First Alien Encounter
Laetitia Johnson watched Martin quickly check the ammunition on his belt, then settle back against the dropship’s restraining straps. “Try to move fast an search for cover behind something,”, he told her, “don’t worry about your back! Kim or Gunnar will cover you with their heavy weapons!”. Both troopers, the heavy weapon specialists, recognized their names, the cyborg Gunnar just nodded slowly and Kim gave Martin a smile.
Laetitia looked at the long marks on Kims left shoulder plate. One of the other Squaddies had told her that Kim had made them with her combat knife, one for every survived mission.
She closed her eyes and tried to remember her training. In the last few weeks on Laputa she had been bombarded with informations about new weapon systems and the few informations Laputa have about the alien technology they were up against. The General ordered Laetitia and other rookies to visit the research labs to see the autopsied corpses of aliens and transgenants, to prove that their mission was serious.
She was the second scout of the squad. In the last two weeks she had watched battle camera holos taken from previous raids and read the mission reports. Some of them were really disconcerting and somehow surreal. Most of the aliens in this holo footage was far off and very mysterious, because the most images of them were shaky. And often the last picture of the holocam was the hand of a dead trooper in a pool of blood.
Laetita studied Martin’s every move, trying to decide which she must mimic to survive. Martin was the first scout of the squad and by Laputan Task Force standards a veteran, with five survived missions and seven confirmed kills. So she was grateful for his advice. Commander Müller appeared in her field of view. He raised his left hand to get the attention of all troopers, when he was sure, that everybody was listening he started to speak: “Ok Squad, this is a standard raid! We move in, kill every hostile creature, grab what we can get and retreat! No heroics, I don’t want to carry one of you home in a box!”. Grym smiled and whispered to Elin Smith: “As easy as rescueing a reticulan cat, which is stuck up on a tree!”. “Very funny... ha, ha!”, Commander Müller suddenly appeared standing between them, as usually, not amused. “You two still don’t get it, do you?”.
Grym looked torward the rear of the dropship, while Elin was suddenly checking the grenades on her belt and both avoided Müllers eyes. “I’m sorry, Sir!”, Grym said with a low voice.
The loud din of the engines cut off Müllers reply. The engineers put all kinds of radiation shielding in the dropship, but somehow never one of them bothered to soundproof it. The result was, that the ship was really deafening in every enviroment except space.
Müller walked carefully back to his place, sat down and strapped himself. The usual turbulences from entering the atmosphere shook the dropship. The commander pointed at his helmet with his index finger. The squad understood, the HUD of their helmets showed them informations about the mission. Laputa had spotted alien activities in the ruins of a small village in South England, the objective was, as the commander had described it, to search and retrieve. The holo-table in the middle of the dropship showed a 3D miniature of the area. Laetitia was completely focused on the miniature and tried to commit it to her memories.
The dropship hit the ground and jerked Laetita out of her thoughts. Before the the engines fall silent, all troopers unstrapped themselves and went into position. Müller pointed first at Martin, Gunnar, Grym and put his left hand flat on his chest: “Spearhead!”, and than at Laetitia, Elin and Kim, “Shaft!”. All confirmed with a loud “Acknowledge!” and a nod. Martin crouched down and made sure that Laetita did the same. “Elin is ‘green’, too! I don’t want her to blow of you head, because she see an grey and react hasty and I’m pretty sure you don’t want that, too! Good luck!”. After that he fell silent and listened as the rear ramp lowered slowly. Laetitia focused completely again. Shaft, she had to secure the area around the dropship with Kim and Elin, while the Spearhead-Team advance.
The doors opened and revealed the ramp and a small view of the area. Nothing spectacular, just some damaged, old houses , fields and a larger building, probably a warehouse, on the right side. Martin crouched forward to the ramp and scanned the area. “Spearhead-Team, left!”, he shouted and jumped from the left side of the ramp. The rest of the team followed in irregular intervals.
