Project: AKRA pt 13

(They are down to three people, assaulting the base soon, will they be able to save AKRA?)

 

Raist spread his arms out while he was falling through the sky, seeing the two of them further down through clearings in the clouds of mist close to the bottom of the river.  He enjoyed the quick freedom of the descent when the small cord he was tied on began providing a counter to gravity as he rapidly slowed down, controlling the final length of his descent with a button on his suit.

Spinning around slowly, he lowered himself the final few body lengths to the small rock platform the other two were at.

Agrest took their three cords, pressing them into the wall and triggering their camouflage system, which caused them to fade into the rock color.

“What’s the likelihood of hostile creatures in this water?” Raist asked.

Philira shook her head rapidly.  “No way, this water is too fast.  Even if there are creatures, the water should hide our thermal signature with the outside of our suit being cold.  I’ll wave when I have the system set up on the other side.”

She knelt down, spiked another rod into the ground and dove into the water without waiting for any command from Raist.  Her body moved up and down in a rhythm as the wave started by her head swept through her whole body over and over as she flew across the rapids.  Scouts…good at everything.

“I am glad she is such a good swimmer,” Raist said.

“Yeah, never got good at that style.  Luckily I could pass all my tests doing the side-stroke.”

Raist was spiking his safety system, hooking it up to the line Philira was establishing when Agrest put his hand on his shoulder.

“Something doesn’t feel right.”

Raist didn’t like the pit in his stomach hearing Agrest say that, but evenly responded, “Why, what’s wrong?”

Agrest shook his head.  “I don’t know, can’t explain it.  But call it a Sniper’s intuition.”  Raist was ready to dive into the water having seen Philira’s pink hair emerge from the other side and waved the two of them over when Agrest interrupted him.

“If I don’t make it out alive, can you deliver a letter I have in my room back on the ship?” Agrest asked coldly.  His joking demeanor was totally gone, replaced by a dim realism.  “It’s to that girl we saved last time on Azure 2.  I was always scared to write her back.  But at least let her know that I died, but was thinking about her, okay?”

Raist turned around, and pushed him hard.  “Don’t you dare say that!  What is everyone’s problem?!  We have been through way worse shit than this.  Border-Action 9, the assault on Klattu, being stranded on Kilo?  Come on, Ziko’s arm?  I lost both of mine on Kilo.”  Raist lifted both of his arms as he went on.  “These are bio-synths!  We sustained a few injuries early and everyone is thinking this is the end?”

“Heh.” Agrest pushed Raist’s hand away as his lip rose in a slight grin. “You feel it too, then?”

Raist turned around, mad Agrest had basically gotten him to admit his unease, and dove into the water.  He started swimming with all his might against the harsh current.  Memories of the drownings he sustained during swim ‘training’ came back to him, but only focused his mind as he crashed through the waves and rocks.  He felt a strong pull that was Philira’s line dragging him to the other shore.  He felt his back legs sweep to the right, pulling away from him, and suddenly went spinning into the water as he got trapped in a whirlpool.

Underwater, he tried kicking off a huge rock he was trapped next to, but the whirlpool was too strong.  He stopped struggling and went limp, conserving his oxygen.  His nanites would keep him conscious for a much longer time than even the best breath-holders on Terra were capable of before nanites, but still knew anything could happen.

He protected his head with his arms as he hit the rock over and over with every spin of the water.  Feeling the line on his suit finally tighten, it forcefully ripped him out of the whirlpool and back to the surface.  He turned on his back, took a breath, and continued covering his head as Philira dragged him to the other side.

“Brings back bad memories of water survival school!” he shouted over the din, standing up and shaking the water off his face and hair as he backed away from the spraying mist the river was generating.

“Haha, yeah,” she agreed as she smiled. “Lot of memories is for sure.”

He suddenly remembered that as much as he went through, while he was in tactics and strategy classes, she was probably still out there swimming and running.  He felt bad for even thinking about his hardship; he had no doubt the ‘expendable’ Scouts were trained far more cruelly than the Leaders.  She had swum through those rapids that likely would have killed Raist had he not had assistance.

Agrest was dragged to the shore and Philira hid the line across the river.  Now that this line and the descent line were established, on the return trip all they would need  to do is hook up to it.  The mechanism could pull them across the river, or up the cliff.

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Project: AKRA pt 11

“It’s okay…I know.  I can get a bio amp replacement if we make it through this.”

“Hey, you guys over there?”  Agrest’s voice shouted.  “Get over here now!”

Ziko pushed himself off the tree, they all grimly watched for a moment as what remained of his arm was quickly chopped and consumed by the blade grass and its acid once the suit’s structural integrity had been broken down.  “I hate this fucking place.” It seemed to be an understatement from Ziko as he watched his arm get eaten by the grass.

The three walked over to Agrest, his huge sniper rifle leaning against the tree.  Raist realized it was Agrest’s shot that killed the diving bird before it killed them.

Leio was sitting on the ground, her knee looked crushed, and everything under it was gone.  Her other ankle was broken, bent back up to her calf.

“What are you going to do with me?” she asked, looking straight at Raist.  He felt his stomach drop a bit with the implication of one entirely real option he could take to save the rest of the group time.  This was a woman he was intimate with, yet the mission was now at risk of being compromised due to both her legs.

