|0923 Hours, November 17th, 2498
Axus, Outer Colonies
The mission had thus far, not gone as planned.
Gunfire raged throughout the jungle, bullets zipping through the smoky haze. Spread out across a densely-forested ridge, six commandos lay in the undergrowth, firing down on approaching figures. A tremendous explosion from below sent debris and body parts flying as the trees shook from the shockwave. A momentary silence descended, punctuated with the distant cries of the dying. A helmeted head poked up from the hilltop.
"Who's hit?" called Captain Anton LaMarche, reloading his rifle in one hand while the other activated his COM.
"This is King," a voice filtered through. "'I'm wounded. Caught two in the leg. Redford's with me now."
"Can you reach us?"
"Might take us a while, even now you've cleared the hill."
There was a long pause. Wiping some dirt from his face, LaMarche closed his eyes. Next to him, another commando stood up, tapping him on the shoulder.
"We moving in?"
"No time," he sighed. "Trident, we're falling back. Need to set up a field of fire and take down those bastards."
Lieutenant Richard Mack glanced downhill, clutching his gun tightly. "Sir, we can't just leave them there."
"I'm not risking the entire team. Let's move."
LaMarche waved his hand and turned away, only for Mack to stand his ground. Two other teammates did the same, hesitating for a moment as the staccato of gunfire echoed uphill. The others - Hawkins and Crowley - had already begun to follow their leader away.
"Move!" commanded LaMarche.
Mack looked left and right, towards Marion Hollister and John Ackton. It seemed like they had similar thoughts. On one hand, disregarding the direct order of a commanding officer mid-battle would land him a court martial or worse. On the other, there were at dozens of pissed-off Insurrectionists down there closing in on his friends.
"Ah, screw it. Let's go!"
Ignoring the barks of his Captain, Mack and the others dashed downhill, stepping over corpses as they moved closer to the gunfire's source. As the foliage grew denser, the trio dropped down low and waited until the crackle of submachine gun fire drifted towards them. Switching his COM off to ignore LaMarche's threats, Mack edged round a tree trunk to see six armed men darting through the trees up ahead, completely oblivious to their presence.
"Okay," he whispered " Spread out on the flanks, fire when I do. Got it?"
The rebels never saw them coming. Too preoccupied with hunting their trapped quarry, they had evidently given up on killing the larger group into the nearby mountains. Mack was barely a few feet away from the first man before firing, killing his foe instantly before switching targets as two rifles it up on either side of him. Three others closer to the target location managed to fire a few shots, only to be cut down quickly and methodically.
"King! Redford!" he called. "You alive?"
"No, you ass!" came Redford's reply. King responded with an annoyed groan.
The pair had taken cover by a fallen tree, and were relived as the others arrived. With this many casualties, their foe was likely falling back to regroup after two failed assaults. The distinctive noise of a Pelican's engines roared overhead as a dropship loomed over the treetops, its rear door opening.
"Think LaMarche'll be pissed?" asked Hollister as Ackton moved to dress King's wound.
"Don't care. We're alive."