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Mass Effect/After Earth Chronicles: Ambush


Tweet of the Day: On Where Genres Come From and How to Stitch Them Together

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After Earth Chronicles: Ambush

Hades Gamma Cluster, Arvandor System, Arborea, March 3rd 2196

We got a warning that the slavers were incoming, ETA twenty minutes. Enough time to reach my position and activate the cloak.

I was in the zone.

No space in the zone for panic or hatred. Fear was useful, as warning sign, an alert of something to watch out for. In the zone, action supplanted thought. Honed reflexes took over. Actions determined by the need of the moment.  If the enemy charged, then hold, or flank, or counterattack. Information received, assimilated, acted upon in an endless cycle until the battled ended.

I looked through the scope at the batarian slavers. They divided in three groups: Packers, Holders, and Catchers. The Packers unloaded cages from the ship’s cargo hold. The Holders set up a perimeter around the landing zone with kinetic barrier generators. Squads of Catchers fanned out amongst the colony’s buildings.

Reports came in through the narrow ban network Pasha set up. It was a miniature version of the Flotilla’s ship-to-ship network. Small antennas a top each of the colonies buildings transmitted information on a point to point basis. Limited in range but almost undetectable unless someone stood in the path of the tight microwave beam.

“Planetary defense network, standing by.”

“All civilians inside the safe house and accounted for.”

“Ranger Two and Three report eyes on target.”

“Talon One and Two loaded and ready to go.”

I keyed the radio, “All units stand by. Ranger two and three, on my signal target generators first then fire at will.”

I cycled through the vid feeds on my eye piece. A pair of Catchers worked a pre-fab’s front door. One hacked the lock while the other watched his back. I switched to an interior view. The door slid open. An automatic turret activated. Gunfire cut down the batarian.  More gun turrets and security mechs sprung up from cover. I focused on the Holders. The first volley shot down the generators. A flip on the ammo selector change the rounds from standard to inferno I counted between breaths, held one and squeezed the trigger. The batarian’s head exploded like a ripe melon.

I was still in the zone.

“Pasha, deploy the heavy mechs. Talon, move in,” I said.

Packers ran back into the ship. One caught a round in the back. His burnt carcass slid down the loading ramp. The mechs pushed the Catchers into the open. Two Mantis gunships roared overhead, their machine guns mowed them down. Their corpses littered the open field.

No space for pity or elation in the zone. The batarians were targets to be serviced. The pirate ship took off in a cloud of dust. Action demanded a reaction.

“Pasha, activate defense grid.”

Missiles streaked in. The ship’s GARDIAN lasers shot down the first volley, but ground based mass accelerators ripped through the ship’s defenses.  The ship clawed for altitude. A second volley converged on the target. The missiles blasted huge holes in the  hull.  The smoking wreck disappeared over the horizon.

“Ranger One to Talon One, I need a pick up.”

Talon One hovered at the edge of the rooftop. I leapt into the open cargo compartment packed with a squad of colonial militia.

Rodan looked over his shoulder, “Colonel, the kid has something he wants to tell you.”

“Patch him through,” I said.

“Colonel, I detected an escape pod laving the ship before it crashed. It is twenty-two point four klicks from your location,” said Pasha.

“Understood. Tell Talon Two to continue to the main crash site, we are diverting to the pod.”

The pod crashed on a marsh at the edge of the Sudamount.

“No place for me to land, Colonel ,” said Rodan.

“Just get us as close as you can,” I said. I jumped from the cargo compartment to the ground below. I sunk to my knees on a pool of fetid water. The squad splashed around me.  The men fanned out, weapons at the ready. The pod door laid a few meters away, blasted free on impact. I peeked in, rifle barrel pointed at the occupant. Blood splattered all over the interior.

Corporal Hendricks scanned him with his omni-tool. “He is alive, barely,” he applied omni-gel to the wound. “I think he is going to make it, but that wound looks nasty.”

“Pasha, send in a medivac shuttle. We got a prisoner.”

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