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Drop Zone Alpha (A short story)

Another short story, although this time I had to cut it short due to the fact I had other creative writing to do for school. As it is, it was a simple practice run with changing perspectives and sci-fi military tone. It takes inspiration primarily from Halo and Killzone. Anyway, lets get started!

                        

 

Drop Zone Alpha

You can hear the engines roaring as you tear through the ashen clouds. They're like hungry stomachs crying out for more. They grind through the dust and ash as you keep the transport steady, descending rapidly to the city below.

“Alright people, I want a quick and clean recon of the landing site! Once we set up a perimeter, you will be split up into squads of three! You will be assigned your directions for your navigational pads and you will follow them to the letter! If you cannot proceed then you will contact the ship and we will provide you with a new set of directions! This city's supports are severely damaged and we don't want to start any sort of collapsing! Are we clear!” the ranking officer yells over the radio.

You turn down your headset volume and keep your mind focused on not crashing headfirst into a skyscraper while the grunts all give their affirmatives.

The buildings seem like ghosts as you fly past them, crumbling and devoid of life. The fact they are still standing would be a testament to their builders, if anyone even remembered who they were.

“I said – give me an ETA to the landing point!” the officer yells, nearly making you crash into a bridge as you jump.

“Five minutes tops!” you respond, turning your helmet volume back up.

The readouts all seem good, except for the air quality. The further you get, the darker the ash becomes. You wouldn't think there would still be fires going on after a week had passed, but apparently a fuel line had ruptured underneath the city.

 

You're not even sure why they are still sending out squads to scout the ruins. Almost anyone or anything that had been important was either burned up or blasted apart when the city had been bombed from orbit.

The Korrigen fleet had left a while ago, moving to the upper hemisphere where the fighting had gotten fierce. While they played soldier like everyone else on the dogdamn planet, it's left to people like you to handle clean up duty.

At least, that's what they told you would be going on here. The last few warzones had been relief efforts, with only a few grunts as security. There hadn't been a military officer in sight, excluding a few medics. And no one's telling you anything more than to fly straight and look pretty. You don't really buy that.

 

“We'll be landing shortly,” you report as the landing sight comes into view. You set the engines to slow your landing, and they blow away mounds of dust and debris. As they clear away you then bring the transport to a halt. Something's not right.

“What's the hold up?!” the officer yells, her voice reaching an even more annoying pitch than before.

“Who the hell picked this landing zone?” you say, “Because there's a giant gaping hole in it! I couldn't land this thing here if I tried!”

“What are you talking about? Command specifically picked out this LZ! There should not be a hole!” the officer yells back at you.

“You want to get out and look for yourself? Go ahead, but I'm not landing this bird anywhere near here!” you reply, checking the manifest for any recon drones in the ship's inventory. Maybe you can find a-

“Then open up the rear and activate the ziplines, we're on a tight schedule!” she yells.

You curse under your breath and line up the ziplines for the one part of the landing zone not torn apart. You hit the release function and they begin to descend, the underside camera giving you a clear view.

“First two are down, retracting cables for the next batch...” you mutter into your headset as you keep your eyes on the camera feed.

“Alright, you two next. Hurry it up!” she orders, and then you hear a pinging noise on the transport's motion sensors.

“Captain, I'm getting something on the scanners-” you start to say.

She cuts you off, “It can wait, retract those cables.”

You curse again and then the senors begin to pick up more movement, multiple unidentified objects. You can see the officer and the last of her men reach the ground level as the sensors all go silent.

“Something's not right...” you say, as you move to take the ship up higher.

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“Captain, there's something moving out there and I don't know what. I'm sending your navigational beacons but then I'm finding a proper landing zone,” the pilot says, sounding as jittery as a hedgehog in a balloon factory.

All your men sound off as they get their routes updated, and you turn to take one last look at the transport before it is blasted out of the sky.

“Move to cover! Watch the buildings, that shot came from above us! Scanners active, now!” you yell as the transport spins like a wounded animal.

It crashes into a building off to the side, taking the entire structure down with it. You all hold your breath and pray that it doesn't knock out the nearest underground pylon.

The first minute of waiting is pure tension, the city's ground level structures shaking slowly. After the bombardment this place is like a set of dominoes ready to fall, and it's just patiently waiting for a stray shot to get going.