Laetitia had been to a few disenbarkment drills by now, but the most of them had been very hasty and short, but she knew what she have got to do. She took just a few steps onto the ramp and jumped from the right side, dropping a few feet, crouching and scanning the area. As a scout she has to be agile, so she carried only few equipment. A pistol, two frag-grenades, a smoke grenade and some extra ammo-clips for her pistol. On her left side she felt the stun rod. First she has thought that the stun rod was a joke and was really tempted to drop it. Martin explained her that it was for stunning aliens and transgenants at close quarters, but she still has problems to belief that it was no joke. It had to be – some kind of bad joke to thrill rookies.
Laetitia heard that someone dropped left behind her, probably Kim. On her right side she could see an empty field and to her left was the large building, but a wooden fence in front of it blocked most of her view. Laetitia knew she had to advance further. She was the scout, the team was waiting for her to move. Driven by her sense of duty, a bit curiosity and the wish to have over with it, made her raise to her feet and she approached the fence slowly.
When she arrived at the fence she saw it. A grey creature with large, completely dark green eyes, in the twillight of the sundown it looked like a spectre. It didn’t wear one of this bio-armors she had seen in some of the holos, but he was carrying a small weapon in his left hand, which looked like a pistol. Immediately she gave the spotting signal and ducked for cover. The alien had spotted her, too. Yellow beams missed her with strange noises, blew lumps of burned earth out of the field around her. One of the shots hit the fence besides her, wooden splints flew through the air. At first she was to scared to react. The loud sound of Kim’s large assault rifle filled the air and her salvos forced the reticulan to take cover. Laetitia heard a strange noise and guessed that the ‘grey’ had to reload. This was her chance. She ran to the corner of the building and climbed over the fence, covered by the building, behind her she heard again the sound of Kim’s assault rifle and that the grey returned her fire. Laetitia leaned against the wall and took a deep breath, then she turned around the corner.
The reticulan crouched behind a rock and a small tree, Kim’s shots blew some chunks out of the rock, but missed the alien. With a quick movement of her left thumb, Laetita put the switch for automatic fire and pulled the trigger. She has expected a serious kick, but instead her weapon fired some rounds nearly without recoil. The first two bullets missed their target and hit some branches but the third and fourth hit the left shoulder of the alien. Surprised the creature stumbeled backwards and dropped his pistol-like weapon. First she thought of running trough the orchard and stun him, now that he had lost his weapon. But she abolished this thought, this would be completely insane. Instead she aimed and pulled the trigger again. Now more experienced with the Laputan standard weapon she didn’t miss her target, with a short scream the reticulan died. Elin arrived at the gate of the orchard and dropped down to one knee. The young woman stayed behind the fence and aimed at the front door. The red dot of the laserpointer on her experimental laser rifle danced along the door. Laetitia advanched leaning against the wall. She stopped at the wooden front door and looked at Elin. Elin noded slowly, so she opened the door with one hand and jumped back. Nothing happened. Laetitia took a deep breath, she wanted to be done with this as quickly as possible. Back in the capsule-dropship, back in Laputas ‘safety’. She sighed, there was no safety. Her ancestors had sold the earth to the reticulan rebels. And as long these creatures live in this solar system there will be nothing like safety, she thought.
An explosion shook the ground and she heared loud screams, which let her shiver. Perhaps human survivors lived in the ruins of this village. Human survivors first terrorised by aliens and transgenants and now caught in the crossfire. Or my squad is massacred, she thought angry. Laetitia didn’t like both options, but she had to concentrate on finishing her job.
The open fields around the dropship were devoid of aliens, all she has to do to secure the security parameter was to check the building. She reloaded her weapon. Elin lowered her head over her weapon and watched the open front door even more observant.
