Prompt Short Story: Duty

“The coordinates are wrong! Taking fire.”

“Shit! Beta team! Check in! Beta team!”

There was no response, just a hollow emptiness where even a quiet set of comms should have given a small hiss of white noise to show they remained active.

Bailey swore loudly. It was a setup and she’d fallen for it like the noob she was. She pulled off her headset, momentarily ignoring the cries from Alpha and Gamma teams, and took a long drink, from the nutrient tube that ran into her pod.

Fresh out of a promotion to Field Team Leader and her first mission was a shitshow. This wouldn’t stand. She couldn’t let it. Those were her people, and some of them had their real bodies on the line out there.

She activated her field ‘droid, smashing it out of its box and nodding to the salutes from the humans on Alpha team as she began issuing orders and moving forward with them: 3 warm bodies, 3 drones, and now her.

Gamma team, also consisting of 3 warm bodies and 3 drones, moved in sync as they closed in a pincer to the site where Beta team’s comms had cut off. Holding everyone at a distance, 

Bailey ordered everyone into cover and sent in an Alpha team drone to scout from high above, scanning the video feed with her human, but enhanced, eyes back in her pod.

Bodies, blood, machine parts. It was hard to be completely certain but it looked like the full team had indeed been taken down here.

Bailey gnawed her lip, her training flashing through her head. She should withdraw back to camp, regroup and wait for the other squads.

“Sound off people, back to camp like we should, or track these bastards down?”

12 voices replied with various versions of “track the bastards down” and Bailey grinned fiercely.

“Alright. Drones, you’re on scout duty. Alpha and Gamma 1s find me tracks, 2s and 4s watch for incoming. Beta got taken on the ground, so keep your eyes peeled, we might have diggers coming up from under. Let’s move!”

Bailey’s ‘droid rose and led the way, ignoring the voice of training that reminded her that the tech was more expensive and in fewer supply than the people. After all, she was  probably looking at a demotion, maybe even court marshal, anyway. For losing a whole team. For going after the culprits. Why not add this to the list. At least she could face whatever came next knowing she did what she felt was right, for her and her troops.

Somewhere in her heart she blanched at taking out the people who only wanted to live without the long, and often fierce, arm of her leaders. But they stole tech, they reduced trained soldiers to waste, and they responded to repeated attempts to talk with escalating violence. So, she would escalate violence right back at them.

The day waned and shadows began to look like squatting enemy targets. More than one trooper or drone fired a silent laser bolt at something which turned out to be a cluster of rock or a prowling creature.

The empathy shunt, tuned to each team member and designed to give feedback on their state of mind in the field, a fast and efficient way of ensuring she was always in tune with her troops, meant Bailey could feel their nerves fraying.

As they neared the building the Gamma drone scout reported likely to contain their targets, she called them to a halt, hunkering down and speaking to both teams.

“You got ten minutes. Eat, rest, focus your heads on the mission. We have a hit, and we all need to be in the game.”

As they rested, she checked her squad’s files to refresh her memory of their specific skillsets. Each numbered trooper – no names for her, they bred attachment, or so she had been taught – she formulated a plan and subvocalised to her team.

“Rest time over! Here’s how we proceed. Alpha drones, you got the roof, blow it open and go sit on their heads, don’t let them hide. Gamma drones, guard duty, take down anything trying to escape. Alpha runners, in the front door, you’re on takedown duty. If it moves, shoot it, if it’s tagged as captured, stop it moving. Gamma runners, you’re going in the back – make a door if necessary – you’re on info duty. Capture someone alive, tag them for Alpha, then find any data we might be able to use. I’ll be wherever I can help most, so don’t be afraid to shout for help if you need it. Questions?”

Her ears rang with negatives. Her squad was ready.

In her pod, Bailey ensured she wouldn’t have any distractions.  She took another draught of nutrients, released urine into her catheter, made sure her comms were locked to any outside interference, and took a few deep breaths.

In the field her ‘droid stood, “Alpha. Gamma. It’s been my great pleasure to work with you,” she motioned towards the building, “Let’s go, breach! Breach! Breach!”

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

I hope you enjoyed the story! If you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

Sunday Story Prompt. Adventure. “The coordinates are wrong! Taking fire.” Was the last thing he heard before the comms went out. It was a setup. jctarpbooks.com

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