A blog about Science, Philosophy, Wargaming, Literature and other things, in three or more languages.
Long time overdue, this was my entry into the last story competition on the Infinity forums:
Slowly raindrops ran down her face, taking the detour through her eyes they fell down her cheeks like tears. The lenses in her eyes compensated for the broken light and presented the scenery as in broad daylight, not in a nightly thunderstorm. Before her lay the target. A settlement of temporary housings, quickly erected to be a home for soldiers, scientists, reporters and the occasional tourist. Now inhabited by terrorists, traitors, alien invaders and some hostages. So they said, she had no feelings about it. Yet.
“Yashura, come in.”
“Shi, Mi Chan.”
She used his mother tongue to reassure him full understanding, his usage of her media given call sign would matter to her soon.
“In position, on your mark.”
Her vision spilt. On the top was the official map of the terrain, the one Maya would see, beneath was the tactical one. There was quite the difference. On the official one the Ghost Wolf was her only companion, just the way Maya liked it. She and her sidekick against the odds. The trauma team nearby was also highlighted. Standing back to receive the hostages.
The tactical map showed the other snipers, labeled 1 to 3, one on each remaining side. All were cloaked in thermo-optical camouflage, covering each of the flanks to assure no one escaped her. The rescue team also was nearby, but she could see the icons of the Hospitaler strike force just in case. They had good doctors, them being a trauma team was not a lie per se.
This was intended to be a show of force, a message to collaborators, not a true account. Her processor calculated an 87.007% chance that this operation will have the desired effect on morale, as well on the general populace as on possible insurgents. The chance for a mild positive response within the populace was at 73.076%, so ALEPH took the odds.
She brought up the last conversation with Mi Chan and reported her readiness. The position of 1-3 and their possible targets were calculated, telling her where not to look, in order to maintain the illusion of a two man strike. She activated her feelings, Maya loved Yashura, and set the recording in motion.
“Acquiring satellite feed.”
Yashura took a deep breath. Filling her muscles with air, she felt the rush of adrenaline in her body.
Seven icons appeared on the map, all visible guards were human. Ten appeared on the tactical one.
With her words she slid down the slope into the valley. The thunderstorm masking her noise. Huddling behind a tree she saw a pair of guards. They wore thick raincoats, helmets and were armed with rifles of PanOceanian making. Her eyes easily registered the etched numbers on the barrels, linking into the net, a search started. Soon command would know where they had acquired these weapons.
There were four intact buildings, probability put the hostages in the second to her left. She loaded her gun, the coats were not reinforced, no AP ammunition necessary.
Yashura rose and shot with one fluid motion. While the first guard saw her, she fired three shots at the other. One bullet to the head, one to the liver and one to the heart. The first one raised his rifle but his head tilted with impact, as her wolf´s bullets pierced his skull. Her shots were true and the second guard went down with barely a sound.
Even before her bullets hit the target Yashura fell into a crouch and ran towards the first building. The bodies touched the ground the same moment she reached the wall of the first building. Three more icons vanished from her tactical map, five remained on the official one. Careful steps brought her to the buildings front. The next two were waiting there. All the constructions here formed a square, so everyone would see what she was doing. Everyone inside the square at least. Two guards were at the first building, the one she stood next to, one was in front of the second one, two remained on patrol. Coming up behind her soon. She sent a message to her wolf to take them down, on the official screen of course.
She started a timer. One for the patrol running into his sights, one for them seeing her. The latter was shorter. She switched of the compensation, suddenly everything was dark and broken. Photons flying wildly, scattering and shattering in the rain. All objects were outlined, so her aim was not really impeded (not more than 1,3% anyway). Maya loved the drama and Yashura too.
Her left arm folded in and became a blade, with her right she held her rifle. The thunder masked her well, till she reached the edge. One second before the patrol got their eyes on her Yashura turned the corner. Holding the gun at her outstretched arm she loosened a salvo at the guard of the second building.
Three shots, three hits.
The one right next to her was startled, after shooting she lunged into a deep crouch without pause. The move brought her beneath his aim and the shots went wild. Her bodyweight carried the blade straight through coat, armour, man, armour and coat again. The wet slurshing sound was hardly audible. Comm chatter exploded all around.
With ease her decoder deciphered the traitors signal. Panic spread, word to kill the hostages as well. There were two comm lines which she couldn´t break though – alien!
