Mark “Coop” Cooper
Location: Harper’s Junction, Star Kingdom of Windsor
<Relax.> Coop tried to focus his mind on the task at hand.
It was hard to concentrate when he was surrounded by shit.
Literally, him and a squad of rebellion soldiers were stuffed into the back of a truck hauling shit to a fertilizer plant…or at least that was the cover story if they ran across any checkpoints before their target. It was also the beauty of the disguise, because who is going to look closely at a truck full of shit.
<Don’t breathe,> he told himself. Despite all his enhanced body could do, he couldn’t survive without oxygen.
After a few minutes of holding it, he screwed up his face and inhaled. He was wearing a mask, one identical to what he’d worn back in the PHA a lifetime ago, so he knew how well it would work. It blocked out some of the noxious fumes, but he could still taste the shit as the air worked its way down into his lungs.
He fought down a gag and studied the men and women around him. He didn’t like what he saw. <They’re so small,> was his dominant thought. He took for granted he was used to working with professionals. HI troopers and the SRRT were beasts of the human race, usually standing at least two and a quarter meters tall, and built like tanks. Since he’d actually seen a tank in action, he knew the analogy was appropriate.
The tallest man in his ramshackle unit was a hundred and seventy centimeters and couldn’t be more than eighty-five kilos soaking wet. At least they all had on Dragonscale armor, even if it wasn’t sized properly and looked awkward on them. Better awkward than dead.
Coop felt just as awkward sitting in the back with them. His V4 LACS was deadlined until an armorer could get in and make some repairs. Since SSG Hightower was the team’s certified armorer, Coop was shit out of luck. Instead, he was in a standard set of Dragonscale.
Up until this point, he’d liked it when women wore short shirts that showed off their toned abs, hips, and maybe a little side boob, but now, he wondered why they didn’t feel completely naked. The armor barely went to his own belly button, which left his intestines, and other critical organs, vulnerable to enemy fire. The GYSGT had jerry-rigged a fanypack-looking contraption over his gut and filled it with the ballistic plates that were tucked into the compartments of his CMUs for protection. The only problem was, the plates they had weren’t meant for someone his size, so despite being the biggest, strongest, and most experienced person in the impromptu-squad, he was the least protected.
That was a whole new feeling for him. He hadn’t felt this vulnerable since Basic.
He pulled on his flexible neck gator to alleviate some of the built-up heat. He’d been smart not to seal his armor just yet. If he did, he’d seal in the stench as well.
“Two minutes, passing phase line alpha” the GYSGT’s voice echoed over the team’s comms.
“You heard her. Let’s lock and load,” Coop pulled up his new Buss and ran a quick diagnostic. The weapon was a model older than what he’d lost in the Windsor ambush, and didn’t have all the features he was used to working with.
<Stop complaining,> he admonished himself. <It has a decent targeting suite and still shoots, that’s good enough for this mission.> His HUD beeped green, but he kept the weapon on safe until they were good to go.
One by one the members of the squad gave him a thumbs up. They were all armed with M3s, which was better than the crap they’d had before. When everyone was green, he radioed their readiness to the GYSGT. She was in charge of the overall operation. Coop was just in charge of one of the moving parts.
“Let’s go over this one last time,” he ordered as the truck hit a bump and everyone was jostled around.
“We’re been over this a hundred times before,” the person next to him whined like a little girl.
For the life of him, Coop didn’t understand why the GYSGT had put Masha Kulikov on his team. The skinny man belonged on a university campus somewhere with a holo-sign protesting something or other. He didn’t belong on a battlefield. Coop knew that the second the other man didn’t properly handle his weapon.
<The farmer’s daughter even knew how to do that.> He’d rolled his eyes at the time.
Masha was a man of words not action, and getting him involved with action was likely to get him killed. Since he was one of the rebellion’s leaders, he felt it was his duty to act, so it became Coop’s duty to keep his ass alive. That was a tall order with what their part of the operation entailed.
All across the sector multiple operations were going to hit the enemy simultaneously. They would by no means cripple the Windsor’s ability to wage war on the planet, but it wasn’t meant to. It was meant to be a message that the planet’s populace wasn’t going to sit down and take this unlawful occupation and annexation. It was also meant to test their response. The rebellion had people in position to watch and see how the Windsor’s reacted. Their reaction would prove valuable intel in planning the next attack, and the one after that. Eventually, when the Commonwealth fleet arrived, the GYSGT and rebel leaders hoped to have enough intel to cripple vital aspects of the Windsor’s defense so the infantry could come in and liberate the planet.
<Or at least that’s the plan,> Coop thought everyone was getting a little ahead of themselves. They needed to live through the next five minutes first.
“Passing phase line Bravo. We’re all clear,” the driver of the shit truck announced as the truck started to round a corner.
