OPERATION DEMON NIGHT
LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM
“SEEKER! SEEKER ON ACHUS!”
Hudson heard Ravenshaw’s voice from behind the building, and shouted to Mendiola, “Hold here!” as he left cover, returning to her position. Hudson heard the sound of plasma fire followed immediately by the ripping sound of a minigun firing when Mendiola called out over the radio, “1 Sectoid still up.”
As Hudson approached Ravenshaw’s position, he heard the popping sound of pistol fire and a muffled screaming sound. As he rounded the corner, he was greeted with the sight of a Seeker with its tentacles wrapped around Achus’s body, pressing itself against his mouth. From underneath, he was slapping his arms against the robotic creature, trying to remove it, though Hudson could see the strikes getting weaker and weaker. As Achus and the Seeker stumbled back and forth, a bewildered Ravenshaw shouted, “A little help!”
Hudson raised his shotgun towards the Seeker, trying to find a clean shot, when the Seeker presented a side profile. Hudson fired his shotgun, tearing through the Seeker’s armor and sending pieces of it all over Achus. The body immediately fell off of Achus’s head, falling to the front of him, though the tentacles remained wrapped him. He immediately gulped down a ragged breath while falling against the shack. Warily, Hudson approached Achus and asked, “Are you alright?”
Achus waved Hudson off, trying to stand up straight. He looked down at the robot hanging off of him, and ripped the tentacles off one by one before dropping it to the ground. He took a deep breath through his nose, visibly trying to focus, and exhaled. “I’m OK, I’m OK,” muttered Achus.
Achus opened his eyes and gave a weak grin and said in a harsh voice, “I’m OK.” Hudson nodded and was about to say something when another volley of plasma rang out, causing all 3 soldiers to jump.
“Sectoid is still alive, guys,” said Mendiola over the radio. Ravenshaw leaned out of cover, looking down the alley before saying, “It’s still behind the container.”
Achus nodded and said, “Ravenshaw and I will keep it pinned down here. Hudson, move through the shack, get the drop on it.”
“Roger that,” said Hudson, and Ravenshaw fired her pistol to cover Achus crossing the alley. Hudson kicked the nearby door open and ran into the shack, taking cover behind a desk. Through the windows in the alley, he saw Achus fire at the Sectoid from behind a stack of crates. Another volley of plasma was fired and he watched the bolts bore straight the wood, hitting the soldier hidden behind them. As the plasma splashed against the squad’s medic, black burns covered his face and throat and he limply slumped backwards.
“Chariot 2 is down!” called out Ravenshaw over the radio, and Hudson moved quickly through the shack. He slipped through the door and rushed towards the shipping container, creeping over to the corner of it. Taking a deep breath, Hudson leaned out of cover and saw the Sectoid standing a few feet from him. He fired, the force of the blast lifting the Sectoid off the ground and into the water below. Hudson got back into cover, loading a shell into his shotgun and looking down the alley. Ravenshaw ran across the gap, kneeling over Achus’s body. Several moments passed before Ravenshaw said, “He’s dead. Chariot 2 is dead.”
Hudson felt his stomach bottom out, knowing that there was no way he would have survived the volley. Ravenshaw got to her feet, still looking down at him, and said, “What do we do with the body?”
Before Hudson could respond, Mendiola said, “Look alive, we have more contacts incoming,” and Hudson looked out the other side of the shipping container, seeing 2 Floaters emerge from the docks. Mendiola raised his minigun, destroying one of the Floaters outright, and Hudson said, “Chariot 1, we need you up here!”
Realizing his shotgun wouldn’t be of much use at this range, Hudson drew his pistol and fired at the retreating Floater. It disappeared among the shipping equipment, just in time for Ravenshaw to take position behind a stack of crates. Hudson slipped out of cover, crouching behind a spool of heavy rope as Mendiola pushed the advance with the MEC suit. Using the bulk of the suit as cover, Hudson advanced slowly behind him when the Floater took to the skies and rained plasma down on them. Hudson dove for cover as Mendiola returned fire, which the Floater deftly dodged. Hudson brought his pistol up, aiming carefully, when there was the crack of a sniper rifle from behind. The Floater recoiled from the impact and fell to the ground, landing with a terrific crash. Hudson scanned for any more signs of movement, wiating for retaliation, but after several minutes had passed Ravenshaw called out, “We’re clear.”
“I think you’re right,” said Hudson. Still, none of the soldiers moved for another minute before he holstered his weapon and moved out from behind the shipping container, glancing around. Ravenshaw got to her feet, slinging her rifle over her back, when Hudson glanced past her and towards the roof of the shack.
“Oh, god dammit,” he muttered, looking at the now dull Meld canister. He had been told the Meld was unstable naturally, but he had yet to see it expire. Ravenshaw followed his gaze, seeing the canister on the roof, and said, “We had more important things going on.”
Hudson’s mind immediately returned to Achus, and he felt his stomach tie itself into another knot. “Right. Mendiola, can you dismount? Help Ravenshaw get Achus back to the Skyranger. I’ll give HQ a call.”
Mendiola nodded, powering down the exoskeleton and stepping out of it. He and Ravenshaw moved down the alley towards Achus, as Hudson hailed HQ over the radio. “HQ, this is Chariot 4. AO is clear,” he said, pausing for a moment, and then said, “Chariot 2 is KIA.”
“Roger that, Chariot 4. Sorry to hear it. You’re clear to depart, the science team is en route.”