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hem, sorry couldn't help it.
Anyway, keep the story coming. Everything's good. I'm not that great of a critic, so I can't do the epic nitpicking that some people can. There's minor issues that I'm not good enough to pick out. (general clunkiness, etc.)
Edited by Warhawk on 4/20/2013 12:34 PM PDT
Markus awoke to his alarm he had set and got ready for the mission along with his squad in silence. He armored up, slid his freshly cleaned pistol in it’s holster, pulled his sniper rifle over his back and carried his rifle. Sure, he was a little heavy, but it was better than lacking a needed weapon. Eventually, all five Elites stood looking at each other in the living room.
“Well, this is it.” Dwayne was the first to speak all morning. Ashley assessed his slight fear of the near future and led the way out of the building. The five moved in unison with their rifles drawn, Ashley leading the way. It was a waste of power to run the emergency lights all night, so the camp remained in complete darkness.
Soon they came across a platoon of soldiers that resided in the camp, all lined up, ready for battle.
“You ready, Lt. Sanders?” The commander asked, eying the Blackjack’s.
“Ready as we’ll ever be, Commander. We stand ready for your word.” The commander raised his left hand and examined his Palm-Comm. He pushed a few buttons and spoke into his earpiece,
“Nothing to report, sir, the coast is clear.” The Commander nodded,
“Good, then you guys are good to go. Charlie squad just cleared the path of any scouts for you. All you have to do is get in that vehicle and do what you do best.” The commander glanced at his men before resuming his briefing, “My men will be at stand-by in case you need hot extraction. I requested a fleet to make sure they don’t attempt to flee after we steal their firepower. If the request is denied, or they take too long, we’ll have to turn this sabotage mission into an all-out assault.”
“We understand, Commander.” Ashley said with a nod.
“I’ll feed you objectives strictly on a need-to-know basis. For now, you know what to do.” He paused and glanced over all five Elites.
“Give them hell, Elites.” Ashley drew her feet together and saluted,
“Sir, yes sir.” She relaxed and began walking towards the silent land rover waiting for them. Her fingers danced across her Palm-Comm and the convertible helmet wrapped around her face. The rest of the Elites did the same.
The Elites piled into the roomy land rover. The four wheeled all-terrain vehicle was durable, dependable and quiet. It lacked the necessary armor and firepower, however, to do anything but move troops into enemy territory.
“Strap in, gentlemen.” The middle-aged driver said, revving the engines. Four Elites sat in the back while Ashley rode shotgun.
“And madam.” The man corrected awkwardly with wide nervous eyes after seeing the squad leader was a girl. The ride was bumpy and rugged. Even though it felt like eternity for the anxious Elites, the ride was only ten minutes at high speeds. Dwayne couldn’t stop fidgeting. Markus and Johnson stared at him with concern as Ramey simply didn’t care. The silence was interrupted by Sergeant Major Thompson on the radio.
“BlackJack, this is Thompson, what’s your status, over?”
“Thompson, this is Blackjack, two minutes out from drop off point, over.”
“Rodger that, BlackJack, keep me posted on mission status. My squad moves in as soon as you complete your first objective.”
“Will do, BlackJack over and out.” Ashley adjusted in her seat and looked back,
“Switch your visor to night vision.” Markus did so easily with the tap of his palm. Soon, the vehicle slowed to a stop.
“Here we are, Elites, good luck. The garage is only about half a mile up.” Ashley was the first to open her door and step out of the vehicle. The other four piled out slowly.
“John, Ramey, you two scout out ahead and feed us information. Johnson, Dwayne, watch my back.” They all gave a single nod and the two groups split off. Ramey was the first to dissolve into ripples in the air. Markus did the same shortly after. The two moved quickly at a speed walking pace with their weapons at the ready. They should be clear of hostiles, but you can never be too safe.
Eventually they spotted the garage at a distance. Markus was about to move forward when Ramey put his hand on his shoulder.
“Wait,” He said over the comms, “Watch towers.” Ramey pointed to a tower in the shadows.
“You get up there and provide cover while I get down and find a way in the base besides the front door. By the time the rest of the team gets here we’ll be ready to infiltrate.”
“Copy that.” Markus responded, heading for the tower. When he reached it, he slowly climbed the ladder. The man at the top wasn’t suspecting a thing. Markus withdrew his combat knife and slowly prepared to slit the man’s uncovered throat. Markus froze when the man’s head jerked. He peered through the sight of his scope.
“What the?” He exclaimed to himself. Markus wasted no time and slit his throat immediately. He struggled for a while before falling to the ground. Had the guard seen Ramey?
“Ramey, this is John, the guard up here saw you for a split second. I fear their visors can see through our cloaking. Be cautious.”
“Copy that.” Ramey replied with zero emotion.
Markus picked up the dead pirate’s rifle and examined it for differences. It was Devroy Manufactured all right. Markus dropped the rifle in frustration. He peered through his scopes and began scanning the horizon of the garage.
“Lieutenant, I’d say your clear.” Markus said into his helmet’s microphone.
“Copy that, John, moving up.” Ashley, Johnson and Dwayne could be seen advancing.
“I got us a way in,” Ramey said over the radio, “East side of the garage.”
“Roger,” Ashley replied, “Blackjack’s regroup on Ramey’s position.” Markus threw his sniper over his back and slid down the ladder. His feet hit the dirt below with a thud as he took off in a run with his assault rifle steady ahead of him. He caught up to Ashley, Johnson and Dwayne who rounded the corner to see Ramey bashing on a ventilation shaft filter.
