The fighting in the outskirts of London was intense. Block after block the resistance was pushed back as the Reapers threw themselves at the resistance. Slowly and steady the resistance began pulling out of the city. There were no place safe from the Reapers and their ground forces and thus a decision had been made by resistance commanders to pull out of the city and regroup in the countryside with intention to gather additional forces. The countryside was the safest areas for the time being, the Reapers were concentrating on the cities with any industrial or military infrastructure that could be used against them. Whatever was left of the British armed forces had been pushed back with high casualties.
Besides gathering additional reinforcements, the resistance primary objective was to secure a Quantum Entanglement Communicator, and that task had fallen on a group of soldiers and Alliance marines under the command of Admiral Anderson, it was a mismatch of humans that had formed an impromptu task force. They had been pushing north in commandeered vehicles, picking up scattered military personnel that wanted to join the fight against the Reapers. Anderson was wary of indoctrinated joining, the little intelligence that the Alliance had compiled over the past years gave him at least some hints to the indoctrination effect on people and he had so far seen nothing that suggested that he had indoctrinated people under his command.
The only known Quantum Entanglement Communicator that could be found in close proximity of London was located at the American Air Force Base Lakenheath north east of London. Any other QEC's in London had most likely been destroyed in the attack, Anderson didn't have high hopes of finding one intact at a military base, but being able to communicate with the outside galaxy was a priority.
The small convoy of vehicles moved by night and only used the small roads, staying away from any highways or any major populated areas and it took the force the better part of the night to reach their destination. They stopped outside one of the small towns near the base a few hours before sunrise. Lakenheath was surrounded by hills and was dotted by small villages, farms and pastures, a very picturesque view, fitting for a postcard.
Advanced scout teams had cleared the immediate area, although the towns were void of people, and no Reapers had been encountered. No one knew what had happened to the townspeople, but they had either fled or been killed. Anderson had unfolded a tourist map a recon team had found in the nearest small town on the hood of a truck and was studying it. Another small team had ventured out to recon the airbase, and he was anxiously waiting for their return.
"You got any ideas, Admiral?"
Anderson looked up and saw Coats limping up to him, the British soldier stopped and leaned on the hood of the vehicle.
"Well, there's a large forested area to the east and I think we will ferry our troops through it and then assault the base supported by our vehicles. If there's enemies present I'll think I'll have a small team create a diversion on the opposite side of the base with some C4."
Coats mused, "Drawing their attention away from the primary force."
"So these things are portable?"
"Yes and no, they're kind off big and that's why we have two Kodiaks that will not only provide Close Air Support, but one of them can ferry the QEC. If we unplug the QEC and all the hardware we should be able to move it. We'll need a one hell of a power source to fire it up, so I hope one of the other resistance units can find something suitable."
The resistance had set up a base far north-west of London in abandoned coal mines, and they had quite a few operational Kodiaks and gunships and two of these Kodiaks had been detached for Anderson's operation and was on stand-by five minutes from their task force. Flying low and using the ground for cover minimized the risk of being detected by Reapers.
Coats nodded and studied the map. "There's a church over here." Coats tapped his finger a few centimeters north of the base. "Just outside the perimeter fence, I could go up the church tower and provide long-range fire support with my M29."
Anderson glanced at Coats, "Your leg has not healed enough for combat."
Since being taken in by the resistance his njury had begun to heal thanks to the medics, but he still had some pain and limped. "I'm not going to assault the base, Admiral. I'll bring a few soldiers with me for protection and another sniper; from there we will have a pretty good view of the base and can cover the assault."
Anderson nodded, "Right, grab a few then."
Coats smirked, "Just don't forget us during the exfiltration."
"Sir?" An Alliance marine walked up to the two officers.
Anderson turned to the young marine, it was one of the scouts from a recon team, "You got something for us Corporal?"
"Yes sir. The aircraft shelters and associated support buildings are either destroyed or damaged, including the control tower. But a gaggle of buildings, including what we believe is the Headquarters compound only looks damaged." The Corporal pointed at several large buildings to the north of the main runway on the map.
The Corporal shook his head, "We saw no hostiles."
Anderson looked up, "We can't take the threat for granted. We are a go; I want the unit assembled and ready to go in ten mikes."
Coats was leading a four-man team, it was he and another sniper accompanied by two rifleman, the three others were Alliance. The team had taken the scenic route through the nearby forest and the farming land and had been trekking as slowly and quiet as possible. They were about 50 meters from the road that ran along the air base and Coats stopped the team and moved up alone to recon the immediate area. The road was a meter or so above the forest and Coats crawled through a dike to get up next to the road.
