Wolves

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Cataclysm

Traw found himself standing in a field, suited in battle armor and holding an assault rifle. His four other team members rushed past him, each of them wearing similar armor. Tall grasses swayed at their feet as the sun's rays became hues of flame, stretching across the waning daylight. “Come on!” Moore's voice hollered through his earpiece. “What the hell are you doing, Traw? We gotta light up that fort at the ridge, let's go!”

Not questioning the situation, Traw followed his team as they advanced through the tan, swaying grass that undulated at their knees. In the distance he could see a stone fort nestled on the ridge of a tall rockface, a hundred and fifty meters in the air. Nektro cannons could be seen mounted along the edge, with the occasional aircraft passing by overhead. Then they began firing massive laser shots down at the team, blowing craters in the field and setting the grass ablaze. “Jet packs, now!” Sanchez told them, hitting a light, thruster-laden device on his back and boosting through the air. The rest of the team did the same, and Traw quickly found his own, rocketing into the air and drawing closer to the fortress.

Still the cannons fired menacingly at the squad members, but none of them met their targets. Nektro snipers and footsoldiers opened fire as well once they were in range, and like their artillery, none of them landed a solid shot on their foes. The squad landed into the fray, opening fire immediately on the advancing Nektro and avoiding the concentrated cannon fire. After gunning down a dozen Nektro at the ridge landing, the squad found cover and entered the fortress, breaking in through a hidden weak point in the left wing.

Scuttling over the rubble, the squad entered the hallway, rifles aimed. After turning through a few unguarded hallways, they entered the control room, where a Nektro commander and three footsoldiers stood, as if they were waiting for the squad's arrival. To the shock of Traw, the commander had Louise and Luella at gun point, one pistol for each head. “Kolu, valaus takata! Jo ru, jo ru kai!” the commander barked, pressing the barrels harder into the backs of each of the hostages' heads. The footsoldiers aimed their rifles at the squad members, taking a few steps closer.

Traw crouched, setting his weapon down. Clayton and Aveer did the same, then, after some hesitation, Sanchez. They were all looking at Moore, who still had his sights set on the commander. “Lower the rifle, you bastard!” Sebastian yelled, almost rising.

“Hell no,” Moore grumbled, then turned and opened fire on the footsoldiers, shooting them down in rapid succession. Then, without a moment's notice, the commander shot both hostages, as the last footsoldier fell to the ground.

As Moore landed his last bullet into the commander's head, Traw tackled him from below, smashing his armor-clad frame into the wall. After tearing Moore's helmet off, Traw pounded punch after unrelenting punch into his face. “I'll rip you apart, you son of a bitch!” Traw screamed, intensifying his blows and hardening his fists. Then a forceful hand ripped him away from Moore, and it was Aveer, his rifle aimed at Traw's head. Saying nothing, he shot Traw.

Traw awoke in a cold sweat, his breathing intense. Sirens flashed everywhere, and officials rushed past in the hallway, most of them carrying guns. Aveer grabbed Traw's shoulder and he spun around in defense, backing away. “There's an emergency. Nektro attack,” Aveer notified over all the clamor. It took Traw a moment to come to his senses as his gaze darted about, soaking in the entirety of the situation.

“Get your panties on, we got some ass to kick!” Moore shouted, zipping up his jumpsuit. “Just got orders from Venko to meet him at his office, pronto.”

“Aren't we supposed to be fightin' the Nektro? What does he want us for, some suit n' tie meeting?” Sanchez wondered, stretching his shoulders.

“Perhaps this is a drill. A preemptive test for us,” Clayton remarked, trying to adjust to his suit while realizing that the tailor had made some inaccurate estimations.

After each of them were properly suited, they hurried out of the barracks and into the street, where a helicopter was waiting for them. The team could see other sirens flashing and teams on alert across the military compounds nearby. The city was in darkness, illuminated only by the ominous red lights of emergency, pulsing like a collective heartbeat. The team packed into the armored helicopter, and it lifted away into the night sky, rotors slicing through the cold air.

Traw looked out his small, narrow window and gazed at the city below. Emergency vehicles and GAM transports moved about with haste, each of them on a specific task. He even noticed several tanks parked in strategic points in the middle of the streets. The helicopter landed on the extended pad at GAM headquarters, and the squad was rushed to Venko's office by a nervous assistant.