“Really? That’s our way in?” Ashley said with a scoff, attaching something to the bottom of her assault rifle. Ramey stopped and watched her as she aimed her rifle at the roof of the garage and fired a hook with a cable attached to it fly towards the cold night sky. It curved and fell on exactly where it needed to in order to latch onto the roof. She then proceeded to climb the cable. As soon as Ashley got to the roof, she helped the others until all five were silently slipping towards a large vent that acted almost like a chimney.
Johnson pulled a fusion cutter and made quick work of the filter covering the vent. Ramey stepped up and shined a light down the dark shaft. Satisfied with the darkness below, he jumped down. The metal plating on his armor silently screeched against the walls until he hit the bottom.
“Clear” He said through the radio.
“Move, move, move!” Ashley pushed Dwayne down the shaft. He slid down much louder than Ramey had.
“Ashley’s back.” Johnson said with a grin, stepping up to the shaft.
“That’s Lieutenant Ashley to you, Johnson.”
“And Ashley’s gone.” He said, dragging out the ‘and.’ Ashley gave him a shove and he grinded down the shaft. Markus was next to step up to the shaft. After hearing ‘clear’ from Johnson, he too slid down. When his boots hit the metal, he called “Clear” to Ashley and she slid down shortly after. Ramey had already crawled his way to a position where he was looking down on two uniformed men sitting on chairs overlooking their own workstations.
“Why the hell are they in uniform?” Ramey asked.
“Beats me.” Dwayne answered, pulling his pistol and lining up a shot.
“Forget it, Rocky, even Markus beat you.” He mocked, taking the fusion cutter Johnson handed him. He then slashed two screws that held the grating in place while he gripped it firmly.
“Hold my shins.” Ramey said commandingly to Dwayne.
“I said, hold my shins.” Ramey repeated, rotating his body around the small shaft.
“God, it’s cramped in here.” Johnson randomly stated as Dwayne gripped Ramey’s shins. Ramey then pulled his pistol and smashed apart the grating with his elbow before falling backward and hanging suspended upside down from the roof with his pistol aimed at one of the uniformed pirates who stood up too late before getting a round to the face. Blood splatted on the console and glass wall behind him as he stammered back into his chair. The other man took off for the door in a surprisingly fast sprint. Ramey fired three rounds. Two of them hit the floor, the last connected with his target’s shin. He grunted loudly, but made it to the door.
Dwayne, reading Ramey’s mind, let go of his shins and let Ramey fall to his hands and knees. He got up just in time to see the door close with the pirate on the other side. Ramey grunted in anger and rushed to the door. He got it open seconds later and fired two rounds into the retreating man’s back. He fell to his knees, then on his face, only feet from the red button covered in glass that was obviously the alarm.
“Too close, Ramey.” Ashley remarked as the other three, Markus, Johnson and Dwayne, secured the room. The small rectangular room had two doors, one by the two chairs by the terminals, and one on the adjacent wall. Two of the room’s walls were glass, but the terminals and consoles that made up workstations covered half of the walls up pretty well. The viewport over looked the large garage which housed several APC’s, AUV’s, tanks, transports, and every other vehicle with wheels.
All five of them jumped when an all-decibel alarm went off signaling a facility wide attack.
“What the hell is that?” Ashley shrieked, “Ramey, how many times have I told you to shoot the one closest to the door first!?”
“That wasn’t me, he didn’t make it to the alarm!” Ramey shouted back, pointing at the dead body laying feet from the alarm. Ashley swore and changed radio frequencies on her Palm-Comm.
“Mission Control, this is BlackJack, Status report!” Ashley got silence on the other end. She repeated herself and swore when she got no response.
“Ashley, look! They have a communication barrier up!” Johnson said, seated comfortably on the chair overlooking the nearby terminal. “Done! Try again!” he exclaimed after authorizing the barrier to be brought down with the dead man’s Palm-Comm.
“Mission Control, this is BlackJack, Status report!”
“BlackJack! Thank God, you’re okay.” Commander Taylor came in. “They picked up our assault teams, I don’t know how.” The commander’s urgency was clearly perceived in his voice. “After the request for a small fleet got denied I moved in the fire teams, knowing we had to finish this now. The bloody pirates picked ‘em up almost immediately. I tried to contact you guys, but they severed communications.”
“Understood, we just broke into-“ Ashley was cut off by the sound of shattering glass and overwhelming gunfire from every direction. Markus’ ears rang, dominating all other sounds as his training dropped him to the ground. Dazed and confused, he looked around as the Elites hid behind the half-wall made of terminals and consoles. Johnson was the first to peak up.
“At least a dozen have us pinned!” Johnson yelled into the built in radio on his helmet. Ashley quickly assembled an attachment to her rifle. Markus recognized it from the day he was pulled from Devroy Headquarters as the “silencer grenade.” Ashley scooted up to the wall of terminals and jerked her rifle above her head and pulled the trigger. A large thud was heard as the grenade left it’s launcher and soared through the air. It connected to the ground with a booming explosion. The five elites then popped up and took down as many targets as they could.
As soon as Markus found a target and got him in his sights, someone would fill him with bullets. Soon the returning fire came again, forcing some of the elites to duck back under cover temporarily before popping back up occasionally.
“We have to get out of here!” Ashley yelled into the built in radio in her helmet. Johnson scooted towards the door next to the consoles and it opened remotely before he was close enough to look around the corner. When he was close enough, he glanced through the doorway leading to a suspended walkway. He quickly pulled back after nearly getting his head shot off by a strike team of roughly five men moving towards them.
Johnson swore and reached for a frag grenade. Pulling the pin, he threw it through the doorway without even looking. The grenade bounced and rolled towards the unsuspecting men. One of them yelled “Grenade” but it was too late. With a large explosion, metal and pieces of gear soared in every direction followed by a wave of heat and flame.
