We stormed into the building, sweeping the room, as our eyes adjusted to the dim light within. There was a cage at the far end, in it was a man stood arms by his sides, trying to look as nonthreatening as possible.
‘Who are you?’ I asked
‘Max Wild, an agent of the Strategic Homeland Division. Just like you.’
‘How did you end up here? Cloudy asked
‘Stearns. He was part of my team, Wildcat, when he went rogue. Sent a seeker against me and the others. Kill them both, knocked me out. Traitor needs these hyenas, so he’s been working closely with them.’
‘What does he need them for?’ asked cloudy
‘Support. They agreed to back him up in return for me. They provide heavy weapons, ammunition, food, things he can’t now get from us.’
‘Step back,’ said Zendar walking up to the cage. It had a heavy lock and there were no obvious keys. Zendar drew his pistol and blew it off one clean shop.
‘Where’s your kit?’ asked Driffel
‘In that case over there. Better hurry up, there will be a quick reaction force on its way,’ warned Wild.
‘QRF?’ I asked, not quite believing what I was hearing.
‘Yeah, the yenas are pretty well organised. They have wandering patrols, resource gatherers, and quick reaction forces to deal with any trouble at their control points.’
‘Damn, wish we had that sort of support,’ I muttered.
‘We do. There are some friendly forces around. Remnants of the JTF, civilians willing to help out. We’ve agreed a signal system of flares. Pop one up, and they should come running. Not sure how long they’ll take though, and any Hyenas in the area will know what we’re doing, but it’s worth it. Means they can take the control point straight toff our hands as well.
‘Great,’ I said. ‘Get your kit, and rehydrate, you look peaky,’ I ordered. ‘Team Vector, get onto the towers once you’ve done a sweep for ammo and weapons. I’ll launch the flare from the centre of the control point. We’re going to have to remain mobile as we don’t have a clue what direction they’re coming from.
‘Most likely the north and the south. That’s where they’re strongest. To the east is a friendly settlement, and to the west there’s just a lot of empty housing,’ said Wild as he quickly donned his combat gear and ran through some checks on his weapons.
‘Christ, it feels good to be back on the game,’ he smiled.
‘How long did they have you?’ I asked quietly.
‘A week. They were tight with the food and water, very generous with the towel-wrapped soap,’ it was then I noticed that he was favouring one side.
‘You good to go?’
‘What’s a few cracked ribs between friends?’ he grinned. ‘Pop a hive during the fight and I’ll be right as rain by the end.’
I looked at the weapons he had. An automatic AA-12, a M-4 carbine, and a heavy Desert Eagle pistol. He was more of a close-range fighter.
‘Right you stick with Zendar,’ I nodded in Zendar’s direction. ‘He’s the team healer. We’ll engage the enemy at long distance, force them to move from cover to cover and hopefully buy enough time for the support to get here.
‘Any chance Stearns is still here?’ asked Cloudy.
‘No, he came through here yesterday, warned the Hyenas that agents were in the area and said that he was headed into D.C.’
I heard shouts coming from the north. ‘That’s our cue. Seems like the enemy’s here.’
Stepping out of the hut, I drew my flare gun and fired, the red flare shooting up into the sky with a whoosh and a faint pop as it detonated far above.
We all ran, scooting up the ladders of the towers as quickly as we could. The middle one, nearest to the gate, was also armed with a minigun, something I hadn’t noticed in my first recon of the base, and I cursed myself for being so sloppy. Still, it was facing north, and by the looks of it couldn’t have been turned to engage us as we attacked from the south. Small comfort.
‘Looks like we both missed this,’ said Cloudy, running her hands over weapon. She flicked a couple of switches and cycled the barrel. ‘Oh, this is going to be fun.’
A rifle barked, a bullet spanging off the rail in front of us. With no warning, Cloudy returned fire. I shied away from the deafening noise and the heat of the muzzle blast as the minigun hosed the spot where the shot had come from. I barely had time to spot a Hyena before the concentrated fire blew them into nothing more than a pair of upright boots and a shower of blood and chunks of flesh.
