Prologue

Daron, a tiny colony of the United Sovereignty of Earth, located at the nation's outer rim.

Laketown, the colony's only city.

The Gamma-Sigma, the terrorist militia that has assaulted Daron.

The United Sovereignty Marine Corps, Earth's answer to the terrorist threat.

"Lay down suppressive fire!" shouted Lieutenant John Baylor as green K-bolts - highly corrosive and semi-plasmatic railgun slugs - sheared through the corridor's walls, forcing him to duck as an unlucky teammate ahead of him lost a head. Around the corner were trigger-happy Gamma-Sigma soldiers, fortifying their area with B-NETs, anti-material K-bolters. Baylor Squad, was tasked with eliminating the remaining Gamma-Sigma in the City Hall but not everything was going quite as planned, the Gamma-Sigma was determined to make life hell for him and his marines and John cursed them. Nevertheless, John had a job to do and he intended to-

His men returned fire, sending plasma through the wall like hot knives through butter and disrupting his train of thought. "Fire in the hole!" hollered John as he took out a grenade from his belt, pulled off the pin and tossed it at the corner. The grenade bounced to the other side and John was rewarded with a satisfyingly thunderous explosion followed by pure unadulterated silence, a testament to the efficiency of high explosives in close quarter combat. John activated his sensors and exhaled, relieved that his grenade had killed every living thing on the other side.

"You crazy son of a bitch!" snapped Pvt. Jerry Lawler, one of the soldiers in front and one of those most affected by the blast. "You could've killed me."

"I didn't, so get moving," John sarcastically retorted as he cautiously stood up and directed his ten-man squad to move forward. They briskly passed the corner and John saw his handiwork, the walls, already burnt by plasma and K-bolt residue, were perforated with shrapnel and the floor was literally soaked with green Bragulan blood. John looked at the many bodies that littered the corridor, one was on its belly and was attempting to crawl away, bleeding profusely as it did so. John tipped the body over with his foot and shook his head; the soldier was barely alive, too mangled to provide any useful information. John did what any merciful soul would do: he pointed his plasma rifle at the soldier's head and squeezed the trigger, causing the soldier's face to explode outwards in a gory plasma-induced steam explosion.

"El-tee, we've got a squad of bears coming towards us. What do we do?" John's second-in-command, Sgt. Joshua Cruise, said through the comm.-link.

"Set up mines ahead of us, and then we fall back. They'll think we're on the retreat and will move in, but as soon as the mines go boom, we jump at them," John replied, a pair of soldiers taking the cue and setting up the explosives, cleverly hiding them under the corpses and in the walls' many holes. One of the soldiers gave the thumbs-up signal. "Let's go." John said, withdrawing his squad.

The wait didn't take long, one minute after Baylor squad withdrew, the unmistakable sounds of detonating explosives filled the corridor, following it was another blast, and another, the warheads erupting in a pattern that trapped the bulk of the Gamma-Sigma squad in a violent armor-shearing kill zone of shrapnel. "Go, go, go!" John ordered, moving quickly and carefully, half-crouching and leaning against the wall for cover. The corridor was saturated with dust, smoke and plasma bolts. John's HUD automatically began acquiring targets, the targeting reticule locked onto a heat signature and John let out a controlled burst, sending plasma bolts through plaster, wood and concrete, and making short work of the target. John pointed at another heat signature; this one was attempting to stand up, still shell-shocked by the blasts, and he squeezed the trigger.

The other troopers fired through the walls and clipped the remnants of the Gamma-Sigma squad and proceeded unhindered by the threat of return fire (though it wasn't like they weren't prepared to deal with it). John turned around a corner and began firing directly at the enemy who were offering minimal resistance. A measly handgun round glanced off his chest plate and John promptly returned fire, cutting the offending soldier into half with a quick and clean stream of plasma. Up next was a sputtering burst of K-bolts that scattered acidic slugs throughout the room, one marine fell to the floor and yelped in pain while a slug punched through John's left shoulder pad and another slug grazed his left knee-pad. John screamed before leaning on the wall and dropping to one knee, to provide a minimal target profile and to provide maximum survivability.

