Horror and Thriller Science Fiction posted October 30, 2017

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Two men on a mission deep into enemy territory

The Snow Kingdom Chapter 4,pt 2

by rtobaygo

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
SNOW KINGDOM SYNOPSIS:  Two soldiers from the United Northern Alliance, Colonel Castille Tasca and Master Sergeant Rambika Maseru, have undertaken a clandestine mission deep into Snow Kingdom territory to test a new agent designed to kill coca plants the source of the Snow Kingdom’s cocaine, the very foundation of its power and wealth. 
STALKER:  Bipedal, BGC, semi-sentient apex predator.  Average height three-point-one meters, weight approximately two-hundred kilograms.  Used throughout the Snow Kingdom to maintain Scavenger and War Lord loyalties and to protect various Kingdom complexes and military installations.  Used throughout the Greater Kingdom as a military weapon.  Heightened auditory, olfactory and ophthalmic senses, coupled with thick, tough-scaled skin, binocular vision, rows of sharp-serrated teeth, clawed hands and enhanced strength and speed make it a formidable adversary.
“I hate to ruin the moment, sir, but our friends are about six k’s from our current position and we’re still one k from our objective. We’ll need the high ground if we’re to stand a chance against five stalkers, assuming eight take the bait.”
“Pray they do, Sergeant.  Facing five of them will be difficult, but more would give them the advantage.”  Shielding his eyes, Tasca looked at the punishing sun.  “If I’ve made the right calculations, we’ve just enough time to secure the outcropping and set the traps.  Then it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.  It appears they’re following our scent, but once they have a visual lock, which should be soon, they’ll increase their speed.”
There was a look of disbelief on Maseru’s face. “I thought they were moving at full speed, Colonel.”
“I wish it were true, but it’s not.  Now let’s get the hell out of here.”  He faced Maseru.  “Are you ready, Sergeant?”
 “Yes, sir.  Let’s do this.”
Alternating between short sprints and sustained jogs, they gradually closed the distance toward the outcropping.  From behind they heard the stalkers’ eerie howls, a sure sign they had a visual lock and were fast closing the distance between them.  No matter how many times they heard this, it still chilled their blood. 
“Sounds like they’re gaining, Colonel.”
“Unfortunately.  We need to pick up the pace.  All right, a full run from here in.  Make it so, Sergeant.”
“Yes, sir.  Will we have enough time to make the outcropping?”
“We should.”  With the Colonel’s last words, both fell silent, their minds creating scenario after scenario should they not make it to their objective in time.
Six minutes later found both men lying against the outcropping.  “Take off . . .  the . . . rucksacks . . . and dump the contents,” Tasca said between breathes.  While I check their position . . .  I want you to take the traps and powder . . . and put them back inside my rucksack.”
“Got it, sir.”
Moving across the front of the outcropping until he reached its highest point, Tasca grabbed his teledars and studied the closing stalkers.  “Damn it, there just over two K’s out.  In all our encounters they’ve never covered this much ground so fast.  I don’t like it, Sergeant.  If they’re that fast when they charge our position, it’s going be a long day.”  Tasca realized the speed of pursuing stalkers was nothing like they’d ever encountered before.
“I disagree, sir. We’ll make it a short, fucking day for them.  We did it with the HKs and Reapers.  I won’t let the Goddamn things compromise the mission, Colonel.” 
“Good, Sergeant, but don’t let your anger control your actions to where you’ll take unnecessary chances.  I need you to think before you act, not to go off half-cocked.  Is this understood, Sergeant?
“Yes, sir.  I won’t let my anger control me.”
“Good, Sergeant, that’s what I needed to hear.  I’ll take the traps out to seventy meters and set them in a delta configuration.  The more powder they inhale the quicker they’ll die.” Tasca put his hand on Maseru’s left shoulder.  “Keep your ass wired tight.  Lock on the ones to your left, outside the traps.  Just like before; aim for the chest then head.  As I apply powder to the traps, if you can’t see all the stalkers, tell me and I’ll haul ass back here.” 
“Yes, sir.”
Tasca grabbed the rucksack and sprinted the seventy meters to the drop area.   Sucking in air, he placed the traps at three-meter intervals, careful not to spill any of the green powder.  Finished, he took the empty rucksack and ran towards Maseru and the safety of the outcropping.
Climbing on top of the formation, he knelt next to Maseru and tried to catch his breath.  The earlier comments from his Sergeant, of this being the first time the power would be used in real time, forced him to face the stark reality the traps might not work.  If this proved to be true it could easily end their mission.
With Maseru focused on his scanner, Tasca took the last energy clip from his belt and put it into the rifle’s chamber.  He felt sweat collecting about his eye brows. Christ, the damned outcropping’s hotter than the sand.  “Sergeant, position yourself between the pinnacles.” He pointed to the upright rocks on the left side of the outcropping.  “I’ll set up in the defoliate three meters down and across from you.  We should have about a minute before the bastards reach the bait.  Now move.”
“Good hunting, Colonel.”
“And you, Sergeant.  Let’s send them straight through the gates of Hell.”
“And then some, sir.”
Positioned on the outcropping, they became one with it, the Stalkers’ howls changing to a loud mix of grunts and clicks.
 “They’re unable to make a visual lock, sir.”
“Affirmative, Sergeant.  Look for the big buck, he’ll be over three meters tall, with a narrower waist.  He’s the alpha.”
 “Got him, sir.  The damned thing’s on our left flank.”
“Shit, he’s outside the traps.  He’ll be a tough kill, though we may have a slight advantage.”
“Care to share, sir?” Maseru asked, his attention fixed on the approaching line of stalkers.
“In a few of our encounters, when the Alpha led the attack, they didn’t try to flank our position, but came at us head on.”
“Let’s hope this is one of the few times, sir.”
“I agree, Sergeant.  Once they’ve inhaled the powder, we’ll concentrate our fire at the remaining pod outside the traps. The less time we give them to adjust the better it is for us.” 
They realized each shot had to count, that a miss could bring death.  From past encounters, they’ve seen what a stalker could do to a man.  Only one option remained; they had to kill them before they reached the outcropping.
Maseru swallowed hard, the knot in his stomach growing tighter with each passing second.  “What’s with the huge bastard on the far right, Colonel?  Briefings never mentioned anything that big.”
“Damn it, you’re right, they didn’t. The thing’s over four meters tall.  Best guess . . . it’s a new prototype and looks like it’s the only one with the pod.”

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