Karl looked out from the Black Ops VTOL doorway, below York was strangely quiet, but to the East he could see the bursts of gunfire and smoke of missiles as the Landing Forces engaged with the Chimera. He would have given anything to be there, fighting on the frontlines rather than this sulking around in the shadows, but he knew deep down that their mission was far more important than any of those infantrymen's tasks were. If they were successful it could turn the tide of the war and save America from becoming the very thing Europe had become. An empty husk overrun by these demons.
Looking around Karl surveyed the rest of his six team. Code named X-Ray his squad of Sentinels were all equipped in the standard anti infection armour provided by Special Forces. But despite their identical armour Karl could tell them apart without even glancing at their serial numbers. There was Jack, blonde haired and more than a little cocky Australian, prone to wearing a non regulation bandanna underneath his suit and seeming to consider himself invincible. Then there was Tom, a level headed man with red features and more than a tad short, a refugee from England he had tested positive for the Chimeran Virus and immediately been initiated into the Sentinels program. Next came Daniel, a veteran of the World War and possibly the most experienced man on the team. Despite this he was no leader but definitely good support; his helmet hid his shaved bold head. Then there was Steve who was the definitely the tank of their team, black skinned and with short hair he could set up a machine gun in no time flat and could even wield the thing standing up with his massive frame. Then there was the final and most...questionable member of the group, Lina a dark haired pale skinned woman grudgingly let into the Sentinels only because of her crack shot with a sniper rifle. She was a refugee from Russia and had somehow on her way to Britain and then America become infected with the Chimeran virus. The people at Intelligence had grilled her day and night for weeks before giving up on finding out any more on the situation of Russia. She claimed to have lived on a small town on the border and had no idea on what was going on within the country proper. Her story was probably true; anyone closer likely wouldn't have survived.
And he was the squad leader of these elite group of men (and women), he was the one to resume responsibility for these people, he was the one had who to lead them to their objective and bring them out alive. A task looking to be more and more difficult by the look of AA fire rising to meet the VTOL's far off in the distance. His brown hair would have been whipping in the wind had his helmet allowed for any such motion. Hearing the beeping of his radio he quickly pressed the button on the side of his head to active his microphone.
"This is X-Ray squad leader Karl Manex reporting" he said clearly, despite such a development as being able to make a radio small enough to fit on his back without adding too much weight the reception was still patchy and you needed to speak carefully or risk not being able to hear at all. The caller responded "This is Grey Hammer Command, mission is a go, reports indicate larger resistance than anticipated, proceed to the rendezvous and meet with the convoy containing the cargo with caution. Squads Delta and Zulu will provide a distraction to ensure minimal contacts. Good Luck." And with that the radio cut out, messages had to be short and brief or risk the Chimera zeroing in on the signal.
Giving a hand signal Karl ordered his team to be ready, the VTOL's engines slowed as it switched to hover mode and it lowered slowly onto the street. Karl's head was a machine scanning the streets and alleys for a sign of the enemy. He knew without looking that Daniel would be doing the same from the aircraft's other door. Standard procedure.
Landing gently Karl made another motion and his team scuttled out, Jack leading the way with Daniel bringing up the rear. They spread out finding what cover they could. Giving the thumbs up to the pilots he jumped down the small gap between the helicopters floor and the cement. But in those two seconds everything changed.
A Stalker rounded the corner into the street, its weapons already focusing on the huge vulnerable target before it.
Karl reacted quickly sighting the metal behemoth, he knew that the only reason that the Stalker had not yet fired was because of the special coating on the VTOL specifically designed to prevent tracing and tracking by computer systems, but the Stalker's pilot would switch to manual in a matter of seconds and then their extraction would become a lot more difficult, not to mention the potential loss of his teammates in the ensuing battle.
"Aim for its eyes!" he yelled and quickly sighting with his own M5A2 Carbine opened fire on one of the two visual video receptors which served as the 'eyes' for the Stalker when its cockpit was closed. The rest of his team followed his example and the Stalker quickly found itself in the position of danger. Despite several layers of protective shielding its eyes could be destroyed if repeatedly targeted and then it would be a sitting duck. The Chimeran pilot realising the danger slowly moved the Stalkers cumbersome legs to the left, moving the mech behind a building and out of the line of fire.
Karl did not spend time savouring the moment, the transport was into the open sky and with its stealth capabilities should be able to avoid any manual shots the Stalker could get at this range. But already a team of Hybrids were making their way towards the landing zone, drawn by the sound of gunfire and the taste of fresh meat. It seemed to Karl that God himself was against him today, things were not going as smooth as they had planned in the briefing.