"Shit!" John hissed as the K-bolt's acidic residue finished melting a hole through the armor and began eating away at his flesh. John tried to ignore the pain, he aimed his rifle and then fired, planting the enemy with one at the head and two at the chest while the suit's ASH gel (Anti-penetration, Shock-absorbing, Heat-redistributing) sealed the holes in his suit. The acidic residue of the K-bolt was neutralized and the suit injected him with fast acting, pain killing and performance enhancing drugs. Relieved, John pivoted his rifle and fired another series of shots, while most missed their mark entirely, a few managed to hit and the other troopers compensated for his inaccuracy. John then turned his head to look at his teammate who was, thankfully, still alive though incapacitated. John's HUD identified the man. "Medic, Jedd's hurt. Get to him. I'll lay down cover fire. More bears are coming."

The Gamma-Sigma squad had backup, the HUD showed distant heat-signatures approaching their position and K-bolts began whizzing through the air, as if to confirm that fact. John pumped his rifle's underslung grenade launcher and fired straight towards the direction of the newcomers. The high explosive warhead detonated over the heads of the incoming enemy, instantaneously killing their point guards. As this was happening, the rest of Baylor squad was filling the corridor with enough plasma bolts to overwhelm the IR sensors with hot dust and shrapnel. Then the Bragulans countered with their own brand of firepower, sending multiple rocket propelled grenades straight at John's squad. Thankfully, the rockets lacked the proximity fuse of the USE grenades and ended up streaking to the rear of the corridor and exploding far away from John, however, it was a mixed blessing as the screams of his men at the rear filled the comm.-links. Immediately afterwards, intense streams of K-bolts erupted from the Gamma-Sigma formation, forcing the marines to hug the ground to avoid being torn into acidic shreds.

The second he hit the ground, John began firing towards the K-bolts' origin, him and his squad blindly trading weapons fire with the Gamma-Sigma, infrared and x-ray sensors now blind due to the background heat and dust. John pumped his grenade launcher and attempted to crouch, but an RPG screamed overhead, forcing him to hit the ground for the third time. John lay still on the ground, waiting for a follow up RPG, but there was none and thankfully, K-bolt fire was sparse at his side of the corridor. John then got up to a crouch and fired a grenade that exploded over the heads of the Gamma-Sigma squad. John got back to the ground right before a dozen K-bolts nearly sliced his head off. "Grenades! Stick them full of grenades! Use your grenade launchers!" John yelled like a madman as he discarded his launcher's spent clip and snapped in a new clip full of grenades, he then pointed his rifle at the enemy and sent a full automatic stream of plasma, waving the rifle side-to-side as he held the trigger. The rifle stopped firing and began beeping, signaling that its primary clip was totally empty. Then there was monstrous boom followed by a giant wave of dust, shrapnel and air which filled the room as five grenades simultaneously exploded over the Gamma-Sigma's heads. John, not wanting to be upstaged, pumped his grenade launcher and fired one of his own grenades.

The projectile exploded on the corridor's wall, causing parts of the already decimated ceiling to fall on the Gamma-Sigma. John pumped his launcher again and fired another round. The rest of the squad was also filling the corridor with grenade blasts. John could not be sure if there were any Gamma-Sigma soldiers left alive, his sensors were blind and the exploding grenades simply did not improve the situation, but it was always better to be safe than sorry, so John pumped his launcher for the third time and fired. After he finished his remaining two 25mm grenades, John held up his hand to signaling his squad to cease-fire. Then there was rumbling as the remains of the ceiling fell on the Gamma-Sigma's position and after that, silence. Everything non-human was dead. The remains of the Gamma-Sigma soldiers were scattered everywhere in all shapes and sizes from entire torsos riddled with holes and shrapnel to dismembered limbs to random chunks of burnt flesh, it was a massacre. The dead bears didn't matter though, as John started listing his squad's dead. John thanked godless that he wouldn't be the one to write those post-mortem letter things but John also cursed himself for getting his men killed, then he cursed himself for wandering off into la-la land again and decided to just do a scan the of area, something easier than thinking.

"We've probably killed the lot of them," commented a soldier after whistling. "After all, we aren't that far from where the bosses and hostages are."

"And I bet they're dying to meet us," mumbled another.

