Viktor sat quietly in his pod, wiping off the visor on his helmet. The slightly bulky black armor of the AS9K had red stripes going down the middle and arms, up to a singular stripe on the helmet. On the chest of his armor sat the AS9K logo, the ARWG emblem inside of a set of olive leaves, above which said “AS9K”, and below said “Omnes Una Manet Nox”, or, “One Night Is Awaiting Us All”.
He put his helmet on and let it connect to the rest of his suit, and his visor went transparent on his side so he could see outwards, but nobody could see inwards. A crisp, female voice spoke for a moment, his onboard AI, Vex. “All systems: Online. Please connect armor to weapon systems before drop.”
“Yeah, yeah…” Viktor muttered, gripping his rifle and letting the suit connect to it, giving him a heads-up display of the ammunition in his rifle, and how many magazines he had in his satchel. He examined the rifle for a moment, looking over it. It was a VL-8A, a hybrid assault and sniper rifle that had a flip-up sight that let him see through thick smoke in very precarious situations. It was long and looked like an M16 had some kind of rail bolted from the receiver to the end of the barrel. His pistol automatically connected, as it was connected to his hip, and he tapped the side of his pod to let his commander, a man by the name of Sukov, know that he was ready. He heard a tap back and nodded, leaning back and closing his eyes.
He reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a picture of a tall, slim woman with long, black hair and deep green eyes, and himself wearing his dress uniform, standing in front of their home in Kodar. She was young, and they were both smiling happily. It was his wife, Maria, who he was married to for almost three years. He smiled softly and put the picture back in his pocket and zipped it up.
They were about to drop into New Khizov, a city on the edge of ESF-controlled space, where a high valued commander was stationed, a man by the name of Erik Brandt, who lorded over the ESF’s armies. Viktor’s squad, Valkyrie, was supposed to drop into his area and execute him. The ship rocked a bit and the green light came on above Viktor, and his comms unit crackled with the Slavic voice of his commander, Sukov.
“Alright men, you know our mission. Once we hit the ground squad, up and move towards the target. All copy?”
“Copy that, sir!” Viktor responded quickly, followed by the other two in his squad, Tyrul and Monentz. The green light flickered to red and the pods erupted from the belly of the ship, the screens looking outwards shifting on to show the storm clouds that were about to give way to the burning, rain-soaked city below. The pods pivoted and maneuvered to the closest safe landing zone as the first set of chutes came out the top, slowing them down a tiny bit before detaching and letting the second, stronger chutes open and slow them down more, but they all knew the landing would be rough either way.
An AA shell exploded nearby, sending the closely grouped pods careening away from each other. Viktor held onto his seat as the screens flickered off and he was blind to the outside world. He let out a yell into his comms unit just as his pod slammed through the walls of a tall skyscraper and came to an abrupt halt. He groaned and looked around for a moment before kicking the door release handle in front of him. The pod hissed as pressurized air kicked the door off of the pod and to the side. He pulled himself out and rolled onto his side, groaning as he pushed himself up and onto his feet, grabbing his rifle. He looked outwards at the city around him, being pelted by artillery and bombers roaring past.
Viktor clicked into his comms unit and let out a small, exasperated sigh. “Sukov? Do you copy, over?” The comms unit crackled with interference and he let out another sigh. “Sukov, Tyrul, Monentz, do you read me?” Once he got no response, he groaned in anger and switched channels to the command comms. “Command, this is Valkyrie-3, do you read me, over?”
The comms crackled before the calm, collected voice of the radio operator came through. “Valkyrie-3, this is Overlord, what’s your situation, over?”
Viktor let out a small noise before responding. “I’ve been separated from my drop team, Overlord, I need either extraction or their beacon locations, over.”
There was a moment of silence before the comms crackled again. “Valkyrie-3, the rest of your squad is located a click away from you, all their beacons are on and grouped up. Area scans indicate they’re shacked up in a tall highrise with an antenna array to your southeast, can you see it, over?”
Viktor looked around the skyline for a moment before spotting a building that matched Overlord’s description, and he nodded. “Yessir, I can see the building, I’ll start hooking it over there, over.”
“Roger that, Valkyrie-3, over and out.”
Viktor clicked his comms unit off and cocked his rifle, reaching back into the pod and pulling out his cable rider before walking over to the edge of the building, looking outwards and down towards his target. A large bomber flew overhead, it’s engines burning a bright, angry orange, and he nodded a small bit to himself before trudging towards the other side of the building, towards a duo of elevator shafts. He didn’t even try to hit the call button, as he reached his hands into the creases of the doors and started to pull them apart, his suit tightening around him as it tried to give him a little extra strength to open the doors.