“What happened?” he asked, trying to buy some time to think this through.

“The ankle was from the fall, and this,” she pointed to her missing calf and the crushed knee, “was from that bastard over there.”  She indicated a large dead beast.  “Heh, damn.  I’ve never seen such a hostile fauna before.”  She leaned back while they crouched down to inspect her damage.  Even with her mutilated legs, she still was amazingly lusty, along with a slight independence still obvious in her countenance.  “No wonder they put their fortress here.  Secure the skies, and let the planet take care of the ground.”

Raist could feel everyone waiting for him to decide what they were going to do with the obvious change in plans the injuries and the planet presented to them.  Maybe they were especially waiting to wonder if he would leave Leio, or kill her.  The latter might be humane.

He stood up.  “We are not leaving anyone behind.”  He looked to Ziko before continuing, “I am taking you off Assault-role.  It’s too dangerous to not have a combat-able person not firing, so because of your injury you are the one who will carry her.  Leio, you are staying on the Sweep.  The rest of us are changing our weapon configuration.  Agrest, switch to your Silvershot for faster shots, I’m moving down to the ‘Saw and Leio you go with whatever you can shoot while still staying on Ziko.  Z, you can either go weaponless or take a one-hander.”

“And me?” Philira asked.

“Stay with the Plaz-Shot.  It is obvious to us now most of the fighting is going to be close range.  I need Agrest and Leio to be on drone watch out.  We are not that far in raw distance to our target so we are going to press on.  I do not think resting is a wise decision.”

He walked over to Leio. “You know what we have to do right?” he asked.

“Of course, get it done already.”

They dragged her to an area devoid of the grass where it looked shot up from the battle.  He handed her the handle of the SSAW with its softer grip, pressing it towards her mouth, she opened it and bit down on the handle.

“Hold her,” he commanded.  Philira and Agrest knelt down and held her body and arms down.

“Heh,” she muttered out of her jammed mouth, turning her head towards the sky.  “Never…get used…to this.”

Raist knelt down by her foot, grabbing the misplaced foot, and, without waiting for any okay or any delay, pulled downward and backward.  Immediately her leg started flailing while the other two struggled to hold her down, letting out a painful ‘guuuaaaaa!’ through her gritting mouth.  It was clear she was trying to maintain control despite the massive pain and compared to a scream most would have let out, her moan was fairly benign.

He continued pulling back until it was straight, and pushed it softly back into the semi-correct position.  He held her foot still for a moment while she stopped moving; she spit the gun handle out.  “I’m okay…”

All three of them let her go as she sat there.  “Should be walk-able in about a cycle.  I feel my nanites reforming the bone already.” It was quiet for a moment before she continued. “Well, stop staring at me already!  As much as you guys like to do it, let’s get this going.”  He reluctantly managed a smile at her pride hiding her shame of slowing the group down.

She lifted an arm up and Raist grabbed it, hauling her body over his shoulder then transferring her to Ziko where she sat on his shoulders.  She used her one leg to wrap under his shoulder to his back and was using her hips to hold onto his head.

“Not pretty, but it will work.  Z, can you still function?” Raist asked, handing him a pistol for his one remaining arm.  The chemicals in them and their advanced nanites could keep them functioning at conditions worse than this, but still wanted to make sure.

“You mean with that hot ass wild woman riding him all night?” Agrest joked.

“I think his head is facing the wrong direction for anything wild,” Leio said, giving Ziko a tight squeeze.

“Damn Raist, no wonder you like her.  I can tell she’s probably into bondage,” Agrest responded.

“Don’t make me squeeze his head off.”

“Why would you punish me for your two perverted minds?” Ziko said while he practiced moving around a bit with Leio on his shoulders.

“I think he’d like that.” Agrest added, “Either getting his head squeezed off, or your ‘punishment’ that is.”

At least their spirits…and chemicals… were still high enough to joke.  Raist looked at the Spreading Squad Assault Weapon he was holding in his hands, its neon blue lines pulsing an incredible power just waiting to be unleashed.  He was practicing drawing his knife out of the SSAW Philira had hidden in it in the event of a surprise.  Raist was glad their spirits were still good for now though.  He knew how bad missions could get.

Project: AKRA pt 9

(The team has landed but due to a malfunction were all separated and trying to find each other)

“How the hell can they see us!?” Raist shouted over the burst of gunfire.  Another Plaz-Shot shell from Philira’s weapon exploded the creature apart as the remnants of the super heated bolts tore through parts of the forest.

The silence of the forest during the day was a complete juxtaposition of the chaos of night with its endless howls, shadows, and attacks.

One beast that had finished goring another swung its huge tusked head towards the two of them and started charging.  Raist lifted the Limiter rifle to it, and the soft ‘zzzt’ sound hid the fact that hundreds of sonic rounds were electro-magnetically being discharged out of the rifle.  The spray tore into the creature, rendering its millions of generations of evolution for naught as the rounds blasted through it and the trees beyond.  It skidded to a stop not far from the two of them, and was rapidly being cut down by the strange ground under it.

