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Stealth and Deception
by Alastair Cooper (Myralyst)

Part Five

The team quickly took up positions in the main chamber of the hangar and surveyed the situation. What had previously been a ridiculous infiltration made ludicrously easy by their suits had now reached out to claim “ridiculous” status back with a vengeance. Before them, with anti-gravity engines running and shields at maximum power, hovered the admiral’s luxury shuttlecraft. On each side of the room facing the shuttle at full attention was a complete squadron of Grendarl garbed in the colours of the admiral’s ancient family. One of the first empires to feel the wrath of the federation, the Great Grendarl Dominion had been torn to shreds by the efficient human onslaughts. Some systems had surrendered and been fully assimilated into the Federation, with their inhabitants usually joining the infantry as shock troops by choice. Grendarl escort units were not uncommon in the great houses, but they were outrageously expensive – while slow witted and ponderous off the battlefield, the Grendarl were not utterly stupid and put a high price on their loyalty. Judging by the state of the unit, Leonard concluded these would be a major drain on house Ipithet’s financial resources, and also a massive barrier to his objectives.

There were over 60 Grendarl in the room, and Leonard didn’t like 12 – 1 odds at any time, but especially not when all of them were staring unwaveringly at the means to accomplish his primary objective. He relished the thought of mixing it up with the best, and knew his team also wanted that chance, but the situation still stank like two week old rotten Nommo. Using the Cyber Messaging capabilities of his suited he formed his orders, and instructed the computer to broadcast them to the team:

“Assault: Sneider and Hardcastle take East, Jones and Desaile West. Provide Cover. Michelle and I Circle and take South. Michelle, Do whatever you can to jam the shuttle’s transmissions”

The team responded one by one, and when 5 “ACKNOWLEDGED” signals had been received, and the team moved cautiously into position, he broadcast a countdown timer. He needed the first wave of fire to cut down as many Grendarl as possible, for they had limited space to manoeuvre, and getting too close would result in a world of pain. Although they had the ultimate in stealth technology behind them, a well-devised engagement plan, heavy weaponry and entire seconds of surprise before the Grendarl could even raise their shields; Leonard still had that gnawing feeling in his gut. He knew no plan survived contact with the enemy, and despite all the factors evening the odds in their favour his long field experience hated the scenario. If the shuttle gained the air outside the hangar they would have lost a major part of their surprise factor in the mission, and it might cost them the mission. As the countdown reached 0 the room flared with the myriad red and yellow glares of high energy plasma balls released from the alternate fire cartridge on their weapons, with barely a pause the primary fire of six plasma assault rifles opened on the unsuspecting Grendarl troops.

The decimation was awesome. Leonard watched as his first plasma ball, launched from the independent cartridge that under-slung his barrel hit the floor and vaporised six soldiers instantly, his first volley was nanoseconds behind and sliced into the unprotected troopers. Unholy sounds filled the hangar, dull thuds of concussion blasts piled into the unsuspecting troops as plasma balls hit the ground, and his team were the very agents of death – the hand of destruction. Slowly though, surviving Grendarl raised their shields and the reds and yellows were mingled with the green rippling effect of Grendarl shield technology.

As his second volley strafed through the troops, Leonard’s vision caught sight of the commander. He was trying to gauge the situation, rationalise the impossible. He started moving with purpose, he raised his gun and fired on the shafts running over the top of the hangar. Water spewed into the room, mingled with the remnants of the duracrete floor and settled everywhere. With horror, Leonard realised that his team was now coated with a white substance and were visible, and in that second his gaze caught Desaile, looking away from the commander and completely unaware of the sudden reversion to normal visibility. The Grendarl commander moved with terrible speed and struck Desaile with an almighty blow in the back. His personal shield flashed with a powerful blue, as it tried to absorb the energy and died. The blow struck, and he crumpled. Nearby troopers saw, their slow minds gradually becoming active. Guns were raised, and with a final scream Desaile was burned out of life in a hail of Plasma. As he cut the commander down with a hail of plasma fire, Leonard screamed into his comm. Unit. “WE’RE VISIBLE!” and heard echoes of various obscenities, but his team was too busy with the battle to comment further. Their initial assault had torn the unit to pieces, but they were still outnumbered somewhere between two and three to one. Saw that number decrease as four troopers were cored by a point-blank blast from Sneider’s awesome weapon, the red plasma passing through the first three troopers at chest height, before burning away the neck of the fourth.

As he turned south and ran in toward Michelle he saw her shift effortlessly from firing her assault rifle to hand to hand combat as two Grendarl troopers closed on her from the side. Leonard was always impressed by her easy grace which hid the massive power that came from the style she used. The combination of the leverage she generated from her style and the mechanical assistance gained from the suit would usually bestow a strength advantage over most foes. The Grendarl, however were formidable, and were at best just as strong as Michelle, at worst they far surpassed even him.

Avoiding a massive blow from the nearest trooper she planted her feet inside his guard and used her upwards momentum to power her wrists into his abdomen. Their personal shields were certainly weaker than theirs, since her blow easily broke through the shield and landed heavily on the trooper. As he folded in the middle she laid her hands on the huge shoulders and pulled the trooper to block the blow struck by his partner. The combined impact of her knee to his head and the second trooper’s huge blow caused the neck to snap, and the limp deadweight of the former shock trooper to hit the floor. Completely in time with the flow of the engagement Michelle raised he rifle and blasted the second even as he realised he had struck his comrade. Ducking a massive fist and rolling to his feet under a plasma burst Leonard joined the fray, with the fire of adrenaline pulsing through his veins.


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