The screech of insects was deafening. Ter Ri looked around the verdant jungles trying to find the source of the deafening noise but he couldn’t find it even with his visors tracking software. “Lets move” came the click over his comms. He looked up to see the lieutenant leading his squad forward into the brush. To the left he could just make out the movement of the rest of the force also entering the underbrush. Ter Ri was recently promoted. The Algoryn forces on Xilos had taken considerable losses over the last several weeks. His assault unit had before been a veteran unit made up solely of hardened vector caste troops, but that was before the fierce fighting on the planet. Now Ter Ri, a member of the founder caste and usually an arms-man aboard an Algoryn vessel had been rotated in to fill the gaps left by the fighting. He felt very out of place among such a hardened group.
Though he trained all his life Ter Ri had seen little combat. But in training he’d shown a knack for using a d-spinner and thus he’d been the one selected. It was an honor, but one he wasn’t sure he could live up to. Especially since he was serving under the implacable Lieutenant Myrval. Already soldiers whispered whenever he went past. They said he’d been the sole survivor of several actions already, walking away from blasts and terrible melees alike unharmed. And other time he’d risked his own life pressing the enemy to seize victory in the face of sure death. Ter Ri tried not to flinch whenever he looked his way. There was something primal about the man, something Ter Ri couldn’t describe. He was unsettling.
He came to an abrupt halt almost colliding with the trooper in front of him. They’d halted for something. The characters on his face plate swam to identify the threat. Up ahead, a ghar battle suit slowly scanned the brush obviously looking for something. Then a massive bang. The infantry along the left had also obviously spotted the Ghar and had opened up on the walker with their heavier munitions. Overload ammo made deafening bangs against the armored shell of the walker and it rotated to return fire into the brush. The comms clicked again and Ter Ri couldn’t watch anymore as his unit was suddenly moving again. The whistle of mortars kicked into the air and suddenly he noticed the screeching insects had fallen silent. Now the sounds of blasts reverberated from every direction.
Suddenly they came to a gap in the foliage. “Open fire.” The command short, concise. The entire unit opened up with their mag repeaters well within effective range. The mag shells couldn’t hope to penetrate the things armor but such a barrage was likely to hit something important. And it did. With a spectacular bang the Ghar suit exploded flinging debris that ripped apart nearby trees and left an ugly cloud of greasy smoke behind.
The infantry unit waved it’s thanks and both units continued on their separate ways.
It wasn’t long till they came under attack once again. Boromite signals had begun to fade in and out and they traveled deeper into the jungles. The firefight to the south went on sporadically. The fighting seemed to be heavier on that end but Ter Ri couldn’t see anything but the occasional flash from an explosion. The Boromite signal flared stronger than ever before, and then static overwhelmed his screen as he caught the hint of a high pitched whine. “Move!” Someone yelled as the mortars began to crash around them. Someone tackled him on the way as the blast washed over them. Had someone not knocked him into the underbrush the blast would surely have torn right through him. “You alright trooper?” Ter Ri stood up to see the Lieutenant. His camouflage optics flickering revealing the burnt orange of his armor beneath. “Yes sir. I…” Ter Ri didn’t know what to say.
“Save it trooper. Let’s move before they get another lock.”
[Objective located] shown brightly in his display as the unit climbed up from the dry riverbed they’d been using to travel. The runes marking builder technology glowed brightly behind what looked to be another Ghar battle suit. There would be no engaging this one from afar. He could see the body language of his unit. This is one they were trained for. This is probably what they’d be born for. Myrval was the first one to leap from the brush and begin the headlong charge. They all opened fire as they charged a battle cry welling up in every throat. Later Ter Ri couldn’t remember if he screamed or not. He just remembered the frantic desperate need to close with the Ghar before the things scourer cannons could connect and tear a hole through his armor and whatever was beneath. Then they were there, their d-spinners spitting, lashing out at the monstrosity. The Lt was amazing to watch. He looked alive and vibrant as he fought. He drew the fire of the Ghar as he closed and delivered blow after blow as he pulled up close. Without warning the Ghar turned towards Ter Ri. It’s claw swiped in knocking Ter Ri flat, but before it could deliver a finishing blow an explosion went off within the thing. It slumped lifelessly as the Ghar inside died.
The lieutenant stood looking the suit up in down, his body language unreadable. After a moment he looked away and strode over to the artifact. “This is what we came for.” He approached the edge of the ridge and watched the distant firefight as the rest of the Algoryn forces engaged the Boromites and Ghar in the distant jungle. “We’re too far out. It will be over by the time we get over there. We’ll head back to the rendezvous point and hope this was enough to win the day. I hope this artifact was worth it.”
Ter Ri spent a lot of time contemplating the relic he carried on the way back to the rendezvous point. He wondered how he’d survived the day, and more importantly, how he would survive the days to come. But looking up at the Lieutenant he knew he’d follow that man without question, and this time, he didn’t flinch.