Dwayne came around on the other side of the doorway and peeked around the corner. The suspended walkway was completely destroyed.
“Nice, way to go, Johnson. Blow the only way down. Now what the-“ A gun went off in the middle of Dwayne’s sentence and Markus didn’t catch what he said. “-we supposed to do?” He finished.
“Can it, Dwayne.” Ashley said. Her mind was obviously basking in the lack of gunfire or explosions. Dwayne shook his head, but nonetheless obeyed. Ashley glanced down and assessed the jump wasn’t too far as long as they were careful.
“Come on, we’ll help each other down.” She said, offering her hand to Johnson who hesitantly took it. Johnson lowered Ashley down as far as he could before letting her drop the rest of the way, which was still a good ten feet. She hit the ground and tumbled before shooting up and groaning.
“You alright?” Johnson yelled.
“I’m fine, keep ‘em coming.” She said, keeping her gun trained on the two doors. Johnson helped each of them get down, then jumped into Markus’ and Dwayne’s joined arms. Ashley only had to take out one stray engineer that came from the nearby door.
“Mission control, this is BlackJack, preparing to set demolitions.”
“Negative, BlackJack, change of plans.” Ashley sighed and her muscles drooped when she heard the Commander’s voice come in with a ‘change of plans.’ “We are sending a team of trained drivers to come commandeer their militaristic vehicles. Just open the doors and let them take care of the rest.
“Yes sir.” Ashley responded, “New orders?”
“The battle isn’t going how I would like it to go.” Commander Taylor began, “The strike team sent to take down the AA guns are pinned and without leadership, their sergeant died. I need at least one BlackJack to help them out.” Ashley nodded and turned to Dwayne,
“Dwayne, go get ‘em out of there!” He nodded and looked to his Palm-comm for directions of the recently-scanned base.
“I need the landing zone clear, Lieutenant. I sent a strike team, but I know it won’t be enough without heavy support. Send a BlackJack and I’ll feel confident in their success. It’s vital for the success of the mission.” Ashley grunted,
“I don’t like splitting my men, commander.”
“I understand, nobody does, but we do what is necessary.” Ashley surveyed the three men before her. Johnson, Markus and Ramey. She gestured two fingers at Johnson, who was the only one in medium armor.
“Johnson, make sure we have a clear PZ” Johnson saluted and rushed off.
“This next request will be hard, Lt, I sent a fire team to the heart of the base in order to draw in fire. They are taking it rough and I need one of yours to lead in the reinforcements.”
“Dear Elyon, Commander, we out number these untrained pirates three to one, what is going on out there?” Ashley shrieked.
“They have adequate advantages, Sanders, The casualty count is already higher than planned, I need you to work with me.” Ashley sighed and looked at her options. Ramey and Markus. Or her, but she had other plans. Other plans that even the Commander didn’t know about.
She sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. At this point, Ramey and Markus were waiting for the inevitable. Ashley wanted to send Markus and needed to send Markus, but something wouldn’t let her.
“Lieutenant?” The commander asked.
“Brossen, you’re up.” Ashley immediately regretted the words exiting her mouth. Ramey nodded and headed for the door, disintegrating into ripples in the air on the way.
“I need whoever you have left. If I did my math right, that’s Markus.”
“That is correct, sir.” Ashley responded.
“I need him to hold the garage until my men arrive.”
“Yes, sir.” Ashley looked over at Markus who was already looking for a good sniper spot. Ashley’s fingers danced on her Palm-Comm, shutting down the channel with the Commander. She wanted to say something to Markus, but feared he would get a hint as to ask where she was going, so she didn’t. She just turned and began walking towards the door.
“Ashley!” Markus called. She froze and turned towards him. He nodded, “Good luck.” Their eyes met,
“You too, Markus.” A grin spread across Markus’ face.
“You know my name is John, right?” Ashley walked out the doorway and turned around to face Markus. Her grin was seen through her glass helmet. She shrugged,
“Sue me.” The door glided closed, leaving Markus alone in the garage. He chuckled to himself and rolled his neck like he often did before speaking in a soft whisper:
“Bring it, pirate scum.”
Markus sat in the silence of solitude for nearly fifteen minutes. Listening to the battle wagging outside and not being in it enraged Markus. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore.
“Mission Control, this is Elite John of Blackjack, I need a status report from the drivers you sent towards the garage.”
“What? You mean they haven’t gotten there yet?”
“Negative, the drivers haven’t gotten here yet.” Markus heard the commander swear under his breath.
“Get out there and backtrack, try to find them.”
“Yes sir.” Markus closed the channel temporarily with the flick of a wrist before rushing over to the garage door. He hit a few buttons on the nearby console and the enormous metal door began to slowly rise. As soon as it was big enough for a human to walk through, Markus cloaked himself and leaned out. All he saw was darkness. Markus scanned the outdoors once before remembering about his night vision. He hit a few holograms on his palm and his visor illuminated. Suddenly he could easily see the drivers on their way.
Some were limping, others were gripping wounds, some looked like they got trampled by a bear. He was about to lean back and report to mission control when he caught sight of something suspicious. He leaned back out and saw the drivers picking up the pace while further up the mountains lay a whole platoon of troops moving fast towards the drivers and the garage. Markus instantly rushed out of the garage and dropped into the prone position. Pushing a few buttons on his Palm, he contacted the driver squad.
“You guys better pick it up, I’m seeing a squad coming down on you.” Markus could see the dread filling the separatist soldiers as they began to run towards the garage. They were only equipped with pistols. Not nearly enough to stand on their own against these “pirates”.
