Chapter Three: The Advance

“Sniper!”

The energy from a mass rifle slammed into the ground behind Eric. The following concussive blast nearly knocked the doctor to the ground. Jenson gripped the doctor with a massive arm and threw him to cover, before the second blast hit the ground beside Jenson.

“They’re firing from the artifact!” The lieutenant bellowed.

Behind rock cover he pulled out his binoculars to get a better look. Another blast hit behind their cover blasting splinters of rock over him and Eric.

Jenson, still standing in the open, shouted, “Well, I suppose now is as good as time as any to return fire!”

He pulled his massive heavy mass repeater from his back and armed it. Another shot from the artifact fell just a meter in front of him.

Jenson raised an eyebrow and gazed up at the artifact. “So, your plan is to play. I don’t play.”

Then silence. Except for the wind through the valley and whirl of charged energy weapons, the ground was silent. No more attacks came.

“Jenson! You fool! Get over here!” The lieutenant said in an enraged whisper.

Still gazing at the artifact, Jenson strolled over and took cover near Eric and Emb.

“What are you doing?”

“Sorry, sir, but whoever was firing is just playing with us. I’m not certain they think we are coming.”

Lieutenant Baker peered up at the artifact through his binoculars. “It is possible. But I’m not looking to have one of my heavy weapons experts get taken out by a sniper.”

Jenson laughed and smacked Eric on the back. “Bound to happen someday. Or I retire.”

“You may get your chance.” Baker continued. “I need you on the first attempt to take the artifact.”

Jenson smiled. “Yes, sir.”

Eric eyes shot glances between the two. “Are you sure that is wise now? They are holding the position with snipers, surely three troops will be no match for whatever is up there.”

“Ha!” Jenson exclaimed. “I’m worth ten of them!”

“Well,” Lieutenant Baker was still looking through his binoculars, “We can use the artifact to our advantage. It’s floating there like a diamond, so we can advanced from the bottom to the landing platform the Curtani have taken. They wouldn’t be able to see us coming from below until we are right on top of them. With heavy weapons going in first, Jenson and Minsk can just open fire as soon as they approach the corner.”

Jenson kept smiling.

“The six of us are going to distract them with suppressive fire while the advancing team moves out.” The lieutenant turned to another trooper next to him. “Swanson, I need you to prep your rocket launcher. For a big, initial surprise.”

Swanson, a man almost shorter than the shoulder mounted missile launcher on his back smiled and nodded. “My pleasure, sir.”

“This is insane, Lieutenant!” Eric said in an excited whisper.

Lieutenant Baker went back to looking through his binoculars. “That it is, doc. But our job is to get you on that artifact. And that is exactly what I plan to do.”

Eric felt the powerful arm of the new Emb touch is shoulder. “Trust us.”

“It’s quiet up there, I see no movement.” The Lieutenant continued. “Minsk, Jenson, get your weapons ready. Whenever you’re ready, Emb.”

The lieutenant pressed a button on the top of his binoculars. “The rest of you set your vision to my frequency and follow my laser line to the target. Swanson was the first to acknowledge as he crept up the rocky cover, and drop his eyes through the site of launcher.

Eric, curious, mentally followed the lieutenant’s command. The vision in his eyes flickered for a moment as his combat lenses focused in on a light blue beam, probably ultraviolet, crossing the distance from Baker’s binoculars to the artifact and the platform the Curtani were holding.

Emb leaped off the ground and caught the wind in the valley. She spun in wind circles to increase her speed. Eric gulped, she was too vulnerable.

Lieutenant Baker let out a low whisper. “There you are.”

“You want me to fire?” asked Swanson.

“Not yet, I don’t see a firearm.”

Eric felt the adrenaline rush through his legs. His head was filled with frightening possibilities, his rational mind was crumbling under the stress. “We are going to lose any surprise, Lieutenant.”

“Go, Emb.” Baker ordered.

“Good luck, doc,” saluted Jenson.

Emb dove and grabbed Jenson and Minsk and flew along the ground, aiming for the bottom point of the artifact. Emb’s mass rifle was firmly in its hands.

“Shit! Swanson, fire!” shouted the Lieutenant.

Swanson hit the trigger before the Lieutenant finished the order. A blast of plasma and smoke blew from the exhaust, and the missile hurtled toward the platform of the artifact. It exploded on impact in a cloud of black smoke.

“Did I get her?” asked Swanson.

“I can’t tell, too much smoke. Everyone prepare for suppressive fire!”

Eric only kept his head down and watched Emb and Jenson fly to the bottom of the hovering artifact. Was it all worth this?

© 2016 C.J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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