“Scatter!” The striker bounded over the wall catching the remnants of Kilo squad by surprise. It must have been in power down mode since none of the team’s scanners caught it until it was dropping out of the sky.
It looked in pretty bad shape, with plenty of holes from Allied tanks and rockets. But not so bad it couldn’t still kill them all damaged or not. There wasn’t supposed to be anything this large still in the neutral zone, but that’s why scouting parties still went out before the occupying teams were sent in.
With their blood coursing with genestims, it meant they would have about six seconds before the striker started tracking with accuracy. In fifteen seconds, either it would be dead, or they would be.
“Kowalski! Target that right optic. We’ll draw fire. I don’t need to tell you not to miss, right?”
The major and sergeant cut sharply to the left ducking behind what looked like the hollowed out husk of a car. The car wouldn’t provide real cover against the 20mm autocannon, but in survivor mode, it would only shoot at mobile targets.
The major signed to the sergeant who dropped his gear and began to smoke visibly. Drawing from their stored energy reserves, their temperatures rose heating the morning’s rain from their uniforms.
Both men grabbed chunks of rubble and signed their directions. Tossing rocks ahead of them to the left and right of their actual path, the two of them moved in a V-formation forcing the strider’s computer to have to target both of them and then prioritizing which of them was a better target.
The machine would assume they were the priority targets since they were augmented and having only one working autocannon, it would try for one, then the other, giving Kawalski time for the shot.
“Feeling exposed, K. Having tea?” The sergeant joked as he hauled ass, realizing he was the designated target. The hiss of the rounds scattering near him drove him to renewed efforts.
Kowalski was the only team member whose active camouflage still worked, and with only one optic left of its previous six, as it turned toward the two of them, he was outside of its blinded arc.
Still as the grave, Kawalski sighted down his Armalight sniper rifle, using only the scope for fear of triggering an infrared missile response, assuming the striker even had any.
Seven, eight, nine, ten…squeeze. Never rush the shot. Kowalski breathed out and shot. As the HE round left the rifle, the striker retargeted as the sniper rolled to the left, shooting again targeting the main body.
The major and the sergeant hearing the two rounds fired already changed their course throwing two plasma grenades, palmed and primed earlier. Neither stopped running only snapping hard left and right.
Kowalski’s shots destroyed the remaining optic node and core processor cluster behind the eye. The hiss of the 20mm lit up the space he just occupied, missing him by centimeters.
The twin fireballs echoed across the plaza, bouncing off the empty walls of the ruins. This would temporarily disrupt the sonic sensor grid the striker used as a backup once its optics went offline.
It never heard the two grenades landing at its feet. The striker realizing it was blind, snapped its legs into leaping mode but dropping its lower body made it vulnerable to the grenades and their plasmic energies ate through its casing as it tried to jump away. The exploding striker rained material down over the entire area.
The three men watched as the wreckage landed and lay still. Satisfied they moved toward their gear as Kowalski joined them. “Twenty seconds, K. I think you’re losing your edge.”
“Not to worry, Sarge, I think we are going to have plenty of opportunities to improve. Our fireworks have triggered movement all over the city.”
The major plucked some shrapnel from Kowalski’s side absentmindedly. Flicking it away he checked his now beeping scanner and smiled. “Less chatter, ladies. These things won’t kill themselves.”
A flash fiction writing prompt based on the image. Timed event, fifteen minutes.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.