The pirate squad was only a few seconds of running short of being in range. Markus lined up his sights with the leading man’s head and held his breath as he squeezed the trigger. A small bang ensued and the recoil disoriented Markus. When he got back into the zone he found the headless body falling to the ground. The other squad members vanished. All of them had quality cloaking devices and they were all running separate directions. Markus didn’t have the kind of technology to see through cloaking, but they did.
It was only a matter of time before rounds began pouring towards Markus. He rolled twice before jumping to his feet and gunning it for the garage. The dirt he was walking in would pop in a mini explosion when a round would get close enough. Only two rounds hit Markus’ plating before he was safely in the garage. One hit his bicep plating. It rang loudly, but ricocheted off nonetheless, the other hit his thigh’s plating. Both plates had a large hole and crack through it. Another hit in the same spot and it would go right through. Markus’ armor wasn’t meant to take a straight shot like that. His armor relied almost completely on stealth, something the enemy just disarmed.
“Covering fire!” Screamed a driver before Markus heard him get gunned down. They were calling on him to give covering fire, but the enemy no doubt had sights on him, just waiting for him to come out. Markus couldn’t come out, he would be hit dozens of times before being able to line up a shot. But at the same time, if he didn’t, several drivers would die. He grunted in frustration as the inner conflict waged a larger battle then that which was around him. After hearing three men get shot in the back and fall to the ground, Markus lost it. He jumped around the corner and held the trigger down on his assault rifle, moving the aim of the weapon in every which way. He lasted about three seconds before a round impaled his chest and he fell backwards.
He heard his chest plate crack as he found himself looking at the roof of the garage. He felt himself being dragged behind cover. When he sat up he saw a Separatist soldier whose name was Pvt. Walker, according to the patch on his chest. As soon as Markus was safely in cover, he stood up and hit a button on the console and the garage door began to close. Most of the drivers had made it safely in the garage and were now hunkered down in the corner.
Pvt. Walker leaned back down and examined Markus’ chest plate. Markus joined him in the examination, then stood up when he assessed it hadn’t pierced his skin. Another miracle.
“Private Charles Walker of the fifth platoon. Are you the Elite in charge here, sir?” The man stood at attention and saluted Markus. The man was roughly a few years younger than him, so probably just turned twenty. It felt good to be saluted at even though in reality Markus was just as much of a grunt as him. Maybe a little more of a special grunt, but still a grunt.
“At ease, Charles, I’m just a soldier like you.” Markus told him, brushing dust off his back. The marine relaxed a little and picked up his assault rifle from the ground. “Wait, what are you doing here, Walker? Where’s the rest of your squad?”
“Wasted, sir. We were ambushed by automated drones coming over the hill to reinforce this position. The rest of my squad stayed to kill off the drones.” He looked at his feet, obviously slightly ashamed of himself, “And I ran.” Markus put his hand on the private’s soldier.
“Don’t beat yourself up. If you didn’t run, you probably would have been killed. Besides, I need your help.” Markus turned and began to walk towards the drivers. “You guys have your orders, get to it!” The drivers scrambled to their feet and limped to each vehicle. They began to try and break their way into the vehicle.
“BlackJack squad, this is Mission Control, we have a situation that requires one of your Elite’s expertise.” Markus heard mission control come in over his radio.
“Anybody available? John?” Ashley spoke loudly and hastily. She obviously just got out of a firefight.
“Yeah, I’m available.” Markus replied, looking around the garage.
“Mission Control, send Markus.”
“Affirmative. Now that we sent a squad to secure the garage, he shouldn’t be needed there.” Markus looked up at Pvt. Walker.”
“Yeah, about that, sir.” Markus began, “They are all dead.”
“Only Private Walker made it alive.” Markus reported. Silence endured on the other end as Pvt. Walker awkwardly examined Markus’ eyes.
“Then the assignment I am about to give you has gotten even more important. I sent a three dropships to deploy right in the middle of the base. They were supposed to cut the enemy’s mobility. The dropships use advanced technology to bypass radars and be out of range of any AA towers at the same time. I don’t know how the hell they did it, but the dropships were shot down. The scattered survivors are disoriented and under heavy fire by a patrol. They need someone to flank the enemy to get them out of there.”
“Understood. Be advised, they can see through my cloaking. It’s practically useless.”
“Then speed is your greatest ally. You’re an Elite, you’re trained for this. But still, their advanced technology frightens me. Mission Control over and out.” Markus shook his head. He was trained to be an agent of stealth. It’s hard to do that when you can’t be stealthy. A man in a Separatist Driver uniform approached Markus and saluted.
“Lieutenant Jacob Moore, sir.”
“We have access to nearly all vehicles, but they have a security lockdown engaged. Normally, we would start bypassing procedures, but when we plugged in our security hacking device, it bugged out and nearly exploded.” Markus swore,
“How the hell did they get ahold of such technology?” Markus said slowly, raising his voice.
“Sir, it gets worse, some have activated beacons signaling to the control tower that we’ve been trying to commandeer their vehicles.” Markus sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Now he had orders himself, but if he opened the garage door they all would die. Besides, they all had orders too. Markus was once again faced with a dilemma. Stay and protect the drivers a little longer and risk dying, or open the door, risk all their lives, and follow his orders. Both involved probable death.
“What about me, sir?” Pvt. Walker said, adjusting his stance. Markus frowned and shook his head. He had to make a decision, and fast. He put his hands on his hips and turned around to face the rest of the garage. An idea struck him when he spotted at least ten stacked barrels of highly flammable fuel.
“Everyone listen up!” He shouted loudly. “Move those barrels to the garage door, now!” All ten drivers didn’t hesitate to push the fifty five gallon barrels to their sides and roll them to the large metal door, then push them upright. They had gotten half of the barrels over there when sparks began to fly as a fusion cutter worked it’s way at making a giant hole in the door.
