Categories > Original > Sci-Fi > Bug Run.

Chapter Five.

by Hussar 0 Reviews

Category: Sci-Fi - Rating: G - Genres:  - Characters:  - Published: 2013/01/13 - Updated: 2013/01/13 - 3077 words

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5.

The Bugs swarmed over the brow of the hill like a great, black avalanche. Dust rose into the air as hundreds of sets of Bug feet pounded on the ground, Zoe could almost feel the vibrations made by the creature’s advance through the soles of her boots.

“WAIT UP!” Zoe yelled as she held up her hand to stop the forward motion of the colonists; turning she saw that Sam and her group were the nearest people to her. “GET BACK! GET BACK!” Zoe yelled; when no one moved and just stood there looking at her like idiots, she ran over and physically started to push people in the opposite directions, “Get these people moving!” she cried.

Snapping out of her inaction, Sam started to help Zoe get the colonists turned around and heading away from the rapidly advancing Bugs.

“Lea!” Zoe called over her comms unit before adding, “Brandi, Kandi rally on me…Judy Sam get these people outta her NOW!”

“Swatch, thaur is nae need tae shit!” Judy replied calmly.

“Whatever,” Zoe shrugged under her equipment; turning back to face the Bugs she saw that the leading edge of the Bug horde had come down from the hill, passed through the fern trees and was now heading towards her little band at a steady run.

Raising her eyes, Zoe saw that there were even more Bugs coming over the hill, she wondered were the freck they were coming from. Glancing over her shoulder she saw Lea and the two hill girls running towards her through the long grass.

“Form a skirmish line,” Zoe held out her arms to indicate where she wanted the line and in which direction she wanted it facing; not that it wasn’t obvious.

Looking from the Bugs back towards the colonist, Zoe made some calculations in her head. The Bug horde was about three hundred yards away and closing rapidly. The colonists where less than one hundred yards away and moving slowly as Sam and Judy tried to move them on like two manic sheepdogs. The civilians would never get away in time if Zoe didn’t do something to slow the Bugs down.

“Damn-it-all!” she cursed under her breath; pulling back on the charging handle of her rifle Zoe took a deep breath, “Riflemen!” she called getting everybody’s attention as the Bugs drew nearer and nearer, “two hundred yards, bugs in the open,” she paused to let the Bugs close just a little more before issuing the final part of her fire order, “RAPID FIRE!”

On the word ‘fire’ the fire from the short skirmish line started to eat into the Bug horde. Bugs tumbled head over heels or tripped over their legs as the .30 calibre bullets ripped through their bodies killing them instantly. Standing there pulling the trigger of her rifle as rapidly as she could, Zoe watched, almost like she was watching some training simulation, as bugs appeared in the lens of her optical sight before they stumbled and fell and she went on to a new target.

Swapping an empty magazine for a fresh one, Zoe took the opportunity to look around. The colonists, now realising the danger they were in, were running as fast as they could with Judy and Sam trying to keep them in a single group. They were about a hundred-and-fifty yards away now. Turning to her front again she saw that the bugs were less than a hundred yards distant and still closing rapidly. She saw how their fire was cutting down bugs one after the other but there always seemed to be another bug to replace it. In the few moments that the action had lasted they must have killed seventy-five to eighty bugs. After all they were easy targets and Zoe had her best shots engaging them. What frightened her a little was the way the bugs weren’t trying to outflank them, they were just boring straight in, single-mindedly focused on the four women who stood between the horde and the colonists.

“AUTOMATIC FIRE!” Zoe cried as she switched her selector to full automatic and started to hose down the advancing bugs.

More bugs tumbled and skidded to there deaths as the heavy rounds ripped them apart. Watching as her rifle recoiled into her shoulder, Zoe saw bugs literally explode as the high velocity rounds touched them, but still it wasn’t enough. Swapping her magazine again, Zoe felt the last two full magazines in her pouches and realised that everyone else must be getting low.