He saw the perimeter-fence that surrounded the air base about 200 meters in front of him, as well as bombed out buildings and hardened aircraft bunkers. Coats peered through his rifle scope and surveyed the base but he didn't see any hostiles. He saw the old church half way between the intersection leading to the base. Coats turned around and hunched down as he went back to the team.
Coats explained the situation and issued his orders when they gathered around him. "We have to tread lightly and crawl through the dike and then leapfrog across the road one at a time as the rest of us provide cover. I saw no hostiles but they're sure to be there."
The three others, which he barely knew, nodded.
"We must hurry, I can't stress that enough, the other teams are waiting for us to get in position. And we can't get discovered by the enemy, if we are discovered do this op is FUBAR."
The team began their journey through the forest, the cover of darkness was slowly vanishing and it was imperative that they got in position before daylight to minimize detection. Eventually they reached the dike and the road. Coats surveyed the area quickly once again from the dike and ran across the road as fast as he could with his injured leg. He took cover on the other side, and as there was no dike there he found the next best thing and that was behind some shrubs. Coats shifted position and reconnoitered the area ahead and saw no contacts.
Coats sent an 'all clear' over the radio and the next man dashed across the road. This was repeated twice more as the team gathered at the Major. They used the shrubs as cover as they advanced towards the church. Once there they took cover behind a stone-wall next to the path that led to the entrance. Once again Coats surveyed the air base through his scope, he saw the perimeter fence about a hundred meters in front of them, but saw nothing but burned out vehicles and damaged buildings.
He ordered one of the marines to try the door at the church entrance. The marine vaulted over the wall and quickly ran to the door. It was an old door with a handle which he slowly pressed downwards and could feel the door open. He motioned for the team to stack up at the door. The marine opened the door and the team rushed in and quickly cleared the vestibule as well as the congregation hall, they found no hostiles or even civilians, it was eerie empty. The team found a flight of stairs and proceeded up through the floors when they finally emerged in the small church tower overlooking the air base. Coats walked up to the window facing the air base and opened the window and glanced at the airbase while the other sniper pulled up a table to the window and the other two marines set up position to guard the congregation hall on the ground floor.
Coats radioed Anderson, "We're in position."
"Copy that. We'll start the party in 60 seconds."
Coats and his fellow sniper each pulled up a chair to the table and readied their rifles. Through their scopes they had a good view of the demolished air base but they saw no Reaper creatures.
"They'll come out of hiding when the C4 goes off Private, so be ready to engage targets."
"Roger that sir."
The seconds ticked by and a muffled explosion was heard on the opposite side of the base. Soon gunfire from the demolition team was heard as well as they encountered creatures on their end.
"We're rolling in." Anderson reported in Coats' earpiece.
Through his scope, Coats saw for the first time several creatures emerging from the target-buildings. He put his crosshairs on the head of a Cannibal and pulled the trigger and a 3-round burst of bullets blew the head clean off.
"Target down." Coats calmly said as he shifted to another target and shot another 3-round burst at the creature, a husk. On his right the Private was firing his M-92 Mantis and reloading it.
Anderson led the vehicle assault with several four-wheeled trucks armoed with mounted M76 machine guns. They breached the front gates on the opposite side of the base from the church and raced across the runway heading for the headquarters area were the operations building was believed to be. The five vehicles lined up in trail formation and two Kodiak shuttles armed with a pair of front-mounted mass-accelerator cannons shadowed the vehicles in a low altitude pattern above them in order to provide Close Air Support.
Anderson sat in the front-passenger seat in the lead vehicle as they bounced around on the damaged runway.
Coat's voice was heard over the radio, "Be advised, at the target-buildings on your eleven o'clock we got multiple hostiles about 600 meters from your position. We're engaging."
Anderson radioed an order, "All vehicles, maintain speed, maintain dispersion."
"Contact left, 600 meters." The M-76 gunner on Anderson's truck informed over the radio-net as he began to open fire at the creatures in short and controlled bursts, soon the other gunners in the trailing vehicles opened fire at the same direction.
The trailing Kodiak above Anderson radioed, "Wildman, this is Star 4-1 and 4-2, we're requesting fire permission."
"Roger that Star 4-1, you are cleared hot." Anderson replied in his mouthpiece.
