Operation Driving Fog:2nd April 2015
"Well," Pure muttered to himself. "This is it." He couldn't shake the dream from his head as the Skyranger's belly opened up.
He and Alex stepped past the hydraulic arms, aiming their weapons into the distance. "Okay, alles klar," Alex rasped, holstering his submachine gun and loading a round into his sniper rifle ready for action.
Dabir stepped past them, assault rifle at the ready. "Okay, moving up," he called back. The six soldiers stepped gingerly onto the farm, eyes darting around looking for cover and targets.
The biggest feature they could see was the huge barn right in front of them. A red building built from wood, a ladder was nailed to an outside wall, presumably for maintenance purposes. "I'll take that and head on up, ja?" Alex pointed. The top of the barn would be a brilliant sniping position, provided nothing was inside the barn. Zax, realising this, led the way towards it, ready to breach.
Pure followed him, checking back to make sure no alien would sneak up on them. He felt remarkably exposed, despite knowing that there wasn't likely to be anything hiding near their position.
The four others formed up on the nearest wall, a window between them and the inside of the barn. Dabir and VR were on point. "First six metres your side's clear," VR hissed to Zax. "What's the plan?"
"You four breach," Flan responded curtly, as if that much was obvious. "Alex takes a sniping position up top, I move right and make sure we're not outflanked. Roaming snipers aren't normally something they prepare for." There was a lot of sense in her plan. Dabir nodded to VR, readying his rifle. The skull-faced soldier collected himself, checking his weapon one last time. He stepped back twice, ready for a short run up.
"We're in!" he shouted, leaping through the window. Dabir popped round to cover him, despite knowing there wasn't anything on this side. VR shored himself against a corner, poking his head round. "Wow, barn's clear," he said, moving off the corner and standing at ease. "Alright," Alex sighed. "Flan and I will move up." Pure noticed that he had begun to process Alex's accent as if it was normal. He supposed it would end up easier.
Flan wordlessly moved up to a small stack of crates. Her look was one of distaste.
Alex made his way up. There was an additional small floor above the main barn, with two platforms overlooking the building. As he did, Dabir, Zax and Pure moved into the barn. VR pressed forwards to the opposite corner, allowing them to cover a larger area.
"Hey," Pure pointed. "There's the UFO." It looked just like the one that had been shot down before. A wall was missing, green shimmers coming from exposed power lines. Zax nodded. "Set up here, let's take a moment." They did, covering three directions.
"So," Dabir turned to Zax. "What's the plan?"
"I don't know," Zax frowned slightly. "I was expecting something to be here. I guess this'll do as a base of operations." Pure sat against some hay bales, looking straight through the window at the UFO. The burnt metal was almost beautiful in the brief respite. "Is there anything we can expect?" he asked the officer.
"Well, we're expecting one of the Outsiders," Zax replied, checking out the door. "We've not had contact with them anywhere but on these UFOs. Asides from that, your guess is as good as mine."
"I guess that's something," Dabir grunted. "I'm gonna head up to back VR up, he's looking a bit lonely over there."
"Wait, wait," Zax ordered. "Listen."
"Hear that?" he whispered, eyes wide.
"What the hell was that?" Pure asked, not daring to believe it. He'd heard the sound before.
"I don't know, sounds like some sort of..." Zax screwed his face up. "Person. It sounds like they're shouting. Maybe they're in danger."
Pure shook his head slowly. "It... sounds like they've been muzzled." The sound was far, far too familiar. He half expected the sound of a jetpack.
"We'll get there," Zax replied, standing straight. "Dabir, move up."
"On the roof," Alex muttered into his radio. "Gonna move to the little platform, overwatch the entire area." He moved to the end and opened the window carefully, stepping in. The floorboards creaked with his weight, but held him.
"Position held, Flan, your side is clear."
Flan moved up. "UFO in sight."
She took cover next to a small pickup truck in front of the barn. She didn't quite trust Alex being on Overwatch to protect her from the right flank, from what she knew of the aliens, they weren't too concerned with single snipers.
VR lfited his gun. "Ready?" he asked Dabir. Man Jackson nodded.
The door opened with a creak, revealing two stacks of hay bales and a small fuel pump for tractors. The UFO was lying in the field beyond, surprisingly close by.
"Come on," Dabir motioned to VR.
"This isn't so bad," VR muttered. "Decent cover, quiet day."
"No contact yet doesn't mean it'll be easy," Dabir reminded him. He shifted the rocket launcher to his other shoulder, letting him lean more comfortably into the hay. The smell was some small comfort over the stench of burning metal and parched crops in the late American spring.