“Hurry!” Markus shouted, as they all scrambled to get the last of the drums over to the door before the squad of roughly twenty troops prepared to storm in. “I want this place a crater when we leave! Lieutenant, wire up your plan C explosives.” He saluted and got to work.
“Sir, what about me?” Private Walker was getting impatient. Markus drilled his eyes and walked up to him. The two were even in height. If Markus didn’t join the Elites, he was pretty much looking at a younger version of himself.
“Tell me, what is it you fight for?” Markus asked, his stare enduring. Whatever Johnson had done to him back in at camp with these couple questions did it for Markus, so he hoped it would work for the private. Charles hesitated before pulling out a picture of a beautiful blonde women.
“I fight for my wife, sir.” The private said, sweat was drenching his already battle-scarred dirt filled face.
“Tell me, Private, is that worth dying for?” The man hesitated with his answer and swallowed hard. His now trembling hands put the picture away. Or were his hands always trembling and Markus just didn’t notice? Every cell in Markus’ body wanted to tremble, but knew he couldn’t. It would wither the men’s faith in him.
“Yes sir.” The man whispered, nearly under his breath. Markus glanced at his battle rifle and slapped in a fresh charge.
“Then follow me.” He finally broke the stare and walked towards the same door the rest of the BlackJack’s had exited. It was an emergency exit only. It is impossible to access it from the outside and acted like the impenetrable walls the garage had when it was shut. Perfect for situations like this.
“Lieutenant, finish your business here then run. After your men are a safe distance away, blow this place to hell.” Markus ordered, not slowing his determined speed walk a bit.
“Yes sir.” The Lieutenant responded after looking up briefly from his work of arming multiple explosives. Markus glanced back to see the pirates were half way done burning their way in. They would have a minute. Two max.
Markus kicked open the emergency door and swept his rifle left to right.
“Let’s go!” He said to his companion before taking off into the woods. The Private kept up just beside Markus as they ran through passing trees. After a full half minute of running he heard an enormous explosion that lit up the night. He turned around and felt a wave of heat pass over him. In the distance he could see the sphere of fire that used to be the a garage. There was no way the drivers made it out in such short time. They must have been forced to detonate prematurely. The realization that it was his order that killed them bore down on Markus like a shot to the gut. A scowl spread across Markus’ face as he looked down at his feet. He wasn’t ready for command, he just killed a whole squad with a single order.
Markus’ eyes grew distant as the explosion dyed down into a wildfire. The night fell back into it’s original darkness.
“Shrug that one off, sir. There was nothing you could have done better.” Private Walker saw Markus’ grief. Not like he could miss it. “There’s always a second chance to do better.” Charles reassured. Markus’ eyes fell back on the distant garage that was now a smoldering crater.
“Where’s their second chance?” The Private didn’t have an answer for that one. The two stood in silence for nearly a minute before Markus turned around and resumed walking to the position of his new orders, the downed dropships.
“Let’s go.” A cold tone dipped into Markus’ voice that Walker could tell was reflective of what Markus was feeling. Pain. Grief. Guilt.
“Sir, mistakes happen, that wasn’t your faul-“ Markus whirled around and drilled the Private.
“I said let’s go!” Markus shouted in his face before turning around and resuming coarse. Charles Walker didn’t dare say anything after that. The two’s walk turned into a full sprint when they heard gunfire in the distance. Markus slowed to a halt when targets were actually in range. A dropship was crashed in the middle of a small clearing in the forest. Roughly five soldiers who looked much like Private Walker in equipment were pinned down behind debris. Three uniformed pirates held suppressing fire from trees as three more advanced towards them while three more moved around to flank them. The two arrived just in time. Markus dropped to prone position and grabbed his sniper rifle.
“Frag the guys on their flank, then take out the suppressing fire.” Private Walker looked down at Markus who was already lining up a shot with surprise. Just a little reminder why Markus was an Elite and Charles wasn’t. Charles pulled out a frag grenade and hit the button before hurling it at the three men flanking the Separatist soldiers. He then aimed his rifle at one of the three men who’s back was to Markus and Charles and held the trigger down. He quickly fell under the high power of the assault rifle. Charles switched targets to the second man who was holding suppressing fire. He did roughly the same thing.
Just when Charles was switching targets to the third man, the grenade exploded, leaving his senses in chaos. Markus had already taken two shots at the men advancing on the pinned soldiers and downed one when they turned around to fire on Charles. Markus quickly pulled the trigger three times in rapid succession, but it wouldn’t be fast enough. If the pinned men didn’t stand up and finish the three advancers off, Charles would have been done for.
Luckily for all of them, the third man was in the middle of reloading his submachine gun when Markus and Charles flanked all of them, so he was in no position to take out Charles or Markus, otherwise he would have. The man just dropped his half reloaded submachine gun and pulled his pistol. Charles had regained his senses by that time and dropped to the ground while pulling his pistol from it’s holster. The uniformed pirate got the first shot off, but it missed due to Charles quick decision to drop to the ground. Charles fired three rounds. Two which easily bounced off his chest plating with little to no effect, the third, however, hit his face and killed him.
The pinned soldiers stood up and finished any survivors off. Markus stood and nodded in approval at Charles before approaching the men he had just saved.
“Private Phil Boldgers of the fifth platoon. Are you the Elite they sent, sir?” Markus pulled the magazine out of his rifle and jammed another one in.
“You could say that. What’s the situation, Private?” Markus could tell the fear and heat of battle still lingered in Phil’s mind.
