Ridge: Installment One
Posted By: TyRant
Date: 25 November 2000, 3:49 am
Four streams of exhaust reflected off the center of his visor, working their way outward until the black sheen of his faceplate was encompassed totally by a gray haze. The driver and his two comrades--men who were not men, who were composite armor machines, who were toys--became lost in the fog, alone in the screaming madness of their vehicle as it strove to accelerate even from its top speed. And still he drove on.
The rugged jeep pursued its own rockets as if by magnetic force, but it was guided only by the marine at its helm. Beep, beep, beep, sounded his helmet console. Six, five, four, he counted. Beep, beep, beep, continued the helmet. Three, two, one, he echoed.
A wall of yellow and orange broke through the grimy mist of rocket exhaust. The shock wave of the explosion rocked the jeep, launching it a few meters skyward in the light gravity, sending its occupants into an eerie netherworld of smoke and light and sky and ground. The explosion was everything there, greater than the balance of the battle, all that the marines could see or hear or think, greater than the thunder of artillery and the lightning of plasma and the hail of gunfire. The instant seemed frozen, but the instant was gone, and the little universe apart from the marine's life of death popped like a bubble as the jeep crashed through what had once been reinforced titanium doors.
The crisp shattering of armor and bones greeted the marines as their vehicle tore through the entryway of the building. The warriors--the Covenants's soldiers were known by no other name, and none could be more appropriate--were equipped with shields, of course, but no personal shield was made to protect its bearer from a vehicle. How many had been crushed in there? wondered the driver. Three? Four? Six? It never mattered. There were always more.
The veil of surprise was broken in the room, and the other warriors preparing for the battle outside opened fire on the intruder. A storm of energy bursts rained around the vehicle, but their unsteady spread did little damage to the speeding jeep. The room was quite broad and long, yet its ceiling was so low that the mounted rocket launcher on the jeep barely fit. The driver jammed the wheel to the right and the four-by-four spinned to a near halt, throwing him from his seat into an inconspicuous, dark corner. He slipped unnoticed into the niche and crouched as his shot man took the wheel and accelerated into the nearest hallway.
The towering warriors looked almost comical--all revved up with no place to go. A line of their fellow members of the Covenant cause lay in blue pools, crushed under the spinning wheels of the jeep. Evidently the resident of the first bloody blue pool had been a commander; his troops were now leaderless and disorganized. The disarray was short-lived, however; another stepped to the front of the survivors. He (She? It?) dispatched a portion of his troops to guard the room against the intruder if and when it returned. The commander reported back to his superiors about the turn of events. Alarms raged, and an update was spit back into the commander's communications module. Continue with the attack as planned; the vehicle and its two occupants will be apprehended. As the commander relayed the orders to the troops, he considered something. Two? Hadn't he counted three humans in the wheeled vehicle? A pair of black eyes scanned the considerable length of the hall on the way out.
But there were no humans to be seen.
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