Approx. 1800 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
written by SJ
Once they had arrived at Moreau Base, Captain Falconer briefed them on the situation; he was NOT happy. “We need you guys to get that damn Lictor. It’s already killed two of my sentries and I’m REALLY getting pissed off!” He looked at Lana, her blood-soaked, light- and dark-brown, camouflaged, fatigue, shirt. “I’m assuming that’s Armstrong’s blood?”
To the group: “We brought your gear with us and gave you a place in the barracks. Why don’t all of you head on over, get cleaned up, take a shower, get something to eat. You guys can go out and look for that Lictor in the morning.”
Lana wasn’t used to Thanatos-4's thirty-four hour days. After a nice long sleep, she felt better; then her, Cocker, and Zargos met with Falconer after they had had a good breakfast.
During the past several days, Lana had worn a tank-top with a fatigue shirt over that; it was a little warm. This time she chose to wear a Cheyenne Ranger, blue-grey, shirt that had wide, bell-bottom-like sleeves which hung down to her elbows. She wasn’t depending on actual armor protection, anyway, as long as she had the Tau force shield. This would be much more cooler and comfortable.
They all stood in Falconer’s office as he briefed them once more. “Last night our motion detectors went off again. So that Lictor’s still out there. It seems to be more active at night, so I’m hoping Cocker can find its daytime hiding place. I want that thing dead before the Space Marines get here tomorrow.” He looked at Lana. “I was told by Colonel Gallardo, he was sending us JUST second squad commanded by Sergeant Baker. I guess you know who they are?”
He continued. “Even though I know Officer Armstrong is happy about getting his bionic arm, which he’s going to have to go all the way to New Terra to have done, I’m still not happy about how the whole thing went down...you guys fighting a Lictor in melee to kill it--”
Zargos was just about to saying something–-
“Yes, I know it was probably Lank’s idea to do it that way, but still--I don’t think that was the plan.”
Cocker was getting ready to speak--
The Captain looked at him. “I know what you told me yesterday. But, as things turned out, I’m happy you guys killed that Lictor when you did.” He gave Zargos a stern look, knowing her stubborn propensity to do things her way. “Listen, LIEUTENANT LaFong is in command of your group. In this case, I want that Lictor dead ASAP--WITHOUT anymore casualties.”
After Cocker and Zargos had left, Lana stayed behind to ask Falconer for something. She had an idea.
Once they had reached the airsleds, Zargos stopped and faced Lana, her voice just a little sarcastic as she asked, “well, Lieutenant, what’s the plan?”
Lana sighed, then smiled. “I think the way you’ve been doing it will be just fine.”
The Sergeant smiled back, happy Lana was willing to leave the plan as it was. “Okay. Now, that we don’t have that crazy Lank to foul things up,” she gestured to her team of four men, “my men here should be able to make the kill easily.”
Cocker spoke as he and Lana got into their airsled. “There’s no abandoned towns around here, so we shouldn’t have that problem again.” He looked at the Ratling squad. “And there’s plenty of hills you guys can shoot from.”
Within a few hours, the naturalist was able to pick up the trail of the Lictor, then track it to a place he thought was its lair. However, they had another problem, the two airsleds pulling up along side each other on a hill to over look it:
They stood staring a one of the most curious rock formations they’d ever seen. There were lines of stalagmite-like formations all which were connected and joined to make walls. In a way, they looked kind of like soldiers in marching formation, all joined at the hips, line after line of them in column formation, with about two meters between each line. And there were many columns, all marching in different directions, like they were all headed toward one location and were ready to collide with each other. The entire formation was large, taking up a one kilometer square area, a little like a maze. If the Lictor was inside there, then it had even a better defensive position than the last one.
They all stood looking, each of them taking their turn sighing. Eventually, Zargos, knowing Lana had her own plan, had to ask, “well, which plan should we use?”
“I think we should use both.” She looked at the Sergeant. “Why don’t you guys find yourself a hill. I’ll go down and set things up there.”
They were hoping Cocker could find the exact way the Lictor used to move in and out of the strange formation, figuring it would be on the west side, in the direction of Moreau Base. But, after about an hour, he had to announce it used all four directions in and out, creating many trails, all which eventually led west, but again, using many different ways there. They would have to try and cover all four directions out of the formation at once.