Tapping Jack and Lina on the shoulders the three of them stepped out into the open and sprayed carbine bullets at the incoming forces, forcing them to find cover and cease their mad dash. Daniel was already leading the rest of the group to a side alley while they kept the enemy pinned down, running out of bullets he crouched and reloaded, quickly dropping the empty magazine and shoving a fresh one in its place, Jack and Lina doing a similar procedure. The Hybrids taking advantage of the lapse renewed their attack, and Karl knew that any hope of resuppressing them was lost. Keeping low he motioned for them to brake off and follow the others. Spraying a final burst of bullets and trying to avoid the bullseye fire being returned at him he sprinted for the alley.
Panting he thankfully made it around the corner without any critical injuries, his armour deflecting the few glancing shots which scratched him. But he knew the Hybrids would follow and likely bring the Stalker with them, there was no way they could run, fight or even hide with the current forces they had to bear. And he could not lead Enemy forces to the rendezvous, his orders had been explicitly clear on that. The problem gnawed away inside his head.
"Sir we can't go on like this, I can lead them away." Jack suggested his light Australian accent tingling with excitement. Karl considered the idea, Jack was fast, and a single man would have a much better chance of escaping the pursuers once he had led them a sufficient distance. "Can you do it?" he said already knowing the answer. With what he could only assume was a cocky grin on his face the young Sentinel stowed his Carbine and un-slung his Rossmore shotgun. "If they can catch me I'll pull the trigger myself." Leaping out into the open he fired two shots, advertising his presence. The Hybrids not thinking beyond the immediate prey sprinted after him. The ground shaking as the Stalker quickly joined them.
And then like that they were alone, Karl giving the form up signal the team assembled into a ring formation facing outwards. With Karl leading, Tom to the right, Daniel to the left with Lina and Steve bringing up the rear they had a total 360 view of their surroundings, preventing any Chimera sneaking up on them. Moving slowly through the war torn city they stopped at a small Church to survey the area ahead. The bell tower making an excellent viewpoint without compromising security.
"Hope Jack's ok," Tom mused biting down on a ration he had brought along, "We can't afford to lose any more Sentinels after the last mission.". Karl let the squad talk, but he couldn't help but let a hand go to his helmet. As if to trace the scar which the bullet had wickedly carved just to the left of his eye, he had gotten off lucky, many men there had not returned with their lives, or their sanity.
"If he does not return then there is no use thinking about it," Lina responded sharply "It was necessary, there was no alternative, thinking about what might have been only causes us to lose focus of our mission." The rest of the squad went silent at this, Lina had always been logical to a fault.
Indeed Karl may have reprimanded Lina if not for the hand suddenly appearing on her shoulder. Reacting with her inhuman reflexes Lina grabbed the arm and hurled him over her shoulder and onto the floor, her weapon already in her hands and pointing at the downed enemy.
It was Jack.
"And people say we don't get on well?" the winded Sentinel remarked picking himself up. Lina just growled and walked towards the wall of the structure, fiddling with the scope of her L23 sniper rifle. The rest of the squad broke out in laughter, Karl silenced them but he did it lightly indeed his own face was displaying a grin and only quieted them with consideration of them being discovered.
"Report!" he ordered seeing Daniel climbing down from the Bell Tower.
"Sir the way ahead looks clear enough but I spotted one major camp of Chimeran creatures," Daniel said in a rush "Well what are they doing?" he questioned when he did not elaborate further. "Well it's not in our way but their setting up a mortar position." Karl understood at once, the mortar was likely being set up in retaliation of the invading American strike force. Even a single mortar could claim hundreds of lives and that was if they didn't have the special crawler ones, which considering the situation they likely did. In relation to the mission destroying the encampment was no responsibility of his at all. He was supposed to get to the rendezvous point to secure the cargo and then bug out.
But Karl couldn't willingly condemn the lives of hundreds of American soldiers to such meaningless deaths, their whole mission was a diversion and he couldn't help but feel partly responsible for them. His mind squirmed between the two responsibilities.
"How many are there?" he questioned finally
"I couldn't see very well captain but from what I saw I estimate about a dozen Hybrids and maybe twice as many Menials." His visor remained locked on Karl's, almost pleading. Daniel had always been loyal to both his comrades and the cause. It was clear which decision he would make if he was in charge.
Karl sighed, "Okay where going in, but not a word of this to command understand? And if any of you even think of dying on me, I'll make you wish you'd been converted!"
