The scout slid through a gap in the shattered wall and into the street. He ducked behind a charred truck, his gray cloak only barely fluttering. Concrete dust had settled over everything, and when the scout stood still, he was all but invisible. Nothing moved for miles in either direction. The only sound was distant gunfire, far to the west.
Stifling a sneeze, the scout hustled across the gap and leaped into the wreckage of a trolley, tilting off its track. His boots made not the slightest sound against the heavy plastic of the trolley floor as he slipped through the vehicle to the rear exit and out. The scout ran the short few steps to the alley and crouched, leaning out for another visual sweep of the street.
A moment later, he tapped the comm on his jaw. “Gray 2 to Ops. West approach is clear.” He peered toward the intersection ahead of him, pressing hand to his ear. “Roger that. Out.” His posture relaxed slightly.
The first shot smacked into the wall above his head, and his entire body flinched. He had time to turn halfway around and get one hand on his rifle before the second shot punched through his shoulder, spinning him about and throwing him against the wall. His head snapped back with the third, and he slid down the wall in a heap.
254 kept the scout’s body in his sights. No movement. “Down,” he said, lifting the barrel of his rifle from the windowsill. He glanced over his shoulder at his squad leader. “Good eyes, One.”
The massive figure stepped over to the sniper’s position. “Good shooting,” 231 replied. He peered out the fourth story window at the tiny red smear five blocks away.
“Got the channel,” said 266, the navcom. The scout’s last transmission was enough for the decryptor to complete its work. He entered the sequence into his palm console, feeding the signal to the squad’s earpieces.
“-st approach is clear,” came the separatist voice. “All non-assigned personnel rally at Toriyama Bridge to escort the PG-12.”
223 barked a laugh. “They’ve got a tank.”
“Six, call it in,” 231 said.
The navcom nodded. “Command, this is Goliath Squad Charlie, we have confirmed the presence of a PG-12 tank headed for the Toriyama Bridge in New Corinth.”
It was quiet for a moment. 254 stood to his full 6 feet, 5 inches, and walked carefully to the window in the opposite corner.
“Command to Goliath Squad Charlie,” a voice said in each of their ears, “good work. Proceed to the bridge and engage the tank unit. Slow them down as long as you can.”
The soldiers exchanged glances. They were all thinking the same thought. They knew the day would come.
231 responded. “Roger that, Command. Goliath Squad Charlie is en route.”
Once again, the silence intervened.
254 turned from the window to his squadmates, looking only mildly disappointed. “Today was going so good, too. Eh. Not the worst day to get cashed in.”
We’re not done yet. 231 turned to his special weapons tech. “You bring anything that could take down a PG-12?”
223’s brow furrowed. “Mmm… Novex, but we’d have to plant it.”
“On the tank? We couldn’t set a trap?”
223 shook his head. “Only point soft enough is on the interior of the treads, or the air intake by the hatch.”
All four clones sighed with one voice.
But after a moment of silence, 231 smirked. “Six.”
“Get me the specs on the Toriyama Bridge.”