Laetitia waited and listened a few seconds. But she just heard another explosion in the village center and another loud scream. This reminded her that the squad was so vulnerable in a more or less unkown landscape and spread like this. Time to get the job finished, she thought and sneaked through the door, just to see a small floor and another closed door in front of her. Then she heared it, a door was opened inside, probably on the first level or nearby. Carefully Laetitia opened the door and dropped on the ground. She was in a small room, which was nearly empty, some stairs led upstairs and a door led into a warehouse. Who- or whatever had opened the door, it must be upstairs, she decided. She changed the pistol to her left hand and grabbed the stun rod with her right hand. This warehouse looked like the perfect location for a melee. The stairs led to a room the same size like the lower one, but open to the wide mezzanine. A bad place to emerge quickly and any alien up there would have the advantage of cover and perhaps surprise. But it seem to be her lucky day, nobody was there. She holstered her stun rod and turned around, when she heard gun fire below her. The room had a large window facing into the warehouse. Between some crates she saw a reticulan in the middle of the warehouse, armed with a rifle-like weapon. Someone, probably Kim was shooting at the alien through the window of the lower room but just hit it’s cover. Quickly she pulled one of her grenades and primed it for a short fuse, when the reticulan saw her. He rised his gun and fired. His shots were fired in haste. The first hit the outside wall of the warehouse, but the second hit the window, shattering it and it’s wooden frame, the next two destroyed most of the wall. Laetitia turned around to search for cover, ignoring the shards that bounced from her armor and suddenly faced another reticulan coming from upstairs. He wore one of the reticulan bio-armors, which looked like hundreds of large, red and fleshy worms attached to his skin. The reticulan reacted quickly and fired a shot, the yellow beam stabbed right through Laetitias armor and right shoulder like a sword of yellow light. A burning pain surged through her nerves and she dropped the primed grenade. But she fell back to her training and fired at the alien with the pistol in her left hand. The shots were absorbed by the armor of the creature, but at least the impact spun his shoulder around so his next shot missed her. Still inflicted through the pain she jumped backwards, lost her balance and fell through the remainings of the window and the wall.
She fell about nine feets and landed on a pile of crates and barrels. Most of the impact was absorbed by her armor and she remained more or less consicious. She heard the explosion of the grenade and the high unearthly and piercing scream of a reticulan, who dies in pain.
The feeling of triumph vanished as a reticulan crouched around a large crate in front of her.
A single shot streaked by and the half head of the Alien vanished in a burst of reticulan blood and bones. “Uhh... Thanks, Kim!”, Laetitia whispered to herself and passed out.
“... can you hear me Squaddie?”, Commander Müller asked. He grinned “You had us worried there, Laetitia!”. His face filled Laetitias still cloudy and blurry field of view. Commander Müller didn’t wear his helmet but this rest of his combat suit, the front plate and shoulders covered with blood. My blood, Laetita realized.
“Recovering?”, he asked, “You’re going to be fine!”
Now she realized it. They were in the dropship, she can felt the vibration of the runing engines, but don’t heard them... They must be in space already.
Slowly he propped her up against the wall. Laetitia looked around. Now she saw that three Squaddies sat silently against the walls in their seat positions. She saw Kim smiling at her and making a new large scratch on her shoulder plate with a combat knife.
The dropship was filled with artifacts. Strange looking beam-weapons and pieces of alien alloys.
“Hey, where is Martin?”, she asked. Müllers face darkened “I’m sorry, but he didn’t make it! The greys got Gunnar, too!”
“What happened in the village center?”, she asked the commander. “Heavy resistance! And it looks like the aliens used human survivors as slaves! Martin tried to distract the reticulans to get the civilians out of the crossfire... But then he was hit!”, the commander looked distressed.
He placed his hand on her left shoulder: “Anyway... Good work, down there! If you manage that you don’t get shot next time, you will be a real strengthening for our squad! Next time you can prove it as the scout for the Spearhead-team!”.
“Thank you, Sir!”, Laetitia answered.
Then she saw the pile of reticulan bodies in the rear of the dropship. Two of you are my victims, she thought. Then she noticed the two bodies, wrapped in blood-soaked white sheets. The larger one, it had to be Gunner, was barely recognizable as human form.
Laetitas left hand formed a fist: “Those grey bastards are going to pay for this!”