Monday, August 31, 2015

Short Story: On The Rocks

On The Rocks

The missiles and shells raced through the sky as Jaeger ran across the battlefield through the white cloud that had enveloped it. His armored carapace protecting him from most shrapnel of exploding warheads and mines as he sought out enemy soldiers. They were visually invisible but his scanners could detect them if they moved around.

He turned toward the two o'clock position and leveled his weapon after something appeared on his screens. The cloaked enemy unit was now moving slowly but it had been right there. Jaeger squeezed off a couple of rounds and then quickly rolled to his right. Barely avoiding the armored enemy that pounced at where he had been standing.

From his sitting position he put three exploding rounds into the armored chest plate of the enemy that looked to have already taken a beating. The enemy threw up and arm to protect the chest and backed up a step. Jaeger took advantage of this and activated the rocket that carried him and his four-hundred pound armored suit to his feet. Then he launched a sticky grenade at the enemy before activating his own cloak and moving away before the enemy thought to get close enough to assure mutual destruction.

He felt the explosion behind him, one more enemy down.

“All units to rally point Bravo! I repeat, all units to rally point Bravo immediately!” the voice of the commander shouted over the com link. The message was coded, because the enemy didn't know there was no rally point Bravo this time, they skipped it. It meant move to Charlie. Jaeger used the suits robotic legs to move fast toward RP Charlie, the jet pack to jump over craters and other obstacles along the way.

He almost didn't stop in time when he came upon the white armored carapace of one of his mates, trying to get off the ground. The suit had been damaged, the legs and jet pack were mangled pieces of scrap. He read the designation on the chest of the suit.

“Twelve!” he said on the suit to suit short-range radio “You aren't going to get that thing walking, it's too damaged!”

The response was a female's voice. “Then maybe you can carry me to Charlie!”

Unfortunately she couldn't open the hatch to get out. Jaeger was forced to pick it up and carry it on a shoulder. With his speed and mobility limited he had to be more careful.

“If we're being sent to Charlie, that probably means we're retreating.” she said.

“Strategic withdrawal.” he corrected her. He was right, they would just be sent back another day to try the same thing again. This rock wasn't worth beans, but it was a strategic point in the solar system for anyone wanting to take Andel.

They were soon out of the fog and closing in on Charlie but their sensors were soon warning them of heavy enemy concentrations. In fact it looked like the enemy had pretty much cordoned off rally point Charlie. There was no chance they could get through to the evacuation point. He set her against a boulder that was between them and the enemy.

“What about Delta?” she asked, breathing hard.

“Are you hurt?” Jaeger asked “Want me to rip the hatch off?”

She exhaled with effort. “Don't. My legs are injured, I think the suit is the only thinking keeping me from bleeding out.”

Jaeger slammed a fist into the side of the boulder in frustration.

Then he tried to calm down. “What's your name, twelve? Mine is Jaeger.”

“Baker, Lisa. Class of 2123.” she answered. He didn't know her, but it still bothered him that she was injured and trapped on the planet. Then she asked again. “What about rally point Delta?”

He thought for a moment. “Overrun. And Gamma was evacuated at the start because it turned out to be a hive of enemy activity. We didn't have good intel. We won't have good intel next time either. The enemy knows and they move things around after every engagement.”

“That's not good. My com has been out for a while.” she answered, her breathing labored.

He tried to nod but the powered-suit wouldn't let him. “I haven't heard anything from the commander since the order to get to Charlie. I have no idea what happened to them. If the evac is coming, and they're surrounded by enemy forces, they'll have to bring bombers.”

Jaeger didn't see how Baker, Lisa was going to survive this. It'd be difficult enough with an intact power-armor suit. In her state, she wouldn't last long.

“The suit is giving me all kinds of painkillers, Jaeger.” she told him through breaths “I won't suffer.”

Baker's voice continued to weaken for the next twenty minutes, even as he tried to keep her talking so she wouldn't just drift off. That is when the noise came. Loud thundering explosions rocked the ground all around Charlie, the bombers had gotten through.

“This is it, Baker, we gotta move!” he said as he lifted her up and onto his shoulders. He used the jets in his own suit to get down the hillside as fast as possible, heading toward Charlie through the still-smoking bomb craters and dead enemies. “Stay with me, Lisa!”

He could see ahead that the transport ships were lowering to the surface to pick up what remained of the formidable army that had been sent here hours ago. Jaeger's power-suit was running red hot now as he worried about being left behind. He threw down his main cannon to lighten the load.

Jaeger increased the magnification on his visors and he could see one transport lifting off, the other was already closing the hatches. Just one powered-suited figure was left outside to make sure everything was locked up correctly. He didn't understand why they weren't detecting him.

Her suit must have crushed his main com antenna somehow. They might not even know he was running through the boulders to get to them. Maybe they could detect the suit to suit radio at this distance.

“Hold up! Two incoming friendlies! Say again, two incoming friendlies! Hold up!” he said frantically, wishing he hadn't thrown down his gun. This would have been a good time to shoot into the air.

There were now two armored suits outside the ship and looking in his direction. He was relieved, they had seen them. “Get the medic! Get the medic!” he yelled into the short range radio. A side hatch on the ship was opened and a red cross armored suit exited, much smaller than the troopers suits.

“We can't wait forever, Jaeger. The enemy is sending reinforcements, they're right behind you.” the voice of his commander responded.

He arrived at the ship and set twelve down, his own suit took the occasion to break down and both of them had to be dragged aboard.

“Lift off, now! The bombers are coming back!” the commander ordered

“Aye, sir!” the pilot responded.

Jaeger was lying just inside the hatch, his suit was not working. He couldn't even open the hatch but he had made sure that Baker, Lisa was taken cared of first. Jaeger didn't know whether she was still alive, or would live but he couldn't fault himself for trying.

As for the enemy and this God-forsaken rock, he knew they'd send him again. As many times as it took to end this war and this threat to humanity.


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