The team moved through the clinic, rubber soled boots squeaking on the metal floor. They stayed in cover and shadow, keeping low and out of sight. They had infiltrated without incident so far, what few ADVENT troops had been guarding the entrance had been dispatched silently, the alarm had not been raised. Alien blood dripped from Moreau’s machete leaving a trail behind him.
The clinic was in a remote rural area, XCOM didn’t know what kind of research was going on here, but it was related to the Avatar Project, so it couldn’t be good. An informant had tipped them off that there was a sample here of some kind, of critical importance to the project, and they had been tasked with retrieving it.
Moreau raised a clenched fist, a gesture for the team to stop, they crouched, readying their weapons. He peeked around the corner and saw two ADVENT soldiers standing by a console, facing away from them. He unsheathed his blade slowly, advancing silently behind them. When he was in range he leaped, driving the serrated blade into the back of one, and decapitating the second as it raised its weapon to fire on him. The rest of the squad moved up, taking cover behind the console, and towards the end of the room they glimpsed the sample, a clear glass canister containing a glowing green liquid that was standing on a pedestal surrounded by machinery at the end of the room. That had to be it.
Moreau put his finger to his helmet, static hissed as a transmission from central came through on an encrypted frequency.
“That’s the sample we’re here for soldiers, grab it and evac ASAP, we’ll get it back to the lab and have the good doctor run an analysis.” Bradford’s voice echoed in Moreau’s helmet.
“Yes sir, we’ll get that sample back to you, soldiers, fan out!”
The team spread out, advancing quickly to cover the room, it was unlikely the sample would be so lightly defended, Moreau expected an ambush of some kind. To his right a heavy gunner wielding a massive chaingun lumbered forward, plates of heavy armor clanking as he walked, and to his left a scout with a long rifle took up position behind some crates, his fingers hovering nervously near his sidearm. The team of six soldiers took up position to cover him, and Moreau walked up to the sample, examining it for laser traps or pressure plates, anything that might give them away. It seemed clean, he couldn’t see any obvious traps. He prodded it gingerly with a gloved hand, then grabbed it, pulling it down from the odd machinery upon which it resided. He turned it over in his hands, the viscous liquid sloshed and bubbled, he couldn’t begin to guess at what it was.
“Central, have acquired the sample, extracting now.”
“Roger that, sending you a Skyranger.”
Moreau hefted the glass canister under his left arm and grabbed his pistol in his right hand, preparing to make for the exit. Suddenly the wall behind the heavy gunner blew inward, shrapnel and pieces of broken masonry flew across the room in a cloud of dust and debris, the gunner weathered it, turning to fire on a huge Muton who lumbered through the breach. The ugly creature bayed through its rebreather, tribal tattoos decorated its visible skin. The chaingun’s barrel spooled, but before it could fire the great creature drove a massive bayonet affixed to its plasma rifle through the soldier’s chest. It punched through his armor and he dropped his weapon, falling backwards to the floor. The rest of the team opened fire, shotguns, rifles and pistols filling the air with loud cracks and bangs as they harried the monster with bullets. It brought an arm up to protect its head, but the concentrated fire brought it down, green ooze leaking from innumerable bullet wounds as it fell back the way it had come.
“Evac, evac!” Cried Moreau, vaulting over a guard rail and making for the door with his precious cargo, the team fell back with him, guns trained on the breach.
Another Muton and two ADVENT troopers took cover, firing blindly through the hole at the retreating soldiers. One tossed a plasma grenade which exploded in a green flare, throwing the scout off his feet, he skidded on the floor, picked himself up, but was cut down by a well placed laser shot, his limp body lying motionless.
Things were getting out of hand fast, they had to get out of here. The team exited the way they had come, through the front entrance, and one of the soldiers popped a red flare, its colored smoke signaling the circling dropship.
The enemy came around the side of the building, suppressing the team with plasma and laser fire. They took cover behind tree stumps and rocks as best they could, returning fire when an opening presented itself. There was more cover in the dense forest adjacent to the clinic, but they’d never make it there without being cut down.