Jack and Steve hot blooded and always eager for a fight jumped and began hurriedly checking their weapons, Daniel being the instigator of the idea was ready to go as well, Tom gave him a small look but quickly began preparing himself. Lina however had no qualms about showing her view of the order, letting out a long string of words in Russian which sounded more than a little violent she marched off to the Church's entrance. Karl watched her as his body went through motions of preparing his gear, something really would have to be done about her, or she'd face a court-martial.
Making a mental note to pursue the matter later he checked his gear and with the confirmation that the rest of the team was ready gave the signal for 'move out'
Through his binoculars Karl examined the mortar position from the park which stood opposite it, it was large and they were at the far end so there was little chance of being spotted. He quickly found that Daniel had been accurate; he counted 3 Hybrids on the almost completely demolished second story keeping a look out from the sections which had not yet collapsed, and roughly 10 more directing and bossing nearly twice as many Menials around on the ground floor. Even from this distance Karl could see the slick sheen of sweat which coated their bodies. They were exasperated from guiding the infinitely dull labour force around all day in the sun. That would work to their advantage. The Menials themselves walked around carrying bits of machinery and power cores, as well as the massive shells which would soon be fired from the cannons. He had been right on the other count as well; several appeared to be the mini spire like ammo which would spell doom for the task force. That sealed the deal.
Turning to face the rest of the squad he outlined his plan. "Okay this is how we're going to do it; Lina will establish a sniper position here and on my command take out the three lookouts up top. As soon as their dead I will give the signal for you Steve to set up a gun turret on the other side and generate as much attention as possible, you can back him up Jack. After they are distracted and turning the other way me, Daniel and Tom will move in from the other side and catch them in the crossfire, with them caught between us we should be able to make short work of them. Any questions?"
Apart from a high five between Steve and Jack and a small grumble from Lina, not a word or movement, they understood. Quickly and silently they made their ways to the positions he had assigned them. With Tom and Daniel in tow he made his own way to the mall. Praying like hell everyone made it through in one piece.
The dry brown grass crackled around him as he and his two squad mates crawled their way towards the mall. Deciding any closer risked being scented by the Chimera he gave the hand signal for them to halt. And there they lay, perhaps just 20 metres away from the building, he could see the lifeless grey corpses which were the Hybrids, the light clammy brown zombies which were the Menials. He could hear their growls and smell their sweat. Making slow movements as to not attract attention he moved his finger to activate the mike in his helmet.
"Fire on my mark." he whispered so lightly that he feared she would not hear. But Lina soon belayed his fears with a neutral "Acknowledged". He tensed as he prepared to make the command, as though he himself was lining up the shot, his own scope deciding who would live and who would die. Lina was a good shot, but if she missed and the Hybrids got to cover this whole assault would be useless. And they would be forced to perform a sloppy retreat, very likely killing several of them in the process. The Sentinels were good, but they were not invincible.
With steel in his eyes he whispered so softly that it might have been mistaken for a passing wind "Fire!" Lina did not fail him, the bullet was already leaving the barrel.
The first bullet flew towards the first Chimera and struck it right between its three sets of eyes, dead before it hit the ground, but Karl knew Lina had seconds before the other Chimera realised what was going on and ran for cover, she had to beat the clock here, not just the Hybrids. He could almost sense her scope closing in on the second Hybrid, he could hear its rumble of confusion as it sighted its fallen brethren. The Fareye cracked a second time this time striking the beast right in the chest, from his vantage point he could see it go down in a pile of its own guts. Karl tensed, this last shot would be the most difficult, the third sentry would be alert and have more warning, it was likely even now pelting for cover, from which it would then alert the others and then his whole plan would lie in tatters. He heard the Fareye shoot yet again followed by the low sigh as the Hybrid dropped to the ground as if it were a puppet with its strings cut. All three of them were dead.
"Sentries eliminated, I'll remain on site until target area is clear."
"Roger that. Steve, Jack you in position?" Karl questioned relief clear in his voice, but he had barely asked the question than the sound of heavy machine gun fire erupted from the other side of the building. The two Sentinels had heard the cracks of Lina's sniper rifle and clearly decided to start early. He hoped they lived to regret the reprimands he would make.
Adrenaline filled Karl's veins as he charged towards the Mall like a man with no fear. He reached the door in a dozen leaps and with his military grade boots broke down the door. Tom and Daniel were already moving in from the sides covering the diagonals. Levelling his rifle he followed them in.
The place was filled with Menials, sighting along his barrel he opened fire on the first of the slow lumbering beasts, Tom and Daniel already moving on to their seconds. In terms of combat abilities Menials were jokes, they were no threat to the well equipped and superiorly trained Sentinels. And with all the Hybrids outside they could eliminate the beasts at their leisure.
