The drop ships neared the rocky surface and inched towards the ground. Landing gear sprung forth, but 69 hit a rock outcropping and jerked into the air.
"Shit!" Miguel yelled again. Ina closer eyes, but the sleepless JJ was unwavered. It wouldn’t be pretty, but they’d land.
The drop ship slammed onto the asteroid and skidded into the wasteland’s dirt. The craft smoked, but the Captain held tight. The small ship sped to a rough stop. It was stupid, dangerous, yet somehow fun-the perfect opportunity for JJ’s sarcasms.
"Another happy landing." She smiled and locked down her helmet.
The drop ships’ hatches fizzed one after another, and the geared up teams filed onto the hard terrain. JJ surveyed the battlefield with her rifle ready. She knew the ins and outs of all the Combatant weapons, but every single Combatant was just that-a hand to hand lean, mean, fighting kick ass weapon. But of course, in situations like these, weapons from a distance were best.
“We made a noisy entrance. Someone should be here to great us.”
“Don’t jinx it.” Ina followed her Lieutenant.
“How’s she read, Sergeant?” JJ called Miguel forward.
The team tinker and engineer, Miguel pulled out his scanning equipment as ordered. “We’re all accounted for, so far. No additional signals or pathogens.”
“The Nukes wouldn’t need any pathogens here.” Ina put forth. “Throw a rock and crack our face shields why don’t you?”
“I didn’t come all this way to suffocate,” Kimmie grumbled and turned on her helmet’s lights. Indeed the entire environment was deadly. Dark, no atmosphere, and tough terrain as far as the dim combat headlights could show.
They marched on from the landing area, but JJ inched ahead of her crew. She stopped and the column halted behind her. She motioned, and the team turned to the left with her. Westmayer was a capable commander, in league with the other Mother Ship Captains. Their fleet was small, but while the big wigs sat back in comfort, it was JJ who led her shipmates into battle. It was how she got as far as she did. She fought, and fought well. What else was there to do? JJ looked at the digital maps lighting up her gear.
“The facility is this way.” JJ climbed over a pile of natural rubble, and the Combatants followed. They marched over the tough terrain, and JJ continuously eyed her handheld diagram. Stones slid under their feet, and her stride lowered.
“It feels like we’re descending.”
Miguel brightened the lights on his helmet and surveyed the area. “Let me risk a little more power. It looks like a crater rim there. We must be near the middle of the hole now.”
“I’ve see one too many of those.” JJ pocketed her device. “This intel is wrong.”
“Asteroids are constantly changing,” Kimmie contested.
“Good for asteroids.” JJ looked towards the microphone inside her helmet. “Johnson to Westmayer.”
“I’ve got something!” Miguel raised his arm and the column trudged idle again. “Heat signatures. 98.6.”
“Us?” JJ turned to the Sergeant.
“Are we moving?”
“Fuck!” JJ exclaimed. “Ambush!”
Lights beamed from the crater rim and pulse weapons blazed around the trapped Combatants. She knew it! It hadn’t felt right. She knew it was absurd, and now it was too late.
“Take cover!” JJ ordered.
High tech colored lasers blasted all around. The unit fell to the ground one by one-some as ordered, others victims of the Nuke’s carefully laid plains. JJ flattened herself on the ground, but in the colorful firelight, she saw Miguel collapse next to her.
“Sergeant!” JJ called to him. “Miguel!”
JJ crawled through the crowded crater basin, careful of enemy fire and the jagged rocks. Such a perfect set up! The sharp ground ripped the outer layer of JJ’s sturdy-but not full proof-spacesuit.
JJ increased the speed of her spider-like crawl. She fumbled past her still comrades, unsure of the direction she was going.
“Johnson to Westmayer.”
There was no time to look at her data-not that it was accurate enough to help anyway. JJ scrambled to get clear. Out of the shootout, she could fix her suit and get back to the drop ships.
“Any drop ship, please respond.”
Were the drop ships ambushed as well? Did they prep for rescue as was procedure?
“Shit. No.” JJ approached the edge of the crater but looked back at the Nukes. They closed into the crater and finished off any twitching Combatants.
“Any Combatant respond.” Had she alone the wits to delay the inevitable? JJ rolled across the crusted crater’s edge. The gravel crumbled beneath her, and JJ rolled down the sharp terrain. JJ groaned and screamed at the rocks sticking her and tearing her suit. Sharp pebbles reached her skin and scrapped JJ’s elbows. Blood and dirt marred the rustling fabric.
“Oh! Ow! Fuck!”
Jagged jabs and hard rocks punctured through the space gear one fizz and pop after another. JJ gasped and slowed her tortured descent. She rolled once more and smashed her face shield against a rock.
Don't forget the first FIVE Chapters of On The Way to New Isosceles are available at Leigh Wood. Author.