The skyranger’s engines kicked up dust at it came to hover a short distance away, dropping ropes to the ground. The team couldn’t move, they were pinned, and in the distance Moreau saw more reinforcements arriving by dropship. It was now or never.
He called to the soldier nearest to him, and tossed him the container of green liquid.
“I’ll cover you, make a break for the skyranger!”
“Don’t worry about me, go!”
The soldier hesitated, then nodded, dashing from cover towards the evac zone, and the other two followed.
Moreau tore off his helmet, dropping it to the ground and threw a smoke grenade behind him, the grey cloud obscuring his retreating team.
“Come and get me you ugly freaks!” He bellowed, unholstering his assault rifle and firing at the aliens on full auto, brass shell casings bouncing on the ground as he emptied his magazine. They pulled back behind the corner of the building, taking cover from the hail of bullets and chattering angrily in their strange dialect.
He pushed forward, throwing a grenade that blew away chunks of masonry, keeping the pressure on while his team escaped. He heard a hiss of static in his earpiece as the skyranger powered up its engines and flew away over the treetops, its signature whine becoming faint.
“We’ll come back for you, Moreau.”
It was a nice gesture, but he didn’t intend to be taken alive. Fuck whatever experiments these freaks would perform on him, or what tortures they would make him endure trying to get him to spill the beans on the location of the XCOM base or their known informants. He’d take a few of them down with him, they had traveled untold light years to be here today, and he’d end that journey with his machete. He dropped his empty rifle and pulled out his pistol from its thigh holster, along with his prized blade, rounding the corner of the building at a sprint. He shot the first surprised ADVENT trooper in the mouth below the helmet, and it dropped like a sack of bricks. As the second raised its laser rifle to fire on him he slashed the blade across its throat, it stumbled back, grasping at the wound as dark lifeblood flowed over its hands. The towering Muton raised its rifle, sharp bayonet glinting in the sun, and brought it down hard, but Moreau dodged the blow, and it planted deep into the soil.
He drove the machete through the beast’s jaw from below and into its brain. It slackened, and collapsed forward into the rubble. Moreau retrieved the weapon, planting his foot on the alien and pulling it free with a sickening squelch, then wiped it on his pants leg. The trooper he had cut was lying on the ground, gurgling as blood oozed from its mouth, Moreau aimed the pistol at it and shot it twice through the helmet, it stopped moving.
He leaned against the wall panting, his hands were shaking. Holy shit, he should not have survived that, God was rolling the dice in his favor today. The sound of the approaching dropship interrupted the thought, and he turned to run towards the nearest treeline. Something fired on him but missed as he sprinted between the gnarled trunks, followed by the green heat of plasma splashing against their bark. The forest was dense, perhaps he would survive this after all, they couldn’t fire at him in here. He heard shouting behind him, but soon the light dimmed as he pushed deeper into the woods, panting with exhaustion.
He had run for at least twenty minutes, as far as he could, they’d never be able to follow him. He rested against a tree, wiping sweat from his brow. He gulped lungfuls of air, adrenaline surging through his veins. He couldn’t believe he was still alive. He tapped the communicator in his ear, damn, no signal. If he could find a homestead out here sympathetic to the resistance, he could-
He listened intently, rustling? Something heavy being dragged along the ground? He raised his pistol, aiming it through the dark trees. The Mutons couldn’t fit between these trees, and the troopers were too dumb to take that kind of initiative, what could it be? Not ... oh no. It wasn’t something being dragged through the leaves, it was slithering, it must be a Viper.
He began to panic a little, pointing his pistol at every shadow and rustling leaf. Could he take a Viper on in single combat? He’d have to find out the hard way.
It was stalking him, it could be hidden anywhere in the shadowy foliage, hell, the snakes could probably climb trees for all he knew, he gripped the leather handle of his machete nervously.
.... There is more of this story ...