"Let's hurry up, double time. Let's get this shit out of the way!" John barked after scanning the area for the second time. He walked towards the debris and used his augmented strength - courtesy of his battle suit - to toss a huge chunk of the ceiling away. The other soldiers followed their commander, quickly carving a path through the blockade of building material and corpses and then quickly making their way to their destination. "Stun grenades." John said as he replaced his grenade launcher's clip with a fresh one filled with specialized grenades. The door leading to the Mayor's office was blown apart by anti-material K-bolts fired from B-NETs as the remaining handful of Gamma-Sigma soldiers attempted a last ditch attempt at defense. A stream of slugs swept the corridor, forcing John to crash into a janitor's closet while the other troops found other means of protection. The stream of K-bolts continued tearing through the corridor for a full minute before ending abruptly, either the B-NET needed a reload or had jammed. John tapped his wrist-computer, ordering a shot of stimulants as he emerged out of the closet and pumped his grenade while the enemy started discharging small-arms fire.

Grenades were then sent into the office and they began emitting a hypersonic screech, sound that was deafening to dogs and Bragulans but harmless to humans. Hand grenades of the flash bang variety were also chucked into the room for extra measure as not all of the Gamma-Sigma were Bragulans. Then John, along with his squad, entered the room and began eliminating the last vestiges of resistance. John scanned the room, quickly noting most of the Gamma-Sigma soldiers kneeling on the ground with their hands on their heads in pain. One soldier was reaching for a K-bolter and John fired a snapshot, vaporizing the soldier's hand, John pivoted and fired several plasma bolts at the heart of another soldier who was trying to stand and shoot, the soldier dropped dead. John ceased firing as the squad had already cleared the area, then he surveyed the room - which was quite spacious and bare, save for the carpeting, tables and chairs - and found the targets, nine civilians which huddled in a corner and three Gamma-Sigma officers at another corner, all with their hands on their heads.

The room was quickly secured and the Gamma-Sigma officers were bound in neo-steel shackles and unmasked, revealing two battle hardened Bragulans and one human male, bald and of Caucasian descent. The nine civilians were checked for injuries and secured. John radioed his superiors and told them that the targets had been acquired. The trip out of City Hall was quick and without incident, the squad went through the route it took to enter the building, passing by ozone-drenched corridors, blood-soaked floors and charred corpses. Finally, they reached the exit that had two large oak doors now resembling Swiss cheese (courtesy of the Marine Corps) and a lot of concrete pillars, also resembling Swiss cheese. There were stairs that led to a parking lot, bearing minimal resemblance to those wide and large stairways on capitols, those things whose name John could not recall at the moment. At the parking lot was a contingent of marines with their vehicles and whatnot and in the air were gunships. "What is it, Josh?" John asked, noticing his second-in-command's approach.

"Uh... sir, weren't we supposed to extract six civilian hostages," Joshua said, his voice sounding like a whisper through the comm.-link.

John emitted a barely audible gasping sound as his weary mind began to analyze this new load of information. John looked towards the ex-hostages and noticed that they were separated into two groups, one larger group of six people and a smaller group of three people. John had an odd feeling in his gut about this and decided to press on; he used his HUD's image intensification feature to examine the smaller group. John saw Rolexes, clean untouched and pricey-looking clothing and no signs of injury or disturbance; he compared it with the larger group and saw an extreme disparity. John decided to approach the group. "You three, can I have a word with you guys?" John said. The group froze for a split second before one of them ran towards the City Hall's entrance, running like hell. The other two registered what had just transpired but John, whose suspicions were now confirmed, yelled: "Stop right now or I'll shoot!"

The two men didn't move an inch, but John's yelling and threatening was unheard by the running man. John brought up his plasma rifle and aimed, but tossed the rifle to the ground and opting for a non-lethal solution instead. In a blur, John took out his pistol, turned off the safety and took aim. His targeting reticule locked at the center of the running man's body mass, but John wanted something non-lethal and decided to take aim. John's brain signaled to him that he had got a lock onto the man's foot and he fired. The High Explosive Armor Piercing (HEAP) round impacted the man's ankle and exploded, sending a shaped explosion through the flesh and bone and literally amputating the foot. The man yelped in surprise and fell down footless, the other marines jerked their heads towards the sudden commotion and John thanked godless for his drug-enhanced reaction time and for the fact that the running man was going uphill. John looked back to the other two and saw that they on the ground, marines aiming at their heads. John turned on his pistol's safety, got his rifle and sat down on the stairs as the footless man filled the air with screams. As the men were restrained, Joshua walked to John, sat beside him, and patted him on the shoulder pad. "Nice shooting, buddy."

"This sucks, I hate my job," John weakly replied as the groaning footless man was carted past John on a stretcher. "And you, shut up!"

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Masturbation / Violent /