“FALL BACK BY TWOS!” Zoe ordered, “BRANDI, KANDI GO!”

Firing a last burst each, the two hill girls turned and sprinted away from the bugs; they stopped fifty or so yards back and took up new firing positions.

“LEA!” Zoe yelled, “GO!”

Firing off a controlled burst at a group of bugs who were getting a little too close, Zoe watched them fall before turning and following Lea to where the hill girls now stood firing at the bugs and attempting to slow their advance.

Stopping next to Brandi and Kandi, Zoe gasped a little as she brought her rifle back to her shoulder. Heck, she thought as she tried to control her breathing, she was more unfit than she’d realised. Taking a deep breath, Zoe steadied her aim and started to fire again, seconds later he magazine ran dry. Swapping round her magazines she realised she now had one spare plus maybe a few rounds in a couple of her used mags; no doubt every one else was in the same position.

“BRANDI, KANDI GO!” Zoe called again; once more the two hill girls fired off a last burst each and headed for the rear.

“Lea!” Zoe glanced over to her squad-mate, “How are you for rounds?”

“Low!” Lea replied between bursts of fire.

“How low?” Zoe persisted.

“Very!” Lea stopped firing and changed mags, “Last mag!”

“GO!” Zoe ordered.

“But…”

“I said GO!” Zoe sensed Lea running for the rear as she fired into the advancing bugs.

Freck, she’d always wanted to get into combat; how did the saying go? Careful what you wish for it might happen, yeah that was it. The closest bugs were about twenty-five yards away now, if she stopped firing they’d be on her in seconds. A couple of short bursts cut the bugs down but they were soon replaced by another pack. The bugs were so close now she could see them as individuals, she could see the damage her rounds where doing, she could hear the angry hiss each bug made as it died. But worse she could hear the strange sound their jaws made as they opened and closed; a sound like a large pair of scissors opening and closing.

“Oh freck!” Zoe moaned as her magazine ran dry, she felt the hot tears run down her face as she fitted her last full magazine, she didn’t want to die, not here on this dusty crap-hole of a planet, not now.

A sound like the biggest, loudest thunderclap that she’d every heard seemed to split the air, it even made the bugs hesitate in their headlong charge. Looking up into the sky, Zoe saw lines of bright, white light flash through the sky towards her, she knew what this was and she knew she was going to die.

“OOOOOOOOOH! SHIT!” Zoe screamed as she forgot about shooting bugs and dropped to the ground.

Hugging the soil for all she was worth, Zoe felt more than heard the world start to explode around her. Tossed about like a rag doll in a nightmare of explosions and expecting to die any second, Zoe didn’t at first notice that the bombardment had finished. Instead or the unbelievable noise and the bright flashes that left dancing purple dots in front of her closed eyes, there was now silence and darkness and a heavy weight on her chest. Deciding, that she must be dead, Zoe lay there and tried to get comfortable with the idea of not existing.

Slowly her numbed mind started to feed her information and began to question her assumptions. Like; if she was dead and didn’t exist anymore, why could she still feel something on her chest and why did she still register that it was dark. There really was only one answer, her own assumption that she was dead was highly overrated and she was in fact alive. Realising that there was sand in her nose and mouth and it was getting hard to breath, Zoe started to try and sit up, but the weight on her chest was holding her down…and it hurt!

“Over here!” the muffled voice came to Zoe’s ears just as she was opening her eyes and blinking them clear of the sand that still threatened to blind her; it was then that she noticed the black chitin-like skin of a bug that lay on top of her.

“AAGH!” Zoe cried as she tried to push the creature off her; her own voice sounded muffled and far away and she realised she must have been partially deafened by all the explosions.

“‘Ere!” another far away voice called and Zoe felt someone pull the bug off her.

“Kandi?” Zoe looked up as the short blonde girl struggled to move the bug’s carcass.

“Yeah that’s me,” the girl grinned at Zoe before turning to call to someone else, “come give me a ‘and will ya?”

Suddenly there seemed to be helping hands all over the place and the dead bug was quickly moved.