Zargos set her team up on a hill that was about three hundred meters southwest of the formation, where their field of fire could cover both south and west. Lana, using Zargos’ airsled, covered north, Cocker, with his airsled, took east. They had no plan to enter and lure the Lictor out this time. So, for now, they just waited.
They had all come prepared with enhanced night optics and weren’t concerned about losing daylight. However, an hour before Thanatos’ orange sun was about to set, Zargos picked up movement inside the formation. “It’s coming out on the west side. We’re ready for it.”
She frowned, starting to get upset. “It’s not coming out! What the hell is wrong?”
“Lictors are smart.” Cocker began explaining. “Their sensory organs are very highly developed, and its possible it already knows we’re here someplace.”
“It’s moving back the way it came.” Zargos could see the dust trail as the creature moved, even though she couldn’t see the creature itself. Then she became alerted. “Cocker, it’s heading fast, right for your location--”
“I’m out of here.” He sounded scared. “I don’t trust LaFong’s little device over here.” He quickly got in the airsled and began moving away...slowing down and stopping once he was about two hundred meters away from where he used to be, watching, waiting...anxious.
But, then the Lictor stopped fifty meters from the exit, its feeder tendrils reaching out. Cocker could see the creature, so he assumed it could see him...even more so, sense him precisely. He could almost feel it.
“If it comes out over here, can you guys get a shot?” Cocker spoke to the Ratling squad.
“No, we can’t,” Zargos responded firmly. “But, if you can lead it over in our direction, we’ll get it.” She sighed. “But, LaFong’s device should work--”
“I don’t know.” Cocker was still unsure. “Lictors have these feeder tendrils. It’s possible they can sense explosives.”
“Move to the south a little more, Cocker.” Zargos suggested. “Maybe it will find another way out on the south. We can get it there.”
The naturalist began complying immediately, feeling a little braver as he moved closer to the formation...
“Good.” Zargos began giving a play by play announcement. “It’s going back the way it came. Yeah...lead it out of the south path...we’ll--” She began cussing. “No--it stopped! It’s heading north now. LaFong, you’ve been very silent over there. Are you ready?”
“Yep.” Lana answered calmly. “I didn’t want to do anything to draw its attention knowing how much you guys wanted to make the kill.”
“You have a sniper rifle, right?” Zargos began asking. “How far can you see inside the formation?”
“Only about a hundred meters.” The Space Marine made it clear. “It’s not a straight pathway.”
“It’s still coming!” The Sergeant continued to announce. “It’s almost there--” She cussed. “It turned left! It’s going east now, FAST!” She paused, then, continued, her voice becoming excited, like a sports announcer, “it just came out on the east side...it’s going north...now, it’s turning west. LaFong, it’s outside the formation, heading in your direction--trying to come up behind you.”
“Understood. I’m ready.” Lana answered succinctly.
“I’m going over there!” Cocker seemed to have a sudden bout of bravery, his airsled picking up speed. He was only half way there when there was a large explosion from LaFong’s position.
There was silence for almost four seconds...
“I got it.” Lana stated affirmatively. “What a mess! I guess I used enough of Falconer’s explosives.”
As Cocker drove up to the scene, he agreed. “Yeah...she blew that thing to pieces.”
“It’s dead?” Zargos wanted confirmation.
Lana and Cocker both answered, “yes,” as they met at the smoking scene of the explosion.
He had to ask. “I had the same booby trap set up over at my location.” He pointed. “What happened?”
The Space Marine shrugged, not really knowing for sure, taking a guess. “I used a black-light beam for a trigger. Maybe it detected that. I don’t know. I had to turn mine off so I could get past it to the other side. When it came around the corner and got into position, I set the explosive off manually.”
The next thing Lana had to do was to follow Cocker and disarm the booby trap on his side, placing the explosives safely in the airsled. Next, after she had picked up Zargos and her team, they all searched around inside the formation, Cocker leading the way. Eventually, he found what he was looking for: the Lictor’s lair, in this case, nothing more than a large, open, hole in the ground where the creature could curl up and sleep.
Cocker pointed at it. “This is the kind of lair a Lictor is supposed to have.” He mused a couple seconds. “The other one over at that town. It’s strange it would stay inside a building.” As they all walked out of the formation, he told them, “when I get the chance, I want to go back over there and check it out.”