“Alright”, he whispered, “ we know that knives can cut through their skin and water can really hurt them if they get hit with it, so put your bayonets on and keep your knives close. We’re going to go with 2 squads, one squad to my left and one to my right; I’ll go straight up the middle. Mickey and Jenkins on the left, Rollins and Michaels on the right. Each squad takes a shotgun and a grenade launcher. Use the launcher sparingly; make sure there is at least 2 in the kill zone before you fire. I’ll head over to the water tower and drop it on their heads. Standard attack procedure, staggered fire and when you have to reload drop to the ground. Only use the shotguns if they get close, they’re loaded with 12-gauge buckshot, so they should punch a nice hole right through them. Don’t get hit by their weapons, you saw what one shot did to me, it looked bad and felt way worse… DO NOT get caught in the open, use the bodies as cover if you have to. We know these can feel pain and we know they can bleed, if anything else, that means we know these things can be killed. They’re not invincible. If you can group them together for a grenade shot, do it. Standard radio silence procedures until absolutely necessary. I’ll make one click over the radio and when you’re in position, two clicks. It looks like there’s about 20-30 of them between us and the hangars so it’s not going to be an easy fight…” He paused as he looked at each of them individually and nodded. “I want you all to know that it has been an honour to have trained you and to fight by your side.” He put his hand into the center of the circle. Each of them put their hand on top of his in turn. “Through Blood and Sand…” he whispered to them.
“We will prevail!” they all replied in unison. With that, they broke into their squads and spread out across the courtyard taking cover behind overturned vehicles and Gardens with cement walls.
Sarge clicked once over the radio when he made it to the cover he had spied from behind their staging truck. It was a small water feature with a lush vibrant collection of flowers around it. Well… they were lush at one point, now they were half trampled with two bodies of fellow soldiers laying among them.
Two clicks sounded in quick unison over the radio, followed by two more. Good. He thought to himself, everyone is in position. He watched the enemy as the clicks sounded over the radio and each time a click sounded, they stopped moving and appeared to be looking around. Fuck! They can track our comms. He realized a little too late. Not able to use the radio he looked to his left hoping to catch the eye of either Jenkins or McCague. Jenkins was peering over their cover and saw the sergeant waving at them. Quickly, the Sergeant made three quick movements with his hands to signify the comms were compromised and that he would fire the first shot. Jenkins signaled back the acknowledgment and the sergeant looked to his right to tell Rollins and Michaels the same thing, but he couldn’t find them. He craned his neck looking to his right to try and locate the other two members of his small squad but he couldn’t. Shit! He thought to himself. I gotta start this up before they open up on these things themselves. He resolved as he turned around and hefted his rifle.
As he was searching for a target he realized that it was near impossible to differentiate each target when they moved in unison together, so he came up with an idea. He grabbed his radio and thumbed the mic to talk to his squad “Alright, it looks like these things can track our comms. I’m going to start this up but we need them to split up a little more. I want everyone to grab a target; make sure there’s no overlapping and hold your fire…” He watched as the aliens stopped their searching of the bodies and moved towards them, separating into each individual entity at they went. “We got ours”, Michaels and Rollins called out over the comms, “The two moving on the far right near the scissor jeep on fire.”
“Acknowledged,” The sergeant replied over the radio.
“We also have our targets”, Jenkins responded. “We got the two moving near the front of the left side, right by the memorial plaque to General McKorbin.”
“Also acknowledged.” The sergeant replied. Now he just needed to find his own. As he watched the aliens moving towards them across the courtyard, he saw a small group of them, maybe five total that were going to move dangerously close to refueling station. Perfect! “ I have my targets as well”, The sergeant replied over the comm. “Wait until I open fire then drop your targets you’ve selected. Hopefully we can catch most of these guys by surprise to help even the odds…”
He rested his rifle on the wall of the fountain and hefted the grenade launcher. He checked to see which rounds Michaels had loaded into them, High explosive. This kid always did know the way to my heart, he mused as he closed the tube and aimed down the sight. He sat waiting for his targets to move into his kill zone. He could see them as they moved across the ground, barely touching it. They were almost gliding, slightly off the ground barely leaving any tracks. The group he was watching moved up to the fueling station and split around it, three on the left and two on the right. This was it. He thumbed the safety off and let the round loose.
He felt the recoil of the launcher and heard the massive Whump as the round left the barrel and armed for the kill as it sailed through the air. The aliens heard the sound and shrieked into the air warning the others, but it was too late. The grenade round hit the fueling station and exploded in a massive fire ball. The sound of the explosion hid the sounds of his troops open up on their targets and all of a sudden the enemy force was dropped by nine combatants.
