OPERATION VENGEFUL FATHER
OVERSEER UFO RECOVERY
Blacksmith leaned forward and fired the mortar on his back, watching to detonate between the 2 Mutons Elite. The explosion peppered them with shrapnel and destroyed their cover, scattering the UFO debris. Despite their wounds, they continued to exchange fire with the squad while moving to a new position, though Ravenshaw was able to cut one down, before the second dug in behind a particularly resilient piece of UFO hull.
“Blacksmith, Vincent, keep it pinned! Gray, Paddon, move up and flush it out!” shouted Ravenshaw. Blacksmith raised his particle cannon and fired at the piece of hull as Vincent laid down continuous fire while Gray and Paddon started to creep around the side. Suddenly, a volley of plasma streamed out from behind the hull and impacted against Gray’s armor, throwing him backwards. Another volley of plasma streamed over Paddon as he flung himself to the ground, and Ravenshaw shouted, “Get Gray to cover! Blacksmith, knock it down!”
Blacksmith called out to Vincent, “Get your rocket ready!” and leaned forward, feeding power into his proximity mine launcher. They Muton was still peppering the ground with plasma all around Paddon, who was attempting to drag Gray to safety, and Blacksmith launched the mine, watching it land directly in front of the alien’s cover.
“NOW!” shouted Blacksmith, and he heard the scream of Vincent’s rocket as she launched it. It impacted directly on the front of the Muton’s cover, obscuring it in dust and smoke, when a second detonation immediately followed as the proximity mine was triggered by the blast. The Muton’s weapon went silent as the entirety of the front of the UFO was hidden by the smoke. Blacksmith kept his particle cannon trained on the UFO, wary of any more contacts. As the minutes passed and the dust started to settle Blacksmith spotted the alien’s body lying 20 feet away, sprawled amongst the debris, as well as Paddon crouched over the body of Gray next to the UFO hull.
“Contact down!” shouted Blacksmith, and immediately Ravenshaw called out over the radio, “Is he alive?”
“Yea, he’s alive,” replied Paddon, “His shoulder is banged up pretty bad, plasma went straight through the armor.”
“Blacksmith, Vincent, maintain the perimeter, Dead you’re with me,” shouted Ravenshaw, standing up and dashing over to the wounded medic. Blacksmith held his position and scanned the forest, his eyes glancing over the Sectopod wrecks. He looked down at the scorch mark the giant robot had left on Vulcan, and was quietly thankful that the engineers had taken the plunge on upgrading to Paladin armor. The area around the UFO was completely still, and Blacksmith guessed that whatever enemy forces remained where holed up on the UFO bridge.
He glanced back to where Gray lie, and saw him standing up with Paddon’s assistance. One of his arms hung limply and his shoulder was mangled mess of metal and blood, though he seemed otherwise uninjured. He awkwardly slung his plasma rifle over his shoulder and unholstered his pistol. They started to move towards the UFO entrance, and Ravenshaw waved Vincent and Blacksmith to their position.
Both soldiers moved towards the entrance as the rest of the squad moved inside through a narrow hatch, and Blacksmith allowed Vincent to go ahead of him. Once she was through, he managed to barely squeeze Vulcan after her, avoiding any damage to the suit or the UFO.
Once he was inside, he was surprised to see decorations adorning the bulkhead, which was a first as far as he knew. It looked to him as if the aliens had mounted a stained glass image inside the UFO that was interiorly lit, depicting some sort of tall, thin alien that didn’t look familiar to him. There was unmistakable air of royalty surrounding the picture, bordering on religious worship, when Vincent said, “What a creepy looking thing.”
“No kidding,” muttered Ravenshaw. Blacksmith looked around the darkened UFO, thankful for the light provided by the strange pictures. It looked different than the typical large scout layout, and he wondered if the bridge was still in the same place. As he tried to wrap his mind around the geometry of the place, Ravenshaw said, “We’ll need to split up. Gray, Blacksmith, and myself will wrap around the left side. Dead, Paddon, Vincent, go around the right path. Call it out if you find the bridge.”
Blacksmith took a deep breath, steeling himself for the breach. Vincent and Ravenshaw had placed themselves on opposite sides of the door while the remainder of the squad gathered behind him. There was only one way in, and it was up to Blacksmith to go in first. As he readied his flamethrower and the rest of the squad made their final preparations, he felt a twinge of trepidation and silently thought that Mendiola would’ve been better suited for this.
