A highly trained squad is deployed on a strike, seeking to take down targets who’ve posed a large threat to the military and the civilian population.

This is an experimental short piece done as a gift for ElektronX.

1306 words | 5 min reading time

Fear is for the weak. Yesterday we protected the weak. Today we deliver the weak from their fear. Tomorrow we make our enemies weak.

A world in ruin needs the strong to bring it together. Those willing to do what is required. Who’ve got what it takes.

Years of brutal training. Tests that were designed to be failed by all but a few. The best. Of the best. Of the best.

All traces of fear forcibly replaced with grim determination. We would do what none had done. We’d be the first to turn back the tide.

Analysts had analysed. Trackers had tracked. Scouts, scouted. Our targets were marked.

The chopper reached the drop site. The squad rappelled down under cover of darkness. A base camp had been prepared. A means to call in mission success. We had come to do what needed doing. Until then, complete electronic silence.

A full moon hung in the sky. A great orb in the sky, bathing us in second-hand sunlight. Enough to find our way.

What a child would call a dark and scary forest, we now closely observed. Hunters reading the lay of the land, seeking their prey.

An hour trudging in darkness passed in an eternity. Every moment tense, our guns on hair triggers.

Unease crept up my spine.

The crack of a rifle. The crunch of armour, torn like paper. The thud of a lifeless body. Shouts of alarm.

They had known we were coming. We were down one. But we were not out.

A hum from the trees above. I looked up to see a green illumination that was not there before. Crackling green lances erupted from metal gauntlets. It was headed straight for me. A mistake.

Diving to side, I fluidly dodged the attack and drew my weapon in the same move. I twisted around to block the follow-up in knew would come. My sword ignited and caught the plasma blade mid-arc. If the monster was surprised, I would not find any trace of emotion in those cold robotic eyes.

My footing was imperfect, I’d not hold if it tried to overpower me. Fortunately, I did not have to hold. The creature pulled away from me, barely blocking a blow swung at its back in turn.

My remaining partner and I engaged the robot, while our other three squadmates sprinted off into the darkness. They sought the other one.

A tail swung at me, the wicked brass ends gleaming in the moonlight. I leapt towards the tail, which – too late – began to veer away. Pressing a button on the hilt, I activated my weapon just long enough to cut clean through.

A third of the metal tail fell to the ground. Sparks flew. A robotic scream that almost sounded alive. We were knocked off our feet by a green blast as the monster surrounded itself in a pulsating barrier. Quick to our feet, we circled it. Waiting for it to make its move.

The barrier dropped and it launched itself at me. My partner gave chase, while I took a steady stance. I met the robot’s swing, locking blades. Motion from its other hand caught my attention – a jerking movement followed by a bright green pulse from the lights on its arm.

The dancing sparks ceased briefly as both my and my enemy’s weapons lost power. But mine still had a blade, which I stabbed towards its chest. Without power, I could only scratch the titanium armour. Yet, as intended, my blade sputtered back to life just in time to sink deep into the armour – lodging itself there.

Another ear-piercing scream. I smiled in satisfaction – though I too wore a mask that hid my emotion.

The ignition of plasma blades to either side of me informed me of the cost of that fleeting moment of self-indulgence.

All this had taken mere fractions of a second. Now my partner was upon the metal beast, allowing me to escape with only a sizzling wound on my left arm, and a whack to the side from a tail-stump.

I pushed myself off the ground. We could not lose here. These terrors must be brought to an end.

Even without my blade, I was not yet useless. I pulled a pistol from its holster at my side and began unloading its armour piercing rounds at the creature.

I scored a hit on the monster as it knocked my partner off balance.

Another hit as it knocked the blade from his hand.

The next threw the plasma blade’s swing off – but it was not enough, saving the head but not the arm. A human scream was swallowed by the dense woods.

My remaining shots melted against a luminescent green barrier.

I ran for the sword that had landed in the dirt. I kept firing, forcing it to stay behind its barrier. Timed the shots so that I’d have enough time to get the fallen weapon before the magazine ran empty.

It was one-on-one now. I would not be able to overpower it – I could only hope to outmaneuver it.

Dodge the side-swipe. Parry a second blow, riposte. Use the momentum from the mutant’s own parry to spin around for another blow. The next parry to push myself away before we again engaged. A flurry of strikes and blocks. Man and machine, locked in the dance of blades.

But I was losing ground. And I was losing time. It was playing safe, waiting for me to tire – while it had all the time in the world. We danced. Our moves automatic, as if in a play we had rehearsed a thousand times.

Two chess masters, analysing the others’ movements, looking for any slip-up. Any opportunity to gain victory.

I decided to give it an opening. I feinted to the right and then swung towards its head. My swing was wide and I moved too close to it. It took the opening, removing the sword and two fingers from my hand.

However, I too gained the opportunity I needed. I shoved my shoulder into the creature’s chest. I did not gain any ground against it, but I was now in reach of my sword – still lodged in its chest.

I grabbed the sword and pulled downwards. Yet my injured arm could not pull hard enough.

White hot pain engulfed my belly and I was shoved to the ground.

I closed my eyes. Prepared for the final blow. None came. All I heard was the scraping of metal on metal. I opened my eyes to see it looming over me, pulling my sword out of its chest. Once it had done so, it dropped the sword onto my chest – the flat of the blade landing on me with a thud. A chilling chuckle reverberated from its titanium maw before it turned an marched off.

I heard a desperate and weak “No! No! No!”, followed by a gurgle and a sickening crunch.

Perhaps there was wisdom in fear. A natural order to things.

Thudding footsteps began returning in my direction.

If I had shown even a little of the emotion I’d been taught to detest, I would not have been here.

The aberration stood over me, motionless. I lay, my breathing laboured and my limbs impotent.

We had been so close… If things had gone but a little differently… My family would not have to live in fear…

Maniacal shouting off in the distance brought attention to gunfire that both combatants had until now been deaf to.

“Well, I gotta go, and it doesn’t look like you’ll make it.” Why did it even bother to speak to me? To draw this out?

Perhaps if I had heeded fear, I might have yet seen my family.

Instead, the last thing I saw was a metal gauntlet lowered to my face and a flash of green…


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