OPERATION DEFIANT PYRE
Vincent kicked one of the crates, surprised by how solid the small box felt, and said, “What do you think is in the crates? Weapons?”
Gray shrugged and said, “Doubt it. Probably just supplies. Don’t know where it‘d be going since we already took out the base…”
“Unless there’s a second one.”
Gray winced and said, “Don’t even joke. Too soon.”
Vincent squatted low, leaning her heavy laser against the bulkhead as she pulled the crate forward. It was about the size of her torso, but it was surprisingly heavy. She groped around, trying to find a crack or opening, but couldn’t. With a bit of effort, she rolled the crate and tried again, still not finding anything.
“Man, how are these things supposed to open?” she grumbled.
“Alien black magic,” replied Blacksmith, who was standing guard nearby. “Quit messing around with the crates, the rest of the squad is almost in position.”
Kicking the crate out of frustration, she grabbed her heavy laser and stood up. No sooner had she done that when the roar of a Muton Berserker came from behind the squad, in the main passenger compartment of the UFO.
Vincent whirled around, staring at the compartment as Gray said, “We just cleared that.”
“Get in firing positions, both of you,” barked Blacksmith, taking a position in the middle of the passageway. Vincent yanked the crate out towards the passageway and crouched behind it, aiming her heavy laser towards the ramps that fed into the storage area as Blacksmith said over the radio, “Dracula 1, we’ve got Mutons-“
“I heard them. Just get ready to defend, we’re almost in position topside.”
The Berserker roared again, vibrating Vincent’s teeth in her head. She could hear its massive footsteps, and suddenly, it was on the ramp, flanked by two Mutons.
Vincent watched Blacksmith lean forward slightly in Vulcan and fire the launcher on his back, the projectile whistling towards the Mutons and exploding on the Berserker and sending shrapnel everywhere. Vincent saw armor stripped off all 3 aliens, and then the 2 Mutons adopted firing positions as the Berserker charged forward.
Aiming down the sights and over the crate, Vincent fired a barrage from her heavy laser at one of the Mutons. She hit it and it returned fire, forcing her to duck. She felt the crate shudder from the impact, and was relieved to find out that the crate was sturdy enough to stand up to plasma. She looked back over the crate and saw the Berserker charging towards Blacksmith. He was backing up, enduring multiple plasma splashes as he sprayed his flamethrower all over the compartment, trying to render it impassable to the Berserker.
Vincent fired another barrage from her heavy laser at a Muton, destroying a piece of the UFO bulkhead and dropping the alien. The Berserker was still making its way through the fire and towards Blacskmith as he kept retreating, firing his railgun. The creature looked hellish, its armor and claws wreathed in flames as it roared as it closed the distance. Blacksmith adopted a defense stance, seemingly resigned to grappling with it, when Gray rushed forward with the arc thrower out and fired at the Berserker. Vincent wrenched her eyes away from the scene and focused on the last Muton, firing a barrage from her heavy laser and killing it.
From the top of the UFO, Vincent could now hear laser fire and shouts from where the rest of Dracula was. Vincent looked up, not expecting to see anything, when Blacksmith called out over the radio, “Minotaur 2 moving to your position, Dracula 1” as he engaged the jets on Vulcan, flying upwards and landing on the top of the UFO.
As he moved out of sight, Vincent took the opportunity to swap in a new battery and she glanced over at the stunned Berserker. Gray was standing over it, checking for vital signs, and she asked, “Are you sure it’s not going to wake up?”
“It’ll be fine,” he replied.
Vincent could still hear the gunfire, though it was rapidly dwindling. After a few moments, it stopped entirely, and Ravenshaw’s voice came through the radio. “Dracula 5, 6, topside is secured. Move to the bridge.”
Vincent glanced over at Gray, who nodded towards the bridge on the other side of the storage space. She stood up and both soldiers jogged towards it, passing by compartment after compartment. The bridge was on the second level and the rest of the squad was already gathering in the front of the energy door, and Gray was the first one to step on the elevator pad. It carried him upward effortlessly, dropping him in front of the door, and Vincent followed him.
Wordlessly, Ravenshaw directed the squad into breaching positions, placing Blacksmith directly in front of the door. Vincent was in position to open the door as Paddon got ready to breach, and she held up her hand. She ticked off her 3 fingers as Paddon shouted, “BREACH!” and she slammed her fist into the door as Paddon slipped inside, followed by Gray and the new Squaddie, Dead.
She was immediately greeted by the sight of 2 Sectoid Commanders in the bridge, caught off guard by the breach. Vincent fired one barrage, wounding it, as Gray followed it up by killing it. Blacksmith was now in the room, chasing a Commander into a corner of the bridge. It fired a plasma shot, barely missing Blacksmith, as he fired a jet from his flamethrower, catching the Sectoid Commander in the middle of the spray. The alien quickly burned to death, its skin crisping on its bones as it slumped to the ground, and an awful smell filled the bridge.
Vincent gagged, waving her hand in front of her face. The rest of the squad followed suit, evacuating the bridge, as Ravenshaw coughed out, “Someone call HQ, tell them we’re done. And they might want to bring some gas masks.”