Free for all
Bobby was a lunatic driver at the best of times, now he was completely insane as we sped away from a horde of things...
Buffy was in the back of the SUV with her cannon pointed out the missing glass panel covering our escape. Occasionally there would be a boom as she fired a single shot. How she could hit anything as the vehicle slid from side to side of bounced over a bump was beyond me.
Finally we slid to a halt outside the Austin's house. Buffy leaping out of the back as Boobby finished the controlled skid.
"Steve! Jaime! Get the horses in the barn and make sure all the barn doors are secured!" she jumped up to the roof with one of her amazing leaps. "Boyer get up here! Bring all the explosives we have. Alex! Help Claire get up onto the roof! We're going to have a wild animal attack like you will not believe..."
'What about Bobby and me?" I called up.
"Your disappearing trick won't help, I heard a serious amount of ultrasound. Think aggravated assault bats."
Claire crouched by the radio gear. She was going to be our communications point. Also, she was the least combat capable. I keyed the Cobra's frequency.
"Paladin to snakes."
"Go Paladin," Bronc's voice came back.
"Can you give me an ETA on the hostiles?"
"Sure thing Paladin. We have them about two klicks out moving fast. Say less than three minutes."
"Weapons free. Break the charge!" There were whooshes from overhead as J-Boy emptied one of the Hydras. Then six loud explosions as the rockets detonated. In the bright flashes from the blast, I could see chunks of things being sent flying and after the echoes had stopped lots more small fires were left.
"Bronc Rider to Paladin."
"Go Bronc Rider."
"They have sure as shit stopped their advance."
"Thanks Bronc...and you too J-Boy. Nice shooting"
"Paladin...it looks like they are reforming."
"Gotcha. Leroy, you're up on the next rush. Melody Angel, you are weapons free with the Hydras."
"On it Paladin..."
The two helicopters shifted their position above us.
"Agent Summers!" Claire was calling for me, "General Schaefer for you."
I grabbed the handset, "Summers here sir."
"Captain, vhe are ten minutes out. Mark a DZ!"
"Roger sir. Be aware that the it will probably be a hot DZ. Local forces are hand-to-hand only, but they are of the tenacious. Also there are two Cobras overhead as our CAS."
"Understood, tell the snakes to pull back during the drop. Schaefer out"
"Got it. Summers out."
I clicked my local comms, "Boyer find us a clear patch of ground and do your Pathfindery stuff. Snakes pull back a klick to the west and kick on your formation lights, we have a drop incoming,"
Boyer had jumped off the roof and was breaking chemlights and turning on a strobe. I checked my watch and listened for the sound of a plane
Jaime moved over next to me, "They're coming again." she tapped her ear in explanation.
"Wonderful," I pulled out my remaining pop-flare and launched it.
Up on the roof we had excellent lines of sight across the Austin's pastures. Illuminated by smoldering things, brush, fence posts, small trees and the flare I could see a horde flowing around the pools of light. The small ones had been in the advance waves. The big ones were small horse sized and looked upset...As much as any thing that looked like they did could look upset.
I could hear them now so they must have been bellowing in the ultrasonic range. I swallowed, set up Baby on the back side of the roof, and started squeezing off single shots at the biggest ones I could see.
As I was shooting, my comms crackled, "Four minutes out!"
"Little busy here!" I replied as I opened up with a long burst. This burst was joined by a ripple fire of from one of the helicopter's Hydra pods. Then I picked up the roaring of turboprops as the Combat Wombat came in on approach. Keying my comms, I called Boyer.
"Tell them to drop a string of flares!"
A few seconds later the MC-130 began spitting out blobs of fire in two streams. These flares were normally used for baiting enemy missiles, but I liked my alternate use...That is, setting fire to evil alien things.
I really felt sorry for the Austins. Under the flares' light I could see the damage that had been done to their poor ranch. Explosions, cannon fire, plasma...not pretty. The clean-up on this one was going to be an absolute beast. I heard a couple of 'ponks' from behind me and suddenly then there was more light as a trio of pop-flares burst overhead.
"Summers, vhere do you vant us?" came over my comms.
"Dutch!" these aliens were toast...
I started calling out orders once I had an idea of how many guys we had. With several more machine-guns and lots and lots of ammunition we were able to break the charge and then it was just mop up.
The morning broke on a scene of absolute devastation. We headed out to look at the steaming piles of demolished guck. Me and the rest. Dutch had brought along pretty much everybody that was jump qualified so we had about thirty troops.
The first thing that was extra odd that we noticed, was that all the things had collars made out of that freaky alloy the hunters used.
"Pets?" Tom Ballantine asked me.
"Hunting dogs maybe..." I replied, "We have to check the camp."
By this time a couple of Nightstalker MH-60s had arrived, so we loaded up and headed out. The woods where the camp had been demolished by what looked like a stampede. At the center were the remnabts of the camp with torn and shredded hunter corpses everywhere. In the low ridgeline behind the camp was an old mineshaft that smalled awful.
Claire walked over and took a look.
"That must have been where they were being penned up."
Dutch nodded, "So vhat the fuck vhas going on here?"
I shook my head, "Not a clue...completely clue-free in fact. What we do know Dutch, is that these guy's gear was not the good stuff we've seen before. It was all beat-up and rebuilt."
"Yah..I mean yes. Also every time we've run into these guys and beaten them, some of their friends show up to claim the bodies."
"SPACETRAK is monitoring the area for us. No sightings yet Captain."
"Uh yeah sir, that's my point. Why haven't they shown up?"
"These ones vere not supposed to be here...Okay! All uff you, start looking for equipment and anything not from around here! Get some uff the bodies to the choppa now! Quick! Vhe may not haff much time!"
"You heard the General! Get moving!" Tom yelled as our troops started grabbing everything not nailed down.
I sat down on a smoldering log and shrugged off my tactical harness before stretching. A second later Darien sat down next to me.
"So what next Captain Summers?"
"We clean up the mess, blame the whole thing on a white supremacist group or something and vanish," closing my eyes, I leaned back and stretched feeling my joints pop.
"So you head back to your non-existent base never to be seen again?"
I opened one eye slightly and looked at him, "Why do you ask Special Agent Fawkes?"
"Well I was thinking we could have dinner sometime...if you're in the DC area of course..."
I closed my eye and smiled. No humans had died, we stopped the menace, we got a ton of stuff for the techs to look at, and most importantly...I had gotten a date.GLOSSARY
Combat Wombat -- Nickname for the MC-130W Special Operations Hercules Transport Aircraft
MH-60 -- Special Operations UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter
Nightstalkers -- Nickname for US Army 160th Special Operations Aviation RegimentA/N
The things will reappear. They are from a movie and are just the sort of thing that the predators would like. The purpose of what was going on will become clear in the future as well.