She swept the stream of fire across to a pair who were attempting to move to a patch of cover. Catching the first across the waist, she cut them in half, tumbling them to the ground where I watched in fascinated horror as they use their arms to try and drag themselves to cover whilst their guts spooled out behind them. The other one exploded, one of Cloudy’s bullets hitting a grenade or other explosive device.
‘Shit!’ she yelled as the weapon stopped spinning. These fuckers get hot!’
Cloudy started cursing at the minimum, willing it to cool faster, even going so far as to pour one of her last bottles of water over it. Steam rose fell what would have been a red-hot barrel if it wasn’t for the black paint.
We’ve got at least ten coming from the north. They’re using the roadblock as cover,’ reported Driffel.
‘Wild, what can you see to the south?’ I asked. He was in the eastern-most tower, so had a good view back over the control point.
‘Nothing for now. Want me to move there just in case?’
I paused. There was five of us to their ten. But I had no idea if this was all they had or if there was another wave on its way.
‘Confirmed. Move to the South Gate. Pop a turret if you have to. Yell if you need help.’
‘Nothing to worry about on that score, boss man, I’ll squeal so hard you won’t need earpieces!’
Cloudy’s minigun roared back into action. Like a dragon of old it spewed fire and rain death upon our enemies.
A fuel drum exploded, showering a Hyena in burning liquid. They staggered around, flailing, screaming as the rubber on their gas mask melted, ensuring it would be forever tight. I dropped them with a single round to the chest.
‘Spoil sport!’ Yelled Cloudy as she blew another Hyena apart. ‘You going soft?’
‘Nope,’ I said, killing another one.
The Hyenas had started out cocky. Calling out to us, saying what they would do. It would have been effective if we were just civilians. All it did now was fill the air with catcalls which should have been orders, unit communication. Anything to keep them alive.
I saw one pointing in our direction, popping up and down. And then, PTOO!
‘Incoming!’ I snatched at Cloudy’s harness, pulling her to the ground as a 40mm grenade detonated on the sandbagged roof of the tower.
‘Get the fuck off!’ She yelled, emphasising her unhappiness with a sharp elbow. Thank God I was wearing body armour.
‘No, no thanks needed,’ I snapped as I rolled onto my knees, snatched up my rifle, took aim at the grenadier and shot them through the face. All in under two seconds. I was silently impressed with my prowess.
‘Incoming enemy force, south. Engaging!’ said Wild, the sound of a turret ripping the air immediately following his warning.
‘Driffel! Move to Wild’s position,’ I ordered as I missed a particularly large Hyena.
‘How the hell did you miss that fat piece of blubber?’ snarled Cloudy, a near-solid stream of tracer chasing and then killing the waddling Hyena.
‘We’ve got another wave! Coming from the North-West!’ Zendar called.
‘Cloudy, get your rifle, I’ll take over the minigun. Look for the leader, strip his armour like the last one. Kill them quickly.’
‘Ooooh, they want a fight,’ she laughed, and I could have sworn she licked her lips at the prospect.
There were just a few of the original wave left, none of whom looked like they wanted to poke their heads up so I laid the sight of the minigun onto the first three and scythed them down, playing the stream of bullets over their bodies to make sure none of them would get up.
‘Leader! Ten o’clock. Heavy armour. SAW with a massive belt feed!’ Cloudy called out.
I took a shot with the mini-gun, but only clipped the enemy leader before another Hyena stepped into the bullets.
‘Dammit!’ The leader disappeared behind a panel van and started giving orders.
‘Thanks for ruining my shot,’ snarled Cloudy. ‘Keep this up and a girl might think you were going rogue.’
I ignored her. I could just out the knee of a Hyena crouched behind cover. Slowing my breathing, ignoring the incoming fire, I took careful aim and fired. Yellow bone and dark red blood exploded into the air, the Hyena falling out of cover, shrinking in agony for a split second before my next shot took them in the throat.
I was impressed, not expecting the mini-gun to be so accurate. I put it down to pure fluke.
Sand exploded into the air, billets cracking past my head, blowing chunks of the tower into splinters that peppered our skin.
‘Leader’s engaging you!’ cried Zendar. I was too busy hugging the floor, wishing I could dig into the ground. Anything to get away from that murderous fire.