“They have to be sensing us some other way…thermally possibly,” Philira suggested as she rapidly rotated her head around every side of them, pumping a round into things Raist didn’t even know was there, only occasionally seeing the burning creature falling out of a tree or fall over from behind an alcove.  She danced in front of him always making sure to stay between him and any danger.

‘DADADA!’ A loud, fast retort of a Close-Support-Weapon came from somewhere fairly close to them; they knew they were closing in on the other member of their group.  But every step was a battle.  Even the ‘grass’ had become even more alive, slicing back and forth greedily for something to fall onto the cleaving surface.

“How close?!” he shouted to Philira.

“Not far.”  She quickly bent down, her hands rapidly flying over the Scatter gun as she threw the empty energy clip to the ground, reaching to her hip for another, slapping it in and triggering the toggle.  The green neon lights on the transductor rails came back on as she jumped backwards shooting a creature that had closed on her quickly in that short time.

“It has to be thermally!”  Raist shouted.  It made sense why everything was out at night: heat would show up better.  Unfortunately, their advanced weaponry probably was a beacon in the night with the hot barrels and explosive plasma blasts.

“Get down.”  Philira dashed backwards, tackling Raist to the ground.  In front of them the huge tree was sawed through by a barrage of rounds as it swayed in one direction, its structure cracking.  Its mass swayed the other direction as its crystal structure started breaking, falling towards them as the base exploded apart.  The razor branches came crashing down around them.  They scrambled to their feet, pausing for only a moment as the tree grew closer and closer.  They escaped being crushed, but not all damage as the sharp crystals shot-gunning around them as the branches of the tree fell everywhere.

“Gaaaa…!” Raist let out a groan as he felt something slip right through his right side, passing through the armor like nothing.  The tree had come to a crashing end and Philira jumped up.  Raist was slower and she grabbed his wrist and hauled him up.

He put a glove on his right side and it came back red; he had been sliced through by one of the branches of the tree that had crashed around them.

“Shit, I’m hit.”  Philira looked at him with her cold eyes, trying to decide what she was going to do.

“I’m going for whoever that is.  We need to unify our force immediately,” she started leaving.

Raist grabbed her wrist, pulling her back.  “No, I am going with you.  This is nothing.”  A warning in the corner of his eye warned that the expected healing would reduce his total combat healing potential down to 73%.

The first few steps were painful until the chemicals were sufficiently pumping through him and he forgot about the pain completely, focused on gunning down the further away creatures while Philira focused on those close ones.

‘Dadada!’ Shots boomed across the forest, drowning out anything else.

“Ziko!”  Philira tried yelling between the fire.  “Ziko!”

“Holy shit, Philira!?  Raist!?” The three of them ran closer to each other, but the reunion was short-lived as the battle was far from over.  Ziko had racked up a large amount of kills as the forest had been cut through here.  Even the razor grass had been blown away, leaving much safer soft rock under them.

 

Project: AKRA pt 8

Keep a ping going so we can find the range of the ICS here – he sent to her, but when she didn’t respond he felt alone again.  He backed up a bit as small bits of the plant fell out of the sky from her ascent, turning his own cloaking field back on.  He picked one of the branches up, from where it had broken off was a liquid leaking out from the middle.  Though the branch was colored purple, he thought the similarity to obsidian was strong.  Was this really a plant, or maybe a symbiotic amalgamation of plant and geologic processes?  They looked a lot like Daijin Star plants, if they had plants.  Hmm…did they have plants?

‘Thinking too much…’

He shook his head and pulled the Gauss-Limiter up to his shoulder and looked around at the silent forest around him.  Really the forest was rather beautiful with its soft reflections of the light far above.  There appeared to only be two major life forms: the huge trees and the sharp ‘grass’ underneath.

The terrain wasn’t that hard to cross; compared to some the going would have been fairly fast.  But the problem was the extreme diligence required of being aware where every hand and every foot was going to ensure no slipping into a razor tree happened.  Strengthening just the feet or hands as Philira suggested was a good way to save suit material, but at the risk of injury in an accident.

The visibility was fairly good. Sight lines were about average, blocked only by the big pyramidal trunks or the eventual even dispersion of the trees filling in every sight line.

“Haaaauuuuuuu!” a strange call from somewhere up in the air came, making Raist realize how close to dusk it was now becoming.  The call also indicated there was something here other than the two plants types.  In the setting sun the purple color of the plants was even more obvious, and that made him remember the fact that from space the landscape looked green.  But from here, there was definitely nothing green around.

The branches falling off the tree then took on a different touch from their completely purple obsidian nature beforehand.  They were the crystal branches, but with leaves on them.  Green leaves.

“What?”  He picked up one from the pile forming and sure enough the leaves looked similar enough to Terrestrial leaves, barring the strange branch.  Something else caught his eye even more though, and it was that this pile was softly moving.  He backed up out of caution and slowly watched it vibrate.

‘This grass is alive…’ He looked down at his boots, grateful the advanced alloy was protecting him from this alien world.  He dropped the leafed branch to the grass, in which the razor grass slowly swayed back and forth.  It cleaved the glass-like branch apart and leaving a strange liquid inside the crystal branch similar to sap that was dripping out, as well as the valuable, soft leaves.  Raist knelt down to see that between the blades of grass was a small pool of liquid, which the remnants of the sliced branch fell into and were systematically dissolved in what appeared to be an acid.