The low-flying Kodiaks opened fire with their cannons at the creatures on the far side of the base. Anderson could not what was happening, it was too far away, but when the pilots called out 'good effect on target' Anderson didn't need to see to know that the pilots in the shuttles did their job.
The convoy raced across the open runway, the damage to the air base was much more apparent now; Anderson could smell the stench of charred bodies and death. The impressive volley of firepower that was thrown at the creatures kept them covered behind buildings and walls. The convoy eventually began slowing down at the compound were the operations building was believed to be, the machine gunners was busy shooting at everything they saw.
The vehicles stopped at the center of compound and troops dismounted to provide security near the entrance at the four-story headquarters building. Anderson disembarked from his vehicle with five other marines and soldiers, keeping a low profile as not to be shot by the enemies. Two of the trucks had detached from the main force and headed for a building on the far side of the compound, their mission was to loot the base's armory while the rest of the convoy set up a defensive ring protecting the assault force from the onslaught of the creatures that were still engaging the humans. The two Kodiak shuttles were hovering above the convoy, attacking targets with their cannons.
Anderson and his squad burst through the main entrance door and swept the reception area. Anderson found a building plan and began to study it while the squad covered all possible directions. The building had two subfloors and the first subfloor floor was the base operations area and the second floor housed the base's communication suite and possibly the QEC. Anderson found a flight of stairs that led to the sub-levels of the building and the team hurried down the stairs. It seemed like the electricity had been knocked out so they had to carry the equipment up the stairs to the vehicles instead of using the elevator.
When the team reached passageway to the operations room they were spotted by lingering Reaper creatures that opened fire at them. The door to the operations room was open and Anderson slid behind cover of a small cubicle workstation. The man behind was not as lucky as his armor and body was riddled with rounds. The remaining four marines jumped to cover at another cubicle workstation near the stairs. One of the marines cried out in pain as he slid behind a table.
"Status?" Anderson called out.
The marine winced in pain as he crawled up from the floor, "I took a round to the chest sir, I think I'll be all right, it hurts as hell."
The room was full of similar looking cubicle workstations and large monitors on the walls. The creatures, Cannibals, were hidden behind workstations and darted from cover to cover as they tried to flank Anderson and his team.
Anderson peered from cover and saw three Cannibals circling around his right. He pulled out a grenade from one of his pouches and tossed it at the Cannibals. The explosion destroyed several cubicle walls and ripped apart one Cannibals. Anderson leaned out from cover with his M8 and opened fire at a Cannibal that tried to find a new wall to hide behind. The Cannibal was killed by Anderson's burst and fell to the ground. The fourth darted from cover to cover and tried to flee from Anderson as he fired a concussion grenade that knocked down the creature, but did not kill it. The cannibal struggled to its feet as Anderson fired another burst of round that hit its head and the creature slumped down on the floor.
The four marines behind cover on his right engaged several Cannibals on their far left, one marine called out a kill, but there were still several unknown Cannibals behind the cubicles that exchanged fired with the marines. Anderson leapt from cover and circled around several cubicles with intention to flank the Cannibals. He hugged the walls and kept a low profile as he neared the Cannibals in front of them.
He noticed movement in his peripheral view and he turned to his right as a Husk leapt from behind a cubicle and jumped through the air and knocked Anderson down. Anderson dropped his rifle when the Husk pushed him down and they began to struggle as the Husk was trying to rip apart Anderson's armor.
Although Anderson was a fairly big man, the Husk had the advantage and snarled as it tried to kill him. Anderson tried to push away the Husk but to no avail, so he moved his right arm away from the Husk and tried to fend away with only his left as he reached for his M-3 pistol and shot several rounds into the Husk's abdomen. The Husk twitched from the rounds that was fired into it and snarled in pain. Anderson pushed away the Husk and got up on his feet and killed it with several more rounds. He holstered his pistol and reached for his assault rifle on the ground.
Anderson ran towards the Cannibals that were still locked in a firefight with his squad and when he crossed the corner of a workstation he came up on their left side and opened fire at the three Cannibals that were hiding behind the cubicle. He killed the closest with several rounds to its head; he then fired a concussion grenade into one of the other that was knocked to the ground. The last one still standing turned around and fired its arm cannon at Anderson that was absorbed by his shields. Stumbling from the high velocity impacts, Anderson darted behind cover of a workstation so his shields could restart.