The doors to Venko's office flew open, and the squad members walked brusquely inside. Venko set down a datapad and greeted with a tone of urgent business, “Glad you're here, gentlemen. You finally get to serve the State. Our city is under attack, as I'm sure you're aware. Klept, please brief them on the situation in further detail.”

Klept, who had gone unnoticed until then, clicked a button on his remote, and a broad metal case opened before their eyes. Inside were five suits of armor. They were each similar, but unique in their own ways, and accompanying each suit was a specific weapon. Each suit completely protected its wearer's body, leaving no crevices exposed.

“Made of an impenetrable metal known as keronium, which our mining colonies have recently began supplying us with, these suits will provide whole protection for you. Each piece of armor is built to withstand at least one hundred and fifty to two hundred rounds, with vitals like the helmet and breastplate able to take up to seven hundred rounds before collapse of the suit's structure. These can even withstand a direct cannon round. Functions like temperature, noise cancellation, squad contact and heat vision are controlled by voice command. I hand-picked weapons specifically for each of you, catering to your individual strengths. I'm basing this on what I saw during your simulations and your personal record, of course.”

Engraved on the back of every helmet was a name. The men approached their mighty suits of armor, awestruck. Clayton was the first to fit into his suit, as it was the only one roughly his size: there was to be no debate on that. After fitting into his armor and setting the helmet firmly on his head, he picked up the gun mounted beside his suit. He began to examine it. “That is a P-1000 thunder rifle. It's wired with three million volts and designed to set off a chain reaction on Nektro armor. You take one down, and the one standing ten meters away gets fried with him. The armor of your team members is impervious to the shock, so don't worry about that.”

Aveer had a broad, slit-eyed mask that fitted his dreadlocks. He was designated a hefty machine gun, already armed with eighteen thousand chain rounds that sat folded in his backpack. Sanchez had two automatic pistols, with twelve extra magazines clipped to his belt. His helmet was slim, with a broad visor that covered his brow and the bridge of his nose, giving him a large range of vision. Moore was given a shotgun, with a sixty extra shells attached to his chest straps and belt. His helmet was tall, a chrome visor covering his entire face which allowed him a broad line of vision, but allowed no one to see the face within.

Finally, after Traw had pulled up the last steel zipper, he reached for his helmet. It was narrow, with a jutting pyramidic edge that protruded from the middle and a shorter one from the brow. There were two slim, rectangular eye slots. He slipped it onto his head and knocked the side of the helmet, making sure it was on correctly. Then he picked up his rifle. It was long and narrow, which he supposed to be a sniper rifle. He had noticed four extra magazines clipped to his belt, and realized that they belonged to no ordinary gun. “The SN-12 long-range rifle. It has the firing capability to accurately hit a target from eighteen hundred meters, also considering weather conditions. Can puncture tank armor, concrete, sheet metal, you name it. Not a finer rifle has existed in military history,” Klept marveled, staring at the gun like a gorgeous woman.

The Death Squad stood before Venko, who looked at them proudly in the glowing red light hanging from the ceiling. They felt how their suits stretched and contoured. Klept stood beside Venko, then glanced up at him. “I only wish I had more time to train them,” Klept remarked. “You'd best send them off now. The armada is only going to get closer.”

“Of course,” agreed Venko, making his way round the table. “Gentlemen, there is a transport waiting for you at the landing pad where you arrived.”

“Yeah, what's our mission? You kinda failed to tell us that,” Moore asked through the electric filter of his helmet's speaker.

“You're going into the heart of the swarm,” Venko informed, pointing to the stormy sky through the window. “The armada's mothership is waiting outside the atmosphere. Our guess is they're waiting for reinforcements. We have our anti-aircraft cannons ready, and the citizens are all in bunkers, but we need you to go up there and blow that mothership to kingdom come before any more of those bastards arrive. Clear?”

“Wait, that don't make sense,” Traw interrupted. “If or when the rest of the armada comes, they'll just attack without the mothership. Blowin' that to smithereens won't stop the whole assault, will it?”

“Our research division has come to the conclusion that it will take the rest of the armada at least two hours to recalibrate their systems upon the mothership's destruction. The mothership is both the brain and heart of the armada. With it disabled, that will give us time to deploy our fleet and eliminate them. The Nektro will be defenseless.”

“Are you certain?” Clayton asked, his mousey voice made a bit robotic with the helmet's filter.

“Enough to send you with a 2.8 gigaton bomb. Good luck, gentlemen.”

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