No one heard when the drone arrived, it was too high. Only Net could see from the target camera since he needed his power to connect to the colony server. Since he was limited with the HQ Stryker damage from Mother Nature, he called up one of the map websites and cross-referenced the location of the drone by the geographical features he could see in the camera. As soon as the approximate locations of the machine gun emplacements were visible on the horizon, Net started inputting targets based on the GPS data from the online maps. Bravo Company had counted one from the ground and Lady Justice had counted another while flying overhead. Teams One and Three were engaged with a M113 near the front entrance. Net had to search online what the M113 looked like since he was tasked to destroy it.
The drone was not a fast flying machine, the turbo-charged rear-facing propeller barely capable of pushing 300 knots at the expense of fuel economy. The drone’s strength was the ability to loiter, orbiting a target location for a long period of time, and rain death on the enemy. When Net had appropriated it, as Caldwell has termed it, he did not care about proper handling and care, he red-lined the engines and set a direct course to them. He just hoped it had enough fuel to do the job.
The first machine gun team, white silhouettes on the camera’s IR camera, were still firing at Bravo company when the hellfire struck their location. Net watched bodies and body parts fly in various directions during the blast. He did not like the idea of killing people, especially misguided mundanes, but they were trying to kill him and his friends. He will deal with the guilt during his next session with the good Dr. Carlson.
The second team seemed to be aware of what was happening. They tried to run but Net followed the machine gunner until impact. His squad mates might have escaped but the machine gun was now neutralized and scattered all over the area in pieces.
The drone circled around again as Net used the cameras to penetrate the tree canopy near Teams One and Three. They were still pinned by the APC with the mounted machine gun. Net really wanted to destroy the vehicle but he could not find it.
“Bravo Niner, this is…Echo uhh, whatever. This is Net.” Officially, Net’s EComm was standard issue but he modified it to transmit on all frequencies like the command version. He thought it was just easier that way than trying to talk through Lady Justice. She was not stupid but computers were not her thing. “We’ve got a problem, sir. The M113 is not visible from the sky.”
“Copy, Net,” replied Lieutenant Caldwell. “I’ll let the assault teams know. Keep looking for it.”
“Five incoming from the north,” Michael heard over his EComm. The spotters had seen his group approaching, Michael on point, Solid Copy with the prisoner in the rear, and Team Four in the middle.
Michael saw his Team Leader quickly approaching. She did not look happy.
“You dumb, arrogant, son-of-a-bitch, I told you to stay with the Stryker.” Lady Justice was fuming as she neared him, her eyes on fire. “What the hell is your problem with following orders? You could have been killed!”
“Hey! Lady!” interrupted Team Leader Four, the agent Michael had landed on when he fell into the trap set by Mother Nature, “your boy here just saved what is left of my team while holding off some crazy Earth Elementalist. Jackson and Shepherd are dead back in that damn ditch and I would be too if it wasn’t for him. ”
Michael felt an armored hand pat his shoulder as Team Leader Force walked by, helping Stewart, the only other surviving agent of Team Four, limp over to Trauma.
“You engaged Mother Nature?” Lady Justice asked softly, remembering how she did poorly against Jet Stream. She noticed the areas around his neck and wrists were red and raw. The fires inside extinguished, replaced by sympathy and astonishment.
Without thinking, Lady Justice reached out and touched Michael’s neck tenderly, she had similar marks on her neck from Jet Stream’s grip. “You should go see Trauma about these,” she said apologetically.
Michael nodded and smiled, “I’m fine.”
When Lady Justice heard a noise behind Michael, she let go. Justice was walking towards them, carrying a woman slumped over his shoulder. Her face was swollen with her nose bent awkwardly. Lady Justice winced at the blood trickling down her lip from her nasal cavity. That was going to hurt when she woke up.
“It’s not Scott. Solid Copy was the hero that saved all of us,” Michael said proudly.
Lady Justice knew immediately it was Solid Copy. He might look like Justice, but he did not have the swagger or the arrogance. She nodded to him as he passed her by, the woman snoring loudly. The JTF agents rushed to help Solid Copy get her in one of the prisoner Strykers when word spread that Mother Nature had been captured.
“Two incoming from the west,” called the spotter, alerting Lady Justice and Michael. They ran to the west side of the deployment zone to find out who was returning. Alaina silently prayed it was Scott.
Scimitar, his left arm bleeding in several locations, emerged from the tree line dragging an agent with his right.
“Oh my God,” yelled Lady Justice as she ran to help Scimitar lay the JTF down on the grass. Michael ran to help Scimitar, his strength gone from blood loss.
“Trauma!” Michael yelled. “Hurry!”
Trauma was already running to the new arrivals, alerted by several JTF agents.
“Get his helmet off,” Trauma ordered to Lady Justice as she glanced at Scimitar. “Sorry, hun, he’s a lot worse off than you. Michael, use these and put pressure on the wounds. Hopefully they will stop the bleeding.” Trauma handed him a stack of large-sized gauze, several falling on the ground. He placed them over Scimitar’s wounds and pressed lightly.
Agents Prescott and Edwards were helping Trauma as she used her power on Acosta. She tried for several minutes, but bowed her head, muttering a short prayer. She got up slowly, her eyes wet with frustration. She looked at Michael before helping Scimitar move to the triage area.
“Nothing I could do to save him,” Trauma said softly to Michael and Lady Justice before walking away.
“Net,” shouted Caldwell looking down at the dead agent. “any luck yet?” When the CO nodded, several JTF technicians started unbuckling the armor from Acosta. He was too heavy for them to move and bag.
Net was happy to see Michael was okay when his head appeared outside of the Stryker hatch. Net had a ‘where have you been look’ on his face before facing the Lieutenant.
“No, sir,” answered Net. “The trees are still blocking the camera. I’ve orbited twice. We can’t hit it from the air.”
“Where the hell is Justice?” asked Caldwell.
“The last thing we know was he engaged the Speedster on the south side of the campsite. He hasn’t answered his EComm since.” Net quickly popped his head back in the vehicle. Justice had been gone for a long time. He did not like the guy but he was part of the team. He would do what he could to find him.
“I don’t want to explain to Jury that I lost her baby boy.” Caldwell sounded serious. He looked at Lady Justice. “So, we got a heavy machine gun in between us and the camp. We can’t hit it from the sky and our God-damn Tank is missing.” Lady Justice could tell the CO was very frustrated. None of this was supposed to happen this way. Bravo company had raided several illegal settlements before but none were this big or this organized.
“Sir, I think I can help.” The voice surprised Lady Justice. Now, Michael thought he could do something that Scott should be doing. They were both idiots, one for volunteering and the other for disappearing.
“And you are?” Caldwell asked.
“Why does my roster say, Princess?” Caldwell looked at Michael, who was clenching his teeth and turning a shade of red.
“Prescott and Edwards?” he asked. Michael nodded.
“Okay, Princess, what do you have in mind?”