“Go!” Coop hit the button.
Micro-explosions busted open the back of the truck. Semi-solid shit slopped out onto the roadway along with the members of his strike team. The truck kept going for a few more meters as the driver engaged the auto-drive and bailed out.
On the other side of the turn, about twenty-five meters further was a roadblock manned by Windsor soldiers. It was one of four that barred anyone unauthorized from getting to one of the main powerplants that provided energy to a nearby city. It wasn’t the capitol, that would be too bold for their first joint operation, but it was an ambitious target nonetheless.
Coop could imagine what was happening as the driverless truck completed the turn and picked up speed. It couldn’t pick up a lot of momentum in twenty-five meters, but every kilometer per hour counted. It took a few seconds before the soldiers realized the truck wasn’t stopping and they opened fire on the hostile vehicle. Unfortunately, there was only so much they could do against sheer mass and momentum.
There were only a handful of cracks before a monstrous boom shook the ground Coop was busy rising off of. In addition to fresh shit, the truck was packed with explosives.
“Let’s move!” Coop was the first up and charging around the corner. Twenty-five meters wasn’t much, and before the enemy had even recovered from the shock of the explosion, he was among them.
The acrid smell of the explosion mixed with the smell of burnt shit permeated everything. To make matters worse, smoldering shit was everywhere. It might seem random, but there was a method to the madness. The shit had been flying so fast, anything shielded would have stopped the flying poopoo in midair. As Coop vaulted a cracked and crumbling barrier, he knew right away who was shielded and who wasn’t. An even better plus was that those who were shielded, and therefore the deadliest to deal with, had to spend precious second trying to scrape off the crap impeding their view.
If Coop was in their position, he would have turned up the shield’s power and frequency so it blocked out everything, even air at a fart’s speed from getting through. Unfortunately for these poor bastards, but fortunately for Coop, he was better trained then they were.
A scan of the area showed Coop that only one soldier, probably the commander, and the heavy weapon on top of a lightly armored vehicle were shielded, so he quickly lobbed two grenades through the weakened barrier and aimed his Buss at the nearest enemy. The guy was on his knees, struggling to get back to his feet when Coop sprayed him with plasma-tipped rounds.
His armor held surprisingly well before the explosive plasma ate through his vulnerable neck area and the man died with a screamed gurgle. By then, Coop was already moving for cover while the rest of the rebels engaged the other soldiers.
That was when his timed grenades went off. The heavy weapon had only fired a short burst when it was engulfed in flames. The metal of the barrel warped under the explosive pressure as the man behind it was pulverized and nearly pureed by the rebounding pressure of the explosion ricocheting off the shields.
The commander was probably midway through calling for backup when his grenade exploded and tossed him aside. Looking at him, Coop wasn’t sure if he was dead, but if he wasn’t, he was hurting bad. Either way, he was down for the count, and Coop turned his attention to the remaining Windsor’s.
They only had a fire team guarding the checkpoint, and without their shielded commander and heavy weapon, they were quickly overwhelmed by the rebels. They might have held their own longer if Coop wasn’t hitting them from within their lines with his powerful Buss. Within forty-five seconds of the initial explosion it was all over.
“Sit-rep!” He yelled as he started his after-action mission. He needed to grab any intel and weapons he could get his hands on.
He instantly went to the lightly-armored vehicle. It was open, but bio locked. He jumped in the open-bed back and grabbed one of the gunner’s dismembered hands. He put it on the control panel and everything turned green.
<Well isn’t this my lucky day.> It had been a long time since he’d committed grand theft auto.
The follow up vehicle with back up rebels appeared around the curb and stopped story of the ruined barricade. Another squad jumped out and started grabbing things as well. Medics also headed to help their wounded friends. The short burst the heavy weapon had fired off had killed and mangled some rebels.
Coop started up the vehicle and it lurched off the ground. It wasn’t smooth, his grenade had fucked something up, but an armored vehicle was an armored vehicle, and one with anti-grav to boot. The rebels desperately needed one.
“Put the wounded in the back,” he ordered as the medics started helping the injured to their feet. “Ten seconds and we’re out of here.”
These things had to be done quickly. It wouldn’t take long for orbital support to be brought into the equation, and that just meant death for anyone caught in the open.
There was a lot of clattering as people, weapons, and tech as the vehicle was loaded up. It was a little more than ten seconds, but when the sensor indicating the back was closed blinked green, he hit the accelerator. There was a hidden tunnel about five kilometers away that he hoped was big enough to fit the vehicle.
<Now all we need to do was get there.> Coop was not a man of prayer, but he thought this was as good a time to try as any. <The friend or foe indicator is still good, so that might buy us a minute.> He thought as he sped down the highway.
Who knew, if there was a creator, he’d probably just see a bright light and meet him face to face.