He pulled the doors apart and they slid away, revealing the long, empty shaft, the cable tightly going down through a smoky veil. He took a deep breath and attached his cable rider, holding on tight before swinging his legs around the cable and riding down with a shrill squeal, small sparks coming from the rider as he sped down. He pierced the veil of smoke and landed atop the burning ruins of the elevator carriage with a thud. He disconnected his rider and attached it to the side of his backpack, leaning down and pulling the top hatch of the carriage open before dropping inside quickly.
He sidestepped a patch of fire and walked out of the carriage, stepping into the tall bottom floor of whatever office building he had crashed into, it’s halls brilliantly built with marble and steel, now burning and crumbling. He jogged out through the doors and was greeted by the wet, rainy ruins of New Khizov from the ground. Burned out cars and various military vehicles sat in the streets, like statues built for destruction’s sake.
He stuck to the sides of the buildings, moving quickly, having to occasionally wipe water from his visor and the sights on his rifle. Vex dinged on and spoke in her usual and unnerving calm voice. “Sir, AIAF chatter indicates they’ve sent another squad after Brandt, you’re going to have some help. Would you like me to connect you to their captain’s comms channel?”
Viktor groaned a small bit. Why the fuck did they send another squad?, he thought, before nodding. “Yeah, please do.”
After another moment his comms crackled with the deep voice of the leader of the other squad. “This is Calypso-1, you can just call me Uno though. You need something?”
“This is Valkyrie-3, call me Viktor.”, he responded calmly. “Why did the AIAF send you guys when they knew AS9K had it covered?”
“They just dropped us into the city, told us to get Brandt alive. I think they realized you were here to kill him and, well, they don’t like that very much.”
Viktor let out an audible sigh. “And what would you rather do?”
“I’d rather shoot him, but orders are orders, Viktor.”
He nodded a bit. “I know. Where are you and your team? I’m half a click out from my squad’s location, southeast.”
“We’re in another highrise just a little ways from Brandt’s location. I think we’re closer to you than you think..”
Viktor looked a bit confused under his helmet. “What do you mean?”
He looked up and saw three different colored men in armor very similar to his looking down at him from the third floor of a building, and the one in white armor waved his arm back and forth before dropping down, small jets on the bottom of his boots slowing him down before he landed. Viktor approached cautiously and nodded. “You Uno?” he asked quickly.
He nodded and held out a hand, holding his rifle over his shoulder. “Yessir, and you must be Viktor.”
He took his hand and shook it firmly, noticing how tall he was compared to Viktor, at least half a foot. His other two squadmates dropped behind him and approached, one in grey and black medic armor, and the other in thick, red and white armor. “I need to get to my squad, you coming with? It’s on your way to Brandt.”
Uno nodded a small bit. “Yeah, doesn’t bother us much. We know he can’t really go anywhere for now, with the siege going on. His fleet’s in tatters.”
Viktor chuckled. “Who’re these folks?”
Uno nodded and motioned to the medic. “Calypso-3, call him Doc.”
Doc nodded and spoke in a thick, Irish accent. “Pleasure to meetcha.”
Uno then motioned to the man in red and white armor. “Calypso-5, call him Banger. He’s our demolitions expert.”
Banger waved a small bit and spoke in a more Texan accent, obviously from some rural planet. “Heya there, man.”
Viktor nodded at them. “Where’s the rest of your squad?”
Uno shook his head. “Up in the Midnight Sun, they’re recovering from our last mission. Tough one out at Erat.”
“Ah, I see.” Viktor nodded and wiped more rain from his visor. “We should get going, yeah?”
Uno nodded and cocked his rifle. “Lead the way.”
Viktor nodded and started to move again, a bit quicker now, the three others in tow. Another bomber flew low overhead, almost clipping its wings on the tops of buildings as it tried to pull up, veering out of their view. They all kept moving closely together, checking behind them and above every once in a while.
After a long while of mostly silent walking they made it to some kind of large courtyard, with burnt out trees and patches of dirt, benches, and streetlights. A tall, black highrise sat at the end, and Viktor guessed it was the building Sukov and the rest of his men were in. He jogged towards the doors and opened them slowly, hearing a slight ding as he stepped inside. The floor was made of dark wood, and the furniture was modern and sleek, black and whites, with non functioning lights that hung below.
Viktor walked in a few steps and looked around, before coming face to face with the barrel of a pistol for a solid moment before it lowered, and Sukov came into view, coughing under his armor. “You decided to show up…”
“Yeah, and it seems your comms are busted. I tried hailing you when I landed.” he retorted, attaching his rifle to his back.