Until three Hybrids suddenly returned to destroy the new threat.
Aiming as one, temporary ignoring the approaching Menials they opened up with their carbines. The lead Hybrid barely had a chance to spot them before its chest exploded from the force of the lead being pumped into it. As far as Hybrids went it was a tough one but nothing could stand up to that much firepower. Its body mangled almost beyond recognition is slumped to the floor.
The two others did not make the same mistake, they fled to cover. Jumping behind one of the cannons he dropped his nearly empty clip and jammed in a fresh one. It would be a game of cat and mouse now, he had hoped to avoid such dangerous close quarter fighting, but with Menials and Hybrids lurking around they would have to risk moving into the centre of the structure, with plenty of ammo crates, machines and rubble for ambushes. Standing up they opened fire on the closest Menials, 5 went down in quick succession, seeing no more of the slow lumbering zombies he motioned for Tom to lead and they began moving forward in a tight triangle, each one of them facing a different direction.
Spotting a Menial Karl opened fire, its face shattered as it fell to the ground with a hiss. To his left and right he could hear Tom and Daniel doing a similar process, it took all his willpower to not turn around and look to enemies which were possibly just feet away from him, but they had to keep formation, or risk being caught off guard. The Menials were no threat, but the hidden Hybrids certainly were. Spotting another of the dull witted creatures he blew its chest open in burst of red blood, killing it instantly, he scanned left and right watching for another target.
It was a small surprise when a Hybrid leaped from behind a crate, but it was a big surprise when instead of opening fire it took two humungous bounds with its clawed feet and knocked the carbine from his hands. Claws erect it tackled him to the ground.
Pulling back his fist Karl slammed it into the Hybrids face, but the blow barely seemed to faze the creature at all, snarling it grabbed him by the shoulders began repeatedly slamming his head into the ground. Tensing both his legs he kicked out knocking the Chimera off him and collapsing clumsily onto a box of bullseye ammunition. Tired and battered Karl could barely pull himself to his knees before the creature was upright and charging again, this time there would be no lucky blow.
Abruptly the air was filled with bullets and the Hybrid with a dumb look on its face died. Panting Karl nodded thanks to Tom and Daniel, they had been unable to shoot with the two of them being so entangled but had open fired in the brief interlude between his and the Hybrid's struggle. Picking up his dented rifle he shoved another clip in. And together they continued their advance through the building.
All was silent now, the sounds of gunfire and roars now nothing but a rustling of the wind, Karl swore, if Jack and Steve were dead he would never forgive himself. But his fears proved groundless, both Steve and Jack walking through the front door as casually as if they were walking into a bar, barring the scratched battle armour, the smell of gunpowder and rifles resting on their shoulders. Like a scene from a Wild West movie.
That changed quick smart when they spotted them though, they knew they had attacked before his signal and their assured stance changed to one of shame so fast you would have missed if you blinked. He could almost imagine the downcast eyes and slight frown, but there would be a time to deal with that later, he was just about to tell them to spread out and find the remaining Hybrid when a series of cracks made him turn rifle raised. He was greeted to the site of Lina standing over the second Hybrid, her Fareye still smoking from the point blank shots she had unloaded into its back. Rasping the crippled Hybrid attempted to grab her, but quick as lightening her knife flashed and sliced its hand clean off. Gaping at its new wound in dumb shock the abomination lay still.
Sheathing her knife she gave a brief nod, nothing else needed to be said.
"Uh sir you may want to have look at this." Daniel yelled looking out the nearest window. Wondering what could have drawn his attention Karl made his way over to the opening and peered out, and almost wished he hadn't.
Goliaths, massive four legged siege batteries were cresting the rise at the outskirts of the city. Karl's heart sunk, there was no hope for the task force now, a single artillery post was one thing, but they were no match against that, nothing could be done.
"Move, move, move I want us at the rendezvous in five minutes!" Karl barked sending his team scrambling. The Goliaths were not yet in range so they still had a few minutes, but when they were this whole town would be bathed in crawlers, and despite the armour they wore to protect themselves from just such an attack it was not full proof, nothing was against crawlers. If they hurried they might still be able to meet the delivery and get out on the VTOL before the attack. But they had to hurry.
Pelting out the entrance and leading his team at a jog Karl moved them down the road, there was no time for formation or stealth, they just moved. Even as they ran Karl was sending out messages out to both Zula and Delta teams about the incoming Goliaths, but if they had any sense they would have already seen them and preparing for extraction.
Recognising the place, he put up his hand to stop his team and then gently motioning they fanned out, moving slowly. The meeting point was dead ahead and he was not going to take any chances, even with those colossal spiders breathing down their necks.
