OPERATION BLIND NIGHT
On the other side of the tree, San Leon heard the wounded Muton roar, a sound that travelled down his bones and into his marrow. He could smell its stink, a cloud of aggression and pheromones hanging off of it, while he listened to its ragged breaths. He placed his hand on the arc thrower on his hip, drawing it off his belt. Leon took a deep breath and thrust himself out of cover, rounding the tree to find himself face to face with the Muton. Its armor was chipped and scorched, small streams of green blood oozing out. Its pupil-less eyes locked on to Leon’s and just as it inhaled for another roar, he pulled the trigger on the arc thrower. Electricity filled the gap between alien and soldier, and the Muton immediately stiffened for a few moments before falling to the ground in a limp heap, its limbs wracked by spasms.
Leon was stunned, amazed that it worked. He could hear a gentle snoring coming from the creature and he stared down at it, the arc thrower still hot in his hands. His earpiece crackled to life and Hellbilly said, “Good job, Drac 3. Moving up.”
Leon glanced towards the UFO, seeing a blur of movement through the door. He ducked back behind the tree, keeping an eye on the UFO as Hellbilly rushed through the open field towards a pair of boulders, with the rookie Volkov trailing behind him. There was a sudden burst of heavy plasma from the UFO entrance, striking Hellbilly in the chest mid-stride, burning through the Carapace armor and throwing him to the ground. From behind the tree, Leon could see a smoking hole in his armor’s breastplate as a massive mechanical figure stepped out from the UFO. It easily stood at 8 feet tall, clad in blue with massive plasma cannons on both arms. Leon watched it move with an easy grace towards the squad, when someone broke the silence by shouting, “Aliens got a MEC!”
There was a ripping sound of Strawberry’s minigun firing, the rounds ricocheting off the mechanical armor, and a couple of lances of laser fire struck the robot, staggering it. Leon could barely make out what appeared to be a Sectoid’s head in the middle of the frame when there was the crack of Ravenshaw’s rifle and it disappeared, smearing green blood all over the blue frame. The bipedal robot staggered back and forth before teetering over, crashing to the ground.
The squad held its ground, waiting for further resistance, when a Sectoid timidly poked its head out from the UFO. Volkov was still crouched behind a boulder and quickly fired a shot, hitting the Sectoid dead on and killing it. Not sensing any more danger, Ravenshaw said over the radio, “Drac 6, check on Drac 2!”
Volkov left the rocks, rushing out to where Hellbilly lie. Leon watched him closely, and as he approached Hellbilly’s body his face grew pale, and he held up a hand to his mouth.
“Oh God, I’m going to be sick,” he said over the radio. Leon broke cover and moved towards Hellbilly’s body, the smoke still rising off of him. He could see the hole in the armor from a distance, but as he approached the body he could see that the plasma had left a crater inside Hellbilly’s chest. Leon looked away, disgusted, and said into the radio, “He’s gone, ma’am.”
“Motherfu-,” began Ravenshaw, but she took a deep breath and continued. “Nothing to be done about it now. That should make the last of the active crew, these large scouts can’t hold much more. Let’s keep it moving to the bridge.”
Leon heard heavy mechanical footsteps behind him as Strawberry moved towards the UFO, with Ravenshaw and the rookie I Ran behind him. Leon advanced towards the craft behind Volkov, entering the UFO ahead of the rest of the squad. He had studied the layouts and knew his way around, quickly clearing compartments as they approached the bridge. As he passed through the engine compartment, he heard Ravenshaw hiss, “Hey, hold it for a second.”
Leon held ground in front of the energy door next to Volkov as Ravenshaw ran to the front of the squad. She took a knee next to Leon and said, “We’re going to try and capture the Outsider.”
Leon looked at Ravenshaw and whispered, “What? That’s crazy.”
“We need to try. Strawberry will stay back. You and Volkov go around one side, I’ll take Ran around the other side and push it through to you. You better be ready with the arc thrower.”
“Whatever you say, Captain,” replied Leon.
“Good. Let’s go.”
Ravenshaw slammed her fist against the energy door, ducking under it as it receded from the ground. Ran followed her as they went around to the far side of the bridge entrance, and Leon took a position on the near side with Volkov. The two men watched each other as Leon drew the arc thrower off his hip, priming it. There was a commotion of shouting and pistol fire, and suddenly the door opened as the fluorescent green Outsider charged through and past Leon. He pulled the trigger of the arc thrower, watching electricity jumps towards the alien. Electricity crisscrossed all over its body as it steadily started to shrink, and Leon was fascinated by it as it seemed to condense. After a few seconds, the Outsider had turned into a crystal that fell to the deck with a tink.
Blown away that the arc thrower had worked for a second time, Leon stood in silence, making sure that it wouldn’t turn back into an Outsider. There were soft footsteps as Ravenshaw and Ran approached the crystal, and Volkov said, “I can’t say I expected that.”
“Yea, neither did I,” replied Leon.
Ran bent low to pick it up, but Ravenshaw said, “Wait, no, don’t touch it!”
He looked up at her with a look of disbelief, and she said, “It’s better if you don’t touch it. Better to leave it to the science team.”
“Go collect Muton, instead. And get Hellbilly back to the Skyranger,” said Ravenshaw. “All 3 of you, now.”