I watch as my careful plans fall away like dying leaves during the fall back home on T’sor.
I stare out into the dark and grind my teeth. Fire erupts from the burning ship behind me and I duck as our position illuminated.
The barren, grey rockscape before me crawls with THEM.
I watch with horror as Tac One is wiped out completely. THEY eat at the flesh and bone like a pack of ravenous wolves. Their scales glisten in the fire and moonlight as the horde’s slathering mouths seek out more to eat. THEY looked huge in the vids we reviewed before dropping, but THEY look bigger when you see Them from the ground they stand on.
I press myself back against the cracked and blackened bulkhead and drop slowly down to the ground and signal for the other two teams around me to do the same. Something has gone terribly wrong and I’m not sure what to do about it anymore. I try to stay icy and calm, but a thin line of fear runs through my body and it feels like tiny snakes are crawling over my skin under the Drop Armoplate I wear.
I sign to my Transmissions Op and he crawls toward me while his hand fumbles in the trans codes and boosts my gear signal. Smoke from the burning hulk that brought us here to A’md stings my eyes and the fires that rage around the ship make us far too easy to see in the haze.
I growl words into my gear and scan the area making sure THEY are still feasting on Tac One and not making their way towards us. “This is Lempor Algen Mas – do you read? Lempor Algen Mas to Coral Coras –acknowledge. Priority message. Out.” I think I mutter the phrase twice before they finally answer up in the Heavens.
“This is Lempor Tasit Kin – I read you Lempor Mas. We were trying to reach you earlier, but A’md’s damned moon is scratching out signals to Slan and back. Out.”
I grow angry at the calm in his voice. Safe and secure up there while we and our crashed ship get fed into the meat shredder down here.
Panic shoots through Tac Two like a wave of fire as THEY start scanning the hills in their direction. Tac Two looks to their weapons, then back to their fallen crew mates as if reason and the uselessness of the tools at hand are starting to clash in their brains. The armament is obviously not enough to fight off these numbers. Not without the promised and planned Second and Third Waves from the Coral Coras that we planned on – as yet unseen. We had this planned out. It was set.
I whisper, “I need the position of Waves Two and Three. We’re pinned down and THEY are closing. We have maybe five passes before THEY are on us. Out.” I look up into the star filled sky and search out the blue glow of the Wave’s thrusters, but all I see is a mass of stars.
“We’ve had to change plans, Lempor Mas.” I stare up at the stars as his words rattle around in my head. My mouth goes dry and disbelief creeps in around the edges of my spirit.
Tac Two – closer to THEM by a good 500 clicks – break and stand as the first group of THEM stand and start up the hill towards their position. Half the Tac stands their ground as trained and take aim with their weapons. They are expert shots and don’t waste ammunition by firing wild. They shoot at THEM with focused intent. I watch as the second half of Tac Two breaks into a run – fleeing. I don’t blame them.
THEY move like a flock of birds. All at once without a sound other than their gnashing maws and claw tipped mass of limbs, scales and fur. Their eyes catch the light from the fires burning on our ship and shine silver in the dead landscape of A’md. A place we don’t belong. THEY fall and die as bits and chunks fly from their heads, chests and bodies, but there are more that move forward en mass. They step over their brethren and move on toward Tac Two’s shooters. Towards the enemy. Towards the food.
No use hiding now. THEY have seen us.
Gunfire cracks and echos off the cliffs behind us. Some of the men turn and look to see if it’s our support team on high and are crestfallen when they see that no one is there. I feel sad for them.
“CHANGE PLANS?! WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!” I raise my weapon and cut down an advancing creature before it descends upon a member of my team firing in the other direction. IT’s head explodes into a fine spray, but the momentary victory is cut short when three more rip through the man I just saved with their claws and…beaks. I fire into the group blindly as I scream, “WE NEED THOSE BACK UP SHIPS NOW!”
“We weren’t sure if that plan you and K’lys Ba Rak came up with was going to get us the results we needed. We’ve moved the Second and Third Wave Teams back into position at A’md Sett. Return to Coral Coras at once and regroup with them there. Out.”
Blind rage raced through me and I pressed forward through the haze of plasma and projectile dust and backed into what was left of our ship. I tried to find someone – anyone – who was left, but the surrounding area was all bodies and THEM feasting. For the time, THEY were busy filling their bellies.
I reload and check to see how many cart packs I have left as I hiss a stream of curses into my head gear.
“We have no ship! We crashed on entry! We’re overrun! You’ve killed us, Kin!” I move back into the ship until the fire heats my neck armor starts burning the back of my neck. I glance to my right and see the door to the hanger, but it’s smashed in at the top and I doubt it will move and inch. I’m proven wrong as I slide my blade into the frame and pull hard sliding it not one, but two inches before it grinds to a stop.
Lempor Kin’s voice crackles in my ear – the signal barely reaching me now that my Trans Op lays in a heap being torn at by THEM. “Repeat that? No ship?”
I rip the gear free of my helmet and pull two of the bangers off my vest unit. I start to think again as I give up on the idea of help arriving. I hiss, “Change of plans,” and search my area for somewhere to escape to. Somewhere to hide.
The ship rocks with another explosion as the last of the engines plasma fuel maxes out and shoots from the weak point of the pod. The plume of pink and blue energy lights the ground around me and I’m able to see just how bad this situation is.
THEY are scattered all around me – devouring.
I’m stuck on this rock. My plans hop-grenthed over and brushed away like unwanted dust.
THEY chew and rip away at my men and the only thing I can think about is how I can get THEM up to Coral Coras and into the bridge to feast on the real monsters. The real enemy.
THEY chew, then look my way. THEY stare with their silvery eyes and move towards me like a flock of wild, angry and ravenous birds.