Smith2

I’ve been in the infantry for years. I guess I’ll be here till someone kicks me out or does me in. My squad is heavy recon. We have enough speed to get into trouble, and enough firepower to get out. I carry the dual Gauss rifle. It fires aluminum flechettes down a magnetic rail at hypersonic speeds. It’s an efficient weapon with little recoil. My only complaint is that it makes a eerie sound when fired, like an out of control sewing machine pulling on a zipper.

Two months ago, we were called up to protect a peacekeeping force somewhere. All I knew was that we were in Asia, somewhere near the Yellow Sea. The blues patrolled down in the valley while we chased the rebels in the hills. We dropped into a landing zone at the bottom of one hill. After forming a skirmish line, we started up the slope. We knew the rebels were there, satcom was tracking them. I flipped my HUD to strategic to get a thermal view of the hill crest. I counted two dozen fighters milling around a small clump of trees. I passed the contact on to the rest of my squad so they could adjust their lines.

Just as we were getting to the steepest part of the hill, I heard the clatter of small arms fire. It sounded like Kalashnikovs, but each round ended in a sharp snapping sound. They were using depleted ammunition. This wasn’t an ill equipped group of farmers. We were fighting a seasoned force of regulars. I marked a small hollow on my HUD map. The squad gathered there while I flipped to strategic again. I marked the clump of trees for a sat bombardment. Somewhere out in space, a satellite aligned itself with my target and started burning the area with a maser.   We tried to make ourselves very small as the beam moved across the mountain. The maser satellites weren’t known for their accuracy, and we were just too damn close.  The microwaves cooked the whole hilltop, and I could see fires breaking out above our position.

As the maser was finishing its cycle, a supplybot lumbered up to us. We all grabbed an energy shot to recharge and started up the hill again. Hawkins2 crackled over the net.  “Just sporadic fire, the maser must have hit the target.”  I wasn’t so sure. The other side of the hill would be in a satellite shadow for another quarter hour. Any group that could field advanced weaponry would be able to track our recon satellites.

We reached the crest of the hill as the fires were burning themselves out. The clump of trees had burned down to stumps, and I saw several pools of thick liquid that I tried not to linger on. That was all the maser left when it burned a man. The gunfire we had heard was a pair of rebels crippled by the maser.  They were firing blindly in all directions. Taggert2 sprayed them with aluminum, and the hilltop fell silent. All I heard was the faint crackle of dying fires.

We reformed our skirmish line and started down the other side of the hill. I flipped to strategic again, but the satellite was still a few minutes from apogee over our position. As I was calling my squad back to wait, a group of rebels opened fire on us. They must have been bunkered on the other side of the hill, out of the maser’s range. A round ripped into Taggert2, and he just slumped in front of me. I let out a long burst down the hill and retreated back over the crest. A wave of screaming men followed me. I clicked an alert through my HUD, and the squad turned together. We opened fire on the group, but they didn’t slow down. They were upon us in seconds, and the fighting became hand to hand. Two of them came towards me, and I pulled out my sidearm. I fired both tasers into one of them, and he fell to the ground, twitching. The other one was on me, and I just managed to deflect his weapon. A round howled past my ear as I brought the butt of my rifle down on his helmet. I felt something impact my arm. As it spun me around, I saw a rebel firing on me from 10 meters away. Another round struck me in the chest, and my whole body went numb. I heard footsteps as he came to stand over me. He pulled back the slide with a long scraping sound. He raised his rifle, took aim…

“Smith! Get another unit, yours is reading red across the board.”

I leaned out of my control module “Aye, captain, Smith3 will be active in… 8 minutes. Transferring squad control to Hawkins2.”

While I waited for my new combot to come online, I looked around the control room. Taggert was complaining that his new bot wasn’t online yet, Hawkins was yelling for backup, and the rest of my squad was busy operating their units.

Losses where light, the squad cleared the hilltop by the time Smith3 came online. I parked my combot and walked out onto the patio to listen to the traffic down on the street.

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