She ran. Tried to reload, cursing the darkness, the dense alien jungle. A claw snapped in front of her, sending her face first into the soft ground, throwing the magazine out of her reinforced hands.
Monstrous claws slammed into her armored abdomen, hoping for nice soft flesh, retracting to strike again. This time it would rip into her Mark VII suit like an energy drink can. She rolled with natural and artificial endorphins pumped into her body, with one motion; she whipped out her Shatter high-power pistol, and unloaded all 10 shells of .410 into the Nix. It screamed, and her helmet audio sensors picked up its exoskeleton cracking.
It was dead.
“JAMIE!” Barked her commander.
“DIDI MAO NOW!”
Her HUD displayed the evac Jeep, but the glowing of 12.7mm tracers were easily seen in the inky darkness of this moon. More screams of dying aliens, and streaming harsh language from her fellow Custom soldiers echoed through this valley. She scooped up her Reaper assault rifle, loaded it, and beat it to the vehicle.
“ON YOUR SIX!”
Without hesitation, she swung her rifle to the charging Nix, its rows of teeth and claws popped open. She hammered down on the trigger. Recoiled at the hail of flechettes, the Nix dove into the steaming jungle. Jamie jumped into the crowned Jeep, smacking the rear-gunner on the armored leg.
“Hey, Jamie, I gotta cover ya, you still owe me a hundred that game!” With a lurch, the Jeep sped away from the battlefield, and Jamie finally felt safe…safer anyway.
“The Brass will revoke our bodies if we lose Honiara, and we’re nothin’ troops!” Her commander spat as the Jeep crashed through the thick terrain. Jamie was left cold by that thought. She and everyone in the vehicle was Custom, their body, mind, and armor were all designed to fight on this one place, it was like they was part of Honiara Moon. No need for fancy breathing suits, she could fight the Nix in the nude if she wanted, but teeth and claws kind of stopped her.
“What’s next, LT?” Jamie yelled out over the roar of the straight-six engine.
“Vickers is getting pounded by them, the brass has called us up from seek-and-destroy in the jungle to trench duty on Wireless Ridge on the outskirts of the city.” Jamie knew that Vickers was the last hardened spaceport, without it, the dropships and supplies would stop, and they’d all be Nix food! She was grateful for the ride out of the jungle, a change to rest her feet, and reload. In the eyes of her fellow Custom soldiers, was the grime and worry of their losing war against the nightmarish species.
“Mendoza, pass me some more-” Jamie was launched airborne, and she crashed into the wet mud hard, she tasted blood. Her helmet was torn off, and her ears rang with cries and gunfire. The Jeep rolled violently into the jungle, were four waiting Nix tearing into it, hoping from some protein.
She witness a few of Customs firing their flechette shells into rushing hordes of aliens, pieces of their exoskeleton peeling off, their claws eviscerated Mendoza with one swipe, coloring the plants with his bright blood.
Anger burned in Jamie, she rammed in a fresh magazine, flipped the selector to full-auto, and ran into the battle, blazing out shells of razor-sharp darts.
She was a Custom, this was her her ground, her battle, and not theirs…this was all she had left.
PART TWO: On Your Feet IN ONE WEEK