Then, it stopped.
‘He’s reloading!’ I pulled my turret from its mounting on my backpack and flung it as far as I could towards the enemy. Before it even landed, I lobbed a seeker mine after it.
‘Do your work my little chickadees,’ I hissed as the turret automatically deployed, the seeker chirruping as it identified a target. I override the selection as it is was only going after one Hyena, sending it after the leader instead.
‘Boom! Headshot!’ Yelled Cloudy as she felled the last of the first wave attackers with a sublime ricochet shot.
My seeker exploded, showering the leader, forcing him out of cover and straight into my turret’s engagement window. As the leader burned, my turret poured small-calibrate high-velocity bullets into him.
I backed it up with the much more powerful bullets from the minigun, the combined weight of fire staggering him.
‘Groin shot!’ Crowed Cloudy as the leader’s large groin guard broke away. Her rifle barked before she’d finished talking, the heavy bullet practically tearing the leader’s leg off, arterial blood spurting at least three metres into the air.
‘Shit!’ Screamed Zendar. Snapping my head in his tower’s direction I saw a Hyena grappling with him, some sort of shock baton cracking with blue fire. Throwing a couple of ineffectual elbows into her helmet’s riot visor, he bowed backwards as she screamed some sort of gibberish.
He folded as she drove a wicked knee into his groin, but managed to keep hold of her arms, stopping that awful weapon from crying him.
‘Shush. On it.’
All I could was stare in horror as the Hyena drove knee after knee into Zendar until he finally collapsed to the floor. Raising her shock baton high into the air, shrieking out a call of victory, the Hyena died as Cloudy’s shot blew her spine through her chest.
‘Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!’ Screamed Zendar as the body collapsed onto him.
‘Noice!’ Whispered Cloudy, only just loud enough for me to hear.
‘We need support!’ Driffel said, voice tense. ‘We’ve got at least ten our end. Got them bottled, but not for long. Did you kill someone important, because they are pissed!’
‘We on…,’ my voice died as I spotted movement to our north. ‘Wait one. We got more coming our way too.’
I let go of the minigun’s handles, taking aim down my rifle’s SUSAT ‘These ones are dressed differently, look like civilians. The odd JTF tee.’
‘Friendlies!’ Shouted Wild ‘They’re friendlies!
Slamming my head down onto the gate release control, I waved at the friendlies, beckoning them on. Each one that passed a downed Hyena fired a shot or used whatever weapon they had to make sure that the downed hyenas were truly dead.
They sprinted fearlessly through the gate, and I turned to watch as they moved through the camp with to join Wild and Driffel.
‘Better move up to support them,’ I comm’d to Cloudy and Zendar, before giving Driffel and Wild the heads up that we’d be joining them.
No matter how fast I shimmied down that ladder and ran towards the combat, by the time we got there it was over.
‘Hey man,’ said a diminutive man. He was covered in blood, spitting to clear it from his mouth. In his hand, a cudgel dripped blood. ‘Thanks for the help. These bastards have been choking this place, got so a brother couldn’t look after his own.’
I straightened up from where I’d been trying to catch my breath. Not a great example of this nation’s elite warriors, I’ll grant you, but we’d been tied up in two nasty firefights and I was low on sugars.
‘Looks like you need to rest up and get some home cookin’ in you. Take it easy, can’t have you burning out on us,’ he smiled, kneeling down to admire a Scorpion sub-machine gun one of the Hyenas had dropped. ‘Nice.’
‘Ericksson,’ I said, holding out my hand. He grimaced, wiping his bloodied hand on his trousers.
‘Demetrius.’ His grip was firm, something I always liked. No challenge, no reluctance, a genuine handshake.
‘I’ll take you up on some food if you’ve got any. We’ll push on to D.C tomorrow morning.’
‘I’m thinking that we can rustle something up. Plenty of deer around here,’ he smiled again, nodded and left to give orders to his people.
I looked at the others as they gathered around. ‘Good job people. How about we chill here for tonight, let these good people guard us, and then continue tomorrow?’
‘Fuck yeah,’ said Cloudy. Matter settled.