“Oh, man.” He looked at the ground and rubbed the back of his neck while pacing a few steps. “We were on our way in through stealth drop. Virtually invisible, right? Wrong. They gunned us down, I don’t know how.” The Private paused and took a few breaths. “The three shuttles crash landed in different places. Each had twenty soldiers in them. Only half survived the crash on my shuttle.” He reported, gesturing to the large area of flattened trees and scattered debris where the shuttle hit before skidding to the location it was at now.
“The other half got killed in the firefight with the clean out crew the pirates sent. We would have been killed if it weren’t for you.” Markus rubbed his eyes. The situation couldn’t be any better with the other shuttles.
“Come on, we need to find those other shuttles before more cleanup crews get to them.” Markus began walking towards the next nav-point identified on his Palm-Comm displayed on his helmet.
“These pirates are sure more organized then I expected.” Pvt. Walker said, examining a fatally wounded soldier before standing up and following Markus.
“Yeah” Pvt. Boldgers agreed, “And I’ve never seen a uniformed pirate group.”
“I don’t think they’re pirates.” Another soldier spoke up. “I think they’re an organized military.”
“Impossible, the Separatists are the only ones in Separatist space or we wouldn’t call it ‘Separatist space’” Walker argued as the seven moved out of formation, following Markus.
“Cut the chatter.” Markus ordered with his newly found menacing voice. He raised his rifle to the ready position and pulled back the slide. “I’ve got enemies to destroy.”
Good work. It's still feels a bit clunky at points but that's because it is lacking the touch of editing/writing experience, and that's simply something that comes with time, work and proper critique.
Can't wait to see where this goes... But I have my suspicions though...
Edited by Warhawk on 5/1/2013 3:39 PM PDT
Thanks so much, War! Don't worry... I planned this ride out... It should be a good one :)
It's still feels a bit clunky at points but that's because it is lacking the touch of editing/writing experience, and that's simply something that comes with time, work and proper critique.
Right, I haven't been editing a whole lot lately :\
Would you mind, next time you notice, quoting the clunky points. Next time you have to reread something or stop and say, "Wait what?" Or however you define "clunky", just quote it for me.
The five marines, six including Walker, followed Markus through the forest. They picked up their pace when they heard gunfire in the distance. The seven sneaked up the hill and found the crashed shuttle in a small valley. The survivors of the crash were hunkered down. They had successfully built small barricades and the crash zone provided a small natural ditch. Ten men squatted under cover exchanging rounds with oncoming pirates who had the high ground advantage and trees for cover.
Markus and the men began to walk around the small dip where the shuttle had crashed into the perfect flanking position. All seven soldiers stood up at the same time and unloaded a barrage of rounds downrange, slaughtering the ten troops laying siege on the shuttle crash survivors. Silence ensued the slaughter before Markus and his six followers slid down the small natural crater and greeted the survivors.
“Lieutenant Luke Parker at your service, Elite. Give me a report.” A man in an Officer’s uniform ordered Markus. Technically, he couldn’t order Markus to do anything unless he subjected himself to his orders, but Markus was no leader. Past events proved it and he would gladly report to an officer who wanted to be the leader.
“Elite John Murphy of the BlackJacks. I was sent to recover your men. I reached shuttle two and found five survivors.” Markus told the CO, gesturing to all but Walker. “We then proceeded to shuttle three and pulled you out of the fire.” The honest looking officer wiped sweat from his brow.
“I don’t know how the hell they did it, but they shot down all three shuttles. Luckily we were the last to go down, so our pilot had time to react and slow down. He saved all twenty men aboard the shuttle at the cost of his own life. We tried to establish communication, but it’s all fried. We decided to activate our beacon and bunker down until reinforcements arrived. By the time you got here we lost six guys.” Lieutenant Parker said, gesturing to five body bags.
“I understand. We should move to the last shuttle before it’s too late.”
“Agreed.” Lt. Parker examined Markus’ followers. “You have all been reassigned to my squad, as your squad leader is KIA.” He declared. “Now let’s move out!” the twenty soldiers began marching towards the assumed crash spot for the last shuttle.
“Technically, you don’t have to come with us, but we could sure use your help.” Parker told Markus before joining his men. Markus gave them a head start while he thought about whether he should join them or report for additional orders. He decided to join them in the hunt for the final shuttle, at least until he had additional orders to override his.
Markus jogged up alongside Private Charles Walker.
“It’s good to have an official CO again.” Charles muttered to himself. He didn’t realize how possibly offensive that could have been to Markus, so he followed it up with, “No offense.”
“Non taken, I agree.” Markus told Charles. “Speaking of an official CO, what can you tell me about Lieutenant Parker? I seem to have run across his name a few times in training.”
“Yeah, he’s a hell of a soldier and leader.” Charles told Markus, “He’s revered for his honesty and kindness while still being able to slit your throat. His tactical prowess is unmatched among Lieutenants of his rank and he is among the best strategists of his league. Rumor has it he was considered for the Elites, but turned it down.” Markus and Charles met eyes.
“Why?” Charles shrugged,
“Beats me. I would accept in a heartbeat.” Normally Markus would pat him on the shoulder and say something comforting like, ‘we need a good soldier like you.’ Or, ‘you’d fit nicely in our ranks’ but no. Markus didn’t feel up to comforting someone right now. He preferred to smash some skulls instead.
“Elite Murphy! Front and center!” Lt. Parker called. Markus ran up to the front and stood at attention. “I need you to scout out ahead and tell me what you see. Use your advanced cloaking to bypass any men on the way and find out the situation. The crash site should only be a few hundred feet away.” Normally Markus would respond with, ‘yes sir’ and run off, but he knew his cloaking module was a giant paperweight with their advanced technology. They had proven several times they could see right through his state of the art cloaking field.