Ravenshaw gave the signal and Vincent held up three fingers, silently counting them down until she had a closed fist which she slammed against the energy door. The door started to recede from the bottom up, and immediately a volley of plasma soared through it, narrowly missing Blacksmith.
“GO GO GO!” shouted Talana, and Blacksmith charged forward. He saw 2 Mutons Elite, bearing down on him with their heavy plasmas, flanking a tall, robed alien that looked eerily similar to the pictures in the passageway. The center of the bridge was commanded by large pedestal, holding up a blue orb, and Blacksmith suddenly found himself within flamethrower range. He raised his right fist and sprayed flammable jelly over all three aliens, coating the bridge in it. The jelly stuck, steadily scorching the aliens, as the rest of the squad engaged with their plasma weaponry, cutting down the 2 Mutons quickly. Despite the apparent frailty of the new alien, it proved to be surprisingly resilient, standing under the flaming jelly as well as absorbing a plasma volley. Its robe started to burn away, and Blacksmith caught a glimpse of 4 thin arms before another plasma volley struck the alien, knocking it backwards. To Blacksmith’s untrained eyes, it appeared lethal, but before the alien fell to the ground it suddenly levitated and convulsed, and Blacksmith felt a wave of pain shoot through his head. He heard some other members of the squad shout in pain, and then the new alien fell to the ground, clearly dead.
A few moments passed as the squad recovered their bearing, and Ravenshaw shouted from the rear of the squad, “Anyone hurt?”
No one rogered up, and Ravenshaw muttered, “Good clear.”
The squad moved out of cover and through the bridge. Blacksmith quietly engaged the positive pressure system on his helmet to vent out the smell of the flaming jelly as he looked over the 3 smoldering corpses, watching the flames slowly die out. Ravenshaw and Gray approached the pedestal holding the strange blue orb, and Gray asked, “What isthat?”
“Could be some sort of communication device, like in the base,” replied Ravenshaw.
“Wasn’t that pretty big, though? This doesn’t look like it’s on the same scale as that…”
“Alien black magic, probably,” called out Vincent. Blacksmith and Paddon chuckled, but Gray and Ravenshaw seemed enraptured by the glowing orb. Worryingly, Ravenshaw started to raise her hand up to touch it, and Blacksmith said, “Uh, boss, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
She threw Blacksmith a dirty look, and said, “I know what I’m doing.”
She raised her hand up towards the orb, her fingers hesitating just above the surface of it, before she plunged her hand inside of it down to her wrist. Blacksmith’s eyes widened and Paddon yelled, “Holy &$%#!”
Her hand was only inside for a moment before she yanked it out, screaming and clutching her head as Gray jumped to her side. She fell to her knees, moaning in pain as the squad converged around her. Gray waved them off, kneeling next to her, and Blacksmith stood uselessly aside as watched the scene play out. She grew silent but stayed on her knees, with her eyes clamped shut. The squad stared in concerned silence, waiting for her to move or speak, when she finally muttered, “…in my head.”
“What was that?” asked Gray. She shook her head and said, “It felt like something. Was in my head.”
“That’s not great,” muttered Dead.
“Jesus, that hurt,” said Ravenshaw. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, and finally opened her eyes. Blacksmith grimaced as Paddon exclaimed, “There’s blood in your eyes!”
“What?” asked a concerned Ravenshaw, bringing her hand up to her face. She pulled her fingers away, not seeing anything, and then looked accusingly at Paddon, saying, “There’s nothing-“
“It’s inside your eye, Colonel. Subconjunctival hemorrhage, looks like. Turns the sclera red,” said Gray. “It’s not a big deal, though I’d like to check it out at base. Are you feeling well enough to stand?”
“Yea, yea. I think so,” she said, allowing Gray to help her up. He helped her stand up and Blacksmith saw she was uneasy on her feet, though she managed to stay standing. She clutched her head and said, “Man that was a mistake. I think that thing is best left to the psionics. Felt like something was crawling inside my head.”
She walked a few steps, staying on her feet, and then turned to address the rest of the squad. “I’m fine, now, so don’t worry about me. Someone needs to get on the horn with HQ, get the salvage team out here. Let’s wrap this thing up and go home.”