The Private marched, smiling easily, in front of the rumbling war machine, his grip loose on his rifle. He looked over his right shoulder at the steadily churning treads and breathed deep. Ionized exhaust rippled from the tank in waves, heating and sterilizing the air. He caught a glare from his Sergeant, and looked forward again, standing up straighter. Still, he smiled. The bridge and road ahead looked clear for miles.
His blood ran cold when he heard the pop of a short-range mortar. His mind barely had time to shudder at how close the sound was when he heard the clang of the grenade bouncing off the side of the tank and hitting the deck behind him. The explosion hurled him forward, his gun swinging wildly from its holster.
The vengeful staccato of assault rifle fire punched through the ringing in his ears. To his right. The world was perpendicular, his head pressed to the road. Two figures, huge men, with the same face, leaning from cover on the maintenance catwalk just over the railing from the sidewalk.
The same face.
A frantic voice in his ear, barely audible as his fellow separatists returned fire en masse. “Goliaths!”
Another chill as he pressed to his feet. He only saw two clones. The Private scampered for cover behind the tank as its machine gun turret swiveled to bear and burst to life. Where were-
Only the Private saw the second half of the Goliath squad. They sprinted along the catwalk in single file, the front clone hefting a backpack, his rifle slung. As the Private scrambled for his weapon, the Goliath slid the backpack to the ground, revealing a grapple gun in his hand. The second clone had one, too.
Too fast for the Private to react, the front Goliath aimed the grapple at the bridge tower above and fired the grapple. Just as quickly, the second clone tackled the first over the railing.
The gunfire around him spattered to a halt. Mystified, he turned around to see the other soldiers walking towards the railing on the opposite side of the bridge. He jogged to the railing and looked down. The two clones that had fired on the separatists were far below at the end of grapple ropes, at the apex of their backswing. They released, flinging themselves through the air into the canal below.
Behind him, the Private heard a whir. He looked back, heart thudding. The backpack zipped into the air as the grapple cable spooled back in.
He realized what they had done just as the detonation sounded.
The entire structure of the bridge moaned pitifully. The air filled with the sound of whipping cables, and a tremendous clang as as the great overhead cable snapped.
The Private found himself in midair, his sense of balance revolting as the deck pitched beneath his feet. The soldiers screamed as the pavement rippled, the tank heaving onto one tread and smashing back into the ground. All around, the towers and cables rattled, and the Private could hear nothing else.
Then, the world shifted, and he was staring into the canal a hundred fifty feet below, with a great, blocky shadow bearing down on top of him. The pit of his stomach told him he was flying. Plummeting toward splashdown, half a second ahead of the tank, he was too stunned to scream.
The water was as unyielding as stone.