“Jenkins… What did you do?!” Sarge asked astonished.
“Nothing Sarge! I swear! I just stepped over it!” Jenkins said defensively.
“You didn’t put anything on it or drop anything on it?!” Sarge inquired as he wiped some sweat off of his forehead.
“I mean we’re all sweating pretty hard Sarge, maybe some of my sweat dripped onto it, but I dunno…” Jenkins said.
“Give me your canteen!”
“Sure thing Sarge, but I need that back… they won’t give me another one from supply; they wanted my first born to give me this one!” Rollins joked as he handed over his canteen.
The sergeant unscrewed the top of the canteen and poured some water over the wound he had caused with his knife; to his amazement, the creature began to writhe on the ground with its limbs flailing. As they watched the alien spasm on the ground, the weapon that was attached to its arm started to fire uncontrollably.
“Jenkins! Stop that arm from moving…” The sergeant hissed, but even as the words left his mouth, he saw the weapon point at him. He felt the projectile hit him. It seared through him, moving like a hot coal through ice; clean cut, no shrapnel. The shot embedded into the wall behind him, soaked in his blood and bits of bone for a couple of seconds and then disintegrated into dust. He dropped to his knees and keeled over onto his face. Blood began pumping out of his wound at an alarming rate; with every heartbeat he could feel it leaving his body. He was rolled over onto his back by Jenkins, who yelled for the medic; as she tried to stifle the bleeding, but the Sergeant knew it was no good. He had sent the medic to the armoury to grab them weapons and he could feel he wouldn’t last much longer. Jenkins tried to stop the bleeding as much as she could, but it seemed to do as much good as trying to stop water rushing through a colander with your hands. The blackness was clouding his vision, he rolled his head to see Rollins taking the knife to the alien and tearing into it like a rabid dog. The alien finally stopped flailing and laid still, Rollins emptied the rest of his canteen onto the corpse and watched as it sizzled and bubbled. Sarge was snapped back into alertness by Jenkins, who had injected him with a shot of adrenaline out of her field pack. This brought pain, pain he had never experienced before, a white searing pain that was non diminishing, that seemed to intensify as pressure was applied to the wound.
“Jenkins… stop… just… stop.” the Sarge managed to say. “I sent McCague to the armoury… he’s not coming back in time for me.”
“Don’t say that! Mickey will be back soon, and he’ll patch you up, just you wait.” Jenkins promised.
“I’m not going to make it. You need to get the squad together and make your way towards the command center. If it’s still standing, that’s where we’d mount a defense. We have a contingency in place there, an improperly magnetized light drive that if you activate it, will vaporize this planet and anything on it. Once you activate the dive you’ll have 10 minutes to make it to a light capable ship and fight your way out of here before the planet goes up”.
He could see the blackness coming back with a vengeance and his vision clouded; he could feel cold hands gripping him and pulling him into the darkness. He looked up and he could see a doorway covered in a curtain emerge out of the black. He tried to get a bearing of his surroundings, but it was just pitch black, no light except for the glow the doorway gave off. He began to walk towards the doorway, each step he took he could hear different moments from his past. He heard his parents calling him for dinner on his sixth birthday, he heard his older sister saying her graduation speech and he even heard his grandfather telling him how proud he was of him for enlisting. As he got closer and closer to the doorway it got colder and colder, he could see his breath rising in the air before him and he felt like he was suffocating under ice. As he neared the doorway a hand reached through to grab him. When it made contact with his skin he felt a sharp pain and the sound of an aerosol can, he looked around and the hand retreated back into the veil. Suddenly, everything came back into sharp focus, all the light, colour, the smell of blood, the dirt and the pain. The pain that felt like someone was driving a red-hot poker through his shoulder and turning it round and round. He blinked his eyes quickly and saw Jenkins was putting pressure on his wound. He felt a sharp sting in his leg and the pain started to leave, like ice was being pumped into his body from the injection point on his leg and spreading slowly through his body. With barely any difficulty he turned his head to see Michaels standing above him, a can of quick clot foam in his hand.
“Please tell me you didn’t waste the quick clot and morphine on me, Michaels…” The Sergeant whispered as he laid on the ground.