“Hey-hey Zoe?”

Zoe turned to look into Lea’s concerned face.

“How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Eeeerm,” Zoe found she had to think really hard about this before saying, “three?”

“Close enough,” Lea smiled relieved, “freck girl, what the hell do you think you’re doing? Trying to be a hero or something?”

“W-what happened?” Zoe asked as she winced, she was beginning to get back in touch with her body only to find that several bits of it hurt, “Oooh!” Zoe groaned, “My boobs hurt!

“Not surprising,” Lea pulled open Zoe’s shirt and had a look inside, “nothing serious, just bruises…”

“Nothing serious?” Zoe was apt to disagree, “You’re not sitting where I am…now what happened?”

“Orbital bombardments wot ‘appened, luv,” Brandi or possibly Kandi in formed her.

“Yeah,” Lea nodded her head, “someone musta called in an orbital strike…wiped the bugs off the face of the planet…” Lea hesitated for half a heart beat, “…or at least this little piece of it.”

“We thought you was a gonna,” Brandi (it was definitely Brandi, Zoe told herself) explained, “thought you was buckin’ for a medal or somefing.”

“No medals,” Zoe tried to push herself to her feet but failed, “give me a hand guys,” helping hands took hold of her arms an hauled her to her feet, “where’s my rifle?”

“Here,” Kandi handed Zoe her rifle after brushing the worst of the sand and bug blood off it.

Now she was standing upright Zoe could see what had happened around her. For about two hundred yards all around where she and her friends stood the ground had been ripped apart and looked like some sort of crater field. All over the ground, in the holes and between them lay the bodies of dead bugs or at least pieces of dead bugs. Lifting her eyes from the scene of destruction towards the hill from where the bugs had come, she could see more craters and dead bugs.

“We’re safe for now,” Lea told her, “but we’ve got to move, you okay with that?”

“Yeah, sure,” Zoe nodded and reached for her canteen; taking a mouthful of water she swilled it around her mouth to get rid of the sand before taking a drink. “Okay,” she took a deep breath and found she could hear again, time to take charge, “where’s the colonists and how are we for ammo?”

“Colonists are about two hundred yards that-a-way,” Lea pointed off to the north-east; “Judy and Sam have got them corralled in a depression.”

“Rounds?” Zoe asked as put her canteen back in its pouch.

“Not so good,” Lea replied soberly, she indicated the three rescuers, “we’re down to twenty-five or thirty rounds each, you?”

“About the same,” Zoe nodded and started to check her kit.

“Even if we get back to Sam and Judy and redistribute our rounds, that still probably only gives us fifty rounds apiece.”

Zoe looked around at all the dead bugs; they’d not been able to stop them with almost a full load of ammo each. Now they were down to about a sixth of what they should have they wouldn’t stand a chance.

“Okay, people,” Zoe called, “let’s get outta here and back to the civ-pop.”

Taking a step, Zoe stumbled but was held upright by Lea’s hand on her arm.

“Thanks,” Zoe gave her friend a weak smile, “still a little…”

“Shook up?” Lea asked.

“Yeah that’s about it,” regaining her balance Zoe started to head towards where Lea had indicated the colonists were hiding.

“Y’know what?” Lea asked as she walked along side Zoe with Brandi and Kandi watching their rear.

“What?”

“It’s times like this I wish I’d taken that judge up on the ‘enforced colonist’ option,” Lea held her rifle resting it on her forearms.

“What!?” Zoe turned to her friend and grinned, “And miss all this?”

“Yeah, ‘spose,” Lea shrugged, “Travel to strange, exotic planets, meet fascinating new people and life forms…and kill them!”

“Or be killed by them,” Zoe pointed out.

“Hey!” Lea looked at Zoe in shock, “I knew there was something off, they never mentioned anything about them killing me!”

