Lacking one

Shapes of human beings were moving inside the building, their red face blobs contrasting disturbingly to the line of shapes on one of the walls. The people at the wall were not moving, and their faces were greenish, going blue.

Felicia, sniper of UGS Ignis team 1, shut the infrared off, zooming in instead to see if any of the targets were outside the building. She couldn’t see anyone from this side. She switched back to normal vision, and frowned. The endo amplifiers in her eyes could use recalibration; there was a bit of lag when she switched mode. She touched the wristband pad to flip her comm on and report.

“Private Felicia reporting, seven people inside, plus ten bodies. Seems they hung them up on the wall.” She couldn’t keep the disgust out of her voice.

The other team’s sniper, Jamal, confirmed the information from the other side of the building. Now, all they could do was wait for Rex, the scout in team 3, to do his job. Then they would take this cell of Alpha Dawn out.

The Alpha Dawn was a new player on the field. Their cause was unclear; they had made a broadcast where they spoke about making research free and not only a Union possession, but Union investigators had seen clear connections to an inflow of scientific material on the black market. So far, the master plan seemed to be limited to easy, and illegal, money.

The gang also had several, seemingly isolated cells operating in various parts of the galaxy, which made them hard to track. Reports claimed that its members were young and its leaders inexperienced. Unfortunately, they seemed to balance that up with brute force in their drives.

A distress call had been sent out from this research facility in the middle of a crater at UR45, a moon to UC06. The moon was all rocks and sand, lacking atmosphere, but was dense enough to offer a gravity of 0.8 G. The shuttle from UGS Ignis had landed a few clicks away, the ship’s team 3 and 1 assigned to catch the bad guys and save the good guys. Grimly, Felicia scratched the second part from the list, and the urge for revenge grew stronger.

Her team had boarded the Ignis two days ago after a few weeks’ shore leave, and it had been a crestfallen reunion. During last round, the team had lost their frontliner in battle. Corporal Dieter hadn’t been extraordinary in any way, but he had offered stability in the group, his composure rubbing off on the others.

As a soldier, Felicia wasn’t unfamiliar with losing teammates. She had grieved some of them more, some less. There’d been that one bastard she’d secretly been grateful finally taking a bullet to the head. She had become better at dealing with losses in the long run, but the initial shock was always the same.

She missed Dieter so much, there was no way denying it. The crew had had debriefings after, as was custom after a member’s death, and team 1 had been given extra sessions with the ship psychologist. Commander Nihad had held a memorial ceremony aboard before team 1 went on shore leave and Dieter’s body was sent back to his family.

Felicia had expected to be running as usual when she came back. Everything had been talked through, they had all said their last goodbyes. Dieter was a finished chapter. But there was no replacement for Dieter yet, and the loss had struck her like a stake in the heart as they lined up after boarding and it became physically obvious they lacked one team mate.

Now here she was, wishing he had been here with his calm words because all she wanted to do was to take out those Alpha Dawn bastards one by one with her sniper rifle. One bullet per head. Bam. Bam. Bam.

Rex’s voice broke her drifting thoughts. Private Rex in position.

Captain Lace, leader of team 3, responded. “Drop the strobe when ready. All soldiers, aim to incapacitate.

They had already been given orders to avoid killing. Felicia hated to be reminded, like she was a damn child, and at the same time… she could use every reminder right now.

She switched to infrared again as she heard Rex’s Strobe set, moving back. The shapes inside moved around faster, irrationally now that the strobe, a stroboscope device that was used as disturbance, was making it impossible for them to see. Unable to locate the device, or take any action at all, they went for the door. Felicia flipped the safety catch and took aim, zooming in slightly.

The Alpha Dawn at least had the wits about them not to run out like scared chicken. There was an almost professional touch to the way they ‘secured’ the outside. Still, it meant they were sitting ducks for the two snipers. Felicia fired her rifle, controlled despite the burning desire to aim higher than the knees. Soon, three of the targets were lying on the ground, wriggling in pain and holding their injured legs, while the other four lay sadly found it best to lay down their weapons and put their hands on their heads.

Captain Lace ordered their soldiers to secure the facility. Captain Lace, leader of team 1, ordered the shuttle to the location, and brought the team 1 soldiers and medic in to take care of the injured. They were in a hurry now. If the Alpha Dawn didn’t have space suits that sealed off ruptured parts, they would suffocate within minutes.

Seeing the cold bodies hanging on the wall inside the facility, Felicia couldn’t care less. These lesser beings deserved to die. Dieter didn’t.

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