Mark “Coop” Cooper
Location: Savannah City, New Savannah, United Commonwealth of Colonies
In Coop’s opinion, prehistoric man had it right. <Fire bad…fire hurt…fire burn…> His ancestors had a proper appreciation for the dangers.
On the other hand, 25th century man seemed to have a ‘fuck it’ attitude toward the natural element. Personally, Coop blamed modern woman for that, because at the moment, he was running full speed toward an expanding ball of fire being led by two such women.
There was no war cry or battle call from GYSGT Cunningham or Eve, just huffs over the comms as their enhanced lungs took in oxygen to power their powerful legs. Two hundred and fifty meters was one lap around the high school track, but Coop hadn’t been to more than a few gym classes in his life. He did know the distance well from his time in Basic, and he knew how fast he should be able to cover it. Subtracting a second or two for the extra gear he was outfitted with, he figured he should make it in sixteen-to-seventeen seconds. Of course, that was if he didn’t slow down when he hit the flames.
Each pounding of his heart was roughly a second, and he counted down as he brought up the rear of the charge. About halfway the GYSGT’s hand lashed out. Coop saw a gleam of metal, but she kept on going without looking back. He passed the spot a heartbeat later and saw a guy in casual smartcloth lying on his back. His neck had been sliced two-thirds of the way through by the GYSGT’s blade. The molecularly-honed knife had severed his spinal cord and just about every import artery in the poor bastard’s neck. He wasn’t even able to bring his hands up to try and staunch the bleeding. His life just leaked out of him in spurts as his eyes started to glaze over.
Coop’s attention was half on that and half on the plasma gun on the ground next to him; the same weapon that had nearly taken out Eve not long ago. <You reap what you sow.> He didn’t feel pity for the man. <What the hell did you think was going to happen when you killed powerful people?>
As quickly as he saw the man, Coop was passed him and continuing the mad rush toward the real targets. Just as the GYSGT reached the outer perimeter of flame, the blast seemed to reach its apex and die down. They still had to crash through the fire, but the black SEALs skin and armor held up well. Coop just felt the temperature jump a few degrees as he passed through the thin layer of yellow and orange.
They burst through the other side, and Coop watched the rest of his team deploy. The room looked like another basement similar to the one they’d just left. The ground was damp soil, and there were boxes stacked along the wall. Unlike the other basement, this one didn’t have a staircase, it had an elevator. The GYSGT was moving in the direction of the elevator on the right, while Eve broke off and angled toward the center. That left the left for Coop. He brought his submachine gun to his shoulder and allowed his targeting suite to scan for targets.
IR was out because it was still hot from the multiple grenades going off, and there was still a lot of debris in the air, but his system still did what it was designed to do. A target popped out ahead of him and slightly to the right. It had a feminine shape, and looked like an arm was over its face. Coop guessed whoever the hell she was, was trying to clear her lungs from all the shit in the air. While he saw that, his HUD’s neural net beeped and outlined something she was holding in red. It was clearly a weapon of some kind, so Coop didn’t hesitate. He fired a quick three-round burst at the woman’s center of mass, and she went down hard. He kicked the weapon away from her as he advanced and kept scanning his sector.
Other gunfire was echoing through the space, but Coop kept his eyes on his sector, no matter how much he wanted to look behind him. He had to trust that Eve and Cunningham were doing their jobs. The dust was starting to settle as he rounded a support pillar and identified a second target. This one was less than two meters away, so he got a perfect look at the guy’s face…a familiar face.
After hours sitting in the S2’s little intel hub and watching surveillance of the area before and after the terrorist attack, Coop had become especially familiar with this face. It was a face he’d tracked back to the bar where he’d gone with Aiko. This was the guy he was sure had been a part of the attack.
Despite the disorientation from the explosions, the man reacted the second he saw Coop coming around the corner. He fired the energy blast from the hip, without any targeting aides, which was the reason Coop didn’t lose another leg, or his head. The energy particles smashed into his side and spun Coop around, but not before his finger hit his trigger.
“Motherfucker!” Coop cursed as he went down, but it was drowned out by the roar of his weapon in the concealed space. He already knew that Eve and the GYSGT wouldn’t be in a position to catch some friendly fire, so he didn’t have a problem holding his finger down on the trigger longer for a sustained burst.
His electromagnetically-propelled rounds cut a diagonal line up through the man’s hip, chest, and shoulder in an explosion of blood, tissue, and bone. The man went down in a heap, dead before he hit the ground, but that was only a small comfort to Coop.
