The Fiction Issue #2

The Fiction Issue #2
Gears of War: Aspho Fields

Karen Traviss | 30 Sep 2008 12:12
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     Dom was first through the doors this time, even though he didn't know the layout. The noise hit him like a brick wall. Once he was on the mezzanine, it all became clear. He could see the whole ground floor of the mall from here, from the carved drapes that flanked the interior entrance to the blackened shells of shops that lined the ground level, lit by sporadic muzzle flash. Rossi was crouched behind a retaining wall of stone by the stairs to the basement level, and a Gear - David? - was slumped on the ground near him, surrounded by dark stains. Marcus sprinted to the far end of the floor, overlooking the entrance.
     "Rossi," he said. "Rossi, raise the shutter. Now."
     "Shit, can he get to the controls?" Dom put one hand on the stone balustrade, preparing to vault over the edge. It was only five meters. Yeah, but it's onto a frigging Boomer.

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     He was so pumped with adrenaline now, so set on sticking with Marcus no matter what happened, that everything he looked at was sharp, intensely colored, and somehow both slow-motion and flashing past him. "Can he reach them?"
     "That used to be the security desk," Marcus said. He had his rifle in his right hand; he leaned on his left hand and slid his left leg onto the edge, gaze darting between the entrance and Rossi's position. "He's right on top of the hand-operated controls."
     The shutter shook. It started to lift.
     "Stand by," said Dom.
     "I go first, and you cover me, okay?"
     "Okay." Boomers took a lot more stopping than drones. "And if you don't take him out in one, I'm backup."
     The entrance was way too close to Rossi's arc of fire. As Dom got ready to drop over the edge, it occurred to him that he could easily be caught in crossfire, but by then he was too pumped to stop. The shutter lifted high enough for the Boomer to enter. It crouched under the barrier, almost squatting, then paused for a split second to look up.
     Marcus put a burst of fire through it. It didn't even slow the thing down. Boomers didn't seem to feel pain. Then he crashed down onto its back.
     This was a two-man job. Dom jumped too, boots first, and for a moment he wasn't sure if he'd hit Marcus or the Boomer, but either way it felt like slamming into concrete. The Boomer went down, face- first. The force of the impact winded Dom; he tasted blood in his mouth.
     As the Boomer rose to its knees to shrug them off, Dom was aware of deafening fire over his head, but nothing else. He caught the Boomer in a choke hold, his arm closing around its squat neck, while Marcus emptied a clip into its gut.

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