Jun felt the ground under his boots change from grass and soil to shifting stones. The hill was plateauing. His pace was slowing and the moisture from his heavy breaths started to fog his visor.
He dropped to a crouch as he quickly but stealthily crept to the nearby clump of lifeless brush. Switching from his Magnum to his 99, Jun crawled into position and went prone. He extended the bipod below the barrel, checked the magazine, and slid it into the well.
"Let’s see who’s going to have fun today…" he murmured under his breath. He peered through the scope. "Jorge, I see you didn’t waste time getting acquainted with your new toy. Having fun yet?"
The response from Jorge came through fuzzy to which Jun flashed a smile. He scanned the kill zone finding an official barking orders to the nearby rebels. Setting his cross-hairs over the rebel, he let out a whisper: “Goodnight old man.”
POW. The round penetrated through the soldier’s trachea. The officer stumbled from the impact then collapsed in shock. Eyes bulging, he clutched at his throat and gasped for air amid the steams of blood exiting his neck. Jun continued to survey the area. Even as a veteran, confirming the kill never sat well with him. Through the scope Jun spotted the entrance to the communications bunker.
"You’re a half klick away from the door. I’ll do the best I can to keep the innies down, but you may need to clear them out from their holes before we can clear the DZ." He pulled the trigger and another body fell to the ground. "A few are running back inside. We’ll have to snuff them out later."
The Falcon teetered from one side to another as it twisted downward from the sky. The spartans leaped from the aircraft, the dust lifting as their boots landed on the soil. Hernandez touched his forefinger to his thumb giving the OK as well as a quick salute. He smiled.
Six saluted back, not knowing whether Hernandez was giving his last hurrah. Turning their heads away from the burning Falcon, the super soldiers started toward the insurrectionists. Jorge signaled toward a nearby boulder.
"We take cover there. Jun, you find a spot to lay down covering fire. Don’t let them flank us. Watch your six for stragglers. We’ll see you at the rendezvous point with the rest of Noble in two-three-zero hours."
Jun nodded. He broke from cover, climbing the up the base of the mountain opposite of the insurrectionists. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the Falcon struggling to stay above the ground. As it disappeared around the side of the mountain, a loud crash reverberated within the valley. “There goes our ride outta here.”
Turning back toward the incoming fire, Six peered beyond the boulder and up towards the rebels. Dipping her head back inside cover, she tuned to Jorge. “They’re dug in deep. I say we wait for sniper fire to pick them off and keep their heads down for a bit.”
"What’s the fun in that?" Jorge smiled. "I came all this way to test my new toy just to wait for Jun to steal the fun? Not gonna happen, Angel. Besides, we need to clear the LZ before the rest of Noble decides to show up. Lets move."
"I’m gonna have to take it in hot, spartans! Birds wings are clipped!" Hernandez leaned out of his seat, reaching for the emergency power. Flipping the switch, he pivoted his head to the three while keeping his eyes out the cockpit window. He smirked. "Luck isn’t on our side today, huh?"
Jorge swing his legs back forward into his back-facing chair. He pulled his M41 from his back. “Innies finally gave me an excuse to use this baby. I hope they like their limbs torn apart.” He flashed a smile to Six, picked up his helmet off the nearby hook, and locked it into place.
Six loaded a fresh magazine into her DMR and flipped the cover forward. “Ready.”
"Jorge?" Jun, dangling his legs from the Falcon traced his target. He pulled the trigger, letting the crack from the sniper echo throughout the valley.
Jorge nodded. “Let’s go.”
It was safe to say the Magnum was an awful weapon. The design was straightforward: create a weapon that untrained farmers could use. Child’s play if you ask me. Last time I checked, we were more than FNGs.
We were taught to use both hands when firing it. I can think several better ways to use my hands
“The mission was a mess.”
“If you can’t handle the job, don’t put your name on the list,” murmured Emile under his breath. “It’s a hard universe out there, Jorge.”
“I didn’t volunteer. Or did they drill too far into that noggin of yours?” Jorge cocked his fist. Emile remained still, staring solemnly back at him.
