OPERATION ENDURING GAZE
“Get the civilians out of here! This alley’s a killzone!”
Soot hung in the air, burning Blacksmith’s nose. The aliens had razed a whole city block, trying to burn it to the ground, and the civilians were running around uselessly, getting in the way of the soldiers. Wishing he could speak French, he tried to communicate with a nearby civilian but failed utterly.
“Get them back to the Skyranger!” shouted Ravenshaw, “We need- CONTACT!”
She fired her sniper rifle at something that had flown into view of the squad, and Blacksmith watched a white disc soar over a nearby rooftop. Leaning against the brick of the building, Blacksmith watched it as it hovered over the street, gently descending while being trailed by two smaller mechanical devices. The whole squad was mesmerized by the steady movement of the object, and once it touched down the disc suddenly spun sideways, revealing a multitude of openings. Mechanical legs were splayed outward and two unmistakable cannons thrust out of it. Blacksmith’s eyes went wide, and Ravenshaw shouted, “Down DOWN DOWN!” as the strange disc opened fired at Ran. He dove for cover, scrambling behind a nearby truck as a plasma volley soared overhead. The squad opened fire on it, the lasers and bullets finding their mark, decimating the exposed interior of the object. It fell to the ground, scarred from the barrage, and after a few short moments, it exploded. Blacksmith flinched instinctively, but the explosion was too far away to do any damage.
The two objects that had trailed the disc suddenly opened fire on the squad, sending plasma bolts into the asphalt. Blacksmith aimed carefully, getting one in his sights, when there was a scream from further down the alley. He glanced down and saw two civilians fleeing from a pair of scurrying Chryssalids, barging through a door that led into the building he was using as cover. The Chryssalids were directly behind them, following them inside, when Maxwell shouted, “Rookie! On me!” and charged down the alley, straight for the doorway. The sounds of plasma fire filled the air as the squad fought off the two robots, and Blacksmith slipped inside the building.
He bumped into Maxwell, who had stopped just inside the building. The light was dim, and Maxwell held up a fist and brought his hand to his ear. Blacksmith listened, hearing the sound of whimpering inside the store, and both soldiers slowly moved forward. Blacksmith scanned his surroundings carefully, looking for any signs of movement. As they moved through the store’s aisles, he could hear the soft whimpering get closer, when suddenly there was an inhuman snarl, followed by a scream. Maxwell took off at a sprint and Blacksmith followed, thinking for a moment of how stupid it was to run towards a Chryssalid. Both soldiers rounded the corner and were greeted with a grim sight- a Chryssalid standing triumphantly over a corpse, feasting on it, while the second civilian stood nearby paralyzed. Maxwell quickly fired twice, killing the Chryssalid and throwing it sideways into a nearby pillar. Maxwell approached the dead civilian, exercising caution, but immediately the civilian started to stir he fired once more, obliterating his head. The second civilian screamed again, and ran further into the store.
Blacksmith had been briefed on what happened when Chryssalids killed humans but he still looked away, deciding to keep an eye out for the second bug. He could still hear the sounds of battle raging outside, but more importantly, he heard the sounds of the Chryssalid scrabbling around in the store. He gripped his laser rifle, scanning the darkness, when there was a flash of movement and the Chryssalid was on top of an aisle divider, rearing up. Instictively, Blacksmith fired, boring a hole through its tough exoskeleton and it fell lifelessly backwards, out of sight.
“Good reflexes, rookie,” said Maxwell, but before Blacksmith could reply, there was a commotion outside and a massive hole was torn in the building, letting light through. Over the aisles, Blacksmith caught a glimpse of Strawberry’s massive frame destroying the bricks before falling out of sight. The sounds of plasma fire intensified, and over the radio someone shouted, “Drac 4 is down!”
Maxwell ran through the store to where Strawberry lie while Blacksmith trailed behind, checking over his shoulder to make sure nothing was sneaking up on them. Coming upon Strawberry, Blacksmith was dismayed to see he was dead. He was covered in bricks and rubble, his suit crushing an aisle divider under him, and his torso looked as if it had been torn open by plasma fire. Blacksmith froze, not sure of what to do, when Strawberry gave a massive snore and Maxwell shouted, “He’s alive!”
“That’s great, but we still need help out here!” replied Ravenshaw. There was the sound of another volley of plasma fire and Blacksmith saw her duck, the plasma sailing dangerously close to her head. Blacksmith took one last look at Strawberry, wishing he could do something, and followed Maxwell carefully through the rubble, being sure not slip on anything. The squad had held its position and Blacksmith saw dead aliens littering the alley, but they were pinned down by another disc flying high in the air. There was the crack of Ran’s sniper rifle followed by the whiz of the round ricocheting off the disc, and Maxwell rushed further into the alley.
Blacksmith followed, firing a quick shot at the flying disc, as Maxwell took cover behind a nearby dumpster. The disc suddenly spun open, revealing its twin cannons, but Ravenshaw fired another shot into it and it rapidly closed back up, though not before emitting a shower of sparks.
“Keep the fire on!” called out Ravenshaw, and Blacksmith fired once more. Maxwell fired a pair of blasts at the disc when it suddenly faltered, dropping 5 feet in the air before catching itself. Holding its altitude for a few more moments, it suddenly dropped, falling to the asphalt with a terrific crash. After a few moments, it exploded, creating a second crater within the alley. Blacksmith ducked, hearing shrapnel ricochet off the dumpster. After a few moments, he risked a peek and saw smoke rising from the wreckage, but everything in the alley was otherwise still.
“Go get the first aid kit, patch up Strawberry,” muttered Maxwell, “we won’t be able to move him until the science team gets here, but keep him alive.”
“I’m not a medic,” replied Blacksmith.
“Neither am I. Do your best.”