Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-15

Red Prime finished off yet another Bug with a burst of blaster fire, and then took a moment to asset his team’s condition. It wasn’t good, but within Nala Prime’s expectations—expectations that he shared—and that meant that things went accordingly to plan, so far. According to the clock running on his helmet’s user interface, he and his team endured near-constant contact with the Bugs for about an hour. The Yellow copies got overrun and deresolved about 15 minutes ago, after they got separated from the group in the last ambush, and that took an already thin group past the point of sustainability.

“Form up.” Red Prime bellowed, “We’re on the move.”

The remaining copies of Special Team 1 reformed around Red Prime, and as a group—covering all six possible avenues of assault—they moved through the Hive towards their objective, below the center of the Hive; the Hatchery, if this Hive conformed to previous experiences, would rest below where the Hive’s commander—previously, a Queen Bug—and the eggs it spawned would drop to that Hatchery to be tended by specialized Drones. The now four-man team managed to avoid or cut-short several more Bug contacts, and then it came upon what usually would be the Hatchery.

What they found, instead, was a large laboratory with complex—and inorganic, apparently—machinery that stored Bugs in various states of development. Some, indeed, were eggs. Others were larval forms, and still others were mature forms. Amongst these Bugs were something far more familiar, far more telling in their very presence: obviously humanoid figures, in positions of authority, acting not just as the specialized Drones of previous experiences but also as technicians.

Red Prime waived Nala 4 up to him and pointed at the scene before them. Nala 4 took a long look at them, and then he waived the others forward and had them all stay out of sight.

“The Bugs are not a problem if we can take out the technicians first, quietly.” Nala 4 said, “But we need to do it fast. If we botch one take-down, the remaining ones will react and likely wake up the Bugs. If that happens, we’re as good as dead.”

Red Prime checked the readout on his blaster rifle; it read low, which mimicked the readouts of his internal power levels- he felt spent, but not yet completely drained, and this time to rest did help to replenish his reserves. His copies, and Nala 4, looked similarly depleted and vulnerable.

“No time to rest?” Red Prime asked, knowing the most likely answer.

“Almost none; take it now, while you can.” Nala 4 said, giving Red Prime that likely answer.

“I assume you’re looking at using a stealth protocol and making close-quarters takedowns, due to our low power levels?”

Nala 4 nodded affirmatively. He put his blaster rifle in his lap, gripped it by the two hand-holds and deresolved it back into a simple baton. Putting it away into a leg shealth, Nala 4 instead drew forth his chakram; Red Prime and his two copies comprehended immediately Nala 4’s intention.

“Red 3, go with Nala 4.” Red Prime ordered, “Red 2, you’re with me on Spotter detail.”

Red Prime reshaped his rifle out of its compact, close-quarters mode and into its sniper mode. Red 2 activated a protocol on his helmet that gave him a full suite of personal sensors suitable for being a sniper’s spotter. Red 3 also deresolved his rifle, and sheathed the baton; he also drew his chakram. Red Prime and Nala 4 nodded at each other, and then Nala 4 and Red 3 went invisible and began the slow crawl into the Hatchery-cum-Laboratory.

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