Intercosmic - Chapter 7 - Little Weapon

 

“Eile, Eile, Eile,” Faramund calls out as he lays down suppressing fire.

I don’t know what that word means, I don’t even know what language that is but the context tells me he means we need to move faster. But, we’re pushing the limits as it is. I’m not the only one trying to keep quiet about an injury. Habeeb sprained his ankle when we slid down a hill after leaving the cave and Maura has a slash wound across her upper thigh. The adrenaline and suit are keeping me going but I can feel the bullet wound in my abdomen starting to open up. The suit just wasn’t made to hold for endurance missions.

We didn’t plan for one, and now we’ve been out here in the wild for close to two full days. Our unseen attackers haven’t slowed down at all. Are they working in shifts, do they have a camp that they can easily move when not toying with us? What if this is all part of Creed’s plan? Is he using us for bait, I don’t know.

“Everyone get down,” Keegan calls out.

I dive for the ground, some kind of tree bark impaling my right arm along the way. Nothing too bad, I should still be able to fire a rife if I need it. I yank the piece of bark free but don’t give Casey or Maura chance to bandage it. Another spear shaped stone flies through the air at us, again we dodge it. We’re trying to leave but it seems the Vaznians play for keeps even after they’ve already won. I can only hope Creed’s group is faring better because it seems as if all the attention is focused on us.

“Son of a bitch,” Casey screams out.

I turn to see fragments of one of the spears covering his thigh. Perhaps they weren’t made of stone because there appears to be shrapnel in Casey’s wound. Maura stops to treat his wound leaving us pinned down and in a real firefight. Shots seemingly come from every direction and I wonder just how much of this is real, and how much is fake. Their mind games have finally broken me and I’m not sure how to respond other than telling the team to open fire in whatever direction they think the bullets are coming from. Not the best command, but for the second time, my only command.

This time there seem to be intentions behind the shots fired at us. I’m no longer wondering how they rigged all the guns to fire at once. This time I’m wondering how long until they hit one of us. The forest burns a little as the incendiary rounds pierce through and our attackers back off for a moment. With Casey back in action we take the brief moment of silence as an opportunity to flee. We’ve lost all signs of our original formation. Now we scatter through with no organization structure, tree to tree, bush to bush, no longer worried about the effects of unknown fauna.

For a moment I catch a glimpse of something streak through the brush ahead of us, but I consider it another trick. If it was a person, and we gave chase, it could be an ambush and I don’t need any more of those. Quickly we’re pinned down again with gunfire, this time taking cover near a section of oddly colored fallen logs. Each time we attempt to leave, we're fire on. This is it; this is direct combat with an enemy. Perhaps if we can get through this moment here, we can get out of here and arrange pickup from the city.

All we know is where they’re at. Pop out and shoot, move around. We’re moving in circles, an intricate game. Either we’ll spot them, or we’ll run out of ammunition first and be captured if not murdered. Slowly the gun shots begin to taper off, instead they throw things at us from a distance. We’ve got more ammunition than they do, unless they’re sending for more. We’re out of thermal and incendiary ammo, but we still have bullets and a few other tools.

Habeeb tosses a grenade in their direction, there are some panicked screams and a halt in the fire exchange. We take the opportunity to run. We’re less than a mile from our starting location at this point. I feared that they would chase us to the city, instead they give up as we reach the outer edges of the jungle where things aren’t as thick.

Shots ring out directly to my left, I swing and fire without hesitation. The death rattle of a dying finger on a trigger goes off into the air. For the first time, I’ve hit one of our unseen enemies. The end is near, but this is a chance to gain information. I won’t know why they’re attacking, but I’ll know who provided them with the weapons and that’ll give me some good insight.

“Efrem, come on, the coast is clear,” Casey calls out to me.

“Nah, I need to check on this.”

I make my way to where the shots came from. There’s no body, but I can tell they drug themselves away from cover by the tail in the mud. Trying to find somewhere to die peacefully or return fire. Despite what my intuition and squad tell me, I follow anyway. I need to see this with my own two eyes, proof that this isn’t all one cruel trick.

Just behind a bush the legs of a Vaznian stick out, a slight twitch, the only motion. I pull them free, forgetting they could have a gun. Their skin seems to shimmer in the light but is somewhat slimy and cool to the touch, likely some kind of sweat. The weapon is of a make I’m not familiar with, small and seems to fire based on an electric system. I snap a picture on my wrist comp for later and examine the body. Tall, but rail thin, body proportions don’t exactly line up correctly. It takes a moment for me to realize this isn’t an adutlt. This is a teenager, someone just starting puberty or whatever the Vaznian equivalent is. I killed a kid, someone who hadn’t really started life yet. I killed a fucking kid.

“You find something,” Faramund asks.

“Not a damn thing,” I respond, and for a moment, I understood Commander Creed.

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