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Q2  

The Story of Ground ZeroEdit

"Zulu 5-9, your stats aren’t coming through. Give me a verbal on them." Damn interference. You toggle the com-link for a reply. They can move gigantic capital ships across space to rain 200,000 marines down on Stroggos like avenging hail, but they can’t maintain a simple data ...

crackle ... "SHIT, some ... Cowboy just clipped me ... down to 50% power!" fzzzt ...

Was that Bitterman? Sounded like him.

The com-link crackles again, "Come again, Zulu 5-9 we’re getting cross-channel garbage." You read the numbers off the navcomp display. Your watch has more functions than this hardware.

"Looks good Zulu 5-9, you’re in the pipe, 5 x 5, on target for the LZ."

The pod suddenly bucks and shimmies. Lights and readouts pulse brightly and fade to normal. A power surge?

"Attention all capital ships. Deployment phase completed. Fall back from orbit and wait for retrieval code. Say again: Break orbit and await retrieval codes."

Now who was that? Sounded like the Old Man. What’s he doing on a pod com-link channel. Wait-a-minute ... those LZ power scan readings are red lining off the scale ...

crackle ... "Admiral Crockett, sir! We’re at a 110% on the engines and holding steady, but we’re not pulling away. I show the Deimos being pulled down into ... omigod ..."

What the ... nothing in your mission briefings said that you’d be running into anything that could generate that much raw power ....

fzzt "... generator is increasing the planet’s gravitational field. Dammit! We’re not pulling free. Lock onto that power source and fire everything we have at it! And shut down this channel!" crackle

"Collision Warning" the sultry alarm whispers sweetly in your ear. Vhroooshhhh!" The pod thrums with vibration as something screams by. You pop the heat shield in time to see a dark shape silhouetted against the sky. Had to be a Strogg Gorgon fighter. But ... the hell ... they weren’t supposed to be active over your LZ.

"Collision Warning! ..." "Collision Warning ... " "Collision ... Collision ... Collision ..." You fight for control as the whole damn Strogg air force rushes past . Bright flashes and shock waves buffet your pod. For the moment, you’re glad enough that you aren’t a shock wave yourself.

crackle " ... and keep as much as you can targeted on that power source. You can divert that many? Outstanding! Attention all troops in LZ sector 54. Revised mission briefing burst coming through ... now. We’re going to give you as much covering fire as possible. You must locate and disable that generator at all costs."

Whooshhhhhhh....Kabooom A drop pod off to your port side fireballs as a Gorgon streaks past then drops down in front of you, matching your trajectory. Its aft weapons bay opens, glows ....

... and a huge laser beam from space slices through it like the proverbial hot knife.

The Gorgon rolls end over end and slams into ground, exploding with spectacular pyrotechnics. You brace for impact, dropping through the expanding fireball and marveling for an extra half second that you’ve broken through the planet surface and are falling into darkness...

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