With a drawn-out battle cry, we all charged over the ridge and down the decline towards the outpost. I looked to the other fronts and they were doing the same. There must have been tens of thousands of us running onto that battlefield. The Baggsab opened fire on us, a bunch of us fired back, the air became filled with energy beams and railgun projectiles. With every second we closed our distance, more of us fell, usually minus a body part. I remember most being felled from turret gun fire, but there were some I didn’t see being hit by beams. Then there were the vehicles passing us up and taking point. Some of the vehicles mercilessly ran over those on foot, and I swear a bunch did that with malicious intent. Many of us on foot separated for safety and because some ran low on stamina faster than others. I lost Kondo and Djimon among the crowds, while Flores, Xandra and I stuck close. Infantry took cover behind wrecks and rocks and jumped into craters to use as foxholes when we reached them. After taking a breather, or taking potshots at the turret guns, everyone waited for one thing or another before continuing to the next barrier.
The vehicles plowed forward. Not many of the tanks fired, but the ones that did must’ve still been too far away since all the shots didn’t hit any of the turrets. Many of the lighter combat types on the other hand, fired railgun rounds regardless of distance and accuracy. They’d hit a turret, but it wouldn’t faze it much. The Baggsab took down the lighter vehicles quite easily by mostly taking out a mechanical leg, an exposed engine, or hitting the vulnerable drivers sitting in open cockpits.
While we made our move to the next barrier for cover, the gun turret that I saw being repaired earlier was up and running and made things harder for us. A tank then fired its plasma cannon and managed to hit the gun, explosively melting it and its operators. Xandra hooted with glee at the sight that we got one, stupidly stopping mid-run to do so as a treaded truck with a dixie flag spray painted on the side, was accelerating straight towards her from behind. I was too far away to do anything, but Kondo ran out of nowhere to her and jumped, pushing them both out of the way of the speeding neo-confederates as they howled and laughed nearly hitting the two. The jackasses must’ve thought it was a race because they weren’t firing any weapons and seemed intent on being in the front of the charge. One of the outpost’s gunports opened and a Minare gun barrel emerged, which shot off a large lightning-bolt like energy beam that shattered the truck and disintegrated its occupants. It then shot at other oncoming fighters, destroying or disabling vehicles, and sending infantry flying or turning those directly hit into small craters. Soon, the other gunport opened and another Minare gun joined in the bombardment.
Kondo, Flores, Djimon, Xandra and I all hid behind one of those large mystery husks close to a broken-down tank, where the top hatch gunner was shooting a railgun turret at the outpost. I remembered I saw three bodies on the ground behind the vehicle and they had signs of being killed by the Baggsab turret guns during an attempt to run away. The tank itself, had no signs of being shot. We waited for the hatch gunner to finish so we could continue moving without worrying about inadvertently gaining attention. As we waited, I momentarily focused on our cover and now that I was up close to one, I noted that it looked organic. Before I could really think more about what the implications could mean, I was distracted by a bipedal combat vehicle running towards someone shooting from out of a crater not far away. It was too fast for anyone to do anything, as the vehicle stepped on top of the fighter crushing him, lost its balance, and faceplanted into the ground, killing both its driver and gunner. I looked back towards the hill from where we had come and saw more vehicles gathering at the top and more dropships unloading infantry.
Our chance to continue forward came just about a minute after the turret gun blew the gunner apart and turned its attention to sections of the battlefield farther from our location. Soon as we rushed into the clearing, a good-sized crowd of infantry and vehicles emerged from their cover behind us to make their way across the clearing too. Both Minare guns pulled back into the structure, which caused Djimon to stop us and energetically speak while trying to redirect us.
“We need to find cover, now!” Kondo said as alarmed as his grandfather, but I wasn’t sure if he was translating or speaking for himself. Either way I wasn’t going to ignore them.
“Where to?” I asked.
Before they could point out a good spot, Xandra pointed towards the gunports. “What are those?” she asked urgently.
Out of both gunports emerged a metal sphere fastened onto each of the barrels. I never saw them before, but the expressions on Kondo and Djimon showed they were familiar with them. One gun launched a sphere, which panicked us and made us scatter. I nearly made it to a nearby crater when the sphere impacted the ground and exploded, creating a blast wave that tossed me into the air. I must have been out for a few seconds before I woke up surrounded by a dust cloud. I was disoriented when I lifted myself off the ground to the sound of distant shooting and the screaming of the injured and dying. Right then, I heard Flores yelling out, “¡Ayúdame! ¡Alguien me ayude, por favor!”
“Flores!” I yelled out trying to locate where she was, “¿Dónde estás? ¿Dónde estás?”
“¡Ayúdame!” she yelled out again, but I couldn’t pinpoint where she was calling from. It sounded like she was all around me.
I wandered through the cloud. I heard the other sphere exploding further away, then I felt its shockwave as it pushed me down to my knees. I pulled myself back up and continued moving through the dust while calling out to Flores to see where she was. The dead were everywhere. A nose-less fighter appeared from the haze and walked pass me, trying to breathe through his mouth and trying not to cough, while hold in his guts. Suddenly, a trio of bipedal combat vehicles charged out of the haze, almost hitting me as they passed. I stumbled to the ground. Then I heard something slowly roaring from behind me. I turned to see what it was, and I saw glowing embers flickering through the cloud coming towards my position. Knowing no good would come from staying and seeing what it was, I began moving forward as I tried picking myself back up. I looked back again to see a hover truck completely on fire and materializing out of the dust heading for me. I had trouble finding my footing while trying to run away from the thing. It was almost on top of me when I ducked out of the way and found myself tumbling down the mouth of a large crater and into a puddle. I saw the flaming truck pass by and disappear back into the cloud.
