s alive!” interrupted Hudson, and Sorain glanced back down at Medusa. Both Hudson and Thakilla were crouched over Medusa’s body, who seemed to be faintly stirring. Sorain watched, feeling amazement that the lieutenant was alive, when Medusa’s arm suddenly lashed out, pushing Thakilla away. Hudson was still trying to help Medusa up when he flipped around, clawing at Hudson. He struck Hudson several times in the face, bloodying it, when Medusa got the dominant position and started to viciously assault Hudson. Thakilla raised his rifle and fired several bursts into Medusa, the rounds passing through and striking Hudson underneath. Medusa went limp on top of Hudson, though Sorain could see neither body was moving.
Sorain was captivated by the scene on the ground as Thakilla slowly backed away from the two dead men, watching a growing pool of blood expand outward. Thakilla was staring at the 2 dead men while Sorain stared at all 3, when Mendiola broke the spell by shouting, “Floaters inbound!”
There was the ripping sound of a minigun burst, and one of the Floaters dropped out of the sky. Sorain watched Thakilla take cover behind a nearby concrete barrier as she brought her rifle up, trying to focus in on the approaching Floaters. She fired her rifle and drilled a hole through its armor, dropping it as well.
“Chariot 1 reloading,” said Sorain, feeding more rounds into her rifle. She watched the Floaters fire down on Thakilla, shredding his cover and splashing him with plasma, but he was able to return fire. Mendiola followed it up with another burst from his minigun, shredding the Floater, and the final alien dived behind an overturned semi.
“Christ, I’m hit, I’m hit. Body armor is worthless,” said Thakilla over the radio.
Sorain watched the semi intently, hearing another scream drift towards her followed by a volley of plasma fire. As the scream died out, the highway became completely silent. As the time passed, Sorain’s pulse started to come down and she got her breathing under control.
“Chariot 14, are you alright?” asked Sorain.
In a ragged voice, Thakilla responded, “I’m alright, I’m alright.”
Suddenly, the Floater flew out from behind the semi, and all 3 soldiers opened fire simultaneously. The round hits the Floater at once, killing its propulsion as it arched slowly through the air. It hit the asphalt and rolled, coming to a stop in front of Mendiola.
Sorain quickly scanned the highway, looking for any more signs of movement, but detected none. As the seconds turned into minutes and nothing along the highway moved, a civilian poked his head out from behind a car. She watched him look around, and seeing no immediate threat, started to run towards the soldiers. Another civilian showed her head, and 2 more did the same, and all started to run towards the soldiers. As they sprinted past Mendiola, they threw strange looks towards his suit but passed without remark. He received even more looks as he approach the body of the nearby Floater and brought his mechanical leg back, kicking the body over the bridge railing.
“I think that’s it then,” said Mendiola over the radio.
Sorain placed her rifle down and glanced towards the 2 dead soldiers, feeling her stomach knot itself up. “Yea.”