This was a hostile planet, and with each step he took he could imagine the alien grass trying to cleave bits of his boot off to get to his own ‘juices’ inside.  It disgusted him imagining the grass as millions of worms swaying back and forth to eat him.  He wanted to shoot them for a moment if it would have at all mattered.

“Raist?” a soft female voice called to him.

“Philira?”

“Yeah.”  She jumped out of the tree and turned off her cloak.  Her cold eyes and bright hair still affected Raist every time; Scouts were a very enigmatic class of soldier.  Given his past with Laiun, the previous Scout he had fallen for, added to the forced distance in his heart he had to maintain with Philira.

“Four things,” she started.  “One, there appears to be creatures that live here and only come out at night, and they put this plant life to shame in terms of danger.  Two, that way,” she pointed, “is the way towards our goal.  Three, there are robot sentries in the air, possibly of Daijin Star origin, but heavily armed.  Lastly, there is at least one person alive, and they are that way.”

“Well, then we are going that way,” pointing towards the unknown team member.

“Of course, Leader.”

“Raist is fine, don’t talk differently just because we are on a mission now.”

“Of course, Raist.”  He liked the way she said his name.

***

Project: AKRA PT 7

***

Ist…

Raist!  He shook his head slowly as his eyes focused on some light coming down from the trees above him.

He shook his head, thinking about that girl – spilled out on some planet in his past, serving her fatalistic destiny without complaint.  In time his bleeding wounds would heal, but there were some wounds that never healed, those that were too deep to see.

Anyone there!?  A desperate female voice came through on his ICS, but there was no identification marker or avatar associated with it.  What was going on?  ICS was nearly flawless, local range could reach substantial portions of the planet.

Yeah, I’m here.  I can’t get an ID on you.  I took a pretty hard fall and was out for a while there. – Raist

Philira speaking.  I ended up on the ground okay, but I worry about everyone else.  I’m glad at least one person is still alive. – Philira

Well, we need to meet.  Unfortunately, this foliage is way too dense to get a vantage point on. – Raist

Raist put his hand behind him and pushed himself to a sitting position, but just doing that hurt his hand.  He lifted his hand to find small cuts over it, and rapidly realized the ground he was on was composed of a grass-like plant that its sharp edges literally were serrated.  He grabbed a blade of the plant and realized it was structured so that it would stab inwards deeper and deeper, but had small anchors that prevented it from easily coming back out.

In the corner of his eye his system was pinging a warning, and he activated it.  His system told him that medical and suit synth capabilities have been reduced to 84% after healing him from the fall.

Normally that wasn’t too bad, but his system also warned that given the harsh condition of travel, expect high levels of loss while maintaining suit integrity as it increased thickness to stop the plants from getting at him.

He unrolled the suit off his hand to touch the plants without the armor protecting him, gently rolling his finger over it.  Just the soft touch left a thin line of blood on his fingertip before his internal nanites quickly sealed the cut and recycled the blood.

Philira, be careful of the terrain.  The area I found myself in is composed of extremely sharp objects.  We should be okay with our suits, but if those break down we are in for a lot of pain getting through here. – Raist

Shout a few times, if you would. – Philira

“Philira!  Hey!  Anyone out there?!  Phil—” He heard some crashing behind him, and shot up into a crouch, pulling out his Gauss-Limiter rifle.

There were many weapons that were used by individuals that were also used on ships, only in changed capacities.  Agrest’s Rail Rifle was based on the ship weapon of same name that was a long-range rail gun designed to pound out space stations, and with very good tracking and computers could blow smaller ships apart.  Raist’s Gauss-Limiter was similar to the ship’s in that it launched huge numbers of tiny projectiles at hyper velocities.

“It’s me,” her voice came through.  He didn’t even see her; the camo was still working completely.

He disengaged his own cloaking slightly, and she followed suit so they could see each other.  They ran up to each other and gave a quick hug, grateful to see someone after the crash.  Even though he was dating Leio, he had a soft spot in his heart for Philira.  He never pursued it meaningfully because of emotional scars he had over Laiun, the last Scout whom he seriously liked, that selflessly gave her life away for him.  They were vastly different in many ways, beyond that they were both completely sacrificial for the Leader.  He shook his head to get off the dark train of thought he was on.

“How lucky that the Scout was the one that crashed close to me,” he smiled warily.

“You were actually pretty far away, but this forest is strangely quiet right now.”

“You ran here?  Isn’t that risky with all these plants?”  Raist asked the young Scout.

“Just reinforce your boots, and the rest is just being careful where your body is.”  She held his eyes for only a moment longer before going back to scanning the forest, holding her Plaz-Shot down by her hips.

“Yeah, already on it.  Was I the only one you heard from, on ICS or sound?”

“Unfortunately, yes.  I couldn’t imagine we are particularly dispersed, but I should definitely be able to hear them, regardless of the ICS malfunction.”

Raist was completing a quick check to make sure none of his gear had fallen out on the crash.  “Has to either be something with the planet, which I doubt, or our enemy has an interference device.  That had to be what caused the crash.  If we get you up that tree, any chance it might help?” He was pointing to the biggest ‘tree’, if you could call a starburst-shaped trunk a tree.