“Weapons free! Let ‘em have it!” The sergeant barked over the radio.
He loaded a new round into the launcher and swung it over his back and he bent down to retrieve his rifle. He pulled the bolt back to check the breach and make sure a round was loaded into the chamber. He thumbed the safety off and stood up from his cover. He saw the enemy force moving forward towards his squad and began popping rounds off at any alien he could see. As he ducked to reload he heard his men opening up and shouting “GET SOME!” as alien after alien dropped. As he knelt to reload he couldn’t help but think that this battle sounded an awful lot like the great fireworks displays they used to have in the U.S.A of the old earth. He’d seen video recordings of them in school; ever since the old world fell and U.E. formed, nobody celebrated like that anymore, but he wished he could’ve seen it live, just one time. He popped back up and checked the progress of the fire fight. He could see his squad was holding their own but he didn’t know if there was enough to turn the tide. He spied one of the water refill stations less than a 100 meters from his current position. The only issue was, there were a couple of aliens using a burning vehicle for cover right in front of it. He quickly scanned the rest of the battlefield and noticed the squad had the majority of the other enemies occupied, but he wasn’t sure how long that would last. He knew that someone needed to get off this planet, but that didn’t necessarily mean it had to be him. He stood up from his cover and started running towards the water tower, as he ran he could see three aliens peer out from behind their cover to face him. As he ran, he grabbed a grenade from the back of the vest where he had tucked them. He pulled the pin, pushed the primer button and threw it at their feet as he continued running forward firing his rifle. One of the aliens looked down at the grenade and a screeched in anger. The grenade exploded in a massive fireball, More High explosive rounds… That kid is going to get recommended for demo crew, and rendered them into a silvery grey mist. The Sarge reached the water tower and turned around to see the last of the aliens fall to the ground.
“HA! Look at that! We don’t need water kill these things!” Rollins shouted from his position at the burning garden he had advanced to with Michaels. Rollins and Michaels began moving their way across the battlefield to the sergeant when the one that he had tagged at the start of the fray stood up and pointed its weapon at him.
“GUN!” was all the Sarge had time to say before he watched Rollins get ripped to shreds by the mysterious rounds from the rifle, unable to defend himself. The rest of the squad emptied their mags into the resurrected alien just to be sure it was actually dead. Michaels was kneeling over Rollins’ body to check on his status and administer first aid if necessary, it wasn’t. Rollins was dead. Just one more name to the thousands already lost in the attack. The sarge dropped the emptied mag out of his rifle and watched it hit the ground. As he saw it fall into the dirt he noticed some of the silvery grey liquid the aliens were made of sliding across the ground to one of the dead ones. It filled the bullet holes that covered the torso and the alien began to jerk and move before starting to get up.
“They aren’t dead! Blow them up! Sarge yelled as he fumbled for a new mag on his vest. He spun his rifle around so the bayonet was pointed at the alien and drive the bayonet through its face. He looked up and to his horror all the aliens they thought were dead began to move and start to rise. He loaded a fresh mag and began shooting them as they started to stagger up to their feet. “MICHAELS! DROP THE WATER TOWER WITH THE GRENADE LAUNCHER! NOW!” Sarge shouted over the comms.
“But Sarge you’re in the blast radius!” Michaels warned.
“DO IT NOW OR WE ALL DIE!” Sarge barked back as he began emptying his mag into the rising aliens.
Michaels raised the grenade launcher and squeezed off two rounds at the support beams of the water tower. Sarge heard the two whumps and felt the intense heat from the high explosive rounds and was thrown from his feet into the bushes 15 meters away. The water tower groaned, tipped and then collapsed, causing a veritable tsunami of water onto the battlefield. The water washed over all the bodies, human and alien alike. There was an ear splitting screech that pierced the air as the aliens began to bubble and sizzle. Michaels, McCague and Jenkins were knocked from their feet and disappeared under the rush of water. The force of the sudden flood knocked the already prone and battered sergeant unconscious as he was thrown around like a rag doll. The squad stood up out of the water that was ankle deep and coughed over the smell the aliens made as they dissolved. They moved quickly towards where they saw him get thrown and splashed through the water until they found the sergeant face down. Michales flipped him over immediately and checked to make sure he was breathing preparing to administer life saving measure to the same man again within 30 minutes. To his amazement, as he rolled the sergeant over, he was already conscious and coughing the water up out of his lungs.
“You know, I never liked having to run check & refill duty on those things…” the Sarge said with a wry smile, “ … but right now, they are the most beautiful thing on this planet.”
“I think you have a concussion…” Michaels laughed as he sat the Sarge up.
