Tweet of the Day: Will Readers Find Your Protagonist Worthy?
Camp Kendrick, 55 km Southeast of the Ebon Mountains, Chav, Landam System, Crescent Nebula, April 2, 2197
Admiral Landry, Colonel Puller and I stood around the holo table as reports of Operation Ocelot collapse came over the radio, “This is Sierra-4, we are under fire—enemy closing in—perimeter—heavy jamming-”
Cerberus waited until the shuttles landed to open fire with well positioned artillery dug deep into the mountain side. The same artillery and anti-aircraft systems that survived an hour long orbital bombardment.
“No contact with Sierra 1 through 3, ma’am,” said the Tech Sergeant.
“Do we have a visual?” asked Puller.
“Enemy shut down all our drones, SSV Boston coming over head. Imagery coming through,” said the sergeant. A holographic window opened. It showed the overhead image of the Ebon Mountains from orbit. The image zoomed in onto Sierra-4’s position. Marines clustered around a downed shuttle. Enemy fire came at them from all directions. One marine cradled the body of the pilot, head split open.
“They are—turrets—boxing us in—ready for another push–” one of the marines collapsed, “snipers–Roeden is down-”
My skin crawled. Fear crept in, fear born out of frustration, out of a creeping sense of failure. The plan fell apart. Losses mounted. It was one thing to be in the thick of it, to be able to do something, anything, but I stood there, a mere bystander, arms crossed, impotent. The memories came unbidden.
Achilles reports an imminent eezo core meltdown.
Agamemnon’s main battery and thrusters are off line.
“Boston unable to provide fire support. They say their circular error probability of their broadside is too large, Wait one, elcor heavy weapons platoon moving into position,” said the sergeant.
A monotone voice came over the comm, “With utmost haste. We are on our way.”
The elcor moved too slow. It was in their nature as creatures that evolved in a heavy gravity world where a single slip could shatter bones.
“How about getting some gunships in there?” I asked
Puller looked up from the holo, “The area is too hot.”
“Elcor platoon in position. Firing,” said the sergeant.
“Do we have the location of the enemy artillery,” asked Landry.
“Estimated positions only, ma’am,” said the sergeant.
“Have Boston counter-battery those positions. Launch the evac shuttles,” said Landry.
Fountains of dirt erupted around Sierra-4’s position. Each shot obliterated a clump of Cerberus forces. The others retreated back into their holes. The elcor lifted their barrage seconds before the evacuation shuttles swooped into the landing zone. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The losses estimate came in half an hour later. Four shuttles lost, five gunships shot down, forty-two marines and navy crewmen gone. I walked outside to stare at the midday sun. Striker was somewhere deep inside the mountain. Did he think he could escape his fate? How many lives was he willing to throw away to avoid the inevitable? To a coward like him it didn’t matter.
“You chose your bed and I am going to bury you in it,” I muttered under my breath.