Jun shook his head. “They knew we were coming. Maybe your buddies at the top have a leak.”
“There’s always going to be leaks. Sympathy for their cause is rampant, even at the top,” said Carter in his unwaveringly monotone voice. “Regardless, we go into each mission the same: heads on a swivel and guns up.”
Thom ducked into the room, hanging on the door header and signaling behind him. “Message coming through. Could be big.”
Carter shared a knowing glance with Kat, rubbed his knees, leaned forward, and stood up. “I’ll check it out.” He left the room, passing Thom on the way.
Thom strode into the room and sat where Carter left. He leaned back and folded his hands behind his head. “Sounds like the rebels are restless again. They want payback.”
Emile grinned. “They’re planning a party? Thanks for the invite, innies! Same shit…”
“…different day.” Thom reached out to Emile slapping his outstretched hand.
Jun tilted back his head and rolled his eyes.
“It’s almost you guys like your job too much.” Jorge waved his hand at the two. “We’re keepers of the peace, not mercs.”
“C’mon big man. You’re ruining the fun,” Thom whined.
Carter reentered the room. “Let’s go team. Back to work.”
Thom jumped. “Yippie-Kai-Yai-Ay, motherfuckers! We gots some rebels to kill!”
Back from cryosleep folks. New posts arriving in less than two-three-oh hours.
Emile held up his palm and slowed to a halt. Quiet. Returning his finger to the trigger, he suspiciously pied the corner putting one boot in front of the next.
The spent casing from the M45 struck the floor, bounced sharply, and rolled to a stop.
Carter nodded. “Dot, keep track of our way out of here. We dont want to get trapped. For all they know Spartans are invincible. Let’s not give them a reason to think otherwise.”
"Position noted. Retracing steps."
"Move out." Carter waved his hand toward the solid gate at the end of the hallway.
Taking point, Emile cautiously continued down the hallway. Cheek to the barrel, he scoped out the entirety of the corridor, scrutinizing every nook of the area. Carter was close behind covering Emile’s left; his pistol extended along the back of Emile’s left shoulder. Jorge shuffled behind in train, walking backwards as to protect from behind.
"I didn’t see any cameras or security systems. The Innies are making these assignments child’s play."
"And they wonder how we get back our weapons so easily," Emile chuckled.
Carter was unphased. “Whether they do or not, lets assume they know we’re here.”
The team reached the door, stacking up along the sides. Carter examined the area.
"Doesn’t look like there’s an access panel. Thin door though."
"Then we do it the fun way. Ready big guy?" Emile smiled at Jorge inside his helmet.
"You never get bored of this, do you?" Jorge answered. He stepped out from beside the door, handed his Carter his SAW, and started walking back down the hallway. "Next time we do this, I’ll breach with your head!"
Jorge stopped. Turning around, he leaned back, took a breath and exhaled. He slowly rocked his body forward and took off towards the door. In no time, he met the door with his lowered shoulder. The door collapsed on the other side with Jorge on top. Emile and Carter instantly took up positions inside the breached room, flanking Jorge on either side with weapons at the ready.
Kat sighed in frustration, her breath wafting slowly above her. The steady clang of rain on the titanium didn’t help. She held a flashlight in her teeth; the only light source illuminating the cramped access compartment aside from the occasional flashes the comm signal display.
Jun leaned against the top of the hatchway. He peered outside into the dark, grassy wasteland and flicked a raindrop off his visor. “Why me? Why do two Spartans need to travel and fix a power unit? You’re the only one who actually needs to be here.”
Jun looked back inside at Kat. “What did you say?”
Kat put her tools down, took the flashlight out of her mouth, and turned to face him. “Honestly?”
"Sure. Is there any other way to tell it?" Jun ducked his head back inside and smirked at Kat.
"I think command just hates you." Kat fixed the flashlight back in her mouth and continued digging inside the interface.
khaki-pants asked: That doesn't answer our question, you don't need to worry about me trying anything
Affirmative. If we did it together, it would be nothing more that two clones doing it. But doing things like that is not what I was trained to do. I keep my gun and head up at all times. Stay frosty, spartan.