OPERATION UNCEASING STROKE
Lindan fired his laser rifle at the exposed Sectoid head, smearing the Mechtoid armor with green blood. The mechanical suit started to stumble, tearing through the building drywall before falling to the ground with a terrific crash. Lindan turned his attention to the remaining two Mechtoids and Thakilla shouted, “Talana, we need a rocket on the Mechtoids! Strawberry, up front!”
Lindan ducked as he reached for a fresh laser battery and Strawberry charged past him, into the fray. From nearby, there was the roar of a rocket firing followed by the sound of it detonating. Lindan glanced back over the car and saw one of the Mechtoids emerge from a cloud of dust and smoke, the armor damaged but still combat worthy. There was a faint blue bubble surrounding the suit, and Thakilla called out, “Couch, we need that Sectoid dead!”
Lindan watched Couch slip out from cover and dash towards the building as Strawberry took a position in the middle of the square. The combined laser fire on the Mechtoid eroded its shield and Strawberry fired a round from his railgun, striking the Mechtoid, but it retaliated with another plasma volley. Lindan watched the plasma hit him squarely in the chest while the second Mechtoid fired, the plasma splashing against Strawberry. He fired once more, the round going wide and punching through a second story wall, before falling backwards. Lindan could hear Strawberry moaning in pain, his torso covered in plasma wounds, when Thakilla shouted, “I’m going to Strawberry, cover me!”
Thakilla dashed out of cover and into the open, and Talana shouted, “Keep the pressure on them!” as Lindan continued to fire at the damaged Mechtoid. Thakilla reached Strawbery quickly and crouched over his massive frame, unhooking a medikit from his belt, when a Sectoid fired from behind the Mechtoid, striking Thakilla in his armor. The medikit went flying from his hand, and as he dove for it, there was another volley of plasma that destroyed Thakilla’s armor, the force of the impact sending him flying backwards.
“Snatcher 1 is down! Snatcher 1 is down!” shouted Burning Man, and Talana replied, “Keep it together! Keep fire on the Mechtoid!”
Lindan kept firing at the advancing Mechtoid, the lasers burning the armor. Close by, Burning Man was still shouting, and Lindan hissed, “Get down, you idiot!”
Lindan fired once more, and was happy to see laser pierce a critical piece of the suit, rendering it useless. The suit started to sway, but from behind it, two Sectoids opened fire on Lindan. He ducked, the plasma sailing overhead, and heard Burning Man fire his laser rifle followed by the scream of a dying Sectoid. Lindan looked over his cover and saw another Sectoid running away, but was picked off by Burning Man as well. He turned his attention to the remaining Mechtoid, and saw Couch creeping up on the Sectoid behind it, generating its shield. He fired one blast from his scatter laser, killing the Sectoid and evaporating the shield, when the Mechtoid suddenly turned towards him. It fired one volley at Couch, obliterating his armor. Lindan winced, watching his body fly backwards, and Talana shouted, “Keep it moving! Get down that alley!”
The Mechtoid turned towards what remained of the squad, and Lindan dashed towards the nearby alley, following Burning Man. There was a burst of plasma fire and he felt the heat of the plasma as it passed behind him, and then he was behind the building. He threw himself against the wall, making room for Talana as she dashed into the alley, narrowly avoiding another volley of plasma. She looked around the corner, and then turned to the two remaining solders.
“I’m going to hit it with a rocket. As soon as I do, I need both of you to get out there and hammer it with grenade and lasers. Is everyone’s battery topped off?”
Lindan glanced down, checking the power readout of his rifle, and swapped out the battery. Burning Man did the same, and Lindan nervously glanced at the entrance to the alley as the heavy mechanical footsteps approached. Talana removed the rocket tube from her back, taking a deep breath, before leaning out of cover and firing the rocket. As soon as it detonated, she shouted, “Go!” and Lindan dashed out into the open, Burning Man right behind him. The Mechtoid was unbearably close as he slid behind a wrecked car for cover, and unhooked an alien grenade from his belt. He lobbed it under the Mechtoid, and Burning Man did the same, both grenades detonating in sequence. The Mechtoid was obviously damaged, sparks and circuitry falling off it, as the remnants of Gold Squad rained lasers down on the Mechtoid. Under the relentless barrage, pieces of it melted and fell off until the Mechtoid finally fell backwards, utterly useless.
Lindan held his position, scanning the destroyed square for any more signs of enemy movement. There was a slight breeze that dried the sweat on his skin, and he realized he had a stitch in his side. He scanned the area, wary of any potential ambushers, when Burning Man said, “Oh God, oh my God. I can’t believe they’re all dead.”
He realized that the battle was over, and felt the tension drain out of him. He leaned limply against the car, his eyes searching for the bodies of his dead squadmates. The yellow armor made it easy to find them, strewn about the rubble. He grimaced at the pool of blood that had gathered under Strawberry, knowing that he could have been saved if things had happened differently.
“God dammit,” muttered Lindan. From the alley, Talana slowly emerged. Lindan glanced at her, knowing that she was at just as much a loss as he was, when she said, “Get the body bags. Let’s get everyone on board the Skyranger, if we can. Strawberry will be left for the science team.”