Escape and Evade
Flight Commander Reyna Hevn crouched behind the overturned desk, her rifle propped on the edge pointed towards the door. While not an expert in close quarters fighting even she realized that the first sign of the enemy would typically be a hole appearing in a wall or ceiling. Veterans never came through the doors – the fatal funnel where even the untrained could exact a toll.
However, better the door then wildly sweeping the room in panic. The focus combined with the feel of the trigger under her finger gave her purpose. Purpose kept her calm. In the air she knew her place but like a bird with a broken wing she felt vulnerable – waiting for a predator to find an easy meal.
The landing on this small moon went initially unopposed to the point that many of the ground units were recalled. They were needed on another nearby moon. Once the drawdown had finished the Scourge then attacked from seemingly every direction.
The battle was now in favor of the enemy who had almost double the current PHR forces. The overall commander was rushing additional forces back with the admonition to “hold”. That meant digging in for the dust suckers while the air arm made strike after strike. The line was barely holding.
The day started normal enough – her Athena, reconfigured for atmospheric combat, had been loaded with a mine pack. To bolster a weakened area she and her wingman were to lay down a minefield. A mix of anti-personnel and anti-vehicle AI controlled mines would be a major obstacle for any attacker.
Flying between hills was in theory safer. Except that a unit of Reapers had been covering the flank including the notch they flew out of. Even as control began to be lost due to hits by the specialized anti-air units, she calmly banked sharply while releasing her payload. Flung out by the centrifugal force the mines scattered more widely then intended.
With satisfaction, she noted that one of the Reapers was close enough for an AV mine to trigger. An eye searing purple-blue flash above the Scourge unit was followed by an green flash from the ground. As an insect pinned to a board the plasma speared then gutted the biomechanical menace.
Feathering her engine’s she pitched her nose down trading height for speed. She needed to clear Scourge lines before ejecting. Using all of her skill she hoped to be able to reach PHR lines, but this was not to be. She instead ended up in the no-man’s land between the two sides.
Once her escape pod landed she quickly gathered here evasion kit then flipped the switch that zeroed the computer while setting the destruct timer. Hurrying away the sound of an Athena grew louder as her wingman passed behind her dumping his mines. This caused a small wave of relief as she realized her back was now covered.
Focusing on a nearby building, she entered the structure. Pistol up she found a relatively secure room to take stock of her situation. Reyna removed the items from her evasion kit – light torso armor, pre-made survival pack, clip on communication/HUD interface, an AX-7 carbine with spare ammunition. Most importantly her E&E data node.
Attaching the node to the clip port in her arm it instantly downloaded local maps and force dispositions. The map was accurate as of 10 minutes ago within a 50-mile radius of her pods touch down point. With a wry smile, she noted the most recent update added two bright points for the last known position of the Reapers.
As she finished donning her armor and clipping the rest of the kit to various attachment points a chime sounded in her skull. Responding to the secure link she mentally sent her assent to allow the transmission. A monotone voice immediately replied.
“Flight Leader Hevn – rendezvous at the point shown. A suggested path to the extraction point is provided. You are free to deviate from the path but the extraction point is mandatory. Send code Clipped Wing when at extraction point.”
Noting the thin glowing path the extraction point was roughly three blocks away. Reyna realized that distance meant that she had crashed closer to the Scourge lines then her own. Not wanting to be caught and… turned… by these biological horrors, she scurried towards the glowing dot of salvation.
Her journey was relatively uneventful. Early on, she caught sight of a Scourge patrol but successfully hid until they had passed by. She veered off the path given to her on a number of occasions due to hearing suspicious noises, catching fleeting movement and once a gut reaction gave her pause before dashing across an open area. Stumbling upon the body of an Immortal she said a silent prayer to the Sphere while pocketing the grenades still on the body.
Approaching the extraction point, a small single story building with one wall missing, she quietly stated, “Clipped wing”. Her comm answered with a small tone signaling assent. With a sigh of relief, she began to jog across the street to her destination.
The cracking of weapons fire as rounds impacted around her turned the jog into a sprint.
Her momentum carried her into the building being stopped when she slammed into a wall. She quickly moved away from the fire and towards the areas closest to Republic lines. Finding a room that had been an office, she flipped the heavy desk over as barricade. Other items were hastily piled in front of the door to impede movement.
Reyna nervously awaited a message that the extraction team was close while listening for telltale sounds of the enemy. Her augmented senses soon picked up the noise of feet moving slowly down the corridor. She threw the grenade out the door when the sounds stopped. The small disc bounced off the wall and down the corridor.
Cries of panic arose combined with the thudding of running feet. This was followed by an actinic flash then screams, which eventually fell into silence. Dust billowed in thru the door while shrapnel whined and pinged in the corridor.
As the minutes ticked by no further movement could be detected. Reyna found this odd – the grenade could not have neutralized the entire enemy. She glanced at the walls and the ceiling attempting to detect if the Scourge would try another means of entry.
Then the sound of silk over metal could be heard. Turning back to the door her blood turned cold – just on the other side of her pitiful barricade were two razorworms. Their cold insect eyes fixed on her. With an audible hiss, exposing dagger like teeth and causing their barbed scales to extend, they flowed into the room like greasy quicksilver. The ensuing battle lasted seconds though to Reyna it felt as if a lifetime passed.
One razorworm briefly became tangled in the detritus by the door. That was all the time Reyna needed to take up the slack on her trigger. A short burst tore the worm in two; each half writhed spastically while dark ichor sprayed the walls. The second flitted into her vision as it took cover amongst the additional debris in the room.
She could hear sharp claws clicking near the far wall. Even with the vaunted speed of a razorworm, Reyna felt confident she would be able to kill it. The distance between the two combatants was sufficient, especially when combined with her modified reflex wetware.
Waiting for the inevitable attack, she dredged up what she recalled from briefings on these creatures. They were hosts thus highly intelligent. They were feared hand-to-hand creatures adept at room clearing. They were always in units of three. They also had… wait… units of three?
Too late Reyna realized the worm in the corner was a distraction. The third had silently come around the side of the door. Before she could react, the worm hit her from behind. Slammed face first into the floor, the breath knocked out of her, she was dimly aware of claws puncturing her sides. Her armor was quickly shredded with the first slashes from fangs skinning troughs in her skin.
She now heard the enemy running down the hall. The worm became her friend as she fervently hoped it would kill her before she was captured. Death was preferable then becoming a host.
A flurry of gunfire sounded- rapid, higher pitched then normal Scourge weapons. The worm on top of her went slack – collapsing on Reyna before sliding off. Lifting her head, she saw the other worm mere feet away with no head attached.
She felt a hand on her back while a commanding, yet feminine voice asked “Flight Leader, are you badly injured? Can you move?” Rolling into a sitting position Reyna came face to face with one of the vaunted members of the Siren corps. Her squad sisters had secured the room while others crouched in the hall their pistols facing to provide them the widest possible field of vision.
Blood ran down her back while breathing was painful. Reyna mused her ribs were cracked if not broken as the injury was registering past her pain interference implant. Looking up she met the steely gaze of the Siren whose hand was out stretched to help her rise.
“Yes – by the Sphere I can walk out of here” she stated while firmly grasping the proffered hand.
Stories set in the Dropverse.
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