Lost Patrol Part 2

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Gecko Island
10 kilometres north of UN Post 492
April 2183

Reiko couldn't believe she hadn't been hit. Bullets ripped all around her, detonating branches and spraying up mud and water droplets. She huddled as low as she could, using the body of the dead Ugandan as a shield, hearing round smack into it. A grenade blew to her right, her armour reporting damage but no penetration. Reiko's hearts were thundering and she cringed against the ground, as another grenade cooked off nearby. Training took over and she stuck her payload rifle up and returned fire, firing a short burst of rounds set to optic seekers back towards the enemy.

"Four-Five this is Four-One-One! I am pinned down by highly effective enemy fire! Need support over!"

"Copy Four-one-one, we're with you." Ruth sounded damn calm. Reiko felt a flash of annoyance mixed with gratitude. There was a sudden thunder behind Reiko as eight payload rifles and two general purpose rail guns joined the battle. The fire from ahead of Reiko began to slack as the UN platoon went to ground "Pop smoke and pull back." Reiko swore, pulled a smoke grenade, fused it and tossed it forward. There was a bang and a hiss, dark smoke puffing skywards, blotting out the land ahead. Reiko rolled over and kicked to her feet, running bent over back towards the glowing blue AR shapes on her HUD as bullets flashed all around her. The area where she'd been a moment ago exploded in a flash of grey smoke as one of the Ugandans fired a Thermobaric RPG into the area, and the shockwave knocked Reiko down, her back prickling hot under the pulse. A strong hand hauled her up and yanked her over a bank of Earth and she found herself looking up at Ruth "Hi. Better get your weapon up, there's quite a lot of them."

"Right..." Reiko crouch-ran along the bank to get more separation from Ruth then stuck her payload rifle up and began firing again. She could barely make out targets through the smoke and thick foliage, even the radar system on her helmet having a hard time telling person from tree in the jungle, the heavy metal content of the trees turning them as radar reflective as the RAM coated armour the Ugandans were wearing. Near her a gun spider stuck around the corner and fired a long burst, tree's collapsing as its cannon tore through them. Rounds answered it, 10mm battle rifle rounds and large 14.5mms from the Ugandan gunspiders spraying up the mud as they slapped into the bank. Reiko followed them back along their path on her visor display and fired a burst into on her own. To her satisfaction she saw something explode in the distance, grenades or power cells cooked off by her rounds.

"Keep moving as you shoot. Don't let them guess our numbers!" Ruth ordered over the squad link, Reiko noted a One-Three, the other squad in first platoon crossing the river on her minimap and felt relief, at least they weren't outnumbered now. Then a heavy rail gun round ricocheted up off a stone at her feet and hit her in the visor, knocking her over.

Lisa ran up beside her, fired over the bank and yelled "Reiko's down! Her faceplate's condition yellow!" her voice turning shrill from her excitement. Reiko noted with vague pleasure that she still kept her bursts short and accurate though. Reiko saw her faceplate was indeed glowing yellow on the damage diagram. Her bell had been rung.

"It's ok! It didn't penetrate!" Reiko pulled herself up, her head was ringing slightly "It was only a ricochet!" She clawed her way up the bank again, shaking off the fuzz around her vision and resuming fire. She saw movement to the side, her visor labelling it red: enemy "Flankers south!" Lined up her payload rifle and fired, a tree detonating next to one of the moving Ugandans.

Another burst of payload rifle and rail gun fire drove the UN troops to the ground as one-three entered the fight. The Ugandan troops seemed ludicrously afraid of death, ducking down even if the rounds only came close to them. One-four's delta fire team began to advance to the right, swinging around the UN flank as the rest of the squad suppressed them. There was a sudden roar as an aircraft went over at high speed and Reiko caught a brief glimpse of a UN high speed UAV through the trees above. Metal objects crashed through the canopy, small lift fans keeping them mostly level then splashed into the mud at the ground floor. "They're dropping drones on us! Drones right!" The Harawayan force suddenly found its self flanked in turn, rail guns and grenades enfilading their right flank. The Harawayan gunspider on that side spun around on two legs and fired a burst, then exploded as heavy rail gun shells chewed it to pieces. Reiko swung, sheltering behind it and fired back. She saw one of the robots clearly, a tripod shaped vaguely like an old Russian space probe or a shuttlecock, with a heavy MG mounted on the top. She knocked the robot down with a short burst then began to scramble backwards as grenades from the robots and RPGs from further upslope began to slam into her position. A round hurtled past and she heard a ringing impact and a yell from behind her, turning she saw Lisa knocked down, the seam along the side of her armoured stomach glowing the red of penetrated.

