Chapter 7 - The Bigger They Are...

I didn't walk far before my visor began flashing again.

"What now?" My chronic lack of proper sleep was becoming evident. Thankfully, it seemed AI's like HELENA weren't offended by snide retorts.

"Gunfire and major Entity activity approximately 250 metres North." 

Bingo. I checked my rifle again, changed the scope setting to 'CQB' (Close Quarters Battle) and then I set off at a run to the North. Before long, the sounds of a major firefight were becoming more prominent. They must have all stuck together, then.

HELENA was regularly updating me on the distance. 200 metres, 150 metres, 100 metres...

I broke out of the tree line to see a large number of silver clad Entity soldiers firing on a heavily pitted and scarred rock a good distance away.

"Incoming radio transmission."

Before I could be startled, Walsh's bassy tones washed through my headset, fraught with the sound of gunfire.

"Rook! My helmet thingy just told me you're around. Where are-" an explosion rocked the ground, "Whoo-ee, these things take a lickin'! Anyway, get over here and help me out, feller!" His voice took on a  accent from the SSA (Southern States of America) when he got excited.

"I'm about 100 metres off, just at the tree line. I'll try and draw their fire so you can move to a better position."

"Much appreciated!" The intercom link ended abruptly.

As soon as the line went dead, I took aim at the nearest group of soldiers. For no apparent reason, small blinking crosshairs appeared on all of their heads.

"HELENA, what are you doing?"

"Targeting assist."

I fired a burst of three shots at one of them. Two shots hit it straight in the head, the third went too high with the recoil. The shining silver figure dropped its weapon, went limp and fell. Before it could reach the ground, I'd unleashed two more three-round-bursts, and took another two Entity soldiers to their knees.

I saw a few of the group falter and look around for their now dead comrades. The firing on Walsh's position stopped briefly, and he exploded from behind the rock, arms and legs pumping like industrial machinery. He was incredibly fast for someone his size, and he was into the trees before the Entity soldiers turned back around.

I wasn't so lucky, being forced to take cover behind a large tree as rapidly fired energy bolts kicked up dust all around me.

"Walsh? Walsh!" I was shouting into my helmet now, the tree was being hacked apart with the sheer concentration of fire. Dust and leaves were raining down on my head.

"I'm reloading my cannon, hold on a minute!"

Easier said than done. The firing paused for a second, and I hazarded a look around the tree, narrowly avoiding getting my head taken off by a flurry of gunfire.

"Okay, okay, get ready to move, Rook."

A large boom resounded through the forest, quickly followed by another.

"Move! Move!"

I obediently jumped to my feet and began to fire wildly at where my HUD's motion tracker indicated the Entity soldiers were. I saw them thrown around as the huge cannon blasts decimated them on impact. Across the clearing was Walsh, his huge bulk outlined by the light from his weapon, which was now keeping up a steady rhythm of destruction.

They were caught in the open, and before long the last Entity soldier convulsed and died.

The whole exchange had only lasted about a minute

Adrenaline was coursing through my body at a bewildering rate as I made my way across the clearing, where Walsh was now standing, cannon across his shoulder.

"Thanks for the assist, Phoenix," It was the first time he'd aknowledged my name, "those suckers had me pinned down hard over there."

He took his helmet off and laid it beside his foot. I noticed there was a large dent in the side of it, with a corresponding cut on Walsh's dark face, on his cheek.

He noticed my inquisitive look. "Landed on my head." he said, before unloading his cannon and shoving the spare shells into his pack. "By my reckoning, you won't be the only person who shows up to this hoedown late. We better move."

I nodded my agreement, and ejected my rifle magazine onto the dirt. It landed with a clang on top of a silver gauntlet.

"At least we know they die." I said, as we trudged off back into the forest.

"Yeap. Sure does take a lot, though."

I mumbled assent. They definitely did take more than your average Martian rebel.

"So, I'm guessing you've not hear word from the Lieutenant, or Avery..?"

The End

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