“Fuck…fuck…fuck…!” Coop repeated as he patted his side down for blood, burns, or to make sure he hadn’t been cut in half by the blast.
Adrenaline was pumping into his system so he wasn’t feeling a thing, but he knew shock could set in fast. <And because the retard back at HQ did want to put us in LACS, I don’t have automated medical systems to fix my ass up.> His hand automatically went to a first aid pouch on his belt as he feared the worst.
“Clear!” Eve and the GYSGT’s voices cut through the blood pounding in Coop’s ears. “Coop, are you clear?” Eve asked. “Coop?” Fear leaked into her tone for a second, and he would have thought it was nice if he wasn’t busy patting himself down.
So far there was nothing, but when his hand touched his side where he thought the blast hit, “shit!” he cursed, brought his hand way from the armor, and shook it out. It was hotter than a whore in church, but thankfully nothing had penetrated.
Eve rounded the support post and saw Coop on the ground. “You still alive?” she asked, sounding much more in control since she could see him moving around.
“Yeah. Fucker shot me point blank with that cannon,” Coop pointed at a weapon that looked a lot bigger than he originally thought now that he got a clear look at it. “It didn’t even puncture the armor. This exo-steel is no joke.”
“All hail our alien overlords.” Eve extended a hand and helped Coop to his feet.
Coop might be alive and unscathed, but he still had a problem…and an easy solution. “Motherfucker.” Once he was on his feet, Coop pointed his weapon at the man’s head and pulled the trigger. A tight grouping of rounds pulverized the dead man’s face until it looked more like a pumpkin two months after Halloween that some kid had stomped when he didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas.
“Cease fire!” GYSGT Cunningham roared as she came into view.
“Sorry, Gunney.” Coop tried to sound apologetic. “Guy just shot me.”
“Of course he did. It’s your job to get shot at, Cooper. Stop being a baby,” she snapped. “I’ve already radioed this in to higher, and they’ve got the federal police on the way. Cooper, if you are finished throwing your little tantrum, clear the rest of the house and wait for the cops to arrive.”
“By myself?” Coop asked. This wasn’t his first rodeo, and he knew you weren’t supposed to clear a structure on your own…ever.
“You’re on an elite SRRT. You’ve got physical enhancements that make you stronger than forty civilians, and you’ve got next gen tech that stood up to a full laser blast at less than two meters. You’re going to have to improvise to complete missions, and if you can’t handle that, you need to find another job.”
“No problem here, Gunney. I’ll clear the house,” Coop grumbled.
Cunningham didn’t say another word, she just headed to the other end of the open space where the tunnel continued for another two hundred and fifty meters. Eve hesitated long enough to give his shoulder a squeeze, and then followed. That left Coop with collecting the weapons and tossing them in a corner. All the tangoes in the room were dead, but even then he didn’t want to leave a live weapon next to someone who’d been shooting at him. After that, he boarded the elevator and pressed the button for the ground floor.
The house above him was a bust. It had been foreclosed on, and judging by the buildup of dust, it hadn’t seen any foot traffic, which made it a perfect spot for the liberation movement to store their weapons cache. Coop wasn’t sure if he was happy or not that he hadn’t come across anyone else, so he went back down to the basement. What was really on his mind was the smashed up fuckhead.
Coop knew how this whole thing would play out. They’d get the guys ID from his GIC and then they’d devote resources to backtracking his location over the last few days, weeks, or even months if they could. He didn’t know how far back they saved the data, but he was sure they’d track him to the bar. They’d interview people at the bar, try to find associates, and review extra footage. Sooner or later, the S2 assholes, who managed to miss the preparations for an attack of this magnitude, would ID one Mark Cooper and Aiko Lee in that same bar. They might even try to pin the whole attack on him. It stunk of an inside job anyway.
<No fucking way am I taking the fall for some chairborne ranger’s fuckup.> Coop decided. He couldn’t get rid of the body, but he could slow down their investigation.
He laid out the man’s arm so he could get a better shot, aimed, and pulled the trigger. The single round blasted into his wrist, right where his GIC was, and messily severed his hand.
<It’s a start.> Coop knew he’d need to steer the investigation away from him and do damage control, but his clearance gave his access to the highest level intel, so he was confident he could stay ahead of the planetary cops. The GYSGT was right. He was an elite soldier now, and he needed to operate like one.