2: Green Smoke (1/3)

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January 21, 2180 (New Era Calendar)/
Antilla System, Alloyo Military Academy, Alloyo

Commander Myles Warren stood in a small, underground bunker. Monitors lined the bunker's forward wall and technicians dutifully manned the row of consoles. Images broadcast from the cadets' tactical helmets beamed live onto the large screens while vital readouts accompanied each live feed on secondary and tertiary monitors.

Myles listened to the chatter from the cadets and found himself impressed with the way Antes had taken the initiative with his team. Diffusing hostility, accepting different opinions, analyzing individual strengths and weaknesses, and on-the-fly planning; these were all tell-tale signs of command decision making, and the Commander couldn't help but smile.

It was about time the Eslos boy started showing some of his potential.

"Commander, I think you should take a look at this," called out one of the techs.

Myles stroked his chin with a smirk as he studied the vital signs the technician brought to his attention. Antes' heart rate had skyrocketed and adrenaline levels were through the roof. The tech looked back at him.

"He's a little too amped, don't you think, sir?"

The Commander smirked at the tech.

"Good."

The smirk vanished from his face as gunfire rang out on the monitors. Myles watched as Antes and the other cadets began their assault.

- - -

In a neat, single-file line, Antes, Dara and Camilo stalked forward, CR4 Assault Rifles at the ready. Suddenly, Antes held up a fist, causing everyone to stop. He peered around the corner into a wide clearing. When the coast was clear, he relaxed his fist and motioned his team forward.

Quickly they moved through the clearing, stepping through a trail of smoking, deactivated combat drones.

Must be Indelli's handiwork. Impressive, Antes thought to himself.

They continued on, moving at a fast clip down a narrow alleyway in between two bunkers. When they drew to the mouth of the alley, Antes held up another fist, stalling the team. He peered around the corner to see one of the combat drones, its back to them.

"Contact forward," Antes said, peering through the scope of his rifle and drawing a bead on the drone's power supply module. "Eliminating."

Antes' finger tensed over the trigger and he fired. His shot drilled into the combat drone's power pack and it dropped to the dirt.

"Target neutralized."

Antes led Dara and Camilo into the next open clearing and no sooner did Jamin's voice pierce the comm frequency.

"Wait!"

But it was too late. A pair of combat drones emerged on the rooftops of one the bunkers and unloaded on Antes' group.

"Suppressing fire!" Antes ordered and Camilo took aim firing a pair of staccato bursts from his rifle affording Dara and Antes precious moments to take cover. Antes took a deep breath from behind cover, took aim and fired.

"Move up, Camilo!"

Camilo broke into a sprint and slid behind cover.

"Jamin, we're pinned down!" Antes shouted into his comlink as the drones resumed their onslaught. Then everything went silent again.

"Targets neutralized," came Jamin's cool voice over the comm.

"You saved our asses. Do you have a twenty on Indelli?"

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