“Well one thing is for sure,” Sarge said as he wrinkled his nose at the smell wafting over the courtyard. “They’re definitely dead now.” They let out a small chuckle in unison until they remembered Rollins was dead. They somberly moved through the receding water to find his body and reclaim his ident tags. As the Sarge collected the tags from their fallen comrade, the squad heard a noise coming from the bushes behind them towards the hangars. They all whipped around weapons at the ready, Sarge having lost his weapon when he was thrown, quickly drew his knife.
“If it’s another one of those things, you three open up and drop it. I’ll close once it’s on the ground and finish it with the knife before we douse the fucker with a canteen.” The sergeant told his squad.
“Roger.” The squad replied in unison as they placed their fingers on their respective triggers. After a few seconds where the quiet was deafening the sergeant could hear the blood pumping in his ears, he wondered if they were all hallucinating.
“We know you’re there! Come out now!” Sarge shouted towards the bushes in a last attempt to justify their paranoia. He and the entire squad were amazed to see a giant lion-like creature walk out of the bushes and face them. It growled a low throaty note at them and held up its great clawed paws. It stood roughly eight and a half feet tall. It walked on its hind legs and was a sandy brown colour with a large mane of golden hair that flowed from the top of its head to halfway down its face. It growled again, this time it moved one of its paws to its neck and tapped a small device barely visible under its mane. The device began blinking with a faint yellow light.
“What the fuck are you?!” Michaels shouted as he pointed his rifle at the new creature. “I will fucking end you if you do not answer me in 5 seconds!”
“I mean you no harm.” The creature said to the team in very delayed and broken English. “I am a scout from the Carian battle cruiser K’rahkmanak. I was sent to scout the battlefield before our combat force arrived.”
“How many fucking aliens are we going to meet in one day?!” Jenkins asked as she moved a few paces towards the sergeant, her finger still on her trigger.
“My species is at war with this affliction and has been for quite some time.” It responded with a more normal cadence and verbiage.
“Affliction? Are these aliens that we killed today a disease?” Sarge asked.
“They are not of my species’ creation.” the scout replied as he shook his great maned head. “They are from the blackness that births all other darkness.”
“Very poetic.” McCague remarked. “Hold on… If you’re alien how can we understand you?” He asked as he lowered his weapon slightly but didn’t move his finger from the trigger.
“We have a tiny machine that is implanted in our throat that acts as a universal translator.” He pointed a clawed finger at the small device he had touched earlier that was now showing a solid yellow light. “This allows us to communicate with all forms of life.” The scout replied.
“Alright, I’ve had just about enough aliens for one day. My squad is tired and hurt and we really don’t want to kill you but we will if you force us. We just want to get off this planet and back to our people so we can warn them about this threat you call the blackness.” Sarge said as he sheathed his knife, motioning for the other to lower their weapons.
“You have nothing to fear from me.” The Scout replied.
“Stand down. He’s obviously not here to kill us; he could’ve done that when we were all standing over Rollins.” Sarge said.
“Are you the only scout here?” Michaels asked as he slung his weapon over his shoulder and checked his mag count.
“Yes, I am.” The bipedal alien replied. “We only send one scout so as not to compromise large amounts of soldiers if we’re discovered.”
“You’re a huge space faring civilization and you only send one scout to an entire planet? Seems like you guys need to learn some things…” Jenkins said dryly as she loaded a fresh mag and did an amount count herself.
“You misunderstand me; I tracked your radio signal from orbit and found you.”
“Our radios are encrypted against every type of signal we know of.” Sarge stated.
“But not every signal my people know of.” The Scout replied.
“That actually tracks… those things could track our radio signals too. Makes sense that space faring species would eb able to track our signals. But it still doesn’t explain why you would only send one scout to an entire planet.” Jenkins replied snidely.
“Yours was the only signal I detected that was not of their origin.” The scout stated pointing at one of the dead crumpled aliens.
“You mean to tell me that we’re the only people with radios on the entire planet?” Jenkins inquired.
“No, I mean to tell you that you’re the only life form on this planet that is not of their creation.” The scout replied. The team all looked at one another; they all had a look of horror on their faces. The sarge was the one to ask the question that none of them would.
“Are you saying that we are the only ones alive on the planet?”
“Yes.” The Scout responded. “Come with me to my ship and you will get the answers you seek. You will also be able to contact your people to let them know what happened here. My commander will want to speak with the leader of your planet immediately.”
The sergeant looked at the squad, they all looked right back at him and nodded. He turned to the Scout and with obvious resignation he said, “It’s not like we have much choice… Lead the way”.