Strike Force Ground, Ridge overlooking the Saras’ farm
After R.Eddings had begun his retreat and the two new ships had passed overhead the four strike force members had moved to the ridgeline, and they now had a clear view of the Saras’ farm.
“Fuck,” Sin muttered as the bot crumpled to the ground, having taken multiple hits from some sort of energy weapon. Then the figures emerged from the woods around the Saras’ farmhouse into the open field.
“What the fuck are those things?” John asked over the visual spectrum com link. “Fox, you transmit?”
“That’s affirmative Sythe. They must not be scanning those frequencies. Damned if I know why. Hold one.” Sin paused as she zoomed in on the scene. Fifty or so of the alien figures were slithering (although that wasn’t quite the right word) across the farm field, towards Andy’s compound. As far as she could tell the last few had just entered the field. And…
“Fox, Peepers. They’ve got the Saras’ kids – two of the last five…snakes in line.”
“Peepers, Fox. Confirmed. And it looks like several of them are eating fresh human remains. This is not a hostage situation. Peepers, Sythe, if they so much as twitch like they’re going to hurt those kids take them out hard. Looks like they’re heading our way. Wraith and I will set up our side of their projected path. Once we’re in place and can watch the kids you do the same on yours. Once the line is mostly past us and the ones with the kids come even we take out the back ten and then you two go to work on the rest. We’ll get the kids.”
The Strike Force members slowly, silently got into position, hiding their bodies under the snow. That, combined with Sin and Chavez’s camo and John and Lisa’s chameleon suits was more than enough to hide them from the snakes, who were slowly picking their way up the hill, still headed in a beeline towards the Stuart Compound. Their walk was somewhat amusing. It seemed like they didn’t like snow all that much. And then something funny happened. Something you would expect to see in one of those old time Marx Brothers movies, but certainly not in the middle of an alien invasion. Just went to show that stereotyping never did anyone any good. Not even stereotyping alien invaders.
The fourteenth snake in line, while doing the little dance they were all doing (Sin guessed to let their “feet” warm up) overbalanced and slowly but surely toppled backwards into the snake behind it, and that one into the snake behind it, and so on. When the absurd domino effect was done (missing only four snakes behind the first one to fall) the aliens were scattered all over the hillside. Most were slowly getting up, although some seemed more than a little sluggish and a few incapable of moving at all. And the oddest thing was that very few of the fallen snakes were helped at all by the aliens that hadn’t lost their footing. They just kept on trudging up the hill as if nothing had happened.
One of the snakes that had managed to keep its footing was the one holding the Saras’ two children, a eight year old boy named Tony and a five year old girl, Faith. The one holding their dog (the very last one in line) had gone sprawling, flinging the shepherd into a snowdrift. It launched itself back out of the drift at its one-time captor, instinctively going right for the alien’s neck area. Dark green and purple fluid sprayed everywhere, soaking the snow below. And the snakes just kept on marching up the hill.
And then, just after the first dozen or so had passed over the top of the hill all hell broke loose.
The snake holding the two children started to pull Faith’s head towards its mouth. Before it could move an inch it had a bullet in its head and John had reloaded and fired again as the other three members of Strike Force Ground began to rapidly pick off the snakes, starting with those around the children. The snakes that had already crested the hill turned quickly, startled, causing two of them to topple over, down the hill. They began to open fire in the direction the bullets were coming from, their energy beams melting gaping holes in the snow. Lisa hurled a grenade at the cluster of ten just as a beam seared across John’s arm, causing the chameleon suit to flicker and short as he roared in pain. The explosion sent snakes and snow flying in every direction.
“Peepers, you take care of those. Sythe, Wraith, cover me. I’m getting the kids.” Sin shouted, charging down the hill amongst a flurry of energy beams.
John, Lisa and Chavez were making sure they had something to think about other than making toast out of the would be rescuer, pouring shot after shot into the snakes. As she ran Sin was kicking up massive amounts of the light, powdery snow that rested on the top as she sent bullets ripping through any snake that dared move towards the children, who were running into the woods. The shepherd (Paint, Sin thought his name was) had lunged at the next snake in line at the back and had wrestled it to the ground, where it quickly ceased moving among the flurry of snow the struggle kicked up. For some reason the aliens didn’t seem aware of the fight going on behind them, or perhaps they just didn’t care.
Sin got herself between the kids and the snakes and sent burst after burst from her battle rifle into the snakes until she took a glancing hit that burned clear through about an inch of her side, exposing and searing her ribs. She stumbled forward into the snow, sending a flurry of flakes into the air. And all of a sudden the incoming shots got a lot more erratic. Sin glanced in the direction of Paint, who was on his third snake and also engulfed in a little impromptu blizzard. And they still hadn’t noticed him. She smiled through her grimace of pain and primed a concussion grenade, tossing it into the snowbank fifteen feet in front of her.
Three, two one…
Snow flew thirty feet in the air, swirling all around the snakes to cries of “Cold is! Cold is!” And the blasts coming towards her trailed off, with the few snakes still firing sending their shots in every which direction.
Sin got up, charging into the woods after the kids. And, of all things, Paint followed her. She yelled into her com, “The snow confuses them! Drop flash-bangs and run like hell. I’ve got the kids, let the snakes go for now!”
As she reached the children she heard two more bangs from the ridge. Good. Without breaking stride she swept the kids up in her arms, grimacing at the searing pain in her left side. As she reached a small drop she hurled herself over it into the snow ten feet below, with Paint following right behind. The three humans and one very loyal canine landed with a thud and another plume of snow.
Sin put her finger over her lips, silently motioning the kids to stay quiet. Their eyes were pure horror and they were trembling uncontrollably, from fear or cold or both it was impossible to say. But they nodded and stayed quiet, as, shockingly, did Paint. Sin whispered into her com.
“Sythe, Fox. Report.”
“Fox, Sythe. We’re on the Sara side of the ridge, just downhill from our original position. We took out sixteen before falling back. I don’t think they’re following us. Sythe out.”
“Sythe, Fox. That makes twenty three, so they’re at about half strength, assuming the ones that tripped themselves up are ok. I’m fifty yards downhill of you. I got hit and need to pull out. I’m going to double back and head for the Saras’. The kids are with me and safe, but they’re not going to make it much longer outdoors. Wraith, you’re in charge. Drive them to the Fort. You know what to do. Fox out.”
“Fox, Wraith. We’ll be back for you. Out.”