“Completely.  It might take a bit to climb though.”

“Let’s do it. I’ll guard down here.”

The two of them made their way over to the spiked ridge.  He crouched down, ready to boost her up to one of the knife-branches, when she shook her head ‘no’.

He raised an eyebrow at her, but then she showed him her gloves which had taken on hooked appearances while slightly spreading out.

‘Scout trick,’ he thought.  She jumped at the ridge, slamming her hands into the strange object, punching her hooked claws through the tree as her spiked boots likewise punched their way through with slight ‘tings’ as she flew up the tree, crystal fragments falling down as she ascended.  She cloaked herself fully once more once she was actually climbing upwards.  If somehow the ‘tree’ had resisted the repulsion field in her climbing tools, the microscopic suction cups would have propelled her up anyway.

Project: AKRA pt 5

They are doing an orbital insertion down to the planet…here we go!

 

At this distance the descent suit did not block out the visual yet, and each prepared differently for what was coming.  For Raist he was always struck by the strange sensation of his appreciation of beauty in nature, even as his job was often to kill without remorse.  There was just something in the divine perfection of how color and motion came together.  He sounded stupid when he talked about it, so he tended to keep that part of his thoughts to himself.  It was easier to joke or swear than to be philosophical, or far easier to talk about banging Philira than wonder about reality with those around him.

All five of them had small micro tethers that kept them connected for the duration of the drop, and within the tether was an advanced processor that regulated each motion of their descent suits to keep it descending evenly and without problems.  With no warning the visual went black as spheres enclosed each of them, protecting them as they first hit the atmosphere and to prevent them from catching fire.

He hated this part the most, as nanites were blocking out the sound ever since he launched out of the ship, and now the black provided no distraction for his mind.  It was the questions that bothered him the most.  It was never doubt because he didn’t have any.  More like if his life could have been different, if it should have been different.  Unlike a lot of classes like Scouts, he had choices many of them never did.  With choices came responsibility, and the weights of deaths were weighing on him even if he did not overtly show it.

Did he think too much about things?  His previous Scout, Laiun, told him as much.

He knew above him the descent suit would have streamers deployed to slow their velocity, whipping violently based on the speed they were coming in with.  He knew underneath him the landscapes might now start to be visible, but all that was around him right now was darkness.

Light filled the void as the surrounding sphere melted away above and beyond him.  The planet had changed a lot since he last saw it from space: he could see clouds, the green/purple of plants, even mountains in the distance.  The melting of the sphere reformed into parachutes that variously reformed themselves with the synchronization orders of the rest to ensure the perfect descent of the team onto the planet.

Get through one jungle, a river, more jungle, and then the base of the mountain.  Sounds simple in premise.  Not too far to cross at all.  That mountain didn’t look too far away; he could get there by a single planet cycle.  This was going to be the easiest ‘hard’ mission they ever took.  He could ‘retire’ pretty quick, as he was burning out as a result of the destruction he caused.

That was before something went wrong with their descent system and Ziko suddenly fell out of the pentagon formation.  The rest of them went crashing into the strange upper-story plant life that ripped their advanced suits apart as if they were paper.

As Raist went tumbling to the dark forest floor, his only thought was that he had never felt this much pain this early in a mission before.  He had never lost someone before it even started.

“Ziko!”  He screamed before his head impacted something hard and he blacked out, still falling farther down.

Project: AKRA pt 4

Continuing the story, they are about to get down to the planet

 

Ziko was by default the group mule based on his strength, but on raw speed no one could touch Philira.  For a moment her bright pink hair became visible, as did her youthful body as she disabled her camouflage to readjust some equipment.  Soldiers had specific natural hair colors based on their Class: Female Scouts were pink, female Supports were bright orange, male Supports were light blonde, Leaders had black and so on.  They could be manually overridden, but was rarely done.  Almost all combat was conducted in combat suits or stealth fields so this issue did not matter.  For most soldiers, their class was a mark of pride.

“Damn, I thought a saw an angel there for a moment,” Agrest said.

“Of death?”  Raist asked, slamming an energy clip into a pistol and watching the counter read ‘full’ before the text dissolved into the number ‘100’.

“Maybe, I don’t know. I was a little confused though…”

“Why?” Ziko asked.  Raist smiled, and tried to hide his laugh that Ziko fell right into a trap.

“Well, aren’t angels supposed to be hot?  I thought she’d be a bit bigger if you know what I mean.”

“Agrest…” Ziko started.

“Bigger?”  Philira asked.  “But I am not the shortest here.”

“Bigger like Leio over there.”  Agrest disabled his cloak to hold his two hands out in front of his chest.

Raist was snickering while he watched what shimmer was likely Ziko trying to catch Agrest while he was shouting, “Why the hell do you always fill her head with your perverted shit?!”

“Everyone has at least three-range cover in their weapon choices, right?”  Leio was updating a graphic overlay showing the positions of the squad, with colored ovals representing the effective range of their weapon choices.

Philira, being the lead, naturally had a powerful, short-range weapon; the graphic showed a dark red oval that covered a short distance in front and behind, covering from Ziko up to Raist in his middle position.  Conversely, at the back of the formation, Agrest’s personal Rail Rifle had by far the biggest range, but in an intense close range firefight could not keep up, and thus his main oval was less colored; nevertheless the vast coverage could still assist any of the team in a fight.

