Armstrong reports on the neuron net, “Colonel I’m getting a swarm of bio readings out here!”
Tarver and I rush out of the Gunnery Control Center.
We join the squad who are lined up against the hallway wall for cover.
“Lieutenant, a lot of activity in the maintenance area, it could be just a nest of rats in there, the readings are small,” suggests Armstrong.
“We’re going to need to cut through there in order to get to the lower construction area. Sergeant, get the job done!” I order.
“Yes sir!” he, motions to Meyers and Colby to lead in. They hustle to the entrance to maintenance. Meyers kicks the sturdy inch thick metal door in like it was cardboard.
The pair rushes in and takes cover near large support pillars. Machines and crates fill the massive room. The rest of the squad quickly follows. I sweep right as I catch a glimpse of something small flash by. I quickly turn my weapon towards the movement. My targeting sight moves across the dark shadowed areas. I yell to the others, “I saw something small and hairy dart by!”
Armstrong yells back, “Probably just a rat! Hold on, my readings are getting stronger, lots activity in here.”
A strange feeling overtakes me as I know there are not rats in here, but something undeniably dangerous.
I scan the area ahead of me slowly moving past stacks of boxes and peek around a corner. Looks clear as I continue to move forward I suddenly run into dozens of inhuman red eyes peering from the darkness, they seem to be all over the damn place. All of a sudden they scatter and heavy fire erupts from an unseen small hairy enemy.
“The fucking rats are armed! Take cover!” Colby screams.
The squad fans out darting into dark corridors for cover. I signal to Boyer to back me up as I make a push inward. We hear the high-pitched voices in a strange language coming from the darkness.
“Looks like we got Trolikes, cover us!” as Boyer and I fight our way into the darkness advancing forward for a better position. All we can see is tiny weapon muzzles flashing pulses of light in various directions. Their particle beam fire slices through the walls and support beams. Boyer and I continue pushing forward weaving in and out of cover while firing at small shapes and shadows.
Theses small creatures make elusive targets as they jump in and out of shadowy hiding places.
“Cover me!” Using my levitation abilities I leap up and jet over everyone. Colby and Meyers fire from their positions to cover me. Several pulse blasts reflect off my armor as I land behind the enemy position.
Scrambling for cover the squad continues to lay suppressive fire into the small furry creature nest. My armor partially deflects a pulse beam coming from my left flank. A second blast is a direct hit in my upper chest almost knocking me over. I stagger and take cover behind a concrete pillar, shaken, I realize there is a hole in my armor, not deep enough to wound me, but certainly a close call.
“Are you okay Lieutenant?!” Colonel Tarver hollers to me concerned.
Tarver slowly moves forward scanning the area before him. All of a sudden, a small hairy creature leaps out screeching from the shadows – with lightning fast reflexes he vaporizes it in mid-air, nothing but a puff of hair is left drifting. “You’re still damn fast sir” Sergeant Armstrong with a thumbs up
Meanwhile, Colby taunts the unseen hostiles, “Here Furby, Furby, I got something for you to gnaw on,” waving his intimidating weapon around. Then abruptly he is peppered with fire, “We got Furbys coming out of everywhere!” Colby sprays fire back at the small jumping targets. Tarver digs out the creatures with intense blasts upending much of the crumbled debris which flush out the tiny hairy enemy from their hiding places. Squeals fill the air as he vaporizes them. More of these Trolikes jump towards Garcia, but he manages to take out the first two, the third gets toasted by Taylor covering his rear.
“I got your back baby!” Taylor assures him.
Garcia turns back to her and nods in thanks. She blows him a kiss. He grimaces and continues to return fire on the hostiles. After a pitched battle; the last small creatures are holed up in a corner behind some concrete blocks and steel beams piled for cover.
Boyer becomes bold when enemy pulse fire harmlessly bounces away from his armor. He jets over the small creatures and blows them into tiny bits of ragged flesh with his devastating cannon fire. He hollers, “Yeah, that’s the way we do it!
"Move in and secure!” waving my squad in. They fan the area for any more hostiles. Colby spots a Trolike with a strange device in its tiny claws. The creature tosses the small device out into the opened area where my Titans are positioned.
I try to warn them, “Fire in the hole!”
Most of us jump for cover. But an explosion a bright flash of light engulfs us.
Colby fires at the creature and it jumps from sight.
Getting back on my feet immediately feel something is wrong, "What’s happening? It’s very hard to move! I think my exoskeleton is malfunctioning!”
Boyer is checking his controls on his harness, “The actuator speed controls are out!”
Tarver finally shares some of his genius I.Q. with us. “That must have been an EMP grenade. It took out all of our electronics. We don’t even have contact with Mother. Alright everyone, disengage!” Tarver unfastens his harness to remove his armor and exoskeleton. We all follow his orders and do the same.
This is a definite game changer. Up until now, we’ve had superhuman strength and speed. Dense alloy armor to protect us against enemy fire. We still need to complete our objective and clean out the remaining pockets of the enemy. My fear of us not making it out of here is returning. But I can’t show any emotion about our dire situation, my squad will lose confidence in me. I need to hold it together. Tarver is better at masking his concern, but I can see it in his eyes, the way he glanced at me when he began removing his battle gear. But all of this gets worse, Boyer can no longer prop up the mighty canon on his shoulder and the robotic legs have been deactivated by the EMP as well.
Boyer is attempting to fire his canon but can’t get it to boot up. He looks over to Tarver, "Sir we got some major problems here. All of our weapons are computer controlled.
Colby is clicking his trigger, “Shit! He's right!”
Meyers tosses his rifle away, “So much for high tech!”
Armstrong turns to Tarver, “What now Colonel, we abort?”
Tarver looks over to me. “Lieutenant, you're in charge, what's you're decision?”
All of the eyes of the squad are on me, “Our objective hasn't been completed, we can re-arm ourselves from the dead security officers back at the control deck or perhaps even locate their armory and get fully ramped up.” The look on Tarver's face reminded me of Dad whenever I accomplished something he was proud of. The squad was even very surprised I didn’t opt out the mission.
“Excellent Lieutenant, proceed.”
Loud and clearly I shout out my order, “Armstrong take the squad and get us back to combat operational!”
“Yes sir! Alright, people let's get combat operational, move it!”
Tarver and I stay behind to hold our position, as officers we still had our sidearms.
“Lieutenant, you are coming along very well.”
“Thank you sir.”