“Ayúdame.” This time I heard it stated anemically.
I looked towards where it came from and I saw Flores, laying against the side of the crater with one hand holding the side of her bleeding neck and another reaching out for me. I quickly crawled to her. I then had her lay down on the ground and told her to continue placing pressure on the spot. I looked around and noticed the cloud was beginning to dissipate when a tank came by the crater. I attempted to flag down the vehicle for help and it stopped. The top hatch opened and it was that asshole Foster from yesterday. He addressed me as “sweet chocolate” through his lurid jack-o-lantern grin, and while I still tried convincing them to help, he spent the conversation taunting me. I could hear the muffled laughs coming from inside the tank. He leaned over towards me and mentioned something I didn’t think of at that time. “I’m going to share some wisdom with you little girly. You noticed back at camp that there’s no official medical station of sorts whatsoever?”
Then I thought back. Except for those who had the resources to set up their own medical stations, the aliens really did nothing to prepare for incoming casualties.
“Hate to break it to you, but if you face dire straits out here, you’re as good as dead,” he said before focusing his attention on Flores and saying, “Speak of the devil.”
I turned around and saw Flores motionless, with the hand that was holding pressure to her neck before limp on the ground beside her. Foster continued. “I’ll tell you what, me and the boys have got one of the turrets within range, we’ll be your knights in shining armor and take it out for you. That way, you can climb on out of there and climb in here. There’s no open seats, but there’s plenty of room on our laps.”
I turned and looked at him with scorn. He held up his hands and said, “I’m joking. Learn to take a joke for once, people will find you more attractive.”
He then called down to the others inside the tank and gave them the okay to fire. The cannon barrel charged up a shot, but then suddenly powered down. Foster asked the guys inside what was going on. I couldn’t hear them clearly, but they sounded stumped. They all argued for over several seconds before flames shot out of every open hole in the vehicle. Foster jumped out of the hatch partially engulfed in flames screaming, rolled down the side of the crater, and into the puddle I landed in. The tank then exploded, and the force knocked me on my ass. I was so tired of getting knocked down that day, it wasn’t funny.
I heard the charging of a railgun-rifle and I whipped around to see where it was. It was Hook and he was a few yards away and aiming the rifle about to blast me. Right when he pulled the trigger, Xandra jumped onto my body to take the bullet for me. I heard an explosion, but I didn’t feel anything. It wasn’t because she absorbed the full impact; the velocity of a railgun projectile would’ve killed us both for sure. As she got off me, she asked if I was all right. We then looked at where Hook was standing. Don’t get me wrong, he still was standing, although with both of his hands blown off and a large, dripping hole where much of the bottom of his face used to be. Trembling with shock, he slowly tried to feel the missing part of his head before looking at his bloody stumps. His eyes rolled up into his head, but before he could fall to the ground and die, an energy beam tore right through him. Xandra and I rushed up against the nearby crater wall, as a torrent of beams reduced what used to be Hook into a pink and muddy mulch. The air around the crater had cleared up.
I was enraged. It was obvious now. The Apiary gave us all their janky hand-me-downs. The infantry I saw die without getting hit with energy beams, the vehicles that just broke down, and tanks spontaneously exploding. Who knows how many have died so far from this bullshit. I settled on not using anymore of the Apiary’s weapons and just opted to using my rapier. I may have gotten killed before I could use it, but I knew it wouldn’t backfire on me at a time of need. Xandra brought a taser. I wasn’t the least bit surprised.
We then heard something up in the sky. We looked up and saw a Minare spaceship descending over the battlefield. The resupply was here. We needed to look for a place with better coverage than an open pit in the ground. I peered out over the area and saw an outcropping boulder. There were more fighters heading towards our way, so we decided to use the ensuing chaos to get to the boulder. Soon as the turret guns had their attention drawn away from around our hole, we sprang out and made our way to the boulder. The Minare guns aboard the spaceship bombarded all fronts on the battlefield, and the outpost defenses continued taking shots against our fighters, while the both of us ran. We got under the boulder, ducked, and covered, but we had no idea on what to do next, except to keep our heads down, wait and hope we don’t die.
Then I heard things zooming through the sky, followed by the sound of a mystery weapon firing and the destruction of machinery. I never heard these weapons before now, so I didn’t know who or what it was. Looking up towards the spaceship, I saw it being swarmed by something producing pulsing lasers that hit the craft, causing explosions and smoke to come from the damage. It was too far away, so I couldn’t see what made up the swarm before the spaceship crashed beyond a distant horizon and blew up, making me cover my eyes from the ensuing explosion. Topping it all off, I heard a passing noise up in the sky. It was something I heard a long time ago when I was a little girl; something I thought that I would never hear again. It sounded almost like singing. Then the telltale whistling of something heavy being dropped was heard, right before the sound of a massive detonation accompanied by the feeling of heat. It was quiet for a minute when Xandra and I decided to come out of cover and check. We looked out towards the battlefield and saw infantry coming out from cover. We turned to look at the outpost and saw all turret guns destroyed, gunports on fire, and the entry door busted wide open. We didn’t know who was responsible, but we didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth either. Jubilant war cries erupted as we made a run for the bridge.