“Raist, you are a little weak on the close range,” Leio said, looking over the constantly updating data. “Not sure the pistol will cut it in these quarters.”

“Throw me the SSAW.”  A strange looking blue weapon was flung through the air and caught by something invisible.  “I’ve been meaning to try this out.”

“It’s slow on the recharge,” Philira commented easily.  “Here, let me show you something.”  A Vibro-Knife was picked up off the table, and Raist handed the SSAW over to the invisible tug.  She revealed herself and walked next to Raist, her hips touching his as she held the gun to show him.  “You can store a knife here in the lower duct.  Useful on the downtime,” she smiled at him and stepped away.  It was a slightly flirtatious or sensual move, but given her naivety in relationships, likely didn’t understand what she was doing.

He held the weapon in his shoulder, pretending to fire it then letting it drop while he drew the knife from where it was held.  “Damn, that is a pretty nice trick. That really is a good place to hide it.”

“Saved my life before.”  Raist wondered what creature or alien had a Vibro-Knife stabbed through its head to save Philira’s life.

“I’ll show you a trick later, how’s that sound?” Raist asked her slyly.

“What kind?” Philira asked, totally innocent.

“One that will leave you feeling real good.”

“Not Raist too…” Ziko moaned.

“Survive first, and I’ll show you.” He only did those jokes because he enjoyed how defensive Ziko would always become.

“I will,” she said firmly.  “No matter what.”

“Okay, looks good.”  Leio showed the planned formation to everyone, leaving comments open for anyone to input.  The unspoken rule they had acquired over the battles was that you made no recommendations about anyone’s main weapon, but you could request a change in either of their two sub-weapons, since it was often your ass that depended on it.

“Agrest,” Ziko began, “can you swap that inductor for something with a bit more range?  Maybe the Silvershot?”

“Aww, feeling lonely near the front, lil’ buddy?  I think Philira has enough firepower for both of you.  But even that still leaves my little angel up there out of range.”  Agrest gave Ziko a hard time, but swapped his weapon without protest.  Upon further review Ziko was indeed a bit bare on the covering fire.  Philira had him supported heavily, but only Raist had him within range of powerful rapid fire support.

He had finished, and at this point it was mostly small things others were finagling with.  “Orbital Sync in five…” Raist said.  Everyone stopped their banter, and shoved any supplies or extra energy cells in, packed up quickly, and went to the launch bay.

“Synch up?”  Leio asked.

Yes – Everyone responded on the Inter-Connect System, an implanted communication system that could reduce talking to a near-psychic level of communication.

Launch in three – Leio’s voice played in all of their minds while the air in the ship was pressed back into tanks, leaving the room they were in devoid of atmosphere, their suits protecting them against both the low pressure and the lack of air.

Two – The door opened up, the huge planet’s blue, green, and purple forests standing defiantly against the black of space.  At this distance the beauty defied the danger.

One – Each of them could feel their suits change as they prepared for entry.  The first change was the locking in with the launch system.

She didn’t have to say ‘zero’ or ‘go’ as the moment they were pulled out of the ship with by the launching system was obvious enough.  The catapult system was designed to ensure the even spacing of the entire team, as even the most trained jump could result in a vast dispersion pattern from orbit.  A pentagon shape of the five of them fell through space towards the planet.

Project: AKRA pt 3

This is a new story I am serializing right now, it is about a group of super elite soldiers sent in to recover ‘AKRA’ from a very hostile planet.  The team is getting ready right now.

 

“I told you guys everything that was said to me,” Raist answered.  “This has the feel of something way beyond what we normally take on.  Most of the time things turn out to only have minor consequences, but just the way the courier was talking, and the price it paid for equipment had the feeling that this was very serious.” Raist opened his eyes and looked right at Ziko then Agrest, hoping to calm his old friend’s worries.  He felt kind of bad leaving out some of the things, like that he was sure the courier was actually a girl, maybe a Scout given the hair color.

“What the hell is an AKRA anyway?”  Ziko stood up, turning in synch with the computerized commands of the machine to change its neutralization pattern.

“Has to be either a robot or comp unit,” Leio guessed as she pulled her arms down and ran her hands through her bright orange hair, shaking it gracefully as it waved down her shoulders.  “‘Data recovery?’ Come on, what else could it be?”

“I’m with you, but those were my words I had said to it,” Raist making sure that distinction was there.  “It was never explicitly stated other than when it said ‘data processing unit’.  The only thing we know for sure is that it has a recovery chip implanted in its system that we will be able to track it down with.”  He pointed over to where his clothes were, and a handheld scanner configured to the tracking chip slowly pulsed, showing that AKRA lay down on the hostile planet below.

Ziko’s question repeated itself in Raist’s mind: what was AKRA, and why was this feeling only getting worse?

***

“I recommend Level-2 survival supplies,” Raist spoke to the four silver-suited figures in front of him.  They were near deployment, grabbing the last of their gear in the armory before their descent.  The suits they had equipped were capable of a high tech camouflage as well as defensive in terms of ballistic attack.  Further, they carried extra medical nanites to synch with each soldier to provide advanced healing and drugs during combat.