“We need you Sarge, apart from Rollins, none of us have seen combat. You can’t go yet, we need you… more than you know.” Michaels replied in a quiet tone. He knelt down beside the sergeant examining the entry and exit wounds, “Let me finish patching you up before we do anything stupid…” He added as the Sarge moved into a seated position and attempted to stand. Michaels went to work as quickly as he could with his med kit. He packed the wounds with extra quick clot powder, covered them in waterproof bandages and then wrapped them in gauze. It wasn’t pretty, but it would do until they could get to a surgeon to deal with the hole through the sergeant’s shoulder. As Michaels finished his work, and was packing the remaining supplies away, the sarge stood up and faced his men.
“What do we do now Sarge?” Rollins asked as he stared at him. The rest of the squad had gathered around with the two who had been keeping watch around the building joining the huddle that had formed.
“I want to say that we are going to take back this base, but that’s not our primary objective anymore. Right now, our first objective is to find a light jump capable ship and get the fuck back to command. We’ve just had a first contact with an unknown alien enemy, and we cannot let them get further into our borders without warning everyone. They mopped the floor with us in no time flat, it’s obvious that most of our weapons are ineffective, but we can turn our greatest necessity into our greatest strength! We know that we can hurt them, and water seems to be one of the few things that can kill these bastards outright. We need to survive. We need to get word back so that we can hopefully come up with some sort of plan to stop these things. I know that we have light capable ships docked in hangar bay 7, but that is clean across the base. We’re going to have to move as quickly and quietly as we can to get there…” The Sergeant said as he addressed the squad.
“But there are so many of them! They took out the entire corps, what are we going to be able to do?” Jenkins said looking defeated as the rest of them murmured in agreement.
The Sergeant sighed as he looked at their faces. “I’m not going to lie to you; it’s not going to be easy. We are outmanned and we have no knowledge of the enemy deployment or force strength apart from what we’ve witnessed ourselves. We will find a way off this planet, we will get word back to command about these aliens and we will fight. We’ll fight because that’s what we’re trained to do, we’ll fight for our homes, but mostly we will fight for every single one of our friends and brothers & sisters in arms who died here today. Once we make our move to the ship, there’s a good chance they will see us and we WILL have to fight… but we will not give an inch, we will stand where the others have fallen, I have faith in you, I have faith that we will make it back.” His men looked at him again, the defeat on their faces replaced with cold hard resolve. Even in the face of certain death, they never lost their faith in him.
He looked at each member of his squad separately, slowly taking in everything about them: their eyes, their faces and most importantly their names. He had been on the business end of one of these alien things and he knew deep down, that there was a good chance that none of them were going to make it to that ship; or, if they did make it by some miracle, that they would get off the planet. “Alright, what kind of ordnance are we looking at?”
“We grabbed everything we could Sarge, a lot of it was untouched… It didn’t look like anyone had been there…” Brown said as he trailed off, implying that not one of their fellow soldiers had died with a weapon in their hand fighting back. He walked over to where they had dropped the 6 massive duffles full of gear when they had rushed back to help the sergeant. “We got a rifle, two pistols, 6 extra mags, 4 grenades and a tactical knife apiece. We have 2 shotguns between the 5 of us as well as 2 grenade launchers with 12 rounds each. We also managed to snag a Kevlar vest each as well as optics and radios.”
“Alright… Let’s get the hell out of here!” Sarge stated as he reached down to the weapons cache and racked the slide on a pistol.
“HOO RAH!” they all said as they loaded up. The sergeant gave the sign for radio silence as they moved out around the north side of the building. He peered around the corner to see what kind of enemy strength they were dealing with. Most of the aliens had disappeared, or maybe they hadn’t. Until you had one in your arms it was difficult to keep track of each individual alien when they moved in unison in a group. Slowly, he began being able to count them all individually, there were at least 30 still picking through the carnage around the base. Most of them were on the far side of the courtyard and towards the hangar bays on the far side of the base.
Great! He thought to himself.
Just what we need, more of them between us and our objective.
He spied an overturned supply truck about halfway through the courtyard that would provide them with a good staging area and motioned for everyone to follow him. They moved swiftly across the space with very little sound, like shadows moving through a forest at dusk. They didn’t speak at all, they didn’t need to, their roles were pre-defined. It only took 15 seconds for all 5 of them to cover the open ground between the mess hall and the truck.