Passing through one burned out building to the next, a young man moves like a shadow. Encased in a black combat suit, he appears little more than a bulky robot. Inside, a slender helmet displays bio-feeds, suit status, tactical map, and important alerts to him. Extra clips for his sidearm and rifle are attached to his chest. Throwing knives and other tools are attached to his belt.
He comes to a stop next to a crumbling wall. The man peeks over the edge. It was once a child’s room judging by the faded wall design and broken toys.
The man shakes his head and focuses on the crater ahead of him.
“Charlie Four. In position.” He whispers into his mic.
Four waits quietly. His breathing comes evenly and steady, a sign of a seasoned warrior. Overhead, a lighting storm plays out against a turbulent sky. No rain or thunder comes from the sky above her.
“Charlie Two. In position.” Two’s soft voice belies her strength.
“Charlie One. In position.” A deep bass voice. “We got a lot of targets.”
His heart rate begins to beat faster. Not out of fear or anxiety but out of excitement. Only one more person needs to get into position.
“Charlie Three. In position. Let’s light this party up.”
That’s it. He relaxes his arms and prepares to engage the target.
“Firing flair.” A fifth voice comes, cold and hard, ”Standby to engage.”
A red ball of light cuts through overhead. A terrible screech fills the air. Is cuts through his armor and body and straight to Four’s soul.
He grits his teeth and shoves the feeling away.
A slender body leaps out of the crater. It has long black hair and decaying gray skin. Its teeth are narrow. Red eyes stare at him with hatred. Another screech fills the air as more dead things begin streaming out of the crater.
Four pulls the trigger on his rifle. Bullets shred through creature’s thin body. The rounds knock the thing back. It struggles to stand back up but Four puts another burst of rounds. The creature falls.
He has no time to enjoy the victory as he switches to another target.
Two begins to pick off targets with deadly ease. Heads explode under her attention. Three’s presence becomes apparent. His rounds rip apart the targets. One’s own rifle cuts down targets as easily as Four’s.
“Help! Help!” A cry comes out.
Four glances where Three is standing. He is walking backward. His heavy cannon burns through dozens of creatures. Two’s sniper rifle picks off enemies. Four growls as he adds his own firepower. A terrible crunch fills the radio. Three’s body goes limp as the creatures break through the armor.
“Tell my family. I love them.”
“Three!” Two yells.
Three vanishes in a flash of light. Four stares where his teammate once was. A smoking crater is all that is left. Before he can articulate what happened, Four is knocked to the side. He turns to face the creature.
The creature’s dead like form. Rotten flesh hangs off its body. It slashes at Four’s armor. The helmet cracks under the attack. The creature’s skull-like face howls. He grabs his side gun and fires it. The back of the skull explodes. The creature’s face grows slack. Four watches as her body changes. The decayed flesh fades away, leaving behind a young woman.
“Target Zone Secured. Standby for pick up. Drop ship inbound.”
“Well done Charlies.” One’s voice is thick, “We need to evac.”
Overhead, a craft appears. Four stubby wings are extended from the boxy fuselage. Each wing ends in a powerful engine. The craft drops down to a nearby open area. The stern of the fuselage drops open.
Four glances down and notices the remains. Each creature’s decay has vanished, leaving behind normal human remains.
“Hard to imagine.” Two whispers, “That they are just human. Intelligent, cunning humans.”
“Drop Seven to Charlie Team. Let’s go home.”
They board the dropship. A taller man is already on board. He is watching a display mounted to the side of the hull. Four sits down next to One. Two sits across from him. Although they are silent, their attention is drawn to the empty seat next to Two.
Four settles down in his seat. The ship begins to rise into the air. He thinks back to the fight. How the humans who have been turned.
“What are you thinking?”
Four looks at his team leader, “I’m just thinking about all those activists saying that we shouldn’t be killing the infected.”
Four looks out of the window. The dropship is moving through the air. At this height, Four can see two different cities. One is made of ruins. The other is a gleaming citadel. The infected creatures writhe around in long lines.
The drop ship lands in the city. Charlie team steps out. Four takes in the scene in a single glance.
Protesters line the left. He can hear their cries for the death of soldiers and the rights of the infected. To the right are small groups of families.
Four can see One heading towards a mother and two children. Already she is falling to her knees as One approaches them.
“It would have been their wedding anniversary.”
Four glances at Two.
“What do you mean?”
“Jordan. His wedding anniversary would have been today.”
Four glances at the protesters cheering as they burned an effigy of a commando unit. Two takes the lead as she joins One. Four takes a deep breath and goes to his friend’s family.