Riley Cavill saluted the Captain as he dismissed them all. She turned on her heels knowing that her team would still be in formation until she gave them the go to prepare for the simulation. She was not prone to speeches, but in this case she wanted to give her unit a few words of confidence before probably the hardest simulation they will ever go through. Sure they had been through the maximum reality setting before, but no one likes a test.
“Listen Up, this will no doubt be one of the hardest things you will ever do.” The thought of leaving Earth forever came to her mind as the hardest, but she continued. “If you find yourself doubting you can go on, just remember how far you have come. Remember all the fears you have already overcome. The Body always follows the Mind. Take another step. Show the Captain you have stones bigger than a Martian Bull and WE ARE NOTHING BUT THE BEST!”
“NOTHING BUT THE BEST!” The Unit all shouted in unison as Lt. Harrison walked up to Riley. Then Right on cue an alarm sounded letting the team know that their training dome was free.
“Helmets On MEN!” Riley said with massive grin as she looked over to Lt. Harrison who raised an eyebrow at her.
Riley and her team entered the simulation with ease. She was always the first to enter and would be the last to exit. The few seconds of pitch black always unnerved her. It reminded her of a time she had to hide in a crate to escape a particularly hostile territory back on Earth.
The simulation loaded and they found themselves in a familiar landscape. Though it would be laid out differently than any location they had trained in before. It was the machines way of making it more real. The jungle before them was massive and dense. Its humidity was so oppressive that they were all sweating before they even took one step. They were also standing at the base of what looked like some sort of Alien Ruins. There were three scientists gathering what looked to be their important equipment rather quickly.
“We are ready to head out Major” One of the scientists said with a bit of a stutter in his speech. He must be afraid of something. Whatever it was had them all spooked already. That made the situation more dangerous and would make it harder to control.
Riley nodded and signaled to her men to get into their usual formation. She didn’t need to tell them where to go, they just did. During their first year together she had let them hash out their own pecking order since they were all of a similar rank. It changed from time to time though, just as she noticed it had now. The two notable changes were Knight and McCormick. Knight having been embarrassed earlier this morning had been given the rear post. It was the most dangerous position to take in the case of ambushes from behind. However, it could be the most rewarding if he managed to warn the unit before being attacked. Her unit was cleaver that way. Pay your due and reap the benefits. McCormick had not embarrassed himself. In fact last simulation he single-handedly took down six attackers without even breaking sweat. Obviously that had garnished him major brownie points. He stood slightly back from her and in front the small group of scientists. Riley took point but she relied on McCormick to keep the formation tight and the payload secure.
“Move out” Riley ordered as she moved just slightly ahead of the unit. She was scouting an appropriate route for them to take back to the ship she instinctively knew was waiting for them. Luck would have it that she also suddenly knew the path they had originally taken to get here. She decided that was how they were going to travel back.
They had covered nearly a mile in silence when Riley noticed something amiss. Riley signaled the group to come to a stop as she accessed the situation. That’s when they suddenly come under fire. Blasts of blue energy soared past them in high volume hitting trees and other vegetation.
“Get to higher ground” Riley ordered as she remembered the small slant they had traversed down just moments before. Yes, it was heading back the way they had come but the higher ground was best. Her feet moved fast and seconds later she was safely behind a fallen tree.
Their attackers then showed themselves. They were hideous looking things and Riley wasn’t sure if they were biological or mechanical. They were in fact humanoid, but with a third eye in the center of their foreheads and instead of one of their hands there was what looked like a massive pulse weapon.
Riley counted 4 of them. However, one of her men took one down with a shoot to the head. Vile looking goo exploded in every direction. The Just like the corks of wine bottles her united popped the last three remaining hostiles.
Riley let out a short breath just as the crackling of her radio com got her attention. She pulled it out to listen.
“All units return to the…” began the voice of an unfamiliar female, then there was sound of shots being fired. The com fizzed out for a moment. “I repeat. We cannot stay much longer” there was more fizz and then the com went silent.
They were now under a time crunch and the worst part was that they had no idea exactly how long they had.
“Umm, Top?” one of her men said getting her attention.
Riley looked over to him and noticed for the first time that one of her men had been shot in the leg. He was now bleeding and looked whiter than a ghost.
“Fuck” was all she could say.