“ARES, ONLINE. GOOD MORNING, MARINES.”
Day in, month out. By the time you poor sumbitches get home your parents are dead, your friends are all old, and you’re like a hundred in realtime, thirty something in actual.
I stretch a little, groaning. Fucking cryo.
Kit comes outta the closets, the armory. Snap a new mag into my rifle, load grenades, set safety, stand around for a bit-
“Alright boys an girls o tha marine corps! Asses in gear an to the briefing hall!”
There’s a spot of dried gum, I think, on the ceiling.
Literally, a spot. I think it’s grown mold during our hypersleep.
I sit in the chair, as the Colonel in her briefing bubble issues all the standard shit she pushes out. Seriously does that woman like the sound of her voice that much?
“…so, as a part of the special taskforce, I am proud to partake in the joint mission Response IRONSHOD FLAME!”
‘…wait, what?’ This sounds… Vaguely important.
“…s you all know, United Americas Aerospace Command has deemed the eradication of these xenomorphs to be a top priority, so such a large infestation on LV-877 simply cannot be tolerated! I know that with pride and honour…”
‘God Almighty, she’s gone off in a tangent again… Fuckit, I’ll ask William later. How he listens to Millson and doesn’t wanna blow his head off I got no clue.’ I repress a sigh, and catch the eye of one of the Delta platoonmembers.
We exchange a silent moment of solidarity, in this troubling time.
“Motherfucker.” They sent four fucking ships?
The brown haired man nods. “Yup. Gets worse. One of those is a destroyer, two of em? Assault landers. We got heavy support.”
“Fuck.” Out here in the Neroid sector, supplies are tight. We’re low intensity warfare, so every ship is mostly on their own.
Then they brought in a capital ship and two shipfulls of tanks and Marines. This op is either gonna be a dustkick or…
The man next to me speaks up. “…so, what’s the plan, Sergeant?”
The squad leader sighs. “Standard xeno SOP. Keep tight, zero emcon, checkin every ten minutes, fallback at 35% ammunition. Other than that… Well, we’re gonna have numbers, but still, try and stick together.”
The silence hung in the air for a while after that.
The APC landed in an already humming FOB.
Well, humming might be the wrong word, because the artillery pieces were already firing non-stop.
“Fuckin hell yeah! I love those things!”
“…can you hear them caaaaalling-”
The light 115mm pieces fired a shot every other second, while the heavier 158mm artillery thundered in slow rolling bursts of six. BlamBlamBRAKAMBlamBlamBRAKAM!
To this drumbeat, marines and support personnel ran around, carrying papers, ammo, carts, intermixed with light support vehicle traffic.
‘Something feels off.’
“Where’s all the other vehicles?” Someone else gets it before I do.
There should be… A lot more people here. Instead there’s the garrison and the Almayer’s Falling Falcons.
‘…it might be multiple deployments. We might just all have different areas of responsibility. Hell, that’s fairly sane. Lord Almighty only knows I have enough trouble working with these idiots.’
…not going to grin.
The sergeant cracks his neck. “From what I understand, most forces are in the field and currently engaging xenos. Resistance is heavy, but casualties are light. Should be just a shooting gallery down there.”
“So, is that why those guys are coming with more boxes of mags?” Amare marks a logistics crew bringing a trolley.
He nods, turning back to our squad officer. “Probably. Just hold down the trigger till your shoulder gets sore or the battery runs dry.”
The SO, as usual, is expressionless. ‘Seriously, how do they do it? I’ve never seen Hardcase crack anything more than a tiny smile.’
Jali ‘Hardcase’ Rolva goes back to their console, as the doors cycle, we get our extra ammo to pack into this sardine can, and the APC begins rolling off.
Just like that we’re on our way, through the gates and onto the road.
‘It’s rather pretty. Trees, bushes, the sun peeking through the canopy…’
If it weren’t for the gunfire I could imagine this as an RnR operation.
“They’re fucking everywhere!”
“…repeat, Alpha 3-1 is completely dry, Alpha 3-2 is almost out-”
“…be advised, they’re tunneling under our lines!”
“…ISR signatures, numbering in the thousands…”
Lieutenant Engram’s voice cuts through it all over comms. “Alright, listen up Charlie. This xenomorph infestation is one of the biggest on record. Since I know most of you motherfuckers didn’t listen to the CO, here’s a recap. Resource hub, orders from the top, we’re fighting here because Vaughan’s definitely not got it out for us.”
“Ain’t that right.”
“Fuckin A, man…”
“Did he really just shittalk his boss?”
“Man, he’ll shittalk anyone. You ever hear him drunk?”
“Oh God here we go…”
*“As it is-”*I don’t get to hear him finish, because the APC suddenly rocks back on it’s wheels-
I taste blood, and smoke, looking up at a black-smeared sky.
…Something above me flashes.
‘Gunfire. THAT’S GUNFIRE YOU FUCKTARD! GET UP!’
I shove myself into a roll, something complains in my shoulder-
boom! Something explodes in the distance, covering everything in yellow and orange-
‘HUD’s half dead…’ Jagged splinters run through the glass, but I can see through it for the moment.
Xenomorphs, front, highlighted in shaky red boxes.
The world starts to seep back in, soundflashes and twinges of pain-
blakam! A fountain of dirt, a toppled tree. Five boxes go out forever.
My sights settle on a target nearby-
Raaahv! The rifle screams and chews into the xenomorph, its sisters finally noticing me-
Raaaaahv! Another dead, acid bolts striking the ground nearby, melting grass and bushes, I fumble for the underslung GL-
bloomp. BLAKAM! A grenade mops up the rest.
There’s still more? I… I can’t get up.
Everything dully hurts. Someone’s…