Flan studied the parked tractors before deciding to take cover between them. Taking cover against the UFO was probably the better idea, but the other tractor would block lines of sight from anything coming from behind.
Pure and Zax had taken up positions either side of the window. "Ready?" Zax queried. Pure was not. "Ready," he replied. The Corporal nodded. "Out you go, I'm on your six."
Pure scrunched up his face and vaulted through the window. Somehow, none of the glass touched him and he landed without incident on their other side, stepping on broken panes and frames. He made his way to the outer wall of the ship, hearing Zax crunching on shattered glass right behind him.
There was an odd chiming noise from inside the ship. Zax quickened his pace, reaching cover at the same time as Pure. "You hear that?" he panted. Pure nodded. Well
, he thought. Here goes nothing.
Zax turned around, staring hard at the corner. "It sounded like it was inside the ship, not on this side. I'm going to turn the corner and take a peek. Be ready to support." He stepped carefully towards the edge of the wall before quickly stepping round.
As Zax did so, there was a sudden shimmer of gold from his left. "Fuck," he breathed, terrified. "I'm comin' BACK!" he shouted, doing just that.
He ducked back round a few metres, gasping for breath. Pure felt a rush of adrenaline at the same time; Zax's flight left him suddenly willing to fight. He skipped round the veteran to the edge of the wall, snapping his rifle up quickly.
The shot was well placed, but firing burst rounds had a tendency to reduce accuracy on later shots. However, two rounds made their mark, sending the Outsider into a frenzy of crystalline lights.
Dabir spotted this from a distance. Most men would have reconsidered the shot, but Dabir was not most men.
"MAN JACKSON STRIKES AGAIN!" he roared over the gunshots.
VR snorted with laughter, moving up to the fuel pump before firing.
Meanwhile, Alex observed the scene. From his vantage point, he had the perfect shot. He smashed out of the window with the butt of his rifle before leaning it against the left frame to steady the barrel and fired.
The kill was raucous. The Outsider screamed in a mixture of rage and dismay as it bubbled away, a small light show into the night, leaving only a faint glimmer where once stood an alien.
Determined not to be outdone, the second sniper ran towards the Meld canister right outside the UFO.
Alex glanced backwards and was a little perturbed to see three thin men staring up at him, totally motionless, heads cocked. As Alex saw them, they skittered towards nearby cover.
Alex changed shoulders. Cover wouldn't help them. He broke the window and fired. The Thin Man hissed and spluttered into a cloud of poisonous gas.
"What the fuck?" Dabir frowned, turning back. "Sounds like there's more back that way."
"I'm on it," VR responded, making a move back.
"I got it," Flan posited over the radio. She was taking kills today, one way or another. Zax pushed his radio further into his pocket. "Well, they've got the rear, let's get to the front," he said to Pure. The Canadian soldier nodded, moving up towards where the Outsider had been. "Okay, clear inside." Zax moved into the UFO, only glancing around interestedly once; he was focused and little could distract him from the job. He took cover next to a low platform, crouching next to it. Once he had taken up Overwatch, Pure moved forward to join him. He saw to his right that Dabir was doing something similar, sitting beside what appeared to be a small control platform. This UFO was covered well enough.
VR peeped round the corner of the barn. "I don't see 'em," he muttered to Alex over the radio. "They've moved back a little, your should be able to see them from ze forklift," the sniper replied, waiting for a light breeze to drop. "Alright, I'm gonna move up," the engineer declared, standing behind the tall crate on the forklift. As soon as he poked his head round the corner, however, he had to duck away.
"Fuck, help me out, here!" he shouted.
Alex stepped to the window before spotting the cloud of bright green coming straight for him. "Scheisse!" he yelled, flinching as the wall and window exploded. "Can't help, I'm okay, aber pinned!" The Thin Man snarled, reloading its weapon for another go.
Just then, it screeched and fell to its knees. Alex peered out as the sound of plasma guns stopped: both Thin Men were glaring angrily to their right.
"Yeah, hey, there, cocksucker," Flan growled, reloading her rifle. One Thin Man was severely wounded: Flan had been flanking it and there was no cover to help them.
Alex instinctively lifted his rifle and shot at the more visible Thin Man. The speed at which he lifted the rifle meant his round hit the edge of its cover, but it was by no means unhurt.
"Fuck this," VR roared, tearing a grenade from his belt, pulling the pin and throwing it in one fell swoop. The Thin Men turned around at the sound of clinking before realising what it was.
Only one survived, and only thanks to its cover.
It immediately scuttled away, understandably terrified that its world had just gone up in lights and explosions. "I've got this," VR said vengefully. Alex chuckled. "Get him, Specialist."
