Total Catastrophe XIII
Location: 32km SSW of Torio, Aztlan
The mission was not going well. Wolf Pack never made it out of the courtyard, while The Chain Gang and us had only three remaining in the warehouse. A continual barrage of automatic fire kept the trio of us pinned down behind a makeshift defense of crates and steel shelving. At least the bomb was finally being set by Fubar. To be expected, he was taking too much time rigging the explosives. Not one for moderation or speed, Fubar believed that excessive explosives was the answer to any problem. Oddly, he was often quite right. So, Scratch and I had to spend an extra few minutes providing ridiculous amounts of suppressive fire, so he could take his sweet time and wire up enough boom to probably level the entire block, not just the device. My HUD blipped more enemies that I could take into consideration, and the report back from the UAV drone didn’t help. More of them coming up from the west. Great, another 5 seconds and we’d be taking fire from 3 sides. “Goddamn it Fubar, speed it up!,” shouted Scratch into the comm as he discarded the now-empty AK-97 carbine, and pulled the Roomsweeper off his hip. I checked the readout of my HAR, less than 20 in the magazine, and with only one full mag left, we would not be able to hold this position much longer. Dex’s SM-3 was dry, and the Valiant was scrapped.
This whole mission had been fucked sideways right from the start. Our heli had taken flak and dropped (literally) us off 3 clicks away from the DZ, and on the other side of the river from the warehouse. Our Second Lieutenant, Kane, had been vaporized, literally, with the heli. Of the 13 of us who dropped from the heli, only 5 lived long enough to make it into the warehouse. Our intel failed to mention the light tanks patrolling the warehouse, as a result, our extraction support, Wolf Pack, was black all over the east flank. Now Stenz had to go and run off to liberate us some transportation 5 minutes too damn long ago. I glanced at Scratch as he was slapping our last stimpatch on his shoulder, which with the amount of injuries he had, was like tying to quell an inferno with a squirt gun. My own bio readout was just as unfavorable. I had already taken a beating from a proximity explosion. My sonar was on the fritz, and the shrapnel in my arm left my smartgun link offline. Just to mention, I loathe shooting native, I feel blind. My reverie was suddenly interrupted by Scratch shouting “Incoming!” in both the comm as well as my ear as he dove into me, knocking us both flat. The left side of our cover disappeared into a shower of debris as the RPG impacted into it. “I thought you took him out!” I shouted at Scratch, referring to the grenadier. “I did!” he snarled back, “Someone else must ‘ave picked up the IWS!” As he started to get back up, Fubar finally peeked his head out from the back room. “’Bout goddamn time, Copperhead would’ve been done 5 minutes ago.”, Scratch muttered to me. Sadly, I had yet to have had the time to wipe the remains of Copperhead off of my armor. For the record, land mines are messy. Very messy.
“It’s set.” Fubar said with all the mechanical monotone of an automated speaker. Ironically, Fubar once took a bullet in the neck, so they more or less did fit him with an automated speaker. He moved into the remains of our perimeter. “It’ll boom in…” We never heard the end of that sentence as Fubar took an RPG directly in the chest. His remains fell backward, and landed next to Dex, Chains’s marksman, who had fallen only a minute ago. “Drek.” was all Scratch could muster to say, and that seemed to sum it up. There was no need for a bio-scan on him, he was vapor. Annoying or not, we really could have used his help to get out of here. Now we have no idea how fast we need to move before kaboom time. Scratch fired a few rounds from the Roomsweeeper at the grenadier as he scooped up Fubar’s HK227 and magazine pouch. He holstered the pistol and pulled out the mag of the HK. He grunted in indifference, “3 and a half mags on ’im.” He looked at me as he reinserted the magazine, and chambered a round. “We gotta move.” He does have a tendency to state the obvious.
“You think?” I responded with a touch of unnoticed sarcasm, as I brought up my HAR and emptied the rest of the clip into the opening door on the west. The HUD showed that 2 of the 5 enemies at the door to the west had fallen. It seemed like the best direction. I jerked my head to the west, and said “There.” Scratch pulled the pin from a grenade and lobbed it into the hallway, as I put in my last mag. “Two… One… Move!”, Scratch shouted before the grenade went off with a gout of flame coming out of the door way. I dropped my remaining smoke grenades for cover as we sprang up and ran like hell for the doorway, with the incentive of certain death behind us. For once, luck seemed to be in our favor as we made it into the hallway more or less intact. Two of the three guards were iced, the last one was crawling away, sans feet. Much to my amusement, I make it to the guard as Scratch is just making it into the doorway. Dwarves, heh… I put a mercy round into the guard as he realized we were there and we proceeded as fast as a dwarf can down the hallway, to a large room with a steel loading door at the end. There were three guards here, but only one that saw us. He shouted to his buddies and swung his gyro-mounted Valiant in our general direction, spraying and praying, all native-like. We dove left and right, returning fire. Apparently the Wrecking Crew was too much for him, and he collapsed with a graceless thud. We came up to see that the guards had reacted quickly and were both bringing their weapons up to their shoulders. My HAR was dry, and I was reaching back to get my Beretta, when the side door burst open. Machine gun fire pulped the two guards, as Stenz, chomping on an ever-present cigar, said “You girls coming or what?”
We waste no time in getting our sorry-asses out of the warehouse, and not a moment too soon. As we started to run from it, the world got loud, bright and hot, all at the same time. Then the world became quiet, dark and cold, just as quickly.
I awoke moments later covered in bits of metal, wood and cement. Not a bit of me was not in agony. Lying next to me was Scratch, who was just simply gazing at the sky. His demeanor meant one thing, another mission survived. We were the only survivors of 14 men, rather 12 men and 2 women, that went in today. We lost some good soldiers and friends today, and it was just the roll of the dice that we survived ourselves. He had been talking about wanting to got rogue and slip back to Seattle and make some money in the private sector, and I had always thought it sounded good. But we never seriously considered it. Pulling out a pack of smokes, Scratch took three of them out. He looked around, and I too, was surprised to not see Stenz anywhere, alive or dead. He was right with us before the world exploded, and it’d take a lot more than just a building being blown up to hurt him. Shrugging, Scratch lit two of them, passing one to me, and flicking away the third with a indifferent shrug of his shoulders. To the victors, goes the smokes. I took a long drag on the smoke, and asked “So, how’s Seattle this time of year?” With a drag on his smoke, intentionally longer than mine, Scratch turned to look at me, and with a smirk, replied “Let’s find out.”