Avalanche – Snippet 53

He stayed that way, his old skydiving and combat parachute training coming back to him. He kept his body arched, with hands and arms splayed out to the sides to stabilize himself. His back was to the ground; he wanted to see this part. A second later, the Death Sphere exploded brilliantly; it reminded him of the Death Star explosion, the original one before they’d mucked everything up with digital effects. Satisfied–and knowing he was getting uncomfortably close to becoming a wet stain on the concrete below–he kicked his fires back on, propelling him back towards where Sera and the furball were.

There was a litter of eagle-parts on the ground beneath the furball–the snarl of aerial combat involving Sera and the robots.  Impossible to say how many she had taken out, but there certainly would be good scavenging for those looking for souvenirs.  Ah, you’re free, he heard her say calmly in his head, and at that same moment, an arrow of flame burst out of the middle of the scrum and Sera pulled up at his side.  Shall we?  It would please me to immolate them.

I’d love nothin’ better, darlin’—wait. We’re not done. He knew Sera had felt it, too; there were more Thulians, a complete second wave, about to leap out of the water and onto the docks. They were going to make a mad dash for the interior of the docks, split up into squads, and wreak as much havoc as possible. John got the sense that they wouldn’t make the mistake of trying to take he and Sera head on again. Time for somethin’ a little different. Ready to make an attack run of our own, darlin’? We’re gonna have to be fast.

More than ready. She waited for him to form his strategy in his mind, and nodded when she saw it.

“Angel Flight, get ready to make your run, previous target zone. Once you see the fire, you’re cleared hot. We’re gonna break north to clear out of your way. How copy?”

“Copy, Ural Smasher.  Setting up now, we should be in place at your go-sign.”

“On it. Smasher, out.” John glanced over to Sera, who was hovering at his side. He winked at her, then dove straight down. He knew that she was following, matching his speed, so he put on more.  As they sped groundwards, she began manifesting and casting spears, which strafed out ahead of her like fiery rockets (he had no idea how that was even possible but, well–it was Sera, after all) and hit the ground on either side of the now-massing troopers.  Evidently they had expected the pair to be busily engaged with the Death Sphere and the Eagles.  The Eagles were milling around uncertainly in midair–had Sera blinded them?  At any rate, they were out of the picture for now as Sera’s spears made the troopers bunch up and aim their arm-cannons skyward. Energy beams raced out to greet them, but Sera and John didn’t need to dodge much; the troopers didn’t have enough time to aim accurate shots at the small, moving targets dropping in on them.

Both John and Sera pulled up sharply at the last second, travelling perpendicular to the ground mere feet above the troopers and Wolves. John thrust both of his hands out below him, unleashing jets of billowing fire onto the massed Thulians. As soon as he and Sera were past the end of their ranks, the pair banked sharply to the right; at the speed they were going, it was only their reflexes and battle-sense that allowed them to navigate through the cranes and shipping containers that rushed to meet them.  “Angel Flight, go!” he shouted

John turned his head once he and Sera were over and past the obstacles; the Thulians were still firing at them, trying to track them and line up good shots. Between the fires that engulfed their ranks, and their preoccupation with trying to kill John and Sera, they never even noticed the jets screaming towards them until the cannons on the F/A-18 Hornets opened up.  Softened up by John’s fire-run, herded together by Sera’s spears, the crowded mass of Thulians was cut to pieces.

The Angels pulled up and over in a full tight-formation barrel roll, and came in for a second run.  Just to be sure…and then for good measure they strafed what was left of the furball of fuddled Eagles with rockets.

It was clear after they pulled up for the second time there would be no need for a third.

John slowed down considerably, banking up and right in a lazy turn that would take him and Sera back over the docks. There was smoke, and a few small spot fires, but it looked like all of the machinery and nearly all of the cargo was still intact. It was sheer luck that the Thulians hadn’t stayed underwater and gone after the container ships from there; not a single one was even damaged, as far as he could tell.

“Overwatch, how’s the sitch on the ground look? We make out okay?”

“We did all right.  One group of the Nat. Guard was in the wrong place when a grenade went off.  Three down.  Way better than if you and Sera hadn’t been there.  Port of Toulouse in France…not so good.  ECHO and Avion France had to choose between them and Paris and Paris won.”

“Damnit. Copy that, Vic. We’re RTB at the moment, unless you’ve got a game for us to get into.”

“Nothing close enough for you to get to.  The Germans based in Alsace and the French met up after clearing Paris and Friedricksburg; they’re just reaching Toulouse now.”

“Roger. We’re comin’ home, then. Keep the steak hot an’ the beers cold. Murdock an’ Murdock, out.” John cut the mic after that. He and Sera had saved a lot of people today; they had saved the docks, which while important for the war effort and keeping the already teetering economy going, wasn’t nearly as important to him as the people that worked at it and defended it. Even with everything that he and Sera could do, people were still dying out there, and far too many of them. It pissed him off, more than anything.

Even before, I could not be everywhere, beloved.  Too often I was forced to make choices.  She glanced over him, her expression sober, her eyes fading from gold to blue.

I know, darlin’, he sent to Sera, casting a quick glance to the side to view her in flight; any more than a quick glance and his trajectory might change. Still doesn’t make it any less shitty an’ frustratin’. If only we had a place to stick the knife, really take it to the Thulians like in Ultima Thule. He could imagine–vividly–exactly what he would do to wherever the Thulians were holed up. He shook his head quickly, clearing his mind. Let’s get back home. I could use a shower. Among other things.

And we will plan for next time, she agreed.  They will learn from this.  We must assume they have, and be ready.