A Broken Planet Story.

“Aleph reserves are down!”

That simple sentence was enough to chill Harec’s blood. Cortez was not the epitome of coolness under pressure even at the best of times, but the hint of panic in the pilot’s voice when delivering the message over the intercom spoke volumes of how dire the Raiders’ situation was.

“Hold on tight down there, I will be back with a fresh load ASAP!”

The Raiders’ leader heard the sonic boom caused by their ship’s sudden acceleration, as it frantically traced a vector back to their base where its Aleph repositories could be replenished.

“Estimated time to arrival: twelve minutes,” said the pilot as a manner of farewell.

“Well, we’re royally fucked,” growled Lycus. That was as far as tactical appraisals went with the albino mercenary but, in this particular case, Harec found that he concurred.

A supposedly simple raid to a Hades Division forward operating base had rapidly become a tactical nightmare when both sides were suddenly ambushed by a Wardogs raiding party. Vastly outnumbered and engaging two factions at the same time, the Raiders had become separated, and were forced to improvise a fighting retreat under heavy fire, putting their Aleph reserves under immediate stress just to keep them alive.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part was the thing that was hunting them.

Just as the ambush was sprung, the Raiders started taking precise, disciplined fire from an unknown position. Single bolts, noted the Raiders’ leader, with high armor penetration.

“Be careful,” Harec spoke through the intercom, “there is one of the Uras-Beherit’s dogs out there.”

“Wonderful. Just what we needed,” said Hans as he calmly shot a Hades Division Elite who strayed too close. The hulking bully was immediately vaporized as Hans’ low-velocity explosive ammunition hit him on the head and left side of his chest.

“Keep you good eye open, old friend,” replied Harec. The leader of the Broken Planet’s resistance was reassured by the veteran soldier’s presence.

“Wardogs squad approaching from the right flank. Engaging.” Ginebra’s cold, synthetic voice, oddly flavored by a not small hint of sensuality, never failed to unnerve Harec. He watched the former Fifth Council hunter-killer break cover to assault the Aleph-addict mercenaries on close combat, putting herself in evident danger to buy her teammates time to disengage. Harec had had his doubts when he welcomed Ginebra into the team, but she had more than demonstrated her loyalty to the cause ever since.

The Raiders’ leader stood from behind the low wall he was crouching behind to cover Ginebra when a fast projectile passed hissing scant millimeters from his head, forcing him down into cover again.

“Damn you, you foul creature…” he muttered between his teeth.

“ETA: seven minutes,” came Cortez’s static-laden voice over the intercom.

“Make haste!” replied Harec. “The enemy is surrounding us and we cannot exfil by foot. Raiders, converge on my position!”

Harec retreated to the base’s command building. The high, grey structure was surrounded by tank traps and prefabricated concrete firing steps, making the edifice the only defensible area in the near vicinity. The Raiders’ only chance of survival was to resist until the Beluga was back with a fresh Aleph load and they could push out a counter-assault.

From behind cover, the veteran sniper took aim and downed three Wardog grunts charging his position in quick succession with smooth headshots. Through his scope, he saw the rest of his team fighting their own individual battles to reach their leader’s position.

“ETA: four minutes.”

A flash of burning engines to Harec’s left flank marked Hans’ position. Closely harried by a squad of his former confederates, the ex-Hades Division officer tried to cover the last few dozen meters that separated him from Harec using his jetpack. Hans slowed his flight a little and turned to take aim on his pursuers, ready to lay suppressive fire on them.

The bolt hit Hans squarely on his forehead.

To be Continued…