Mendin walked toward the door of the artifact. Inagrin had set up a perch with four other Curtani to prevent any foe from taking the platform. There was no reason for him to remain there, he had complete confidence in her abil—.
A blast knocked Mendin forward. He was flung through the air, landing head first. Smoke filled his vision and his ears rang from the explosion. All other sounds were muffled. Soldiers screaming? Were his troops wounded or dying? What was that? The ceiling of the artifact’s landing platform began to hum and glow, lines of energy coursed through the crystalline walls.
“What . . . happened?” Good, Mendin could still hear his voice.
“Commander!” A Curtani from the second dropped to his feet near Mendin.
Mendin flung his hand in the direction of the explosion. “Check . . . on . . . the . . . others.”
Two of his soldiers were now at his side. They nodded and moved toward the edge of the platform.
Mendin rolled over and got to his knees. Three more of his men were approaching. “Stay there! We are under attack! Hold your position!”
They brought a missile launcher? These Terrans did not fool around. Mendin was beginning to hate and respect them. Mendin hopped to his feet, barely keeping his balance. He turned to look at the wreckage. His soldiers were sifting through smoke, debris, and bodies.
Inagrin. Curtani took a deep breath and shouted back. “Fall back to the secondary position! We still have a fight on our hands.”
The troops sprinted over to Mendin, keeping their backs to his in a defensive position.
The walls and ceiling of the artifact continued to pulse quickly.
Mendin looked over his men. They looked to him for orders, he needed to give them something.
“They have struck the first blow. We deliver every blow hereafter. Use the pillars for cover and shoot the first creature you see come up from the edge of the platform.
And so they waited.
It wasn’t long before several burst from a mass rifle broke the windy silence on the platform. Mendin jumped behind a pillar and peeked around. The Metamorph had arrived with two Terrans.
His troops opened fire. Two large humans were dropped by the Metamorph. Their weapons were massive and fired multiple shots at his team. It was too much, the Curtani had to take cover.
“They have us pinned down, Commander!”
The Metamorph flew the perimeter of the platform, firing its mass rifle. Mendin’s team was trapped. The Curtani commander roared and charged the Metamorph. Mendin’s assault rifle peppered the sky with a myriad of inaccurate mass projectiles. The Metamorph dove from the assault, uninjured. Mendin reached the edge of the platform and looked down, he couldn’t find the beast anywhere.
“Come back here, you coward!”
Reflexively, Mendin put his back against a pillar just as the Terrans shot at his position. He spun around to the opposite end of the pillar and fired back. One of the Terrans was unprepared and took a shot in the arm. The upper shoulder splintered. Gravity was a terrible weapon. Mendin leaped to another pillar, firing occasionally as he regrouped with his team.
The firing ceased.
Mendin waited for one of the humans to show themselves, but there was nothing. He motioned three of his troops to follow him. Mendin crept toward the position the Terrans last held.
Then he heard the roll of a metal ball along the floor. It was rolling toward the door.
The blast shocked Mendin as he watched two of his troops engulfed by a concussive blast and ripped apart. He was down to three men. Two other Terrans dropped into position on the other side of the platform. The Metamorph was also there. Mendin launched his grenade at the last Terran position and ran across the platform. His troops opened fire. One Terran fell, his bones shattered and organs riddled by gravity projectiles from three Curtani soldiers. The second Terran, Mendin met personally, slamming the human’s forehead with the butt of his rifle and flinging the Terran over the side of the platform. The man screamed helplessly as he fell. Mendin aimed a shot and fired, turning the top of the falling man’s head into a canoe.
“Mercy.” Mendin grunted.
The sound of a pneumatic door opening distracted Mendin. The great door to the artifact was opening. Perhaps his team could find more cover. A barrage of fire came from the platform. A Terran still remained, running from position to position. He was a threat and more would still be coming.
Mendin looked to his men. “Through the door!”
The four Curtani ran for the door, firing at the last known position of the Terran. If only they could keep him occupied a little longer.
Mending and his team made it through the door, but there was little cover here. There was only empty space and long, lit bridge to a central pillar. The bridge that Mendin was standing on was one of three connecting to the central pillar. There was little cover, but the bridge would mean distance between him and his foe.
“Across the bridge!”
He could still win the day and the artifact.
© 2016 C.J. Staryk. All Rights Reserved.