“Move it!” Talia shouted to the young man in front of her.
A shell hit the wall beside her head, sending small pieces of feracrete flying. One of them struck her in the cheek, cutting deep into the flesh and causing a blossom of pain, and then started to bleed. Talia ignored it as she ran. If they didn’t find refuge soon, then the blood would be the least of her worries.
She leapt into the shelter of an alley as a hail of bullets tore into the far wall moving down the street. Scream after scream announced the death of her squad and Talia pounded an gloved fist into the pavement. Those kids never had a chance and it was her fault! They’d followed her into the battle, trusting their commander and it’d cost them their lives.
Sweat poured down Talia’s forehead as her chest heaved. Cheikra, how stupid could one woman be? They’d suckered her into an ambush and she never saw it coming. And where in the hell did that flanking force come from?? Intelligence claimed the main thrust was the only troops the Dragus had.
That’ll teach me. How many times have they let me down?
“Mom, you okay?” Dirrnyg looked down at her. “Damn, you’re bleeding.”
She reached up and touched her face and her glove came back red with blood. “Looks like I got winged.”
“I guess you were right,”
“Basic isn’t anything like this,”
She dabbed at her cheek. “Doesn’t matter now,” she stood up. “Now let’s see if we can get out of here.”
“This place is crawling with Dragus,”
“Yeah, the gearheads were pretty damn smart,” she shook her head. “I figured they had more troops, but who knew!”
“That was intense!”
She started to walk down the alley towards the next street over. “Yeah, try doing this for ten thousand years. I’m on my sixth lifetime, remember?”
“What are we going to do?”
“That’s vague, Mom,”
She stopped and looked over her shoulder. “No, it’s not. That’s all we can worry about right now. Nothing we can do for the others now.”
“For what, Dirrnyg? Not knowing what to do? They don’t teach this shit in basic.”
“It was a dumb question is all.”
“The only dumb question is the one never asked,” she said.
The reality of the situation started to sink in as she lead them down the alley. There was a distinct possibility that this would be the day she died again, but did it have to happen on some pitiful backwater? This was supposed to have been a simple assault, but it’d turned into a major Charlie Foxtrot instead!
She stopped short of the next street and then leaned back against the wall. How many magazines were left? Four? Not nearly enough to blast a path of the LZ. And then there was the issue of Dirrnyg.
Wispy smoke rose from the barrel as she ejected the empty magazine and then inserted a fresh one. It was two miles to reach the LZ, most of it in an urban setting, with plenty of Dragus along the way. Damn, talk about a nightmare.
“How much ammo do you have left?” She asked.
He checked his belt. “Six magazines,”
“What’s the plan?”
“Avoid contact at all cost.”
The headset burst into life. “Talia, can you hear me?”
She dabbed at the blood again. “Yeah, Methos, please tell me you’ve got some good news.”
“Not really,” Methos said. “They’ve spread throughout the city. It’s going to be a bitch to get back to the LZ.”
She looked up the alley at where they’d come from. “I’ve lost my team.”
“Told you to be careful,”
“Yeah, I should’ve listened,”
“Did they get Dirrnyg?”
“Nope, he’s with me,”
“That’s a relief,” Methos said. “Crios and I are moving around the southern edge of the city. You can’t join back up with us unless you run through the center of town.”
“Shit, it’ll be crawling with Dragus,”
“You got it,”
Methos chuckled, a cold and humorless sound. “Looks like I’m going to have to come save your ass again.”
“No you’re not! We’ll make it to you. I don’t want any more lives thrown away.”
“You sure? I can get there,”
“I’ll meet you at the LZ,”
“Got it, sis.”
She slipped down the alley and then stopped short of the exit before peeping around the corner. Hmm, let’s see if they’ve covered all the bases. She took everything in and then cursed softly.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“They’ve got two soldiers and a tank to the north three more monstrosities along with another tank to the south.”
“Yeah, they’ve got us cut off from the LZ,”
“What are were going to do?”
That was a good question. A large park lay on the far side of the street, it’s peaceful and tree covered area stretching several hundred yards into the distance. She looked at it for a second before tapping a button on her wrist computer and bringing up the city map.
“We’re going to use that park as our escape route,” she said. “It’s large enough to skip ten blocks and more than likely not covered.”
“I hope you’re right,”
She shrugged. “If not, you’ll die and I’ll be onto my seventh life.”
His eyes grew wide.
“I told you back on Gahlza that this wasn’t a game. Now do you see why I wanted you with me?”
“Methos, I’m going to work my way towards you and Crios. How long before you reach the LZ?”
“Twenty minutes minimum,”