Geneva Greyson removed one of her twin daggers from the throat of her enemy and watched him fall to the ground, wondering yet again what could have possibly possessed her people to land on this planet centuries ago. Ophari was a cold, desolate world with little to offer in the ways of food, minerals, or technology, as the Opharians were not nearly as advanced as the humans who had stumbled upon them. Had it been up to her, she would have passed over the near-barren rock without a second look. Her ancestors, however, had thought differently; they had sought to colonize it and add the small planet to their ever-growing empire.
She gave the crumpled body at her feet a kick to the ribcage before delicately stepping out of the way of the crimson pool that was starting to spread beneath it. As she examined the strange hairless body with its pale blue skin, she wrinkled her nose. The Opharians had surprised them all, as a well-organized group of rebels had been planning quite the uprising with technology they hadn’t thought was available or known to the angry humanoids. Her superiors weren’t particularly worried and looked upon quashing the rebellion as little more than a nuisance, but still, someone had do it.
Geneva watched the blood drip off her short blade and shook her head. The Terran military had all sorts of high-tech weaponry at their disposal, but the rebels had erected a force field around their base, encompassing a rather impressive radius and nullifying most of their very expensive electronic devices. Her team would have to rely on good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat, which didn’t bother her as it was still taught to all new recruits. The daggers were her weapon of choice, as she could use her slight build and high speed to her advantage; with them, she was fast and deadly.
A crackle of static coming from behind her caught her attention,and she had to suppress a small chuckle. In their efforts to block out the most complex of the Terrans’ tools, the Opharians had neglected to think of the older technologies. While their usual communicators wouldn’t work near the base, they had brought along some ancient radio equipment and were still able to keep in contact as each unit grew closer to the central hub of rebel activity. Victory was certain to be theirs, but the goal was to succeed with as few human casualties as possible.
"Commander Ashford’s team has just contacted us. They’re approximately two miles due east of here. What would you like to do?"
Geneva cast a final look at her slain enemy, his body the final one in a post of guards they had just decimated at the edge of a small clearing. Though she couldn’t be one hundred percent positive, they were nearing the base and, if they were lucky, all their teams would converge soon anyway. "We’ll follow this line of trees," she instructed, gesturing with her stained knife. "Carefully. Tell them we’ll try to meet them halfway."
Her soldiers followed her orders, and they traveled around the edge of the forest, always keeping an eye out for waiting guards and any additional traps. The short trees were rather twisted and ugly, in her opinion, but fortunately, their thin trunks and needled branches didn’t offer much protection from anyone who could be trying to spring a surprise attack. It wasn’t long before she saw the other team heading towards them at the same cautious pace. Geneva quickly scanned the group, and despite their identical uniforms and body armor, she was able to pick out the tall, muscular form of Commander Ashford - usually known simply as "Ash" to their division - and made her way towards him.
"Geneva! Good to see you!" Ash had no use for formalities out on the battlefield.
"Likewise," she said, smiling up at him. Though they didn’t know each other especially well, the two team leaders had always been friendly towards each other, and Geneva enjoyed any time spent with the good-natured Ash. It was easy to see why he was so well-respected and liked, and she was glad to have the opportunity to work with him. "How’s your team? Any injuries or fatalities?"
"A few scrapes and bruises, nothing major."
"Same with us." She glanced up at the dull gray sky and used a pale hand to wipe away a smudge of dirt from her cheekbone. "Any word from the others?"
"We picked up three of Everitt’s men along the way; they’d somehow gotten separated from their group. As you know, the other teams are approaching from the other side, and these radios don’t always work so well at a great distance."
"Yeah, I know." Her eyes darted about, continuing to examine their surroundings, and she spotted a narrow rock formation not far from the tree line. "Take cover by that little wall," she directed her team. "Five minutes. You can sit, drink, do what you need to do, but stay alert and for God’s sake, keep your helmets on."
Ash nodded to his followers before leading Geneva to a nearby tree to review their mission plans for a final time. "We’ve got to be pretty close to the base by now, based on the number of guards we took out at the last post," he said as he slid down to a sitting position, leaning against the trunk of the tree.
She joined him, taking a seat on a protruding root. "I’d be willing to bet it’s just on the other side of this forest. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve been exactly quiet, so they’re probably waiting for us." She looked at the sky again and frowned. "What I wouldn’t give for some coordinates from our air team...."
