They had sent a squadron, an entire squadron, of snails on this job. It was a suicide mission for most of them, and they all knew it. This was a volunteer detail; the snails that had accepted this mission were risking their lives for the betterment on snailkind, and choosing to do so. They were brave souls, and had received many commendations just for signing up for this mission.
There had been many casualties just getting there; the vast white Slablands claimed many lives as they usually did. They had to plan alternate routes to avoid the blackened stretches of hell known only as Road, and travel solo to avoid drawing attention to themselves. One snail in the humans' stomping grounds was dangerous, a group was just stupid.
The hardened soldiers who actually made it to the target, one of the monstrous Cloudreachers that reached up into the sky, were in the middle of the most dangerous areas a snail had ever been, what the humans called "Sittee".
Most snails had only ever heard of this wasteland in stories full of warning that their parents told them before they receded into their shell to sleep. But this courageous group of snails were right there in the middle of it all, staring down hell on earth with determination in their eyes.
Their numbers had already been halved by the time they reached the Cloudreacher they were headed for, based on intelligence gathered by the highly secretive Shadowshells. Many of the soldiers there grumbled that if the Shadowshells had already been here, they should have just done the job themselves, but the leader of the group, Major Sly M. Trayll, maintained order.
"Major Trayll, sir!"
It was Trayll's second-in-command, Lt. Strongback, who was in charge of insertion.
"What is it, Strongback?"
"Well sir, it looks like we have a few options. We could take the tunnel network known as the Vents, which would probably be the safest way to get there; there are no humans. But it's very indirect and probably the slowest way of getting there. We could try and harness the giant Lifter the humans use. that would be the easiest, fastest, and most direct, but by far the most dangerous; there are humans everywhere in that thing."
"And the last option?"
Strongback looked up at the Cloudreacher. "Well sir, the last option is straight up. That stuff you can see right through, we checked it out, it's unclimbable, but we could probably get a grip on the rest of the structure. It would be a long climb, but there are ridges all over the damn thing we could rest on. We'd also have to break in when we actually get up to the objective."
"It's not really much of a choice, Lieutenant. We're obviously going to be..."