"Hey!" Dabir cried out. Alex turned back to the UFO.
"We got two shits!" Man Jackson shouted.
He shuffled towards the wall of the UFO, taking cover before any harm could befall him.
Pure tapped Zax on the shoulder. The battle was beginning to lessen his hesitance. He led the pair to the other side of Dabir's wall. "Alex!" he called out, "Lessen the load!"
There was a gunshot, a scream and an explosion. One of the aliens fell out of the sky. "Gekillt!" came the reply.
"What is it?" Zax panted, limbering up his arms.
"Some weird thing," Dabir said, glancing round the corner. "Looks like a torso with a jetpack. Mean looking fucker."
"Floater," Pure said absentmindedly. Zax turned to him. "Floater?"
"They float about the battlefield. Jetpack, you know?" he explained, miming the motions. Zax did not react.
VR's Thin Man had been working its way carefully round its building, ducking whenever R took a shot. It had managed to get incredibly close, flanking VR. Fortunately, VR had a much greater need for vengeance than the need to die, and he simply sidestepped the blast.
A short sprint later and the Thin Man was suddenly looking into a terrifying visage, a moment too late.
VR walked away from the broken, fizzing body. "Kill confirmed," he reported menacingly.
"Kill soon to be
confirmed," Flan murmured to herself, just loud enough that Alex heard it over the radio. He grinned, watching Flan dashing back towards the remaining Floater. "Nice try, little Flan." Her marksman's rifle had even been raised.
The Floater fell to the ground, writhing in pain. "I think that's all of them," he declared loudly.
"You killstealing fucker," Flan scowled.
"Too slow," Alex chuckled, rechambering. "Go scout it out."
"Sniper, asshole, not a scout."
"Yeah, yeah, scout-sniper."
"Go fuck yourself."
The flight back was much louder than the flight there. Pure was laughing and joking with Dabir and Alex with much aplomb, and even Zax and VR seemed to have broken out of their shells. There was a general feeling of lethargy, though; they were all on the come-down from twenty minutes of adrenaline and really feeling the pinch. Flan was grumbling a little bit, but Pure wasn't that concerned. He'd made it through another mission.
The light bump they all felt indicated to them the end of the journey. The Skyranger opened up and a pair of engineers and a pair of scientists immediately stepped inside, shaking the team's hands before removing the artifacts and resources gathered from the UFO. There had been an awful lot of stuff they had been able to remove, but a lot of it had been stripped away from the hull of the ship.
"Well," Dabir clapped his hands together as they stepped off the Skyranger. "A few days of leave."
"Yeah, it'll be nice," Pure sighed. "Still not got any kills."
"But you did show decent tactical sense," Zax piped up. Pure glanced back thankfully. At least he wasn't entirely useless. "What's your rank, again, Pure?"
"Uh." The question threw him off guard. "Private. Here, anyway."
"I reckon," Zax began, glancing at Dabir and Alex, " It's time for you to get a promotion."
"Really?" Pure blinked. This was unexpected.
"Well, you've been on two missions, now," Dabir nodded in agreement as they entered the armoury. "Standard procedure. You've got a couple of assists and aided in two missions that were reasonably critical."
"Wow. Well, I guess that's great," Pure tried. He wasn't sure how he should have reacted.
"What do you think you'll do?" Zax asked him, throwing his rifle to a waiting gunsmith.
"I don't know..." And he really didn't. He didn't feel like he had any particular direction in mind.
"Well, how about you take a support role?" VR suggested. "It's what I did."
"That's not a bad idea, actually," Pure considered. "It plays to my thought of just being a decent all-round soldier, too."
"That settles it!" Man Jackson roared, slamming Pure's back. "I'll get you a drink!" Pure chuckled off the back pain as the pink soldier marched off. This was one of those moments.
"Absolute riot, is that man," Zax shook his head. "Don't know whether he needs some sense slapped into him or someone to shine those brass balls."
"Probably both," Pure admitted. He stepped towards the row of support gear. This felt familiar. He couldn't now remember why. All he knew was the smell of gunsmoke and the bark of rifles and the screams of aliens. He shuddered.
"Any idea what you'll specialise in?" Zax asked him, removing his own kevlar.
"Maybe," Pure replied. "I'm not overly fond of being an engineer, but I wouldn't mind going field medic."
"I think that would suit you well," Zax smiled, raising a hand and taking his leave. Pure waved back. Well, then
, he thought. Oddly familiar, this.
He picked up a medkit and read its contents. Most peculiar.
He put it down and dismissed the thoughts. He needed a drink.
END OF PART ONE