Spotting movement in what appeared to be a battered LYNX, Karl motioned for them to surround the vehicle and then announced himself in his command voice "I am Captain Manex of the American Black Op's division, identify yourselves!"
"Oh thank god," shouted a British soldier pulling himself from the wreckage "We thought you'd never come." Turning around he helped another soldier climb out of the busted jeep, this one with severe bandages over the left side of his chest, blood could be seen seeping through the cloth. Both looked battered and tired, much like their vehicle.
"I'm Officer Williamson and this is Private Fields, we were both rangers assigned to protect the convoy which we were supposed to hand over to you." Williamson explained
"Where is the convoy then?" Karl questioned trying to be patient
"We were attacked, hundreds of Chimera, Stalkers, Hybrids, Buzzard's the whole shah bang, they knew we were coming no idea how, overwhelmed the whole convoy in a matter of minutes, I hate to admit it but we ran for it, we figured the only good we could do it was tell you guys what happened."
"Is your radio operational?" Karl asked "No." The British officer replied confusion in his voice from the strange question. "Have you had any contact with anyone, outposts, planes other survivors?" Karl persisted a strange tone in his voice. "No, none at all just me and Fields here." the officer responded
"Good, team X-Ray open fire!"
Shock spread across the two men's faces as the Sentinels raised their weapons, the two British had left their weapons in the LYNX but it would have done them no good if they hadn't, they stood there like statues, too shocked to move.
The first bullets hit them, and they were statues no more, their bodies jerked and leaped at the cascade of lead, the spasms giving them the appearance of dancing, Officer Williamson tried to take a step towards his attackers but coughing up blood he fell to the ground beside his comrade.
The armoured soldiers stared at the two humans they had massacred, they looked to Karl. None of this had been mentioned in the briefing, but they had obeyed. Though he could not see their eyes Karl could imagine the silent question in each of their eyes.
"I was given a separate set of orders to the rest of you; Command has predicted that even with the new armaments and supplies we give them the British military will be completely overwhelmed within 3 months, giving these weapons to them would only delay the inevitable, so Command decided to take the convoy by force, then withdraw the supplies and this secret weapon the British have gotten their hands on back to America." he explained his heart heavy
"What the hell about Britain then or Europe for that matter? Are we just goin,g to let them win?" Tom exploded his voice will with anger, this was his homeland and he had evidently lost none of his hopes for reclaiming it.
But Lina cut in before he could even answer "You have been all over this country in our missions Tom do you honestly think England can be saved?" She let the sentence hang, like a bad smell in the air. None of them could help but look around, England was a mess, Chimera now controlled 90% of the area and more Resistance bases and bunkers were destroyed every day. No military solution seemed possible.
"America can still be saved" Karl whispered "Europe and Britain are lost."
Turning away from the group he radioed the VTOL for extraction confirming the area was secure. He also informed them of the failure of the mission. The convoy had been lost, whatever weapon it held now in the hands of the Chimera. He felt defeated
The VTOL arrived and silently they boarded it, all consumed by their thoughts. Tom in particular was taking the murders badly, Karl put a hand on his shoulder but he stalked to the opposite end of the transport without saying a word. Karl let him go, he was sure Tom would see it had to have been done later one when his head was clear.
"Captain Manex we have a request for you over the radio," called one of the pilots from up front. Activating his own communication unit he zoned in on the frequency, only to find with a shock that it was in Morse code, his eyes narrowed at the realisation. Morse was only used when the data within the code could not be risked to be heard under any circumstances by man or Chimera. He waited until the correct tone signalled the completion of the message and then began translating in his head as it repeated itself. "Resistance noted, subject is in route to red facility, pursue and capture." followed by a long list of coordinates and confirmation codes. By the sound of it team Delta had observed the resistance and informed Grey Hammer who in turn had notified the Higher Ups, this order had come straight from the top.
Karl pondered the strange order, true a soldier with a resistance to the Chimera virus was worth their weight in gold to the Sentinels, but by the sounds of all of Grey Hammer was being sent after this soldier, they hadn't even suggested attempting to reclaim the convoy, despite their stanch view that it was the key to winning the war.
Still thinking the VTOL touched down on the small destroyer Grey Hammer, the aerial vehicle just barely fitting on the custom built helipad. In the distance the US Aircraft Carrier 'Lexington's' massive grey bulk was just visible in the distance. Did they even know what was going on while they calmly awaited the arrival of the convoy? Were their radio frequencies even now filled with cries of pain and suffering, or were they eerily silent?
Staring out at the calm ocean Karl prayed for the poor souls left behind.