Sukov coughed up a laugh and attached his pistol to his hip, gripping his other side. “Yeah, Monentz is getting them back up right now. We’re in bad shape, the landing was especially rough.”
“Tyrul is hurt really bad. We don’t have enough biofoam and injectors for all of us, he’s been hooked up with the most. Some cord came loose in his pod when the shell hit us and sliced into his chest. Other two of us are just banged up.”
Viktor let out a loud, audible sigh. “Fuck…”
Doc suddenly walked up and nodded. “I’m a medic, lad, just tell me what ya need, I’ve probably got it.”
Sukov looked at Doc for a moment. “What fuckin squad are you from?”
“Calypso, sir. AIAF Special Forces.”
Sukov looked at Viktor again. “Why did they sen-”
Viktor held a hand up. “I know, I’m just as confused as you. They got me here safely though, the least you can do is let him help y’all.”
Uno approached slowly, along with Banger. Doc nodded again and looked Sukov over, his visor changing color to a light blue for a moment. “I can see you’ve got a third degree burn on your side, and a sprained ankle. I’ve got biofoams for both of those.”
Sukov looked back at Doc quickly. “How did you..?”
Uno butted in and nudged Doc. “AIAF-SC armor is custom fit for their soldier’s rank and position in the team. Doc’s comes with a Med-Link module that lets him scan wounds and the like, his backpack is full of biofoam canisters connected to his fingers.”
Banger chuckled. “Nothing like that in the AS9K, is there?”
Sukov tried to retort but eventually just groaned. “I’ll go sit down with the other two, Viktor, could you and your new pals watch guard or call us a CASEVAC?”
“I’ll just call you guys a-” Viktor started, before there was a yell outside and a group of enemy soldiers opened fire. Everyone dove down to cover and drew their weapons, and Sukov darted around the corner to grab his rifle. “SHIT!” Viktor yelled, cocking his rifle and attempting to connect to Overlord’s comms channel. “Overlord, do you read me?! This is Valkyrie-3, we’re at the highrise, we need immediate evac, we’ve been engaged by hostile forces! I don’t know how many there are!”
He was met by static as Uno reached over the table with his rifle and fired off a long burst, hitting two of the short, white, sleek armored soldiers square in the chest and knocking them down. Viktor looked over and fired a quick burst, hitting an enemy in the neck and spraying their armor in hot blue blood. Sukov came running back and slid behind a table, clutching his rifle close.
“OVERLORD, WE’RE GONNA FUCKING DIE IF WE DON’T GET THAT EVAC ASAP, DO YOU READ ME?!” Viktor roared into his comms unit, looking over and firing again, not hitting anything.
He was met by static again as another group of soldiers ran towards the building. Banger reached into his backpack and pulled out a grenade, pressing the arming button on the top before throwing it out the door, ducking down. The soldiers were met with a large fireball and a rumbling roar as the windows shattered, sending the soldiers either flying back or being engulfed by the flame.
The comms finally crackled to life, and Overlord spoke in a quick, urgent manner. “Valkyrie, this is Overlord, we’re sending an exfil team to your location, eta 5 minutes, hold tight.”
Viktor broke for a moment and snapped, firing over the table again. “WE DON’T HAVE FIVE MINUTES, OVERLORD, WE’RE GETTING FUCKING SURROUNDED AND ROUTED!”
“You don’t have any other choice, our other evac teams are busy with medical casualties, the closest one is on it’s way.”
Viktor let out a loud yell and kept on firing. “Evac’s five minutes out, we have to hold tight!”
Sukov let out a sound of disbelief. “What the fuck do you mean?!”
“You fucking heard me!”
Uno stood up and kept firing. “FALL BACK, NOW, UP THE STAIRS!!”
Banger and Doc got up and ran past Uno, and Sukov did the same, getting Monentz and Tyrul up and helping them up the stairs. Viktor got up and helped Uno keep the men back, firing and backing up with him. He ran through the ammo in his rifle and attached it to his back, grabbing his pistol off of his hip and firing as he made it to the stairs with Uno, beginning to sprint up them.
Uno let out a grunt and tossed a grenade through the door as he left the room, hoping to hold the enemy off for a second. “Goddamnit, there’s way too many, Vik, I dunno if-”
Viktor interrupted him abruptly. “What oath did you take when you joined the Special Forces?”
“Glory and Honor guides our path.”
“That’s right. You don’t lose faith in what we’re doing. We’ll make it out of here, I fuckin promise you that.”
Uno nodded and dropped another grenade down the staircase. Viktor burst through the roof access door and looked around, seeing Doc injecting Tyrul with more biofoam as Banger popped a bright red flare and tossed it a bit away, so the evac could spot them. The city around them sat alight with flames as rain pelted their heads.