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Just as Zoe and her group arrived at the hollow where Sam and Judy had the colonists crouching down in cover, she saw Sergeant Burden arrive from the north. After pausing to check on the colonist he made his way over to where Zoe stood as she organised redistributing the squads ammunition; Lea had been right they now had no more than two full magazines each.

“Okay Zoe,” Sergeant Burden walked over and stood in front of her, “report.”

Zoe spent the next couple of minutes explaining what she and her squad had been doing.

“Okay,” Burden nodded his head slowly, “that’s all fine and brave, but why didn’t you call for back up?”

“I…?” Zoe stood there with her mouth open, she couldn’t think why she’d not called for help other than forgetting all about doing it.

“Never mind,” Burden told her in a soft voice, “you did pretty good without help…”

“I nearly got myself killed,” Zoe pointed out as she told herself how stupid she’d been; she could have got them all killed.

“Yeah, well, that comes with the territory sometimes,” Burden pointed out, “but from what I’m hearing you did pretty well for a combat virgin.”

“Yeah right,” Zoe didn’t really believe Burden; she told herself that he was only being nice about her screwing up because he wanted to get between her legs.

“Look, here’s the situation,” Burden placed his hand on Zoe’s shoulder and led her over to a small depression where they could sit down and get out their maps. “Looks like all the bugs on the planet have taken it into their heads to eat us, or at least drive us off world.”

“Why?” despite herself Zoe was interested.

“No one said,” Burden shrugged, “maybe they don’t like the way we smell or something. Anyway, there’s bugs all over and there’s a hell of a lot more of them than anyone expected.”

“You’re tellin’ me,” Zoe agreed.

“Orders are to collect up all the colonists we can and head for the evacuation points,” Burden pointed to his map, “once there we’ll be picked up by shuttles…”

“I can hear that big ‘but’ coming,” Zoe pointed out.

“Yeah,” Burden sighed tiredly, “/But/, there’s only one ship in orbit and it only has so many shuttles.”

“Great,” Zoe shook her head, this sounded like another ‘Snafu’, ‘situation normal; all fucked up’!

“As there’s not enough room on the ship we’ll be ferried to an island that’s free of bugs,” Burden gestured vaguely to the west, “where we’ll wait for the relief force to turn up.”

“And how long will that take?” Zoe wanted to know.

“Couple of months,” Burden admitted.

“Great,” Zoe muttered.

“But I have got some good news,” Burden tried to lighten the atmosphere, “we should get an ammo replen in about,” he glanced at his watch, “five or ten minutes, double loads for everyone. There’s drones out spraying the bugs with Tanglefoot and we should get at least some orbital support.”

“Cool,” Zoe agreed.

“But I’ve saved the best ‘til last,” a big grin split Burden’s face, “I regret to have to inform you that Mr Henderson got himself killed.”

“He did!?” Zoe smiled brightly, “Oh how sad…how?”

“Fell into a bug hole and got himself eaten,” Burden explained.

“OOOH!” Zoe managed to stop herself from cheering, she really hadn’t liked Henderson, “Oh that’s nasty,” she said with a grin, “not a good way to go.”

“Yeah, awful,” Burden agreed deadpan, “I’ll make something up about how he died bravely leading his men,” Burden noticed the look of incredulity on Zoe’s face, “for his folks y’know?”

“Yeah, sure, got it,” Zoe agreed, “so that means your platoon leader?”

“That’s about the size of it,” Burden nodded, “so I want no more goofin’ off or suicidal heroics, okay?”

“Sure thing…do I call you ‘sir’ now?” Zoe asked.

“Only if you want to spend the rest of your military career digging latrines,” Burden pointed out.

“Right, ‘Sarge’ it is then,” Zoe got up as Burden climbed to his feet, “I’ll pass along the happy news to the guys.”

“You do that,” Burden agreed, “and Zoe, about the civ-pop…”

“What about them?” Zoe wanted to know.

“Best if you just tell them ‘rescue ships are on the way’,” Burden pointed out, “they don’t need to know about the other stuff, okay?”

“Okay, Sarge,” Zoe agreed.

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