“I want a confirmation on the hostiles' locations,” you whisper into your helmet.

“We're not picking up any, ma'am. No heat signatures, not even from a projectile weapon. No electromagnetic signatures from a drone or turret,” a voice replies on the comm.

“Scan the entire perimeter, rockets don't spawn out of thin air!” you yell.

The recon teams send out drones, but there's not a sign of who attacked, not even a whisper. You can feel the eerie stillness of the city, the only sounds are your breath and a low grumbling noise from the underground. You raise your rifle and set the sight to track for any movement.

“Orders ma'am?” the soldier next to you asks.

“We're up against someone very good at what they're doing. Proceed down plotted recon routes. Watch each others' backs, and report any activity in the area. Delta 4 and 5 will come with me up the main route,” you order into the comm, your voice still a whisper as you keep glancing about, expecting an ambush at any point.

The troops start moving out silently from their cover, watching their steps very careful as they follow their trails. You activate yours and leap over cover, your support following right behind you.

The trail light leads you through a crumbling warehouse. Cardboard crumples underneath your feet as you proceed through the broken building. The walls part like a ribcage split right down the middle, with jagged points aiming towards the sky and what remains of the interior.

“This is Delta 3, we have no sightings of the hostiles. Approaching objecti--” a voice reports over the comm, breaking off with their audio still coming in.

“Delta 3? Report,” you order into the headset, stopping as you're half-way through the warehouse.

In a very low whisper, “We have visual. Hostiles visible.”

“How many?” you ask.

“Can't see them all,” quietly. Then, “***!”

Gunfire is heard over the comm before it breaks off, silence returning.

“Delta 2! Report! Can you see Delta 3?” you order into the comm. There is no reply.

“We need to get to high ground. Delta 4, send out a recon drone and find me a position we can reach and get a good view of our surroundings,” you order, continuing onward.

As you reach the exit, you're met with a sudden force, as if the wind smacks you in the face, stopping you from proceeding.

“Ma'am? Are you okay?” Delta 4 asks, holding close to cover behind you.

“I'm fine just...” you try to walk forward again, and it's like hitting a wall this time. You can't see anything in your way, but it's clear something is there.

“What, have they got something cloaked here? Delta 4, are you getting anything from this doorway?” you ask, tapping the invisible wall.

“I can't detect anything ma'am. They've got to be jamming us,” Delta 4 replies.

“Fine. Stealth isn't an option at this point. Delta 5, see if you can cut into whatever is blocking our path,” you order, stepping aside as he takes out a torch.

He tries to cut, but all he meets is air.

“I don't get it... why isn't it-” then suddenly a door that wasn't there crashes down on him, breaking open as you get shot in the chest, a shotgun shell dropping to the ground as one of the hostiles proceeds forward.

Your vision is blurry as whoever it is slams one foot into your bleeding chest and lowers the shotgun into your face.

“Buh-bye!” you hear a voice yell as the shotgun fires off.

 

You ready your rifle as the hostile aims for the captain, firing off several rounds at his head. He falls over behind a crate, and you activate your comm.

“I need a medic now! The captain is down! We need assistance ASAP! Hostile has been neutralized! Route 3. I need a medic now, **BRAAAHHHH**!” you yell into the comm. You stop and nearly drop your gun as you see movement behind the crate. The hostile rises up, his bloody face healing around him, his eyes going from blank to clear and terrifying.

He's got the chin of a freight train. The forehead of a monk. The nose of a rhino. The teeth of a bear. His arms are the size of freight trains. You try to fire off a shot as he opens his mouth to repeat once again.

“Buh-bye!”

 

Hope you enjoyed the story, even if the conclusion had to be forced earlier than I would have preferred. Please leave a comment about what you enjoyed, didn't enjoy, or about how the latest cat GIF has you mystified. I'll try my best to respond to every comment.

Cheers,
Paradigm the Fallen

Trivia: This is the third story I've had with a massively towering city. Not entirely sure why, but it just keeps happening.

Off Topic Trivia --  It's only 14 more days (as of this writing) until FUSE comes out. BUY IT! BUY IT FUTURE ME!

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