A curtain of flame enveloped me, warnings flashed as my shields went critical. The Scourge forms shrieked as the boiled and burst. I raised my arm to protect the weakest parts of my armour; I did not want to get cooked. To my relief Malificent sent a support drone over to boost my shields. A moment later Scorch finished burning the Scourge forms off of me. The flames cleared, leaving only smoke and charred carapace.
“Dinner is served,” rumbled Scorch. Smoke wafted from the nozzle of his massive custom made incinerator. His nomad suit was a Goliath, larger and heavier than my Paladin. The Goliath was a workhorse nomad, like the medium Ares armour that Triumph wore, able to fill a variety of roles. Scorch and his wife Malificent both wore Goliaths; they worked as a team. She was specialized in long ranged attacks and support, he in short range firepower and defence. They were handy in a fight, a steady presence on the team.
“Try not to kill the man with your sense of humour, dear,” said Malificent, appearing from behind Scorch. She carried a beamer in one hand and a gauss weapon in the other.
“Much obliged,” I said. I was already scanning tactical. Everyone was nearby, safe and sound, except Sunspear who remained hidden in her perch. Through her I could see that the remaining Wallbreaker had given up on chasing Triumph and was grinding against the bunker, trying to break in. For a moment I debated letting it break down the bunker unmolested. Was it really worth the risk to my team to gather up that cryopod? I had no idea what sort of Scourge reinforcements were on the way and there was a directing intelligence on the field.
Through tactical I could see the the bugs were digging in around the bunker. It would be tough to break through with them in defensive positions. Having a bead on a Ripper at a distance is one thing, having it leap on you from close quarters is another. Still, that Cryopod was a major find, and I’m not one to abandon anyone to grim fate if I can avoid it.
“Boss,” said Sphinx. “The big one is acting wierd, shouldn’t it be pounding a little harder?”
Sphinx was right the Wallbreaker was merely pushing against the bunker instead of battering it with its massive pulverizing forelimbs. It looked to me like it was trying to gently peal the roof off. I thought about the action for a moment. There could only be one reason; it did not want to damage what was inside the bunker. I was immediately sorry we’d left.
“Good eye Sphinx,” I said. I laid out my plan on tactical, highlighting positions and tactics. We would sweep towards the bunker and get close enough to make a rapid assault. My plan hinged on the bugs being more interested in the cryopod than us. So far that seemed to be the case.
We crept forward. Quake and Nova, who were already on the opposite flank, circled a little closer to the bunker so that we could catch them in a crossfire without any chance of friendly fire. Sunspear remained at her perch. Sphinx and Triumph moved outward while Shrike, Scorch, Malificent, and Myself took up position behind a weathered wall half a click from the bugs. Contact was minimal, but the bugs had to know were were here. Their detection system consisted of tiny insects that were hard to spot. they made no move to assault us.
“Should I drop a mortar round on the big one?” asked Malificent over coms, her target appearing in tactical.
“Negative,” I said. “A this point there is a good chance you might damage the cryopod.”
“What are we waiting for?” asked Sphinx.
Before I could answer there came a sound of shrieking metal. Glancing through Sunspear’s visuals I saw that the Wallbreaker was folding back the bunker’s roof. The metal was cutting into the huge Scourge form, but it did not seem to notice. I gave the ready sign on tactical.
Suddenly a walnut appeared on tactical with a query from Sunspear. “Walnuts” are the most common form of directing intelligence in the scourge, so named because they appear to be little more that a rough armoured shell resembling a nut from a tree in the homeworld gardens on the fleet mothership. The inside of the shell is a highly developed brain.
“Fire,” I said, answering Sunspear’s query and giving the attack signal at the same time. Two mortar drones and a missle drone behind me fire.
I saw a beam flash from Sunspear’s perch. The walnut went red on tactical; a likely kill. I felt sweet elation pour into me as I moved forward, sending my blaster drone high into the air to rain fire on the Wallbreaker. It was rare to get the drop on a directing intelligence, even a Walnut. Maybe we would get a commendation. Savage glee filled me as I sighted a spitter emerging from its burrow and blasted a hole in it with my tri-beam. We had this. A little vengeance for the fallen, Leopard and many others. Tactical lit up with casualties, all of them bugs.
Two hundred metres from the bunker Triumph flashed a warning. We halted, taking up defensive positions. Behind me long range drones kept firing, smashing the Wallbreaker.
“This is too easy,” said Triumph. My first instinct was to yell at him, but I had a nagging feeling he was right. I signaled the team to stop advancing while we blasted the Wallbreaker from a distance and finished off any bugs that remained visible.
Eventually the massive scourge form toppled and I sent my remaining scanner drone forward.