Markus examined the Lieutenants eyes, then looked back at the shell shocked soldiers. Some were panting, others were gripping wounds, all of them were watching him. Looking up to him. Charles knew Markus’ cloaking module was outdated compared to their enemies technology. He’s the one that pulled him out of the fire when they fired on his position even when his cloaking field was activated.
“Yes sir.” Markus answered reluctantly. Charles Walker pushed his way through the troops.
“Murphy, you don’t have to do this.” Markus looked at the outlying forest, pillars of smoke rose from the pirate complex currently under siege.
“Yes I do.” He answered Charles and ran out ahead, not giving Charles any time to argue back. The lieutenant didn’t know why Charles would try and stop him, nor why it was significant that Markus went anyways. After Markus was out of sight, Lt. Parker looked at Pvt. Walker as if looking for an answer.
“He’s a bloody hero.” Charles said, looking back at where Markus had vanished to.
Markus hadn’t heard or seen their exchange. He was running into the distance. The gunfire at the far end of the compound got louder as he drew closer and closer to the base, also where the final shuttle had crashed. Markus slowed to a halt and hid behind a tree when he saw a patrol of three men.
“Nobody survived.” One uniformed pirate reported.
“Did you check over there?” Markus peaked around the corner and saw debris scattered everywhere while half the shuttle sat atop a tree and the other half was strewn all over the ground below.
“Of course I checked over there!”
“Well, what about up there?”
“Are you kidding? It’s like a furnace up there, nobody could survive the heat alone.”
“Fine. Radio to control that all three crash sites have been clear.” A small pause ensued as the soldier taking orders thought about his command.
“But they aren’t. Shuttle two’s squad never reported in and last we heard of the third crash site, they were closing in.”
“I gave you a direct order, soldier!” Soldier? Why would they call their fellow pirates ‘soldiers’ Markus thought. The man sighed before following his orders.
“Good, now let’s get out of here before something really bad shows up. Comm traffic suggests a squad of Elites has touched down.” Both other men swore,
“Don’t worry, most Elites favor stealth. With our new visors, we can see right through ‘em.”
The three chuckled before walking towards Markus’ tree. They continued talking about something, but Markus was too focused to hear the details. Something about their more advanced technology. Markus pulled his pistol in his right hand and his knife in his left for close quarters combat while waiting patiently for them to pass.
“I fought an elite once.” One soldier told the other two. The others expressed disbelief before he finished. “One hell of a fight, that’s for sure. I was moving in a patrol when he gunned down half of us, then dropped down in the middle of our formation and engaged in CQC. He took everyone out until it was just us two, one on one. He jabbed his knife into my gut and got in close to my ear before whispering, ‘Boo.”
“Sounds like a stealthy mother f-“ The man didn’t get to finish his sentence. They had passed Markus by three feet and little did they know Markus had the man in the sights of his silenced pistol. A quick pull to the trigger dropped him quickly.
Markus thrust towards the other two and kicked the third man down before jabbing his knife into the first, the one telling the story, and, catching his fall, eased him to his back. Holding the back of the story teller’s head with the same hand that held his knife, Markus leveled his pistol at the third pirate, who was climbing to his feet from a swift kick in the back.
While keeping eye contact with the man he was holding, he raised his pistol and shot the man three times in the chest. Markus’ prisoner gagged on blood spilling out of his mouth as he tried to catch his breath, but with a hole in his chest it proved too much. Markus lowered his head down to the ground gently before standing up and leveling his pistol to the man’s head.
“Boo.” The words glided across Markus’ lips as true fear entered the man’s heart. Markus pulled the trigger hastily, putting a bullet in his head. A sly grin spread across his face in delight. Strange. Markus had never taken delight in killing before. It didn’t matter now. What was done was done. Who cares if Markus enjoyed it? Markus switched on his night vision and surveyed the area. Nothing but dead separatists. There was no way a single one survived with the blaze of fire on the tree tops.
“Lt. Parker, the area is clear.” Markus said into his radio. “No survivors.”
“No surviving separatists or hostiles?” Markus gazed towards his fresh three kills.
“Good work, Murphy. Rendezvous on your position in thirty seconds.” Markus holstered his pistol and sheathed his knife before looking off into the distance. He hated standing around while others fought. While others died. Soon enough, Lt. Parker and his men showed up.
“No survivors, sir.” A Separatist said after examining a body and checking a pulse. The lieutenant swore.
“We could have used those soldiers for our objective.”
“What?” Markus asked, taking a step towards Luke Parker, “You’re objective?”
“I was sent to the middle of the compound to restrict enemy movement. I’ll be damned if that isn’t exactly what I do.” Lt. Parker began walking towards the gunfire. Towards the sun rising in the distance. The Dawn was hitting. So soon? They were on a smaller planet after all.
“Lieutenant, you lost a third of your men!” Markus reasoned, gesturing to the dead bodies. Parker drilled Markus, then examined his squad behind him, then the three men Markus had killed, then finally back at Markus.
“You are a third of my men. Come with me or don’t, I can do this either way.” The man said, pulling a cigarrete from a pristine case before leading the way to the compound.
Looks good. Pacing, language, etc.
Like the little conformation right here:
“I gave you a direct order, soldier!” Soldier? Why would they call their fellow pirates ‘soldiers’ Markus thought. The man sighed before following his orders.
that somethings up. ;P
And no 'clunky bits' in this update.
Lt. Parker’s squad moved silently in formation. Markus run up alongside Lt. Parker and Pvt. Walker. They all jogged on minute upon minute as the distant gunfire became louder and louder.
