Chapter 1. Accident
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=====Chapter 1. Accident
"Prepare for drop, ETA two minutes."
The voice was female, specifically designed to give the soldiers on board a warm feeling before the battle. Frank loved whoever came up with that voice for the AI piloting the dropships. Going into battle was hard, and it was always good to have something to remind them of the good things at home. He looked around him - four marines, a ghost and an SCV. He had no idea what the SCV was doing there - maybe it stayed around for any repairs that might be needed, always a possibility on this godforsaken planet. Why was he here again? Oh, he volunteered, that’s why. Well, at least he had plenty of targets, good drinks when he got back, even female companionship once in a while.
"One minute to drop… oh-oh," the AI voice suddenly changed its tone. That didn’t sound good at all. "Boys," the AI continued, "we have a problem. We are being pulled into a vortex and a nuke will land around here in about fifteen seconds."
"Oh man, I hate vortexes," said another one of the marines. Jimmy (named after the Terran hero Jim Raynor - about half of the newborn boys were named Jim) was a bit taller but much uglier than Frank, even if Frank did say so himself. The females he met in bars did not seem to share his opinion, though. It was only a matter of time, Frank was sure.
"Well, at least it will help us escape the nuke. Who was the idiot who nuked our own position?" asked the ghost. Usually taciturn, it seems she was pissed at the lack of professionalism shown by her colleague.
"Well, Eva, if it helps any we can look her up after the battle and you can have a fight. I’ll even split the bet gains with you," said Frank. Ghosts were mostly female - something to do with higher psionic powers in the fairer sex - so that was a pretty safe assumption.
"Chick fight, yay!" exclaimed Jimmy, vortex suddenly forgotten. Eva didn’t bother responding, choosing just to show him a finger instead.
"Vortex in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… now," interrupted the AI. "Hang on tight!"
The usual sensation of the vortex engulfed the ship, barely a second before the nuke landed. The dropship started to shake, which was not normal in Frank’s experience. At least it only lasted for about a minute, and then the ship got back out.
"Whew, that was close," said Don, getting his rifle back from where it had landed. "AI, what’s the status on the ground? Are we still dropping?"
"Give me a few seconds to check… Ok, something is not right. There is nobody here," replied the AI.
"You mean everyone got killed by the nuke?" asked Frank. He was the veteran of the group, so he was usually in charge when a tactical decision needed to be made during battle. He would be the one to decide whether to drop here, as initially planned, or seek some other battle.
"No," replied the AI. "I mean I cannot raise anybody. I have tried contacting any group that is close by, and there’s no answer. Trying to contact the nearest command center now."
"Maybe we won?" asked Don. "That would be like the easiest mission ever," he continued enthusiastically.
"Fat chance," replied Frank. "When do we ever get good luck?"
"Oh man, at least let me dream for five seconds, ok?" replied Don.
"The command center is not answering either, and I cannot detect any traffic on any military frequency," interrupted the AI again. "One of you will have to investigate, this ship is normally EMP hardened, but maybe the combination of the nuke and the vortex was more than it could handle."
"Ok, Eva, you’ll have to go. You can cloak, right?" asked Frank.
"Yes, we got the upgrades before I embarked," replied Eva. "Ok, AI, drop me and be ready to pick me up immediately when I get back."
The drop effect enveloped Eva for a second before she disappeared from the ship and reappeared on the ground. She instantly activated her cloaking ability and then started looking around. She was near a road covered with a black substance, leading to some buildings not very far away, so she started walking. In a few minutes she got close to a sign that had been knocked out.
It said "Welcome to Sunnydale."