Viktor turned back towards the door and opened fire as a duo of enemies came through, knocking them both down to the ground. He turned to look and saw their evac ship in the distance, moving slowly through the rain. He turned back to look at the doorway and was suddenly met with a shotgun blast to the leg from a heavily armored soldier, and he toppled backwards with a scream. His suit wailed violently as error messages cropped into his visor, and Vex chirped on loudly in his ears. “Sir, your left leg has been hit and may need to have surgery. Please get to a-”
He sat up and groaned, grabbing his pistol off his side and firing at the soldier, who took a few steps back as he racked another shell. He aimed down at Viktor for a moment before Sukov suddenly sprang from behind him, knocking him to the ground. Uno opened fire on the soldier as Doc ran to Viktor, grabbing him from under the arms and started to drag him. “You’re fuckin heavy...” he said quietly as he finally set him down and started to pump biofoam into his leg, examining the wound. “But that fucker got you good…”
Viktor looked past Doc and saw Uno execute the soldier with a burst to the chest before helping Sukov up to his feet. His vision started to blur and get darker as he fell back onto his back, coughing up blood into his helmet. Doc grabbed his helmet and hit the release switch before pulling it off, holding his head up. “Don’t fall asleep, whatever ye do, don’t fuckin fall asleep…”
Viktor coughed again and heard the engines of their evac ship getting closer, and he fought as hard as he could to not close his eyes. The biofoam stung and burned as it tried to patch up his wound, and Doc injected a painkiller into his arm, shaking his head. “The biofoam ain’t gonna work forever, y’know…”
“I-I know…” he coughed out, leaning his head back.
“We’re gonna get you back to your home ship and to the medical station, alright? What ship is it?”
“Alright, so we’re gonna get you to Keriva and they’ll patch you up, there’s only so much I can do, but you’ll be okay…”
Uno ran up and crouched next to Doc, grabbing Viktor’s arm and helping him get into a sitting position. “How bad is it?”
Doc sighed and shook his head. “They’re gonna have to amputate it, that shell blew through his bone structure and everythin’, whatever fuckin shell that big cunt used…”
Viktor’s heart dropped in his chest as he heard this, and he began to panic slightly as the painkillers kicked in. He couldn’t lose his leg, it would ruin his career in AS9K, and it would ruin his life at home.
“You’re serious?” Uno asked, looking at the wound.
“Aye, I know that they won’t be able to patch it up on his ship, we’re all strapped on medical supplies as it is, let alone a completely rebuilt leg? It’s fuckin impossible…”
“What about the MS? Do we have anything that could help him?” Uno asked again, applying pressure to Viktor’s wound.
“No, no we don’t. Same situation as any other ship.”
Uno shook his head as Viktor spoke, voice shaking. “No...come on, th..there has to be something…”
Doc picked up Viktor and started to rush towards the evac ship, which had just arrived, it’s back ramp extended. Monentz helped Tyrul up to his feet and rushed after as everyone piled in, as a group of enemy soldiers burst onto the roof and opened fire as the ramp started to close. Doc laid Viktor down again and gripped his shoulder tightly. “You’re gonna make it, ye tough bastard, just keep it up.”
Viktor’s vision started to go dark as he fought as hard as he could, hand gripping his destroyed leg, which was hanging on my little bits of sinew and flesh, biofoam hardening and trying to fill the gaps. He tried to mutter something as his vision finally gave way, and he tilted his head back, muttering one final word.
Two decades later, Viktor sat on the porch of his home, in a nicely sized metal wheelchair. His hair was slowly growing back from his service time, and he had gained a tad bit more weight since he came back to Aznia. His leg was cut off at the knee, wrapped up tightly in medical wrap, but it didn’t hurt anymore.
Maria sat next to him on a bench, looking down at their wrapped up baby boy. He had small patches of black hair growing with large, beautifully blue eyes. Viktor smiled and leaned in his chair slightly. “Hey Maria?”
She looked over, speaking in her crisp, city voice. “Yes, hun?”
“We still haven’t given him a proper name.”
She looked down at the baby and nodded. “Yeah, I can’t really think of one…”
“Well...what about Icarus?”
She looked back up. “Icarus? That’s a tad bit...odd, don’t you think?”
“Well, I think it’s a really nice name. It’s unique.”
She looked at the baby and nodded, smiling while holding him over to Viktor. “Icarus it is then.”
He took the baby and smiled, holding him close to his chest. “Our lil Icarus…”
Maria coughed and leaned forward a bit. “Yeah…”