"Wouldn’t we all." He laughed. "But you have to admit, there is a certain amount of excitement and fun in doing things the way they did thousands of years ago, with nothing to rely on except your own brain and body." He grinned at his colleague, a mischievous twinkle appearing in his deep blue eyes.
"You have a strange sense of what constitutes ’fun,’" she said, returning the smile.
"Oh, I could definitely show you a good time, but this is neither the time nor place." Geneva felt a slight flush rise to her cheeks as he reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small datapad. "At least we’re not completely without our modern amenities out here," he said. As he spoke, the screen flickered to life.
Normally, the two commanders would be treated to a full-colored holographic map of their location and beyond, beautifully rendered graphics that seemed to appear in thin air out of their tiny wrist communicators. Today, they had to settle for a simple, green line drawing. Espionage and intelligence weren’t Geneva’s departments, and she didn’t need to know how they had acquired the floor plans of the enemy base. Ash rested the datapad on his knee, and she scooted closer to him so she could better see the screen.
"We want to get in and deactivate the field as quickly as possible so the air team can find us and bring in reinforcements. Of course, that place is going to be crawling with hundreds of those blue bastards trying to stop us...."
"Of course. If this was easy, everyone would do it." She reached over and tapped the bottom of the dimly glowing screen. "We’re approaching from the south, but it looks like the main entrance is on the opposite side. It would be nice if we could get in a different way - you know, not waltzing in the front door, loudly declaring our intentions - but this lovely map we have here doesn’t quite make it clear if there are other ways in. Common sense would dictate that there should be, but you know that we’re not always dealing with common sense when it comes to these guys."
He smirked. "True."
Her fingers rested on the datapad on his leg as her eyes flicked up to meet his gaze. "I don’t see a reason to deviate from our original plan," she said. "We get there as quickly and quietly as possible, get inside equally quickly and quietly, take out anyone who stands in our way of deactivating the field, and get the hell out of there before that place is turned into a pile of smoking rubble."
"And then we get to go back to the ship and have a drink!" He slid the switch on top of the datapad to the left and the outline of the base disappeared. "That drink sounds very appealing by now, so let’s get going!" Ash sprung to his feet, a surprisingly agile move for someone his size, and turned around to offer his hand to his colleague. She accepted the gesture and let him pull her up from her sitting position, and they called their soldiers back from their brief respite.
They crept through the forest making as little noise as humanly possible, Geneva and Ash following closely behind the pointman. There were no further encounters with the Opharian guards sent to patrol the perimeter,and for a while, things seemed to be going well. Their peaceful illusions of an easy mission were shattered by a loud commotion coming from the direction they were headed. The two commanders exchanged a pointed look before breaking into a run, calling out orders for the others to follow.
The three remaining teams had reached the base first and walked into an ambush. "Aw, shit," Ash muttered under his breath. Geneva silently gaped at the situation before them. Their fellow men and women were engaged in physical combat with the screeching Opharians and more and more of the enemy rebels were pouring out of the low stone building that served as their center of operations. The clank of metal weapons against body armor, the thunder of the stampeding feet of the rebel reinforcements, and the battle cries and injured screams from both sides was nearly enough to drown out Ash’s continued cursing.
Geneva tore her attention away from the chaos to face her team. "We’re moving in! Kill anything that’s not one of us and keep away from the door unless you receive orders to enter!" She had confidence that they were well-trained and experienced enough to slay the opposing side, despite their higher numbers, and she unsheathed her daggers in preparation for joining the fight.
Always leading by example, Geneva didn’t wait for the bloodthirsty Opharians to notice her first. Silently slipping across the dusty field, she snuck up behind a rebel preparing to swing his heavy mace at a fallen soldier, and slit his throat. The next one who rushed at her received a blade in his abdomen for his troubles and as she thrust it in and twisted, she instinctively ducked another attack. Staying low to the ground, she withdrew her knife, letting his body fall in front of her before sweeping her leg around to trip up the next enemy in line.
As he went down, she sensed movement to her right. Still in a crouched position, she stepped to the side and watched the sharpened blade of Ash’s sword come down on his neck. The head was sliced off in one clean blow,and Geneva was able to deliver a quick nod of appreciation before spinning around to both dodge and deliver further strikes.