It is the year 7575 (As reckoned by the Solar Company Calender) and dark days for the small planet of OX-16. A completely unexpected chain of supernovae has isolated the small military outpost from any SC Naval support. Unfortunately, those that would wish to claim OX-16 know this fact as well...
"Get some fire on those bastards, rook!" Screamed Alex's Sergeant.
He resented being called 'the rook' or 'rookie', especially since he had been in FOX for 3 months already.
At first, Alex kicked up a fuss with the frequency of reprimands he was receiving, but when fellow greenhorn Kay had taken a stray bullet to the head 2 nights back, he decided it was better if he kept his head down when the brass started flying.
On the basic patrols they had undertaken upon arrival on OX-16, his survival mechanism had worked amiably, and he'd received nothing more than a few hits from debris, easily absorbed by his mechanarmor, (a powered suit made of polished hypertanium) but since he'd been put on the front-lines the week before, he'd had to work hard to keep himself alive.
"Goddamn it, Private, if I don't see you firing your rifle at the enemy in the next 5 seconds, I'm going to be firing MY rifle at YOU!"
Alex risked a peek over the boulder he was huddling behind during a lull in the shooting.
The enemy were fascinating creatures to him, being a center-born Human. He had only mixed with a few alien races during his 19 years, and most of those were very similar to humans themselves. Those he were fighting now bore no resemblance to humans at all, besides the two-arm/leg physiology. They possessed the same basic silhouette as a human, albeit a seven-foot tall human with bristling muscles. That was, as far as Alex was concerned, where the similarities ended. While he and and his comrades were armed in the standard mechanarmor of the Solar Company Navy (SCN), their foes possessed no visible armor. But this didn't mean they went down easy, in fact, their purple-tinged, white scales seemed to take more abuse than the high-strength metal ever could. In a few cases they could take 7 or 8 direct shots in quick succession before cracking.
This is itself is a major feat, as the weapons issued by the SCN were the best in the galaxy at this point in time. Able to turn three tonnes of concrete into a pile of chippings with a single round, the standard issue naval carbine packed enough punch to rival the superheavy tanks of the early 2100's.
On the faces of the mysterious enemy (their name/race/designation was on a need to know basis, and his CO had evidently decided he didn't need to know.) were masks of some kind. Alex remembered a soldier in the canteen theorising that 'they' needed those masks to breathe in the atmosphere of OX-16, much like he needed his mechanarmored helmet. He decided that if you shot it off, the poor sap would die from exposure.
This was quickly shot down as a stupid idea by Alex's Sergeant, Grimm, who said that if you could shoot well enough to hit the mask, you might as well go the whole way and blow the bastards' (This is widely regarded to be Sgt. Grimm's favourite way of referring to 'them'.) heads off.
Alex considered this now, as a withering hail of fire forced him to drop to a crouch behind the boulder. He needed to take at least one out, so that Grimm didn't keep on his back.
He checked his ammo-gauge.
Full. This didn't surprise him at all. Alex was a superb shot, but rarely fired off a shot that he didn't believe he could make, such as blindly, from behind a large rock. Consequently, he had fired off a total of 4 shots, all dead neck shots. Unfortunately, they'd all been dragged off and helped back to their camp before he could consider them dead.
"I will get one today." Alex muttered to himself. He inched his way to the right side of the bullet-pitted rock he had called safe for the best part of thirty minutes, and pushed the stock hard against his right shoulder.
He would have to be quick, since 'they' were amiable shots themselves, and anyone hanging around in the open was likely to become religious pretty quickly.
With a grunt, he forced himself into a standing position and took a shot where he had seen movement a few seconds earlier.
His quick reactions rewarded him with a very satisfying explosion, which completely decapitated the unsuspecting beast, and a whistle of appreciation from Grimm.
It was time his Sergeant had noticed his shooting, and Alex couldn't help a smile spreading behind his faceplate.
"Nice shot, rookie. Now get your goddamn head down!"
Some people were never happy.