The Cannibal growled and was advancing on Anderson's position when he was shot from behind by the marines who had emerged from their cover. They had taken advantage of the lull in the firefight and moved up to kill the creatures. The Cannibal that had been knocked down by Anderson's concussive shot stumbled to its feet but was also shot and killed by the four marines.
Anderson rose to his feet and reloaded his rifle.
"Are you alright sir? That was one hell of an assault you did." One of the marines asked.
"I'm alright, check the casualty." Anderson pointed on their fallen comrade on the stair case.
One of the marines ran over and hunched down next to the body to see if he was still alive. Anderson and the rest of the marines approached but he turned to them and shook his head. He retrieved the fallen marine's dog tags.
Anderson sighed, "All right, let's head down stairs and see if that QEC is here."
The team rushed down the stairs to the communications level. They entered through the door and quickly cleared the room, there were no hostiles present.
Anderson scanned the room full of computers, servers and other assorted hardware. On the far side of the room he saw a door with the words 'Quantum Entanglement Communicator' above it. He rushed to the door with the marines in tow and opened it. Inside the smaller room they found the QEC and the assorted hardware.
Anderson turned to one of his marines who was a combat engineer, "Check it."
"Roger sir." The marine ran up to the computer and began scanning the hardware with his omni-tool.
Anderson radioed the vehicle force outside, "Gunnery Chief, we found the QEC. Stand by."
In Anderson's earpiece he heard his Gunnery Chief's voice, "Roger that sir. We're hitting them with everything we got but they keep throwing themselves at us."
"Roger, hold out. We will not be long." Anderson turned to his engineer. "So? What do you got?"
"With the electricity down I can't get proper readings, but it seems to be shorted out." The engineer turned to Anderson and shut down his omni-tool.
"Well, it's better than nothing. Unplug it and everything needed to operate it."
The combat engineer pulled out a power drill from his back pack and hunched down next to the communicator and went to work. Two other marines began to unplug computers and other hardware. Anderson and the remaining marine took up position outside the room to guard it.
Outside the headquarters, the vehicle force and the two shuttles with the dismounted troops were fighting the Reaper creatures and holding them off from advancing on their position. The two vehicles and the soldiers that had raided the base's armory had returned to the rest of the convoy.
The two snipers in the church were providing long range fire support, shooting at everything that entered their sights. But they were slowly running out of ammo and would be unable to sustain the amount of fire they had been directed at the enemy.
Coats fired of another 3-round burst at a husk. The rifle was overheated and began venting. Coats quickly reloaded the rifle.
Coats had heard earlier Anderson's transmission and they had found what they were looking for. Hopefully they could extract the QEC and leave soon.
The marines had worked hard for the last minutes. The QEC holographic projection device and several computer terminals had been unplugged. Now came the hard part of carrying the equipment up two stories to the exit.
Anderson radioed the vehicles, "Chief, I need some men to help us carry this equipment."
A few moments later came a response in his earpiece; Anderson could hear heavy firing and orders being shouted in the background. The Gunnery Chief said, "Copy that sir, I'm sending a squad."
A few minutes later a six man squad compromised of marines and British soldiers emerged from the passageway and made their way to Anderson.
"We need a few hands to carry these while the rest of us escort them out." Anderson explained.
A couple of marines and soldiers picked up the hardware from the floor, the holographic projection device were so heavy that two people had to carry it. The squad moved as fast as they could to the stairs with the heavy equipment.
On the surface the heavy fighting continued, the humans had a few casualties but continued to fight the creatures. The Gunnery Chief who led the men in their fighting was getting anxious. He thought they had been bogged down far too long and feared that the Reapers could be massing reinforcements somwhere for an counter attack.
Anderson and his team exited from the main entrance after several minutes of hauling the equipment up the stairs. Anderson pressed a button on his omni-tool so he could talk to the hovering shuttles.
"Star 4-1, I need extraction for the package."
"Copy we'll set her do-"
The transmission was cut short when a red-tinted projectile ripped through the shuttle from behind which detonated the drive core. Debris of the shuttle rained down on the open ground in front of the vehicles. The dismounted troops watched terrified as the shuttle fell to the ground, some fought the urge to stand still and watch the shuttle hit the ground in a bright fireball.
The other shuttle spun around and opened fire to the north but it too was destroyed by another projectile. The shuttle lost control and crashed into a small building. Dread began to set in on the human that were still shooting at the creatures.