“Studying the terrain, I would recommend at least three,” Agrest suggested.

“Go with at least one extra med pack as well,” Leio added.

Raist nodded, deferring to their specialties and around them everyone made necessary changes.

Once their suits were activated, the near-invisibility they provided would blend them in completely to their environment.  Each of them tested their nano-camouflage in turn, rendering each of their various differences in appearance such as the boldness of the two women’s natural hair colors, Agrest’s taller frame, and Ziko’s muscular body all unobservable.  There was only a vague shimmer of light where they were standing.

The technology involved a complex set of data transmission of accurately replicating the light pattern of objects behind the person. By projecting them on the multi-layer crystalline suit in the front, it created something as near invisibility as was visually possible.  It was a perfect invisibility as it used what was behind to person to relay to the front, making it applicable in any environment or any angle

“Expecting this mission will be a siege, or an extraction?”  Agrest asked, but he had already loaded many supplies; he knew how often the role of the Sniper meant he would be in hostile territory far longer than anyone expected.

If anyone was watching the room, they would be disturbed by the supplies and weapons floating in air like ghosts before they disappeared as they were pocketed or filed away in a cloaked backpack.

“We are running it as an extraction, but the terrain is extremely hostile, as I hope you guys had studied.  I am not over estimating this at all.”  Raist’s second statement was unnecessary to his crew. They all knew him well: he was not the type to exaggerate danger, at least before they went into it.  That fact actually put a bit of caution into their minds.

“The combat drones we have sent have been shot down at about halfway to planet-side,” Leio said, decloaking as she pulled up a holo of their target and the visualization of the effective kill zone around it.  Her tight combat suit left her still looking very attractive, perhaps more so with the way it hung tight to her legs and butt.  “Their air defenses are extremely solid, and even our low flying drones were killed when they approached horizontally.”

“From what I have seen, the forest looks extremely dense,” said Philira.  The voice came from a barely-visible ghost holding a Plaz-Shot Scattergun.  Only her tone was any clue as to whom had said the statement.  “I see why you chose this path.  Even if they knew we were in there, there would be no way to locate us for termination.”  ‘Termination’…only a Scout would so distantly comment on their likely death that way.

Project: AKRA pt2

Part 2 of the story, make sure you check it out, its going to be big!

The five members of the squad were sitting on the bench in the sterilization room of their ship, naked while a battery of electromagnetic waves, chemicals, and machines poured over their toned bodies.  Since the nanites within their systems protected them from any likely xeno-disease of the planet, this was for the exact opposite reason: so their own bacteria would not wipe out the entire planet’s ecosystem.  That kind of xenocide tended to be bad for business.

“What the hell!?  We are taking another recovery mission without getting any of the details?” Ziko’s fist slammed into the bulkhead.

“Do you want to bitch your whole life?”  Raist pointedly asked him.

“Come on Raist, we need to start getting way more info before we get into these things!”

“Leave him alone Ziko, it’s not like you are smart enough to ever care about details anyway,” Leio’s voice stated calmly as she lay back against the wall of the room, arching her back with her hands locked behind her head.  Her perfect breasts and thinner, toned waist would distract even the hardiest of males, but it was only a matter of course: she was Aelisha Genetically Engineered that way.

“How nice,” he replied as he gave her a sideways glance. “Your girl is playing secretary for you as well.  What do I have to do to talk to the man in charge?  Kill her?” he joked.

“She could kick your ass.  If you can make it past her then you can talk to me,” Raist responded quickly, his brain coming up with a retort more out of habit than anything.

“Jeez, team effort here.”  He wore a huge smile, closing his eyes and flexing his huge arms he had behind his own head.  “Sorry for trying to show caution when our Leader is failing to do so.”

Leio giggled for a bit, opening her eyes and winking at Ziko while giving him a slight smile.

“So she is your battle-secretary?  Damn that sounds hot,” Agrest, the fourth member of their team, suggested.  Raist and Leio laughed at his typical joking demeanor, belying the fact he was the group’s Sniper capable of blowing any creature’s head off at amazing distances, or surviving alone for long periods of time  “What type of other ‘uniforms’ do you get her to wear when we aren’t rolling out?  Old school maid perhaps?”

“Why would her uniform be different?”  Philira, the second girl of the group, naively asked.  Through her hair was a bright pink when it wasn’t nano-camouflaged, her eyes left a cold sensation, amplified by her obvious young age compared to the older soldiers.  She was a girl AGEd to be the best soldier you could have on point, with extremely heightened visual and aural acuity, rapid peripheral vision processing, and, above all, reflexes to keep her alive in the extremely dangerous position of Scout.

Agrest frowned exaggeratedly, “Uh, never mind…”

“Yeah, stow that shit Agrest, what is your problem?” Ziko’s joking demeanor changed to one that was stern.  Though Agrest and Ziko were both the group’s source of laughs, Ziko had a sensitive spot in that he couldn’t stand jokes about Philira, or anything sexual that might ‘taint’ her mind.  Ziko considered himself the father figure, or more like the big brother, of the younger Philira, unsurprising given the general close proximity of the two with his role as Assault and hers as Scout.  It was probably a mistake for Ziko to ever have made an issue about it at all.  Even cool-headed Raist got in on the jokes just to make him mad.