“Check your targets and watch for crossfire.” Lt. Parker barked loudly after the squad hit a small bank. They all vaulted it and continued climbing the hill.
“Do you have a plan?” Markus asked, catching his breath.
“Use the element of surprise and brute force to punch a hole into the main complex. Out everything we find until we get to the top floor where we can actually restrict enemy movement. Then we keep moving and keep the enemy guessing so they can’t send fire teams.”
Markus nodded in approval. It sounded like a sound strategy to Markus. He wasn’t a strategist, however. Best leave those details for the commanding officers.
With that, Parker led the way towards the fortified east entrance of the complex. Several sandbags were strategically positioned at the only gap in the walls, effectively creating a bottleneck. To make matters worse, two large caliber guns guarded the enterance. The only cover provided was scattered debris and the occasional tree or rock. Luckily, the five guards visible to Markus weren’t paying attention.
“Lay heavy fire on their position on John’s mark.” Lt. Parker ordered his men through his radio. Markus looked at him for direction. “John, can you score me a few kills before anyone notices? When they start scrambling and you’re ready for suppressing fire, give the word.” Markus pulled his sniper rifle from his back and dropped to the ground. Peering through his scope, he could see three heavily armed men in the distance while two men with pistols were chatting. All five were just waiting for something. Markus would give it to them.
Taking a deep breath, Markus held it in as he lined up his crosshairs with one man’s head. Just when Markus had pressure on the trigger the man burst into laughter. They laughed? No, they were just murdering pirates. Markus was doing the galaxy a favor by getting rid of them. Markus yanked the trigger back with the thought. As soon as he did, the man in his crosshairs lifted a bottle full of alcohol and it burst to pieces along with his hand. The shellshocked man gaped at his bloodied hand, which had a newly found hole. The other man quickly dropped his handgun and his bottle and dove for the large caliber heavy machine gun stationed behind the sandbags on a tri-pod.
Markus swore and pulled the slide back, ejecting an empty cartridge. Looking down the sites of his scope, he quickly put the crosshairs on the man who was now just getting ahold of his massive weapon. Markus pulled the trigger slowly and the man’s head exploded in red mist. The weapon’s recoil disoriented Markus, but he was soon back at it. He could see the three men on the sidelines running in while the man with a useless hand scampered to cover.
“Move, move, move!” Markus yelled to the squad. All twenty one soldiers popped from their hiding places and charged the bottleneck. A wave of bullets tore apart the three men before they got close enough to the chain gun while other random pirates came from behind the walls. They were instantaneously picked off by one of the twenty three rifles aimed that direction.
“Advance, advance!” Lt. Parker ordered, being the first one to slide behind the sandbags the pirates had erected. It was a valuable asset that the pirates handed over. “Turn those chainguns around and show anyone who comes through that door why Separatist Space is the safest in the galaxy.” The Lieutenant ordered a nearby soldier, pointing at a distant door with four fingers before advancing into the courtyard followed by his squad and Markus.
“All clear!” Pvt. Walker shouted after a few seconds of looking around.
“Good. All Rally on me!” All twenty one squad members followed the Lieutenant to the door.
“Lieutenant Parker, come in Lieutenant Parker, this is mission control.” Commander Taylor came in over Parker’s squad’s radio.
“This is Parker with what’s left of the fire team, come in mission control.”
“We need your firepower, Lieutenant. The inner North gate is vulnerable. If it doesn’t hold, we lose our foothold in the complex. The gate is the key to maneuverability around the whole battlefield. We took it head on, now we need to make sure it stays clear of hostiles. Get your men up there and hold the line!”
“Is Elite Murphy accompanying you?” Commander Taylor asked. Odd question. Markus couldn’t help but perk up a little when his name was mentioned.
“Affirmative. He’s making up for our loss of men, sir.”
“Acknowledged. Mission Control out.” Luke Parker returned his attention to the small courtyard he had recently secured.
“Formation breach, position one!” He hollered as everyone got in the position he called for. Parker opened the door remotely with his Palm-Comm and stormed in headlong. Him and Markus were the first ones in, followed by the rest of the squad. All twenty two separatists made their way down the long hall. Every once in a while someone would come out of a door on the left or right of the hall and get immediately gunned down.
Eventually they reached the end of the hall. On their left and right were two staircases descending into shadows. Directly in front of them was a large metal door leading to the inner North gate. Parker stopped short of the door and halted his squad. Lt. Parker was about to open the door when he froze, then grunted before clenching his fists. Markus looked at him with hungry eyes, hoping for an explanation.
“Murphy, I need you to go down there and rescue the dismembered squad.” Parker told Markus, pointing at the dark staircase to his left with four fingers.
“Have you been listening to Comm-Traffic? Command sent our best squad to defend this gate. They requested backup and it was granted. Another twenty soldiers, along with your friend, Elite Ramey Brossen, were sent to reinforce them. We haven’t heard from a single one of those soldiers yet.”
An awkward silence ensued as Parker drilled Markus with eyes that expected him to understand. Markus thought back to when the Blackjack’s were in the garage and Ashley had assigned Ramey to go with them. That made him think about the rest of his squad. Markus’ eyes wandered to the floor until Lt. Parker brought him back to reality.
“Don’t you see? Everyone sent here has gotten crushed! I have faith some of them got smart. If Elite Brossen is as good as his file suggests, he would take all of the wounded down there.” Lt. Parker pointed down the staircase with four fingers again. “Get him and anyone else back up here. We will need all the help we can get.”
The last few statements left Markus in confusion about Lt. Parker. At first it seemed he was just a well-informed commanding officer. Then he expressed concern for the wounded and admiration for Ramey. The last order made Markus scrunch his brow. He wanted Markus to get the wounded and bring them up to fight?
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