She took that in within a human heartbeat. Pushing her muscles Yashura jumped. The last guard was not fast enough. Her blade, still stuck in the dead man, pierced armour and muscles. Gurgling he went down. Both maps exploded. About half a dozen icons were missing from the official map. The vectors became complex as she calculated her way to the hostages. She exploded into motion as well.
Turning her head right she shot an emerging soldier, not well armoured and without a rain coat. He fired wildly into the night, no shot even grazing her. Another salvo from her rifle took care of him. Behind her another one crept up, she couldn´t turn to him, he wasn´t officially there. Looking away from the man she shot, another unofficial one appeared there, she turned forward. Bullets strayed her, without looking she fired half her magazine at the guard emerging from the third building. Right before her two more ran out of her target. The first fell, his head missing. The wolf had bitten.
The other one raised his weapon and fire exploded around her. Dodging most of the blast, her dermal damage appeared on her display. It hurt. She relished in the pain. Her arm was wide off and he was near so she didn´t shoot but sped up. With 103,435 kp/h she slammed into him. A painful gurgle escaped his throat. Yashura felt his bones break. At this speed her reinforced body was like hardened steel to him and he snapped apart. The wall came next.
Her vision dimmed at once. The crash sheared into her ears, dutifully dulled not to overstress the eardrums. The wall was torn asunder, ripping the gun from her hand and Yashura rolled to her feet, up from the bloody heap the man under her had become. While taking in the scene she made a low turn and drew her pistol. Two shots she fired into the man running towards her. His head snapped back, yet she did not wait till he dropped. The turn went lower and bullets flew above her head, one ricocheting from her cheek (superficial dermal damage), and another two shots embedded themselves in the last mans´ throat. The official map was clear. The snipers would take care of the stragglers.
Yashura turned slowly. The enemy hasn´t shot yet, so there was a high (92,456 %) chance that he would not until after a talk. Maya loved suspense. Her official map was clear, now the tentative icon of a Morat appeared. The interior was rather clear. In the rear part of the building was a fence, behind it she could see several huddled humans (database check of identities started immediately, it took 1.94 seconds to verify the identity of seven missing people), not all of them clearly visible. Before that were half a dozen campaign beds, all empty, and some crates, all sealed shut. Amidst it stood a large Morat. He was about 8,02 feet tall, 5,78 feet wide and clad in thick, well polished, armour the unit marks made him out to be a Sogarat. To his left a large axe, taller than Yashura, leaned against the fence, in his right he held a long barreled weapon (databanks showed its destructive power to be slightly higher than a Feuerbach), still pointed at the ground. He clapped by thumping his hand against his chest.
“I was getting bored.”
His speech was heavy accented but clear. Yashura didn´t move any further. The tactical map was still not secure and backup would be preferable (it increased chances to win by 86,234 %).
“I hoped they sent one of you.”
“They say that your kind…”
He tilted his head like he was thinking of words.
“are the best. Yes, that is the word.”
With that he raised the gun. Yashura jumped leftwards and fired her pistol. A loud crack behind her disintegrated the rest of the torn wall. Her bullets plinged of his weapon. Yashura rolled up and fired again, while in the air. He compensated and hit the crate right in front of her. It exploded, the second rocket missed her by an inch (1.23 inches). Once more her bullets hit him, this time in the chest, to no effect. Her arm by now was a hand again and she used it to turn her forward roll into a backflip. The sudden change of direction threw of his aim and explosions marked the floor before her, leaving large cracks and holes in the material. A soft grumble indicated even further damage (53,432 % chance of tunnels beneath the building).
Yashura landed in a low crouch and sprinted for her enemy, emptying her pistol on the way. She was low enough to avoid his shots, but once more most of the bullets harmlessly plinged of his armour. Just one threw sparks from the Feuerbach. Letting go of the pistol she fell into a slide, her right arm shifted to expose the Nanopulser. The Morat brought down his weapon a second (0,98 seconds) after she was in range. The aggressive nanites tore into his frame and weapon, eating away at flesh, fibre and steel alike, before burning out their short lives. It worked. The Morat fired and the electrical feedback sparked an explosion, one last rocket left the barrel. It struck true.
Her side exploded and Yashura shut down her pain feedback just in time. She flew through the air. The hit in her flank turned her forward momentum into a sideward spin. She would hit the wall within a second (0.74 seconds), enough time to make a damage assessment. She saw the remnants of her right arm fly past her. It was tore off up to the shoulder, her flank was open and vital liquids poured out (sealing complete in 2.45 seconds). She needed a new plan.
