OPERATION SILENT PYRE
Sorain Ravenshaw’s eyes darted from tree to tree, desperately trying to detect movement. She brought her head down to the scope of her rifle, fiddling witb the focus and wondering where the hell the aliens had gone. As she enjoyed a gentle breeze she spied movement out of the corner of her eye, but when she oriented her rifle she just saw branches swaying in the wind.
“Dammit,” muttered Ravenshaw, scanning the forest with her naked eye. The squad had fanned out, seeking cover amongst the fallen logs, being careful not to get too close to the UFO. Her eyes quickly slid over Mendiola’s massive new frame, feeling a slight sense of revulsion at the way the exoskeleton fitted over his augmented body. Suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, a writhing mass of tentacles appeared directly behind Achus and she shouted, “CONTACT!”
Ravenshaw fired first and saw the round slam into the squid-like body of the alien, sending sparks and metals fragments flying. Medusa fired next, the LMG’s burst shredding the limbs and riddling it with holes, and it fell from the sky. Before the thing could even touch the ground, the second robot came out of concealment, facing towards Achus with a glowing point of plasma growing in front of it. In response, Mendiola raised his minigun and fired a torrent of rounds, decimating the front half of it. It fell to the forest floor with exposed wires and sparking circuitry, and Ravenshaw started to work the bolt on her rifle when a trio of Sectoids emerged from the foliage. The rest of the squad ducked from a volley of plasma as Mendiola turned to face the new threat, bringing his minigun back up and raking it across the Sectoids’ cover.
“3 Sectoids, north. They’re grouped together, could use a rocket,” said Mendiola over the radio.
“Roger that,” replied Medusa, already removing the rocket tube from his back. Mendiola’s exoskeleton had weathered the storm of plasma, and Medusa took quick aim with his launcher and fired. There was a scream as the rocket raced towards the aliens’ position before it detonated squarely in the middle, decimating a nearby tree and shooting a plume of dirt into the air. As the dust and smoke settled Ravenshaw could only see splinters and body parts.
Wasting no time, Mendiola pulled a new chain of ammunition from one of the ammo crates strapped to him, and Ravenshaw surveyed the impact site to make sure there was no remaining movement.
“Looks like you got them all,” Ravenshaw said into the radio, and Medusa gestured towards Achus. Sprinting out of cover, Achus rushed towards the Meld canister that had landed near the UFO. While he was stabilizing it, Medusa said, “Let’s get ready to breach the UFO. Chariot 1, watch the main entrance.”
Repositioning herself behind a nearby stump, she carefully aimed her rifle towards the only visible entrance of the UFO, gaining a narrow view of the inside. She could see a tall glowing structure inside, but not much else. As she settled into the new firing position and the rest of the squad started to gather next to the UFO hull, she caught a brief glimpse of movement from within the UFO. She steadied her breathing, hoping to catch another glimpse of it when 3 aliens suddenly burst out of the UFO, flying high above her position.
“3 contacts!” shouted Ravenshaw, getting the closest in her sights. At first, she was worried that it was another group of the invisible squid monsters, but immediately the differences were apparent- this new alien was a mesh of mechanical and biological properties, a short torso with long arms strapped to a propulsion device. The alien screamed at her through the scope and then she fired, the round piercing the alien’s metal plating. Something within the creature ignited and rocketed the alien off deep into the woods, and Ravenshaw started to work the bolt of her rifle when the rest of the squad stepped out and fired at the 2 remaining aliens. The combined automatic fire quickly killed both aliens, and they dropped to the ground one after another.
A sound came from inside the UFO, and Medusa glanced through and shouted, “Outsider inside!” and immediately threw himself next to the door while unhooking a grenade from his belt and lobbing it inside in one smooth motion. The out of sight Outsider fired a volley of plasma at Medusa, piercing the hull and splashing him with plasma. Medusa staggered backwards, and Mendiola charged through the entrance. A few seconds later, Ravenshaw heard the distinctive sound of a minigun firing. The burst sounded like it was cut short, and after a few moments of silence, Mendiola announced over the radio, “UFO clear, site clear.”
As soon as he announced the clear, Ravenshaw felt the tension immediately drain out of her. She took a deep breath and exhaled, watching Achus attend to Medusa’s wound. Ravenshaw pushed herself to her feet, slinging the sniper rifle over her back and approached the bodies of the strange, new aliens lying in the front of the craft. As Ravenshaw knelt down to examine the new aliens, she could see that the metallic additions ran deep into its skin and muscles, with torturous looking tissue stretched tight over mechanical joints. She heard the heavy footsteps of Mendiola’s exoskeleton and looked up, watching him approach her.
“See anything interesting, Ravenshaw?” asked Mendiola, and she looked down at the new aliens. “Yea, some sort of flying alien. Looks like a freak, mixing bio and mech-“
Ravenshaw cut herself, feeling blood rush to her cheeks. She kept her eyes focused down on the aliens, conscious of Mendiola looming over her. After a few uncomfortable moments, Mendiola asked, “What do you make of those other aliens? The squids.”
She shuddered and said, “Scary. Don’t want to imagine those tentacles grabbing me.”
Glancing past Mendiola’s bulk, he saw that Achus had finished treating Medusa, who pulled the big man to his feet. Medusa was bent over, still grasping his side, when Achus announced, “Alright guys, let’s get the salvage together before the science team arrives.”