Chapter Six: Dead drop pt2

"Good holy Emperor..." Jans slumped backwards, letting go of Heller and forcing him to find a handhold on a nearby bulkhead to keep from sliding back out the jump door. Heller pulled himself upright, but failed to stand, still shaken by the harrowing experience of dangling from a drop ship at hundreds of kilometers per hour. His head swam, his lieutenant was dead and they were hurtling toward a heavily defended enemy position, not to mention the flak fire the pilots were desperately attempting to avoid. This was NOT what he had signed up for. He forced himself to his feet.

"Everybody get up! We still have to jump! Lieutenant Niekers is... He's... Dead." The look on the mens faces was almost unbearable, the lieutenant had always been popular among these men, he had been their friend and not just their officer. Now he was dust over the Valois landscape...

"We're coming up on the drop zone!! Get ready to jump!!" The pilots voice crackled into their vox beads, breaking the uncomfortable silence. Everyone snapped into action, leader or no they still had a job to do, and each man separately swore to avenge their friend and commander. "We're pulling up on it now!! Damn, we're just slowing down long enough to let you out then we'll circle around to take care of the armor!"

Heller turned to his squad, already one man short. "Get hooked up to your lines; we're going out the side door! Sergeant Mikovich, you got the back?" The fellow sergeant nodded affirmative, almost annoyed that Heller had the nerve to check up on him.

"GO GO GO GO!!!"

Heller waved his arm forward, motioning for his men to start jumping, as long black cords were thrown from the open door. Small arms fire, las and bullets both, pelted the sides of the aircraft and bounced harmlessly from the armored exterior. The same could not be said of the first men out the back. Mickael watched as the two guards were transfixed by a latticework of las fire and both men plummeted lifelessly to the ground. Then came the explosion. The drop ship rocked as a missile impacted the port engine, spinning the craft in a circle with disastrous results. Several jumpers were thrown into the air by the sudden force and the craft shot toward the ground, no longer able to support its own weight. The aircraft hurtled toward the planet, quickly covering the short remaining distance. Heller caught a fleeting glimpse of the ground before they hit...



Mickael Heller turned to face the familiar sound of his sisters voice and saw her bounding his direction, white blonde hair streaming behind her. Selena Heller was a pretty girl, with her mothers golden hair and her fathers deep blue eyes which she shared with her brother. Mickael had threatened more than one punk boy who'd chosen a lofty goal.

"Hey kiddo."

She punched his arm while he laughed.

"I said don't call me that, I'm fifteen, I'm not a baby." She said, giving him an almost serious look.

"I know, I'm just messing with you Sel." He stubbed out the lho stick he had been smoking and ruffled her hair. She frowned.

"Mom said she doesn't want you to smoke those." She plucked the pack from his shirt pocket and tossed it aside, "They're bad for you moron. And don't mess with my hair." She pulled out a pocket mirror and began readjusting it.

"Yeah well, stuff what mom says." That got a laugh. "What'd you need?"

"... You're leaving tomorrow, right?"

Mickael sighed, "Yeah, I am."

"...Well, I have a present for you, I don't wanna be handing it too you at the terminal." She extended her hand; a smallish silver can in her open palm. "Sweetberry powder. Nikkis brother told her guard food is terrible." Heller took the can, looked it over and stuffed it in his pocket.

"Thanks Sel...I'm gonna miss you."

"Ha, I know."

He laughed, "That's not what your supposed to say you daft little girl." She laughed too and wrapped her arms around him in an enveloping hug.

"I'm gonna miss you too Mick. Just don't get shot or something."

He smiled and hugged her back, "Don't worry 'bout me. I'll be back..."






Sergeant Mickael Heller snapped his eyes open. He shook his head to clear his returning vision. A far more effective wake up came when a bullet whizzed past hardly a meter over his head. Trooper Raquad crouched over him, his hands on the sergeants shoulders. Heller wiped his mouth, cleaning the blood from under his nose. The ringing sound was leaving his ears, but he knew from experience he would have a hell of a headache later. Of course, there was currently no guarantee there would be a later.

"I thought you were dead there sarge!" Raquad grinned, "Come on sir, we gotta get outta here!" He picked up his grenade launcher and crouch walked toward the door.

Heller pulled himself up to his knees and grabbed hold of his rifle. The ship had fallen on its left side. Bodies filled the troop compartment, wounded, unconscious and dead all lying mixed together. Sergeant Mikovich lay face down near the rear, his body half crushed by the door that had crumpled inward on impact. He was painfully aware of everyone looking right at him. He was in charge now, no way around it. Over a dozen lives rested on his shoulders, he didn't even have time to think how many depended on them. He whispered under his breath the last words of his dream, memory really, so long ago on his home planet. "I'll be back Sel..."

"Lets move!!"