Anderson turned around and ran around the corner of the headquarters building, he was dumbstruck as he saw the hulking frame of a Reaper ship a few kilometers away at the town of Lakenheath. It was one of the 'small' ones. A menacing mechanical noise was emitted from the Reaper.
Fuck! Anderson turned around and began barking out orders, "Get the equipment onto a flatbed truck and let's evac now!"
The troops carrying the equipment ran over to a truck and began to pack it onto the flatbed. Other troops began to embark on the vehicles while the machine gunners continued to shoot at the creatures.
Anderson rushed over to his truck and opened the door as he radioed Coats, "Major! We have a Reaper coming towards us from the town, get to extraction point Charlie. We will pick you up."
Through his scope Coats had seen both shuttles go down and could see the assault force mounting their vehicles to leave. He and the other sniper picked up their rifles and holstered them.
"We're leaving to extraction point Charlie!" Coats shouted to the other soldiers as he readied his assault rifle and the two of them ran down the stairs to the congregation hall. Coats came down the stairs and the two marines were already on their way to open the door.
The door flung open with a tremendous force and knocked down one of the marines; four Cannibals growled and began shooting into the church. Coats and the sniper backed into the stair case they came from as they hoped the wall could shield them from the bullets being shot at them.
The knocked down marine on the ground was quickly killed when a Cannibal shot him in the head ad he tried to crawl up. His surviving comrade ran for cover behind the reception desk as the Cannibals shot at him. The bullets missed him by a few centimeters.
Coats pulled out a flashbang from one of his pouches; throwing out a frag grenade in these tight confinements with friendlies close by was not an option.
"Flashbang out! Coats cried out and tossed it around the corner of the stair well, the flashbang detonated in the vestibule.
Coats heard the unmistakable sound of M8 gunfire when he was about to round the corner; the marine behind the reception desk had rose from cover and opened fire at one of the Cannibals that was dazed and disoriented by the flashbang. The cannibal fell to the ground and Coats leveled his assault rifle and shot in controlled bursts at another Cannibal, the sniper behind him was shooting with his submachine gun.
The three humans quickly shot the Cannibals which fell to the ground roaring in pain. Coats quickly walked over to the fallen marine and hunched down to retrieve the dog tags and to see if he was alive; but he wasn't. The marines gathered around Coats and they exited the church to the courtyard. No hostiles were seen.
"Let's get to the forest quickly before more of these things or that big Reaper comes over here." Coats ordered and they began to run the length of the road that led to the main road near the forest. The extraction point was on the opposite side of the forest and they had to hurry to reach it so the vehicle force could extract them, they would not wait for the sniper team very long with a Reaper ship nearby.
Coats was panting as he talked into his mouthpiece as they ran, "Sir, we're leaving the Crows Nest for extraction point Charlie. How copy?" He held his assault rifle close to his chest.
"Copy Major, we're there shortly. ETA?"
"Five minutes of running sir."
"Hurry." Anderson cut the transmission.
The team eventually reached the intersection and ran across the road. Coats turned and saw the Reaper advancing on the air base; luckily it did not see them. He turned around again and followed the marines into the dense forest.
They ran through the forest as quickly as they could, the two marines was much lighter in the feat then Coats was as he had to endure the pain in the lag. His boot caught an overturn trunk of a tree and he fell to the ground and his leg hit the ground. He gasped in pain but had enough self awareness no to scream out in pain as that couold alert the enemy of their position. He pushed himself up from the ground and began limping as fast as possible through the forest ignoring the pain in his leg.
A few minutes later the marines ahead of Coats emerged through the forest on the other side. They were right on time as the vehicle convoy drove up next to them. Coats stepped out of the forest and Anderson motioned with his hand for them to mount the vehicles.
When all were accounted for the convoy drove away as quick as possible, heading back to friendly lines.
Despite the losses they had acquired what they were looking for, Anderson hoped that the QEC was still operational.
A personal goal here was to write an entire chapter of at least 4k words that had nothing to do with Shepard and all the others. And the chapter landed on almost 5k words.
Creative liberties were taken regarding the QEC, if it's mobile or not I have no idea, but I made them such. Considering that you talk to Anderson eventually over QEC I made up this mission when they liberate one. RAF Lakenheath is the home of the USAF 48th Fighter Wing.
Vehicle assault inspired from the first episode of Generation Kill.
Call sign from Black Hawk Down.
Thanks for past and upcoming reviews.
Edited (2012-10-08): Fixed a lot of spelling errors.