The five of them were a close family, but there were still a lot of secrets between them such as where they came from, action they’d bene in before getting into super deep groups like this, and what horrors they had lived through; all somewhat natural given their line of work.  Very rarely would someone get rotated out to a new team, such as Raist’s few other friends.  Mostly people died in the team they start in or get maimed too bad to continue or they make it through a deadly grinder and live an all-expense retirement after a short but brutal tour.

Even so Ziko still felt a duty to protect the girl, even though she was just as good of a killer as him and her young eyes had that dark coldness to them.  This was despite her naivety of some aspects of the world, namely those that didn’t involve killing such as relationships, love, or sex.  None of them knew the past all of them came with, and a girl like Philira likely didn’t have much since Scouts tended to get grinded worse than most other Classes.  At this point of their lives they still trusted each other deeply, as it took tremendous service and sacrifice to the Solarian or Aelisha empires to get here.

“Anyway, Leio’s sexy maid costume and Philira’s overall hotness aside,” Agrest began, grinning boyishly, “anything else about this mission you haven’t brought up yet?” he ended seriously.

Presenting Project: AKRA (a free story serial)

Project: AKRA is a completed sci-fi story that is of an elite military rescue of a hostage.  Expect action, cool weapons and intense segments.

Project: AKRA is currently free on amazon if you can’t wait, otherwise enjoy the sections as they come!

 

Project: AKRA

 

Ironically, the Emotion-Field concept as an aspect to reality proved so revolutionary that the first groups to find evidence of its existence fought and killed for its secrets, deeply contrary to the discovery’s eventual implications.  It was the first indication of higher dimensional aspects that influenced our reality, as well as our own ability to change them.

 

– Terran Intradex Ver. 4 Excerpt on ‘Emotion Field’

 

See Also: Star Priestess, Classed Soldier, Project: AKRA [Declassified]

 

“I have reason to believe you are the best…feel like putting that reputation to the test, soldier?”  The hooded figure had a light cloaking field over it that made it seemed almost like an illusion to the soldier it was speaking to.

A small smirk crossed the face of the soldier as he brushed two fingers through his short hair.  “Naturally.”

The hooded figure laughed, but its tone was masked by a voice-modder, rendering its tone completely neutral so it could not be identified in any form. “I know you have taken hard missions before, but I do not expect the survival rate to be particularly high on this.  There were only three groups that had both the clearance and the battle experience your group possesses.  I hate sending such a valued asset like your group on a mission like this, but it is one of particular import to the Star Priestesses.”

‘To the Star Priestesses’ meant for all intents ‘to the Aelisha’.

Though the black-haired man was arrogant, he was not stupid, and likewise answered carefully.  “Interesting; I assume this is your estimation of the danger.  If I may ask, is that an academic estimate, or a once-soldier’s estimate?”  A very small portion of Star Priestesses were soldiers, but a large percentage of Aelisha in secret operations like this were warriors.

“The latter,” the figure said in an easy tone that belied its long combat experience.  “A rather well-connected criminal syndicate has stolen a very valuable collection of data.  Its name is AKRA, an information processing and application unit.  It holds an understanding of the universe we are just barely starting to comprehend.”

“And it’s our job to recover the data,” the man offered.  It was probably an Aelisha he was dealing with most likely some high-rank diplomat or something similar.  For the briefest moment he mused about tackling the creature and ripping its cloak off to see whom it was.

“ ‘Naturally’,” the cloaked figure mimicked.

The black-haired soldier laughed at the imitation, but in his mind he could tell there was something deeply wrong with this mission his squad was going to undertake.  He always believed in his combat instincts, but this was different.  Something was calling to him beyond just his instincts, but he had no idea what it was saying.

Considering the credits his group was offered, some mysterious ‘clearances’ for advanced weaponry they recently had been given, and the entirely personal reason that he felt something calling on this job, he knew he would do it.  The soldier named Raist, told the figure they would take the job.  As soon as he had said so, the figure had turned and started walking out, shimmering like a ghost that was barely visible.  “Wait, one question though.  Why us?”

“You were asked for specifically.”

That was interesting.  He didn’t know too many people that knew him and were still alive.  “By whom?”

“You are not privy to that information.”

“Ha, I am used to that,” he said to the figure that had departed.

The figure was far enough away it was completely invisible, but before it had completely left the room, its voice said to Raist, “But know an old friend sends their… regards.”

Counting the friends he had that weren’t in his squad and were still alive took about four fingers.  He stood there for a moment, digesting the conversation that had just occurred.  He spun his pistol lazily out of habit, more concerned with his thoughts.  It crashed to the ground, and he crouched down quickly to grab it.  He saw something like a small string or thread against the background blackness of his pistol and grabbed it.  The single medium-length strand of hair was a bright pink.

‘That was a Solarian girl, maybe a Star Priestess or a Classed like me…I wonder who she was?  Something felt weird about her.’  All Star Priestesses and really anyone this deep in secrecy were a little weird though.  He shook his head, trying to stop thinking about things.  ‘Too many thoughts and feelings; just focus.’