She hit the wall. She made no sound (to 76.545% a grunt would be added for the Maya airing). Yashura landed rather unceremoniously on the ground, liquid splattered all over her. She sprang to her feet immediately. Without any ranged weapon she needed assistance (11.234 % chance to win on her own), her left arm became a blade again.
The loud curse of the Morat sounded like laughing, as he threw down the remains of his weapon and took of his scarred helmet. His face was scarred from many wounds, his facial hair missing at several points. Within the muscular face sat two slightly glowing (light reflection only made up for 89.432 % of the eyes´ brightness) purple eyes. He seemed to smile as she charged him.
Coming in low she tried to slash open his knees. He made a step back and lunged very low with his right hand. Being in the air Yashura could not fully evade and he grabbed her at the chest. Despite her weight and momentum he lifted her over his head in a wide arc, expelling a loud battle cry while doing so.
She smashed into the ground. Hard.
Everything went black.
Her sight returned and the splinters were still in the air (1.23 seconds had passed). Her sensors reported broken bones and torn muscles all over her back, but she still was functional. The ground beneath her shifted unsteady (now 78.343% chance for a cave) as she moved sideways. The Morat went for his axe to finish her, but her early move made him miss. A loud crack went through the air and a wide one opened in the ground.
Yashura rolled to her feet and backed off towards a crate, but found herself seeing the wall. Her orientation system was damaged. She adjusted and re-oriented herself, taking a step towards the wall to buy time. She ducked away under the next swing of the axe. Taking two more steps backwards, Yashura stumbled. Her calf tore off from a sharp remnant of the wall and she fell like a rock.
Not wasting time she rolled over her head back to her feet, just in time to avoid the axe again. The rain smeared all over her as the Morat stepped outside, stomping down the last parts of the wall he braced the storm. Neither lightning nor water made him flinch in any way.
Her stance was broken and her footing slippery. This was not looking good for Yashura (5.324 % to win on her own). But she wasn´t alone.
The impacts threw sparks on his armour. One, two, three, four. As the bullets hit resistance they blossomed for maximal impact, an angry growl of betrayal came from the alien, but he hardly moved at all.
The last bullet finally pierced his armour, Yashura saw blood emerge from his frame and more important: his footing weakened. Forcing as much power as she could into her legs Yashura bounced off from one of the few crates outside and flew towards the Morat in an almost straight line (3.43 degree deviation). Colliding with just under 100 Kp/h (98.34) more parts of her gave way. Still her blade had enough force to penetrate the aliens´ armour. The resistance index changed and Yashura knew, that she had hit flesh. She smiled.
With a grunt the Morat took a step back to regain his footing. It wasn´t enough. With her added weight he tumbled backwards and crashed to the ground. It cracked. Reaching for her head, his aim was thrown off as the ground gave way. His fist still hammered into her head with great speed. Yashura felt her neck break. The punch made her fly sideways, with no time for a proper breakfall she huddled herself together. The landing was hard, more skin was sheared away. Despite the odds (65.433 %) her neck did not snap. Her vision was shady and incomplete, one eye was missing.
Where the Sogarat fell a large hole gaped in the floor. With a kick she kickstarted the last crate in here into the hole. Regaining her stand the sound told her that it was a fall of at least 30 meters. The Sogarat was out of the picture (67.324% for being dead, 98.456 % for being incapacitated), so she went to free the hostages. Maya would love it, as did she.
Then Yashura cancelled her feelings.
Through his sights Yashuras´ wolf saw her emerge from the jungle, the hostages in tow. Nine in total. The just received orders visible on his tactical display. He found the double vision of official and tactical map very confusing.
Yashura looked like hell. Half of her head was smashed in, the dents leaving the impression of surrealistic painting. The eye had bleed out, just some wires were visible to his enhanced sight. Her body was burned on several places, little cuts and bruises all over it, some larger holes here and there. Blood and other liquids were smeared all over her, giving her almost a red and grey camouflage. Her right arm was missing, leaving a gap deep into the shoulder, showing some bones and some carbon. She hunched and took only slow steps, only one of her legs could still support her. Liquid still spilled from her calf, obviously the self-repair systems were offline. Her left arm also was a wreck, only the upper arm was left, with a small strand remaining. The strand was a finger he realized. On top of all of it the small cut on her cheek was still visible, this first wounding on this mission, was strangely unaccompanied by other wounds. It was an awesome, poetic sight. After all she was still walking. He stopped the recording.
Maya had her share. He raised his rifle and coordinated with the other snipers. The orders were clear. Shoot the hostages, one was a Speculo. He hoped that would be his victim, but he hardly cared.