"Pop smoke and fall back by twos!" Ruth ordered, tossing a smoke grenade towards the spiders and then beginning to fall back. One of Reiko's drones activated and scuttled away. Ruth must have activated it through the squad's network.

"Lisa's hit!" Reiko grabbed the armoured woman and dragged her backwards. The girl's life signs were ragged and unsteady but her hearts were still beating at least. The Harawayans began to fall back in pairs, each pair covering the next fell back in bounds. Reiko saw Ruth drop a proximity grenade near where she'd been sheltering then grab their Violet guide, lifting her easily under one arm and run back down the slope towards safety. Burdened as they were neither could really provide covering fire, the rest of the squad stopping and providing fire.

There was a few moments of confusing as they ran and scrambled, rail gun and payload rounds zipping through the smoke over their heads as they did so, pulling back to a massive fallen tree which the earth had banked up next to it. Reiko pulled Lisa, into it and opened her face plate. The armours trauma package had already activated, and the uplink to the base hospital seemed undamaged. There were no specific instructions scrolling across the body so Reiko let the doctors work over the teleoperation link. A moment later one of the squads medics scrambled over and began working on Lisa, Reiko heard snatches of the conversation as she resumed fire.

"round cleanly penetrated her right..." the first bot came through the smoke, then exploded spectacularly as it stood on a proximity grenade. She could see live Ugandan troops moving up behind their drones, some packing bulky machine guns. Rounds began to walk down the length of the Harawayan's cover. Reiko waited for the stream to pass away from her then popped up and pupped three rounds down range before dropping back. She was gratified to see the gunner on the lead thrown backwards by the heat round.

"Still losing blood, administer two ceecs of..." Reiko popped up and fired again, rounds going down range drowning out the words as she hit another target. Mortars were beginning to land on them, and she saw a cluster of causality indicators appeared on her minimap. Reiko heard the medic swear, then move off again. Lisa moaned weakly then gunfire washed out the sound again.

More mortars dropped towards the Harawayan position, the remaining interception lasers swatting most of them, then there was a roaring sound and a massive explosion rose ahead the preasure wave sending leaves and debris hurtling past first platoon's position and rippling the mist and smoke ahead in an almost hypnotic pattern. An instant later there were three more bright flashes and thunderclaps further up the hill. "Ground huggers! That'll fuck um up!" Someone yelled exultantly as the mortar fire began to slacken off. A Ugandan stumbled out of the smoke, his helmet faceplate shattered, gun still clutched in his hands. Reiko's rounds got there a second later than the burst from the gunspider and the man collapsed backwards.

Reiko could still hear firing off in the distance, someone else was having a fire fight, she turned back to Lisa, who's armour was now calling stabilized and seemed to have put her to sleep. Ruth moved up beside Reiko "I wonder" she said after a moment "if they still want us to lay those remote sensors."

Reiko smiled, then sobered "Ruth... I'm not sure if that guy I shot was really going too..." she trailed off as the Corporal shook her head.

"Don't worry about it Reiko. If you felt at risk of death you were right to fire. That's the rule. It's only a matter for you or I if changing it comes to a public vote."

Reiko bit her lip then nodded. The platoon leader was approaching "Corporal, take your squad and check if the Blue Tops withdrew completely. One-three will causevac the wounded. Assuming the enemy has withdrawn lay the remote sensors you're carrying then pull back to LZ Sierra."

"Yes sir." Ruth nodded and clapped Reiko on the back "Come on Reiko, you're on point."

"Roger." Reiko reloaded her rifle and began to make her way back along the hill.