In Due Time

Strike Force Ground, Ridge Overlooking Sarras’ Farm

Compiled from the log files of Okanai Blackfeather, John Pierce and Lisa Daives

“Fox, Wraith. We’ll be back for you. Out.”

Chavez rolled onto his stomach and peered back in the direction they came. He could make out the alien shapes through the slowly settling snow. He counted maybe fifteen clustered on the ridge top, though the darkness made getting an exact count impossible.

“What now?” Lisa whispered.

“Now we wait. It’s their move,” he replied as softly.

As the three lay there the remnants of the lead group Lisa had taken on made their way up the hill to join the other survivors, and they didn’t look to be in good shape. The now twenty or so aliens were clustered in a tight circle around one of the figures. One good explosion and they were all dead, Chavez thought. They might have powerful weapons, but these were no soldiers.

Then from the farm below the aliens’ skull shaped ship rose slowly into the air, blowing billowing clouds of snow (much of which immediately melted from the heat) into the air. It rapidly accelerated over the ridge and turned sharply south. An immense volley of fire came at it from the direction of the Stuart Compound, peppering its shield. The ship returned fire indiscriminately, blasting scores of trees on a nearby hill as it shot upwards and southward, away from Andy’s Fort. The shockwave left in its wake sent snow in every direction, shaking tree limbs and dislodging snowbanks nearly from the Sarras’ to the Fort.

A short time after that the ship rocketed out of Liberty City, only to be replaced less than a minute later by another skull ship streaking towards Liberty City, sending a barrage of plasma and energy beams hurtling towards the city below. The night sky glowed red.

“Can we kill them now?” Lisa growled quietly.

“Due time. You’ll get to kill more than a few, don’t you worry,” Chavez replied just before another ship tore through the night sky, this one towards them.

“Aw fuck,” John groaned as in the distance the aliens raised their personal shields.

The three soldiers flattened themselves into the snow as the ship opened up on the hillside, blasting everything in sight except the area right around the aliens. By the time the smoke cleared the ship was taking off again with the remaining aliens in its hold. Mercifully the bombardment hadn’t quite reached their position, though what it did hit was a wasteland of shattered, smoldering trees. Many were burning.

“What you said,” Chavez spat through gritted teeth, grasping the fragment of a branch jutting out of his shoulder as the snow around him turned red.

“No wait, don’t!” Lisa started as he yanked it free, “Don’t pull it out,” she glared at him, grabbing her med pack.

“I don’t have time to run around with half a tree sticking out of my back,” he grunted. “Just hit me with some quick heal and patch it up so we can get on with this. And John, deal with that,” he gestured with his other arm at the nasty burn his friend got early in the fight. “No point in being tough for tough’s sake.”

John chuckled quietly as he pulled out the steel syringe and injected his upper arm with quick heal. He wrapped it in with the makeshift gauze they had been provided and got to his feet, shouldering his rifle.

“Gonna take a looksee and find out if they left any of their own behind. Any alive at least.” He crouched low and slowly made his way back towards where the aliens had been, wary of the possibility of a trap or ambush, though there wasn’t much left to hide behind in the remnants of the forest they had just ran through.

Sure enough, there were seven alien bodies untouched by gunfire, grenade fragments or dog’s teeth scattered downhill, towards the Sarras’. They were still where they had fallen in the odd domino collapse of their line. Clearly this was not a species that valued loyalty to ones’ comrades very highly. They also seemed not to be very fond of the cold.

Not knowing how to tell if they were alive or dead John cautiously walked up to the nearest unmarked body. He gave it a sturdy kick. No answer, just dead weight. He moved to the next and got the same lack of reaction. And the next, on down the hill. It was almost like they were afflicted by some sort of instant, fatal hypothermia.

He reached the last one of the seven, about fifty yards down the hill. It was laying against one of the aliens that the Sarras’ dog had gotten to and was covered in its “blood,” if that was the right term for the thick green and purple liquids oozing out of the carcass. Or as best John could see it was all the other alien’s. This one didn’t appear to have been hit.

Just as he brought his foot back to kick it made a soft noise. It wasn’t quite a groan, though if iguanas could groan John thought it might sound something like this. Whatever the sound was, the thing wasn’t dead.

“We’ve got a live one!” he shouted up the hill. Getting this big bastard back to Liberty was going to be a chore and a half.

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
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